Because who doesn’t love tall, long-lived aliens with a massive superiority complex telling you what to do and dictating your terms with other extraterrestrial cultures?

The cat’s name is officially “Little Liery.”
Not actually; but, he does need a name…

Gray Area

The Qhurothi species/culture/society/government presents a unified-front of peace, solidarity, and a holier-than-thou attitude of “lesser cultures” that are still so prone to that awful infighting they abolished from their planets oh-so long ago.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand instinctively that this is complete drek.

In terms of planets, literal-space, and political clout, the Hegemony controls the largest functional territory and population of the three alien powers to have interfered in humanity’s Great War–which was, of course, instigated by an alien warlord as well; which, ah well, semantics. As a military, they act as intergalactic peacekeepers where their economic or political interests could be at stake. Otherwise, they take the stance of being “above such pointless squabbles.”

In truth, they just can’t afford to risk troops–and to an only-slightly lesser degree, weapons or ships. The facade of strength protects what the Hegemon Council considers to be its most important secret: the Qhurothi people are dying en masse of a plague that has devastated much of their outlying colonies. The threat of the sickness reaching Qhurot Prime has deterred aid to the afflicted. Quarantines around agricultural settlements or production facilities limits the Hegemony’s supply of food, equipment, and soldiers. It’s a bleak time for loyalists and dissidents alike.

Of course, the blight, however destructive, hardly absolves them of their culture’s outwardly dismissive behavior towards the other major powers in the “local” group. They play the superior race as an attempt to protect themselves in their society’s weakened state while leveraging this image to obtain resources, scientists, and relief aid in secret for their dying people. The Hegemon of Qhurot Prime, T’let Selarzik (say that ten times fast), speaks daily across all communication channels for those barricaded behind the Black Line to remain faithful in their leaders–that a cure is coming; aid is coming–all-the-while restricting relief-ships, ordering entire continents torched from space, and maintaining the secrecy from the Aidlean Fleets that routinely test the borders.

Political Structure

The Hegemony is broken down into a laddered-system of tiers–or “ranks.”

Each planet in the Hegemony elects a single HEGEMON to represent them on the council. These elections occur once every ten years by the specific planet’s count–or, upon removal from office, as is often the case.

Each Hegemon has a body of HIERARCHs representing the various districts, continents, or political powers of their particular planet. The Hierarchs are responsible for arbitrating the day-to-day proceedings of government–similarly to a country’s president or prime minister.

Each Hierarch nominates any number of SPEAKERs to facilitate duties, roles, or offices as necessary.

The Speakers are permitted to deputize as many ADJUNCTs as necessary. This rank tends to handle the minutia of specific projects, group organization, resource management, and so on.

Adjuncts may delegate to COORDINATORs. This is the highest rank for which most Civilians could hope without a title, friends in high places, or extreme distinction.

Coordinators hire TASKERs–nicknamed “drivers” for, well, how Taskers are stereotyped as conducting themselves by other species.

Taskers outrank the TRADESMEN.

And Tradesmen are just slightly better-off than an unranked CIVILIAN. The Civilian population performs the worst, most unwanted, unskilled tasks, while still benefiting from the bounty of the planet.

The military offices of the Hegemony function the same; and, some Family titles hold enough sway to equate even a Tradesmen or a Civilian with the same authority as a Speaker or a Hierarch. CRIMINAL elements are stripped of any other rank or title and branded simply thus until such time as they have either been redeemed or exonerated.

Technically speaking, any tier may organize in order to request the removal of their direct-report. With the exception of the Hierarchs keeping a Hegemon in-check, it rarely comes to any meaningful result in the majority of high-profile cases–at least, without the backing of a major Family.

Wrapping-up

Next week, we’ll look at the Hegemony’s opinions and interactions with the other major powers in the local star group and the Paths–various pseudo-religious and/or dissident groups brewing within the government.

Don’t forget to give us a shout-out on Facebook! Let us know what you think of the Qhurothi–and of today’s short story!

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Smoke

Written by: Eevi

“The Palisades launched weeks ago,” came the Defector’s voice through the slightly-abused communicator, cutting through the encryption distortion with her gruff, harsh accent. “The Father-Knight ordered their primary squad to establish connections with the Legions as quickly as possible. Early reports suggest sightings of the Dauntless docked with Admiral Drucillas’s command ship up to a month old. Those clever dogs.”

“Has the Oversight Committee not investigated these claims?” another voice asked, her lilting tone lazing across the reeds as slowly as Elierian’s log-turned-raft floated in the subdued currents.

The Hierarch of Kelonna, a melodious Qhurothi named Ytetlanith, after the longest river on Qhurot Prime–as the ancestral homeworld had come to be called–fit the stereotypes of her constituents almost too-perfectly.

