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THE OBSTACLE

THE OBSTACLE Series, Book One

A deluxe excerpt of this new and exciting novel by Frank Casso & Chris Casso.


This partial excerpt has been edited and formatted specifically for presentation here. Copyright © 2014, Frank Casso & Chris Casso  Any reproduction or transmission in any form is strictly prohibited.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (Partial)


PROLOGUE


CERQUE’S PROLOGUE


THE END OF INNOCENCE


The Plunder of Thieves; The Announcement; The Day Before; The Arrival of Salm; The Choice; The Abduction and The Crisis; The Aftermath; The Many Questions; The Council; The Reason We Fight; The Prank; The Plea; The Decision and The Return; The Interrogation; The Confession; The Sweet Goodbye; The World Has Changed

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PROLOGUE


Only six of the seven continents on Earth are habitable; North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The continent of Antarctica was actually once known as Antaria, a legendary tropical paradise. But like the story of mythical Atlantis, a long ago catastrophe laid waste to the entire continent. Now it is uninhabitable due to violent freezing storms and deadly frigid temperatures.

It is said that Antaria was once the envy of the world; richer in resources than any other continent. It is also said that those resources were sapped to the point of depleting the entire landscape. Many believe that the sudden violent turn in Antaria’s weather was nature’s way of fighting back. No one knows for sure, because the landscape of Antarctica today is extremely hostile and barren. Any possible remnants of a past civilization are now buried under miles of ice.

The legends say that Antaria’s human population was at fault, even consuming the very life force of the entire continent. Production, pollution, and over population were the byproducts of a free and thriving early industrial civilization. While some saw this culture as good; others called it evil. Because its government was believed to be a democracy, that form of rule was forever associated with Antaria’s demise and destruction. Rightly or wrongly, democracy would then be linked to whatever future ills other continents might suffer; pestilence, wars, even plague.

It was during a particularly dark time, around the year 2000, that a group of leaders began to exercise greater and more absolute control over the remaining continents. At first, they promised hope and a new future for those who would follow them. They promised leadership and prosperity for the people, and offered relief and help when needed. They promised that whatever befell the now mythic Antaria should never happen again; that they would protect the people and the earth from the human behaviors that led to its destruction. They promised that democracy would never again encroach upon or threaten the safety of the population or the environment. The people followed.

Soon after, the supporters of democracy and freedom were publicly ridiculed and shamed.


Then they were arrested.


Then they were hunted.


With every loss of personal freedom and choice came new promises of hope and prosperity. As governments provided more and more, the peoples’ very existence became unavoidably dependent upon the ruling class. Loss of freedom became the norm. And each new generation questioned their government less than the one before.

Eventually, a single leader rose to the top tier of government in each of the six continents. They proclaimed themselves to be the ultimate in leadership; they called themselves the Sovereign Six.

Those who did not accede to their rule came to call them, and the government machines that supported them,


The Dictators.


Strangely, the general population grabbed hold of the same name. But they called the ruling class ‘the Dictators’ with a warped sense of affection and devotion, rather than contempt. Dictators became political stars that overshadowed all other forms of celebrity. To add to the aura of exclusivity, the Dictators culturally isolated themselves, stating that they were a superior class of individuals. They refused to marry and procreate outside of their group. Eventually, they named themselves to be an extraordinary race of beings, a breed of individuals who were selected by nature to reign over the earth’s population.

The Sovereign Six and their minions eventually became convinced themselves of their own destinies. They came to believe they had succeeded in achieving the greatest kingdoms in all of human history.

Over many decades, rebel groups attempted to lead violent protests and raids in efforts to awaken the sleeping populace from their slavish stupor. Unfortunately, they made only minor inroads. The Dictators knew however, these signs of resistance must be stopped before they spread. Government became ruthless in its efforts to suppress the rebels. They were rounded up, and summarily executed. Meanwhile, government supporters were openly rewarded for their willingness to follow the Dictators’ leadership. They were often compensated, publicly recognized, and offered goods and services that were not available to the general public. They became useful pawns, bought and paid for with little more than publicly funded bribes and undeserved recognition.

Even so, as time passed, there was mounting discontent. The seeds of freedom were beginning to slowly take hold. Sensing this growing restlessness, the Dictators decided to use the very idea of complete and total freedom as a prize to be offered. They created a pathway to freedom by patterning a series of tests upon the contests of ancient Roman gladiators. Yet rather than fight another to the death, the participants had to overcome and defeat a series of dangerous challenges. The risk of death was still high, but the reward that awaited the winners who survived until the end was a lifetime of pure freedom and abundant luxury.

The Dictators televised these events for the entire population; promoting this as the best and only Dictator sanctioned path to absolute freedom. The people accepted the premise readily, and became so entertained and distracted by this deadly form of lottery, they again lost their interest in pursuing freedom for themselves.


It is now 2142. And over seventy years have passed since the creation of this contest for freedom; since the creation of


THE OBSTACLE


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