Eulogy for a White Rose
The story below is an offering timed for Valentine's Day and in celebration of Freedom and the fight against oppressors, wherever they might be found, in whatever type of skin and system of belief. There are times we all wish for the Arcadia to arise...
Captain Harlock, his crew and the Mighty Arcadia are all the inventions of Leiji Matsumoto, the Master of Romantic Anime. Harlock is a hero disguised as an anti-hero, following his dream of Freedom as we all yearn for and must fight for True Freedom.
I always wanted to know more about his relationship with Maya and have postulated here that they were indeed married. Her words here are a direct translation from My Youth in Arcadia.
This story fits (somewhat) into the continuity of My Youth in Arcadia and SSX. I have also blended the crews of several series and Tochiro is alive. Mr. Matsumoto reinvents his universe from time to time, so I'm jumping on that bandwagon with him!
Hopefully, these chapters, which are part of a larger work, will be pleasing to those who love the good Captain as much as I do!
Tochiro ran along the corridor of the Arcadia, trying to find the Captain. Everyone was looking for him. They had tried to Com him, but he wasn't in any of his usual "I want to be alone" places. He had been "in a mood" all that week and everyone had been trying NOT to cause him to get worse. It hadn't worked, of course, for Harlock had set a brutal pace with drills, exercises and battle simulations; each drill and simulation more difficult than the last. He had gotten them to recount what was stored in the hold three times and had them also check each of the 118 battle moons. For the last day, everyone, including Tochiro and Mimee, had been avoiding him whenever possible and now he couldn't be found!
Mimee tried to contact Harlock by telepathy, but he wasn't within range somehow. How could he be out of range on a battleship? The Arcadia was large, but not THAT large! Engineer Maji went into the Space Wolf boat bay to see if Harlock's personal flyer was still on board. It wasn't. That was odd, for no alarms had gone off alerting the bridge to any launch. He punched in to the Com. "He's not here - his flyer is gone." The bridge personnel all looked at each other in dismay, wondering where their Captain had gone and why he hadn't let anyone know where he was going - and how he had gotten out without anyone, including Tochiro, being any the wiser!
It had been obvious to everyone that he was struggling with something, but they had no idea what that something might be. Yattaran then ordered an all halt. The great and powerful Arcadia stopped in space and time to await her master's return. Tochiro pensively paced in the engine room, the now still heart of the Arcadia. He suddenly remembered the date back on Earth. His fist struck his palm in frustration. He should have remembered for now he knew why his friend had been so temperamental of late.
It had been three years - 1,095 days by an Earth calendar. He still couldn't believe that she was gone. That he wouldn't hear her call his name, scold him for something he'd done, or not done! Encourage him when things were tough and tell him to hold tight to his dreams - that they were worth fighting for. He'd never again feel the soft weight of her long blonde hair across his chest as they lay together, holding each other tightly. He's never hear her laugh again, or see excitement in her beautiful blue eyes, the color of the lakes of their native Thuringia, except in his dreams. That after all they had both sacrificed they wouldn't finally be together. His chest hurt at the thought of it. It was like someone had carved out a hole in his heart and left a black hole behind. He felt hollow inside. Numb.
He forced his eye(s) to the front of the cockpit of his Space Wolf fighter. He had had it fitted with worm hole drive and it could go vast distances using the new drive using the vibrating strings within the spheres of matter itself. It needed no other fuel, only the fabric of space and time. It was also stealthed at the moment; he could see but not be seen or marked. That would scare the crap out of them, he thought. Serve them right!
The white rose he held in his gloved right hand was beginning to fade, he thought sadly. A rose as her sigil, white and pure; held in gloves that she had made for him, embossed with the Harlock family sigil of the death's-head across the backs of his hands. He smiled gently, remembering when she had given him the gloves. And he remembered her pricked fingers from working the gold bullion into the gloves. She hadn't wanted him to know about her hands - so she had put them into long white gloves to hide the small wounds, but the blood had seeped through in a couple of spots, so he had known the cost of his gloves. Neither of them remarked on her hands, but she knew that he had known. They always knew what the other was thinking - it came of long history and hearts that were attuned to each other. He remembered dancing with her that night, her elegantly upswept hair that he hadn't been allowed to touch, the flowing white ball gown and long white gloves as he guided her in a Viennese Waltz across the floor, having eyes for nothing but the ethereal woman in his arms.
