Sentinel

 
by Annie Stein
Welcome to Solaris, traveller! Let me get you up to speed.
Solaris is a soft science fiction webcomic set in our own universe, kind of. Learn more by continuing to read, or click here to be taken to the comic.
Q:Where am I?   You're still in the system known as Sol. Except this time each planet is habitable and developed its own life. The people are humanoid, mostly.
Q:I heard something about a comic?   Oh yes! The main comic is still in development, but you can read the first few pages of Little Blue if you click here.  
Q:What's going on?   Sol is invading. The resentful sun sends its angelic armies: the Scourge. For now, they're being held back at Mercury by Penumbra.
by Annie Stein
and there in the distance is the sentinel, whose only known language is violence, named after the asteroid that shall one day serve as its grave
  Sentinels dedicate their life and being to the defense of the solar system. These individuals hone themselves into living weapons powerful enough to destroy extrasolar threats. After decades of training, the Sentinels are assigned to an asteroid and spend the rest of their lives defending the Sol System from the Oort Cloud and beyond. Sentinels need to not only be powerful enough to stand toe to toe with eldritch entities, but they need the mental fortitude to handle complete isolation.   Sentinels are extremely dangerous. Even just the bycatch of a fight can be enough to cause devastation, something Pluto experienced firsthand a few years back when the debris from such a fight fell into the atmosphere and levelled one of its biggest cities.

Recruitment

Sentinels are recruited from the Outer Planets, primarily Uranus and Neptune. The Wardens, the organization that train and deploy Sentinels, are granted the right of conscription. Neptune sees the defense of Sol as their solemn duty, and prefers to send young recruits, sometimes so young they are barely able to string together sentences. The Wardens of Neptune keep registers of potent bloodlines, and look for early aptitude for violence or with certain abilities.   Uranus restricts the Wardens to recruiting only those of age, treating Sentinels almost as an extension and special division of their military. Occasionally other planets and planetoids will send candidates, particularly those from trans-neptunian regions, which are most under threat.

Traits Recruiters Look for

  Potential   Mental Fortitude   Powerful abilities   Self-reliance   Peak physical condition  

Nameshedding

  The first real step towards becoming a Sentinel is the shedding of names. A Sentinel sacrifices its personal identity and family ties to instead serve the Solar System.   Once the name is shed, the candidate has no name until they are designated to an asteroid. From that point on, it is called by the name of the asteroid.   Many Wardens take the nameshedding further by avoiding personal pronouns, or not speaking to candidates at all.

Training

  Sentinel Training puts a strong emphasis on survival. Even calculated risks are discouraged. A Sentinel cannot rely on anyone but itself, and an injured Sentinel is soon a dead Sentinel.   Sparring matches are a big part of the Sentinel training, becoming more lethal as the candidates get closer to graduation. In the early days of training, the sparring matches are intended to teach the candidates how to defend themselves against various skillsets.   Intermediate training teaches the candidate to no longer pull their punches. If they see an opening, they should take it, and decisively end their opponent. This slow culling of candidates leaves only the strongest Sentinels, and hardens them for the task ahead.

Deployement

  Partway through the training, the Sentinels are assigned an asteroid that will become its base of operations. Sometimes several Sentinels are assigned the same asteroid, a telltale sign that the Wardens have low expectations of the candidate making it past the culling.   When Sentinels are deployed, it travels with a lifetime of supplies, and will never recieve another shipment. The travel out to the Kuiper Belt can take up to a decade, and most sentinels will be put in stasis for the duration of their travel.   Many sentinels elect to return to statis between battles, to prolong supplies. In stasis, the Sentinel relies on the Wardens to signal them of an incoming enemy. This is the only contact it will ever have, beyond, potentially, signalling the wardens to inform about its imminent death.
Known Sentinels
Blue NM-2
This article is a stub . It will be expanded upon later.


