Battle Planning in Last Measure of Devotion

One of the things I wanted to do in Last Measure of Devotion was make each battle different. I’ve tried to do that with each book. This Corner of the Universe dealt with a small scale, usually just one or two ships opposing Anelace. It allowed me to focus greatly on each shot fired and the damage inflicted from each weapon. In No Way to Start a War, I wrote large fleet actions involving dozens of ships and hundreds of fighters. The Wrong Side of Space was different in that it was a mixed human fleet fighting against a radically different enemy. Loyalty to the Cause was devoid of combat until the very end and that was corporate combat, a very stylized type of engagement with specific rules not used elsewhere.

Last Measure of Devotion was a tougher nut to crack. The combat would be corporate warfare again but I wanted to avoid it being a repeat of Book 4. Since I was bound by the corporate way of war, I looked at other options. For starters, the first battle marks the first time that the crew of Anelace are not together. I tried to emphasize that point by jumping between ship captains as fighting progressed.

The book’s second combat (in Enyo) was tackled with the attitude that this would be the crew’s final battle together on the same bridge. At this point in their careers, the Anelace officers are masters at their craft and the theme of the battle is less one of “Will they survive?” and more of the absolute experts giving their knowledge to a young and uncertain crew on Covington’s ship. It was a fun way to write the battle, taking the lessons that Vernay, Truesworth, etc. had learned over the last four books and handing the torch to Covington’s nascent crew.

The final battle stands out for two major reasons. The first is that this battle again had all of the main characters as ship captains. I tried to make each of them different although I devoted most of the time to Vernay because she deserved to kick butt after suffering through most of LMOD. The second reason is that this was Heskan’s first battle “out of the action.” He wasn’t in mortal danger from the Sadens and he was commanding an entire fleet as opposed to a small group of ships. That battle also had a touch of handing off the leadership torch to Vernay as well.

Despite the changes in approach and perspectives, I still did the work behind the scenes. Distances and shots were painstakingly calculated. Damage was estimated and had influence over each ship’s future actions. I even had individual fighters on the battlefield (although I would write them as three groups of five in the book).  Here’s an accounting of the ships in play:

LMOD-ships

I’m looking forward to writing the battles that will take place in The Parasite Initiative series. The story so far is almost writing itself and while the battles will always be true to the universe I’ve created, it’s worked out very well that each battle in the first novel will be told in a fresh and different way that will (hopefully) keep you engaged.

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