We survived. New London stands as the last city of earth, capable of surviving the mightiest storm. Now if only it was so simple from there.
Some changes to the Lore:
-1 game day is equal to 3 real days. (Meaning the Storm happened around the 3rd Month)
Chapter 2: Cornered
The polar bear definitely took the scent of the freshly dead elk as it started walking towards the outcrop. It was a huge monster, being almost twice as long as two humans and an entire one in width. But even with that, it was evident the beast was hungry. Some parts of its hide hanged loose and the bear was moving in a sluggish, non-graceful manner. It was hunting.
Gigantic paws crushed snow and gravel every step it took towards the two hunters, leaving visible marks of terrifying claws in every foot step.
Jackson and Syndey were fearfully uncertain on what to do. Leaving the elk for the bear was out of question. The people of New London needed food and coats, and this elk was going to provide a fair amount of those. But staying and fighting the beast was suicide. The noise of gunfire will only aggravate the bear, and their bullets were not designed to take down adrenaline filled animals. Not to mention it was madness to consider taking on a polar bear with a dagger.
They couldn’t outrun the bear either. The elk was too heavy even with the sled and the bear will definitely outrun them. Having two dead hunters was not going to help New London, so dying was not a choice either.
Taking a few seconds to stop watching the bear, Jackson looked around and paused for a while before grabbing a round from his belt and started loading his rifle. The sound of metallic and wooden parts moving caught Syndey’s attention and she looked at Jackson with confusion.
“What are you doing?!” She whispered harshly. “That gun’s not going to do anything against that bear!”
“Not necessarily.” Jackson replied as quietly as possible, still loading the gun with gentleness and silence.
“While I can’t see or target most of its vital organs from here, we know all animals have a brain and from what I know, it’s always in the head. We take that out, we kill the bear.”
Finally loading the bullet, Jackson co*ks the rifle and holds it close.
“Or at least bring it down or incapacitate in some way. Enough to buy us time for the Rockwing to get here.”
“So we’ll wait for the bear to get close before you shoot? The bear can tell our white coats apart from these black rocks. It will spot us immediately.” The female spotter said worryingly. The bear was a few meters away, getting closer and closer.
“No. You’ll stay here.” Jackson, rising to his knee and facing the entrance of the outcrop.
“Me!? What about-“ Syndey never finishes her sentence as Jackson suddenly jumps out from the outcrop and into the snow by the side. He stands up in full view of bear, making the animal aware of his presence.
“Hey bear! Come on! Come here bear! Come this way!”
The hunter shouts at the polar bear, striding away from the outcrop while facing the beast. If he didn’t have the bear’s attention before, it is clear that he had it now. The bear started moving towards him, almost as if it was irritated by the noise of this stranger.
“You’re insane.” Syndey thought with increasing worry and confusion as she watched the bear move away from her and towards her partner.
“Adriane, you better get that rust-bucket here soon or else I’m going to haunt you from the grave.” She whispers under her breath.
Jackson continued his slow and deadly dance with the bear. While there was still distance every step he took away from the bear, the animals was definitely getting closer with every step it took. He couldn’t keep this up for long. And it was becoming increasingly obvious that the bear was disturbed by his shouting. The loud grunts of the animal and the faster moving of paws were signs of that. Still, he had an objective. Taking a few seconds to glance behind, he found the crack on a cliff wall that he seen a minute ago. It look small enough to fit him through and not the bear. But that was from afar.
Now his problem was that it looked bigger than he thought it did, and not as deep as well.
“This is why you’re the spotter, Syndey.” He whispered tauntingly towards himself as he continued to move towards the crack, leading the bear on with him. The human pressed on, not deterring despite the ever increasing odds that his plan may fail.
“Now’s not the time to doubt. Doubt leads to death.”
A phrase he remembered the Captain say during the morning assemblies in the days before the storm. And it is now where Jackson realized it was all true. He could not back down. He already invested too much. He was too far from the outcrop. Going back would only harm him, their bounty, and Syndey.
He could not have that. He won’t have that.
He reached the crack and stepped inside it, going slowly inside while watching every step to make sure he doesn’t trip on the small rocks at his feet. He sees the bear heading closer and closer, just one or two meters away from the opening.
With one round in his rifle, the human hunter lifts his rifle up towards the entrance as he continues to move back. The tunnel he is in continues to get smaller and smaller. He could already feel the edges of the walls on his shoulders. Within a meter, he would have reached an end where it was too small to go through.
