Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Imperfect Satori for the Confused and Exasperated

Steelhead Adventures/Return to Fusang

(meta post)

A "Satori", in Buddhist terms, translates to a "moment of perfect clarity", or "insight". This is a term popular with Go-players; it is exclaimed when the player sees the entirety of the game, from start to finish, even in the midst of play. We realize that Steelhead Adventures bounce around quite a bit, at the moment between four blogs and sometimes five. A multi-author project can be amusing and quite a creative outlet for the participants, but sometimes confusing for people who jump in the middle and wonder at what's going on. So if the reader will accept a moment of "imperfect clarity", as it were, we'll take a short breather and explain the story thus far.

Cast (seen or referred to so far)

Adventurers, reluctant or otherwise

Hotspur O'Toole (first person voice, on this journal): A Soldier of Fortune of sorts, currently in service to the small independent nation of Caledon, but known to work far afield, hither and yon. Very close ties with Steelhead establishment and frequently found doing "odd jobs" in support of Steelhead (ref: Bloodwing Foundation) Originally from Ireland, served (very briefly) as subaltern in British Army of India. Recruited by F.T. Ward many years ago to serve as junior officer in the Ever Victorious Army, a populist force that was attempting to destroy the growing power of Warlords in the Celestial Kingdom (analogous to "China" in our world). Left Celestial Kingdom after Ward's death (refused to serve under Burgrevine- ed.), served elsewhere. Has returned once to rescue a comrade (failure: see "Journey to Fusang"). Kidnapped, at the start of this story cycle, and brought to China again, by his most implacable enemy, Liang aka "the Dragon who Waits"

Fuzzball Ortega (on the "Ortega Chronicles") congenial Sherrif of Steelhead City, also known as Ortegavich. Originally from a small country in the Balkans named Moldavia, became a naturalized citizen of the United States, around the time of his involvement with the legendary "Capper Brigade". At some point incurred the wrath of Jobias Barthelmess, former dictator and agent provocetur. Fuzz is a lycanthrope that can transform at will. Recently shot with silver and almost killed, rescued by his cousin Purdy. When O'Toole (above) was kidnapped at the end of the Silver Poison affair, organized a rescue team with two of his Capper Brigade fellow vets, Doctor Mason and Glitterach.

Purdie Uggla a Time Lord. He and his cousin Rasslonis were involved in the Last Great Time War and were trapped in the Medusa Cascade as it was sealed behind them. Both wound up in the parallel world where our story takes place, Rasslonis in 1390 AD in Moldovia, Purdie in the late 1880's in Caledon. Rasslonis used the powers of the TARDIS to rewrite his DNA, so that he would be human (reasons unknown, but possible to hide from enemies also trapped in this world). Rasslonis married, had children, and died an old man. Fuzzball Ortega is descended from Rasslonis on his mother's side. Despite the DNA being rewritten, some Time Lord DNA managed to be handed down from generation to generation, giving the descendants the ability to heal quickly, in most cases. Uggla pops into and out of adventures consistently. May be from the future. Has saved Fuzz's life recently by taking from this time period to heal in time-stasis. Enigmatic and terse, but quite committed. Currently taking a parallel course with Ortega, but with his colleague, Koen.

Angelica Trescothick (stage name). Sister to Fuzzball Ortega. Recently revealed to be an agent of Pinkerton Intelligence, a secret branch of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Unknown how much further the involvement would be at this point. Born without the Lycan gene.

Darien Mason (from the Blog of Darien Mason) Vivisectionist, Re-animator, Formerly possessed by a demon, killed and cloned. Has many, many, many relations. Former medical officer of the Capper Brigade. Good friend of Ortega.

Eva Bellambi (from The Red Rose of Caledon and this journal) Duchess, adventurer, scientist, the head of Caledon's notorious MI-5 branch for intelligence operations. Headed Caledon's intelligence network during the inglorious Neualtenburg War, where she recruited O'Toole as field operative. Somewhat exasperated with O'Toole, in a friendly way.

Shea LeFevre (from this journal) American, ex-CSA. recruited recently into MI5 service. On his first assignment in the Celestial Kingdom. Last seen in a dream vision by O'Toole. Redirected by MI5 to extricate Senior Agent O'Toole. They have never met.

