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Literature / Scavenger Alliance

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Scavenger Alliance is a 2017 Young Adult Science Fiction novel written by Janet Edwards. It is the first of a prequel series set in the same universe as Earth Girl, taking place in 2408 during the Exodus Century and starring Blaze Donnelly, a distant ancestor of Jarra's. The second book, Scavenger Blood, was released in 2019 and a third book is planned.

2408. Humanity has travelled to the stars through interstellar portals, but the rebels and criminals were left behind on a ruined Earth. Eighteen-year-old Blaze is one of the last seven hundred people scavenging a living in an increasingly lethal New York. Her mother died six years ago. Her brother turned traitor. She believes her father is Donnell, the leader of the uneasy alliance between the remnants of the Earth Resistance and the old criminal gangs. She’s not sure what Donnell believes because he’s barely spoken to her since her brother betrayed him.

Blaze has survived this long by being too unimportant to kill, but now the alliance is on the brink of starvation, and an old enemy is trying to seize power. When an aircraft carrying three privileged off-worlders crashes in New York, it adds more fuel to an already explosive situation, and Blaze is forced to step into the spotlight. Can the traitor’s sister convince Donnell, the warring divisions, and the off-worlders to work together to leave the death trap of New York? Blaze thinks that failure will mean the death of everyone she knows, but then she discovers the off-worlders’ secret. The stakes are far higher than just seven hundred lives.



  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Tad, along with Phoenix and Braden, try to be this but fail miserably. They do successfully reach New York and find the Rosetta component, but manage to get their aeroplane destroyed by falling debris having left it in the lee of a building to protect it from the wind. This leads to their having to appeal to the Resistance for help and kicks off the plot.
  • An Aesop: Poor Communication Kills. More specifically, not addressing lingering personal issues leave themselves vulnerable to manipulation, e.g. Cage using Hannah to sow discord between Blaze and Donnell.
    • Scavenger Blood adds one: more experienced does not equal better, someone less experienced should be trained rather than Locked Out of the Loop.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: After first arriving among the Alliance, Tad has many questions, including about the presence of many young children, as they weren't mentioned in files on the Alliance. Donnell smirks and points out that where you get men and women together for extended periods, you tend to get children.
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  • Back for the Dead: Rogue is killed in the first few chapters of Scavenger Blood.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Braden may be the gentlest soul in any sector of inhabited space. A pilot/ cleaner hoping to retrain as a nurse, he's an Actual Pacifist who wouldn't harm a living soul even to save his own life. He's also going through hell to reach Beta sector and take care of his orphaned nieces and nephews and beat Shark to death when he tried to kill Phoenix.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Phoenix. She fell in love with one of a visiting delegation from Beta Sector, but couldn't leave with them when the delegation went home. She joined Tad's expedition as her only chance of reaching Beta sector, only to be stranded in New York and forced to seek shelter with the Alliance. Surrounded by criminals, she's forced to pretend to be romantically interested in Donnell, despite how uncomfortable this makes her, to give the criminal divisions an easy explanation for why he's sheltering them. Things only get more dangerous after Tad shoots his mouth off in spite of her warnings, and then the three offworlders contract the winter fever that killed over thirty of the Alliance.The fever very nearly kills her, and she spends the whole of the second book in Sanctuary recovering, looking like a worn-out shell of her former self, in constant danger of picking up a secondary infection, and still in danger of being murdered. The moment when Blaze realises her apartment, with its eight bolts on the door, is the only place Phoenix has felt safe in weeks borders on Tearjerker.
  • Broken Pedestal: Blaze worshipped her big brother Seamus. But when he blamed their father Donnell for their mother's death, and made a deal with offworlders to get places in a colony world for him and Blaze, she called him a traitor and refused to leave with him. And that's before he bombed the portal relay system, trapping the Alliance in the ruins of New York and meaning they have no easy escape before the firestorm.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Luther assumes Blaze will accept his offer of marriage, despite making it clear that he's only interested in marrying her because he assumes that marrying Donnell's daughter will get him the position as Deputy. He treats the marriage as a done deal, based on a crush Blaze had on him a couple of years earlier. He finally backs off when Blaze threatens to paint her refusal on the wall of Reception in large letters for the whole Alliance to see.
