When a sentient species emerges from the ocean of a world its colonizers thought was uninhabited, the diplomatic wing of the League of Worlds sends three ambassadors to negotiate the terms for the colony to remain. Two boast decades of experience in negotiating with other species on behalf of the League. The third, Nomakhepu, is the youngest in her generation to pass the entrance exams.
But succeeding at exams and succeeding at the job? Not even close to the same thing. And this new species who call themselves the Hydridae? Even after a lifetime visiting far-flung parts of the universe beside her diplomat mother, meeting dozens of types of sentient beings, Nomakhepu never encountered a species so foreign to the rest of the universe.
Then a fourth human joins the summit, a former diplomatic apprentice who left to forge her own path outside of the League’s dictates.
Does her arrival spell disruption, or opportunity?
“Tumbling Up”, originally published in Abyss and Apex, a science fiction short story of first contact set in a League of Worlds that spans galaxies.