The Civility

Something invisible slammed into Meralda’s shoulder. Splinters of bone flew away and the force knocked her to the ground, but by the time she bounced back up she was healed. It was just surface damage. A gray sheen of nanocytes swarmed the area and laid down a thick patch of synthetic exoskeleton over the impact site, transmuting calcium from the ambient air. The bone-armor had no nerve endings—what good could come of that?—so it hadn’t hurt in the least.

Kinetic weapons. Projectiles of lead and copper and steel accelerated by chemical explosives. Primitive.

The funny thing was, they looked human. Meralda didn’t think of them that way—couldn’t afford to—but a growing contingent back on the Civ worlds did. Sure, everyone’s ancestors—theirs and ours—could be traced back to colonists who could be traced back to more ancient colonists who eventually could be traced back to Earth, but that was more than a couple decamillennia ago, and that was if it was true at all. The history books were missing more than a few chapters. Got to draw the line somewhere, though. At some level everyone was your distant cousin, but that didn’t mean Meralda could go for a stroll on the Nobility Worlds. That would be mutiny under the Civility Code. That’s what made the Civ worlds civilized: the Codes. Rules. Boundaries. A clear delineation between who was us and who was them.

The moment the Royal Civility Warfront Guard touched down on this long-forgotten nameless planet from the time of the lost archives, it was legally a Civ world. And anyone here not born into the Civility was an invader. This was a planet under alien invasion, and Meralda was honor-bound to defend it with all her faculties.

Luckily, all her faculties wouldn’t be needed here. This was routine, and in this case unremarkable. Kinetic weapons. She scoffed, and with minimal effort turned an army of extremely distant cousins into water vapor and plasma. Pruning the family tree.

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