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Odyssey: Among the Lowlifes of Treason …Wander the Wastes of Sand… Prologue – “Wrong Turn” “That’s how decent guys ended up doing evil things – small steps at first, then bigger ones until they’d covered the full shameful distance.” – Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss Scritch. Scratch. Hm… the Glatorian thought to himself. A sand rat must have gotten into the cell next door. Wonderful. Now I get to listen to it scuffle around for the next few hours or so. Scritch. Scratch. For the umpteenth time, his mind returned to the events that had transpired two days ago. How had it all gone wrong so quickly? He’d always been good at manipulating the shady individuals he dealt with, so when was it that he'd messed up and made a wrong turn on this road to profit he'd been taking? Truth be told, it occurred to him, this was always coming to me. I was just too ridiculously good at this dangerous game to get what I should have gotten… until now. Scritch. Scratch. The sun had been beating down on him as he repaired a vehicle. Cendox class, relatively well-armed for its small size. He looked up from his work to witness three warriors stalking in his direction, presumably his clients returning to see what progress he had made. Wait, no. Not his clients. Undercutters. Spikit dung. “Hey dustbag! Yeah, y’over there, Skid. What’ch’up to Skid?” He didn’t even get a chance to respond before another one of the three cut in. “I don’t know, Clunk. Looks like Syndicate graffiti on that grindbike’s frontside. I don’t like what I’m seeing. Skid should know it’s a tad bit unhealthy to aid the Syndicate.” He’d shrunk back, giving a panicked look that darted among the three as he anticipated a blow. “Naw, tha’couldn’t be,” the first sarcastically intoned. “Skid’s not Vorox dumb. He’s just pretty dumb. Jus’is buddy tha’s’a Vorox. Skid wouldn’t try crossing an Undercutter. I mean, really. Hey Skid! Y’aren’t happening to be repairing a Syndicate vehicle, are ya?” He’d shaken his head emphatically. “Goooood…” Clunk had venomously whispered. “Of course, if you happened to see a Syndicate grindbike, you might want to plant one of these rather close to its engine.” Clunk had lobbed something at him. Upon closer inspection, he’d noticed it was an explosive. “If you ever pass up a good opportunity, Skid, it might turn out to be… unhealthy for you. We clear?” He’d looked up at the cloudless firmament. “Clear?” he’d hoarsely replied. “We’re clear as the sky on a day like this.” “Nice to know.” So the third Undercutter warrior did have a voice after all. “See you ‘long the wayside, Skid.” Skid had just turned around in order to start his repairs again when he felt a sharp jolt of pain. He’d just been broadsided by one of the three boorish maniacs. He’d heard them cackling as they walked off, but he had barely noticed above the pain. Scritch. Scratch. Yeah… that poor client. Never noticed the bomb until he was reduced to dust, as if there isn’t enough dust on Bara Magna. He had placed the bomb in a makeshift cradle he’d welded into place, right under the engine. He wired one of the weapons to light the fuse rather than fire the launcher when the trigger was pulled. He’d hoped that would make it look like a weapons malfunction. It hadn’t. Scritch. Scratch. Unfortunately, the Undercutters that had bullied him into service had been anything but subtle. The sabotage was obvious. No sooner had the client taken it on a test run and blown himself to pieces than his comrades had shown up to incarcerate the saboteur. That put him at the mercy of the people he feared the most: the Syndicate. The largest illegal mercenary group in the area. They operated in defiance of the Tribal regulations to keep peace and settle disputes with arena battles. When you needed something dealt with by force that was prohibited in legal venues, you drew a contract under the table with the Syndicate. The only things the Syndicate generally kept clear of were Undercutters. The Undercutters were just a pain to deal with. He’d gotten a lot of business with them by installing secret compartments in their vehicles. The Undercutters were so called because they obtained rare goods and smuggled them away to black market dealers. Someone beat you to a rare artifact found by a Jungle Tribe explorer and bought it before you even knew it existed? Break a deal with the Undercutters. No problem. It’ll cost a high rate, but they’ll obtain the artifact by whatever means necessary and deliver it back. That’s why they needed secret compartments and hidden stashes on their vehicles. Delivery always required some careful smuggling. He’d played both of them for a profit. Repaired Syndicate vehicles after they’d