Hello there, bookworms! In the process of getting other writing projects finished, I completely forgot about some flash-fiction I had written not long ago that I wanted to share with everyone. Flash-fiction is a lot of fun for exploring smaller ideas and sometimes even as a launchpad for a grander one.
So, it’s been a little bit longer than I had anticipated. Partly because the holiday was hectic, partly with my father’s shoulder surgery requiring me to look after him for a little while, and partly because things like Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn have sucked me in. Speaking of, if you’re a fan of the game, definitely check out Husky by the Geek‘s rock covers of the Dungeon Boss theme, Titan’s theme, Garuda’s theme, and FATE Boss/Ultima’s theme.
They’re like this, but in face-melting rock form
Anyway! I’ve been getting back into the groove more since the holidays have concluded, and that means getting my nose back to the…uh…well, I don’t have a grindstone, so…keyboard? Sure!
In the previous sneak peek, I talked about a bit of the Almagest Regular Army’s structure and how they are viewed by the Allied forces they fight alongside in the war. Now, it’s time to look much closer at the kinds of combatants who tread across the battlefield, and how they fit into greater scheme of things.
The Pieces on the Board
Combat in the world of Sit-0 is handled much like medieval warfare, but with this being a contemporary fantasy, militaries are complemented by some modern technology like firearms, and even larger mobile weapon platforms like tanks and the like that are factored into the formations. For a soldier in the ARA, they might very well see combat soon after leaving basic training, although the real “fun” begins when a Private is promoted to First Class, where they are given the opportunity to choose a specialization, a role with which to train for in combat that ultimately determines how they will shape the battlefield upon which they stand.
I’ve mentioned before how Situation 0’s focal point is on a grand war and, more importantly, the soldiers caught up in it. In this preview series, we’ll take a little peek at how war is waged in this contemporary fantasy and how soldiers fit into this world of steel and blood. For most of this preview, I’ll be addressing things from the ARA (Almagest Regular Army)’s point of view. The ARA is where Karamia, the main character, is enlisted and they are responsible for many of the technological advances seen on the battlefield. Those technological advances, combined with suitably adjusted tactics, are later implemented by all of the Allied forces. Appropriately, it’s best to talk about the organization that plays a central role in the war being fought and inadvertently inspires the actions of the other forces in play.
Honor & Sellswords
One rather large distinction to remember is that the ARA, and its elite force AESIR (Assault Enhanced Special Intelligence Regiment) fly the flag not of a country, but of a company. The Almagest Corporation is responsible for the ARA’s inception and subsequent deployment around the world. Since the ARA soldiers answer to a board of directors instead to a commander-in-chief, many of the soldiers they fight alongside think less of them. To their allies, many ARA personnel are seen as money-grubbing mercenaries, or sellswords, who are in the war for personal gain. Furthermore, they are often seen as untrustworthy as some are under the impression that if the ARA soldiers were paid well enough, they would turn on their comrades. This prejudice extends to their enemies, who will often try to convert captured ARA personnel to fight alongside the Axis forces. Also, due to Almagest’s former status as the equipment supplier for the Allied forces, the ARA is often used to obtain field-test data for newly developed equipment. This led to the ARA being portrayed as a group of children playing soldier with shiny new toys. As a result of this portrayal, an ARA soldier’s skills are often called into question.
Phew! Finally getting this one posted. Last up in our preliminary previews for Situation 0 -Amor Fati- is taking a more in-depth look at one of the principal phenomena in Sit-0‘s world; Thaumaturgy and Thaumatech.
Origins of Thaumaturgy
For those who read Situation 0 -Precursor- in Fiction Junction, some of the thaumatech available during the war may already be known to you. To clarify, however, the events of Precursor take place in an (as-of-yet) unspecified time later on in Karamia’s military career, and things like thaumacite are still quite new to the ARA. Even before getting into the specifics of thaumatech, we first have to take a look at the principles of thaumaturgy itself.
The term “thaumaturgy” was an archaic reference to both miracles done by saints and mystics, and also used to essentially explain technology to the layman. Specifically, it was coined as technology working by way of what was perceived as magic by the uneducated in the 16th century. It seemed appropriate to refer to a brand of technology using thaumaturgy as a base, while thaumaturgy itself also happens to be used to describe general magic use. In this way, thaumaturgy is explained in a more scientific manner, manipulating molecules and other matter in our world to create different effects; when a thaumaturge (magic user) shoots a fireball, he’s using his EVE particles (soul energy) to manipulate matter, forcing molecules to rapidly jar and combust, producing the fireball. Put simply, thaumaturgy is magic use explained scientifically, and thaumaturgy is also science using magic.
