All this thinking about Blighted Earth has helped me refine my thinking on the story. I’ve always been a fan of the Searchers-style storyline, where a group is in search of a captured innocent, generally one that has an emotional link to at least one of the protagonists. I’d throw a movie like the Missing and even – to a degree – True Grit into this style.
Here’s how I see Blighted Earth happening.
I’m going to refer to our main character as Boss, which is what the team calls him (her?). Boss is brought back into action by his ex-Commanding Officer (XCO). She comes to him at his home in a relatively small village within the Bastion (that’s the protected lands, which I think I will place in the Niagara Region, an area I know relatively well, and one that has a pretty good climate for agriculture).
XCO is still with the military, and comes to Boss to ask his help. Raiding has all but crippled trade with the coastal communities of the New England Commonwealth. Fort Cook and Fort Conrad are under threat, and for the first time since the end of the wars some decade ago, there is real fear the boundary will be breached.
During a raid, the XCO lost her son and her daughter is now missing. The military cannot provide anyone to go in search of the lost – including more than just her daughter – due to the requirement to reinforce the boundary forts, so the XCO comes to the Boss. He was her sergeant when she was a captain of a pathfinder platoon. The XCO comes with the Medic (now a doctor and an officer) to persuade the Boss to get the band . . . the team back together.
The Boss’ wife agrees he needs to do this. They have two daughters, and the wife empathizes with the XCO, so the Boss heads off with the Medic to gather up the 2IC (a warrant, and with the engineer/techie role) at Camp Alexander, the HQ for 2 Division, responsible for the southern boundary. From Camp Alexander, the three head to Fort Cook, on the boundary. There, they recruit the Scout and the Face, who are working as mercenaries. A military intelligence Captain is thrown into the mix, as the military will provide support, but only on the understanding that they get intel out of the sortie.
The Face gets information that helps get them on their way, to a point where the Scout is able to start tracking the raiding party back to a community, previously unknown, where they encounter Regehr – who had commanded their regiment during the wars. He’s gone native, and he has plans for the Bastion, plans the team need to thwart.
There are three problems for the protagonists: find the captives, stop Regehr, and deal with the Captain, who seems intent on splitting the team and undermining the search for the captives.
Any more gets into “spoiler” territory, and I might actually want to pursue this at some point.
Read more about the Searchers here.
Read more about the Blighted Earth here.
Art by Dean Martin