((the following are a set of plot notes that Nick emailed me and Travis a while back, regarding his plans for Alter-Dragon. I’ve taken the liberty of editing them only slightly, if only to remove a few of the ambiguities in the original text. What follows should be considered canon for Alter-Dragon, up through the start of the GA Civil War))
WA&BD was the last thing I had been working on, circa 2008 – I’m not entirely sure how much (if any?) got posted, or in what form.
Anyway, this plot represented a turn away from Medina toward Alter-Dragon, on my part, as many of the Medinan plots were revealed to have had their origins in the early first-contacts and colonization efforts of Gate in the Alter Dimension. Here’s the semi-brief backhistory:
–In the early days of discovery, Tyurin Cage (then PM of Medina) learns of the powers of the dragon clan on AD, and hatches a plan with Dr. Montressori (immoral scientist and distant Eusic Mori cousin) to exploit AD’s genetic riches using advanced technology. Cage also makes allies with several AD Primans, who have long-term world-wide ambitions. In the meantime, Cage makes a number of political enemies amongst Medina’s longtime allies. Montressori finds a person with enough Dragon Clan lineage to enact a long-term project according to Cage’s wishes, creating a legendary-historical icon of Tyurin’s “son,” known as Janus Cage.
–After Cage is driven from Medina, he returns to AD and uses his Web-wide connections to secure deals for off-world military tech, which he funnels through the Primans to Guntz and Highfort. Those two nations form an alliance and muster an army, led by a brash commander named Trubolon. This army smashes Simafort, and the Simans quickly agree to lend their naval superiority to the burgeoning war-powers. [Matt’s Edit: here, Siman leader Tadpoleon is ousted and replaced with Cage-friendly LaFayette, formerly the head of Sima’s navy] During this time, Tyurin Cage poses as a Priman named Shale Markeis.
The Battle of Plinths
–Once Simafort is onboard, the newly formed alliance is renamed the Alter-Dragonian Combine (or just, the Combine), and they turn their attention to the remaining on-world resistance: Windia, in the North, the Pasturelands of the armataurs, in the south, and the City of Plinths, far to the south. Trubolon marches south, sweeping up various Highland clans into his army (and obliterating the ones that defy him). One notable clan, the Pongo, is decimated in battle, and retreats deep into the jungles south of the Highland steppes.
–The armataurs are a peaceful race, more interested in agriculture and fine foods than war. After they reject a deal to peaceably join the combine, Trubolon’s army marches through the Pasturelands, setting the entire thing ablaze, against the orders of his Combine superiors. The Combine begins to consider Trubolon a growing problem, and starts grooming Bullram Axhind, Chieftain of Guntz, as a possible replacement.
–At the Battle of Plinths, a number of note-worthy characters (Janus Cage, Marbles Marlowe, Tadpoleon, and others) successfully defend the city from Trubolon’s army. Janus Cage faces Trubolon in single combat. JC uses his void magics to end the dispute, hurling Trubolon through a random tear in the fabric of space.
–Trubolon hurdles through the void and appears in a village shrouded by mist. His is still on AD, but in a place that has been sealed away for millennia. He learns that this is a village of the Uniscali, an ancient race of humanoids with the power of joining (known on Dragon as fusing). Unlike the fusers from Dragon, the Uniscali can join other people in the same body, as opposed to themselves. Sensing the immense power of the Uniscali, Trubolon steals a young girl (named Efwen) and braves the mists protecting the village from the outside world. Eventually, he manages to return to the Highland steppes, where he takes control of his Indri Clan.
The Subjugation of Windia
–In Trubolon’s absence, Combine leaders moved forward with a plan to subjugate Windia, the most powerful nation that still opposed them. The plan was to establish a puppet state using Lupis, the disaffected younger daughter of the Windian King, Edridge. This was to occur with a minimum of casualties or conflict, but, Trubolon, again leading the Combine forces, ignores his orders and proceeds with extreme force.