As he looked forward to the front of the cockpit, towards Sol's glare, he lowered the solar shield so that he could still see. It would be soon, now, he thought. He had calculated the trajectories and the decay of the orbits to this date, this time. He enlarged the view screen so that he didn't have to get too close to the fury of the star. He wanted to honor them. Especially her. Maya. His love and his heart, for he had obviously lost both that day when she died.
Hence his moods and darkness since then, his fury at those who would enslave Earth by taking their hope, their freedom and their future. So he fought. Again and again and again. Over and over - a new threat came constantly now, because the people of Earth had forgotten who they were. And now they were easy pickings for those who sought to use and destroy the bright blue world spinning off in the distance.
She had tried to keep them remembering who they were, the people of Earth, she'd tell them not to forget and spun verbal pictures of the world that Earth had been and hopefully, one day would be again. And because her message was one of hope and love, she had been cruelly hunted down and murdered by those who sought to murder the Earth as well. His hand tightened on the rose and the stem broke in his grasp. He would not forget, nor forgive - some things were not possible for him to forgive.
He knew that there were others who remembered, still fought the good fight to protect and defend. His hope was in those people. Her hopes would have been with them, too. He opened a tight angle data stream towards the bright blue world off in the vast distance with a strong enough burst to override all other data played at that moment. He smiled mirthlessly at the thought of the invader boot-licking human officials scrambling to cut off the data feed. He played for all of them her words of hope , even to the ones who had sold their souls to the invaders.
'This is the voice of Free Arcadia. Let us go to the desert, bearing flowers. Let us go to meet hope, bearing flowers. I am Maya. People of Earth, I wanted to keep calling to you, always, I wanted to keep on singing with you. But I cannot go on any longer. Please forgive me. This is the voice of Free Arcadia, this is..."
His mind wandered to her last living words to him as she lay dying in his arms. "Harlock... I believed ... that you would surely come back... that you were the kind of man who would surely keep even a promise to a dead friend. Let us go together.. to that Sea of Stars. I have been dreaming all along of going to the Sea of Stars with you, like Heiligenstadt, our Arcadia, where we ran together...I had so many things to say to you... So many things to ask you. "
Harlock bowed his head in grief. It may have been three years, but the wound was as if it had been inflicted upon his heart that very hour. He swallowed and blinked his eye(s) rapidly to clear them for they had suddenly clouded over for some reason. He then followed the feed with her last message to him. He played it on the Arcadia when his heart, mind, soul and body were weary of battle and he needed fresh resolve.
Since there were many on Earth who were also weary of battle, he hoped it would give them fresh resolve, too. Fight! He willed at them, fight the hopelessness, ennui and passiveness. Fight your fears and desires to just let the enemies of mankind and the universe have its way with you. Fight, damn it! Fight and live! If only he could give them his strength, determination and hope! He punched the toggle again for the final feed release. Maya's voice filled the cockpit and echoed on every data screen and broadcast frequency on the Earth. Anything with Video pickup also displayed the Flag of Freedom as Maya's voice was heard across the conquered and crumbling cities of Earth.
" You who are setting out now with the Flag of Freedom flying, 'til the day when you again return. Goodbye. I believe that no matter how far you may be you will never forget Earth. No one can stop you setting out on your journey under your flag. Goodbye. But it is because you are such a man, one who has always believed in tomorrow, never losing dreams and hope, that I remember with pride the days when I talked with you. I pray your future will be as you believe. Goodbye, my Harlock. Please live, no matter what. I can see the red fire of belief in the future burning in your heart. I can see the fire burning of a man who will not betray a friend. It is because you are such a man that I love you. I'll become one of those fires in your heart. I will become one with that fire and burn forever, Harlock."
Maya's voice stopped and he toggled the feed to off. He wondered how panic stricken the invaders were and what the cowards who kowtowed to them were doing. Probably running around in fear, trying to figure out if he was there with the Arcadia to take his vengeance upon them. The thought of that made him grin sourly. He'd love to cause them some sleepless nights. Harlock turned his attention to the display in front of him. The sun's corona was brilliant and active with solar flares erupting from its surface. Rather like the fire in his belly.
