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Rise from the Ashes: A Story of the Change

California

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a part of Rise from the Ashes: A Story of the Change, by Ragnarök.

The former California Republic, a land of warlords and prophets, a land descending into Total War.

Ragnarök holds sovereignty over California, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

224 readers have been here.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

the change series by sm. stirling - http://smstirling.com/books/

Setting

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The former California Republic. Since the Change it has defended into anarchy and chaos, finally breaking off into three different nation-states.

The California Catholics Union controls the majority of the south and into Mexico, basing themselves out of San Diego.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints controls much of the south and west of the former Republic. They call San Francisco their capital and have been locked in a vicious struggle for survival with Sacramento.

The City-State of Sacramento controls the north and east of the state. Their capital is the old republic state capital of Sacramento. They have been fighting tooth and nail with the Mormons for the last five years.
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California

The former California Republic, a land of warlords and prophets, a land descending into Total War.

Minimap

California is a part of Rise from the Ashes: A Story of the Change.

3 Places in California:


Setting

1 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aves Beckett
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“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Southern Reach - Sacramento

To say that Sacramento ruled the eastern half of California was a bit of a pipe dream, as Aves was soon to discover. Riding north from Bakersfield was to enter a land of virtual desolation and vast emptiness, the remnants of cars and the bones of millions hinting at the death and violence this region had seen less than a decade ago.

There were signs of life here and there, scattered and heavily fortified homesteads and villages. The villages themselves huddled up against the walls of small strongholds which clung themselves to the remains of pre-change cities, always near a water source. Patrols were heavy here, always a minimum of four mounted men who moved swiftly on excellent horses. At least once or twice a day the small party would be challenged by one of these groups of mounted men who would thunder close for an inspection. They would speak to her escorts, inspect her token, and then politely wave them on their way.

Her journey followed the old Highway 99 and she familiar names appeared from the ruins of civilization, now shadows of them former selves, tiny outposts in a vast expanse of nothing that gave Sacramento legitimacy and right to rule within a bowshot of the fortress walls and perhaps a half days ride beyond. There were few people, and those who did live in the region looked hard and watched the three riders pass with suspicion. One of her escorts quietly informed her that many of them had been virtual savages and even cannibal bands up until a few years ago when Sacramento had begun moving troops in. No questions had been asked and most had gladly returned to some semblance of order, those who didn't, well, the evidence of what happened to them was plain for all to see.

Outside of every small settlement there was a gibbet or two that hung from old telephone poles. Inside were the bodies, some still barely alive, of people who had committed a serious offence to warrant a death sentence. There were crude signs hung below them stating their crimes. Rape, murder, cannibalism, theft. All serious offences anywhere, one of the soldiers informing Aves that they had very rare occurrences of any of it, rape was the most common problem still remaining in this virtually lawless region.

Miles passed and each night they would stop at one of the small towns and the local lord would grumble as he was forced to provide them shelter and food for the night. Her token assured her the very best treatment while her escorts were regulated to the soldiers quarters. Tulare, Fresno, Merced, all names she knew from before the Change, all now the only signs of human life on the once bustling Highway 99.

Many times on her journey she had glanced west and on more than one occasion she had spotted other horsemen shadowing them. They never came close though once a group of them did swerve close and her escorts urged her to a gallop, taking up positions behind her and drawing their short recurve bows. They swiftly outran their pursuers and the soldiers explained that they were Mormons from the West. Aves soon discovered that a sort of "no-mans" land existed between Highway 99 and the old Interstate 5 further west. The territory there, excellent farmland rich with nutrients, existed in a strange state of truce as both sides worked the land with the occasional raid on isolated homesteads. A vast difference from the north where armies heaved against each other and men died daily in a welter of blood and screams.

One their fourth day of riding Aves saw signs of the power that had made Sacramento a force to be reckoned with. The Town of Manteca, once a small town along the banks of the San Joaquin River, was now the frontline of a war that had ravaged the landscape around it. There town itself had shifted west slightly to where Interstate 5 crossed the river and upon the eastern side, astride the roadway itself, sat an imposing castle. By any reckoning it was a massive structure, the highest tower well over a hundred feet into the air, the outer walls boasting square towers that seemed to be brooding over the countryside around it. The entire town itself had been walled in a channel dug so that a moat hemmed the whole area in. Her escort told her they would not be going into the city but they handed her a pair of binoculars so she could study the building. Shifting her gaze westward she could see an opposing fortress a few kilometres away, the Mormon stronghold of Tracey. It seemed that the region had been fairly quiet for the last several months after the Mormons had failed to force the river.

