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The Hierophant’s Daughter
The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy
M. F. Sullivan
Genre: LGBTQ Horror/Cyberpunk
Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing
Date of Publication: May 19th, 2019
Number of pages: 298 (Paperback)
Word Count: about 100,000
Cover Artist: Nuno Moreira
Tagline: Dive into the first volume of a bleak cyberpunk tahgmahr you can't afford to miss. What would you sacrifice to survive?
By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind's intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.
It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant's Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is--assuming he exists at all--and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don't inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.
After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT'S DAUGHTER, and her Father won't let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.
The dystopic first entry of an epic cyberpunk trilogy, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER is a horror/sci-fi adventure sure to delight and inspire adult readers of all stripes.
Flight of the Governess
Ah, not Cassandra! Wake not her
Whom God hath maddened, lest the foe
Mock at her dreaming. Leave me clear
From that one edge of woe.
O Troy, my Troy, thou diest here
Most lonely; and most lonely we
The living wander forth from thee,
And the dead leave thee wailing!
—Euripides, The Trojan Women
Governess of the United Front was blind in her right eye. Was that blood in the
left, or was it damaged, too? The crash ringing in her ears kept her from
thinking straight. Of course her left eye still worked: it worked well enough
to prevent her from careening into the trees through which she plunged. Yet,
for the tinted flecks of reality sometimes twinkling between crimson streaks,
she could only imagine her total blindness with existential horror. Would the
protein heal the damage? How severely was her left eye wounded? What about the
one she knew to be blind—was it salvageable? Ichigawa could check, if she ever
made it to the shore.
afford to think that way. It was a matter of “when,” not of “if.” She would
never succumb. Neither could car accident, nor baying hounds, nor the
Hierophant himself keep her from her goal. She had fourteen miles to the ship
that would whisk her across the Pacific and deliver her to the relative safety
of the Risen Sun. Then the Lazarene ceremony would be less than a week away.
Cassandra’s diamond beat against her heart to pump it into double time, and
with each double beat, she thought of her wife (smiling, laughing, weeping when
she thought herself alone) and ran faster. A lucky thing the Governess wasn’t
human! Though, had she remained human, she’d have died three centuries ago in
some ghetto if she’d lived past twenty without becoming supper. Might have been
the easier fate, or so she lamented each time her mind replayed the crash of
the passenger-laden tanque at fifth gear against the side of their small car.
How much she might have avoided!
she never would have known Cassandra. That made all this a reasonable trade.
Cold rain softened the black earth to the greedy consistency of clay, but her
body served where her eyes failed. The darkness was normally no trouble, but
now she squinted while she ran and, under sway of a dangerous adrenaline high,
was side-swiped by more than one twisting branch. The old road that was her
immediate goal, Highway 128, would lead her to the coast of her favorite
Jurisdiction, but she now had to rediscover that golden path after the crash’s
diversion. In an effort to evade her pursuers, she had torn into a pear orchard
without thought of their canine companions. Not that the soldiers of the
Americas kept companions like Europa’s nobles. These dogs were tools.
Well-honed, organic death machines with a cultivated taste for living flesh,
whether martyr or human. The dogs understood something that most had forgotten:
the difference between the two was untenable. Martyrs could tell themselves
they were superior for an eternity, but it wouldn’t change the fact that the
so-called master race and the humans they consumed were the same species.
That was not why
Cassandra had died, but it hadn’t contributed to their marital bliss. And now,
knowing what she did of the Hierophant’s intentions—thinking, always, what Cassandra
would have said—the Governess pretended she was driven by that ghost, and not
by her own hopelessness. Without the self-delusion, she was a victim to a great
many ugly thoughts, foremost among them being: Was the fear of life after her
wife’s death worth such disgrace? A death sentence? Few appreciated what little
difference there was between human and martyr, and fewer cared, because caring
was fatal. But she was a part of the Holy Family. Shouldn’t that have been all
that mattered? Stunning how, after three centuries, she deserved to be treated
no better than a human. Then again, there was nothing quite like resignation
from one’s post to fall in her Father’s estimate. Partly, he was upset by her
poor timing—she did stand him up at some stupid press event, but only because
she hoped it would keep everybody occupied while she got away. In that moment,
she couldn’t even remember what it was. Dedicating a bridge? Probably. Her poor
head, what did the nature of the event matter when she was close to death?
That lapse in
social graces was not the reason for this hunt. He understood that more lay
behind her resignation than a keening for country life. Even before he called
her while she and the others took the tanque to the coast, he must have known.
