The universe has fallen into bloody chaos now that the dread empire of the tyrannical Shaa is no more -- at the mercy of the merciless insectoid Naxid, who now hunger for domination. But the far-flung human descendants of Terra have finally tasted liberty, and their warrior heroes will not submit. Separated by light-years, Lord Gareth Martinez and the mysterious guerrilla fighter Caroline Sula each pursue a different road to victory in tomorrow's ultimate battle -- for the new order will be far more terrible than the old ... unless one last, desperate stratagem can hold a shattered galaxy together.
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September 27, 2005
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Excerpt from Conventions of War by Walter Jon Williams
The woman called Caroline Sula watched her commander die. She had liked Lieutenant Captain the Lord Octavius Hong, though she had distrusted his orders, and she was thankful that he didn't stand the torture for long. He had been wounded during capture, apparently, and tortured once already to make him give up his communications protocols; and he was now too weak to last long under the knives. When he passed out, the loop of executioner's wire was passed around his neck and he died.
Hong's execution, as well as all the others, were broadcast live on the channel reserved for punishments, one long summer afternoon of blood and torment, entertainment suitable only for sadists and clinicians. Which am I? Sula wondered. Because she needed to hear the announcer read the names of the condemned, she couldn't even turn off the sound to insulate herself against the moans, screams, and the eerie discordant chimes of dying Daimong. Though there were moments when she had to turn away, Sula steeled herself to watch as much as she could, and noted the names of every one who died.
So far as she could tell, the entire secret government died that afternoon, from Military Governor Pahn-ko all the way down to his servants. When Sula had first heard of the secret government's existence, she'd pictured an underground bunker packed with communications gear or a lonely cave in the mountains reached only by a hidden path; but it appeared that Pahn-ko had been captured in a country house not far from Zanshaa City.
That was the secret hideaway? Sula thought with disbelieving scorn. Pahn-ko might as well have painted SECRET GOVERNMENT on the roof in large white letters.