A Wheel Inside a Wheel

A Wheel Inside a Wheel

by javert

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

Two brilliant young me, Reinhard von Musel and Yang Wen-li, are forced to flee the countries of their birth and become refugees on opposite sides of a century long galactic war. While they both struggle to adapt to their new lives, their obvious talent propels them to the forefront of the war. Their choices will shape their adoptive homelands forever, and their clash will decide the future of the galaxy.

This story is broken up into volumes, each following one half of the conflict. You can read them in chronological order, or you can follow just Yang or Reinhard. See individual descriptions below.

Part One - Speaking in Tongues

When Yang Wen-li’s father dies, the only thing that he inherits is a mountain of debt, which can only be paid off with fifteen years of his life. Wanting to escape that indentured servitude, Yang flees his homeland and takes up a false identity in the Galactic Empire, a hyper-stratified society where stepping out of line is punishable with imprisonment or death.

Yang enrolls in the Imperial Officers’ Academy to study history, but despite his unusual and unmistakeable talent as both a tactician and a scholar, his classmates resent him for being a visible outsider. When tensions at the school boil over and several of Yang’s classmates attempt to murder him, Yang finds an unlikely ally in the top student in the class: the aloof Oskar von Reuenthal. But Reuenthal and Yang both have secrets, secrets which could destroy both their lives and their newfound friendship.

[70k words, complete]

Part One (Alternate) - Talking Without Speaking

When Oskar von Reuenthal enrolls at the Imperial Officers' Academy, he doesn’t expect to make real friends. The IOA is a competitive place, and Reuenthal has never been well liked. But when a foreign student shows up to challenge him for the top spot in the class, Reuenthal can’t look away.

[77k words, complete]

Part Two - Life out of Balance

When Reinhard von Musel's mother learns that her husband is about to sell her daughter to become the concubine of the Kaiser, she takes her two children, Reinhard and Annerose, and flees to the Free Planets Alliance, where the three of them must start a new life. 

[129k words, complete]

Part Three - Servants of the Pharaoh

Now an officer in His Majesty's fleet, Yang Wen-li struggles to maintain his principles in the face of everything that is expected of him. When he's unwillingly drawn into the politics of the court, he has to use all of his talents to keep himself and his new friends out of danger.

[173k words, complete]

Short - Whatever It Takes to Keep the Body Warm

After their falling out, Reuenthal and Mittermeyer are both posted to the brutal wasteland of Capche-Lanka. It's difficult to hold a grudge when you're just trying to survive.

[23k words, complete]

Short - Keep the Home Fires (Burning)

Three soldiers. Two bodies to be buried. One haunted house.

[33k words, complete]

Part Four - Lighting Out for the Territories

While his sister has joined the fierce Rosen Ritter regiment, Reinhard's fame has earned him a post stuck on Phezzan. Instead of getting to fight, he's caught up in a web of secrets, including the shelter and care of a mysterious refugee from the Empire. Separated from everyone he cares about, Reinhard is forced to make some unexpected allies, and make connections with old friends.

[147k words, complete]

Part Five - Serpent's Mouth, Serpent's Teeth

After having sacrificed his freedom to save his best friend's life, Yang must figure out how to win, and not just survive, the largest civil war in human history.

[In progress]

Part Six - Lightless Labyrinth

[forthcoming, TBD]

Part Seven - Silent Spiral

[forthcoming, TBD]