–The battle happens to take place on the wedding day of Sarana Edridge, Lupis’ older sister. Lupis covertly grants the Combine forces access to the city, effectively giving them the upper hand and ensuring there can be no real resistance. Trubolon, however, is intent on causing chaos. His troops ravage the city. In the confusion, Sarana’s husband-to-be, Arveon Denford, is mortally wounded, and King Edridge is killed. Trubolon himself assaults Sarana in the empty cathedral, but she manages to wound him and escape. The Combine forces achieve a total victory, and Lupis is installed as Queen, while Sarana escapes. Trubolon, fearing he is dying, compels the Uniscali child Efwen to use her power to save him, which she does by joining him with Arveon Denford, Sarana’s nearly-dead betrothed. From this point on, Trubolon appears as a massive hybrid Highlander-Windian, with one white wing growing from his back. He also goes a special kind of crazy, vacillating between believing that he is a mongrel freak, and that he is the perfect manifestation of sentient life. As the Uniscali magics fuse souls and bodies, Arveon Denford’s mind and Trubolon’s gradually merge into a single consciousness.
Sarana does stuff
–Sarana escapes on her own, is consumed with grief and hatred, goes south. Eventually she meets up with and gains acceptance into the remnants of the Pongo Clan, who worship death and have other sorts of dark ritualistic practices. The Pongo, in their small numbers, lead a number of successful sorties against the Combine presence in their jungles. As their numbers dwindle, Sarana becomes their de facto leader.
Trubolon goes more crazy
–The Combine is troubled by what occurred at Windia. They have their puppet state, but the cruelty and bloodlust of Trubolon made it difficult to both keep the Noble Houses of Windia in line, and to project their own power and solvency to the Web abroad. The Combine leaders install Axhind as their new supreme military commander, and make plans to eliminate Trubolon. Trubolon, however, escapes, and goes into hiding, along with the Uniscali girl, Efwen. In their hiding, Trubolon comes to believe that the races of Alter-Dragon were the creation of the Uniscali. His mind/soul increasingly merges with that of Arveon Denford, and he becomes convinced that he is the holy incarnation of the first non-human creature on Alter-Dragon. The Combine, increasingly concerned with their off-world image, steps up its game to hunt him down. Eventually, he is found and captured.
–Tyurin Cage sees an opportunity to succeed where he previous pet project (his own son, Janus Cage) had failed. He installs Dr. Montressori in a lab in the ruins of Drogen, where he can study Trubolon and Efwen. Using a machine-induced approximation of Efwen’s powers, Monstressori produces the first “Joinings,” made from prisoners and political refugees, huge monstrous fleshbeasts lacking mental acuity. The leaders of the Combine, mainly Primans, attempt to shut Tyurin Cage down. Covertly, they reach out to the Gate powers, who are firmly embroiled in their own plots and not paying much attention to other things. Janus Cage, now returned to his identity as Arturo Drogen and recuperating at Guardia Castle, learns of this, and travels to Alter, along with Princess Nadia. [This part is very, very pre-Unravelling; Nadia and Arturo return to Guardia after the events of WABD --M.]
Where Angels and Beasts Depart (Main Post)
–Tyurin Cage intends to strike back at the Combine by taking control of Windia. Fortunately for him, Montressori’s second-generation Joinings, imbued with a form of cybernetic-mind-control, are much more pliable and can follow orders. As this army musters, the commotion independently catches the attention of the exiled Trubolon, as well as Sarana’s remaining Pongo. They both converge on Windia.
–Prior to that, Trubolon and Efwen had escaped from Montressori’s dungeon lab with the aid of Terek. Terek, maybe you recall, was one of my earlier characters, [A Highlander and one of the founding MASS agents. --M.] and was cut in half by Janus Cage when he made landfall and took control of Medina way back when. Turns out Terek was temporarily “saved” when his old friend Zynda, a fuser from Bleak, fused with him. Terek and Trubolon also had a feud/friendship going from before the first contact. Anyway, Terek rescues Trubolon and Efwen, and then died, probably. Also, Zynda returns to his home planet, never to be heard from again. [… aww, man. —M.]
–Sarana infiltrates the palace of Windia and murders her sister Lupis with extreme prejudice. At the same moment, Tyurin Cage attacks with his army of cybernetically enhanced Joinings. Sarana is overcome with memories of her wedding day and doesn’t fully fight back when Lupis’ royal guard (made up of Combine-loyal Highlanders) stabs the shit out of her. As she bleeds out on the steps of the cathedral, Trubolon swings down to destroy her attackers. She’s confused by this, but recognizes the soul of her husband, or something close to it. Sarana dies. Efwen appears and uses her Uniscali powers to unjoin Trubolon, effectively obliterating him.