Often thought of as languorous and torpid at best, the people of the Kelonnan plains took something akin to pleasure in over-pronouncing every syllable, ambling aimlessly around the topic at hand, and drawing out even the shortest of thoughts or sentences in order to force their polite brethren to slow down and wait.

While Ytetlanith’s participation in the Hegemon’s council proceedings often brought the ire of his fellows, soon-to-be-retired Speaker Elierian found her pacing to be quite relaxing–particularly today, the last day-off he may ever take. Of all the Hierarch’s he had served under, she, at least, knew the value in taking the time to enjoy life.

The ashen-colored veteran shifted, adjusting his tenuous position on the log–it really wasn’t much of a raft. His long, scarred hands skimmed across the top of the water as he lay on his back, letting the fish investigate his strangely colored skin and luxuriating in the sun as he listened to the ongoing communique–analyzing, committing it to memory; as was his role. 

“Of course they bloody have–no disrespect meant, ma’am,” the Defector responded. “The bulk of the cadets make enough of an appearance and sing excuses for their absent leadership, and what the ruddy hell are the inquirers left to do? The big one–Tengri–he’s been spotted enough times to make the claims seem implausible; but, we all know that platinum-plated bastard, Remulanus, broke the Europa Agreement. The N.E.E. has to have transports capable of making that trip on a moment’s notice.”

“We do not appreciate hearsay, Defector. Have you any hard evidence to support your suppositions? The Hegemony cannot enforce what it cannot prove. We must have hard, factual proof of misconduct before we will even consider your claims in council.” Hierarch Ytetlanith’s reprimand took almost a full minute to convey, giving Elierian plenty of time to ground his makeshift boat on the bank of the Yellow River and pat himself dry. 

The Defector’s attempts at polite interruptions only served to delay the Hierarch’s intransigent declaration, much to the Speaker’s amusement. 

“Ma’am, miss, y’er ladyship–oh, come off it; I think you’re missing the point. The N.E.E. is breaking the armistice at every turn, encroaching on every border, delaying and preventing any nation not directly aligned with them–or the Aussies, bless them–from accessing the Belt foundries, and assaulting non-N.E.E. workers with so-called ‘accidents’ and ‘mechanical failures’ and ‘obvious equipment negligence fines.’ It’s completely ridiculous. And you lot! You won’t do a damned thing about it. Isn’t that what you’re here for?”

Elierian sauntered up the riverbank towards dry land, his one good eye searching for the telltale column of smoke that would indicate his comrades. The communique buzzed with wordless static, broken occasionally by the Defector clearing her throat into the live feed. 

Eventually, the Speaker picked a direction and cut his way inland. 

“Defector, we appreciate the unfortunate situation of the free peoples of Terra. Please try to understand that maintaining a bad peace is preferable to further open warfare,” the Hierarch said dejectedly, speaking now in a more natural canter–stress has a moderating effect on even the most intractable personalities. “We cannot endanger our interests with your people by–”

    “‘Your interests’? What about our interests? What about protecting humankind from further tampering, eh? What about all your blustering and the promises you made? What about those interests? Eh? Can you tell me that?”

“Please do not misunderstand–”

“You claimed to care about the well-being of Terra–of its people. You don’t, you–”

“Defector, if you would–”

“How about if you would! Do you, or do you not, give two shits about us?”

“Of course we do. The situation is–”

“Don’t say complicated, you gray-skinned bag of–”

“Compli–excuse me. That is hardly called for,” the Hierarch exclaimed, her voice raised for the first time in Elierian’s long memory. 

He cut the connection. There was little point in listening to the conversation now, and he had no intention of letting mindless bickering ruin his afternoon. The Hierarch would try to make excuses and to pacify the inflamed Defector. The human–a passionate young woman with absolutely no tolerance whatsoever–would throw insult after insult, rather than making any attempts at salient arguments. 

The reality of the situation was simple: the Hegemony knew it could not control the Father-Knight forever; so, it would pick its battles to best benefit itself.

A few minutes later, Elierian’s communicator beeped to indicate an incoming message. Once he finally took the time to check it, the text read: “How far does he Wander, I wonder? – V.” 

It occurred to the Speaker that he had spotted the signaling fire far off to his left–on the other side of the river–some time ago. Alas, his meandering had already made him a few days late; they would have to tolerate another day or two’s delay. 

After all, his retirement looked to be more exciting than he had anticipated, and the days ahead full of steel and flame. 

The Wanderer was not yet ready to bring home the war, but even he could smell the smoldering embers as the northern winds stoked the coals.

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