E. Lily Yu is 22 years old. She’s getting ready to graduate from college. She also just had one of her handful of published short stories nominated for a Hugo Award and was nominated for the Campbell Award for best new writer. It’s apparently been quite the year.
It took two weeks to complete the nurseries with their paper mobiles, and then another month to reconstruct the Great Library and fill the pigeonholes with what the oldest cartographers could remember of their lost maps. Their comings and goings did not go unnoticed. An ambassador from the beehive arrived with an ultimatum and was promptly executed; her wings were made into stained-glass windows for the council chamber, and her stinger was returned to the hive in a paper envelope. The second ambassador came with altered attitude and a proposal to divide the bees’ kingdom evenly between the two governments, retaining pollen and water rights for the bees—”as an acknowledgment of the preexisting claims of a free people to the natural resources of a common territory,” she hummed.
The wasps of the council were gracious and only divested the envoy of her sting. She survived just long enough to deliver her account to the hive.
The third ambassador arrived with a ball of wax on the tip of her stinger and was better received.
“You understand, we are not refugees applying for recognition of a token territorial sovereignty,” the foundress said, as attendants served them nectars in paper horns, “nor are we negotiating with you as equal states. Those were the assumptions of your late predecessors. They were mistaken.”
“I trust I will do better,” the diplomat said stiffly. She was older than the others, and the hairs of her thorax were sparse and faded.
“I do hope so.”
“Unlike them, I have complete authority to speak for the hive. You have propositions for us; that is clear enough. We are prepared to listen.”
“Oh, good.” The foundress drained her horn and took another. “Yours is an old and highly cultured society, despite the indolence of your ruler, which we understand to be a racial rather than personal proclivity. You have laws, and traditional dances, and mathematicians, and principles, which of course we do respect.”
“Your terms, please.”