“Tell me, how has Vyaeh rule been?” Taos said. “I’ve heard how the Krne feel about it, of course, but this planet is still largely cut off from the Vyaeh FTL network. That and every voice I’ve picked out has been utterly boring.”

“I’m not sure rule is the right word,” Myassa said. “We send them our resources, and in exchange the richest folks are able to buy their technology. Everyone else just acts as if nothing has changed. We even still vote in elections, but the choice is always between two Vyaeh cronies.”

“Ruling through cronies is very cost efficient,” Taos said. “But I imagine that things don’t go well if you try to assert yourself.”

“Ask Kabul about that,” said Myassa. “Oh, wait, you can’t, because the Vyaeh glassed it from orbit and sent in an assault carrier loaded with elite troops.”

“Better to just keep your head down, watch bad Vyaeh-approved shows or worse reruns, while buying stuff off the local network and just accepting that ten cents of every purchase goes offworld, hm?” Taos said. “And to think, on Kl’tlei, you once took out a Vyaeh officer at seventeen klicks’ distance with a sniper rifle of my own design.”

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