At that moment, he saw through the cockpit shield, missile shell tubes, bearing Mira, then Zoll and finally, Maya, into the brilliant corona of the sun. There was a momentary flare and then they were gone. As they went into the sun's corona, he raised his right hand to his forehead in an ancient, time honored salute, to these his honored dead. He watched the entire process and didn't flinch when the sun took Maya into its fiery embrace. He fingered the gold bullion stitched on the backs of his gloves. Those gloves, a wedding band, some pictures of happier times, and a single, now broken and wilted white rose, were all he had left of her. "Burn within me, Maya, and I will see you again, somewhere at the end of time, in the Sea of Stars", he whispered. "I intend to fight until I am nothing but bones," was his quiet vow.
Silently, he set course back to where the Arcadia awaited for her Master and Commander. He punched the intergalactic coordinate codes into the NavComp, slid into a wormhole and out of the orbit of Sol and her attendant planets, one of whom had spacecraft boiling off of it, all intent on finding the elusive Captain of the Arcadia.
They would be too late, of course. For he was gone, to return another day to bedevil them again. And again. For however long it would take to free the Earth and her people. He had all of time and space to do it in, but they had to be a part of it. Freedom was expensive - its cost was that of the blood of those who fought and died for it - and until they shook off their fear and ennui, he would have to remind them of their sacred trust. And try to keep them fed until they remembered. Where there was life, there remained hope. If the price on his head was an indication of his effectiveness, he was actually getting somewhere...
Harlock blended back into normal space and admired the Arcadia from the outside. Tochiro was an engineer of the First Water. In fact, he may well be the best engineer in all of time, Harlock thought. The Arcadia was a blend of an ancient whimsical design of a Pirate Sea Frigate, a Second World War submarine and a modern space faring warship of the thirtieth century. With an external auxiliary bridge he could ride the Arcadia and pilot her across time and space using his body on sensory deck plates to guide altitude, loft and lift as they applied to space, and the archaic looking wheel and bar to guide the ship laterally as an extension of himself. It gave him deadly wings.
It even had a flag that fluttered in the solar winds of space. Noir, Deaths-Head superior and crossed humerus bones inferior, Argent. He smiled. Despite the actions and battles, Maya's handiwork still survived there, too. Who would have thought that a flag made three years ago by the hands of his beloved Maya would have survived all the battles of the past years since their exile from Earth?
She had also made his current "uniform". Very dramatic, it was, too! A black skin-tight flight suit also bearing his family's sigil on his chest - rather hard to miss... It bore gold zippers on the seams and had a blue veed area at the neckline that she had liked against his skin coloring. He smiled as he remembered opening the case containing his garb and the flag. She had even enclosed his gold spurs as the Pirate Knight of Arcadia, not to mention his powerful Gravity Saber.
Then he had pulled out the cape. He had almost laughed, but then had read her note. "This is a bit dramatic, but you will need this in close quarters battle as the enemy will not be able to hit you easily with this flapping around you, hiding your form." It did give him an air of mystery, distance and authority, he supposed. Cavalier boots with knee guards had completed the outfit, but since he wasn't going near any horses on a starship, he normally folded the cuffs down to below his knees. There were also knives secreted in carriers on either forearm and also in boot sheaths. Along with his Gravity Saber, he carried the equally powerful Cosmodragoon that Tochiro had built for him.
He also wore body armor, but that wasn't as easy to tell at first glance. Maya had actually made his garments out of temperature controlled flexible body armor and they were extremely tough and durable - a normal dragoon pistol's shot would be deflected, though his own Cosmodragoon's bolt would pierce it easily. It was probably a good idea to be this well protected with as much trouble that found him!
He piloted the Space Wolf to the docking bay. He keyed on his Com and squirted a communication to his ship. "I'm back. We leave in 20 minutes," and cut the Com as he didn't feel like answering questions at that moment. He was certain they were probably a little annoyed with him. He hadn't been in the best mood of late and had worked the crew very hard. Now, in spite of and indeed perhaps because of, they would put all of that into practice. Harlock acknowledged that he still had a huge black hole in his heart, but somehow, it wasn't quite as painful as it had been earlier that day. He suspected that he would grieve for Maya a long time and wondered if he would ever get over her death. "Not likely," he mused. No, his commitment to freedom and his vow to her would never be forgotten. The very stars themselves would fade, first.
He entered the bridge, mounted the bar and grasped the wheel of the mighty warship. He planted his feet at shoulder width on the deck plates to activate them, causing his spurs to jangle. He set his eyes on the forward view screen, then his crew, and finally to Tochiro, who nodded gravely. Harlock raised his hand from the wheel pointed to there and commanded, "Arcadia, Hasshin!" The ship leapt forward at his command, guided by the solid stance and pressure of his feet, the weight of his body and his sure hand upon the wheel. It might be archaic looking, but the Arcadia was a joy to pilot.