  • Cold Equation: Scavenger Blood reveals Cage and his followers' plan to escape the coming firestorm: to leave behind "burdens" like the sick, injured, elderly and small children, allowing them to move faster and saving all the supplies for themselves. They also plan to kill any of the able-bodied who aren't on board. The fact that Hannah is on board with this is the final straw that pushes Blaze to lock her away with the others.
  • Continuity Nod: There are plenty of these to the original trilogy.
    • Sean Donnelly has been mentioned by Jarra once or twice.
    • Blaze's name is clearly not a coincidence given that Tellon Blaze will be Jarra's famous ancestor. Seamus took Blaze as his surname after leaving for Beta sector. Seamus is therefore Tellon and Jarra's ancestor.
    • In the backstory, Blaze's mother Keira was unable to emigrate to Beta Sector when she turned out to be Handicapped, just like her famous descendent Jarra.
    • In Earth Girl, Lecturer Playdon mentioned "one massive fire that raged for two months" in New York during Exodus Century. The Alliance should probably clear out before then...
    • Another lecture by Playdon in Earth-Prime confirms that the United Earth Americas Complex - where the Alliance lives - will be completely destroyed in the fire. The class see images of it, though, describing the place as "a classically elegant building with lawns sweeping down to the river." That's... not what it looks like as of Scavenger Alliance.
    • Playdon also mentions the Earth Data Net crashing in 2409. Scavenger Alliance takes place in 2408. Presumably Tad is in for a shock.
    • In Earth and Fire, an Earth Girl prequel novella, Jarra's History class features a simulation of what someone with webbing technology in their head would see. Someone like Tad.
    • In Earth Girl, the class find a stasis box full of paintings in a subway tunnel. Word of God states that this is the same box Wall mentions losing in Scavenger Blood.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Blaze's relationship with Donnell in the beginning is basically nonexistent: he was absent for the first eleven years of her life, until the London firestorm forced her and Seamus to move to New York. Two weeks later Seamus, who blamed Donnell for their mother's death, betrayed the Alliance, bombed the portal relay station and ran away to Beta Sector. Six years of uneasy silence followed between Blaze and Donnell, each afraid of making the situation worse, with Hannah steadily poisoning their relationship further with lies that Donnell blamed Blaze for Seamus' defection and doesn't even believe she's his. They start communicating properly in Scavenger Alliance, and are well on the way to rebuilding their relationship.
    • Tad's father was kidnapped when Tad was six. His grandfather paid the ransom, but his father was murdered anyway, leaving Tad as heir apparent and the last hope of rebuilding the portal network.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Wall has a definite Stay in the Kitchen mentality and has opposed female officers for years, but Blaze wins his support in becoming deputy leader by calling general justice against Cage (which Wall, as Cage's division leader, couldn't).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Scavenger Blood, Blaze inspects Hannah's old apartment for Phoenix, but sees that a window seal has broken and the water has got in, resulting in a mould infestation that has rendered the place uninhabitable and not worth attempting to salvage. Towards the end, Blaze finally gives up on her friendship with Hannah for good as she imprisons her with Cage's other conspirators.
    • In the same book, Tad and Braden argue about the ethics of killing Cage. Braden argues that taking a life is always immoral, while Tad argues that Cage is a murderer: someone is going to die, and he'd rather it was Cage than himself, Braden, Phoenix, Blaze or Donnell. Braden says that in an ideal world no one would die, and Cage would be arrested and imprisoned, to which Tad counters that they don't live in an ideal world and have to deal with the one they've got. Braden ends up beating Cage's Mook Shark to death to save Phoenix.
  • Generation Xerox: This trope being averted is a recurring theme. Donnell chose Aaron, Julian and Luther as officers because of who their fathers were, only to find that none of them are Deputy material: Julian's an alcoholic with anger issues, Aaron is competent but would rather back up a leader than be one, and Luther is a Spoiled Brat, although he and Julian both get better in the sequel. Machico comments that Donnell should know better than this after his own son betrayed the Resistance.
