The city of Summersalt is a dangerous place, particularly for the Summer Knights, the regulation agents for The Salt, the wondrous substance at the core of the city’s technology, mysticism, economy and everything in between.
Regulation agents come from various background but they all have one thing in common: the job is their last hope. Some like Keegan Leona Mercer, have spent centuries burning bridges and making enemies. Then there are those like Julianne “Tracer” Allen, with two clear choices: service or some ghastly capital punishment, particularly if they have her unusual skills in Saltcraft.
But there is another group, a more pitiful one: Saltbabies. The Salt, in its unrefined state is volatile and causes rampant mutations in those who consume it. Take some and you might gain the power of flight…or you might explode. But the rush is enough for many to become addicted to the substance.
Saltbabies are what happens when pregnant salt junkies keep abusing the salt. The children undergo tremendous mutations while in the womb. The more the parents use, the more the children become something else. In most cases, the babies don’t come to term and in their death take their mothers with them, the combined mutations tearing them both apart. Only an unfortunate handful come into the world, where nothing but persecution and disgust awaits them, even those with minor physical alterations.
Saltbabies have rough lives, and it’s not unusual for them to commit suicide before even reaching puberty. Summersalt society doesn’t tolerate the results of illegal salt use and the babies, seen as abominations, have very little if any rights. Except for those who join the Summer Knights, signing away their lives to the state for a measure of protection. As regulation agents, Saltbabies become part of society, though never accepted and never allowed to attain higher ranks, positions of authority or even financial independence. Even as Knights, they are nothing but mongrels and their leaders make sure they never forget it.
Such is the case of Tony Mozza aka The Blind Seer, Blankface, No-eyes or whatever other name the other officers come up with behind his back and, as long as Fuse isn’t within earshot, his face. The immortal officer has little tolerance for anyone disrespecting her subordinates.
Tony is one of the fortunate Saltbabies, his physical mutations mild in comparison to others. He has no eyes, smooth skin covers his eye sockets, and his digestive system is almost nonexistent, making him dependant on intravenous cocktails. While he is capable of speech and has no developmental issues, he’s very reserved and often avoids contact with others, especially physical contact. He is extremely polite, even when he shouldn’t.
His mother’s abuse of unrefined salt left him with another gift: Salt-sight. He can sense the Salt around him, and instinctively know its purity, an ideal ability for a regulation agent. But in a city so suffused with the substance, he can never shut it out. Others can close their eyes and hide from the bad things, but the Salt is in him and all around him, he can’t escape it.
Artificers have made apparatuses to dampen his senses, most of them shaped as sunglasses to hide his mutation, but his ability eventually overpowers them.
There is one blessing though, or yet another part of the Saltbaby curse, depending on the point of view: He’s immune to the effects of raw Salt. To him, the substance is inert, no matter how pure it is.
When I first wrote the character concept for Keegan Leona Mercer, I only mentioned her subordinate, Tracer—a name I now need to focus on distancing as much as possible from the Overwatch character—but I had already conceived of Saltbabies and Tony in particular, just hadn’t written his character concept.
But since I added a Keegan story premise to the list of one-shots, I thought it was a good time to start working on the character concepts. Next time around, I’ll talk about my favourite little Summersaltian troublemaker and then the imposing authority figures!
And it all leads to that first Summersalt story!