His thoughts were fierce. The invaders were already shaking in their boots. He'd go and reinforce that fear. A wolf's smile came across his scarred and one-eyed face. Besides, he liked blowing stuff up - it was fun. The crew's faces mirrored his as they reasoned that the week's drills were now going to be put in practice.
The invaders should be afraid. After all, the Arcadia was a symbol of freedom along with being the toughest battleship ever made, anywhere at any time. She slipped through the strands of the spheres easily guided by her Captain and emerged into normal space outside of the orbit of Saturn, above the plane of the ecliptic, the site of their new test. They looked down on the disk of humanity's birthplace and upon a distant single marble-like sphere, blue with white clouds on its surface. Resolve hardened their faces as they prepared to battle the invaders. "Red Signals to all hands, prepare for battle."
Harlock swung the Arcadia into a graceful dive into the solar system's rotational plane. He commanded the stealth to be removed at the last moment as they pounded into the alien's base on the moon called Lapetus in orbit around the turbulent gas giant of Saturn. The aliens mounted a counter attack in all confusion as Harlock had caught them by surprise yet again. "Let's pull their teeth - target their communications and the protective base cannons," Harlock ordered, "but leave the storage and hydroponics facilities alone. Battle Plan Red, Execute."
After destroying the base's communication center in a single salvo, Tochiro and Yattaran proceeded to pulverize the base's protective armament in a steady fire from the main and auxiliary cannons. The power of the Arcadia's bombardment shredded the heavy ground mounted cannon. The aliens mounted a counter volley against the Arcadia before the shredding was completed. While the shields of the ship would hold, Harlock knew that if any of that volley hit directly, they could be in trouble for ground mounted armament and ordinance was far heavier than what was normally possible in a warship, even one such as the Arcadia. It was why a surprise attack was more useful against such armament.
He made an impossible move with the Arcadia as if she was as small as a regular fighter. Nimbly, he avoided a cavalcade of missiles and threaded his way closer to his target. He bore into the installation, and they quickly took out most of the defensive armament in a matter of five minutes.
The base fielded fighters to repel the Arcadia. "Space Wolf Teams Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, launch," commanded Harlock. Three teams of the Arcadia's fighter pilots launched from the bay of the great ship. Each team only consisted of ten Space Wolves, but they were as tough as cruisers, able to be stealthed and carried a payload of 14 tons of nuclear, laser and heavier grazer bombs. Not to mention the Grazer Gatling guns - an invention of Tochiro's from a year ago that required no fueling as they also used the fabric of space itself for powering the deadly guns as well as the tough ships shields made from the same fabric, molded differently. Useful when supplies were so difficult to come by. All of this packed into a ship as comparatively tiny as a flyer. Thirty ships so armed could hold their own against a much larger and seemingly better armed force.
The Space Wolves were feared in their own right and Harlock's face mirrored those of his fighter pilot's faces - a fearsome grin, deadly in intent. They launched counter measures that beguiled the enemy's missiles, then spiraled, dodged, jinked and seemed to magically avoid any involvement with the alien's fighters - other than to pound them into stardust. The enemy could afford a battle of attrition. Harlock could not, so his pilots had to be better than anyone else - and they were because experience was a wonderful teacher. The Space Wolves caused a heavy toll on the defending fleet. Harlock left them no quarter, no mercy, and no room to maneuver as he guided the Arcadia as nimbly as if she were the 31st fighter plane. And she had heavier firepower capacity, to boot. In fact, this attack underlined the fact that the Arcadia was more formidable than the heavy base mounted cannons they had encountered here. Harlock had wanted to test them against the Arcadia in a more controlled situation, hence this exercise. He gave a feral grin. The Arcadia was better by far and this was a very good thing to know!
He maneuvered ever closer, leaving them no room for purchase against him or his fleet of Space Wolves. He held them at bay between the hard surface of the moon and the unforgiving barrage of his firepower. Eventually, they were no more. He had gutted their command and communications center early on in the pitched battle - the better to cause confusion - which it had.
The entire battle had lasted 30 minutes. Much debris circled the now quiet moon, where moments before chaos had reigned.
