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  • Writer's pictureHaslan Hammoud


What happens when you take an Alien invasion, Human ingenuity and a little bit of reckless abandon? You get God damn super powers.

What is a Formalist? A Formalist is a human who has the ability to manipulate and through hard work control the elements and environment around them. A formalist can move water, blast air, enlarge a fire or move the earth on their feet to different degrees of success. In this article I have compiled information from several interviews with different formalist across North America to truly understand what Formalism is and how it came to be a part of our already crazy lives. Most of the photos in this article were some of the last taken by the late Julia Chen as we were working on this story during the events of her death. The History of Formalism So it all started with Silver. Silver is what makes up a Stock. From what we, the general public, have garnered from our own shared experiences and that of the Catalyst fighting against the Alien invaders, Silver is the sort of life blood of Stock. The black burning entity inside them is called Charcoal and the Silver outer armor is Silver which is also the substance that makes up their technology and most importantly their Terraforming equipment. Since landing the Stock have worked to radically change the face of our planet. Doing away with technology, buildings, cities and fossil fueled creations while changing out the landscape to fit their wants and needs. Using Silver based devices the Stock have made new bodies of waters, moved mountains, grew strange new trees and repurposed entire ecosystems. Well leave it up to Humans to see Silver and think " hey what would happen if I shove this up my body". Classic us. But instead of sending us to the ER and having the sheepishly explain our actions to a doctor it gave us the ability to control the world around us. Sort of. How Formalism works So I don't want people taking my aloof attitude towards Formalism too lightly. Becoming a Formalist is dangerous. Once more for the people in the back,


The process works like this: taking a piece of clean Silver ( devoid of any bacteria and especially Charcoal) and surgically implanting it into your body, usually in and arm or thigh. Once implanted it seems as though the human body can't fully process the energy generated by the new alien substance and the body repels the overflow in a physical manifestation.

This overflow of energy generated by the Sliver is known as Formalism and grants the subject the ability to project that energy out of their bodies and to manipulate the basic elements. So if the idea of winging surgically implanting something in your own body isn't enough of a deterrent let me be clear in stating the mortality rate seems to be pretty damn high. One of the people we interviewed said that he and his two siblings, having heard about the process from a new Formalist Catalyst wanted to try. They scoured a city for any defeated Stock and brought back some Silver. They each inserted different amounts of Silver, much like Goldilocks, to see the different effects. The one who took the least just got sick with a constant fever and eventually died of dehydration while the one that took the larger amount spontaneously combusted in a fiery rage that killed four other people. By another account someone inserted a piece of Silver that had not been totally cleaned of Charcoal and they had their entire leg devour itself from the inside. Many accounts of people losing limbs or lives just due to the infection caused by makeshift surgery and even more account of the body just simply rejecting the Silver entirely. By my estimates of the stories I've heard, which I of course note are anecdotal, the survival rate of this procedure is about 1 in 50. What Can a Formalist Do?

So like I said it looks like Formalism works by rejecting the energy the Silver generates and manifesting it in elemental control abilities. So if you've ever watched Avatar the Last Airbender growing up, it's a dream come true. Water, Earth, Fire, and Air all at your disposal. Though from what I can gather, it's not as easy as it looks. After every interview with active Formalists we could find one thing has become overwhelmingly apparent: Formalism is hard work. Much like any skill it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get any good. It's like we all have the capability to play basketball but we're not all going to be part of the NBA.

A Formalist can manipulate the elements around them yes but it takes a lot of concentration to perform these tasks. For example while interviewing the different Formalists we could find we asked each to showcase their abilities and while some were able to produce some pretty bad ass stuff almost all of them seemed physically drained afterwards. Though much like my NBA analogy it's reasonable to assume that as they practice this new muscle it will become easier to perform greater and greater feats with relative ease. Watching someone dunk is always impressive even though for them it's pretty easy. It also seemed much more difficult for any of our interviewees to perform " unnatural acts" in terms of their elements natural predisposition. The hell did you just say Haslan? I mean that it seems much more difficult to get an the Formalism to do something that the element didn't already want to do. For example we asked someone to levitate a rock and break it up using Formalism. He did so with a smile on his face for the photo but immediately passed out afterwards and when he came to had a ringing headache.

A similar occurrence when we asked a woman create a flame from nothing and when we asked someone to liquify a tree branch which neither could accomplish. It seems through these accounts that Formalism works within the natural order of things. So a Formalist can't make en element do something that it doesn't already want to do. Make a plant grow faster, sure. Push water faster down a new canal, no problem. Fly through the air with glowing eyes and rocks floating around you as you blast fireballs through the air, probably not. Fighting with Formalism One of the key things Formalism can be used for is of course that pesky thing on all our minds, fighting Stock. Once some of the people we interviewed had had enough practice they became quite adept at using Formalism to their advantage while in combative situations. Chiliagon seems to have already clue into this as we've heard accounts of New Catalysts with Fromalist abilities ( and nicer attitudes from what we've heard). Others have also taken to using their Formalist abilities to either bolster a small communities defenses or strengthening the small militias that are being formed to fight and defend humanity. We've also heard of several accounts of people creating small Formalist based groups who are contracting themselves out to the highest bidder and of companies ( those that are left) looking to monetize on Formalists. Because Capitalism is going to Capitalism.

- Martin Lopez showing off an impressive Formalism blast of air.

Healing with Formalism

One of the key ways Formalism can be used is in the world of healing and medicine. It was found that Formalism had a direct relation to physiology and biological properties allowing for Formalists to guide healing along with other medicinal uses.

Much like the other representations of Formalism the medicinal magic has similar properties in that it can only do what the element it’s controlling wanted to do naturally.

For example when there is a laceration on a person's arm naturally their body wants the blood to coagulate and the skin to suture itself closed and so Formalism could help expedite the process.

Every Formalist can heal to some degree though people who possess skills or have a better understanding of medicine can do so with greater proficiency. Much the same way that anyone could put a bandage on a wound but someone who has the practical skills to do so and has a greater understanding of how wounds heal would do a much better job. The mind boggles at the implication of using this new ability for medicine and healing. In a war for our survival humans have done what we always do best, we've adapted and overcome our hardships. It is this humble journalists opinion that Formalism is the perfect representation of what makes humanity great. We are being oppressed by something we take the very thing that gives our oppressors power and shape it to our own needs and turn it back on them. Formalism is an amazing tool in our fight but it's only a tool in the thing that truly makes us great and that's our ingenuity, our willingness to keep fighting and our love for one another. Our hope. Hope in Humanity -Haslan Hammoud -30-

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