    • Played straight with Blaze and Donnell, though. Blaze turns down multiple chances to leave Earth, both with her brother and with Tad, out of loyalty to the Alliance. She accepts an Armed Agent weapon, just like Donnell. In Scavenger Blood, Blaze gets Tad to run Cage down with a Subway train, wounding but sadly not killing him.
  • Genius Ditz: Tad all over. Lurches between moments of blinding capability and baffling incompetence. Raised from childhood to be humanity's last hope of reinventing interstellar portals, he's the last man ever to be "webbed", i.e. have his brain wired with advanced technology that allows him to manipulate the earth data net with his thoughts. He can learn anything just by wondering about it, use any technology on the planet just by thinking about it and hack just about anything with his family's superuser access. He also has No Social Skills and manages to destroy his own aeroplane by leaving it in the lee of a ruined building to be hit by falling debris.
  • Internal Reveal: In Scavenger Blood, the Division leaders are informed that Tad is the Wallam-Crane heir, and webbed. They take it pretty well as he just saved their lives.
  • Irony: Both Cage and Luther want to marry Blaze in order to become Donnell's deputy. She refuses both of them and takes the position herself.
    • Blaze's mother Keira was known as Blaze for a while after burning down her abandoned childhood home. She shed the nickname, but both her children end up with it as their real name: Blaze obviously has it as her given name, and her brother Seamus takes Blaze as his surname when he runs away to Beta Sector.
    • In Scavenger Blood, Cage kills Rogue with a rifle used to almost kill one of Tad's ancestors. This is what leads the good guys to realise that Cage is hiding out in a giant McMansion/ skyscraper owned by Tad's family. This works against him as Tad uses his web and superuser access to trap Cage in there.
  • It's All About Me: This and Never My Fault are Hannah's mantra. She will take whatever course of action serves her best, regardless of who might be hurt, and has no idea why anyone would expect her to do otherwise.
    • Even more blatant early in Scavenger Blood, when Hannah knows that Blaze has to go and help find a missing hunting party, but still thinks she should stop and listen to Hannah's whining about her self-inflicted problems first.
    • Lampshaded by Donell that this is the factor that undermines Cage's Manipulative Bastard tendencies: he acts on the assumption that everyone and everything exists to give him what he wants. So when, for example, Donell played for time by pretending to agree to a plan that involved Cage marrying Blaze, Cage believed him.
  • Lost Technology: Earth at the beginning of Exodus Century was at the height of its technological progress. Then the interstellar portal was invented which led to Exodus Century, with the population leaving in droves to colonise other planets. There weren't enough experts left to maintain the technology which slowly broke down and couldn't be replaced. This is about to be a particular problem for the Alliance as New York's power structure is about to fail, resulting in a massive firestorm.
    • The most obvious example of this is webbing technology, which is implanted in the brain and allows the user to manipulate the data net with their thoughts. It used to be implanted in every child, before being phased out as it became impossible to keep making enough. It also needs regular tuning as the user's brain changes, and when this stopped happening it resulted in mass suicides as people effectively lost half of their own minds. The fact that Tad is webbed, and has a way of tuning it, is a major plot point.
    • Another example that's about to become a major problem is the interstellar portal, which are on the verge of breaking down, leaving the inhabitants of 500 worlds stranded. As these planets are not yet able to support themselves, this would force them into the dark ages and result in millions of deaths. Reinventing the interstellar portal before this happens is the point of Tad's mission.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Cage uses this idea to intimidate Blaze, claiming that Donnell doesn't believe she's his daughter because while her brother Seamus was the image of Donnell, Blaze herself looks nothing like him. In fact, Blaze is the image of her mother, and Donnell is baffled that anyone would suggest she's not his.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cage is one of these in his attempts to become leader of the Alliance. He's especially good at planning long-term and using people's fears against them. Highlights include:
    • Framing Rogue for a crime that gets him severely punished, to scare his girlfriend Raeni out of her power bid against Major. This allows Cage to get/ keep Major's loyalty.
    • On Blaze's eighteenth birthday, he pretty much tells her they're getting married so he can take the vacant Deputy position.
