Last month I introduced the last planned work in the “main line” of the Shine Cycle. But there were a few places that I mentioned in passing but otherwise skipped over in my first pass through my plans for the series: the various “sub-series.” So now we return to the one sub-series for which I’ve done more than minimal preparation, development, and writing, which still has the working series title the “Game of Life” sub-series. The first entry in that series is The Invasion, and today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work.
The Invasion is set on Earth, and in fact in the United States, in the mid-term future—according to the current version of the future-history timeline I’ve developed for this sub-series, early in the twenty-third century. (I’ve made several posts describing the background of this setting in a series of posts here.)
The main and point-of-view character is a woman known to her family and peers as Alice Hansen, an SCA (or similar) enthusiast, linguist, and after the events of The Invasion a fledgling mage known to her friends and allies from beyond Earth as “Alatumbra.” I profiled her a little over a year ago.
The tentative logline for The Invasion is:
When an invader from another planet steals the new werewolf genome and unleashes magic on the world, a survivalist linguist must study that forgotten art to unlock her powers as a mage and stop his plan of global conquest.
Alice Hansen is working for a private research-and-development firm that is developing, perhaps under a grant from whatever DARPA has become by then, a variant of the human genome that fits the tales’ descriptions of werewolves as much as possible. This is called “Project Lycanthrope.” Either because of a condition attached to the grant or because the founders of the company were enthusiastic supporters, the company also has a small division devoted to SETI research.
As the story opens, the leader of this SETI team asks Alice Hansen to visit their office; they’ve picked up a transmission that they’re having trouble with, and she has a linguistics background and a reputation for resolving difficult problems.
Very soon after she arrives, the transmission turns into a video of a man speaking in a language that, after a moment, she (but only she) suddenly understands. This message announces the existence of peoples—and a conflict—beyond the Earth, and warns that a powerful enemy is about to arrive in the United States with the intention of stealing this werewolf genome, but offering help in opposing his further plans.
As the sole person available who is known to be conversant in their language, Alice is appointed liaison to these new allies. Responding to an alarm, she comes upon the thief she had been warned about; she is unable to capture him or take the stolen data back, but she somehow delays him long enough for the allied commander to arrive in person.
This commander is impressed, and on the basis of her (nearly) matching Gondolor in combat for several minutes, and understanding the language of the Power that he had used in his initial transmission, he recognizes her as a potential mage and offers to take her as an apprentice in the Power. After some deliberation, she accepts. He also selects a handful of talented individuals to become an elite squad under his personal command—the “flag squad.”
Gondolor’s ship has been damaged, so instead of leaving Earth with the stolen plans as he had planned, he, the crew of his ship, and the troops it was carrying occupy a ruined fortress nearby. Because Project Lycanthrope is housed in a castle, built on a modernized (with electricity, wireless networking, plumbing, and elevators, and built to conform to modern building codes) but otherwise largely “period” medieval-plan castle, and because of his quirk of responding to challenges in their own domain, Gondolor begins to turn this ruined fortress into a castle of his own as he begins to grow—breed, and to a lesser extent recruit or suborn—a large enough army to attempt conquest of the land in which he finds himself.
In an early skirmish, before Gondolor has (even with accelerated-development methods) gotten the new werewolf core of his army in place, he sends a few squads of troops in a probing attack. Those troops are captured, and discovered to have been under Gondolor’s direct mental domination; once they are freed, they give valuable information about his forces and his plans: as well as his obvious plan of breeding werewolves, he is planning to build a Gate to bring in a more advanced and more numerous army from the Dragon Empire—a plan that lends more urgency to the need to stop him.
Some new allied troops bring word that a shipment of advanced space fighter ships, and other technology, has been diverted and delayed, and presumably captured by Dragon forces. Just as the allies are beginning their first counterattack on Gondolor’s castle, these ships arrive in the atmosphere and drop off more reinforcements for Gondolor, and Alatumbra and the “flag squad” jump up to them—using a metaphysical working she has just perfected—to recapture the ships, which they then take back out into space to reinforce the orbital defense line against an attack that is going on at the same time. On their return to the ground, their commander distributes and explains some of the new equipment.
A few more ground battles ensue, including their first encounter with (as-yet-untrained) werewolf troops. They momentarily capture Gondolor’s outermost trenches, and begin rapid progress toward his castle, when they are again interrupted. The allied commander is called away by urgent duties at home, and an enemy battleship arrives with yet more reinforcements and supplies for Gondolor and challenges the orbital blockade. Alatumbra and the ships from the shipment are recalled from air support to reinforce the blockade. They manage to drive off the battleship and repel or destroy most of the smaller ships it launches, and the blockade as a whole holds, but a few ships get through.
When she returns to the ground campaign, Alatumbra finds that the allied troops have been driven out of Gondolor’s trenches. With the return of air support they are able to retake those trenches and move to the castle. But at the castle entrance they meet unexpected resistance: Gondolor has finished and activated the Gate, and established other protections.
The “flag squad” establishes a perimeter to prevent anyone coming through the Gate from getting out of the castle courtyard, and distracts Gondolor long enough for Alatumbra to figure out how to co-opt the Gate to bring her teacher, the allied commander, back, and then to destroy the Gate entirely. With the commander’s help, they capture Gondolor, who is then taken off to the prison he had escaped from before the beginning of the book.
As I mentioned above, the main and point-of-view character is Alatumbra, known on Earth as Alice Hansen. Other major characters include the members of the “flag squad,” the allied commander who becomes her teacher and master, and several others who like him come from off-world to assist, including Celia and Hildegarde—the “off-worlders” will be names that readers of the main series may recognize.
Do you have any thoughts about my plans for The Invasion?