Sons & Daughters – The Pits

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom   in Sons & Daughters

The world before the War was one on the cusp of a technological transformation. Research into nanotechnology and microbiology yielded organisms capable of converting some forms of matter into others. These new alchemists promised the ability to turn catastrophic oil spills into slicks of benign biodegradables, convert organic waste into biodiesel, or render even industry-fouled seawater drinkable. These wondrous organisms, they claimed, would make that which shouldn’t into that which should. Then, before they could make good, the world suffered a different form of technological transformation. Amid the fire and the static, weapons born of the same technologies as the tools that promised to replace our trash with treasure did just the reverse. Skyscrapers sloughed down into the earth as if chewed through by worms while green farmland resolved into blue swamps.

The places where pre-War transformative goo settled came to be called Pits. Some persist at the sites of biochemical strikes from the War. Others are located in the ruins of the research facilities, manufacturing plants intended to produce them, or where shipments of them were abandoned on the roads or rails on that fateful day. Some are far from inhabited territory, another peril of the wastelands, while some are closer to settlements, or in the case of beneficent Pits have attracted settlers to them. Most Pits are of a static volume, their total population of bacteria or microscopic machines somehow limited by genetic or binary programming on the part of their creators, probably to stave off the feared “Grey Goo” scenario. A few, as a result of pre-War weaponization or post-War mutation, can grow if given the right materials to absorb. Treaty among the towns in central Colorado enforces a quarantine of metal objects around Aurora for just such a reason, and a salt mine in upper Michigan is brimming with a caustic ooze of mysterious origin.

The most prevalent of the malicious kind of Pit are stretches of goo-stained environment, like the Blue Blotches dotting the Great Plains. The organism in the Blotches releases an enzyme that reduces plant fibers to a sticky, azure goo. Even passing through the fumes high above the Blue Blotches can critically decay an airship’s envelope. The Blotches migrate slowly around the Great Plains, flowing together and splitting off, making seasonally updated maps a necessary purchase for captains operating in the area. Aside from mapping the slow flow of azure from plain to plain, explorers in the region also profit from salvaging airships downed in the area after the sliding Blotches have left them behind.

The sought-after Pits are those that create useful substances, most especially the ones whose end product are hydrocarbon fuels. Though none of the handful of known biodiesel-yielding Pits across the continent produce more than a few barrels of fuel to skim off the top per day, they’re highly prized and hotly contested. Others are capable of processing toxic or radioactive dirt into clean soil to be dredged from the bottom. What pass for scientists in this generation suspect that the purifying technologies in Mormon temple gardens are based on access to such a Pit. Other pits produce less dramatic, but valuable resources: yeast extract-like nutritious paste, exotic adhesives, a passable baby formula, and more, stranger substances.

In other updates, we’ll have more on the Pits: some random tables for Pits encountered in the wild, and a look at the cults that venerate these pools of transformation.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 8th, 2011 at 6:52 pm and is filed under Sons & Daughters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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