In the scope of my comic project, I will briefly describe here the geopolitical and technological background in which the story takes place. The world I imagined for the SKYGHOST project is very similar to our current world at the beginning of the 20th century, where humans are the only sentient species, with roughly the same physics laws, and even some of the exact same technological systems (such as some weapons). However, there are also many discrepancies. The planet is one and half time bigger than Earth, with only two main continents. There are also many specific fauna species such as flying fishes, or flora such as giant megalophores, and unique material and ore. In the same way, the physical phenomenon allowing S-full airships to fly are purely fictional. There are no magic or religions in this world.
The two great powers
According to the Alturian calendar, which divides the world history into four main eras, the story begins during the 18th year of the Fourth era. At that time, the geopolitical equilibrium between nations is disturbed, as the venerable Alturian Empire has seen the appearance of a serious rival. The rapid increase in power and size of the newly formed Occidian Shogunat has compromised the traditional hegemony of the empire, and diplomatic tensions between them have reached a dangerous level.
The Alturian Parliamentarian Empire
It is often said about the Alturian Empire that it is “as old as the land itself”. This expression refers to the exceptional longevity of the Alturian institutions, which were nearly never reformed throughout a virtually 500-year history.
The empire’s immense territory is divided into several provinces, or fiefs, administrated by a local lord, vassal of the imperial family. Each fief possesses its own set of laws and regulations, to the extent that they respect the imperial general guidelines. Furthermore, some towns called “free cities” are directly under the imperial administration due to political or strategic specificities (such as the town of Deltagrad, which hosts the main armament and shipyard facilities of the empire).
Despite its considerable might and resources, the empire also suffers dramatic weaknesses. The rigid feudal system, the over-traditionalist mentality of the elites and the social segregation has led to a slow degradation of most institutions of the empire, and a growing resentment and distrust from the majority of the population.
The Occidian Shogunat
The Occidian Shogunat is formed by the alliance of hundreds of nations, formerly named “occidental territories”, under the command of a military leader, the charismatic shogun Stalhken.
Within its ten years of existence, the Shogunat administration managed to unify the numerous nations, cities and tribes under a strict militaristic regulation. With the establishment of the efficient ERLKING organization, in charge of controlling and managing the industrial production and resources, the Shogunat equipped itself with a powerful modern war fleet, and state-of-the-art equipment.
Such an administration has to face many “youth” flaws. The huge diversity of Occidian ethnicities and cultures lead to communication and coordination problems. The lack of experience of military officers and local leaders is weakening various operations. On top of that, driven by the threat of a war with the Alturian Empire, the Occidian Shogunat has thrown itself in an extremely costly armament race which heavily affects its global economy. However, these problems do not slow the Shogunat development. Moreover, an overall dynamic and optimistic mood is felt by the population.
The Sischereweg pass
Between the two main antagonist powers stands the Heulensee Ocean. This immense body of water is agitated by complex climatic phenomena, provoking violent hurricanes for almost half of the year. During what is called the “tempest season”, crossing the Heulensee is extremely dangerous, even for most modern airships, whose service ceiling is not high enough to escape the perturbations. The two continents are not completely isolated during this period though, as the northern Sischereweg archipelago form a natural “safe” pass between them.
Being the bridge between the two main continents for thousands of years, the Sischereweg pass remains the most populated area of the world, and the location of most battles and conflict, the latest being the Alturian loss of the Kêrtenval island in favor of the Occidian Shogunat (known as the Kêrtenval incident). Nowadays, as tensions are increasingly growing between each side, the access to the Alturian Empire is defended by the Eliantar Fortress, and the Occidian territories are protected by the Festerplatz citadel.
The end of the previous era came with a drastic industrial revolution, allowing mankind to conquest land, sea and more importantly, air. The invention of the S-reactor (also called suspension generator, or S-organ) enabled huge and heavy structures to fly very long distances, has placed the airship has the main travel, transportation and military system, at the expense of the other means. Indeed, many railways tracks or road which were intended to reach distant location and interconnects the main cities where often never build, as the S-less airships provided faster and easier transport.
The S-reactor is a complex system which, by emitting a force field (similarly to a magnetic field) against the land or sea surface, enables an object to levitate freely. This technology allowed building heavy airships with large range of action. Capable of carrying heavy weaponry and armor, such airships became the spearhead of all military fleets, and are declined in various shapes and sizes, from the rocket launching destroyers to the mighty battleships.
In the Alturian Empire, S-full ships replace the knight equipment of the feudal lords. Being allowed to possess one battleship and until 20 cruisers or destroyers, the lords prove their fortune and influence by building the most impressive and powerful battleship they can afford. In case of war or trouble, only the Emperor has the authority to call them and reassemble them under the command of the Grand Admiral of the empire.
Mygapters are light aircrafts with half-rotating wings which, by flapping at a high frequency, allow them to “suspend” themselves in the sky. The propulsion is frequently assured by a pulse jet engine. This technology allows building very maneuverable aircrafts able to reach high speeds. However, the weight is a determining factor and often limits the aircrafts to one or two seats only, with a low range of action, compared to its S-full relatives.
A unique combustible
In the SKYGHOST Project world, coil and petroleum where never discovered. All types of engines and machinery are powered by the same combustible: the megalophore oil. Megalophores are giant mushrooms which secrete a high quantity of oil with excellent exothermic properties. These giant plants can be found relatively easily in swamp regions all over the planet. Their cultivation is risky and requires a solid expertise, in one hand because the mushroom is basically a giant bomb vulnerable to any spark, and on the other because the oil extraction must be done in a way not to endanger the plant and waste a precious future resources. Megalophore batches are considered strategic location and vital resources by most military organizations in the world, and their access is severely restricted.
P. C. Fayard