banged them up in a battle somewhere out in the wastes. Outfitted Undercutter vehicles with smuggling chambers. But now it was all coming back to haunt him. You try and cater to two opposing criminal consortiums and one of them catches on sooner or later. Funny thing, it was those three Undercutters who had caught him, but they had just wanted to use their advantage to blackmail him into sabotaging their opponents. Those three had probably been severely punished by their superiors for squandering the opportunity to get their hands on a double agent in favor of planting a single bomb for their own amusement. Of course, then the Syndicate had caught on as well now and they were keener to notice the jackpot they’d earned. All they would have to do was lock him up and get him to talk. Then, they could get him to divulge all the specifications and details about Undercutter vehicles as well as information they could use to flush the Undercutters out into the open, since he’d been working with them for years without Syndicate knowledge. Scritch. Scratch. He’d almost told them – answered their questions – but he knew what would happen if he gave out. He’d been marked untrustworthy for collusion with the Undercutters. Once he was no longer of worth and had exposed all the information he had, they were going to kill him. He knew it. No matter how hard they beat him, he would have to hold out if he wanted to live. Scritch. Scratch… Scritch. Scratch… Scritch… ................................................................................ Review Topic
Preface – The Traces of War Rise Above the Traces of War… “‘Kuan-yin sighed a deep sigh, and recited the following poem: Long ago performed in vain prodigies of valour. In his blackness of heart he upset the Heavenly Peach Banquet; In mad rashness he dared to rob the Patriarch of Tao. A hundred thousand heavenly troops could not overcome him; He terrorized the realm of Heaven throughout its nine spheres. At last in Buddha Tathāgata he met his match. Will he ever again be set at large and win back his renown? ‘Who is it,’ a voice came from inside the mountain, ‘who recites verses that tell of my misdoings?’” – Monkey, an abridged translation by Arthur Waley of Journey to the West by Wu Ch’êng-ên War leaves behind a trace. It is easily noticed. We are not talking about dead bodies or destroyed cities. We are not talking about cratered streets or pockmarked walls. We are talking about the soldiers that live on. We are talking about the confused and violent factions that settle into an uneasy peace. War leaves behind a trace. It can be felt hanging in the air like a taught bowstring. It is a palpable tension that obstinately persists in the hearts and minds of those who fought in a conflict that has now ended. It is found in the displaced refugees that beg for asylum. On Bara Magna, fifteen thousand years have passed since the Core War, but Glatorian and Agori are long-lived. As a consequence, their feuds and grudges are equally long-lived. Each Tribe has isolated itself from the others and they all harbor a mutual distrust. Worse yet are the mercenaries. Most Glatorian were unable to find places in society as village protectors and arena combatants. These despondent individuals have formed roving bands that perform the only service they are skilled in: war. This has been a serious impediment to the establishment of the arena combat system that has been developed in order to avoid future conflict on scales that could endanger entire communities in the way conflicts did during the Core War. Nevertheless, evil is comparatively quick to rebound. The Skrall beyond the Black Spike Mountains have unified a few of these Glatorian mercenary bands with a singular and cryptic goal. The new fighting force, known only as the Harvest Faction, has turned to slave driving in the name of the Skrall Empire. Their attacks have taken them south of the Black Spike Mountains and their advance appears relentless. Unfortunately, the Core War has left each Tribe unsympathetic to the plights of the others. As the Ice Tribe suffers from casualties and abductions on a grand scale, the other Tribes turn a blind eye to the Skrall’s most recent project. Yet, there is a distinct possibility that this conflict could have a dire impact on the future of all Tribes if it is left unchecked. Soldiers live on. Peace is uneasy. Tensions persist. Grudges remain. Refugees beg. Vagabonds rove. The Harvest Faction advances. This is the trace that war leaves behind. ................................................................................ Review Topic