Less than half days ride north they passed the walls of Stockton. Here another fortress guarded the main roadway and bridges that allowed access to the east. The west side of the river boasted a secondary fortress that made the bridge an imposing task to take. It was this design that had actually diverted most of the Mormons efforts further south since they viewed Manteca as easier prey.

The land this far north was changing as well. The desolation of the central state was gone, replaced with well tended fields and wealthy looking villages. It was clear that this region had been doing well in the past several years and she saw many new, white plastered houses built in the fashion of Spanish haciendas scattered amongst rich fields of grapes, corn, barley and many other numerous varieties she was sure would be delicious. Herds of fat cows and proud looking horses were under careful watch and she noticed that every family owned at least a pair of horses. Sacramento was certainly returning to the Spanish roots of its founder.

They passed beyond Stockton and her escort relaxed at last. This region, as they drew near to the capital, had not seen fighting in almost eight years. It had been pacified early on and when Sacramento had pushed it's borders west it had driven to the sea and then south until they stood upon the shores of San Francisco Bay and there they had stayed, unable to shift the Mormons who called it home.

At length a city began to appear on the horizon, a proper city, not a large town like Manteca or Stockton. As they drew closer she could see that walls surrounded the city here as well, a huge curtain wall studded every fifty yards with great square towers. Of those, every third was double in size and she was told that they held siege weapons capable of out ranging anything their enemies had dreamed up so far. It was an impressive sight, made even more so by the knowledge that the walls contained almost 12,000 people, possibly the single largest city left in the southern united states.

Road traffic was heavy here though the centre of the roadway was left open for military use and of that there was plenty. Columns of infantry and horsemen were passing southwards and she had an opportunity to study their weaponry and armour. Much like those who had taken Bakersfield these men were well armed and armoured in old Moorish fashion. The uniformity of their look and their military bearing was well in keeping with the stories that had been told abroad about them. One of her escorts explained that the majority of the original core had been soldiers, or fought in the tournament that been taking place when the changed happened. When asked how many Sacramento had under arms the escort shrugged and simply replied "thousands".

The vast quantities of goods that were moving on the roadway was impressive though she was informed that it was but one of four major roadways that led into the capital. One from each point on the compass. "The Industry of Empire" stated one of her escorts. It certainly looked to be true as they came closer and closer to the walls. Nothing was built beyond the walls, the ground had been razed and fields grew where she knew there had once been acres of suburban housing. The amount of work and man power it must have taken to remove the buildings and any remnants of their existence was staggering. One of the soldiers told her that all the houses had been carefully taken down if they were in good condition and been recycled. All new buildings were required to be done in the old Spanish style with adobe brick and white wash. It was cheaper, safer, fire proof and highly functional.

Their pace slowed to a walk as they drew closer to the moat that encircled the city and the twin towers that guarded the approach to the drawbridge. Here her token was like a magic charm and they passed swiftly through the long line that waited to enter the city. Soldiers inspected every cart or load that was arriving into the city. Apparently the Mormons had been sneaking agents into the city and so the Lord-Marshal had ordered a crack down on those entering the city.

They passed beneath the first gate and Aves could look up to see the murder holes above her head and smell the distinct aroma of pitch bubbling on a fire. Then their horses hooves clattered on the drawbridge and she was able to look down into the moat that curled slowly beneath her, the river had been channeled in so that the water did not remain stagnant.

The second gateway, this one a block of four towers with two sets of metal clad doors, heavy portcullis and once again the faint hint of bubbling pitch from above. Sacramento took it's situation very seriously. The gatehouse turned once, then twice, forcing an enemy to navigate the cobblestoned passage, and each time faced with narrow slits through which a defender could ambush them with arrows.

Grey stone and concrete wall suddenly gave way to open air again and Aves found herself in the crush of the Sacramento.

Setting

1 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aves Beckett
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"There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt."
- Charles de Gaulle

Southern Reach - Sacramento

Aves playfully shoved her aviator sunglasses up the bridge of her nose and glanced around the room as she let a few wheeled bags come to a rest in the middle of the floor. The hotel room was different from others they'd stayed in as they spent the last few weeks moving westward toward Los Angeles--this one by far being the nicest.

"This is wild!" she exclaimed happily, walking on her toes as she filed in behind Frances. "Look! More than two beds! That means we're all going to be so comfortable," she added with a hint of silly sarcasm as she pointed at two large beds and one cot.

Casey and Andrew threw their suitcases on one bed, then spots were claimed by others in the group before Aves could say anything. She rolled her eyes and pulled her two bags to one corner of the room. "Yeah, yeah," she laughed, putting her guitar case down and picking up her laptop bag. "Since I'm the baby and can't join you guys for a drink, I'll just stay up here and work on my capstone. And I will sit all over your beds," she added with a grin.

"Just use my ID," Casey offered lightly as she pulled her makeup case from her knapsack and took a seat on the edge of her bed.

