Geography

Despite the obvious difficulties involved, enough brave and skillful pilots have penetrated the storm front repeatedly to bring the stay-at-homes at least a rough aerial map of the entire valley. Although the valley is surrounded by giant mountains on all sides, just like every other valley on Cretasus, it is the peaks to the west that provide the most spectacular view. These are the Red Mountains, an unbroken range that stretches from north to south. They get their name from their color, and they get their color from the fact that their rock is incredibly rich in iron ore, and to a lesser extent, copper. Thus, they provide any miners with the hardiness to get to them with a virtually endless supply of the most important metal to an industrial civilization, and copper isn't to be sneezed at either.

Remembering the relatively backward nature of human technology in the Broncosaurus Rex gaming universe, it must be realized that fiber optics and the like have not yet replaced copper wire in the construction of electrical gear. If the Confederacy can gain and maintain a monopoly on this valley - and on Cretasus in general - it will have all the raw materials it needs for a massive program of industrial expansion, giving it an excellent shot at ending - or at the very least severely reducing - the Union's enormous technical lead. The jockeying for position in order to control the Red Mountains is already the single largest cause of conflict between Union and Confederacy in Storm Valley, and looks to stay that way into the foreseeable future.

The land just east of the Red Mountains is seemingly impenetrable jungle, with the flora of a temperate climate dwelling in the shadow of the great mountains themselves, and its tropical equivalent in that half of the land that actually borders the Tempest Sea. To the north of this inland ocean are mountain peaks of normal color, and between them and the sea is a hunk of land that is mostly scrub-savanna and desert, dotted here and there with visually unpleasant but financially lucrative spots where oil seeps to the surface in great quantities. The eastern part of the great landmass that encircles the Tempest Sea consists of forests, lightly-wooded savannas, and rolling plains intermingled in no particular order, while the south, which has the only known mountain passes leading into Storm Valley, is a mass of forest and jungle. Again, as is the case to the west, the climate and flora are those of warm temperate conditions in those regions nearest to the mountains, passing from this to subtropical and at last tropical as one nears the inland sea.

One oddity about the vegetation of Storm Valley is the eerily beautiful blue-green color in the leaves and grass, replacing the normal green shades completely. Scientists theorize that this color change enables the plants to absorb what solar radiation makes it down through the storm clouds. Another oddity is that, although the sun itself is never seen, a "clear" day in Storm Valley is just as bright as one in the outside world. Whether this is due purely to solar radiation or to some energy emitted by the eternal storm clouds, it is impossible to say at the moment, and the obvious dangers of research mean that this mystery will probably not be solved anytime in the near future. There is no sight more spectacular than that of a panoramic view of a large part of Storm Valley, with visibility as good as on a sunny day back on Earth, but with pitch-black storm clouds constantly boiling and raging overhead in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. There is also no sight more eerie, which is why veteran explorers of the valley prefer cloudy days.

In the eastern portion of the valley, a massive stone city has been discovered. It has, of course, immediately become the target of explorers and military reconnaissance forces alike, who tried to determine if the city was an ancient ruin or still inhabited, and if the latter, inhabited by whom. Between the crashed aircraft and land-bound expeditions that were annihilated by Storm Valley's bizarre dinosaurs and other creatures, it was several years after the city's initial discovery before a daring team of researchers discovered that this low-tech city was not only still alive, but was still inhabited by its original builders. Not only that, but those builders were dinosaurs, and not small raptor-types, but giant carnosaurs, kin to the big-armed and -clawed Therizinosaurus of Earth.

Theorists and laymen (whose ideas of dinosaurs came almost wholly from popular fiction and movies) alike were stunned to discover a species of large dinosaurs with humanlike intelligence, but reality is no respecter of preconceived beliefs. Those few researchers who made it there and back have since reported that the giant carnosaurs have a militaristic outlook on life, with their primary entertainment being blood combats in a giant arena along the model of ancient Rome. They also have the unfortunate tendency to regard the entire valley as their private hunting ground and game preserve, and all intruders from the outside, whether human (from any faction) or alien, will be met with immediate attack, resulting in either instant death or capture (for participation in future "games").

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