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From machine spirits and Naga’s childhood

Been thinking about the plot and backgrounds the past few days. After the pain in my teeth and jaw got less and I was able of thinking again. I’ll write now a bit about Naga’s tribe and her past. But first, a word about spirits.

Most people are familiar with spirits of some sort. If only just the Holy Spirit of the Christian legends. But do you know what machine spirits are? That article explains it well. I’m fascinated by the Warhammer 40K universe and I use it a lot in my own creations. So I borrowed the machine spirits as well… But. I have changed them a little. In this story here and in my own beliefs I treat every machine like it had a spirit in it. For me, AI an sich is a machine spirit, the opposite of the truth in the Warhammer 40K universe. If a device uses energy to function it fills the machine spirit criteria.

OK. That’s clear. Now, how are machine spirits (in MY universe) made? Have you seen the anime Ghost In The Shell? How about the second movie, with the ghost copy facility? That’s how machine spirits are made. A more crude way is to take the consciousness of a human and plant it into a machine. The human will remain braindead and sleep forever, and the machine will have an own mind, personality and ability to make it’s own decisions and maintain itself. The human programmers can limit the functions of the mind, for example forbid the machine spirit from maintaining itself. Thus every single repair has to be done by a human. It’s like telling a person he/she is not allowed to cure their illnesses themselves, but they have to go to hospital to get cured by others. Oh, that’s our healthcare!

Naga is having a machine companion, the BigDog from Boston Dynamics… It has no head, only one eye, and sand hurts it’s legs. This “dog” has a machine spirit, the mind of a young boy named Aru, planted into it’s brain. The dog has no access into the files regarding the boy’s identity, wherabouts or memories, but the files exist and Naga finds them. That confirms her doubts that the machine spirits are of human (or animal) origin just like the natural, genuine spirits. Nag can connect herself to the dog’s cyberbrain to discuss things with him. These meetings happen in a sort of a cyberspace where the dog takes a human form, the face his machine spirit was given by his creators. Naga is very curious about the depth of the dog’s consciousness. He claims he cannot understand human emotions and that sometimes Naga’s voice has a not recognisable tone (when she has an emotional reaction, is nostalgic or tries to find out more about the dog’s machine spirit), but he’s using this as an excuse when Naga gets too close. The dog was assigned as Naga’s companion when she began her job as a scout/assassin.

Naga was born into a tribe living high up in the mountains close to the capital of the land. Her people live in the caves and are skilled hunters. They do not have families like we know them, the tribe is their family and all the adults care for all the kids. The kids usually have no names until a hunter chooses them as their apprentice. Some become hunters, some healers, some shamans, some remain in the common rooms forever, working the fields and gathering herbs.

The night before Naga was born, her mother went to the birth giving cave alone even when she was very weak and suffering and the tribe was worried about her. Everybody else gathered in the big cave by the fire, praying for the mother and child to survive. While they were praying, the goddess Malassanka appeared before them. She is one of their main deities and the one who decides over life and death. In her right hand she holds the spirit of life and the spirit of death in her left hand. Behind her is the wheel of life, with the rest of the life’s spirits. The wheel started to spin and the spirits of life and death joined it. When it finally stopped spinning the spirit of life was on top, directly above Malassanka’s head. That was the sign that both the mother and the child had survived. The shaman Balyek who raised Naga claimed that right after Malassanka’s decision he could hear a baby crying. In the morning after Naga’s mother came to the big cave and she was healed and her child was healthy too.

When she was a few years old, Cir, the greatest hunter, chose Naga along with five other children to become his apprentice. But Cir had bad intentions. Unlike the tribe’s tradition, Cir decided to let the children fight for their survival, and the strongest would become his apprentice. There were 4 boys and 2 girls. From the beginning, Cir favored one of the boys. He got all the food and the others were left hungry, he was given the best position in the hunting chain, he got a good knife and the rest were given scraps. After a few months the rest of the children started to team up against the favored one. For a little less than one year the rest of the tribe let this go on, until the six kids were mere skeletons with lots and lots of injuries. One couldn’t walk and Naga had been stabbed into the right eye. The infection was spreading over her face and she was about to lose the sight in her left eye as well. Cir had given none of these kids a name. The rest of the tribe, lead by the shaman Balyek, stood against Cir and told him that if he would not decide for one child he would never again get a chance to raise one. Cir decided to pass. He was too proud. The kids were taken away from him and Balyek chose Naga to become her apprentice. He healed her and gave her the name Naga. It means a blade, but it also means outcast.

