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Literature / Shattered Continent

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"Welcome to the multiverse, kid. Enjoy your headache."
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A Diesel Punk/Fantasy series established in 2014, Shattered Continent takes place on Neue Erde, a nexus point between dimensions and dumping ground of the multiverse. The main supercontinental land mass is shared between two nations, the magic-heavy New Empire in the West, and the highly militarized, tech-heavy Cardenas in the East. Unable to discover a way back off the planet after generations of attempts, they have settled into more pressing affairs, specifically the repulsion of the invasion of extra-dimensional entities that happens once every 20 to 30 years. The last time it happened, around 1995, the combined armies of Neue Erde resorted to using a thermonuclear bomb to crush the final wave of the invasion, killing both nations top-level commanders and rending a large swath of the Empire, including the capital completely uninhabitable. As of the year 2017, the two nations have settled into an uneasy peace, with the assorted kingdoms setting their own policy while paying lip-service to the vacant Imperial throne, and Cardenas descending into a level of paranoia that would make Joseph McCarthy flinch.

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Two works have been released to-date in the setting. The first, Shattered Continent: Caroline's Awakening (available for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OXA3TP6 ) follows Caroline Carver, a young American woman who finds herself stranded on Neue Erde. Rescued from a demon-worshiping cult by a team of mercenaries on an unrelated inter-kingdom raid, she has to get her bearings fast; her being drawn to Neue Erde wasn't an accident, and the cult's patron demon has plans for her. The second, Office Hours: Tuesday at The Office (posted for free in three parts: http://wp.me/p4wFYm-61 ) follows The Professor, part-time mercenary, history lecturer and Caroline's mentor figure as he tries to take care of business at his day job at the Freistadt Institute. Operative word tries; falsely accused of murdering a well-connected Imperial nobleman, he has to talk down the grieving daughter before she shoots him, figure out who actually killed the man before the situation gets even further out of hand, and invest in a better door lock.

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The Series as a whole contains examples of:

  • Alternate History: The dominant land power is an alternate Imperial Germany formed from dimensional refugees and armed with magic. They share space with a nation founded by stranded Americans whose last known president was Curtis Le May.
  • Balkanize Me: Since the death of the Emperor, attempts to put someone new on the throne have been gridlocked by political maneuvering, leaving many of the subordinate Kingdoms on their own in terms of defense and foreign relations.
  • Boom, Headshot!: One of the few sure-fire ways to deal with a cultist, and Cardenas standard military practice when dealing with things that go bump in the night.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Most of the protagonists are Combat Pragmatists at best, engage in Cold-Blooded Torture, War for Fun and Profit and other bad behavior. If not for the fact that the villains are worse, they would be the bad guys.
  • Cool Airship: The backbone of Cardenas military logistics; the large area of the continent puts their range to good use. While peacetime has put an increased emphasis on their cargo capacity, they still carry a compliment of air-to-ground artillery.
  • Decapitated Army: Averted during the last demonic invasion. The thermonuclear bombing on Königsberg killed the Emperor, the Commanding General of Cardenas, and the head of the Demonic Host. While it marked the end of major combat operations, all three factions survived.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: Enforced by a combination of how magic interacts with physical laws and treaty.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cardenas personnel dealing with outsiders only give a rank, title or codename. They take it very seriously.
  • Eye Scream: Every cultist did this to themselves as a condition for joining.
  • Fantastic Racism: Half-demons. In some parts of the Empire, infanticide is an accepted practice.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Magic interferes with higher-end technology, but the breechloading rifle has still displaced spear and bow as the chief arm of the Empire's military.
  • Forever War: Taken cumulatively, the demonic invasions. Roughly one a generation, as far back as any written history on Neue Erde can remember, with no signs of stopping or slowing.
  • Going Native: Virtually the entire population of the Empire are the descendants of people who gave up on returning to their home dimension and settled in on Neue Erde.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Half-demons. The outcome can vary pretty wildly; of the two seen so far there have been a reasonably normal looking young woman with red eyes, square pupils and opaque skin, and a mercenary with insect features, vestigial wings and an extra set of arms
  • The Multiverse: Neue Erde is a nexus point between multiple dimensions.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The cultists. Undead, varying levels of coordination and sentience, hungry for human flesh and reliably killed by headshots, but never called the Zed Word.
  • Schizo Tech: The Empire is sitting at roughly a 15th-17th-century native tech level with late 1800s firearms, radios, and other more modern equipment imported from Cardenas. Cardenas maintains a roughly 1970s tech level, with military hardware closer to 1990s/2000s. Both sides profit from the occasional advanced device falling through from another dimension and surviving the landing.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Common among Cardenas personnel out in The Empire, especially high ranking officers and operatives; The Captain, The Professor, The Artificer, and so-on.
  • Un-Sorcerer: Virtually the entire population of Cardenas is completely devoid of any natural magical energy. No spellcasting, no magical weapons, no church healing, no problem using machine guns, night-vision sights and computers.
  • Walking Techbane: Rampant in the Empire, as a result of how magic and technology interact, with mages being especially bad about it; Cardenas' Air Fleet is outfitted with Faraday Cage-equipped containment areas for transporting Imperial citizens without frying any of the hardware.

