It’s been a crazy week. To keep up that energy, today we’ll be delving into more crazy concepts in this world of alchemy and aliens.
As usually, these are awesome. Look at this brilliant glow-up from generic First Responder chassis to Lieutenant Tengri’s personal ACS–complete with concussion cannon.
Isn’t pseudo-magical technology grand?
A Brief Accounting of Appalachia
The resurgence of ancient alchemy revitalized ancient and modern cultures and practices around the world, directly changing the course of history. For the native peoples of the Americas, this meant a return of their legendary powers–and, the rise of demi-god impersonators in South America; but, more on that much, much later.
By the time the Starfall events were predicted and feared, the continental armies of the United States had pushed inland–as had the droves of would-be colonists. This would have continued had a particularly violent Starfall closed much of the western passes through Appalachia for several years.
As mining teams were assembled on the eastern side, using the newest in alchemical tools, they continued to be stonewalled by continual snags. Overgrowth disrupted equipment, rockfalls seemed to block every new path or trail as soon as it was discovered, and the number of missing crew members rapidly increased with each passing week.
Of course, the colonists and military escorts assumed the native populations (now calling themselves the First Nations to push back against their would-be conquerors’ attempts at revisionism) had something to do with it. They were wrong, of course; but, that doesn’t really matter to history.
In short, people died. In one fiery sweep, the United States army tried to wipe the fields before middle-Appalachia clean of life–plants, animals, people. The First Nations were quick to retaliate, joining forces behind a handful of enigmatic leaders that had been blessed with near-fantastical alchemical powers over the land. This continued for nearly a decade, effectively halting all western expansion by the colonists and cutting off anyone that had already made the journey from their friends and family.
Then, in 1849, ten years after the infamous Cherry Creek massacre, the Groves started moving once more.
Which is more terrifying? A plant with teeth, or a wolf with nigh-impenetrable bark for skin?
The sites of large amounts of azothite, leftover from various Starfalls, the Groves are sites of violent, natural change. Technically speaking, this is a common occurrence all over the world to a much smaller degree; however, with the Appalachian Invasion in full-swing on both sides of the conflict, loose energy, raw materials, and alchemical rage fueled the upwelling of what would be called the Bloody Groves all across the midwest.
Sure, these odd places of strange animals and natural energy were known prior; in fact, they were often a sought-after defensible location–or just a source of resources. It was this constant interference, the trampling, the conflict that affected the most dangerous changes throughout them.
You see, azothite has a tendency to pull itself together–this is the same principle that allows for easy space navigation using azothite lanes. These groves, lush with alchemical energy and catalyzed azothite left buried in the underbrush, began ‘calling’ to each other. The groves moved, and the animals–forever changed–followed.
This alone was not enough to bring an end to the fighting–which had now spread across our-modern day Canada and Mexico. Once the groves had coalesced into a handful of copses, each miles and miles in diameter, nature’s fury finally let itself be known. Natural alchemy follows the rules of science and the natural order, just like anything else. It was human blood that spurred the changes, and it was human blood that the new life sought.
Next week, we’ll finish our look at the North American continent and all its weirdness in more detail, as well as how the N.A.A. grew out of the apocalyptic foliage.
Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page after 12-1-19 for more information regarding the Closed Beta for STARFALL: Age of Mercenaries and the first chance to obtain the Cinderfane Squad 1 Box–with Elierian, Marcus, and Vigil!
Enjoy today’s short story, introducing a personal-favorite of mine! She’s cute, she’s trustworthy, and she’s definitely going to leave some damage in her wake, it’s our first Otakke character, Specialist Fnippith Aluxi of the Cloak of Olaos!
Written by: Amanda Vernon
Fnippith dove between the stalls, hidden by layers of multicolored cloth that made her watching gaze stray; did she have enough coin in her purse to buy that? Careful ﬁngers dug around in the small bag, unearthing two coins with signiﬁcant glee. A thunderstorm of feet blew past. Fnippith crept forward on her hands, a swath of purple draped over her shorn scalp. It still prickled with heat from the last cut. Completed oaths had an annoying habit of lingering even after the hair was gone. No more commitment, Fnippith. No more oaths!
Today was about freedom! Freedom and the stack of research papers nestled in her bag.
She swore on that while hoisting herself up, dramatically wrapping the purple cloth ﬁve times around her neck, letting the extra fabric poof out and hide the lower half of her face. The two coins ﬂipped with perfect precision from her thumb to the merchant’s waiting hands.
The bazaar stretched a good three kilometers, which meant Halifax and the rest of the scientists would be easy to hide from. They all had poor eyes anyway.
A jaunty gait brought Fnippith halfway through the winding stalls to the bridge—Halifax spent four hours once ranting about the absolutely absurd construction of the Korador Bridge, swearing up and down he’d sooner jump off it than walk across. Sure, it had been dramatic, but Fnippith appreciated the kind of passion that would compel someone to claim something so absurd. That sort of passion could bring progress. Five years into their partnership, Fnippith realized it also made some people overzealous and desperate to succeed…at the expense of anyone necessary.
“Stop that Otakke! She’s a thief!”
The cry rallied at her back, and Fnippith sighed. See? This is why she needed to stop making oaths to assist every interesting person she met. If steam could roll out of her ears at the indignation boiling in her blood, Fnippith ﬁgured she’d look a lot like Halifax’s latest invention. Of course, as the papers in her bag would prove, all of his inventions were a little less than his.
“Grab her bag!” Halifax yelled, the croak in his voice from years of smoke inhalation putting the image of a very pissed off bullfrog in Fnippith’s mind’s eye. The bullfrog would have made a better partner. “That one! The purple scarf! Stop her! FNIPPITH!”
Her feet planted seconds later at the foot of the bridge. Wind blew the rocking slabs of wood until they danced like driftwood over water. When she spun to face her accusers, they were hidden by purple and then appeared an angry red. Human faces could turn such odd colors. It was almost exciting.
“The research, Fnippith.” An expectant hand stretched out. A few seconds passed before he screeched again, “Fnippith! That research could change the collective mind of —of nations! World leaders! You made an oath to see this through.”
Science had lost sight of what could be outside of the alchemical catalyst known as Azothite, but there were a few still struggling, still searching for more than alchemy. For capturing lightning in a bottle and powering a nation. For transforming the world and ending the Azothite dependence. “I swore to you I would help you ﬁnish your work…but we both know now, it’s not yours.” Her heel clipped the ﬁrst step onto the bridge, while a hand held the bag out over the water below.
His face paled. “I gathered it, reﬁned it…”
“You stole and then wrote your name over it!” More steam built up like it could pour from her lips and scald him. The bag slipped, spun, and papers spilled out into the air, hung for a second before ﬂoating to the river like the oath she’d once made to help a fool change the world.
No more oaths.
Unless…well, maybe if someone was interesting enough.