NEWS FOR FAR FROM HOME FANS!

I’ve been a bit quiet on the Far From Home front lately. Well, it’s time that changed. I’m finishing up my horror novel, which was a Nanowrimo winner this year (This is my first time mentioning it). Then it is straight on with Far From Home.

Plans have changed. I originally wanted to end with this third series, but it looks like Jessica et al plan on being around a while longer. If you’re a reader of the series so far, I’m going to assume this will be good news to you.

The next books will be:

#17: Outland

#18: Intrepid

#19: Valiant

That will round out Series Three. After that, there’s a lot more to tell. I have them plotted, parts of them written, and they’re about as ready to go as they can be at this stage. I think readers will be thrilled by the storyline, and the direction I take the series this time around. I have reneged on how these will play out for a while, simply because I wanted to get it right. Now I’m about ready to set these down in print. I know some of you have been waiting for them, and I apologize for that.

I will be putting these up for pre-order as soon as I am able to. Pay no attention to the page count – it will in no way reflect the final product! For instance, Morgan Rice’s latest book, up for pre-order, is apparently only 10 pages long. We all know the end result will be 250 – 300 pages. It just allows readers to get it pre-ordered now so that it hits your kindle the moment of release.

Here’s the covers:

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FAR FROM HOME 21 INTREPID

FAR FROM HOME 22

That’s all for now folks. Expect something about my current novel, Past Dark, very soon. As far as FFH is concerned? Hold onto your hats. These three books will blow your heads off.

Review: A Short Break at Center Parcs Longleat

This weekend my wife and I drove to Center Parcs Longleat for a short break, from Friday to Monday at a snazzy Executive Lodge in the forest.

We hoped for some quality time together away from the kids, to de-stress and relax – we were not disappointed.

After driving for over two hours to get there, we collected our keys and visitor pack from the front gate about half four then drove through to our lodge. It was situated only a few minutes walk from the Plaza – where you’ll find shops, swimming facilities, cafe’s, bars and restaurants which meant it was perfect. We parked up outside our lodge, unloaded our stuff then drove to the car park. This whole process took less than half hour and was no bother at all.

Back in the lodge, it more than exceeded our expectations. At Center Parcs you definitely get value for money. We stayed in a one bedroom lodge, so there was a lovely kitchen in the centre, a living area to the right complemented by corner sofa, widescreen television and open fire.

On the other side of the kitchen there was a dining table, and then across from that a comfy bedroom. We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels and were at first concerned about the kind of sleep we’d get at Center Parcs. Past experiences in hotel beds has not been very good. Suffice to say the bed in our lodge was one of the softest we’ve ever come across. We both slept soundly with no issues.

I want to make a point here that Center Parcs Longleat were more than generous in that they provided two fluffy pillows each, more than enough soft white towels for both of us, and plenty toilet tissue. You’d be surprised the amount of places (I’m looking at you, Disneyland Paris!) who skimp on things like that.

Not at Center Parcs Longleat. And that’s not even counting the dishwasher tablets, dishcloth, sponge, tea towel, pods for the Senseo coffee machine, tea, coffee, sugar etc that are waiting for you in the kitchen when you arrive. In terms of making an instant impact when you arrive, I can’t sing their praises enough.

The bathroom comes equipped with a gigantic shower, and a jacuzzi bath with overhead shower. There were two toilets for convenience, too. Surely unheard of anywhere else.

It was dark by the time we popped out to the Plaza on our first night to have a quick look around, but we found the grounds well-lit and easy to find our way about. I was surprised to find an outside pool, all lit up. Running around that were rapids that visitors were enjoying well into the night as it was heated – you could see the steam rising from it.

After an hour or so of looking around the shops in the Plaza, we decided to grab a coffee at Starbucks (they have two!) and head back to our lodge. On the way we discovered they have a land train that runs at regular intervals around the entire resort, well into the night. This is extremely handy if you’re staying in one of the lodges down by the lake and want to get to and fro the Plaza with minimal fuss.

At night we set a fire and roasted marshmallows while watching a few DVD’s. I may or may not have consumed some alcohol at this point, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination . . .

