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Audio Play / The New Century Multiverse

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A series of Alternate History/fantasy audio plays and their novelizations written and directed by Alex Shaw. The series largely centers around an Alternate Universe known as Centrum that diverged from our timeline shortly after the American Civil War when a number of portals to alternate Earths opened up around the world, unleashing a Zombie Apocalypse that almost wipes humanity out. Now, a decade later, the Reunified States of America strugles to slowly take the country back from the Wendigo, while in Great Britain, the people toil under the oppressive regieme of the Duart. But all that is primed to change.

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The series largely follows James Penrose and Abigail Gray, a pair of new recruits of the RSA's elite Cartographers, who end up wrapped up in a series of events with global implications. Along the way they characters such as sharpshooters Annie Oakley and her husband Frank Butler, Thomas and Sarah Arlington, the heads of the RSA's National Intelligence Agency, and their daughter Harry, possibly the greatest inventor of her generation. Meanwhile, across the sea, Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Gwen, prepares to join the human and Duart ruling houses through marriage, while a thief bearing the moniker of the legendary Robin Hood fights for the people against the oppressive regieme.

The first phase of the overarching story consists of eight stories:

  1. The Cartographer's Handbook
  2. Secret Rooms
  3. Tiger's Eye
  4. Arlington
  5. The Princess Thieves
  6. The Christmas Thieves
  7. Let Them Go
  8. SteamHeart
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The New Century Multiverse provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Miguel's father, Fracisco is a physically and emotionally abusive man, especially when drunk.
  • After the End: The series takes place after the Wendigo plague has caused the collapse of civilization with the American government having barely fought it's back from the brink of destruction while England exists under the "protection" of the Duart.
  • Aliens of London: The Akka, the Duart and the Cats of Rama all share accents with their voice actors.
  • Alien Space Bats:
    • The divergence in the story's timeline occurs because of the sudden emergence of the Wendigo plague in the 1870s.
    • The situation in Britain, which already involved Alien Space Bats in the form of the Barghest, is further altered by the arrival of the Akka and the Duart.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Gwendoline's attraction towards Robin is something akin to this, as for all his good qualities, he is still a criminal who kidnapped her.
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  • The Alleged Steed: The Nag is rather shaggy and unkempt looking.
  • Alternate History: History diverges shortly after the American Civil War when the Wendigo plague suddenly appears and ravages the human race.
  • Alternate Universe: The series revolves around a collection of alternate versions of Earth connected by the Wind Doors, so far consisting of Centrum, Rama, Celador, Hannoth and Sytash.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife:
    • Not only is Hrao an anthropomorphic tiger, her fur is also purple in color.
    • Other tigers of Rama are described as having unnaturally colored fur, such as red, mauve, and magenta.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Katherine's husband Preston lost a leg and a few fingers in the Civil War.
  • An Ice Person: Akka shaman are capable of using ice magic.
  • Animal Motif: The Wendigo are often compared to big cats like pumas.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: The entirety of the United States and Great Britain (and possibly the world) has fallen to this outside the lands controlled by the RSA and the Duart.
  • Apocalypse How: The Wendigo plague appears to cause a Class 2.
  • The Apprentice: James was this to Doctor Potts.
  • Archer Archetype: Fittingly for someone who thinks highly of Robin Hood, Robin is a charismatic and independent minded thief who uses a bow, though he's not particularly good with it.
  • Army Scout: The Cartographers function as this.
  • Baby Factory: Captain Baltus seems to think the only useful thing women are capable of is making children.
  • Bad Liar: Hrao is a self-admitted one.
  • Bad with the Bone: Miguel utilizes knives made from animal bone.
  • Badass Longcoat: Mortimer, Robin and Oberon sport them. Gwen begins wearing one later as well.
  • Barrier Warrior: Old Meg seems especially proficient at creating shields and barriers. She even refers to it as her signature move.
  • Batman Parody: The Black Shuck is one, depicted as a violent, incompetent nutcase.
  • Becoming the Mask: Oberon raises concerns that Robin is becoming too obsessed with the Robin Hood persona.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Though the Duart do take over the country, their arrival is largely to England's benefit, as they fight off the Barghest infestation and return the country to the level it was at before the outbreak.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Robin's appears to be seeing children hurt.
    • Mortimer does not take well to being pitied by Gwen.
    • Seeing Ajax injured sends Oberon into a roaring fury.