A lot of the young children decided to go to the city and join the emperor’s army of cybernetically enhanced Heaven’s Soldiers who constantly battle over the control of the capital against the world’s greatest scientist, Luther, and his army of abominations. Sounds like WH40K again. Yes. I created this part into another story in 2010 after reading the first WH40K novel of my life. Now I have a whole bunch of them… Anyway, after being raised by the worldwise shaman who once went to the city to learn more himself, Naga decided to leave too when she became adult. Balyek had given her curiosity, taught her to doubt and seek the truth, and Naga saw that she could not learn more if she stayed with her tribe. As many of the children raised by hunters were gladly taken in by imperial offices Naga tried her luck and was taken in as a scout. After finishing her training in less than two years she became a full qualified scout. She was asked to join the imperial assassins because of her special skills and she accepted.

The shaman who raised Naga taught her to use a blade, but also taught her the use of a spear with a machine spirit. Not as complex as her dog though. Balyek knew a lot about spirit weapons, as well as machine spirits and weapons with them. Naga’s signature weapon that Balyek gave to her has two ends: one end uses genuine spirit energy, the other is guided by a machine spirit. She can connect with her weapon by a cable just like the dog, and use her cybernetic right eye to lock a target and land precise shots, even if she is occupied with close combat or having a conversation with the dog in cyberspace. Her eye has multiple functions from scanning the surroundings to analyzing matter and data. She also uses another device over her healthy eye, both to protect it and enhance her sight. She has brain implants and her body has been genetically modified to endure long walks, sandstorms and heavy battles. She also has several body implants. The price of becoming imperial agent. Still, she hasn’t given up her tribal wisdom and the pride of a free woman.

To the end a little bit about the emperor and Luther and their disagreement. Luther is a very old scientist, a genius who invented the perfect synthetic human. The research was funded by the old emperor who wanted to start a war and unite the world’s all different folks and tribes and rulers under his rule. Luther though decided it’d be a waste of his perfect sangu, and kept the results of his research a secret. (Sorry I don’t remember right now what the word sangu means, it was something with holy blood. I have it on paper but not gonna dig it up right now.) His first – and only – sangu had everything of it’s finest: a heart that uses the old world energy and will never stop beating, a body that never breaks (except it does, but that’s another story 😉 ) and a natural healing ability that makes all injuries heal very fast. This sangu got the body of a young girl from another world. Luther has a gate in his lab through which he could access another world and after finishing his work he hid this sangu, the young girl, into that world and closed the gate. The girl was raised not knowing who or what she was but she does find out, in that other story… Annnyway, the old emperor died and his son got the throne, and started asking after what happened to the research. Luther agreed to support the new emperor with his war plan and began to build a series of lesser sangus. He never managed to recreate his first, and that drove him insane with the time. After delivering several hundred lesser sangus Luther decided to stop. The emperor got mad, attacked Luther, who in secret had kept producing sangus and experimenting with both mechanical and cybernetic enhanced entities. His experiments got more and more twisted and fought a bitter war against the emperor who was now producing fully mechanical “sangus” and raising up genetically enhanced Heaven’s Soldiers. The emperor leads also a war against an independent country in the east, but has had some of his highest officers go rogue and start wars of their own. Luther stays closed in his lab in the high tower that rises in the middle of the now ruined city, untouched by time and numerous attacks due to an energy shield. Luther is human but he uses a life extending machine to stay alive and regenerate. All his servants are machine spirits that he controls. But he has a secret. In the heart of the tower, in a tightly secured vault there is a blue glass coffin. Inside it is a child, sleeping forever in a blue power field that protects him from aging.

Wish I get to writing about waking him up one day… ^_^

Urkha-tribe

(The names might still change, I have no stable setting for the names or language of these people, will have to do some research. I always take something already existing somewhere on this planet and turn and twist it until it looks like my own. Ancient cultures and traditions are an endless source of inspiration.)

Here are the new drawings of that tribe. After deciding to use my old bears this started to be much more fun.

