A flash fiction prompt from /r/worldbuilding, this time, courtesy of their Weekly Challenge.
“You have been found guilty of committing grievous atrocities against your country, your fellow man, and your sovereign ruler. For your crimes, you have been sentenced to a fate many consider to be worse than death: exile. You will be escorted to the borders of the realm and then sent out into the wilderness to live or die at the gods’ whims.”
Let’s talk about “Exiles“. What terrible crimes can earn someone such a fate in your world? Where are exiles sent, and what are their chances of survival? What notorious figures have been exiled and what became of them?
My response comes from slightly further forward in the Nine Lives of Michal Piech series, from a book provisionally titled Points of the Compass. Squire Jerzy Zakowski receives a mysterious letter. It’s based on the historical concept of ‘blackbirding’, which involved the kidnap and shipment of indigenous peoples from Asia and Australasia overseas for forced labour.
Dear Madame Zakowska, the letter read.
“I received your letter of 15 Krasnia and apologise for the delay in response. This was due to a large number of enquiries since the beginning of the summer. Our programme has been unexpectedly popular, particularly in the wake of such extraordinary civil violence that we saw at the beginning of this year.
Jerzy Zakowski’s mother had evidently requested this information before the shoot had cemented Michal’s poor reputation in the village. The young squire shook his head and skimmed through the initial formalities swiftly.
We know how important it is to many institutions and estates that troublemakers are removed from circulation without the tedium or uncertainty of legal process. We take all comers; there is therefore no need to inquire whether the physical strength of the person in question will be suitable for our purposes, or whether we take the fairer sex. We have as much use for women as we have for men. Although their virtue may be put at risk due to communal living quarters and the presence of our troops, those who come to us have often already surrendered it, as you note Miss Osiatynska has. Some of them even rediscover their dignity.
She had obviously asked after a place for Kasia as well.
Many have found that after a certain period of settlement they have improved in health and vigour, and have discovered a fortitude and taste for honest work which modern life has failed to inculcate. There is every chance of rehabilitation and even prosperity for someone who comes to us. Even women have numbered amongst our hardest physical labourers. There is no fixed sentence; rather, a board will assess whether a person has earned their liberty, though passage back to Insula is not on offer under usual circumstances.
There are certain privations and necessary hardships in life in the colonies, and much infrastructure needing to be built in the short time we have before formal incorporation of Lenkija and Vesgale into the Empire. A uniform and closed barracks are the initial situation for the deportee, as might be expected from any penal institution on Imperial soil. Escape attempts are rare but punished severely. Runaways find no succour among the locals, because of the theft and violence that occurs when these people achieve the freedom they squandered over here.
Since this is often used to rehabilitate petty offenders, you need not make it a choice. As a landowner, you have the right to order Piasecki and Osiatynska to come with us, but I suggest you leave it to us to enforce your orders. We do not want anyone else getting hurt in the process.
I hope this satisfies your request for information.
I am, as always, your obedient servant,
Dr Arvid Chislenko, Mjr, Medical Corps, Krovt division, 18 Lipnia 1,986 IC.
Zakowski threw the letter on the floor and stalked out. “I will not be a part of this barbarity. Ever.”