The Celestial Kingdom

H'sieh Lieng, The Dragon who Waits: fictional character. Years ago, a student leading a "liberation party" in China, fell in with radicals and the warlords. From a proud and haughty family. No coward, he fought the younger O'Toole at Foo-King, during a disastrous retreat of the EVA. O'Toole's backhand slash cut his face to the bone, leaving a permanent livid scar. Sensitive to the literal "loss of face" after losing that combat, Lieng has demonstrated a consistent, implacable hatred of O'Toole that will not abate until one of them is dead. O'Toole does not return this, which only serves to infuriate him more. Having deposed the former Imperial Governor of Fusang, now holds the seat of Fusang as a warlord in his own right. Reputed to be a sorcerer of sorts, and known to be fascinated with modern military technology. In his youth he organized against "Demons of the West" invading China. Recently has quietly accepted the help of foreign military advisers for a railroad project stretching between Hanxian and Fusang. Evidence he is soliciting illegal arms shipments. He is very interested in obtaining access to the sea, to contend with "Great Powers".

Lien Bao, "The Clever Old Bastard": fictional character. 400 year old Wu-Jen ("wizard") in Lieng's service. Member of the Dark Ocean Society, which works for Lieng (although who works for whom is a matter of conjecture and comment). Chinese in appearance and dress, speaks perfect, Oxford accented English (he attended the university in the late 1600s). Cheerfully amoral and out for the main chance, will serve Lieng for as long as it serves the ends of the Dark Ocean Society. Reputed to have a far older, far more evil master that remains unseen.

Pu Ying, Small Shang, and Kasukalan Tauhan: fictional characters. Members of the old Ever Victorious Army in years past, recently recruited to the forces of Army of Fusang to help train Fusang's infantry. Outwardly hostile to O'Toole, whom they seem to think betrayed their cause years ago, at least one of them has not lost faith and secretly gave Hotspur a knife to assist with escape.


Frederick Townsend Ward (dead, seen in flashbacks) and the Ever Victorious Army. Historical character, seen in a very different form in this story-- as a wizard and general of great power. Hotspur's mentor and commanding officer in the EVA days, he teaches H. a secret that inexplicably becomes important years later. Ward was killed years ago, and succeeded by Henry Burgrevine (American, ex-CSA), a traitor that H. would not serve under. Eventually, James Gordon took over the EVA after Burgrevine attempted a defection and was executed. Under Gordon, the EVA smashed the power of the Warlords in central China, but was eventually expatriated due to protests from Russia and France. In their absence, the Celestial Kingdom has slid back into the old ways of seizing power with the rifle and bayonet, mixed with Chinese sorcery.

Dogg Food, the Intelligent Cat from the Future is a pet of Tensai Hilra of Steelhead City. Pretty much what the name sounds like, he is an intelligent cat from the future, and pretty good in a scrap.

Koen, son of Darien Mason. Of the Nekko breed, or perhaps half-nekko. Companion to Purdie. Loves adventures. Outwardly simple, but perhaps he hides much.

Thus Far...

Hotspur was captured in Steelhead while investigating the appearance of a known thug at the docks. Spends an agonizing two weeks in the hold of a freighter, returning him to the Celestial Kingdom. Tortured, ineptly, on the way, discovers his captors are a very old enemy indeed. Wavering between conscious and unconscious during the journey, has dream visions of the past that prove helpful. Landed at Hangxian, instead of the expected Kowloon, very suspicous.

Fuzzball, Doc Mason and Dog the Intelligent Cat from the future have taken an airship from San Franciso to the Celestial Kingdom. Attacked by the air pirates of Iron Paw on the way, they take some damage but survive the engagement. Currently landing somewhere in the Celestial Kingdom.

Purdie and Koen have taken a Tardis to make the same trip, but have taken a TARDIS, and appear to have landed in the imperial palace at Fusang.

Eva B. is still in Caledon, but directing an agent already in place (Shea) to investigate the O'Toole disappearance.

A very generalized idea of what is where in relation to what

This Celestial Kingdom is vaguely related to our RL Chinese Geography, and has several place names and geographic features in common, re: Peking, Yalu, Kowloon. However, these locations are not identical to our RL China locations. Many of the characters in the Celestial Kingdom are either lifted straight from 19th Century Chinese history or are based strongly upon it.

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