As of right now, the Homefront Arc and Second Wave are the only Compact Universe stories still published independently. (No Marigolds in the Promised Land is a newsletter freebie for the foreseeable future) Second Wave is, of course, Book 2 of the Amargosa Trilogy, with Storming Amargosa coming out later this year or early next year. But today, I want to talk about the three novellas that comprise the Homefront Arc, the trio of stories that bridge the gap between The Children of Amargosa and Second Wave.
Book 1 of the Homefront Arc takes the action back to Mars, where we begin with Admiral Quentin Austin preparing to lead a fleet to liberate Amargosa after the events of The Children of Amargosa. The mission fails, and despite Austin’s protests that the liberation should have begun on another colony, it’s his head that will go into the political noose. As he awaits his fate, he is asked to look into the Juno Corporation, which had a presence on all three colonies that have gone dark. He learns it is owned by a subsidiary of the company his own wife runs. With the help of Sarai Gaddar, formerly the assistant to Juno Corp’s CEO, they untangle the web of deception that led to Juno penetrating not only the Compact’s halls of power but humanity’s largest corporation. Murder and misdirection follow Austin and Gaddar wherever they go, and even the mysterious Gelt, who have seized Amargosa, may be unwitting pawns of something more insidious than a small company trying to profit from the conflict.
True FTL has arrived, powered by sarcasm.
Book 2 focuses on Hideki Okada and Peter Lancaster, the brains behind the Compact’s warp project. Recalled to duty, they discovered their “cancelled” project has been applied to a warship. With oversight from Cybercommand, the Compact’s superspook branch of its military, Okada and Lancaster are given a mission: Retaliate against the Gelt with dirty bombs. Both men chafe at the idea of irradiating an unsuspecting planet. Can Okada find a way to fulfill his mission without destroying millions? Maybe, but he will find his every move watched by a Cybercommand operative in his crew and Admiral Burke, aka “The Old Bird,” whom everyone in the Navy is afraid of.
In a tale that bridges the gap between The Roots of War and Second Wave, Tishla follows the rise of a former slave girl to lead a colony her master helped destroy. It was also he who recognized the lie that led to the Gelt’s invasion of Gilead (now called Hanar), conceived Tishla’s twins, and left her with a claim on a stolen world. Abandoned by the Realm and the Compact, she soon realizes the only way for either Gelt or human to survive is to band together and reject the two powerful polities whose war has left them alone in the universe. Only someone wants her dead. Or rather the twins who are the source of her claim to leadership. When human and Gelt work to uncover the conspiracy, the galaxy will soon learn the most dangerous thing in the cosmos is the wrath of an enraged mother.