Remnants is a shared-world science fiction project created by Stephen Coghlan. Our goal is to produce an anthology where a number of different authors can explore the world of Remnants with their own voice and perspectives.
What is a “Shared-World?”
An shared-world writing project is a setting, situation, or concept created by an author and then opened for other authors to contribute their own stories. These stories are expected to be created within a certain set of specifications.
The World of Remnants
The world of Remnants takes place in the near-future where the world of man has been overrun with monsters hell-bent on wiping out the human race. These are horrifying beasts and consist of The Horde and The Swarm; and possibly other abominations?
WHAT IS THE HORDE?
The Horde have no eyes or other facial features, just mouths filled with terrible rows of razor-sharp fangs and a tongue that rolls about in thick saliva. Their necks are little more than stumps that lead to wide, flabby chests. Their arms are long and serpentine and snake all the way to the ground. Their bulbous guts are covered in pinkish-orange skin, fattened on human flesh, and all is supported by squat legs. They wobble deceivingly, hiding their blinding speed and terrifying strength.
The ground troops of death, these squat beasts feast on humankind or any species that are or risk being domesticated. Known for being sadistic, they may torture people; keeping victims alive for days at a time. Bullets have almost no effect on them and they seem to be able to shrug off entire magazines without issue. Melee weapons seem more effective, and the most effective weapon against them is their own claws and fangs. Travelling in packs, they are on the hunt wherever they go. No language has been observed other than their demonic laughter and constant growling. There appears to be no social structure or hierarchy among the Horde other than the dominance of larger specimens.
WHAT IS THE SWARM?
The Swarm are chitin-covered creatures that travel in purple storms, leading the ground troops. They poison their victims with stingers and shock them with bio-electrics generated by their bodies.
The swarm are winged beasts that range in length from the size of a closed fist to that of a human forearm. Their bio-electric bodies can generate a charge that’s strong enough to paralyze a person or disrupt electrical devices. In addition, The Swarm have stingers on their tails that inject agonizing neurotoxins. Like The Horde, they have no visible eyes, and their mouths are lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. They hang from dragonfly-like wings and their tails droop beneath them, tipped with a long stinger.
Travelling in enormous swarms after which they are named, the waste from their bodies generate purple clouds, so they are easily identified. They are always eating, and therefore always emitting this cloud.
Sightings of The Swarm usually preceed the advance of The Horde, as there is always flesh upon which to feed in the wake of the flying terrors.
THE RESTLESS DEAD
Spirits can be seen wandering the world, sometimes even taking up arms against the monstrous foe or aiding their living kin. Some argue these are the souls of the departed, other that their presence is caused by the psychic resonance of so many brutal deaths in such a short period of time. One can sense their presence as the temperature in a room drops suddenly, and some say they even hear voices in the distortions of white noise in long-dead radio frequencies.
How to Contribute?
All selections for Remnants have been made. Keep an eye out for more news about this exciting project soon!
Day 1 -Several cities in Africa go dark within hours of each other, despite being in different countries.
Day 4 -Reports come in from Asia and Europe as more cities go dark, and strange reports of monsters begin to spread.
Day 16 -Australia and South America begin to go dark, and video of monsters begins to circulate on the internet. Refugees fleeing from Asia to Australia search for safe land.
National crisis plans swing into action. Governments begin to recall retired soldiers, establish bunkers, and stockpile supplies.
Day 30 – Mexico begins to fall. The U.S. Military proactively sends troops to stem the flow of beasts.
Day 32 -First examples of creatures reach North American scientists. Bodies were recovered at great cost in Mexico. Soldiers who survive initial encounters have no positive words.
Day 35 – The U.S. Goverment gives carte blanche to scientists to create anything to help stop the beasts.
Day 37– The National Guard creates safe-zones around major cities, and the Army Engineer Corps tries to build barriers and fortresses.
Day 38 – South America Expeditionary Force (SAEF) retreats after a devastating defeat. Several nuclear air-bursts are used above Mexican territory in hope of halting the advancing Horde.
Day 42 – First Horde seen crossing border in small groups. Some are killed, but at great cost as bullets have no effect. One leaked video shows a Horde monster cutting through a tank with its claws, even after being shot multiple times.
Day 46 – Swarm clouds become visible overnight. By the day’s end most southern cities are wiped out. Nukes and other WMD’s are authorized and everything goes to hell in a hand-basket.
By day 63 all of North America presumed lost.
Contact with other continents was lost long before this.
Would the dead come back as ghosts to help a loved one?
How would a genderfluid person deal with the lack of available medication?
Would a scientist relish the opportunity to create weapons of mass destruction, or balk at the idea of releasing such deadly creations?
Would a soldier stay at their post and guard a city, or retreat to spend their last hours at home?
Would a loving father try to preserve his family, or grant them mercy as the monsters approach?
Would an astronaut try to get home, take one final spacewalk, or try to live as long as possible in orbit, refusing to go gently into the night?
What happens in the arctic or at sea?
How would an Imam or Rabbi or Buddhist temple prepare?
excerpt from “Resistance”
by Stephen Coghlan
Once I have climbed to level ground do I spy the purple billows of The Swarm. Four separate clouds, from every main point on the compass, are converging on the farm. I only have a scant few minutes to make it to the shelter of the bunker.
Ignoring the pain and weakness of my flesh, I force my body to move. My legs find energy as adrenaline floods my body. By the time I am at the farm’s boundary, the clouds look like tsunamis about to crest and pour themselves over the land.
Something comes crashing towards me and I leap into the trees. A horse, foaming at the mouth, bleeding from a cut across its flanks, wide eyed in terror, runs past. Screams of pain and agony reach me. The Horde have found the bunker.
There are no identified leaders nor any kind of apparent social organization or caste structure. Members of the Horde rarely grow taller than five feet in height, although there is some variation in size. They seem to operate on a might-makes-right principle, and larger members of the Horde will often kill and consume smaller members for sport. Wounded members of a horde are often devoured by the healthier specimens after any sort of conflict.
When is “Near Future”?
Tomorrow, next week, next year. Try not to do dates, but make the initial setting contemporary.
When in the timeline should I be writing?
Preferably between day 1 and 10 years out. Pitch @B_K_Bass on Twitter for ideas further than 10 years.
The monsters are so vague! How do they see? Do they smell? Where are they from?
Not knowing is more terrifying, play with that.
What about wounds to the creatures?
The Swarm is filled with fluids like a bug would be, a translucent straw color. The bio-electric charge is constant, though, so any contact with metal (a sword) will result in a shock.
The horde bleed a dark brown, with a pungent and earthy odor that is hard to describe.
The Horde is bulletproof?
The horde bodies are comprised of dense fat and muscle. Bullets don’t expand properly as the Horde’s water weight actually crushes soft rounds, and AP or FMJ just punch deep but are still stopped, especially by their dense skeletal structure.
Kill it with fire!?
The blubber the horde have is super compact, which is why flame weapons aren’t effective. The fat doesn’t burn easily.
Do the Swarm attack the Horde?
The neuro-toxins in their stingers is ineffective against the horde for some reason, and the bio-electrical charge is insulated by the thick fatty layers. The actual physical stinger is too small to bother them much.
Contact @B_K_Bass on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions!