Sheva's War (1998) #5
Chris Moeller painted art.
Cover price $2.95.
The Iron Empires comprise eight nations of peoples scattered across the Milky Way galaxy; being representative of the remains of a decaying human civilization which was once immeasurably vast. For millennia, the alien Vaylen, a parasitic worm-like race, have rolled back the frontiers of inhabited human space, invading the minds of their conquered hosts and gradually eroding human control throughout the galaxy.
Ahmi Sheva is the once-young, beautiful and restless baroness of Taramai, a planet located within the boundaries of the Karsan League. She is also a soldier by training and holds the rank of captain in the planetary Landwehr. Frustrated with life in the company of her much older husband and bored by dalliances with a string of younger lovers, Sheva assumes command of local forces when the Ganasch, the deformed ape-like minions of the Vaylen first infiltrate and then invade her planet.
As the narrative unfolds, Sheva is courted by the visiting Philippe of Artois, Count of Karishun, her former mentor and commander and also initiates a new romance with Hardi Degas, a farm-boy turned soldier. She must lead the resistance of her vastly outnumbered Taramai forces against the incursions of the Vaylen in a series of conflicts ranging up and down the deep forested valleys of her planet.
Both the Vaylen and the human nobility employ mind-control techniques to optimise the performance of their forces. Indeed, the Vaylen share an acknowledged parasitic relationship with their hosts and as the series progresses treachery rises to the surface of the human defence initiative:
Karishun: Look at them down there, Rhiannon. Toiling away like insects. And they have the effrontery to call your people worms. As if they were any better Rhiannon: You undervalue your kinsmen, my Lord. Six thousand Vaylen clans have crossed into human space by now. The greatest invasion in three centuries. Our leaders are realistic. They know what war will bring. Hundreds of our clans, their fortunes invested in fleets, will be ruined. Great lineages will be extinguished on the battlefield. Our nation will be harrowed by this war. And yet we take up arms eagerly, despite the risks, because without your people, those you call insects, my people are nothing.— Sheva's War #3, p.3, Dec. 1998