    • Several months before the start of the book, Blaze broke her arm. It's now healed, but still twinging occasionally. Cage has Hannah spread rumours that her arm is all but useless. When it becomes clear that Blaze has no intention of marrying him, he threatens to tell the alliance that Donell has made her an officer with a useless arm and use this to oust him as leader. He then breaks her arm again to cover that it's healed. What's notable is that Cage cultivated this piece of leverage months in advance, just in case he needed it. Fortunately, Tad uses advanced medicine to heal Blaze's arm like new, allowing her to turn Cage's plan around on him.
    • Donnell has his moments, too: in Scavenger Blood, he and Luther stage a series of public, escalating fights that culminate in Luther losing his position as an officer. This turns out to be a ruse: Luther becomes The Mole in Cage's supporters, allowing him to defend Blaze, the offworlders and others when the supporters take Sanctuary. Apparently Luther has Taken a Level in Badass since whining his way though the first book.
    • Scavenger Blood all but turns into a Manipulative Bastard face off: Cage's supporters plan to form a new division, The Bronx, allowing them to cause no end of trouble and put their evacuation plan into action. However, Donnell and the other Division leaders realise they don't actually have to accept the new division into the Alliance, but can allow the plan to proceed long enough for Cage's supporters to reveal themselves.
  • Meaningful Name: Blaze is terrified of fire after barely surviving the London firestorm, and yet her life seems to revolve around fiery events. After fleeing London for New York, she was held over the cooking fire by Cage when he saw how afraid of it she was. She bit him to escape, leaving a scar. In Scavenger Alliance, she finds out that New York will soon face a similar fate to London.
    • A number of the Alliance have these as nicknames. Ice is so called because of his emotionless and logical manner, Wall got his name from the fact that punching him has about the same effect as hitting one of these. Major because he likes barking orders at people, while his left hand man Shark is vicious and dumb. Cage's name is particularly appropriate; he was named after an incident when he locked another man in a cage, but it's also how he operates (see Manipulative Bastard): by weaving his schemes around people he wants to control, leaving them no way out and ensuring that doing what he wants is the Lesser of Two Evils.
  • Motor Mouth: One of Tad's No Social Skills traits, to the extent that the tag on his knife belt is a picture of an open mouth, and Donnell soon starts calling him "the mouth". He rarely stops talking, probably because he's used to his web supplying information as soon as he wonders about it. Blaze muses at one point that if she'd let him be pushed off the roof, he'd still have been asking questions on the way down.
  • Missing Mom: Blaze's mother Kiera was killed in the London firestorm. Scavenger Blood establishes that Tad's mother was banished from his life after she objected to his grandfather using him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tad recruited Phoenix and Braden for his expedition to Earth and then Beta sector, but his mistake cost them their transport and stranded them in New York. Because of this, they're vulnerable to the Alliance, the winter fever and the coming firestorm. Tad feels horrible that his decisions have endangered their lives and much of what he does is motivated by the need to keep them safe. He and Blaze head out to an abandoned storage facility for medicine partly in case the offworlders come down with winter fever. They do. Tad and Phoenix almost die from the disease, and the medicine is what saves them.
  • Never My Fault: This and It's All About Me are Hannah's mantra. It's not Hannah's fault she stole medicine and lied about it: Cage made her! It's not her fault she lied to Blaze about literally everything for the next six years and chased away everyone else who tried to befriend her! And then lied to everyone else about Blaze so Cage could use her in his takeover bid! And then helped Cage corner her so he could break her arm! It's all Blaze's fault, if you think about it.
    • Scavenger Blood reveals this to be a family trait: after Hannah's father challenged Ice to a knife fight for leadership of the London gang, and lost, one of his wounds got infected and he died. Hannah and her mother were thrown out of the gang for spreading rumours that Ice poisoned his knife.
  • No Social Skills: Tad is the youngest of the Wallam-Crane family, pretty much royalty on his home planet of Adonis. As such, he's grown up surrounded by luxury, being pandered to by everyone he meets (he's initially attracted to Blaze because she's the only girl he's met who doesn't immediately throw herself at his feet). Between that and his emotionless, mercenary grandfather who uses Tad as a pawn for his ambitions, it's amazing Tad is even as tactful as he is, but his tendency to blurt out questions and utter inability to read a room nearly gets him thrown off a roof. But under all that is a genuinely caring, compassionate man.