Shattered Continent: Caroline's Awakening contains examples of:

  • Bi the Way: The Captain off-handedly comments on the attractiveness of one of the mercenaries, has a picture of her in her youth holding hands with a young woman, and is married to The Professor. The latter is a sham.
  • Berserk Button: Caroline develops one about being treated like an object, both literally and figuratively. Her first kill and the last kill of the book are both people who pushed the button, the latter also receiving a Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Caroline's gun belt rig includes a large knife. She ends up taking off a few of Leonardo's fingers with it during the climax.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Caroline's firearms practice consists of shooting at targets no wider than 12 inches. During the night attack, the opposing force consists almost entirely of cultists who need a bullet to the head to take down.
  • Damsel in Distress: Caroline's abduction sends a pair of FBI Agents racing off into the desert to save her. Rushing off without proper backup, they fail to properly stop the ritual. Further on, Caroline works to avoid becoming this, undergoing a crash training program on swords and firearms, contributing to the final battle.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Processing". The exact procedure isn't described, but it involves electrodes and a generator.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The prologue follows the FBI's effort to intervene in Caroline's abduction, while also introducing her roommate. The roommate is never mentioned again, and The Professor informs Caroline that the Agents encountered a dragon shortly after arriving. He left out the part about one of them surviving.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Averted; The FBI goes charging off into the desert to rescue Caroline because it's their job and time is of the essence, and the mercenaries were at Leonardo's hideout on unrelated business. And Rodgers/The Professor sees getting Caroline getting home as his final unfinished business with the Bureau.
  • Expospeak Gag: The Professor's wagon contains "mechanically initiated, chemically driven linear mass accelerators" and "prompt overpressure generation and ferrous material distribution devices", because it would be rude to tell a border guard that you were hauling firearms and hand grenades through his checkpoint.
  • Going Native: Caroline is afraid this will happen if she accepts the Scholar offer of sanctuary. Agent Rodgers jumped straight into this trope feet-first.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Air Force General Curtis Le May and Buddy Holly make post-mortem appearances. The former was President of the United States in the Scholar's dimension of origin circa 1975, and in at least a few known dimensions Holly is alive, well, and producing music during the 1980s. Caroline doesn't seem too impressed with his Progressive Rock work, but the Professor has a collection of his records.
  • Instant Expert: Within a week of her rescue, Caroline is getting a handle on the local language, swordplay, and shooting. Caroline had a background in multiple languages before arriving on Neue Erde, along with some martial arts training and experience handling blank-firing prop weapons, giving her a head start. Even then, it's several days before she starts trying to talk to anyone who can't speak English, her sword instructor tells her that if she keeps training 4 hours a day she'll be a real threat in about a year, and her firearms instructor gives her an extremely stripped-down curriculum focused on headshots at relatively close range. She also has no idea that she has magical power.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Both Leonardo and Maximilian. The latter even gets asked "mind if I stop you there?" before catching two to the face.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Back on Earth, Agent Rodgers was a borderline rogue agent looking down the barrel of serious charges for his overzealous actions. On Neue Erde, he's a respected educator and part-time mercenary with a good social circle, a virtual license to kill, and a killer LP collection.
  • Papa Wolf: The Captain and the Professor are both protective of Beatrix, to the point of violence.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Beatrix's dresses are custom fitted, giving Caroline this problem when she borrows one.
  • The Slow Path: Caroline experiences roughly 4 years of missing time after being transformed into a statue, and then loses another half-hour after challenging the party to reproduce the effect. Both times, Agent Rodgers has to live the time the old fashioned way.
  • Sequel Hook: Caroline commits herself to finding her way home, refusing the easy out of sanctuary with Cardenas. Meanwhile, the Eichstadt Government found out about the raid at the start of the book, and is already lodging a formal complaint.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Beatrix and The Professor come across a discarded one in the lower levels of an abandoned military base, which was used to track the progress of fallout after the Konigsberg bombing.
  • Stripperiffic: Caroline's starting outfit was designed to look good, and that's about it. Absolute Cleavage, bare midriff, combined with Opera Gloves and short shorts. The only parts that stick around are a belt and a pair of boots, which were just functional items with skulls hot-glued to them.
  • Taken for Granite: Common enough that it's part of the standard curriculum at Beatrix's school. Happens to Caroline twice, and is suggested as a way to hide from her enemies.
  • Translation Convention: The chief language of the Empire is a mash-up of multiple root language, but is translated to English when heard from the point of view of a character that knows it. Caroline doesn't have it at first, giving broad interpretations of what she's hearing derived chiefly from tone and posture. She can, however, translate magic into Esperanto with nearly zero practice, while the Professor still hears it as gibberish after years of exposure.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: The Professor likes children. It bites him in the ass when the only witnesses to their illegal raid are a couple of kids out for a ride.