This being our first time there, we didn’t try any of the activities there are on offer. We were lucky with the weather – it was cool and misty, and only rained on the day we left – so we were able to take long walks around the resort, exploring every nook and cranny. During the weekend we visited the Winter Wonderland and got to know the reindeer there. We were astonished by the sheer scale of the trees. It really pays to take a moment to look around you, on a long walk, and really take it all in. It was so relaxing to be in among nature like that. Throughout the whole weekend there was a persistent mist coming up off of the lake and it was lovely, it added to the mood. On the sunday night there were fireworks and we stood watching them light the sky, felt the trees shudder with every explosion. The mist seemed to take the colour of each one and amplify it – it was a wonderful experience and we both stood there like a couple of kids watching it.

I managed to get some time in writing while we were there. On the saturday I turned to admire the colours of the trees and was lucky enough to spot a deer walk out of nowhere. Alas by the time I’d run to get my camera and come back to the window, it was gone. A small stream ran at the back of our lodge, feeding into a small lake. A duck made regular visits to our patio door and waited for us to feed it bits of crumpet and toast.

We did have a few problems, but I cannot fault the customer service provided by Center Parcs whatsoever. In fact it’s what sold me on them the most. We had a problem with our gas oven on saturday. We ran the repair line and they sent an engineer straight out. He said the oven was too hot to fix. He couldn’t apologize enough and rang straight through to customer services in front of us. He then handed me the phone and the lady on the other end asked if we’d be happy with a pizza from the takeaway service Center Parcs offer. My wife and I didn’t have to wait too long for a giant 16″ pizza to arrive. The next day two engineers came out, made a repair to the oven. We started cooking our dinner on it, then it conked out again. We rang the repair line and were offered £30 in vouchers for the inconvenience.

Obviously it was a bit of a pain in the backside having the oven break like that, but I cannot fault Center Parcs staff in the slightest. They handled our complaint promptly and couldn’t do enough for us. We totally understand that things like this happen – stuff breaks. At the end of the day, the only option the staff have is to get it repaired as soon as possible, and do what they can to recompense you for the inconvenience, which is what they did.

All in all a great stay at a great resort. The accommodation is top notch, the staff are excellent and the surroundings themselves are breathtaking. I can’t wait to return. The next time I’d love to take the kids for a weekend – I know they’ll love it as much as we did. On the last day I didn’t want to leave – that tells you everything.

Now for some snaps:

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A Question Of Chronological Order

A reader contacted me recently to ask where Operation Chimera sat in the larger Far From Home series. It occurred to me, as I was typing my reply to him, that I needed to lay it out. So here it is as it stands right now.

Operation Chimera (and eventual sequels)

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50 years later . . .

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Far From Home, Series 1, 2 & 3

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30 years later . . .

*

The Broken Stars, Book 1 (and eventual sequels)

Star Marshal Chase Striker 1, 2 & 3

 

Here’s my explanation. Operation Chimera explores the height of the war with the Draxx, and the Union’s attempts to bring it to an end. Then we have Far From Home, which details the end of the Draxx war and the beginning of conflict with the resurrected Namar. After that we have a 30 year gap before The Broken Stars kicks off, with the Terran Union at war with the Sjan Empire. It’s important to note that at the start of Age of Destiny (The Broken Stars, Book 1) 30 years have passed since the end of Far From Home. However we then jump forward 17 years. So in fact 47 years have passed. The trio of stories I’m working on right now, featuring Star Marshal Chase Striker on the planet Outland, takes place in this same time period.

Will I ever go back to tell the story of how the Sjan came into conflict with the Terran Union? Perhaps. Will there be more than the 3 episodes of Chase Striker I’m writing now? Perhaps.

Suffice to say, there’s more stories to be told. It’s just finding the time to tell them!

Not read Far From Home? Start here!

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What? You’ve not read Age of Destiny? Quick! Click this image!

The Broken Stars Book 1 Cover Blank

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Chimera? What’re you WAITING for???

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Epic Interview: Recap

Did you miss parts 1-5 of my epic interview with Bernard Schaffer? Well don’t despair!

