Silver is kill, but though Silver is gone, Blue Skies talks on, as though giving a grand speech she has memorized before.
She tells of the conquest and the occupation of an area of Griffonia known as "the Frontier," an area of sparsely populated griffon land that separates the Eastern ponies from the more serious Griffin nations.
Some of this land had once belonged to the Eastern ponies, cultures disposed, oppressed, or even exterminated. Most of it became the Empire's forward operating base of terror: the Host's twice yearly raids into pony lands, and the scheming crusades of the Knightly orders. All carried out the will of the Emperor to maim, mangle and mar the vibrant pony societies of the east, in exchange their petty baronies and fiefdoms. What had they done with this land in all this time, exactly. It remains wild, undeveloped, with neither the industry nor the culture of the ponylands of the east, and certainly nothing like Equestria.
Or so it had been. In the span of less than a year, the guns of the New Marelanders left these lands under pony control, a state it had not been in for hundreds of years. All of it. The entire frontier. There was something almost magical about this fact to her. Something shown in her eyes, and her smile, though it remained vicious carried in it a happiness more so than normal. To think that these ponies had achieved in months what the none of the Eastern ponies had the will or follow through - or where applicable, the power - to achieve after centuries of torment from the griffins. To be sure, they would talk of standing as a bulwark against the griffin menace, but the Equestrians of Griffonia had done it. For they themselves lived on lived on stolen Griffin land. They dealt with Griffins both living among them and across their borders. In a way, it was only natural that they would be the ones to take that first step in the sacred crusade against the Griffin menace.
But though Blue Skies is an idealist, she is also a pragmatist. The new territories may have been easy enough to take, but they would be far more difficult to hold. Almost 11 million griffin subjects lived in the frontier, or twice the pony population of Equestria’s Griffonian colony. Thus the question, how to keep them? This was not straightforward, as the geopolitical situation imposed special constraints. First, ponypower was strained to the limit, and any colonial occupation must consist of an absolute minimum of military forces and administrators. The second is that these territories would have
to be profitable if the colony as a whole were to survive, so whatever what put in must be less than what is taken out.
The first step was to divide the subject nations into smaller entities, generally administrative units based upon cultural or historical commonalities. This was easiest in locations like Zaphzia, where the nation was a collection of tribes. Divide the nation into its constituent tribes, emphasize the differences between the tribes, try to erase commonalities uniting the tribes, and any rebellion would have more difficulty in uniting the nation against its occupiers. Each unit would then have a pony administrator on the higher “federal” level to oversee taxation and order, but also a separate local administration, that where possible, represented a continuation of the preexisting political, social, and economic order of the territory. The theory was that if that if the occupation were perceived as mostly a continuation of the status quo, it would be more palatable. The question remained, how to govern these territorial units?
History and happenstance provided a helping hoof… or in this case, a helping claw. They were not the first to subjugate great masses of griffins. Griffinhiem herself had once subjugated these lands, and the states themselves were mostly – mostly – ruled by a tiny wealthy elite, with the vast majority having no say in the political order. Some areas, most particularly in Lushi, were feudal baronies, with a tiny number griffin nobles ruling over masses of disenfranchised serfs. All that needed be done in those areas was to shoot all nobles who opposed foreign rule or were too incompetent to keep in power, and leave in power those who were willing to collaborate, while dividing the possessions of the removed nobles amongst the populous, the loyal nobles, and new occupiers. Thus, every griffin could feel as if the change in administration had lead to a material improvement in their wellbeing, while not causing much harm…. At least to them personally.
In locations like Gryphus, where the land had been ruled by merchant oligarchy, the Bourgeoise more numerous, and the difference between the poor and the rich smaller, occupation was more difficult. While it was simple enough to replace the existing governing councils with councils filled with griffins friendlier to the occupation, this represented a change in the way that the councils were selected, and an obvious loss of freedom to at least some of the inhabitants. But such a change was unavoidable. At least, what could be done was to develop New Mareland owned industries in parts of the region, invite portions of the griffin merchant class as partners in the enterprise, and then elevate these griffins to leadership. Grifoinia was almost blessed with backwardness. Griffins were accustomed to living in hierarchical societies that were non-responsive to their own needs or concerns. The lands were so far behind the Equestrian level of industrialization that any introduction of more serious technology would result in a massive increase in living standards.