You've just stumbled upon something big... Welcome to the hub for all thing related to Odyssey to the Northlands. This topic will be updated and linked to any related content for this six-part epic saga. I will warn you in advance that it stretches to incredible length. If you continue to follow my writing, you have been warned. As is usually the case on BZP, clicking linky-looking things should generally take you to the epic posting topic in question and clicking on any banner graphic I have in-text should also take you to the posting topic for which it is a banner. Let me know if I forgot to link any banners. To give you an idea, I will have you know that I have my epics written in full prior to the release of even the first chapter. In order to force myself to complete this epic on a (relatively) timely schedule, I forced myself to avoid being distracted by other BZP stuff and abstained from the site until it's writing was completed. That turned out to be a mistake, for I now fear I have estranged myself from anyone who knew me before with the one and a half year hiatus I took. Writing was underway before that period begun, but it took until then to finish. I ask you, no beg you, to please read this epic if you feel it appeals to your taste for fiction so that I may receive feedback on what has become a positively exhaustive venture for me. My only request is that in your feedback you please bear in mind that I have spent roughly two years creating this and I never plan on undertaking such an extreme venture again; this is to be my magnum opus on BZP. If you see any way for me to improve my writing - I want to know! Just be respectful and consider how much of myself I threw into this. I know that is all in the epic forum rules and guidelines thread: I just feel it kind of goes double for me with this epic saga. Premise: To receive an idea on what this epic is about and whether the premise appeals to you as a fan-fiction, please read the PREFACE located at the beginning of the Part I topic. This describes the scenario and sets the stage for the following saga. In short, we are looking at a largely unexplored period of time following the Core War on Spherus Magna while set on the Bara Magna "shattered" piece of the whole. Because we were led to believe the Core War took place on a positively massive scale and must have had countless Glatorian soldiers, you will run across far more Glatorian characters than exist in the six Tribes by the point of time that was GregF's story-telling present. To some extent, I try to explain why there will be so few Glatorian still around in the six Tribes as arena combatants during story telling present. In case the PREFACE is unclear to you, this is set in time at 85,000 years before story present (15,000 years after Core War at 100,000 years before story present). Release Schedule: This epic was initially meant to have a fixed release schedule. However, due to lack of attention as I started posting, I want to slow my rate to give myself time to try and re-establish myself on BZP after a long time out of the loop and the rate of posting will be flexible based on traffic to this topic. Seeing as I have received no replies at the current time, this means I will be drastically slowing down until I know I at least have ONE reader. Thank you if you do stop by! Table of Contents: Preface Part I: Igniting Ice Prologue: "Condemnation" Chapter 1: "Fiery Ice" Chapter 2: "The Ice Calls to its Own" Chapter 3: "Smoky Dealings" Chapter 4: "Vulcanus" Chapter 5: "Insurgent Ice, Resurgent Fire" Chapter 6: "The Trial of Fire" Chapter 7: "Atero" Chapter 8: "Rek" Part II: Among the Lowlifes of Treason Prologue: "Wrong Turn" ????? Part III: ????? ????? Part IV: ????? ????? Part V: ????? ????? Part VI: ????? ????? Character Listing: Primary, Secondary, Cameo/Mentioned Pronunciations: (Simplified Phonetic, Dictionary Symbolic) Ocucko - (OH-COO-koh, ō-kü-kō) Ice Lord - ("Ice Lord," īs lȯrd) Nardohi - (nar-DOE-hee, när-dō-hē) Adani - (ah-DAH-nee, ä-dä-nē) Ackar - (AH-car, ä-kär) Raanu - (RAH-noo, rä-nü) Malum - (MAH-LUM, ma-lǝm) Hesmit - (HEZ-mit, hez-mit) Dektor - (DEK-tohr, dek-tȯr) "Rek" - ("Rek," rek) Skid – ("Skid," skid) Clunk - (“Clunk,” klǝŋk) FAQs: I expect some questions to be swirling around in your grey matter by this point; here's some of the ones I don't want to have to repeat to much. If I get pestered much with some other important question, I'll add it up here. Q: About your previous work... A: Let's not go there. I had to start learning to write somewhere. Actually, let's go there on second thought. What I mean by that is that I am currently in the process of writing an anniversary edition of Lightfall. That saga was by nearly any standard a poor piece of writing, but it was a necessary learning experience that paved the way for what I believe is a far more professional piece of writing right here in this