"Your colony is not producing sufficiently. What explanation do you have to offer?" a disembodied voice questioned without the usual pleasantries at the start of the monthly status report calls. It was a hollow and cold voice, lacking a distinctive gender but carrying an unmistakable overtone of condescension.
"Our colony is productive. Our economic and intellectual metrics are green. We are a net exporter of valuable goods and services. We are producing sufficiently." the planetary administrator replied flatly.
The voice waited as if expecting more, before questioning in a slightly annoyed manner, "Have you intentionally overlooked your military compliance requirements? Your recruitment programs for mandatory military service are still lacking in both quantity and quality."
"Our programs produce high quality individuals," the administrator replied. "People are playing the entry qualification games, and we are recruiting the top scorers and vetting them for active combat roles. People are in the schools, passing the Galactic Standard Tests you require, and we're doing further tests to sort more effectively for leadership and technical qualities. We're only sending you our best, what else do you want?" the administrator asked, trying to load his question with as much incredulity as he felt safe using.
"Your best, in both quality and quantity, still do not compare to the adjusted expectations based on the historical cultural distinctions that the Demographic Determination Council have approved and appointed for your colonies' unique distinctiveness. Slavic peoples of historical record were capable of producing significantly more qualified soldiers and at a higher rate, adjusted for base population size, than yours has during your tenure as administrator," the voice stated matter-of-factly.
"This colony isn't filled with Slavic peoples. You can't just take a name, adopt some traditions, get everyone to espouse the 'approved and appointed' cultural values, and then expect that to produce the same results as a historical people," the administrator countered.
"Records indicate that a statistically sufficient percentage of people who were either present at the start of, or have since joined, your colony are of the appropriate genetic descent to influence the genetic composition of the population to the necessary degree according to the Demographic Determination Council. They have accounted for known deviations in your genetic makeup and adjustments to the expected output have been made but your colony is failing to meet even these lowered expectations. What are your explanations for this failure in your colonies' productivity?" the voice demanded, the undertone of condescension becoming noticeably more overt.
"Because your expectations aren't reality? Because they're people on a planet, not bacteria in a petri dish? Because it's a colony, and not a simulation? Because other colonies are just lying about their people to meet their quotas?" the administrator replied angrily.
The voice returned to the empty coldness that it had opened with, "Other colonies facing statistically similar difficulties are still capable of meeting expectations and minimum requirements to retain their relationship with the Galactic Civil Alliance. Your colony is a valued asset, but as you are well aware, your planet lacks specific resources critical to the long-term viability of human life in your colony, necessitating the continuation of the mutually beneficial relationship between the other members of the Galactic Civil Alliance and your colony. You will be granted one local week to prepare and present your solution to adjusting your colonies' capacity to meet future expectations, as well as address the current deficit in a timely fashion."
The voice continued with a new hint of menace, "You are to be reminded that you were selected for this position based on your personality and skill profile, as well as the documented popularity and rapport with influential members of your colony. If our determination as to the suitability for your ability to satisfy the requirements of the position was in error, The Galactic Civil Alliance will not hesitate to make the necessary adjustments. Do you understand what is being asked for and accept the responsibility to perform it in in the time you will be granted?"
The administrator sighed heavily. He understood.
"Yes, though -" he started before being cut off.
"Your acceptance is sufficient, further commentary is unnecessary at this conjuncture. Peace and prosperity to you and yours. End of communications," and the voice was silent.
The administrator sat back in his chair. He voiced his own commands to cut the connection. The artificial intelligence would take his conversation and create a summary to report to whoever cared, and in a week he'd be called on again. His 'profile' would also be receiving an update and the automatons which monitored that data may or may not flag it for further consideration.
The computers didn't care about subtlety or banter. They cared about compliance. Even the people, if he ever got to talk to one in the GCA hierarchy again, seemed to carry the same cold and pragmatic disposition. There was no leeway, no flexibility, the system worked in a specific way and that was "demonstrably efficient".
Whether the computers or the people who only wished they were computers, their questions always came carrying the answers they expected with them. He knew how other colonies handled their military service requirements. He knew that the quality of the individuals being sent, especially involuntarily, did not meet the GCA's requirements. He knew how the other colonies worked the metrics and fudged data to ensure that they never were subject to blame.
He didn't want to be like other colonies though.
However, he didn't have a choice, his hand was being forced. His people needed the water and air. The isolated dustball of a planet, a burnt ochre rock lacking the water and atmosphere to sustain life, depended on the GCA to import it from other systems. In exchange, the heavy metals and rare elements that his own held in abundance were used to make the machines which captured, processed, and stored the water and air for his and other colonies. It was a symbiosis which stretched across the stars, and the supposedly neutral GCA was only there to act as the arbiter, the mediator, the caretaker of these relationships. Supposedly neutral.
While technically the most powerful person on the planet, being the direct liaison between the GCA and the planetary government, he knew the resistance he would face. He knew who would require him pulling rank, who would need bribes, who would demand him expending the entirety of his political credit to get compliance. Those he wasn't worried about, he wasn't dreading those interactions or the affect on those communities.
It was the ones who would require nothing at all, the ones who believed the system was still fair and that the system could still be trusted. The ones who believed their innocence and intentions mattered. They would be hurt the most, and he could do nothing about it.
When the calls for conscription would go out, it was always these folks who stood up and said "send me, I'll serve the noble cause!" The GCA would grant their wishes and congratulate them on choosing to embark on the experience of a lifetime.
But the GCA were careful to only imply the lifetime would extend past the experience.