Office Hours: Tuesday at the Office contains examples of:

  • Axe-Crazy: Sparrow. The Professor, a trained FBI agent, speculates that she's a high-functioning sociopath.
  • Berserk Button: The Captain doesn't take kindly to people trying to kill her husband.
  • Body Horror: A lot of it in the final shootout. Seth ends up with an eyeball dangling out of it's socket, and Sparrow suffers a sub-dermal hemotoma. "Ever had a bruise so bad it swelled up? Imagine that happening inside your skull."
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Discussed by The Professor and Minette, when the former tries to convince the latter to give him more details so he can figure out if he really did shoot her father.
  • Break the Haughty: Sparrow is reduced from a cocky homicidal mercenary to literally kissing Minette's boot and swearing loyalty to her. The Professor thinks she's faking it.
  • Clear My Name: The Professor needs to figure out who actually killed Henri von Vogelsang. In the short term, so his daughter Minette won't shoot him. In the long term, to keep a vital trade pipeline between Cardenas and the Empire open.
  • The Consigliere: The Professor and The Captain effectively become this to Minette as she prepares to take the fight to her uncle and clean house in her own organization.
  • Corrupt Cop: Eichstadt law enforcement is described as "notoriously cheap" when it comes to bribery. Renard slipped them an unknown sum of cash to overlook the facts of Henri's murder. The Institute's security forces are there to protect the Institute first and foremost, turning a blind eye to Sparrow's treatment.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Baron Vogelsang got up to some shady business. But he was still a classy guy compared to his competitors.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Professor's desk contains a set of foot levers that can be tripped without alerting the person on the other side. One of them alerts Frankie to contact him. The other fires a 12 gauge shotgun into the chair in front of him. Additionally, the room contains an assortment of weapons, body armor, and useful supplies.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Duke's parties include such deadly spectacles as making teams of peasants fight it out on boats on an artificial lake. Funding these events has nearly bankrupted the Duke.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards: Critical to Minette's plan to kill The Professor. She pulls it off. But they voluntarily let themselves get 'ditched' because it was critical to Renard's plan.
  • Driven to Suicide: If Minette somehow escaped the Institute after shooting The Professor, Sparrow planned to drag her off and torment her to this point.
  • Eye Scream: Seth gets one of his eyes knocked out of his head with a 38 caliber bullet, and then crushed with a thrown revolver.
  • Fiction500: Henri Vogelsang worked his way up from petty nobility to being able to buy a better title, secure land holdings across the Empire, and prop up his brother's horribly mismanaged ducal holdings.
  • Girl Friday: Frankie the teaching assistant. She coordinates the security response to Minette's intrusion, comforts the young woman after The Captain scares her half to death, covers for The Professor in class while he tries to sort out the mystery and delivers the near-damning evidence that Renard killed Henri. She insists she's just following a pre-established plan, but The Professor doesn't hesitate to express appreciation for her level-headed application of said plans.
  • Good Is Not Soft: For all the patience and understanding The Professor extends to Minette, he has no problem suggesting summary execution for Renard after Minette confirms his guilt and Sparrow after she's given up any worthwhile information, or with getting into a shootout with Renard's mercenaries.
  • The Hedonist: Renard.
