Hi, everyone The Long-Range War is the fifth book in the A Learning Experience series. This time, the book does not really stand alone. You’ll probably have had to have read 1-4 to know the characters. (And I will supply copies if requested.) I’ve attached a small ‘what has gone before’ below this post. As always, comments, suggestions, corrections, etc are warmly welcomed. Chris PS - a couple of people were asking how to follow me. Just watch my blog <grin>. The Chrishanger A Very Brief Recap In the very near future, a handful of military veterans in the USA were abducted by an alien starship. Unluckily for their would-be captors - the Horde, a race of interstellar scavengers - the humans rapidly managed to break free and gain control of the starship. Steve Stuart, a rancher who had been growing more and more disillusioned with the government, saw opportunity - the starship could serve as the base for a new civilisation, the Solar Union. Despite some small problems with planet-bound governments, the Solarians - as they would eventually be called - started to both recruit settlers for the new state and distribute alien-grade technology on Earth. After defeating a series of Horde ships that attempted to recapture their starship and attack Earth, the Solar Union was firmly in place. This was, of course, unknown to the rest of the galaxy. To them, Earth wasn't even a microstate. This suited the Solarians just fine. Humans could and did travel beyond the solar system - as traders, mercenaries or even simple explorers - but no one wanted to attract the Galactics to Earth. The Solarians were already making improvements to GalTech that could not fail to alarm the major alien powers, particularly the Tokomak. Fifty years after Contact, the veil of secrecy fell. Humanity’s involvement in a series of brushfire wars at the edge of known space could no longer be hidden, nor could elements of advanced technology. In response, the Tokomak dispatched a massive fleet to Sol with the intention of blasting Earth to cinders. Unknown to the Tokomak, the Solar Navy had just enough advanced technology to stand off the alien fleet and smash it. The follow-up attacks shattered the Tokomak grip on the nearby sectors, freeing hundreds of planets from their influence. Humanity had suddenly become a major regional power. A number of naval bases were rapidly established, both to extend human influence and protect human trade. This had unfortunate effects on Earth. The expansion of the Solar Union - and its willingness to insist that anyone who wanted to emigrate could emigrate - accidentally accelerated the social decline pervading civilisation. Europe, America and many other countries fell into civil war, something that caused considerable concern in orbit. One faction within the Solar Union wanted to intervene, others - feeling no loyalty to Earth - believed it was better to let Earthers handle their own affairs. Captain-Commodore Hoshiko Sashimi Stuart - the granddaughter of Steve Stuart - accidentally stepped into a political minefield when she insisted that Earth should be left alone. Her family’s political enemies were quick to use it against them. Accordingly, she was placed in command of a cruiser squadron and dispatched to the Martina Sector, where she would be well out of the public eye. However, she rapidly discovered that the Druavroks - a powerful alien race - were bent on a campaign of genocide against their neighbours, including a number of human settlers. Allying herself with other threatened races, Hoshiko led a campaign that broke the Druavroks and laid the groundwork for a human-led federation - a Grand Alliance. Unfortunately for humanity - and everyone else - the Tokomak had other ideas. Neola, the Tokomak who had commanded the fleet that died at Earth, managed to take control of the Tokomak Empire and prepare her people for a far more serious war. Her first step, after ensuring that the immense fleets were being brought back online, was to attempt to lure a human starship - Odyssey - into a trap. Although humanity fell for what was presented, to them, as an olive branch from one of the oldest known races, the crew of Odyssey were able to escape the trap and find their way back to the nearest safe port. In their wake, however, an ultimatum was sent. Humanity could surrender ... ... Or be mercilessly hunted down and exterminated.