Regular old thaumaturgy is performed through distinct knowledge of the world and its elements, and as such is something that was mainly used by people of high intellect. If you remember what was mentioned about EVE particles in the previous preview, you know that élan vital is the bridge between the Realms of Matter and Spirit, and a thaumaturge is using his own spiritual energy to interact with matter in a way that can’t normally be done. However, manipulating matter isn’t as simple as thinking it; it requires oftentimes intimate knowledge of the forms of matter one intends on manipulating, and at the same time requires intense discipline in order to use élan vital to fuel thaumaturgic reactions.
Previously, I talked about Karamia and how she interacts with the world around her in Situation 0‘s “The Soldier” preview, but now it’s time we took a look at the world itself…
A New, Yet Familiar World
Sit-0 exists within an alternate timeline from that of our own. However, this alternate timeline’s basis on the real world could be considered extremely loose. Continents and regions are all (mostly) present in their original forms, and even those regional cultures and their languages are fairly intact, but that’s where similarities begin to end. Well-known countries of Earth make appearances as autonomous city-states and other regions, and the world is still largely left open and wild, with fantastical, and sometimes ferocious monsters residing just beyond the borders of civilization.
When starting to form this world, or rather this entire universe in which Sit-0 takes place, I essentially opened up a Word document and started pouring ideas and concepts into it. Those that didn’t work were refined or removed, and in order to keep everything in perspective, I essentially started to build this fantasy world, with its own rules and laws and such, as a large-scale Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Characters important to the plot get fleshed out, those who will travel with Karamia are given extensive detail, and each with their own personality, gear, skills, and spells. There are religions, there are monsters scattered about to “native” regions, and there are locations rife with adventure. Some may or may not even be seen in Sit-0, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get to them in some other way.
Because the world of Sit-0 shares many similarities to ours, it helps the reader ease into the setting, only to be taken for a ride as things start to get more and more fantastical.
So I’ve been racking my brain, trying to figure out how I can show you all what I’ve been up to since the release of Fiction Junction, and I’ve basically settled on previews. I toss out some artwork and passages from the work-in-progress, talk about the concepts, themes, and intentions, and essentially give you a peek at what’s to come. So, without further ado (or adon’t), here’s your first look into Situation 0 -Amor Fati-…
“The War” was always looming
I was never really good at making big decisions…
I thought that by joining the military, I’d finally made a good one. Truth be told, the only reason I did it was because I was tired of always having to think for myself, having to make choices and end up making mistakes, making the wrong choice; suffering the consequences of silly little decisions. I was tired of feeling like every step I took was just one more towards me disappointing myself or someone else. I figured that if I joined the military, I’d be giving someone else control of my life, making decisions for me. Taking orders from people who were good at giving them seemed to work for a lot of people. They’d be able to tell me what I’m good at, tell me where to go, and how I could excel. So I joined up, and found myself shipped off to a world embroiled by the flames of war.
The Meridian Engangement had already been going on for countless years. A harbor full of sunken ships sparks an international incident, and suddenly everyone is taking sides and getting themselves all geared up. Situations had reached critical points and the war could have been won by anyone, and both sides spent their time trying to tip those scales back in their favor. It was an endlessly teetering chess board, pieces sliding around, gaining and losing spaces. The Allies of the Western world clashed against the Axis forces of the East, perpetually locked in what seemed to many an endless waltz of mayhem. Almagest was this giant conglomerate that originally supplied the Allies, but they were somehow able to start a massive Private Military Company several years ago, the Almagest Regular Army. Aside from bolstering the Allies’ ranks, the ARA soldiers were fortunate enough to use top-of-the-line and sometimes experimental gear, which was then later on sold for use to the Allied forces as a whole.
I grew up knowing “the War” was always looming somewhere. My father was a journalist, and had always been privy to information from the frontlines, which he used to move us around constantly, keeping us out of the war’s path. We ended up down in Australis, with the Ozzies. I had enlisted with the Almagest Regular Army at sixteen to find guidance in life, to find a sense of worth to count against the mistakes I had made in the past. Thinking back on it, I guess my leaving for the military really was a slap in the face to my father, who spent the better part of my life making sure I was far away from the war. Some daughter I am.
I was never really good at making big decisions…
Karamia’s Battle Log–Prior to her drop into the Hell’s Traverse
Situation 0 (hereafter Sit-0) follows the military career of Karamia Westburn, a young woman who, as you can see above, is thrust into a world war. During her time as a member of the Almagest Regular Army, she’ll come to terms with how brutal and chaotic war is on the body and mind, she’ll befriend and grieve for those she serves alongside, and she’ll grow with the events she faces, but while she becomes battle-hardened, tempered through the fires of war, will her heart remain soft?
This plays into the story’s subtitle, Amor Fati, which is a concept of accepting and embracing fate, and acknowledging everything encompassed therein, good and bad, is meant to forge you into someone greater.