The Four Corners

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Siege
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The Four Corners

Post by Siege » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:39 pm

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Four Corners

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth. And I beheld and heard a voice from heaven, and our Husband Lord speaketh saying, lo, I have blessed these lands, and the wind shall not blow on a thing of the earth, nor on a thing of the sea, nor on any tree, that is not contained in these four corners."
- The Holy Bible

The Four Corners is a wild and lawless region far from the core of the Union. The Corners consist of the southwest Tucemcari Desert, northwest Painted Hills, northeast Tombstone Flats, and southeast Barringer Canyon. Located at the quadripoint where the boundaries of these four territories meet is Nowhere Gulch, a small hamlet of a few thousand souls which is nonetheless the only truly tangible Union presence in these remote territories.

The Four Corners are separated from each other by the two great rivers that run through the area: the Blue River, which runs from the Painted Hills to the east and into Barringer Canyon, and the Rio Helecho which crawls south from Lake Custer through the Flats and into the vast expanse of the Tucemcari. Several smaller tributaries of these great rivers run through the area as well.

Inhabiting the Four Corners is a motley collection of settlers and adventurers, prospectors and homesteaders, rich and poor, lawmen and outlaws, all come here to this place beyond the ragged edge of civilization in order to find new riches and escape old lives or, in some cases, to chase those who would rather forget old crimes. They share the territory with wary natives of the Chucree and Arahanee tribes who have dwelt in the Painted Hills since times immemorial, as well as the mysterious and alien Shaheen who occasionally come up from beyond the deep deserts to sow chaos amongst the human settlements of the Four Corners.


The Tucemcari Desert

A vast, perilous and mostly unexplored desert, the Tucemcari is a sparsely vegetated expanse of sand, crags and half-eroded mountains. Rain is extremely rare, limited to sudden downpours that occur once a year or less. It is very rough terrain: arroyos and bajadas cut through sand and gravel basins that drain to central salt flats. Occasionally the arid landscape is interrupted by patches of vegetation, mostly yucca and cacti, creosote bush and blackbush shrubs, but as one travels deeper and deeper into the desert even these eventually vanish, to be replaced by an endless expanse of desert.

Despite the inhospitable climate several settlements do exist within the Tucemcari. Mostly these are small hamlets, centered on the occasional rare oasis or small stream, and inhabited by prospectors and gold miners who have made the desert their home. Few of these settlements are truly permanent; many evaporate when their water supply does, or when a vein of precious metal they were exploiting runs out. Even then most of these settlements are located at the very edge of the great desert, and few men ever venture deeper into the burning expanses.

Those that do, however, will soon find that the deep Tucemcari is a very dangerous place. Shaheen raiding parties are common, and there is no water. Patches of 'thin sand' can swallow up a man and his horse without a trace. Strange, cloud-like beings, so-called 'dust devils', prey on the unwary traveler and can flay a man alive. Travelers begin to experience strange hallucinations and daydreams, or lucid nightmares of unearthly vistas and alien suns. Mirages shimmer over far horizons. Distant, atonal sounds carry across the dunes, and the stars themselves become an unreliable means of navigation. Unfamiliar constellations rise at night and revolve the wrong way across the twilight sky.

Deep in the Tucemcari, an unmeasurable distance from anywhere, rise the peaks of the White Knife Mountains from the sand like the battlements of a sunken fortress. The tallest peak of this mountain range is Mount Sacagawea, a sacred place of the peoples of the Painted Hills, who believe it to be the center of the universe, or, more accurately, the peg around which all of existence revolves. This great peak has been distantly sighted by several intrepid Union discoverers, and is thus confirmed to exist, but strangely none of those adventurers have managed to actually reach the mountain. It is, several of them described, almost as if with every step one takes the mountain recedes one step also or, possibly, that the desert itself shifts and changes itself in such a way that reaching Mount Sacagawea becomes impossible. The tribes of the Painted Hills believe that the peak itself chooses who are allowed to reach it. Whatever the case, the White Knife Mountains and everything beyond them remains an enigma to this day.


The Painted Hills

An expanse of bluffs and promontories sloping down from the great and distant peaks of the Kelly Mountains, threaded through by a thousand and one streams and creeks, the Painted Hills are extraordinarily fertile and home to the greatest variety in flora and fauna anywhere in the Four Corners. It is a wild and mountainous region of flat-topped ridges. Dense, primeval forests abound. Vast valleyed lowlands are hemmed in by granite walls five hundred to a thousand feet high, cut through sometimes by titanic gorges, sometimes by narrow valleys wide enough only for a single horse to pass through at a time. Tulip poplars grow in the coves and at the foot of the hills, some with trunks as wide as thirteen or fourteen feet in diameter. Alongisde them are white oaks, beeches, maples, walnuts, sycamores, willows, cedars, pines and hemlocks, oftentimes covered in teeming wild grapevine. Bears and mountain lions and rattlesnakes stalk the forest floors; above them, an astonishing array of squirrels hops from branch to branch.

The Painted Hills were named so by their original settlers, the Chucree and Arahanee tribes, enemies since times immemorial. They gain their name as much from the multihued color of the rocks that can be found here as from the mineral veins woven through them. Thick clay, ochre and sun-baked; granite and limestone; sandstone threaded with iron; quartz and even marble can be found here, but also veins and repositories of coal, silver and gold and even rarer elements. The presence of such riches has made the Painted Hills irresistable to prospectors and miners willing to risk the wrath of the native tribes. Many a foolish digger has lost his life and his scalp to the locals who defend their territories with life and limb. Often are the soldiers of the Union called upon to bring a halt to these slayings, but just as often Colonel Treadaway refuses to commit his precious few troops to wild goose chases through the Hills. Even though a literal handful of mining operations have painstakingly been erected in this region the Painted Hills remain a native territory, and will in all likelihood remain so for the forseeable future.