  • Best Friend: Robin refers to Oberon as his closest compatriot.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Oberon is understandably protective of his brother Ajax.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Duart have 23 bones in their hands and Akka have 25, compared to the 27 in the human hand.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Baltus, easily the most despicable character in The Princess Thieves, is described as having black eyes.
  • Blade on a Stick: Hrao's preferred weapons are a pair of hunting spears.
  • Bling of War: The firecaster in the Duart guard wear intricately designed, Caronite armor of maroon and iron.
  • Bookworm: James loves to read books.
  • Brainy Brunette: James Penrose is one of the smartest people in the series and a brunette.
  • Cat Folk: Rama is populated with multiple species of these, including tigers, panthers, jaguars, leopards, cheetahs and lions.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Soldiers in the RSA are regularly outfitted with specially designed maces referred to as "Clementines." They are designed to reduce the amount of blood spilt while fighting Wendigos in close quarters in order to prevent infection.
  • Cigarette Burns: Miguel sports a scar on his shoulder where his father burned him with a cigar.
  • Cool Mask:
    • Hrao wears one as part of her armor.
    • Miguel gets one in the form of a mongoose mask sized for a cub.
  • Crapsack World: Humanity is barely surviving against the horror of an infection that turns people into bloodthirsty monsters.
  • Daddy's Girl: Hrao has a strong relationship with her father, who takes the time to take care of her despite her being an adult.
  • Death from Above: Wendigos prefer to ambush their prey from above, either lurking in tree branches or the rafters of a building.
  • Daughter Of A Whore: Abigail is a rare female example of this trope, with the added baggage that some people use to expect her to follow in her mother's footsteps.
  • Dual Wielding: Hrao prefers to fight with a pair of hunting spears.
  • Due to the Dead: Hrao gives a small, ritualized speech after every kill she makes.
  • Eye Colour Change: One of the effects of transforming into a Wendigo is the color of the victim's eyes change to orange.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Wendigo plague leads to the almost complete collapse of civilization.
  • Fallen States of America: The Wendigo plague leads to the collapse of the American government. At the beginning of the series, the government, now renamed the Reunified States of America, only controls Washington D.C. and the surrounding area.
  • Fiery Lion: The aptly named Fire Lion, one of the seven gods worshiped by the cats of Rama.
  • Fiery Redhead: Abigail is a redhead and can often be aggressive.
  • Flesh-Eating Zombie: The Wendigo, as their namesake would suggest, are very interested in eating humans, though they are willing to go after other living creatures as well.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Cartographers are agents of the fictional National Intelligence Agency of the Reunified States of America.
  • Hand Signals: Hrao and Miguel develop a system of this for communication, which they later teach to others.
  • Happily Married: Annie and Frank until Annie's death.
  • Hate Plague: Though the Wendigo plague does cause physical mutations as well, its main threat is that it turns off the higher functions of the brain, turning people into savage animals.
  • Haunted Headquarters: The wreck of the Nanchez that the thieves in Memphis use as a hideout is purported to be haunted.
  • Herr Doctor:
    • Doctor Julius Kaufman, the RSA's surgeon general.
    • Professor Johann Krieger, the owner of Briar Hill.
  • High-Pressure Blood: It's noted that Wendigos are more prone to spraying blood when stabbed and cut than a human, which makes using knives and swords against them impractical due to the infectious nature of their bodily fluids.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: In our timeline, Annie and Frank only ever used their shooting skills as performers. Here they are elite government agents.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Two of the major characters in the series are Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, who are working as Cartographer's for the NIA.
    • Ulysses S. Grant is the current President of the Reunified States of America, having been elected for a third term and granted emergency powers due to the unprecedented situation.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Abigail and James know they are capable of using their Magic Eyes to open portals when they first get them, but must spend some time figuring out how to do so.
  • Hyper-Awareness: James has this, able to notice small but important details that others miss.
  • Identical Grandson: Upon meeting her, Katherine comments that Abigail looks like her mother did at her age.
  • The Insomniac: Hrao mentions she has trouble sleeping even in the best of conditions, though she grows better as time goes on.
  • Iron Lady: Katherine, while not cold, it tough and no nonsense in her running of Weirwood and later the NIA.
  • I See Dead People: Abigail is the only one who can see Charolette's ghost at Briar Hill. Interestingly, she has this ability even before gaining her starlit eye.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): The United States' name was changed to the Reunified States of America by President Grant in order to symbolize the government's mission to rebuild the country.
