The Mojave Desert always has been, and probably always will be, a hotly contested piece of real estate (at least since the Awakening, that is; prior to that, no one sane really cared about a 40,000 kilometer chunk of sand, rock, and scraggly plants). The Awakening changed the fate of the desert. Life was breathed into the desert, plants and animals alike were transformed. For all you city-slickers hoping to strike it rich out here (or perhaps just praying to make it alive from LA to Santa Fe) you’d better think twice. The desert is a very unforgiving place.
There isn’t much civilization out here in the desert. A few towns persist here and there. Scattered about, you’ll find some corporate research facilities, although they are generally well-hidden temporary structures. One notable town — almost a city — is...
A wealthy corporate enclave stuck out in the desert, it provides a neutral territory for rich corporate executives, Mafia dons, Yakuza oyabans, and a well-established Pueblo garrison. At one time, Pueblo forces attempted to claim the desert through force. The soldiers that survived that attempt ended up regrouping in Palm Springs (pretty nice reward for their complete failure, get- ting stuck in a luxury resort town). Currently the garrison’s focus is firmly to the south, sweating over the close Azzie troops You can bet the rich and famous in the town don’t want their pretty mansions and koi-stocked lagoons to become Azzie property. Under the lavish parties and multi-million nuyen deals, there’s a well-hidden air of desperation.
Punakukka aka Floating Above aka Immortal Flower
This very rare and sought after magical compound is found in few hidden places in Mojave Desert. The exact locations of Ke'yah'ta plants are known only by the Anasazi tribe who guard their sacred secrets with fierce devotion.
Some Native American braves go to spirit quests to acquire the rare flower. Surviving the challenges of the quest is considered to be as great a deed as surviving a battle against superior foe.
On rare occasion some flowers find their way in to the black market. Those trading with the sacred plant keep their dealings well hidden to avoid the wrath of the Anasazi.
The Joshua Tree monument draws many to the Mojave. The trees themselves could provide immensely powerful teles- ma—assuming anyone could get it from them. Unfortunately for would-be prospectors, the trees don’t like being harvested, and the Anasazi tribals (more on them below) consider it their sacred duty to guard the trees. If you can make it past the tribes, you’ll meet some of the powerful spirits that guard the trees (or the spirits of the trees, depending on who you believe). I wouldn’t argue with either rumor, since most who venture into the Joshua Tree territory don’t come back. Those that do are rarely whole of mind or spirit.
-- Axis Mundi
Skull Rock used to draw a lot of tourists. Scientists like to say that the four-story tall, skull-shaped rock was formed through water erosion; visitors with any magical talent will probably disagree. It’s a matter of honor among Anasazi youth to spend a night alone at the rock. Those that survive are considered favored by the spirits of the tribes. The tribes have also started using the rock as a trial for the city folks gone native (and spirits know, enough of those inner-city gangers seem to think it’s the cool thing to do). Anyone who can survive a night at the rock is guaranteed a place in the tribe.
Ubehebe Crater is another mana-rich site that draws a lot of attention. A hollow remnant of an ancient volcano, the crater is a waterless, lifeless landscape of rocks and dust. What it does have are spirits. Lots of spirits. Very powerful free spirits with a strong dislike of metahumanity. Up until the comet, the spirits were known to let a select few Anasazi shaman approach if they were seeking wisdom and guidance. Something must have hap- pened when the comet flew by, because shortly afterwards the spirits became even more hostile. Now, even the most powerful Anasazi shamans avoid the crater.
Abandoned following the first big quake in ’28, when the UCAS didn’t have the funds to restore the facilities, this site has recently been re-commissioned as a joint project between Horizon and PCC. Currently it primarily sees use as a facility to boost communications sats into orbit. There’s been a lot of launch delays due to mana storms in the area, but it remains one of the best launch sites available to the PCC and Horizon.
-- Orbital DK