Comments

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2 Dec, 2022 14:09

Grim and rather bleak - I'd love to know more about the kind of threats that Solaris face that makes such hard measure nessecesary, and how society in general sees them. Great stuff <3


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 14:11

Thank you! We got a glimpse at what they're dealing with in the Oort Cloud article, but thankfully for Sol the Sentinels are pretty capable at their job. The rest of the system don't really need to consider what that bunch is up against.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
2 Dec, 2022 14:19

It seems that every sentinel is a one person army

Check out the worlds of Solis Empire, Magic Earth, Ithir and Vyraj
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 14:22

Pretty much, though I might argue they're more like a weapon of mass destruction. You wouldn't want to use one unless you were okay blowing up everything around them.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
2 Dec, 2022 16:44

Poor Blue. Poor sentinels.   I can see why the system would need a solution this drastic. But this is brutal and I feel so bad for them.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 20:41

Yeah, it is a pretty inhumane solution. I hope they'll be able to find one that's better.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
2 Dec, 2022 22:37

This is horrifying, I didn't get the impression before this that the sentinel were all alone over a little asteroid for their full life!!! Neptune in particular is evil to sacrifice its children like that. Since the Warden watch over particular bloodlines, how do those family react to having their children constantly kidnapped and conscripted? Is there any protest or do they see it as an honour?   I'm glad Blue got away from all of this! Did they assign her to Mercury during training or did they bring her from her own asteroid? And do they intend for her to go back or is Mercury a permanent base for her now?

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Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 22:58

Conscription is still thankfully pretty rare. It's the sort of thing that you heard from your cousin that they heard that this familys youngest was taken. It almost doesn't feel real until it happens. Some families absolutely do protest, try to bribe the wardens, or even hide the child away, because, of course some parents would do whatever it took to keep their child safe. However, doing so is seen as really dishonorable. It's the solemn duty of Neptune to do the job no one else wants to do.   I haven't decided if Blue had been assigned an asteroid or not, but it was definitely reassigned before she was deployed. Sentinels are never fetched once they're sent out. I would suppose that the intention is for Blue to serve the rest of her life on Mercury. There isn't really a proper protocol for this kind of use of a Sentinel, it's the first time one has been sent anywhere but the Kuiper Belt. It wasn't just pure luck. however, they believe Blue's skillset is particularly suited to fighting the Scourge, and her ability is more controllable than most sentinels. By controlling how much water she can take in, they can limit the potential impact.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
2 Dec, 2022 22:40

This is both awesome and severely messed up. I love it.

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 22:48

That about sums it up, yeah! Thank you!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
3 Dec, 2022 12:17

This was a much more bleak read than I was anticipating. Poor Sentinels. Poor Blue. :( I really love the article, though. It does put you in the frame of mind of a solar system in peril.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
3 Dec, 2022 12:28

Thank you! Yeah, I feel for the Sentinels too. It's a horrible thing to have to do to keep everyone else safe.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
29 Dec, 2022 11:50

Nameshedding must be an incredibly emotional process for both the sentinel and their (former) family! Do their loved ones eventually feel a sense of pride afterwards?


Creator of the dark fantasy world of Melior
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Sage nnie
Annie Stein
29 Dec, 2022 12:06

I think a Sentinel is removed from their family as soon as they begin training. Having people around who remind you of who you were wouldn't be beneficial when one of the goals is to unmake their identity. It is really hard for a family to never get to see their loved one again, and I have to imagine a culture like this would encourage a sense of pride in the Sentinels, honouring them and the families that had to give their child away.   I also imagine they tell the family about the assigned asteroid and where to find it in the sky. So if a family gathers at the surface of Neptune to stargaze, they can point out where their great great grandaunt was stationed, where legendary battles were fought, and so on.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
1 Jan, 2023 13:50

Sentinels are a fascinating idea! I do hope we will never have to actually do something like that.

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
1 Jan, 2023 13:53

Thank you, I hope so too!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
8 Jan, 2023 15:08

I love the implications this casts all over Solaris! Lovely article, despite its content being pretty dark in tone.

Yours truly, Nino.
Check out my world Tai'Sans Hearth if you want to ;)
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
14 Jan, 2023 10:47

Thank you!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022