Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Genre Splash #1: These Vitiated Streets [A]

A couple of years ago I started to wonder about the ideas that I was coming up with. Not all of them- I won't even say most of them- were regarded as very, very peculiar but there were some. What I wanted to determine was whether I had an actual talent at crossing unlikely concepts together or if I subconsciously filtered out the combinations that I couldn't do anything with.

Genre Splash is my way of figuring this out. If you have a combination that you would like to see developed, leave it in the Comments section or send me an email.

Challenge: Crime Noir, Giant Robot, and Magical Girl. No city-wide amnesia allowed.

The time is the late Forties. The Cold War is in high swing- and getting hot.

For a year now, something has been seeping into our world. It is a collective entity of separate minds and bodies but, in some fashion, a single essence and soul. Its avatars are the Garbage Men, insect-like monsters that can rapidly eviscerate a man and wear his flayed skin like a cloak. Like some kind of inverted vampire they are at their most powerful when their blood is being shed. Besides being highly addictive to anyone that is forced to drink it (or is convinced to do it of their own volition), their blood can be psychically controlled and shaped to form knives and pseudo-limbs. The harder the beating, the harder that a Garbage Man can hit back.

They are feeding on the breakdown of society. Simply existing where society is falling apart is enough to sustain them but society builds up just as often as it falls apart (if not more often) and, more, Garbage Men have particular tastes. One decay does not hold the same flavor as another, and no two Garbage Men want to cause the collapse of the social order around them in the exact same fashion. More terrible than the mob bosses whose turf they are moving in on, they hold and pull on a thousand thousand strings in order to disrupt society around them. Alone, a Garbage Man may be at a disadvantage against a large group, but Garbage Men never let themselves get put in a confrontation without a back-up plan, an escape route, and lots of blood-addicted underlings ready to do whatever their master orders.

Opposing them are two hundred girls that have each come into possession of a "Spark." These things, which take physical form as something small and suitable to the bearer's personality, are like miniature souls clad in matter. They allow the bearer to manifest psychic energy and shape it into a machine-like form thirty feet tall. Each machine form has a set of powers, all unique but some very close to what is possessed by other machine forms, and a Spark's bearer may also enter an intermediate state. This mode is almosy cyberpunk in appearance, a powered suit more than a mech, and gives the bearer some or all of the machine form's abilities but at a drastically reduced level.

These two hundred are spread in small groups throughout the former Axis countries and the Allied Powers. They were chosen, but their benefactors had little time in which to decide who to give Sparks to and none of them are exactly the sort of people that would have been chosen had there been sufficient time and available candidates. Their benefactors came to our world without being well-versed in any of its languages, too, which was an additional handicap on finding just the right person (even now most of the benefactors are still struggling to master a new language, which occasionally causes problems). Most of them agreed to take possession of a Spark when they were approached but a few denied the offer, some fell out after actually experiencing what they got themselves into, and some of those that were forced into it continued to resist and found a way out.

If it wasn't clear the noir elements come heavily into play from both the period setting and the Garbage Men, who move in on organized crime and not only force the girls to come face to face with the drug trade, etc, but also make the city grittier and more cynical as time goes on.

As the Garbage Men feed and the social fabric around them decays, they cause the creation of Nightwears. These... things are manifestations of all of the horror perpetuated by the Garbage Men and each one acts as an extension of its creator's will. In a way they are Garbage Men themselves, or at least additional avatars of that collective hunger that drives the Garbage Men. They are psychic monsters given physical form from their environment. One Nightwear might be mostly composed out of disemboweled cars while another is a Frankensteinian monstrosity of melted-together flesh. Nightwears are between twelve and fifteen feet tall and may possess a variety of powers that are as much a surprise to the Garbage Man as to anyone else, and perhaps even the Nightwear itself. Small in comparison to the size of the machine forms provided by Sparks, Nightwears are still deadly enough that it often requires several Sparks to take one down. Without the energy of the Sparks, however, any damage dealt to a Nightwear is superficial and even tearing it apart limb from limb will not kill it.

TBC Friday. 

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