Unbeknowst to most greedy Union prospectors, deep inside the Painted Hills can be found the reason the tribes settled here in the first place. Etched on the sides of some of the driest and most ancient ridges, away from the wind and the elements, can be found series of vast, primordial geoglyphs: hundreds of figures, made by removing the top soil to uncover the white quarts beneath, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, sharks, and lizards. These vast patterns predate the arrival of even the most ancient of tribes and their purpose is unknown, but shamans of both the Cucree and Arahanee ascribe vast esoteric powers to them, and the tribes have fought many bitter conflicts over control of these markings.


The Tombstone Flats

The Tombstone Flats are a broad expanse of sunken, mostly flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, that slopes down between the Painted Hills and Barringer Canyon, and stops at the Great Skull Falls in the Blue River. The Flats are noticeably depressed when viewed from its edges, grading down for hundreds of miles toward the distant High Plains, the edges of which rise from the earth, abrupt and in many places sheer for hundreds of feet.

Although the Flats are mostly known for their seemingly endless, occasionally agoraphobia-inducing tall grass prairies - the so-called 'green sea' - there are, in places, other ecoregions to be found here also. The grasslands of the Flats are punctured occasionally by Flint Mesas: vast outcroppings of black, extremely hard rock threaded through with occasional veins of silver. In some places, especially nearer to the Painted Hills and Lake Custer, reservoirs of stagnant water can be found and the prairies turn into bogs, fens, or even coniferous forests. In these areas the ground is fertile, and homesteads have been established. Elsewhere however the ground is arid and dominated by shortgrass prairie, prickly pear cacti and scrub vegetation, with occasional buttes or other rocky outcrops that make farming difficult. Because of these difficulties the Flats have the lowest population density of any of the Four Corners.

There is life on to be found on the plains however. Vast herds of bison, elk, and white-tailed deer roam the green seas, and the warmer, southern regions near Barringer Canyon are home to desert lions and gray rhinoceros. Here, near the edges of the Canyon, are found the ever-shifting Sand Hills, vast tar pits that bubble with natural gas reserves, and a series of Caliora outposts that are part of the cordilla, a chain of forts and observation points the Caliora have established to defend their claim to areas of the Four Corners. These southern soldiers are commanded by the hardbitten Hidalgo Dona Irena de la Vega, the hot-blooded daughter of the Caliora viceroy. She is possibly the greatest rival of Colonel Threadaway and his most formidable opponent, the only one who could conceivably challenge the cavalry for dominance over the region.


Barringer Canyon

Barringer Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Blue River and its tributaries. According to intrepid Union prospectors it is 331 miles long, up to 27 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. Barringer Canyon is the deepest such gorge in the Four Corners, and lies at the heart of a dramatic landscape of steep mountains cut through with lesser canyons. Millions of years of slow and steady erosion have exposed thick sequences of ancient, many-colored rock. Steep slopes and sheer drops, rockfalls and unpredictable riptide floodings make the vast maze of gorges a perilous area to traverse, made all the moreso because its largely unexplored nature makes it an ideal hiding place for outlaws and other nefarious elements. In some of the more remote canyons the ruins of temples, dwellings and great houses can be found, the remains of a mysterious civilization the Caliora have dubbed the Barranca People that appears to have disappeared quite suddenly sometime long before either the Union or the Caliora reached the Four Corners. Some suspect that the Cuchree and Arahanee are the offshoots of this ancient civilization, but this is strongly denied by the tribes themselves, who consider the Barranca anathema, and their ruins to be unholy places to be shunned and avoided.

The biggest town in the Canyon region is Solitaire Station. Located at some hundred miles from Nowhere Gulch as the crow flies, it was built around a major diamond mine owned and operated by Big Jim Lebeau and is home to some two thousand-odd souls. A train line connects the two towns but in order to make it from Nowhere Gulch to Solitaire Station a train has to cross several rickety railroad bridges which are frequently sabotaged or blown up outright by Big Jim's rivals or, as some suspect, Caliora infiltrators looking to sabotage Union operations in the Four Corners. As a result rarely more than one train a month makes it to Solitaire Station. The outgoing trains meanwhile are loaded with rough diamonds and thus a prime targets for outlaws. Because Union troops cannot be expected to patrol the entire length of the railroad nor accompany every train Big Jim has taken to hiring local mercenaries and even Holifyre agents from distant Madison to safeguard his transports, but that's rarely enough to stop the most determined of bandits, and most return trains run into at least one ambush along the way.
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

I breakfast upon Armadas such as thine!

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Shroom Man 777
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Re: The Four Corners

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:55 pm



I wish you the best in this revision of the WILD WILD WESTWORLDS, Siege. :D
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"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD

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Artemis
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Re: The Four Corners

Post by Artemis » Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:44 pm

Whoa, how did I miss this one!

I like it - just the right mix of old-west desolation and things-from-another-world madness. You write "place" incredibly well, Siege.
"The universe's most essential beauty is its endlessness. There is room and resources enough for all of us. Whether there is room for all of our passions is the question, and the problem that we work tirelessly to find a solution to."

-Qhameio Allir Nlafahn, Commonwealth ambassador, during the signing of the Kriolon Treaty.

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Siege
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Re: The Four Corners

Post by Siege » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:38 pm

It took some time, but the write-up of the Four Corners has been finished.
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

I breakfast upon Armadas such as thine!

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