"No vital signs apparent on the moon or in any of the wreckage," Mimee said quietly. "I don't sense anyone alive down there. The storage areas read to be mostly intact - some damage happened as a result of their facilities and flyers crashing into them as they were destroyed. Probably a 75% save rate. The hydroponics domes are secure and undamaged."
"Good," said Harlock. "Strike the anchor nearby." An anachronistic looking ships anchor sprang from the flank of the Arcadia. It was actually a tractor beam, but since Tochiro liked ancient symbols of the maritime, he had whimsically added the picturesque anchor.
Harlock ordered the reclamation team to advance. Their target was the food supplies contained within the hydroponics domes and the store houses from the various star farms. If they were lucky they would find a delivery schedule from the now alien controlled Star Farms. IF they were very lucky, they would find more supplies and food for the starving people of Earth. He donned his EV suit and flew down to the surface of the moon as he didn't want the Arcadia to power down. "We need to be done in an hour and a half," Harlock called over the suit Com. "Reinforcements likely will be able to be here in about 120 minutes and we need to be gone by then." The Aye, Sir's" filtered back to him over the Com links.
He joined the team in what was left of the command center. He wanted to know if there was anything valuable left in the main battle computer that would give him an edge. They spread out and checked for any Comp that still had life in it. One flickered by the command chair, which was occupied by a dead alien. Good. One less of them, he thought. He rifled through the Comp's commands and then removed the data core to take back with him to the Arcadia for review. As he looked at it, he was relieved to find that it hadn't been wiped yet. Excellent, he thought, they didn't have time or the sense to dump the memory core. They probably thought that they had more time and that they would beat him.
"Sir," said Harley, over at the communication and science station. "I've found out that a major food shipment will be coming to this facility in about thirty minutes and these poor saps didn't have time or the ability to squawk out a do not approach order." He grinned. "How much food were we looking for?"
Harlock looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "I don't know, not to be greedy, but how much is there?"
"Enough to feed Pre-war Europe, sir." He grinned. Harlock grinned back. The resistance movement was going to be VERY happy! The only problem was, with the condition of the base, how were they going to lure in the cargo ship and keep them fat, dumb and happy before they intercepted it? Then, they had to deliver the bonanza to the people who needed it, all under the noses of the Earth Gov toadies and their alien keepers. No, not a small problem but it had the benefit of being a great outcome if they could pull it off. No, WHEN they pulled it off. He was determined. And stubborn. Sometimes that particular attribute was as much a curse as it was a blessing. He started planning the sortie. Let's see... he mused and put his intelligent and resourceful mind to this new, different battle plan.
He was back on the Arcadia and looking over Tochiro's shoulder, watching as the smaller man worked on the data core from the Lapetus base. "Well?" Harlock asked as Tochiro raised his bespeckled face to meet his Captain's eye(s). "I'm in," said Tochiro, "and I think that we're in luck. The incoming freighter from Starfarm #5 is unmanned on robotic autopilot and is basically blind and dumb. Can't ask for a better combination if we're going to steal it."
Harlock thought it over for a moment. He crossed his arms on his chest as he considered the information. Harlock had thought that this would be the case, but had wanted to be certain as he didn't like to risk his men without a set of good odds. The glimmer of a plan formed in his mind that not only would feed a lot of people on Earth, but also make the alien invaders and their toadies in Earth Gov look like total idiots. Not bad, no, not bad at all...
He turned from Tochiro and strode towards the bridge with Tochiro in tow. "What are you thinking, Harlock?" "Oh, you'll see," he replied. "Something that I think you will like a lot." Damn, thought Tochiro, why does he always have to be so close-mouthed about these things? The engineer, builder and inventor of everything on the Arcadia couldn't always wrap his head around Harlock's plans. Sometimes those plans were downright dangerously brilliant and sometimes they were breath taking and audacious in scope. Tochiro was curious as to what Harlock would do with the freighter and its contents and how he was going to pull it off. Especially if they wanted to pull this little maneuver off again without causing the aliens to change an easy mark into a harder one for the next time...
Tochiro looked at his tall friend with his crossed arms and closed, scarred face as they entered the lift to the bridge and realized that the black cloud that had surrounded Harlock had left while his inner sadness remained. There seemed to be a renewed sense of purpose and determination in him. That could only be a good thing, in light of what date he knew this to be - the anniversary of Maya's death, their exile from Earth and the battle with Commander Zeda as they had left Earth to fight their own fight. Since then, they had struck where and when they could against the aliens but the Empire was so large and the enemy was numerous and held all the high cards. Harlock seemed to have had an epiphany in his outing and Tochiro wondered where it would take all of them.