Just head on over here for part 1

Start at the beginning, it’s a very good place to start. From there you will find the other 4 parts of what turned out to be a truly insightful interview. Schaffer reveals a lot of himself, including a few things I for one had never heard before. He spoke about Harlan Ellison and gave his thoughts on Stephen King and why he considers him to be a sell-out.

For the record, I think that too, which is why I’m NOT reading his latest novel, Revival purely out of principle. I made this decision prior to Bernard’s interview, but it was nice to see the same opinion coming from someone else.

Part 1 of Confederation Reborn is FREE today and tomorrow, so if you fancy giving this exciting new series a go then by all means grab a copy.

Here’s the link: Return Fire Part 1 (Confederation Reborn)

Thanks for reading. Are you an author? Would you be interested in one of these epic interviews? GET IN TOUCH!

Epic Interview: Part 5

PART 5 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: This is the last and final part of our epic, week-long interview. I want to shift the focus from Bernard Schaffer the writer to Bernard Schaffer the man. How is the balance between your responsibilities and duties as a father,  your career in law enforcement and your writing? What’s happiness?

Bernard: This year the kids and I became soccer hooligans, in support of the Philadelphia Union and the U.S. National Team. Happiness is sitting at PPL Park surrounded by hundreds of singing, chanting, drum beating, smoke bomb igniting, fellow fans. Our supporters club is called the Sons of Ben for the Union and the American Outlaws for the US Team. The kids are healthy. The books are selling. The writing goes where I tell it. The bills are paid. I have nothing obstructing my path. I can’t ask for more than that right now.

Q: You’ve just turned REDACTED (ha!) years old. How does that feel? What’s your perspective on REDACTED years on this planet?

Bernard: it’s all right you can say it. I turned 40 in October. It’s odd because 40 is old as far as anyone under 40 is concerned. But I feel good. Better, in fact, than I did a few years ago. Of course, physically it’s not the same. I get pretty banged up doing normal stuff. This summer I blew out my right calf playing soccer with the kids and it was just awful.

 Q: Do you fear growing older?

Bernard: I don’t. I am hoping to do it with a grace and dignity that I don’t quite have yet. Hopefully by the time I enter my white haired, bearded phase.

Q: We made predictions beforehand – how about a few for Bernard. What’s in-store for the next 10 years?

Bernard: I often tell people that I don’t have dreams. I have goals, and I have plans to reach those goals. I don’t want to say what they are though. If I reach them, believe me, you’ll know.

Q: One of the greatest joys of my life so far has been fatherhood. That said, it’s a stressful never-ending job to be a parent. There surely isn’t anything so hard, yet rewarding, both at the same time. As those of us who follow you on twitter and facebook know, you’re a dedicated father. How has parenthood impacted you as a person?

Bernard: when people I know have children, I tell them that they will now learn the meaning of fear. Your whole life has been worrying about yourself and your well being. Having a child changes all that. I can honestly say being a dad is the best thing I’ve ever done, and the thing I want to do best. I’m not always as good as I want to be at it, but I always try harder next time.

 Q: It’s a rainy day. You’ve got nothing else to do. What are you listening to?

Bernard: for a rainy day? Either the new albums by Prince, Morrissey, or Sia.

Q: You have some lunch, feel like doing some reading. What book are you taking down off the shelf?

Bernard: I’m muddling through the first Game of Thrones at the moment. It’s just long, and since I watch the show I’m not dying to know what happens next.

Q: It’s still raining as darkness falls outside. You figure that you’ll watch a movie and head for bed. What movie?

Bernard: right now? The Full Monty. I have an idea for a book and that’s the tone I’m looking for. I want to rewatch the movie to see how it plays now.

Q: What scares you? On the reverse of that, what doesn’t scare you?

Bernard: losing my family. Or failing them. Leaving behind unfinished work. What doesn’t scare me? Spiders. Or bugs. I’m good with them. Not snakes, though.

Q: A good morning is . . .

Bernard: waking up next to a beautiful woman. Letting her sleep while I go downstairs and make coffee and have time to write. Come back up to bed after awhile…stay for awhile longer… Go get the kids and begin our day.

