Thursday, January 4, 2024

Sparkslingers Teaser! by Julie Christen

Do you have what it takes to sling your own spark to fight sludge?

Find out in:

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Helpful Terms to Know 

Spark: The vital force that nourishes and propels life; the inner element within all living things which initiates drive, desire, longing; that which makes one want.

Cloud City: Weather-making city in the sky, organized into three major atmospheric planes comprised of ten sectors. (See Figure A.)

Cloud Master: Ruler of each sector. Works with a precise set of checks and balances to maintain the intricate workings of Earth’s climate. (See Figure A.)

Skybounds: Beings that live in the sky.

Earthbounds: Humans and creatures on Earth. They do not see or know of what goes on in Cloud City. Their instinctual desire for more is boundless, to the point of self-destruction.

Sludge: Sentient, but non-discerning fog created by Skybounds to travel Earth’s surface in order to dampen and regulate excessive spark levels.

Catalyst: Unique and highly uncommon Earthbounds with a spark-slinging genetic blueprint. Their kind traces back to before Skybounds began regulating spark with sludge. Catalysts are sympathetic, reasonable, and passionate. Once trained by Skybound experts to share (or sling) their spark with others, Catalysts are assigned a section of Earth. There, they fix spark level imbalances left by the sludge on living entities. They work under the guidance of an assigned Skybound supervisor called a Kindred.

Sky Levels and the Skybounds Who Govern Them

(Figure A)

~ Introductory excerpt from Catalyst Academy 101


Creeping along the quiet forest floor, it comes. The sludge reaches its long tentacles up saplings. It stunts them. It oozes through shadowy ferns and wilts all in its path. Sludge shadows cling to the trunk of a sequoia tree and creep up, up, up to a nest. Black-mist claws reach in and find two owlets waiting, mouths open. Dark vapors fold around the babies until their beaks close. Their tiny bodies slump. They no longer want. For anything. That’s what the sludge does. It takes away the spark.

When done feeding on the owlets, it slithers down the tree and around boulders upheaved from the mossy forest floor. There is no spark to suck from a rock, for rocks want nothing. The sludge glides over decaying sticks and twigs. There is nothing to leech from these things either, for the dead has no spark. The dead cannot want.

It seeks. It always seeks. It is in a constant search for that thing it cannot create and cannot hold. For that is the nature of Want. And so, the shadow sludge continues through the forest on its hunt. Every sense tuned, peering, listening.

Suddenly, it hears footfalls approach, quick with intent. The sludge twists in the sound’s direction. Its vapor tentacles prickle with anticipation at the possibility of a spark feast. Then it glimpses a streak darting into the owl tree, and it hears the babies squawk for their mother once again. Happily, even! Their spark has been reignited. Verdant green foliage flows in the streak’s wake down the sequoia and through the woods, bright and alive. This is not a feast after all, the sludge knows. It is time to leave this part of the forest.

Silently, before the streak slows enough to notice it, the sludge sinks into the shadows and sets a new course, for now, to find more spark to sap. It knows it is no match for who is coming – Catalyst Wayfare Day.

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