Universe is the story of the first conflict to spread beyond the borders of the one universe. But there are also several more personal stories, bound up like threads in the larger story. It begins, like so many of the wars have begun, with an unexpected and unprovoked attack by the Dragon Empire against comparatively-unprotected targets, seeking to gain new territory without going to the work of building up a new colony for itself. This time, the initial attack comes against two star clusters in the skies above: first a heavy feint (consisting of bombardment and then, essentially, saber-rattling for a while) against the Despard Cluster, and then an invasion of the Hope Cluster, which has recently (because of the spider-ships) become a major trading partner of the Shine and Wild Empire.
Because of the warning given by the feint, and the spider-ships’ ability to bring reinforcements up very quickly, the initial assault is repelled without too much difficulty, but further conflict drags on for quite a long time. Reinforcements also arrive in good time to deflect an attack on the space station Greyhawk, and the momentum from that brings all the Imperial and allied space navies together to overwhelm the Dragon fleet in the Hope Cluster, in what becomes known as the Battle of the Spider.
The second thread begins with Goneril’s return home. She had wandered in from the Princedom of the Two Rivers near the end of Galaxy, perhaps about five years earlier, and trained as a mage in the Garden of Then in Capitol. But now—with war brewing in the heavens—she was given a detachment of soldiers and dismissed to return in honor to her own country, where she soon found an army coming to besiege her husband’s castle and occupy the land. She called for help from her patrons in the Empire, but their help could not come quickly, because more difficulties had arisen.
The “core” countries of the Shine and Wild Empire had for some time felt quite secure, as no Dragon force had reached anywhere near their borders in any recent war. This is not to say that they were complacent—many of the Empire’s troops were volunteer regiments raised from those areas—but they had not been directly threatened. This changed in an instant when the weather-control machinery that had kept the peace of the nearby seas was damaged by sabotage, and Tashere raised hurricanes, tsunamis, and other weapons of nature to attack the coasts and any ship that ventured from shore. A few teams are sent to try to break through to the weather-control stations and repair the machinery, and the King summons all remaining forces on land to invade the Dragon Empire itself to force a temporary peace.
Central characters include Goneril, Cadwallader (who leads the forces that end the fighting in the Hope Cluster in the Battle of the Spider), Renee, and (tentatively) a pair of twin princesses who “come of age” during the story, among several others.
When I developed the concept of this story for a project in my Writing Workshop class in the tenth grade, I had some ideas about developing themes of chivalry and justice, but I’m not sure how. I also intended to make the war—which is what I’ve primarily described above—into the backdrop for a more personal and “human” story, which I’m not really sure I can do without some significant innovative ideas.