  • Once per Episode: While Blaze is keeping the offworlders safe in her apartment, someone knocks on the door to propose to her, for reasons that have nothing to do with being attracted to her. In Scavenger Alliance, it's Luther, but the second time it's Aaron, who's afraid of what will happen to his daughter if he dies. Blaze instead offers to become Rebecca's guardian, having resolved to adopt her earlier when she thought Aaron was dead.
  • Papa Wolf: Wall, leader of Manhattan division, has a small army of children that he refers to as "nieces and nephews", but he's a loving father to them.
    • Braden is trying to reach Beta sector to care for his nieces and nephews, orphaned some time before the start of the series, and he's going through hell to do it.
  • Properly Paranoid: Blaze's apartment has eight bolts on the door, and so does her bedroom within the apartment. This is based on an incident from her childhood, when two bolts proved insufficient. Later, Marsha is murdered in her bed by Cage, who got past the lock on her door. Blaze reasons that, had Marsha used bolts, she'd still be alive. In Scavenger Blood, it becomes obvious that Blaze's apartment is the only place Phoenix has felt safe in weeks.
  • The Reveal: a few occur in rapid succession.
    • Tad is webbed. This means he has technology in his brain that allows him to use the data net with his thoughts. As the ability to build and maintain this technology was supposedly lost a generation ago, this raises questions.
    • Why is Tad webbed? Because he's Thaddeus Wallam-Crane the Eighth, descended from the inventor of portal technology and, basically, the natural enemy to everyone in the Resisitance.
    • A firestorm like the one that destroyed London six years earlier is going to destroy New York in a few months. In fact, they're lucky it hasn't happened already. Oh, and they can't just portal out like London division did because their portal relay was blown up by Seamus.
  • Running Gag: After coming up with the idea of trading Tad and the other offworlders for safe passage along Fence, the border between the Alliance's territory and the law-abiding citizens of the next town over, and possibly getting some livestock into the bargain, Donnell is given to assessing Tad's worth in chickens (usually a dozen or so). Tad is less than amused.
  • Scavenger World: As the title suggests. During the Exodus Century, humanity rushed to colonise other worlds, using too many resources and emptying Earth of too many educated people too quickly. As a result, society's infrastructure has been all but crippled, and old technology is breaking down because there aren't enough people around who can fix or replace it.
  • Secret Underground Passage: In Scavenger Blood, Cage turns out to be using one of these to access the Parliament building and meet his followers in secret. This tunnel uses parts of the old Subway system, meaning Blaze and Tad are able to use a Subway train to run him down. This prompts someone to comment that Blaze is just as bad as her father.
  • Sequel Hook: By the end of Scavenger Alliance, Cage is under sentence of death but has escaped and is on the run, and still has followers among the Alliance. Blaze and Tad have persuaded the Alliance that New York is set to burn and that they need to evacuate, but they still have to figure out how to do it.
    • Scavenger Blood ends with Cage and his surviving followers locked away in the Wallam Crane building. The place is controlled by Tad's family codes and makes Fort Knox look like a wet paper bag, so they can't escape... right? Except that Tad's ancestors are famously paranoid, and as Donnel pointed out, secret passages generally don't show up on the official plans... oh, and the Alliance still need to figure out an evacuation plan.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: In Scavenger Blood, Rogue is killed in the first few chapters, leaving a heartbroken Raeni to have his child while leading Queen's Island division.
  • Spanner in the Works: Tad is this to Cage's plans to use Blaze's broken arm to derail Donnell's rule. Cage plans to accuse Donnell of making Blaze an officer while hiding that she has a "useless" arm and is therefore a burden. In fact, her arm is still twinging but basically recovered from breaking it months earlier. To cover this, Cage breaks her arm again, planning to claim it's been useless all along, with Hannah lying that she's been covering for Blaze. However, Tad uses his webbing technology to contact a doctor who walks him through healing Blaze's broken arm like new. So when Cage makes his move, Blaze is able to turn his and Hannah's accusations around on them, calling general justice on Cage, allowing the people he's indimidated for years a chance to rally and finally breaking his reign of terror. This results in Blaze getting the position as Donnell's Deputy That Cage originally wanted.