This story is crossposted on ao3 at bit.ly/wheelinsideawheel

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Table of Contents
91 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Speaking In Tongues - Chapter One - Interrogating the Text from the Wrong Perspective ago
SIT- Chapter Two - The Future is a Foreign Country (They Do Things Differently There) ago
SIT - Chapter Three - This War of Mine(s) ago
SIT - Chapter Four - Seig Saint Sebastian! ago
SIT - Chapter Five - Two Men with the Wrong Kind of Ambitions ago
SIT - Chapter Six - Old College Try ago
SIT - Chapter Seven - No Roses Without Thorns / No Summers Without Storms ago
SIT - Chapter Eight - Chaffy Grain Beneath the Thresher's Flail ago
SIT - Chapter Nine - Turning Saints into the Sea ago
SIT - Chapter Ten - How to Play Eschaton ago
SIT - Chapter Eleven - Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod? ago
SIT - Chapter Twelve - Custody of the Eyes ago
SIT - Chapter Thirteen - Pomp and Circumstance ago
Life Out of Balance - Chapter One - First Few Desperate Hours ago
LOoB - Chapter Two - Summer's Lease Hath All Too Short a Date ago
LOoB - Chapter Three - The Difference Between Happy and Content ago
LOoB - Chapter Four - The Body Keeps the Score ago
LOoB - Chapter Five - First the Gold on the Head, Then the Pearls in the Mouth ago
LOoB - Chapter Six - Tell Your Boyfriend, If He Says He's Got Beef ago
LOoB - Chapter Seven - The Red Rose and the Briar ago
LOoB - Chapter Eight - Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues ago
LOoB - Chapter Nine - Hair Match ago
LOoB - Chapter Ten - Let This Radicalize You Rather Than Lead You to Despair ago
LOoB - Chapter Eleven - A Letter from Saint Paul to the Romans (Brothers and Sisters) ago
LOoB - Chapter Twelve - Give Me a Place to Stand, and I Will Move the Stars ago
LOoB - Chapter Thirteen - Proclaim Liberty to the Captives ago
LOoB - Chapter Fourteen - Simultaneity ago
LOoB - Chapter Fifteen - Childhood's End ago
Talking Without Speaking - Chapter One - "The Trick Is Not Minding That It Hurts" ago
TWS - Chapter Two - Going to Alaska ago
TWS - Chapter Three - Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene ago
TWS - Chapter Four - There Is Comfort at the Bottom of a Swimming Pool ago
TWS - Chapter Five - The Last Night of the First Year of Oscar von Reuenthal's Life ago
TWS - Chapter Six - Derivatives of Desire ago
TWS - Chapter Seven - This Is My Father's World ago
TWS - Chapter Eight - The Two Angels Came to Sodom In the Evening ago
TWS - Chapter Nine - To Witness the Act of Killing ago
TWS - Chapter Ten - Better to Be Hated Than Loved For What You're Not ago
TWS - Chapter Eleven - Game Enders ago
TWS - Chapter Twelve - Darkness Is Your Country, Where You Live ago
TWS - Chapter Thirteen - Confess With Your Lips ago
TWS - Chapter Fourteen - Never Quite Free ago
Servants of the Pharaoh - Chapter One - Running Up That Road, Running Up That Hill ago
SotP - Chapter Two - The Hero of El Facil ago
SotP - Chapter Three - Make a Mess, Then Go Home and Get Clean ago
SotP - Chapter Four - Wives & Daughters ago
SotP - Chapter Five - Amuse-Bouche ago
SotP - Chapter Six - Reunion of the 479 Mafia ago
SotP - Chapter Seven - Better to Face These Kinds of Things With a Sense of Poise and Rationality ago
SotP - Chapter Eight - In the Blood of Eden ago
SotP - Chapter Nine - I, Claudius ago
SotP - Chapter Ten - Siegfried Idyll ago
SotP - Chapter Eleven - Meeting a Man of Twists and Turns ago
SotP - Chapter Twelve - Well-Meaning Teachers ago
SotP - Chapter Thirteen - Historiography ago
SotP - Chapter Fourteen - You and Me and Commander Leigh Makes Three ago
SotP - Chapter Fifteen - Don't Let Nothing Come Between You! ago
SotP - Chapter Sixteen - Profess Keen Interest In the Welfares of the State ago
Whatever It Takes to Keep the Body Warm - Chapter One - Love -> Building On Fire ago
WITtKtBW - Chapter Two - Snow Crush Killing Song ago
WITtKtBW - Chapter Three - Quantum Chromodynamics ago
SotP - Chapter Seventeen - As Inescapable as the Divine Right of Kings ago
SotP - Chapter Eighteen - Jacob's Ladder ago
Keep the Home Fires (Burning) - Chapter One - With Your Grandfather In the Ground ago
KtHF(B) - Chapter Two - The Family and the Fishing Net ago
KtHF(B) - Chapter Three - Oskar von Reuenthal Was Born Innocent ago
Lighting Out for the Territories - Chapter One - The Accursed Share ago
LOftT - Chapter Two - Their Eyes Were Watching God ago
LOftT - Chapter Three - The Past Is Not a Home You Can Go Back To ago
LOftT - Chapter Four - Some of Them Want to Use You. Some of Them Want to Be Used By You. ago
LOftT - Chapter Five - Learning to Read Linear B ago
LOftT - Chapter Six - Iphigenia Among the Taurians ago
LOftT - Chapter Seven - "I Went to El Facil and All I Got Was This Lousy Traumatic Memory..." ago
LOftT - Chapter Eight - Reinhard Misuses the N.A.P. ago
LOftT - Chapter Nine - While the Cat's Away, the Mice Will Play ago
LOftT - Chapter Ten - Pillow Talk ago
LOftT - Chapter Eleven - The Witness Leading the Trial ago
LOftT - Chapter Twelve - That Will Never Be Enough ago
LOftT - Chapter Thirteen - No, You Can't Go Back to the Constantinople ago
LOftT - Chapter Fourteen- Sins of High Finance and Diplomacy ago
LOftT - Chapter Fifteen - A Picture of Domestic Bliss ago
LOftT - Chapter Sixteen - Breaking Down Heaven's Door (Storming Paradise) ago
LOftT - Chapter Seventeen - Gang Aft Agley ago
Serpent's Mouth, Serpent's Teeth - Chapter One - Auld Acquaintance ago
SMST - Chapter Two - Letter From Belgium (B-Side) ago
SMST - Chapter Three - Sending It Along! ago
SMST - Chapter Four - Our Side of the Galaxy (Selected Correspondence) ago
SMST - Chapter Five - The Duel ago
SMST - Chapter Six - Pylades Against the Taurians ago
SMST - Chapter Seven - Fait Accompli ago
SMST - Chapter Eight - Loving the Sword for Its Sharpness, Loving the Arrow for Its Swiftness ago