Q: Anyone who has read your brilliant novel, The Girl From Tenerife, will know that you’re a romantic. How does that come through not only your writing, but your life in general?

Bernard: I’m a very romantic person. I love to write poetry and woo a woman. To think of her and know she is thinking of me. But that can also be a detriment. To be a true romantic, you have to commit. To go all in, even when it’s foolish to do so. The trick is finding someone worthy of going all in for, because they are doing the same.

Q: You said on your Facebook page a few weeks ago that you’re taking a year to focus on yourself. Talk about that for a moment.

Bernard: I was engaged to a woman for a long time. We lived together for over five years. That ended in the beginning of the summer and it seems like I have a perfect opportunity to focus on myself and my work. To not worry about the balance of being in a relationship and pursuing my goals. Of course, who knows what will happen. I love women. I feel more alive with one in my life. It inspires me to new heights when I feel that passion. And of course…I said I’d be single for a year. I never said I’d be a monk.

Q: If you had enough money to quit your job, focus solely on writing, how would you envision that playing out?

Bernard:  Honestly I don’t think my writing output would change. I write a lot already. The difference would be the time I had to pursue other things in life. For years I’ve worked full-time and written full time. I’d get more sleep. Maybe take a vacation.

Q: Given the funds and time to do so, where would you like to visit?

Bernard: I’d like to visit my good friend Tony Healey in the U.K.  That would be my first choice, to be perfectly honest.

Q: What does the “Bernard Schaffer Bucket List” look like?

Bernard: I couldn’t say, to be honest. Let’s see. One thing I want to do is take the kids to a dude ranch and let us live the cowboy life for a week. I’d like to see the World Cup. That will have to wait because I’m not going to Russia and I’m not going to Qatar in the summertime. I’d rather burn my money than give it to Putin. Ultimately, I’d like to settle down with someone special.

Q: Last question. You can hold a conversation with anyone you like. It could be Elvis, your ancestor, Barack Obama. Whoever. Who do you hold that conversation with, and what would you ask them?

Bernard: I’d like to talk to myself at 13 years old. I have a lot of things to say that he should know. Things that would save him an awful lot of time.

Thanks so much with taking part in this truly epic interview. We’ve taken a whole week to come to this point. I really hope that your readers, and friends, have enjoyed getting to know you a little more intimately.

Bernard: Tony, your skills as an interviewer are superb. Thank you for your excellent questions and giving me so much to think about.

*****

Confederation Reborn AVAILABLE NOW

Concept Return Fire COMPLETE

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Epic Interview: Part 4

PART 4 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: What was the genesis of Confederation Reborn?

Bernard: I’d come up with this unshakeable idea for a new Star Trek series that just worked. It paid homage to what came before, while giving the franchise a shot of much-needed vitality and adrenaline. When I realized I wouldn’t get the rights to do Star Trek, and that they’re not interested in staking any new ground, I went back to the drawing board. I realized that we could take the entire mythology of Star Trek and reshape it. The franchise itself is a reshape of multiple other mythologies in SciFi and western and military stories, etc. Confederation Reborn is just evolving that concept.

Q: How did you come up with the series title? What does it mean?

Bernard: I wanted everything to be similar enough to the source, so that fans knew what and who I was taking about, but just different enough to keep from getting sued.

Q: Tell us about Return Fire.

Bernard: that’s the foundation for the rest of the titles in the series, but it’s at the end. It’s after the entire history of Confederation, right up to its present time. As I wrote it, I realized you can’t discuss the mass and weight of this thing without actually having a history. Otherwise, it’s just a paper doll. The best part was, as I began to conceptualize this history, it became clear that we can go back and tell stories from all those various eras.

Q: Your stories in Confederation Reborn take place after The Invasion has devastated inhabited space. Some might read this to be post-apocalyptic fiction. But, circling back to Part 3 of this interview in a way, is it really about stepping back into the light?

Bernard: I actually don’t see it as apocalyptic. I see it as more of a modern times analogy. Let’s face it, people are wondering if the US is still going to be here a hundred years from now.  Or the UK. Or any of the major world powers. Confederation is a governmental organization that everybody thinks had seen the last of its good days. It’s up to the people in that organization to find a way to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get back on track. The secret is, it’s always been the people who made it great. It will be the people who make it great again. Same as my country, same as yours.