    • He's at it again in Scavenger Blood. Cage murders Rogue to reignite the feud between the Manhattan and Queen's Island divisions. When Blaze recovers the rifle he used, Tad realises it's the same one used in an assassination attempt on one of his ancestors, and that Cage must be hiding out in that rifle's last known location; the huge McMansion/ skyscraper owned by his family. This is bad news as this building makes Fort Knox look weak and Cage is now using its advanced defences, but Tad is able to use his web and superuser access to deactivate the defences and trap Cage in there.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: When Blaze and Tad admit their feelings for each other, Blaze points out that they are both literally and figuratively from different worlds. They do start a relationship, but among many other problems it has to be kept secret. The Alliance would not be thrilled about an offworlder coming along and stealing their women...
    • Averted in Scavenger Blood, when the district leaders find out Tad's true identity. The fact that he's in love with Blaze is presented by Donnell as a positive, as it gives Tad motive to help the Alliance.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The Alliance has some clearly-defined gender roles; men hunt, women fish. Women cook and care for children, aren't allowed to use bows and don't become officers. Women leave their division to get married, not men. This is because a few throwbacks have managed to grab positions of power and always derail any attempt to change things: Wall and Major always vote against proposed female officers, for example. Changing this is a major recurring plotline, and Blaze getting Wall on her side so he votes for her as Donnell's deputy is a huge victory. This is quickly followed by Raeni ousting Major as leader of Queen's Island.
    • Played with in Scavenger Blood, Blaze elects to spend the day in the creche looking after the young children. Donnell comments that this won't help her gain the mens' respect. She replies that it's not about gaining the mens' respect, it's about keeping the womens' by showing she hasn't forgotten them.
  • The Stoic: Ice, leader of London division and Blaze's mother's cousin, gets his name from being this. He's Not So Stoic when it comes to family ties, though, and cries when forced to reveal that he carried Blaze out of her burning home during the London firestorm, at the cost of leaving her mother to die. He kept the secret and allowed Cage to blackmail him to protect Blaze from Survivor's Guilt.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Blaze seems like a shrinking violet in the first couple of chapters, dodging Donnell for fear of what he wants to talk about now she's eighteen and being bullied by Cage. However, she quickly reveals herself as capable when she's put in charge of the offworlders, explaining what they need to know to survive. But it's when Tad's true identity is revealed that she shows her moral courage: she takes charge of the situation, standing up to the officers who decide to throw Tad off the roof and sheltering him and the other offworlders in her own rooms. This move results in her becoming an officer, which puts her in direct conflict with Cage, in turn forcing her to take charge by calling general justice on him and becoming even more of a target. Because of this, Donnell offers her the spare Armed Agent weapon he's had stashed for years. This is a cybernetic, AI-based weapon that bonds permanently with its user and would mean she can never leave Earth. She accepts it without hesitation, knowing she'd never leave Earth or the people she feels responsible for anyway, and goes to set up a trap for Cage. By the end of the book, she's deputy leader of the Alliance.
  • Trapped with the Therapy Session: Blaze has just managed to prevent Tad from being thrown off the roof and locked herself with him and the other offworlders, Phoenix and Braden, in her apartment for their safety. Then Luther knocks on her door and proposes to her, making it clear he's only doing so for political reasons but still expecting her to be interested. She can't deal with this right now and tells him they'll discuss it tomorrow. The whole exchange is shouted through the locked door and the poor offworlders don't know where to look; Braden in particular is suddenly very interested in the pattern of the carpet.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Blaze wonders about this after Hannah's many betrayals come to light. She concludes that the friendship was real when they were children, but after Hannah and her mother were thrown out of London, Hannah just got used to seeing Blaze as a resource.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Cage held an eleven-year-old Blaze over the cooking fire For the Evulz when he saw the flames scared her. He also kept Wall from moving against him for years by threatening his daughter Mist.