The Hegemony

These are all the stories I’ve published which take place in the space opera universe I loosely call the Hegemony, though the universe is in actuality bigger than the Hegemony’s administrative bounds. There are two primary powers there, the Costeya Hegemony itself and the Cotillion, which have long been at uneasy peace.

Each story stands alone perfectly well! Some of them are directly connected, though, and feature the same characters. General Lunha and the cyberneticist Esithu tend to recur more than most.

Hegemony

On the eve of Samutthewi’s entry into the Costeya Hegemony, Esithu was sloughing off the shell of their birth-body. There would be speculation afterward what Esithu was born as—someone’s son, someone’s daughter? To that Esithu would always say, “I was born as I am now,” which became a stretch after Esithu obtained a second then a third body. A hardware upgrade, they liked to say. You can never have too many.

‘Annex’ in Clarkesworld Magazine (April 2013). In the face of conquest, submit or subvert. 3,800 words. Podcast read by Kate Baker.

The first year Sennyi coughed up dead workers and orange phlegm, saccharine fuzziness in the back of her throat, legs and wings spasming against the roof of her mouth in final rites.

She went to have her chest cut open and a small metal lattice installed between her breasts. When the bees became too much, she would open that little gate and let them out in a cascade of corpses and restless workers. The living ones always returned to Sennyi-as-hive, for they were creatures of habit. They drove her to eat voraciously and she developed a private memory. It jolted her to have a cerebral partition that could not be edited by anyone other than herself. Still, what had already been forgotten couldn’t be brought back. There was no epiphany that returned her sister’s face.

‘The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly’ in Clockwork Phoenix 4edited by Mike Allen (2013). A woman with bees in place of a heart sets off in search of a lost sister across a phantasmagorical ruinscape. Reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books). 6,600 words.

The un-war between Jiratar and Sujari is fought by madness and ballistic allegory, by trojan-fire aimed at collective memory. The sky flashes not with ammunition charges but perceptive warp, fractures in shared consciousness.

History blisters apart. Recall gains the property of liquids and flows to fit its vessel. No one remembers.

Under this climate, everyone is a combatant.

‘When We Harvested the Nacre-Rice’ in Solaris Rising 3, edited by Ian Whates (Solaris Books, 2014). On a planet engaged in secret war, everyone is a combatant. 5,000 words.

The knife of her consciousness peeling off death in layers: this is how she wakes.

She is General Lunha of Silent Bridge, who fought one war to a draw as a man, and won five more a woman against adversaries who commanded miniature suns.

The knowledge reconstitutes piecemeal in the flexing muscles of her memory, in the gunfire-sear of her thoughts as she opens her eyes to a world of spider lilies skirmishing in flowerbeds, a sky of fractal glass. She is armed: an orchid-blade along one hip, a burst-pistol along the other. She is armored: a helm of black scarabs on her head, a sheath of amber chitin on her limbs and torso. There is no bed for her, no casket enclosing her. She comes to awareness on her feet, at ease but sharp. The way she has always been.

Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade in Clarkesworld Magazine (Dec 2013). A general is brought back from the dead to conquer the world of her birth. 5,200 words. Podcast read by Kate Baker. Reprinted in Space Opera, edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books).

‘Synecdoche Oracles’ in Upgraded (2014). Laithirat is best known for its oracles: algorithms which generate perfect prophecies at the moment of their death. A hunted soldier comes to bargain for these seers. 4,600 words.

‘And the Burned Moths Remain’ on Tor.com (2015). Long ago Jingfei sold the world of her birth, Tiansong, to the Hegemony. Kept as a political prisoner, she bides her eternal sentence in the company of her countless bodies. An envoy arrives with an offer: a bargain to undo history and redeem Jingfei’s name. 6,100 words.

‘The Petals Abide’ in Clarkesworld Magazine (2015). Petals fall from Twoseret’s mouth, prophetic. They predict her life, death, loss. But they may prove fallible after all when an assassin is sent to her as a gift. 6,200 words.

Cotillion

On a bad night, and recently all nights have been bad, her part of the city has the look of a fresh battlefield. Commercial boards lie in shards and fragments on the streets; building facades are pocked with blisters and impact wounds. Kita-Ushma can tell they are still alive because they hiss and whisper under a glass storm. In her apartment sometimes the walls, behind their thick coats of paint and steel reinforcements, would throb and twitch. Nerves and tendons as thick as her wrist, geometric organs the size of her thigh. She often wonders why the clergy hasn’t cleansed this part of the city, hasn’t gathered up the broken pieces and swept them away, the way it has been done everywhere else.

‘Elision’ in La Femme, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press, 2014). A private detective is engaged to investigate mysterious footage where a woman dies again and again. 3,800 words.

When the frozen tide sweeps in allusions red as pomegranate seeds, it also brings the oxblood contrails of Fallbright Choir, their canticles making a prayer flag of the sky.

‘The Finch’s Wedding and the Hive That Sings’. In the Cotillion, the Song is all. A commander negotiates with an oracle for favorable omens, but her bid for war is complicated by that most difficult of all battles: marriage negotiation between the powerful. Poly marriage, politics, loyalty, and music. 7,200 words.

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