  • Idle Rich: Played straight by the Duke Vogelsang, who spends his time on expensive debauchery. Averted by the Baron and Minette, whose lifestyles are entirely funded by hard goods trading and resource speculation.
  • Impoverished Patrician: If not for Henri's market savvy, Minette's family would have ended up as this when his older brother Renard inherited the lion's share of their father's estate. Renard is bordering on this trope, with his taste for parties and private armies outstripping his income, leading to Henri's death.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Professor isn't a serial killer. He's a mass murderer.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Minette's plan to shoot The Professor is deeply flawed on multiple levels because her uncle wants her to die while executing it.
  • Not So Different: The Sparrow tries to invoke this based on The Professor's reputation as a remorseless killer.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Averted; The Professor's maintenance of proper office hours is what gives Minette her window to launch her attach, and he needs to make sure his classes are covered before he runs off to shake down Minette's entourage.
  • Out-of-Character Alert/ Trust Password: Frankie knows something is up if The Professor calls her "Francesca".
  • Poison-and-Cure Gambit: Sparrow suffers a traumatic head injury during the final fight, and Minette obstructs medical treatment until Sparrow kisses her boot and swears fealty.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted during the final confrontation. A huge mess is made, and one of the targets survives. His depth perception, on the other hand...
  • Private Military Contractors: Both the Duke and Baron have a large number of them, and The Professor dabbles in the trade in his off hours. Minette's entourage is a pack of them in the Duke's employ, and The Professor accepts payment to smoke them out.
  • Rabid Cop: The Captain briefly plays this towards Minette. Less because she wants information, and more because she just found out about Minette's failed assassination attempt on her husband.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The local press has dubbed The Professor "The Prince of Nightmares". He thinks it sounds ridiculous.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Captain and The Professor.
  • Shoot the Mage First: Tonis gets his head pulped with a sub-machine gun before he even knows what's happening.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Minette's mourning garb is flat black, highly subdued, and hand made by professionals out of top shelf material. She also recognizes the Professor's matte gray target pistol as being tricked out to the point where it's more expensive than the extra-fancy pistol she walked in with.
  • Sure, Why Not?: In-universe, Sparrow becomes convinced that the trap laid by the Professor was staged from the moment she first met Minette, instead of something they kludged together at the last minute. No one corrects her.
  • To the Pain: The Captain holds Minette up at gunpoint, and gives her a very vivid description of handing her over to the authorities after inflicting irreparable brain damage on her. Later, Sparrow gets a terse but accurate description of what a sub-dermal hemotoma could be doing to her.
  • Uriah Gambit: The cornerstone of Duke Vogelsang's plan for Minette.
  • Wham Line: And the name that got signed on the line for this pistol is Renard. Renard, Duke von Vogelsang. Minette's uncle. "Fuck."
  • Xanatos Gambit: Renard's plan for Minette should have been a sure thing. Either Minette dies during the assault, escapes with her "retainers" who then dispose of her, or gets handed over to his custody after the Institute captures her. The Professor asking questions before shooting screws the whole thing.
  • You Killed My Father: The whole reason Minette showed up at the Institute.


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