Stalwart

A work of speculative narrative poetry... for good or ill. With this I sought to consider the potential depths of depravity possible should those with power gain the ability to control, rather than coerce, a person's opinions.

I was a Baron,

Hereditary Lord of the moon 'Gryphon'

A small and distant colony it had been,

Ruled by the line of Jones, by all its sons

For three centuries

But now, through a fear of Stalwart you'll see

Only death; my Stalwarts were slain to a one.

 

It was through my Father that our fall began,

Curse that stupid man,

Through his blunders, our family's grave is dug

For now I, alone, amongst foul bodies stand,

The Baron, consigned to the life of a bug.

Father made the drug,

He made anew what cowards blithely banned.

 

'Stalwart', it was named.

The drug; the tool by which the Empire was taen.

Malleable microbes of old legend,

Once inside someone they make straight for the brain,

Emotions they tend,

Replacing the feelings of men and women

With whatever ones their masters ordain.

 

My forebears and other visionaries

Conquered worlds subtly

Releasing their microbes into the air

A day passed, and then they had an army.

Slaves, scarcely aware

That by another's will they would now dare

Kill and destroy and do so with sheer glee.

 

It could have been bloodless,

Their revolution; no need for such a mess

When they could have unleashed Stalwart everywhere.

Yet the First Emperor thought 'What kind of quest

Would that make to snare

Hearts and forge legends?' No, it was scant fare.

For history's sake, they had to aggress.

 

They converted more worlds, they took more meat,

And they thought it meet

Entire worlds seized by a blinding hate,

An urge to see the Federation's defeat

Murder was their fate

Civilian, soldier, adult, child; they'd sate

Their blood-lust in the Emperor's dread-feat.

 

In worked, in a way.

The slaves were set loose, madly did they slay

His Majesty's foolish, un-vigilant foes,

The old, lazy Federation was slain

It was done, although

The Stalwart slaves lust for killing was not stowed

Sealed deep in hate, none could take it away.

 

Even as they killed, they were desperate to kill

And they had no fill,

Their minds rationalized their enemies

Everywhere, and everywhere did blood spill,

Yes, legendary

Was the first Emperor's righteous quest indeed.

Before the end, fifty colonies were stilled.

 

It was resolved at last,

His Majesty was required to blast

All the infected planets clean of life,

Not one microbe could remain; unsurpassed

Was the destruction; rife

The ruination needed to end the strife.

At least we had won, the slaves' usefulness passed.

 

(I digress, I know, my apologies.)

Stalwart then was ceased,

All remaining samples burned, all research purged,

It was judged 'chaotic' and potentially

Could become the tool of any with the urge

To cause a new dirge

For the regime of His (fearful) Majesty.

 

Case in point; Father,

He had a brilliant mind, but neither

Over-much wisdom nor discernible wits.

He laboured to remake Stalwart but rather

Than think how to use it,

He schemed the obvious scheme, conquest, the twit.

We were small, alone; he courted disaster.

 

He had to be dealt with, so I killed him

And I replaced him.

Perhaps with Stalwart I could have changed his mind

But... well, no matter. Few indeed were grim

When came the end of the old Baron's time,

Providence divine

They thought it, once Stalwart slaved them to my whims.

 

It was wonderful

In those few short weeks, truly delightful.

I was ruler of my proper fiefdom

And my people, by my will, knew how rightful

It was. They were done

With sneers and whispers, of that I'd have none,

Only good service, and all were dutiful.

 

People threw flowers when I walked the streets,

Children shared their sweets,

Women vied violently for my notice

And, generous as I was, I gave 'treats'

And deigned to have trysts.

I knew true rightness then, I knew such bliss

And all through the servile chaff, transformed to wheat.

 

But Father, damn the man,

He destroyed it all, he broadcast his plan

To our friend, Baron Samuel of 'Midas',

Before he told me and I stayed his hand.

Sam is no foolish ass.

Like me, he saw that we would be outclassed.

He revealed all (and thus his world still stands.)

 

The Imperial fleet closed in slowly

And methodically.

Our trade lanes, though barely used, were blockaded,

No ships had come to Gryphon in those weeks

Yet scores were raided

Around our neighbour 'Ajax' – 'confiscated'

Was much of worth due to the fleet's 'scrutiny'.

 

I had taken care;

Stalwart would never have spread to where

It should not go, I'd not risk being found,

I'd risk no damage to my perfect lair.

I sought not the crown!

I craved not conquest, glory nor renown,

Why couldn't they see that?! Why? It's not fair!

 

Well... on with the story, hmm? The fleet came

With false words of blame.

Prince Lucian himself had the command

And swore he'd 'Put all traitors to the flame.'

As was my sworn right, I made just demand;

'Stay this reprimand,

Listen; I am no traitor, and no one's bane.'

 

I realize now;

Through my example I could have endowed

The Empire with such security.

Imagine; all dissent utterly thrown down,

But it could not be,

The Prince thought of his public image only,

Fool. It will never be what it could have, now.

 

In their hundreds, the Prince's killers swarmed

My streets before dawn.

In airtight suits they came to burn and slay,

My people tried to resist as all was torn

Down around me; not one saw the break of day.

Ashen now they stay,

None left to, at my directing, mourn.

 

Then came the looting,

Like at Ajax, the Prince worked privateering

Into his mission to save the Empire.

Once he'd stole my treasures, then came the burning.

Home became a pyre,

All I can ever smell now is the fire.

I'll die in this unjust waste. How unfitting.

 

As my world was sacked, I was chained and beat.

A 'fitting defeat'

For the Prince to gloat from his flagship

Where he surveyed all, free from the death and heat.

Of titles and entitlements I was stripped,

My Baron's garb was ripped

And I was left to rot, Lord of charred meat.

 

I was a Baron,

Now I walk naked through the streets of Gryphon.

Last of my line, murdered by lunacy,

Left to cry of the injustice to the sun.

Gone is the beauty,

Gone that servitude that was due to me,

All my peerless worthiness is undone.