Darta’s sapsuckers groaned in fear and ran for the crater pen. One squirted half-fermented juices over her new shoes as it fled. Darta put down her euphoric and squinted up at the brick sky. There. The spiky one they called Man With Flagrant Eggplant. Bursts of stolen sunfire belched from cracks in its black skin. Again and again. Odd.
Then the brick sky lit up, neon blue, as sunfire erupted from the side of the Man.
(A .pdf version of the first half of this post is at the WTF Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/posts/sky-tower-down-1-8238990)
Fires rage through the blood apricot orchards and sapsucker pastures of Fentana Muha. A smoking, crackling crater marks where the Central Fent stood, the aggressively cubist ruin of the Sky Tower rising up at a sick angle. Flocks of burnt and wounded farmers struggle away from the desolation, while local forces are utterly overwhelmed and superstitious fools beat the drums of doom. Sweet-smelling sapsuckers roast and pop in their pens as housing units wither and crumble.
- Fine-looking Levellers (AC 14, HD 1, upright) wipe soot off their silver-piped uniforms, while directing flocks of farmers and lepes of labourers towards triage camps. They know not what happened, but theirs is not to question why.
- A group of mewling farmers (AC 10, HD 1, non-sentient), discomfited and upset when the sunfire blast fried their colloquial community sustenance symbiont. A couple of the calves are trying to talk, but their stunted vocal cords are ill-adapted for second-level sentience.
- Symbiosis resonators, burnt by the sunfires or fried by the magnetic shock of the fall, blast out sickening fields that may cause 1) nausea, 2) dizziness, 3) vomiting, 4) blood loss, 5) hair loss and 6) dysentery.
- A scourge of rogues (AC 15, HD 1+2, heretics, invisible) with heretical implant-parasites accost a Third-class Reasoner (AC 12, HD 3, reasonable). They whip her housers and rifle through her symbiont stores (12 farmer symbs (1200 shekels), 2 war symbs (2000 shekels).
- Labourers and a couple of Citizens writhe in a sanctuary square. The local Reasonable Temple is on fire and maddening psychic screams (Twitching of the Burning Nerves) echo from the local settlement’s Second-class Reasoner’s (AC 16, HD 2, transcendental) master-symbiont. She is trapped inside the temple, her walker disabled by the electro-magnetic pulse. A third-class spell is engraved in her symbiont (600 shekels).
- A local fent has been demolished by a chunk of sky tower smouldering with trans-solar malevolence, its surface aglow with Madfire of the Third Degree. The local administrant (AC 10, HD 2, numerate) and his harim (AC 10, HD 1) wander in jagged circles, their higher-level reasoning impaired by the madfire. A prize noblehound (AC 12, HD 2) eats one of the administrant’s maddened children, who giggles as the jaws crush its legs.
Encounter: (1) ghastly, half-dead sapsuckers twisting in pain, (2) howling farmers trapped in a burning re-education shed, (3) a maddened arachno-cultivator (AC 10, HD 4, many-limbed, alien) carrying symbiont pap (200 shekels), (4) a leveller in a sooty suit strung up on a lantern post by his piping, (5) a disoriented heretic (AC 13, HD 2, wizard) babbling about ‘personal liberties’, has 50 shekels and the spells Sleep of the Undamned and Restful Sleep of Resting, (6) a personal harness (AC 8, HD 2, robotic) walking its dead towerman, looking for a Resurrector.
Loot: (1) a burnt laborer cradles a warbling, intact worker symbiont (200 shekels), (2) clutched in a charred, skeletal hand, a golden leaf key (150 shekels), (3) in a tun, covered by brine, the corpse of a non-commissioned leveller with an high-energy deflection pectoral (300 shekels) that does not protect against straight edges, (4) an unusual, lime green sapsucker with a designer psychedelic tattoo (50 shekels, 300 to an psychedelic art collector) on its smooth, supple hide, (5) a dead rogue heretic with a parasite burner whip (400 shekels, ultraviolet) and 100 nu-shekels (20 shekels), (6) a disrupted towerman’s walking chair (1000 shekels repaired) squeals in circles, a towerman’s mental spline (300 shekels) is all that remains of the former pilot.
Inward: whipping fire tornadoes and scorched farmer herds mark the way to the Sky Tower.
Outward: processing stations, refugees and incoming white-bone units mark the return of Reason.
Timeward: the fires die down as a (1) blood rain, (2) menstrual monsoon, (3) dusty drizzle, (4) radioactive rain shrouds the Devastation of Fentana Muha in a plum-bruise half-dark, pierced by the bone-lights of the Fourth Reasonable Legion.
Technical art details: shin-han 0.2 pen over 2B pencil sketch on heavy drawing paper, colour with pencil roughs and layers in photoshop.