Prompt 7: Another Way – 501 Prompts

The Prompt

Most intelligent species in the galaxy aren’t equipped for war, and humans conquer planets with ease. One commander turns traitor and helps an alien race resist.
In5000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan

My Story

Fleet commander Trisha Jones had made a colossal mistake. Her orders had been to conquer the planet inhabited by the Octonians, one of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the entire known universe. And a race of pacifists who had no concept of fighting and conquer, as she had found out after leading a devastating massacre against the unsuspecting alien race.

“Why didn’t you react to the warnings of the Empire?” asked Trisha. In the aftermath, she had confronted their leaders just to find out the truth and was lead by Bralga, one of the Octonians’ elders. They followed one of their high tech arcways that span the surface of the planet. Around them, life was flourishing in the protective atmosphere of the arcway.

“Because they made no sense to us,” answered the alien in the universal language of the Empire. Trisha didn’t know how they learned it because she was sure they communicated in a different language among each other. But studying the Octonian race had never been an interest of the Empire.

Trisha looked at it while keeping up with the slow pace. Somehow those aliens reminded her of squids, a species of animals that had long gone extinct on Earth. Bralga’s skin was changing color schemes between a dark blue and a vibrant purple. Trisha suspected it had some connection to their communication or even emotional state. Another riddle that humanity didn’t care to solve.

“What do you mean?”

The thin tentacles along the alien’s jawline kept moving in an unknown rhythm. “We cannot give away what we do not have. This planet is not ours. Every single being is part of its large ecosystem. How could we be so arrogant to claim it all for ourselves?”

Trisha bit her lip. She wouldn’t have believed any of it before the assault. After the day played out as it had, she wasn’t so sure about it anymore. “Your civilization spans the entire planet. Judging from the state of technology I have seen so far, it seems impossible for me to get there without exploiting the planet’s resources.”

“Just because it seems impossible to you, doesn’t mean that it is. Maybe it is nothing but an excuse you keep telling yourself to justify your own actions.”

Trisha paused. Her head started spinning with many thoughts she couldn’t place just yet. But seeing nature and life prosper around her had convinced her of one thing. That the Empire was a voracious beast. In its endless hunger, humanity had feasted on Earth’s corpse and then had taken to spread destruction and despair everywhere they went.

Maybe the Octonians and their ways were the solutions to fixing the mess her ancestors had created. If so, she had to protect them. She gulped.

“You folks have to fight. And I will show you how.”

My Thoughts

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Writing time: 20 minutes
Editing time: 60 minutes

With this prompt, I learned that I have difficulties with writing around a fixed concept. The story is pretty much set in this outline, and I didn’t know how to approach it.
My first thoughts went to the alien race. What makes them intelligent? Is it just a technological advantage? Or is there more behind that. In my imagination, they are people that have left behind the idea of possession and domination. They live in cooperation with each other and their surroundings. Maybe that’s a bit cliched when looking at similar storylines like this. But I liked them like that.
To be honest, I didn’t put much thought into their design. I just imagined squid headed humanoid-esque beings. With large flowing robes, that for some reason, I didn’t mention anywhere. Squids are pretty cool and sensible creatures. So I thought Spacesquids would be even better.
Next, I had to come up with a reason for the commander to turn against their people. I mean, there are a lot of possible scenarios to come up with. But to me, a passionate motive made the most sense. You wouldn’t join the clearly losing side if you’re in it for selfish reasons, I guess.
So I put the commander in the place of just having defeated those gentle aliens, basically committing an atrocity. Not knowing what was going on, she needed to find answers to why things had played out like they did. So she went to them and asked. Learning about them is often the best approach to find empathy towards others. And she is confronted with an alternative approach to civilization that shows her how her own species had failed. So she decides to switch sides, hoping it would present a solution for humanity’s problems.
Or something like that. I’m not really satisfied with this concept, but it’s what I’ve come up with.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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