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She’s wearing the traditional clothes: a dress that can be closed from both ends to protect from sand and wind, and a warm shirt over it to protect from cold at night. She wears lots of jewellery as a sign that she is ready to be married. The stripes on her eyes mean she’s been promised to a boy already. Urkha don’t like to marry young girls to grown men, or vice versa. They search a fitting bride/groom who’s the same age. Family decides who marries whom. The urkha live in a large area, in small villages wide apart from each other. During spring and summer the nomadic members take all the goats and move around in the mountains and the valleys so the animals get enough to eat. During their wandering they visit the other villages and scout for fitting brides and grooms. After a fitting one is found the young ones are promised to each other, but must wait until the families gather supplies and make preparations, like building a hut, for the newlyweds. It’s also decided in which village the young couple will live. It’s usually, but not necessarily, the bride’s village. Then, the next spring the families meet, the supplies and gifts are brought to the new hut or house, and the wedding ceremony can take place. If the bride used to belong to the nomadic part of the tribe she’ll have to settle down, but the groom will be allowed to continue his nomady during springs and summers. Still, if he was from a very far village he will have to stay near his new family and care for the whole village’s goats. Even if he doesn’t have his own. Being poor to begin with many nomadic boys give up the tradition because life in the village is easier.

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Another girl, getting ready for the wedding ceremony. She and her family made her clothes and they have both the tribes patterns, the family patterns and the ones she likes the most. This girl is from a rich family because she has lots of beads. She seems to like them very much, they’re everywhere. These clothes will also be her clothes she wears on special occasions, like on other weddings, important days, when a special guest arrives or when a newborn child (that survived his/her first 10 days) is welcomed to the tribe. The clothes are made big enough to fit her when she’s adult, but the urkha don’t grow big. Her clothing includes: the usual half shirt half underpants undergarment, petticoat, tightly bound bodice (“a pretty girl has a flat chest”), sleeves, skirt, apron and a long vest that might or might not have a hood. After she’s wearing all that she’s get to carry her own jewellery and a special one from her mother, she’ll get her make-up done by the most skilled woman in the village, and two stripes are painted on her forehead to signalize her being now married and having her own household.

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The oldest of the village is highly valued and looked up to due to his/her wisdom and experience. And there’s always a little fight going on about who will be the next. Current oldest, Bekhri, has outlived already two of her contestants.

Wanna see more teddy bears? Check out The Life And Times Of Juho And Ruusu, the first and longest story told by pictures. Over 700 images, still ongoing.

Have a refreshing tó!

Haha, I just created a drink. It’s cactus juice and root beer let stand in a hot place for a couple of days, then put in cans or bottles, cooled and sold. It’s thick and very rich in energy and alcohol. Yuck.

Actually I wanted to post these old pics from spring.

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I made today one new drawing but that’s about it. This year’s been exceptionally difficult. A few days ago I was able to write a few pages and have the desire to continue, but need to clean up here first. It’s extremely hot outside during day (and inside too, no cooling here), so the last few days I’ve been sitting here watching anime and trying not to move.

About Forgotten Shores I’ve finally made a big decision about the characters. I want to do this right, but I just suck at drawing humans, so they will be animals, or sort of. Teddy bears, to be exact. I have years and years of experience of drawing them, now I just have to fit the character designs to the teddy bear body, which, for example, has no fingers. But it’s possible, everything is. The first sketch was of a soon-to-be-married girl from a half nomadic tribe of Urkha. She wears the traditional clothing* and lots of jewellery as a sign that a) she has reached the suitable age to be married and b) her parents have already found a groom. As the bear body is very simple, naivistic, it’s no big deal to use much time with the clothing and surroundings. Lately I always think about Kaoru Mori’s work when I start to think about cloth patterns, tribal traditions and moving the plot. I have never drawn manga before, but it’ll be reading from right to left and at least in the beginning be pretty “childrens book” because I have difficulties with dramatic perspective.

*) They use mostly two types of pattern, black and white zigzag and sand colored cloth with black stripes. There’s a rumour that these traditional clothes were chosen as half the village burnt down and the women bought these two types of cloth from a traveling merchant, because they were the cheapest. Another theory sees the zigzag as a symbol for the mountains that surround the village and the desert, and the stripes as the tiny streams that in spring run together to make a river that fills the wells and makes stuff grow for a month before it dries out again. Actually, the striped cloth I used in my first tribal design because it was easy to draw and the zigzag I saw a cute somali girl wear as a headdress today in bus. ^_^

Maybe I draw more tomorrow, and scan stuff. Was today at the gym and need to keep a day off. I’m so badly out of shape that I might collapse if I try too much. It’s already dangerously hot without marching uphill on the treadmill. Anyway, I was happy I went there today. I really like workout, I’m just super lazy when it comes to packing my stuff and leaving home for a couple of hours. Bought goji-berries to help give energy before and after training. They work miracles! 🙂

Paint over the ugly parts and recycle

As a result of being force-fed lots and lots of cyberpunk from Tumblr in the last months I have quite decided to not put this story completely in the desert. Things change. I get new ideas and discard old ones. One such was Inka’s armor. I might include a character like him, but right now the whole personality and look of the djinn character is being remade. Also, the look of Ito the Halo hunter is changed. I also thought how about making him the reason for the Halo’s appearing? That they follow him for some reason and wreck villages on the way.

