Preparations For War Series Overview

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The idea for the series is simple at its core: The fractal demons are well aware that the reason the Empire of Humanity is a match for them are the mental powers of operants. Suppose they decide they want some human operants loyal to them, allowing them to better infiltrate the Empire? So they kidnapped some humans from a peripheral world cut off from the Empire (Earth), took them to another world, and began breeding subservient humans.

Preparations For War is a grunt's eye view of the long struggle between the Empire and the fractal demons. The viewpoint character, Joseph Bernard, begins as a vanilla human in unusual circumstances. While his aunt Grace is a powerful Guardian, mixing in Imperial society at the highest levels, Joe is still a low-level player at the end of the series. He's not in the Imperial military, but he works with ordinary people at the level of the individual soldier. The scope of his actions are personal, despite the wider ranging effects they may have. The most powerful person they deal with is at the level of leading a Calmenan city-state.

Unfortunately for the demonic plan of breeding operant human stooges, demons are incapable of treating humans in a way which leads to contentment as slaves. Demons thrive off power and fear; the cannon-fodder manes are perhaps the least cruel - they'll simply grab a human and eat them within a few seconds. Some of the demonic nobles can make their victims last several weeks. So successes in their program were few and far between, and the allegedly successful operant lines they did produce were too conditioned to subservience to pass for Imperial humans.

Eventually, the humans of the planet the demons used for the experiment learned to rebel with occasional success. Operant agaani humans, while not nearly the equal of trained Guardians in the Empire, could learn to fight the demonic combat castes, and independent human settlements began to sprout up, barely holding on as the demons were always trying to conquer them. Technology was primitive - barely iron age - and the threat of being conquered and enslaved again by the demons was always present. They had to keep producing workers and agaani or the demons would grind them down by weight of numbers. Those people had to be fed. Brutal, grinding poverty was the fact of life they all lived with, and the agaani became feudal overlords over the rest of the humans.

In the first book, Preparing The Ground, Joseph Bernard is an Earth human on Earth's first attempt to earn some hard Imperial currency via discovering habitable planets. Earth has recently been added to the Empire, and needs ways of earning Imperial resources. Discovering habitable planets is one such way; one Earth corporation has gained a settlement in Imperial currency allowing them to buy a couple of small ships equipped with a timejammer drive, usable by non-operant pilots. After several successes, they stumble upon Calmena and are captured by a group of agaani. Fighting their way free attracts the attention of a nearby demonic hold, and they are taken prisoner again by a group of manes and terostes demons, along with most of the formerly 'free' humans, including a young Calmenan woman, Asina, with a young daughter. With Asina's help, Joe manages to break himself and surviving shipmates free, only to discover on departure that they've run afoul of an Imperial interdiction. Joe is sentenced to an indenture in the only Imperial base on Calmena, hidden high in a mountain range on the biggest continent. It's a stressful posting with not much to do other than work, and with nothing better to do, Joe participates in the hedonism of the troops he's stationed with. However, he happens to meet Asina upon her return to Calmena. She is now a trained Guardian, intending to bring technology and a better means of fighting to the humans of Calmena, and she recruits Joe to the task. They find a small, independent community of humans, and begin the task of giving them the tools to fight the human agaani and the fractal demons. Thus is N'yeschlass, (literally, 'no slaves'), the first free human town, founded.

Building The People begins fifteen years later, as Joe and Asina hand over control of the operation they've built in N'yeschlass to a new team. After a short visit to Earth and into the main part of the Empire to visit Asina's daughter, they begin a new project to advance the free humans of Calmena: water transport. To this end, they found a new settlement, Windhome Bay, and starting with single mast shallow draft yampans, start teaching the locals about sailing. But the fractal demons have a new trick up their sleeve to overwhelm the new human communities, and they have to fight off an infestation of lemuure, which secrete a virus which gives lemuure control over their victims.

The third book, Setting The Board, begins about seventy years later. After a break on Earth to raise three children, Joe and Asina are returning to Calmena, taking over an existing station in an agaani-run town on the fourth (smallest) of Calmena's continents. Their projects this time are marine diesels and primitive aircraft. First, however, they have to deal with the meddling agaani, and then they discover that the agaani leader has been collaborating with the fractal demons for personal benefit, as as soon as the human overlords have been dealt with, they are faced with a demonic invasion force for which there's no time to prepare.

The final book, Moving The Pieces opens with the demons mobilizing their forces for assault on the Empire. As the die is cast, Joe and Asina (and the rest of the teams on Calmena) frantically try and complete preparations they'd hoped to have another twenty years or more to bring to fruition. The latest project is a few aircraft based upon Earth technology post World War 2. As Joe and his assistant test the latest prototype aircraft, Asina tries to prepare the people of Yalskarr for the massive onslaught coming through the demonic Gates, which may be aimed at the Empire but is sufficient to annihilate everything they've built on Calmena in passing.

Preparations for War is a complete series. If I ever do anything more with the characters of Joe and Asina, it will be in an entirely different setting. They will never return to Calmena.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on August 22, 2023 7:00 AM.

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