This post is somewhat less spoiler-filled than it sounds. In fact, that’s the name of the first chapter! The toughest thing about writing this up in its final form is the order of the chapters, as they need by design to be assembled in a certain order, rather different from the one it was easiest to write the first rough drafts in. This chapter, however, will always be the first, introducing us to Cal and to his predicament, survivor of a war that has destroyed his country and his friends. Subsequent chapters move back and forth along his timeline, as Cal tries to piece together what caused all this and if it could ever have been averted.
Together with Cal, we also meet his childhood friends Steph and Mic, who joined the army at the same time he did. Quietly assured and with a natural gift for tactics, Steph is their natural leader, and has got them through the war alive – but at a terrible cost. Mic, the youngest of the three, had previously been happy with his position as trusted right hand of the other two, cheerfully slightly subordinate, but now he sees what the war has done to them all and blames everyone and everything for letting it happen, Cal in particular, however irrational that anger might be.
Or is it entirely irrational after all?
As I go on through the second draft, Cal will keep putting together the pieces, until eventually the full story behind the war is laid bare. If he’d known, if he’d only known… could he have stopped it before it began?