Q: It’s hard not to make a connection between the events prior to Return Fire and one of the most catastrophic terrorist attacks in recent years – 9/11. It seems as if the events of that day will have continued repercussions for years to come. What are the parallels between an America rising up from the shadow of terrorism, and a Confederation regrouping following a terrible alien invasion?

Bernard: as horrific as 9/11 was, America is not unique in being attacked or suffering loss. Now, after Sandy Hook and all the other incidents we’ve dealt with, it seems like one long series of nightmares. But anybody can show greatness when things are easy. Anybody can rise to the occasion when the occasion is small and arbitrary. To be truly great as a person, as a team, as a country, you have to do it when it counts. If America wants to be that shining city on the hill, and I believe that we can, and I believe that we are, now is the time to prove it.

Q: Certainly, the “War on Terror” hasn’t all been about enacting justice and doing what is right. It’s also forced us to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the important questions. “What are our values?” “How far do we go?” “What separates us from them?” “Where does extremism come from?” The list could go on. In a way, asking these questions of ourselves relates to the act of writing itself in that during the writing of a story or novel, we’re forced to face our own fears, our own inadequacies. Is that what all writers aspire to do, ultimately? Find the truth in what they’re saying. Confront their own darkness to understand that of others?

Bernard: One thing I’ve tried to explain in way of the warrior is that I haven’t really met many evil people. I’ve met people who have done evil things and cruel things and horrible things but in their mind they were justified. If we were to speak with Hitler or Osama bin Laden or any other commonly thought of as evil person I guarantee you they wouldn’t see themselves in that same way. They would have their explanations and rationalizations for everything that they had done. And none of it would make sense to me or you but that wouldn’t matter because it made sense to them. When I was writing Whitechapel I had to call the FBI’s behavioral sciences unit. They’re the ones who deal with serial killers.  I could not fathom why Jack the Ripper had done what he’d done. Why was he killing the victims in that way? Why was he arranging them in that way? Why was he stealing their organs. I was looking for a scientific explanation. What they told me, and what I believe to be true, is that there is no scientific explanation. The only person it made sense to was Jack the Ripper. As long as my character understood what he was doing and why he was doing it then it was as real and plausible as any other theory.

Q: If think what has worked so well with Confederation Reborn so far is that you’ve presented variations on classic character archetypes. Every one of them is nuanced in a very real and grounded way. Nothing is in black and white. Referring back to the previous question, there’s a point during Return Fire that I started questioning their hatred of The Swarm. Certainly the Captain’s approach. Do you think we have a responsibility, in this day and age, to make every character a multi-faceted personality who feels real, believable and relatable?

Bernard: I think it certainly makes for a better story. The idea of a cookie-cutter bad guy won’t fly anymore. Readers are too astute. Obviously, there have been successful books that did not examine the antagonist. We don’t know anything about Sauron or why he wants to destroy Middle Earth. Gollum, on the other hand is a much richer character who is clearly a villain, but also tragic. Probably the best author I’ve ever seen do it is Thomas Harris. The way he examines the serial killers in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs is both fascinating and horrifying because they seem so real. I wouldn’t call it a responsibility, per se, as in our collective social duty as authors. I’d call it a good decision as a storyteller.

Q: In what way do you draw on your own experiences, as a boy and a man, in writing your characters? In finding their truth and expressing it so well on the page?

Bernard: my police career informs my work, in more ways than even I can fathom, I’m sure. My relationships with my kids, the loves and fears I have for them, all play into my work. And last but not least, all the women that have been in my life. All the women I’ve ever lost. All the women I’ve ever wanted. Alex Maisey once asked me what motivated me to write so much. I told him I hate being poor. I think of all the things I want in life and the only way to get them is to break through in this business. Really, my idea of luxury is to make enough money writing that I can have more time for writing. It’s a circle, of course.