–Elsewhere, the Combine is slow to mount a defense, but a giant blue dragon appears and starts wrecking house. Eventually, Arturo faces off with his “father,” who unabashedly calls Arturo a “freak” and a “failure.” Arturo scalds Tyurin with dragonflame, but Tyurin manages to disarm Nadia and hold her hostage. She is rescued by Fairchilde, who temporarily overcomes his hatred for Janus Cage to rescue a member of the Guardian royal family. At that moment, Arturo tail-whips Tyurin into a wall. Tyurin Cage dies.
The Post-WA&BD Combine
–The Combine leaders have gotten rid of Tyurin Cage and Trubolon, but the rest of the Web (as much as they are paying attention) is justifiably horrified about what happened in Windia. The Combine goes into full image-rehab mode: using off-world military tech, such as mechas and tanks, the Combine army makes a show of hunting down and destroying all the Joinings. They bomb the shit out of the ruins of Drogen, effectively destroying Tyurin Cage’s nightmare factory and presumably killing Dr. Montressori. A media campaign seeks to put all the blame on Tyurin Cage specifically, and “off-world colonial meddling” more broadly.
–The Primans that make up the Combine’s only governmental body, simply called the “Council,” decide to institute some cosmetic democratic reforms. The create a government charter, as well as an office of President. In the charter, they claim dominion over the entire planet. During the first “election,” the Primans engineer the winning campaign of a telegenic Siman prince, Armand Mortier. Once installed as President, Prince Armand (he was the oldest son of the previous Siman king, [before Tadpoleon, I assume --M] and even though he is president he is universally known simply as “Prince Armand”) and his equally telegenic wife Princess Anjeanette go on a massive charm offensive. Princess Anjeanette was educated in Mana Dimension, and uses her off-world charm and knowledge to polish the Combine’s image abroad. Behind the scenes, the Combine’s true powers, the Primans that form the Council, strike a number of economic and trade deals to solidify their power.
–The full-scale exploitation of Alter-Dragon’s natural resources goes into overdrive. Citing positive turns towards fuller democratic expression, the Web Powers grow increasingly comfortable dealing with the Combine, despite stories of an oppressed underclass, which only buttresses the power to the ruling Primans.
–A new kind of ore, native only to Alter-Dragon, is discovered. It is named “Dragonium,” and while it’s nothing special in a universe with Seraphim plastic, its qualities of being especially durable and light allow the Combine to intensify its trade deals, as well as construct a substantial military, including some orbital platforms, on which they mount planetary batteries, meant to keep their large (and oppressed) populations in line.
–In the face of overwhelming military superiority, the City of Plinths is abandoned (what with the giant space cannons pointed at them), and the resistance goes underground. Those who oppose the Combine are sometimes derogatorily called “Plinthers.” The Windians of the Noble Houses ostensibly fall into line behind Combine rule, but covertly funnel funds and resources to resistance groups both on- and off-world. Acts of domestic terrorism against Combine projects and mining operations become commonplace.
–Responding to what they understand as treasonous activity, the Combine cracks down on Windia, rendering it more of a police state under the guise of several “public works” projects to improve streets and buildings. This includes the building of a massive dam across the River Andaur, which supplies Windia with its famous waterfalls. Prince Armand and Princess Anjeanette make a great show of opening the Andaur Dam, selling it as an innovation in clean energy. Meanwhile, a member of one of the Noble Houses of Windia is implicated in a plot to assassinate the Princess. Under the guise of hunting down those involved with the “assassination plot,” the Combine imprisons several high-ranking Windians, as well as other suspected members of the resistance.
–While the rest of the Web is thoroughly embroiled in its own struggles, or otherwise charmed by the erudite and good-looking Prince Armand and Princess Anjeanette (and their gift baskets of wine and cheese!), the Combine tightens its grip. As more and more oppressed peoples attempt to migrate off-world, the Combine institutes tighter travel restrictions, which in turn invites entrepreneurial smugglers.
–The Combine begins constructing an ultra-lavish, ultra-modern city, complete with towering glass buildings, endless vistas, and man-made lakes and streams. It is constructed on top of the bombed out ruins of Drogen, and it is named Dragonier. At the heart of the city is a massive presidential palace, intended to shock and awe off-world visitors with its opulence. The outskirts are stuffed with recreational spaces and sporting complexes, where the richest and most powerful of the Web’s ruling classes might come and luxuriate at their ease. Tens of thousands die in the process of construction.