Anyway, here are the sketches from last night when I couldn’t sleep. Part of the story will happen in Bhál’s capital city and it is very modern despite the constant battle on the streets…

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Trying to do more about this but not much time. Always the same problem. These drawings made again with PaintJoy on 7″ pad.

 

Inka’s armor, first try

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First try on Inka’s armor. It’s an energy armor that uses “old world” tech. The plates on it have a jelly-like inner that starts glowing when the armor readies for the fight. Inka is good at punching things but he doesn’t want to. Inka’s not a violent type. He does what his “master” tells him to just because it’s a job. His favorite hobbies are watching the nature and communicating with it. Inka is half human, half cyborg, of unknown origin. He was found by his “master”, dying in the desert after he received a beating from some villagers. He does not fully remember how to use his armor and his cyborg skills, he thinks he’s human and has some trouble understanding the facts. I’m not yet sure of the color to use on his armor. This green is cool, but red would be more intimidating, right? ^.^ It could be color changing too.

Inka’s favored weapon is one that shoots poison ampule’s. He doesn’t like to kill so he uses non-lethal poisons he extracts from plants and poisonous animals. The weapon uses a sort of a battery to charge, the battery fixed at Inka’s hip is inexhaustible. Inka’s secondary weapon is a curved knife, but he uses a pistol that shoots an energy beam on a wavelength lethal to everyone and everything, and which also has the same inexhaustible power source. All Inka’s weapons are somehow linked to his armor and build a symbiosis with his human parts. With his cybernetic brain he can link to anything digital, and he’s able to scan and detect other individuals using any kind of tech. He’s aware of Naga’s presence when his mostly human companion isn’t, and keeps this a secret.

After I finished this sketch I thought it would look much better if those jelly-metal-whatever-plates would be ellipse instead of boring square. There could be some round ones too, and the human side of his body could have a little bit different armor? We will see. ^^

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Newer stuff about Naga. Drawn with Huawei 7″ pad. Just different versions, trying to find the right way. I’ve never been much talented in drawing humans. Yeah I suck at it. But I keep trying. There’re these images in my head and I want them to end up on paper. Sometimes it works, mostly not, but I believe with more training I’ll get better. ^.^ The soft ball point pen I have for the pad makes it a bit hard, but right now it’s unsure if I keep the pad at all, I might not be able to pay it. If I give it up I’d direct my efforts on getting a drawing table for PC, a good one, cause I can’t finish the pages anyway per hand. There are effects I wanna use and raster and dark areas and backgrounds I wanna make with computer. Until then I’m stuck with what I have.

Naga, ver 1.0

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That was a while ago. The first design for Naga, has changed since. Also, because I suck at animals I changed her dog to a cybernetic one that has no head (Big Dog). It carries her stuff and she can link with it via cable. Part of Naga’s brain is replaced with cyber implants and she’s inhumanly strong and durable.

The first script had Naga being working for Luther, but I gave up that too. Luther is just far too far away, and he has no use for whatever crap someone digs out of some unknown ruins. He’s more busy trying to harvest, store and use nuclear energy and radiation that is found in small pockets all over Bhál. Even when the characters have high tech body parts they will have to cover their bodies with sand protection clothing and helmets (makes drawing them in nature easier) and there are no suitable animals to use as horses so most of the traveling is done per feet. I have a sketch of a camel like creature somewhere, not scanned, but I’m not sure yet if I can use it to anything.

Naga’s primary weapon is a spear with poisonous tip, but she also has a rifle that shoots sort of energy charged bullets, and a simple nail gun. She prefers close combat, to sneak close to her victim and paralyze or kill them with the spear. She only uses the rifle against very strong enemies. Her main weakness is that she and her dog are completely dependable of each other, for energy, information, communication, maps of the landscape, food, water, gear. If the fight cannot be won in a safe way Naga’s not engaging. Not the best sort of an assassin right? But she needs the money for her family and her clan.

 

Welcome to Forgotten Shores!

Here you will find progress sketches, character, scenery, animal and weapon design, digital and non-digital drawings and paintings, storyboard, scraps of the script – all about Forgotten Shores, the sci-fi manga by me, Antti. Have fun and feel free to comment and/or mail me about whatever you like! Critique is appreciated, this is my first ever try on manga. The ready product will be published online, whenever that is. 😉