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Earthrise: First Impact Dev Journals: Exploring the Lowlands

By Guest Writer on September 25, 2009

On the eastern side of Enterra, just off the northern coast of the island, lie the barren, desolate steppes of the Lowlands. These somber prairies are constantly subjected to the violent sweeps of harsh, dry winds and the cracked soil is mercilessly baked into a rugged patchwork of dirt that expulses noxious clouds of choking fine dust, which without the proper filtering can prove deadly. Shallow canyons and low prominences offer a small measure of shadow for the wary traveler, otherwise there is no refuge to be found from the scorching heat of the day as very little vegetation exists in the Lowlands. Hosting only a handful of brambles and twisted yucca trees and supporting only highly adapted hostile mutant life forms, the Lowlands are the part of Enterra that most resembles the original state of the island's nature before the terraforming efforts were undertaken by reemerging humanity.

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The Lowlands form a natural crossroad between the spheres of influence of several important factions and by virtue of this fact alone, they serve as a theatre for a multitude of armed conflicts; some open and some not as readily apparent for those ignorant of the subtle behind-the-scenes world of politics and intrigue. To the northwest, the steppe reaches the Autonomy - a breeding ground for treachery and ambition, whose denizens would readily spill into the Lowlands under the vicious will of their leader Shepherd, if not kept in check by force of arms. To the northeast is the Arboretum - the lush tangle of bio-engineered forests and gardens that the people of Natura call home. To the south a clutter of small mesas and foothills slowly transitions into the imposing ranges of the Cascade Mountains whose stout profile projects the security and protection guaranteed by Noir's very Core. To the southwest a narrow pass meanders through the rocky ridges and connects the Lowlands with the Eastern Garden where the seat of power of Her Eminence Governor Mao is located. And to the West, against a substantial and unapproachable mass of granite, the overgrown ruins of Arcology II are huddled with the Kodiak's Den nested amongst them.

By far the most pre-dominant, albeit far from undisputed, power in the Lowlands are the Kodiaks. Their main base is not in the prairie itself, but hidden beneath the treetops of the great forest that sprawls over the picked remains of the Arcology. Nonetheless, they maintain substantial recon and assault forces on patrol throughout the Lowlands at all times. Having once been wrestled out of the Nest, they are ready to defend their new home at all costs and are constantly aware of the territorial aspirations of the many raider bands - such as the infamous Rukh - that infest the steppes, as well as of the sporadic incursions of adventurous Syndicate smugglers. The Kodiaks maintain a permanent boot camp in the Lowlands, where their newest recruits are being pit against the hostile creatures of the wild in order to hone their skills for the time of real battle.

Amongst the landmarks found in the Lowlands, several deserve a specific mention. Perhaps the most prominent structure erected in the steppe is a great Noir compound, complete with several resource drills used to excavate precious resources needed for the war effort around the clock. Further north one can find the abandoned terraforming facility which has settled in its final repose buried beneath tons of dust and rust - at least, until someone finds a way to bring it back to life. A recently established encampment of the Alpha dominates the northern-most edge of the area. Perched on a small plateau above the ocean surf, it is staking the Sisters' claim to a permanent presence in what has always been, up to this moment, exclusive Noir territory. Last but not least, an abandoned pre-war bunker is hidden amongst the rocky crags occupying the eastern shore of the Lowlands, ready to reveal its long-forgotten secrets to any of the several factions vying to gain entry into its depths.

Already a highly inhospitable and hostile area, patches of mutated plant-life have begun springing up around the steppes of the Lowlands bearing the specific visual signature of the bio-phenomenon known as "The Hatchery". Mutant creatures, altered even further from their initial deformities, were soon to follow; but whatever the future of the Lowlands holds for its human explorers and inhabitants, one thing is for sure - it's neither going to be safe, nor pretty.

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