Designs for a sci-fi story that a few friends and i came up with on a road trip.
On a humid world which rotates on it’s axis at an exceptionally slow rate, humans struggle to survive under the duress of a millenium-long day-night cycle. Pushed along by the falling sun and the lengthening shadows, they must constantly and slowly migrate as a transient civilization.
During Noon, or 250 years into the Day, civilization is at its peak, farming is prosperous under the sweltering, ever-present sun, and food is stored up in heavy provision for the travelered along the Caravan road, which leads in a gigantic circumventing strip around the entire planet. Cities and culture flourish in strips along this roadway, and entire economies are governed by the pilgrimage that inevitably must take place to avoid the oncoming 500-year Night and its dangers.
During the nightmarish Night, complete darkness engulfs half of the world. No plant or normal animal life can survive, and the biosphere is dominated by huge, poisonous fungi and horrifying shadow creatures which cannot tolerate the direct sun. Entire cities are ruined and lain to waste by the carpets of fungus and destructive shadow beasts. Anything left behind is lost for 500 years until the next Dawn.
While the Rearguard works to keep people for being lost by the oncoming night, the Vanguard research teams maintain camps on the front edge of the sun’s light, seizing the opportunity to salvage what the can of the civilization that once existed there, 500 years before. The fungus decayed and the shadow beasts long since scattered by the touch of the sun, the Vanguard eagerly awaits the rays of light to climb over the next mountain ridge and reveal more knowledge.
Rasnus’ eccentric old grand-uncle, and survivor of a cataclysmic shadow beast attack, Weylin is the head mechanic of the caravan’s Rearguard and Rasnus’ ornithopter. His knowledge is valuable, but his sanity is in question.
Captain of the Rearguard, an organized force who fights against wandering shadow beasts and overseeing evacuation of the caravan. Ulloa, infuriated upon learning that Rasnus has gone into the Night, pursues him to ensure his safe return.
An avid explorer, mechanic and thrill-seeker, Rasnus has become a master pilot of his custom-made Ornithopter while living on the Dusk-side of the caravans. When the only hope of curing a sudden outbreak of deadly disease lies over 200 years back into the Night, Rasnus volunteers to fly with minimal fuel and scant supplies over the trailing ridge and into the shadow, in hopes of finding the medical stash noted on records of the two century-old city.
During the 500-year long Night all photosynthetic life and any secondary or tertiary consumers are completely unable to survive. Chemosynthetic shadow beasts and heavy funguses begin to replace the fauna and flora, sifting out processable chemicals from the air, rocks and decaying life. The Forager is the largest known of the shadow creatures, and is mostly harmless and uninterested in humans. Occasional fatalities have been reported, however, when victims drew too close to the powerfully-absorbant axons that sweep beneath their immense bodies.
An amphibious creature, Gnawers are most at home in water. Yet during the frequent periods of scarcity of chemosynthesis-compatible nutrients, Gnawers are known to leave water, maintaining a sticky fluid and moving by pulling themselves with forelimbs and undulating the body. Powerful, crushing jaws with blunt teeth allow for a heavy bite, and a paralyzing ichor spit from the mouth can allow for a deadly ambush weapon.
Some of the smallest shadow beasts, feeders are parastic pests that swarm over and drain any source of nutrients, energy or minerals available. Only about 0.5m in height, their sapping bites nonetheless pose great threat to humans. Additionally, when threatened Feeders will release chemical energy in their body, exploding and killing anything nearby along with themselves in order to protect the population.
The first humans culturally advanced enough to attempt taking shelter during the Night quickly realized the destructive power of the Crushers’ digging claws, which tore straight through concrete and steel in order to reach and devour them. One of the most aggressive of the shadow beasts, Crushers are covered in armor for fighting and killing other wildlife of the Night. The mineralized remains of it’s victims are stored in a crystal formation on its back, which can be used as nutrients when food is scarce. Human skeletons have been preserved intact, visible from the outside within the crystal prison.