They exited the lift and Harlock strode over to the bar and leapt easily onto the platform. He intently watched the magnified image of the freighter headed in their direction. He then asked Tochiro if he would be able to fold some space around the destroyed base on the planet below and change the coordinates of the space around them to that of the Arcadia. Tochiro blinked. Yeeeeesss, he could do that - why hadn't he thought of that before? He grinned, seeing Harlock's plan.
Tochiro manipulated the vibrating strands of the String Drive in a small way and caused the strands of matter around the Arcadia to vibrate with the same frequency and intensity as the ones on the destroyed base. He then projected the information within the strands themselves and was chuckling as he noted the space to fold, just so, perfectly mimicking the destroyed base. He modulated it to include his own idea - the storage facility on the base itself.
The freighter moved closer and sent out Friend/Foe handshake, which Kei then obligingly provided from their pirated information from the Base's Comp at Harlock's command. The hold of the Arcadia opened to receive the delivery of the badly needed supplies and food aboard the freighter. The freighter robotically unloaded the delivery, got a proper electronic "receipt" for that delivery from Kei and then dumbly trundled along its way back to the conquered Star Farm it had come from. Neat, clean and no damage to either the freighter or the Arcadia.
Tochiro snickered. The aliens would be hard pressed to figure out where the supplies had gone, as the freighter had "delivered" its supplies to a now destroyed base. The invaders wouldn't figure out how it was done, only that it had been done, he thought. They would suspect, but they wouldn't know...
Once the freighter was on its way, Tochiro unfolded space and returned all the strands to their former states. The Arcadia then quietly slid back into stealth and slipped between and was gone.
The invader forces that arrived 30 minutes later found a destroyed base, no supplies and completely empty hydroponic domes. There was no evidence as to who had attacked as the Data Comp core was gone, all backup systems were trashed beyond hope of salvage and there were no records or evidence as to what had happened, only the results of a massive attack and theft of all of the goods. Even all of the plant life in the hydroponics dome was gone. The commander of the force fumed. It could only have been Harlock, he thought. Without proof though, it wasn't going to be an easy sell - the damn pirate had admirers and they would say that without proof, one couldn't very well accuse the man, now could you... The humans and their inconvenient beliefs - "Innocent until proven guilty," Bah. Useless, the lot of them but until the High Command said so, they were to be given lip service. He snorted. He'd give them lip service, alright!
The commmander checked his own records and realized that the major shipment they had been scheduled to meet with was due only a short interval before, but there was no freighter in sight, nor its wreckage. He pounded the console in frustration. This could actually prove to be worse than the destruction of the base and the theft of all of its supplies! For the freighter was why they were even here. "Find that freighter!" He shouted. They searched the area for it without success. So, it was either destroyed with the base, or on its way home to the Starfarm. The commander ordered the ship to trace the freighter on the Starfarm route, hoping it had left before it had been destroyed or raided.
When they later caught up with the freighter and queried its documentation, they discovered a perfectly valid and proper receipt coded as if from the base itself that the freighter's Comp obligingly supplied along with an entirely empty hold. No breaches in protocol and everything was perfect. Right. A trusting soul would say the freighter had delivered before the attack and that everything had been destroyed in that attack. That is what the insurance people would say.
The commander howled with frustration and ground his back teeth. How had they done it? He KNEW it was Harlock... yet there was absolutely NO proof. Resigned, he returned to the base and set his recovery teams to the sad task of claiming the dead and clearing the space around the mutilated base for rebuilding.
He had already sent a message to High Command regarding the losses and had received an earful of invective in return. That food delivery was supposed to be a bribe for cooperation of a group of Earth people who were proving to be rather difficult. It was difficult to complete the rape of the planet for resources for your own world when you kept getting attacked in the process by the planet you thought you had conquered. Hence, the bribe to keep their children fed and the protestors quiet. So long as they had food, they didn't seem to care about anything else. Without food, they were a difficult people, as like to agree with you as to attack.
He grimaced. He'd do his duty, he thought, but just once, he'd like to get a piece of that damn pirate...and take all of these indignities out on his miserable, thrice damned human hide.