Every step he took back, he estimated the distance of the passage in-front of him.
Still too wide.
Not yet enough.
Then stops. It’s perfect.
He fixes his stance and rests the rifle butt to his shoulder. He looks through the sights of his rifle, watching and taking in every detail of his target. His breathing gets slower and slower as his eyes adjust to the darkness while never turning away from the approaching bear. The beast continued to move through the crack’s tunnel, going ever closer to the noisy creature that disturbed its hunt. Jackson can already see it all. The long and thick coat of white fur that protected the animal from the harsh cold of their world. The black beads of the bears eyes. Every cloud of breath that escaped its huge snout.
The bear started slowing down. It continued to claw its way forward but found the tunnel growing ever more constricting around its huge bulk. It moved towards the human at a slow pace before it reached a part where it can no longer continue, only two paw lengths away from the human.
A distance right where the human’s long wooden and steel rifle was only a few inches away from its head. Another puff of steam left its nose to touch the metallic barrel.
Jackson pulled the trigger and took the shot.
A blinding light and loud thunder filled the tunnel for a slight moment before a pained roar echoed the crack. Jackson didn’t bother looking at the bear after it brought its head down and its front paws on its face. He’s main priority was getting out and he did so by jumping on the bear’s back then jumping once more from the beast into the ground in-front of him.
He landed on both legs and ran towards the cave entrance, trying to get away from distressed and angry roaring behind him. He almost reach the entrance when his foot got caught on one of the rocks right before the opening and he stumbled face-down into the snow outside.
Jackson saw that he made it out and immediately turned on his back, just in time to see the agitated and furious bear turn around. Its left eye was shot out and blood streamed down the tainted white fur up to its bared fangs, bearing the image of a bloodlust full beast. Jackson tried to get on his feet, but a stretching pain shot through his right leg, causing him to fall on his side. He fearfully realized he sprained himself as he tripped on the rock. With no choice, he started to crawl backwards away from the polar bear, never letting his eyes off it.
But while he was in a state of immobilization, the bear was also not faring well. It struggled to move forward, heading towards him in an erratic manner as it stumbled side to side. It was once again a deadly dance between man and beast. One that was much less graceful and more desperate and vicious. The human hunter realized he had time.
With the idea of firing his rifle again, Jackson searched his belt for ammunition. To his shock, he couldn’t feel any in his magazine. He looked back at where he fell and despairingly groaned at the sight of his rounds on the snow.
“Damn it all.”
He got even more worried when the bear stepped on the fallen rounds as it continued to approach him. He dug deeper through his magazine, trying to find anything through the thickness of his gloves. After much struggle, he felt one more round at the corner of his magazine.
He clumsily took the round from his belt, trying to insert it in his rifle with haste. Unlike his smooth reloading in the outcrop, rifle shivered and clanked at all the shaky movements. He was moving backwards rather than sitting still, his fingers were no longer heated by the radiator but freezing from the snow, and he was under a much more stressful pressure of time as the bear continued to go closer.
A flare shot out from the outcrop, distracting both Jackson and the polar bear with a loud whistle and a loud blast as reached the sky. A bright, loud flare meant for an S.O.S. signal. The bear grew more agitated, now heading towards Syndey, who was standing up in full view of the bear. Her back was turned against them, hiding her face from the male hunter. Jackson thought in fear that his partner had fired the flare to distract the bear. Syndey had nothing to defend herself with. She was doomed if that bear reached her.
He had to act. Act fast with the time given to him.
He removed his gloves without hesitation, exposing his fingers to the cold air but now they can move without restriction. His clumsy movements changed to graceful motions in reloading. Swift and proper, the round was in place. A co*k from the rifle’s spring and he gave a loud shout at the polar bear, taking its angry attention once more.
“Hey! Come here, beast!”
It started heading towards him again, giving its own roar in return.
“I didn’t survive the end of the world to die like this!” He screamed at the bear in reply. He only agitated it further, bringing it to go faster towards him.
The polar bear was only a meter’s length away from him, but he refused to give up. With his last round in the chamber, he aimed towards beast with an all-or-nothing attempt at his survival.
He stopped moving in his sitting position, aiming with shaky hands at the ever-closing snarl of the monster in front of him. Finger on the metallic trigger.
A thunderous blast echoed around him.
And then another one.
Just a filler chapter. The chapter filled with actual frostpunk lore is coming soon.
© Post "AfterFall (Chapter 2): A Frostpunk Fanfiction [Spoilers]" for game Frostpunk.
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