  • It Can Think: It's shown that Wendigos possess an animal cunning, preferring to stalk their prey and attack from ambush while also displaying pack tactics akin to those of a wolf.
  • It Was a Gift:
    • Hrao's tribal armlet, which was given to her by her mother.
    • Miguel's rosary, given to him by his grandmother.
  • Language Barrier: One exists between Miguel and the other characters, necessitating the creation of a system of Hand Signals. As the story progresses, she also slowly learns English.
  • Lost World: Rama is something of this, as in addition to being populated by Cat Folk, it is also home to a number of species that have gone extinct on Earth.
  • Magical Eyes: When a person or persons carries the black orb's endowment, they gain blind, starlit eyes that allow them to open and close Wind Doors.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Hrao's mother died when she was young.
    • Miguel's mother was killed by wendigo when he was a small boy and he suspects that his father left her to die.
  • Mutual Kill: What appears to have happened to the group of thieves using the Nanchez as their hideout.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted, as it is repeatedly shown that the Wendigo plague only affects humans.
  • The Nose Knows:
    • James has an exceptional sense of smell, able to deduce that Frank has peppermint candy on him by catching its scent on Frank's copy of The Cartographer's Handbook.
    • The Cat Folk of Rama also possess heightened senses of smell.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: While the Wendigo are mentioned to have many colloquial names through out the US(Ghoul, Wraith, Vampire, Goblin), and they are called Barghests in the UK, nobody refers to them as zombies. Justified, as the idea of the zombie had not yet entered the public consciousness in the 1870s.
  • Orange Eyes Take Warning: Those who transform into Wendigos develop an unnatural orange eye color.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: One of the more common alternate names for the Wendigo in America is goblin.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Wendigo hold many similarities with the modern, fast zombie, but also possess an animal cunning and predator instincts, making them akin to a werewolf trapped in its monstrous form.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Hrao and Hakka's daughter died some time before the beginning of the story.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Wendigo are one and catch humanity so off guard that it has just barely fought off extinction.
  • Painful Transformation: The transformation into a Wendigo involves both a descent into madness and a painful metamorphosis that involves bones breaking and resetting.
  • Patient Zero: What makes the Wendigo plague so mysterious and deadly is that multiple patient zeros pop up in random locations around the world at roughly the same time.
  • The Plague: The disease that transforms people into Wendigo, notable for how quickly it spreads and its lack of a cure.
  • Plague Zombie: If a person is bit or scratched by a Wendigo, they will transform into one as well in a matter of hours, becoming a savage creature interested only in killing and eating.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Miguel usually coats his Wolverine Claws with snake venom.
  • The Pollyanna: Annie is always cheerful and optimistic, though this changes somewhat after her first encounter with Seth.
  • Portal Door: The Wind Doors that connect the various worlds.
  • Power Incontinence: Krieger's journals reveal that Charolette had little control over her powers, and is responsible for accidentally opening the portals that let the Wendigo into the world.
  • Psychopomp: Hrao's death ritual mentions a "Father of Passing", who seems to guide souls to their next reincarnation. She appears to see him during a Near-Death Experience.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Hrao, the greatest hunter in her village, is a purple tiger.
  • Reincarnation: Hrao apparently believes in this, as her death ritual ends with requesting the soul of the creature she has killed to return in whatever form is next.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Carl, who is somewhat affectionately nicknamed "Fuck you".
  • Skin Walker: Miguel connects the wendigo with the Mesoamerican legend of the Nagual.
  • Switching P.O.V.: All of the stories are told from a variety of different characters' view points.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Wendigo are living, breathing creatures, more akin to mutated people than the undead.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Anyone with the black orb's endownment gains the ability to open and close Wind Doors.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Abigail's hat belonged to her possibly deceased father.
  • The Virus: The Wendigo plague, which is extremely communicable and sets in rapidly.
  • Was Once a Man: The transformation into a Wendigo is so drastic that its hard for some people to remember they used to be human.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: James is more mature that most people his age and is described as having eyes that look like they belong to an older person.
  • Wendigo: Though they aren't the creatures of myth, the infected are given this name in order to invoke the legend.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: It's mentioned repeatedly that gold and paper money are practically worthless now, and the truly wealthy are people who can produce large amounts of bartable goods, like food or zinc for telegraph wires.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: By the start of the story, the Wendigo plague has already caused the collapse of the United States and pushed humanity to the brink of extinction.
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