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A darn good Sci-fi political/military drama

Reviewed at: SMST - Chapter Three - Sending It Along!

As someone who's never watched the source material i figured i might end up a bit out of my depths and missing some context but that feeling never was realized. Javert has done an excellent job in realizing a world and it's characters in an engaging and captivating way that kept me binging all the way through for the week it took to read. I feel like darn near every moment of that was well spent and left me wanting more.

The characters all come from a variety of backgrounds and it's evident in their voice and actions even as they grow and change through out the story. Each one with their own distinct voice, if confusingly similar names, that's obviously not Javert's fault, but i am so terribly bad at names :'(   I really enjoy that they (most pov characters) are all very queer, personally, but there's nothing so explicit that it would throw of most other less thrilled readers

The style is above average for this website, with a clear narration and smoothly executed movement through time and place. The time skips never seem to rushed or abrupt, and all have solid context to keep you grounded as well as enough overlap with other parts of the story to keep everything together. The pov changes can be a bit confusing if you are as bad at names as i am, but even then Javert tries to use names frequently enough that you are never left in the dark for long before you figure it out.

The grammar is darn near impeccable as far as i can tell. I was never once tripped up over a sentence structure or typo. Everything flowed smoothly. 

The story is, along with the characters, my favorite part. Every chapter has things happening, whether it is character growth or plot progression and what a plot it is. It covers about 15 years of characters lives and we get to see quite a lot of the relevant and important bits without bein being bogged down in the nitty gritty of day to day activities. Everyone and everything matters and it builds up to the innevitable with a brutal and unrelenting certainty. There will be a bloody galactic war, and it will determine the lives of billions, with every character playing their rolls.

The reason i docked the story score a bit is because of the tendency to repeat the same bits but from a different perspective. It can be a bit tedious but there's usually enough new that it doesn't feel like a waste of time, and many readers will enjoy more time spent with their preferred characters.

All told i highly recommend this story to anyone interested in sci-fi, military, or drama stories. I only really like 2 of those and am still having a grand time reading.


To be fully honest, the first chapter of this story did not instil too much confidence in me. Yes, it was all well-written, and there were no parts where I could criticize the grammar of the stuff. But... there really wasn't much going for it.

The beginning of the second chapter had the same problem. After that? Well, things finally started happening. The 'unliked smart kid' trope began playing to the max, and some semblance of discontent began spreading in. I won't put out any real spoilers, but the summary puts it all out pretty clearly. He is not liked by most of his peers, is smarter than most of them as well somehow, and is bullied to a point where questions should have been asked. Oh, and he's also 15.

Don't take it as a negative thing. Really, this stuff is better than a good 99% of what you find on this platform(you can take that statement however you like). The references are nice, the innuendos are actually a bit subtle, and there is an undercurrent of British dry humour.

Overall, I give this whole thing a 5/5. Will possibly turn this into an advanced review in the future.