After two decades on the moons of Kroma, the Collective colonies have begun to fracture and fray. Twenty-one-year-old Magistrate Tana Kucherov has held office only a few scant months, but already challenges test her leadership at every turn—an untamable alien frontier, a renegade security service, a dissident religious sect. And then, hurtling in from the blind side, there is August the third, the day of days—a split second where, just like that, a civilization is faced with loss and tragedy beyond all human imagining.
AVAILABLE IN E-BOOK & TRADE PAPERBACK FORMATS
Published by The Concentrium
Initial release: February 2012
Updated: February 2016
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011945463
The Spiral Hall erupted in applause. Tana Kucherov whirled on the dais, in the round, surrounded by friends, family, and hundreds of invited citizens and dignitaries. A mobile spotlight trailed above her as she bounded across the stage. Nearing the edge of the elliptical platform, she planted her feet flat and locked eyes with an unfamiliar face in the second row.
“I stand here tonight and declare myself a nothing,” she said, her voice amplified throughout the high-domed chamber. “A young woman of little accomplishment being handed society’s ultimate respect and position. I am not my grandfather. I did not give away my fortune, change the political thinking of an entire planet, and then leave that same planet to shepherd the best and the brightest of the human race to a home on this beautiful new world. I am not even my father—a man who died taking those first bold steps onto the surface of that new world.” Tana held the pause. “My father actually did that—for you, for me, for us.”
Another pause followed, far longer than the first one. “As proud as I am of my lineage, I never got to know the two men I’ve just eulogized. Who I do know is all of you. To me, this is significant. To me, this is what Collective living has always been about. Everyone interacts with everyone else, and the playing field remains forever leveled, buoyed by the strength and support of our neighbors, made greater by the opportunity to live and work unencumbered by financial restraint or societal judgment. This ‘freedom to achieve, expectation to assist’ is our government’s greatest trust, and my prime marching orders for as long as I hold office. I will never stop working to make your lives better. It’s what my grandfather lived for. It’s what my father died for.”
Tana brought her fingers to her face and dabbed at her wet eyelashes. “Look at me. I’m about to cry. To maintain whatever dignity I have left, I should probably start wrapping things up.”
She breathed out and allowed her hands to flop down to her side. “It’s been twenty-one years since the night I was born. It’s been twenty-one years since this society remade itself here in this grand and gorgeous city. Today is just one of those days in our history—in my life—and I’m here to express all my gratitude. The trust involved in permitting my ascension to the Directorate, at such a ridiculously young age, it’s humbling. And yes, I know that as the designate firstborn Kucherov heir I must assume the Ninth Seat on my twenty-first birthday. I know it’s the law. But to me, it’s become so much more than that, it’s a responsibility, a responsibility I accept with my whole heart. Thank you all so very, very much.”
Out in the audience, Leta Rishar, Tana’s lifelong best friend, shot from her seat and threw her arms into the air. “We love you, Tana!”
“And I love you. I love every single one of you.”