First, the Noble Humour
…even as three-quarters of Venezuelans lost an average 9kg of body weight last year, according to studies, and 10 per cent of infants suffer malnutrition according to the Catholic charity Caritas, Mr Libi’s Venezuelan oatmeal business, Avelina, made this comment on April 19: “Being vegetarian is an excellent way to reduce calorie intake.”
Mr. Libi is an ‘innovative businessman’ with close links to Venezuela’s socialist political elite, and has the wealth to prove it. But, socialist or capitalist, Muslim or Christian or Atheist, regardless of race or homeworld, military or corporate, traditionalist or revolutionary, an Imperial Noble is an Imperial Noble.
Naturally, not all Nobles are so tone-deaf to the public. But some are… and the more isolated they are by class and money, tradition and culture, the more common, the more deeper, and the more dangerous the isolation.
Escobar, the chicken and hog farmer, said the only way for farmers to remain in business today is to break the law and sell at market prices, hoping authorities look the other way.
“If I sold at regulated prices, I wouldn’t even be able to afford a single kilogram of chicken feed,” he said.
If it’s not a fear of the government that keeps Escobar awake at night, it’s criminal gangs. Since one of his delivery trucks was robbed in December, he has been forced to make “protection” payments to a mafia boss operating out of the local prison. Every Friday, three motorcycles stop by the farm to pick up an envelope of cash, he said. Calling the police would only escalate the danger.
“I know how to deal with chickens and pigs,” Escobar said, “but not criminals.”
There’s always the A-Team…
Actually, I think that most of the poorer worlds (nevermind local and regional governments!) would have a really difficult time dealing with four high-tech armed men with an air/raft, two decent-quality surveillance drones, and a hovering Scout/Courier with a good laser turret. Throw in a few drone machine-guns and some wisely selected sandbagged choke points, and you could hold off a good-sized number of local armed forces for a really long time, so long as the food and fuel (for the powerplants) holds out.
The thing is, this is really expensive: most local farmers, even a whole village or town of them, would never be able to afford it. But there could always be successful, off-world /spacer family members who might lend a hand.
In the end, I think that the local government will also call for off-world aid. Many can’t afford to pay market rates, or just be able to pay for a week or so of service.
“And that’s all the time my boys need,” I heard someone murmur under his breath…
It’s easier on the pocket to call for a tribal service — the Muslim Brotherhood being the standard example — but it has to be framed to fit their requirements. Asking their help on a Muslim-on-Muslim conflict isn’t likely to be successful: you need to reframe it into something like “Those inhuman infidels are crushing our brothers and sisters!”
(If the Brotherhood finds out that they’ve been tricked, There Will Be Consequences, so hidden evidence needs to stay hidden. “Dead men tell no tales.”)
It’s easy to frame this as a “racism, fuelled with alcohol” issue, and perhaps it is. But I’d rather draw your attention to a few other, broader points
- Locals don’t like it when wealthy outsiders chase their women.
- Using smartphone cameras in the wrong way really can kill you.
- Alcohol and xenophobia are a dangerous combination.
(“But it is more or less dangerous than Islam and xenophobia?” The debate rages across various speakeasies across the Six (Imperial) Subsectors of the Empty Quarter)
- Many people, even I, tend to see physical beatings as the soft-and-gentle way of settling scores, compared with knives or guns. But it took only 30 seconds (via head-kicking) to kill the American here. “Just because nobody is armed, does not mean that you are safe.”
- Here, the dead young businessman had a good scholarship, interned with the Texas government, was a natural easygoing peacemaker, and was looking to extend his clothing business locally. Sadly, none of this makes him any less dead.
(Assuming no arms, I think only a frontline military veteran on yellow alert mentally really stood a better than 50% chance of getting out alive in this situation.)
- Traveller beware. Always.
- Avoid situations involving willing local women, hostile local men, and alcohol.
- Situational awareness (a.k.a. “yellow alert”): it isn’t just for starships.
A gun or other weapon, coupled with the willingness to use it and knowing where you are and who you are talking with, can make the difference… but most cultures have weapon laws, which they will definitely enforce on weird foreigners.
And more lessons, on getting involved with the local women (from the comments here)
I have an Assyrian friend at work in Chicago who once told me of an honor killing in his town near Baghdad when he was a boy ( He’s in his mid fifties and has been here for 33 years ). He said there was a family living a block away where the daughter was having an affair with a neighbor boy.
Both families were Muslim. The girl had an older brother who was a butcher. When this older brother found out about his sister’s affair he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of the house into the street.
The neighbors heard her screaming and when they went outside to see what was happening they saw the brother using a butcher knife to cut his sister’s throat. When she was dead he dipped both hands in her blood, went to her boyfriend’s house and smeared her blood all over their front door.
I asked my friend what the police did about this. He said the police considered it a family matter so they didn’t get involved.
Locals vs Locals, here.
I don’t care to imagine what would happen if some alien infidel from the stars — apparently human or otherwise — got involved in a local affair.
“Different world, different customs”, indeed.
Keep your eyes open, Traveller.