saga. The anniversary edition will be expanded, correct plot errors/loopholes/inconsistencies, explore scenarios and characterize individuals better, remove the excessive suspension of disbelief and make me proud... hopefully. But that's a tall order when you look at the lengthy list. At this point, I suggest you not read the train-wreck that is Lightfall if you have not already - if you have read it already, you were very helpful and I used your feedback to produce what feels like a much better piece of writing to me - and by that I mean this saga. As for Sordid Shafts, I actually still really like that one and never intend to rewrite it at all, but as a spinoff from Lightfall, I only recommend newcomers to my writing read it after the anniversary edition is out. That will be awhile. In the meantime... there will be a LOT to read here. Q: You keep saying this epic saga is long. How long exactly? A: Really long. It is not in short story or novella length. It is in full-blown novel length. For now, I will keep the exact length a secret to be revealed by its posting. Have fun reading; I'll keep you at it for a long time with this hunk of text. Q: Is that a reference to... A: You can ask to be sure, but it probably is. When I was trying to keep myself going, I put in sneaky little references. Not glaring big obvious ones that ruin the story-telling with their blatancy. Just a name here and there that may or may not have rearranged letters from something else or a name that is phonetically similar-sounding to something from something else... I'm sure any well-read person will catch a couple. Please see my answer to the next question if you are curious as to why I snuck in these little references. Q: Any inspirations on writing this? A: Lots, but I worked to keep them as merely inspirations. This epic saga is entirely of my own imagining. It is worth noting that some of the sneaky references I make that seem like I am very clearly mimicking some character from something else were references that were made in retrospect when I realized the number of similarities, not characters that were specifically created as an homage to anything else. This epic as a whole is in no way meant to copy from any other work of fiction, nor is it even an homage to anything. Note the "as a whole:" a significant part of Part IV was written as an homage to a classical work of literature, but that one portion of that one part is the only one like that. Q: Who does your banners? A: I do. I've had some graphic design experience and create them myself using only personal photos and stock images from Lego released in conjunction with the Bionicle line to avoid any potential file theft without credit that may result from Googling images and editing them into banners. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 in order to access the necessary editing tools and to create layers. Q: Why write something so big? A: To be completely honest, I had no choice in the matter. The story seemed to grow a mind of its own and was driven by the character that acts as a protagonist. I felt compelled to include all the content that eventually made its way in there. Q: What sort of story are you trying to tell here? A: This was a workshop of sorts for me. The multi-part format allows me to try and tell an extensive array of types of stories, which I felt helped me to grow as a writer by exploring all these different types of writing. Fear not, I did not let the temptation of trying my hand at different genres get in the way of the story-telling (let me know if you feel it did, but I've extensively proofread with that possibility in mind and have found myself "not guilty"). Different types of writing were explored only as appropriate for the overall story I was trying to tell. For the most part, though, the name says it all: this is an odyssey - a globe-spanning adventure. About the Author: I don't know guys, what do you want to know about me? If you want to request that I reveal something in this section, feel free to PM me with a question and I'll add it to this if I feel it belongs! (Too preoccuppied at the moment to think of what stuff might interest BZP-goers about me.) Final Words: I hope you enjoy the read. I hope that I can bring something new and involved to the epics forum with this saga and I intend for this not to be the end of my writing on BZP even though I seemed to have dropped of the face of Spherus Magna for awhile there. I'm back guys... and this time I mean business. This saga is go! Rise Above the Traces of War Kindle the Fires of Change Wander the Wastes of Sand Grant the Jungles Deliverance Dive into Water's Darkened Depths Hold Fast Before the Might of Rock Overcome Ice's Ire And Find the Signs of Hope Maganar