"If I don't finish this, I could lose my scholarship," Aves sighed, sitting down on the ground and yanking off her leather boots. She tossed them near the window, then retrieved her laptop from its bag and hit the "power" switch. "Maybe I'll come out if I finish early."

"I doubt you will," Kris tossed back, still watching her from the spot he'd claimed on the cot. He pulled a spare t-shirt from his bag. "You've hardly been out at all this trip. You have to come out tonight, though."

"I don't like the guys from the other band," Aves responded irritably, her drawn eyes focused on the laptop screen as she pulled her project up. "That's all."

"Well, we want you to come out. Use Casey's fake ID if you have to."

"Hers says she's five-foot-ten," Aves fired back. "Do I feel like getting hustled by a bunch of cops less than two months before turning 21? No thanks."

"Your loss," Kris scoffed back playfully, then turned back to his bag to set about unpacking.

Suddenly, the lights overhead flickered and blew out in spectacular fashion, raining shards of glass down onto the floor. Aves let out a slight scream as her laptop screeched suddenly, then emitted a *burst!* noise, smoke suddenly curling out from the keyboard. Her stomach dropped. Months of hard work, gone, thanks to some weird fluke.

Her brief moment of panicked mortification was interrupted by a series of similar shouts being heard from the other rooms in the hotel. She brushed some errant glass shards out of her hair and exchanged worried glances with the others before bolting to the window.

The early evening sun was setting over the horizon, casting the valley and the city under a dark lavender glow. The sound of silence was deafening—noisy buzzing or thrumming of air conditioners or other background machinery was gone, but a quick look out the huge window revealed a throng of panicked people on The Strip below them.

Frances ran toward the door to slam the metal bolt shut after hearing more rustling and screaming in the hallway. The seven bunched up along the window to watch down below. They were stuck together, stories and stories above the ground, with no way to get out.


# # #

Aves felt a bit conspicuous in her Stetson as her two escorts led her through the bustling city. There was something very different about being here… it gave her a feeling that was hard to assign words to. Something she'd not felt during The Change—or even for a while before it happened.

Familiarity.

The cobblestone reminded her of Berlin. At three. Stepping along with Mom as she explained everything around them in French. Picking up some bread to feed to the goats penned up smack dab in the middle of the Western section of the city. Glancing down at her tiny shoes to pick up any big pieces the goat might have dropped. "Regarde les chèvres!"

The cobblestones under those tiny feet.

Even when passing through the entrance when greeted by the stomach-curdling, warm scent of pitch did she find a strange place to find herself thinking of Neuschwanstein, or other old relics of towns she'd frequented as a child and a teenager. She'd heard the Lord-Marshal had been responsible for developing the vision for the region, especially for the architecture. One thing she admired about Spanish architecture was its ability to straddle multiple, even competing, styles all at once—Visigoth and Roman, Classical and Moorish all clashed together in earth tones, seeking to rise out from the ground instead of merely exist upon it. That was one thing she had to admire, especially seeing it so authentically recreated in Sacramento. She felt almost as though she was returning to a place she'd intended to return, without ever having been there. What a strange sensation to have. She smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear, looking back at the busy street full of eyes glaring back up at her, studying the mask obscuring her face. It wasn't difficult to tell she was not from the area.

"Where are we going?" she called ahead to the two men who had been helpful over the last few days—helpful in volunteering information, keeping her company (one of them even laughed once!), and in safeguarding her on the long trip.

One looked back over his shoulder. "You remember what the Lord-Commander said," he recounted, seeming to almost be glad that the trip was over. "We're to deliver you to the Lord-Marshal in all haste."

Aves nodded quickly. "And I assume that's where we're going." More of a statement than a question.

"Yes, ma'am."

She nodded again, satisfied. She continued to glance about at the market stalls, houses, carts, cows, and color—everything that could possibly exist in what looked like the city center. It almost put Las Vegas's weekly trading session to shame.

"Stop."

Aves pulled the reins back and cheeked a quick command to her horse as the two men dismounted in front of her at the sight of a fairly distinguished-looking group of soldiers, sliding off of their saddles to huddle for a discussion. Patrol? Special guard? Either way, it wasn't long before one of the two glanced back toward her, whirling a finger in the air as he walked toward her, another soldier following and grasping her horse's bit and collar to steady it. "Go ahead and hop down. They'll take care of the horse and your belongings. In the meantime," said the man as he gestured for her to follow him, "follow us. The Lord-Marshal's guard knows you're here now."

She smiled and correspondingly patted the back of the large beast's neck as she obligingly pulled herself off of the saddle, grateful for the opportunity to put her feet back on the ground. She had no issue, or choice, really, except to follow.

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