Just like he must have known the crash was seconds from happening while he
chatted away, and that the humans in her company, already nervous to be within
a foot of the fleeing Governess, were doomed.
Of the many
people remaining on Earth, those lumped into the group of “human” were at
constant risk of death, mutilation, or—far worse—unwilling martyrdom. This
meant those humans lucky enough to avoid city-living segregation went to great
lengths to keep their private properties secure. Not only houses but stables.
The Disgraced Governess found this to be true of the stables into which she
might have stumbled and electrocuted herself were it not for the bug zaps of
rain against the threshold’s surface. Her mind made an instinctive turn toward
prayer for the friendliness of the humans in the nearby farmhouse—an operation
she was quick to abort. In those seconds (minutes?) since the crash, she’d
succeeded in reconstructing the tinted windows of the tanque and a glimpse of
silver ram’s horns: the Lamb lurked close enough to hear her like she spoke
into his ear. It was too much to ask that he be on her side tonight.
dogs of the Lamb were far closer, and far more decisive about where their
loyalties stood. One hound sank its teeth into her ankle, and she, crying out,
kicked the beast into its closest partner with a crunch. Slower dogs snarled
outrage in the distance while the Disgraced Governess ran to the farmhouse
caught in her left periphery. The prudent owners, to her frustration, shuttered
their windows at night. Nevertheless, she smashed her fist against the one part
of the house that protruded: the doorbell required by the Hierophant’s “fair
play” dictatum allowing the use of electronic barriers. As the humans inside
stumbled out of bed in response to her buzzing, the Disgraced Governess
unholstered her antique revolver and unloaded two rounds into the recovered
canines before they were upon her. The discharge wasn’t a tip-off she wanted to
give to the Lamb and her other pursuers, but it hastened the response of the
sleeping farmers as the intercom crackled to life.
“Who is it?” A
woman’s voice, quivering with an edge of panic.
“My name is
Dominia di Mephitoli: I’m the former Governess of the United Front, and I need
to borrow a horse. Please. Don’t let me in. Just drop the threshold on your
I’m sorry, I don’t understand. The Dominia di Mephitoli, really? The martyr?”
please. I need a horse now.” Another dog careened around the corner and leapt
over the bodies of his comrades with such grace that she wasted her third round
in the corpses. Two more put it down as she shouted into the receiver. “I can’t
transfer you any credits because they’ve frozen my Halcyon account, but I’ll
leave you twenty pieces of silver if you drop the threshold and loan me a
horse. You can reclaim it at the docks off Bay Street, in the township of
Sienna. Please! He’ll kill me.”
“And he’ll be
sure to kill us for helping you.”
“Tell him I
threatened you. Tell him I tricked you! Anything. Just help me get away!”
believe what we say. He’ll kill me, my husband, our children. We can’t.”
“Oh, please. An
act of mercy for a dying woman. Please, help me leave. I can give you the name
of a man in San Valentino who can shelter you and give you passage abroad.”
“There’s no time
to go so far south. Not as long as it takes to get across the city.”
It had been ten
seconds since she’d heard the last dog. That worried her. With her revolver at
the ready, she scanned the area for something more than the quivering roulette
blotches swelling in her right eye. Nothing but the dead animals. “He’ll kill
you either way. For talking to me, and not keeping me occupied until his
arrival. For knowing that there’s disarray in his perfect land. He’ll find a
reason, even if it only makes sense to him.”
The steady beat
of rain pattered out a passive answer. On the verge of giving up, Dominia
stepped back to ready herself for a fight—and the house’s threshold dropped
with an electric pop. The absent mauve shimmer left the façade bare. How rare
to see a country place without its barrier! A strange thing. Stranger for the
front door to open; she’d only expected them to do away with the threshold on
But, rather than
the housewife she’d anticipated, there stood the Hierophant. Several bleak
notions clicked into place.
gray brow arched. “Now, Dominia, that’s hardly fair. Knowledge of your disgrace
isn’t why I’ll kill them. The whole world will know of it tomorrow morning. You
embarrassed me by sending your resignation, rather than making the appearance I
asked of you, so it is only fair I embarrass you by rejecting your resignation
and firing you publicly. No, my dear. I will kill these fine people to upset
you. In fact, Mr. McLintock is already dead in the attic. A mite too brave. Of
course”—he winked, and whispered in conspiracy—“don’t tell them that.”
“How did you
know I’d come here?”
“Such an odd
spurt of rain tonight. Of all your Jurisdictions, this one is usually so dry
this time of year! Won’t you come in for tea? Mrs. McLintock brews a fine pot.
But put that gun away. You’re humiliating yourself. And me.”
M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult.