Warlike Picture

For this planet I wanted to explore the scifi trope/concept of a "warrior race." I hate a lot of the scifi tropes, but I have fun playing with them and trying to make them more realistic or turn them on their heads. Now then, to be quite fair the idea of a "warrior race" isn't really all that farfetched. There have been warlike cultures in human history: the Mongols, the Spartans, the Romans, the Vikings (to an extent), and more recently with fascist governments. The thing is that it wasn't their defining trait as a people. They had values that went hand in hand with a heavily militarized society and usually there were extenuating circumstances that forced constant external conflict as a way of maintaining internal social cohesion. On this particular planet, Maahes (named for a lion-headed Egyptian god associated with warfare), there was the unusual situation of two intelligent species arising simultaneously in geographically isolated areas. Unlike the situation with modern humans and neanderthals there was never any direct competition until agriculture had produced the earliest civilizations and the two species came into contact as these early states began to expand their influence into new frontiers. Similar the humans and neanderthals these two species were related but were separated enough genetically to be unable to reproduce (or if they could the hybrid offspring was likely sterile). For a long time there was little interaction between the two Maahesian species because they remained geographically isolated, but as time when on technology advanced and demand for natural resources increased. The larger and more aggressive of the species began to encroach on the smaller one's territories and started a tradition of enslaving and brutally oppressing them. Now this was not a David v Goliath situation: the smaller species was no more or less intelligent or advanced than the larger one and ultimately there were completely conquered and placed in chains. Although their technology has now advanced to the point that industrial machinery has replaced slave labor as the primary means of production most of the smaller Maahesians remain enslaved and those that are not are considered to be lesser and are segregated as second-class citizens. The slaves are used in fields such as domestic servitude, blood sport, military service (usually as cannon fodder or dangerous roles, never as leaders or weapon-wielding soldiers), entertainment (in particular using slaves as actors in scripts which involve death, in which the slaves will actually be killed during filming/acting), construction, and various unsavory or dangerous jobs such as sanitation or demolition. The dominant species has had interstellar spaceflight for many generations now and has aggressively expanded its territory and actively invades other inhabited worlds as a means of reinforcing their cultural ideals of superiority, often enslaving and forcibly colonizing conquered worlds. This has led to conflict with the Earth Federation on many occasions during the various Maahesian Wars of Aggression, though no human world was ever conquered and no humans were enslaved to Earth's knowledge. Even so the Maahesians are considered a threat by both the Earth Federation and the Coalition of Independent Worlds as well as other neighboring alien polities, all of which have agreed to mutual defense treaties with each other against Maahes. Recently the Maahesians have experimented with genetic modification as a way to both pacify oppressed species within their empire and utilize them as tools of war, though as yet their technology is incapable of creating any kind of meaningful biological weapon from preexisting sapient species. Currently their territorial expansion has ground to a halt as a joint Earth-Coalition task force has blockaded their sphere of influence and harassed their internal trade in an attempt to force a policy of decolonization and containment. The Maahesians have not taken lightly to this turn of events but do not possess the manpower or technological advancement to oppose this alliance, though they likely could go toe to toe with either power individually.

The roots of this extreme culture date back to the earliest days of Maahesian civilization in which the now-dominant Maahesians occupied a smaller, less habitable region of the planet and rapidly became politically unified and largely culturally homogeneous. They expanded into the "lesser" Maahesian lands slowly at first but as time went on their society became dependent upon large scale slavery and constant conflict as a way of maintaining political unity and economic prosperity. After the beginning of industrialization the various nations of the planet began competing for control of dwindling natural resources and the tradition of prosperity-through-conquest continued until the planet was unified by a single particularly nasty regime. This regime had a government not unlike fascism in which the general populace works directly to support the military as a means of ensuring national unity and prosperity and the military becomes and integral part of every aspect of the society and state. In this case the military and government are now one in the same with every citizen being a member of the military (hence the need for slaves to fill roles which the military either can't or won't perform). Surprisingly this makes for a high level of government efficiency as a strict meritocratic hierarchy weeds out corruption and incompetence among leaders and rewards those who exemplify loyalty and a sense of duty. Harsh punishments and ingenious propaganda make for low levels of crime and dissent among the non-slave populace, and public displays of brutality and regular random violence keeps the slave populace both terrified and pacified. The ideals of the Maahesians are ones of supremacy and might-is-right: they must have the right to trample the weak or else they wouldn't be on top. To this end they engage in eugenics programs not only on the slave populace but also on themselves. The weak, the old, the sick, the infirm: any who cannot contribute to the state with their entire beings are either sterilized or euthanized and those who die in combat are not mourned or celebrated as fallen heroes. To do so is to admit weakness is something to not be ashamed of, and for the weak to die in battle against the strong means that each generation will be greater than the last, at least in theory. Their culture can be summed up by the mythology of their dominant religious beliefs (despite the fact religion is technically outlawed as superstition in their society): the great sky god gave birth to two children, the stronger elder child and the weaker younger child. As the siblings wrestled they created the mountains and canyons, rivers and seas. The younger child triumphed and in a fit of rage the elder one killed the younger. The great sky god cried out and asked why the elder had killed the younger. "Now I can never be defeated again, and none can challenge my strength or wit," the elder replied. Furiously the great sky god came to the elder to punish him, but the elder child struck first and killed the great sky god and devoured the remains. "Strength is truth, even gods fall before the mighty."

The Maahesians are not evil, and they are not savage. They do what they do because they believe it is righteous, because for them it is morally correct that the strong should dominate the weak. In their minds it is the natural order of the universe that the strong should become stronger and that the weak should be made to know their place. The weak exist to suffer so the strong don't have to. An apex predator doesn't consider the feelings or the ambitions of its prey because it has the right to thrive as much as any other being, even if it's at the expense of others. This is what it means to be Maahesian.

It should go without saying that none of this reflects my own personal opinions, by the way, it's just a thought experiment.
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