Q: Forgive me, I’m going to quote Star Trek V now. I’m thinking of the scene where Sybok offers to reveal Kirk’s inner pain and hurt. Reveal it and help him come to terms with it. But Kirk refuses. “I need my pain!”. I tried for years to write and was never able to do more than a few thousand words before giving up. But once I was married, had a daughter, had lived a little, I found my perspective on things had changed. I’d become a man, and that informed my writing. In fact, my own experiences, combined with those others had told me, gave me something to write about. Does personal experience add another level to someone’s writing?

Bernard: I’ll tell you something about me no one knows. When I was eighteen years old I decided I needed more life experience, so I went out in search of as many strange jobs as I could find. I dug ditches, carried buckets of concrete up from basements, cleaned toilets, worked security at a trash dump, sold knives, and worked at Adult World. Adult World is a porno shop where they sell x-rated movies, sex toys, and rent video booths out. I rang the register and cleaned the booths at night. And as bad as that sounds, which it was, that wasn’t the worst part. The video machines in the booths only accepted dollar bills, so little old men would come in and get twenty, fifty dollars in singles. When they opened their wallets, I’d see pictures of their grandkids or their wives and families. Then, they’d vanish into the video booths. Invariably, I’d watch these old men go from booth to booth, searching for someone to hook up with. They’d skulk in the shadows, turning doorknobs on lit booths, searching for someone who’s left it open. It was just sad. These desperate people searching for human contact. It was my first true look at the face of humanity, and has served me well in detectives. Of course, there were upsides to the job. I had a lot of female customers and some wanted…well. I was a young man then. Maybe that was my first true look at the face of humanity, come to think of it.

Q: When did you start writing for real, and what precipitated that?

Bernard: several things happened to me all at once. I got separated from my wife and was living in this tiny, dismal apartment with no heat and yellow water. I missed the kids terribly. Up till that point I’d been a blogger and essay writer and written a lot of short stories. I had ideas for novels, but none of them ever got off the ground. So there I was, going out of my mind, and this woman named Karen reached out to me one day to comment on a blog I’d written. Karen was the first person to really encourage me to become a serious writer. She pushed me in ways no one ever had before. She was brutal in her critiques, something I’d never been able to tolerate before, but since I was already at such a low point, there wasn’t much ego to shred. She was the one who helped me escape the blogger, comic book script mentality and get serious. I love her very much for that.

 Q: There are a lot of different writers at work on Confederation Reborn stories, set throughout its timeline. The story we wrote together, for instance, is set during the Renaissance Period and features Captain Kirn. It’s very much in the style of classic Trek. How do you plan on keeping the continuity consistent?

Bernard: it’s going to be tricky. I’ve been compiling a writer’s guide as we go along, trying to keep all the details consistent. When I wrote Whitechapel, I had huge maps and 1888 calendars taped to the walls of my apartment, just to keep myself on track. I’m used to large projects. Laurie, the editor, is a big help also. She’s used to searching for canon consistency with large sagas, from your Far From Home series, to my Grendel and so forth.

Q: How does what you’re doing with Confederation Reborn compare with, say, Kindle Worlds?

Bernard: well, the difference is that Kindle Worlds has the power of the world’s largest book distributor behind it. It deals with established properties. Confederation Reborn is a project of love that I’m putting together with my friends. I am interested in Kindle World’s though. I may have some involvement with them in the near future.

Q: Science fiction serials are a proven success on Kindle – what are your hopes for Confederation Reborn as an ongoing series set across multiple timelines?

Bernard: multiple individual episodes dealing with a particular era or storyline that are compiled into larger complete editions.

Q: Is Confederation Reborn a return to the core premise of Star Trek? And how does it compare to the deluge of Trek novels already out there?

Bernard: it is meant to. That is what I designed it to do. As far as the deluge goes, I think they’re doing their best with what they’re allowed to do. There are people who love Picard and Janeway and want to read more about their continuing adventures. The trouble is, that’s drawn pretty thin now. Confederation Reborn is not only a way to move that entire mythology forward, it can play with the ideas in new ways. We’re reinterpreting Star Trek, as well as other franchises, but at the same time we have no obligation to play by the rules. We can do whatever we want with our characters.

*****

Confederation Reborn AVAILABLE NOW

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