Some changes to the Lore:
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.
-1 game day is equal to 3 real days. (Meaning the Storm happened around the 4th Month)
Chapter 4: Relief
Warm, yellow light from the steel nightstand brought light to the thin, brownish papers held by an aged man sitting over his desk. His tired, ruby red eyes sharply scanned the report in his hands that detailed the status of New London's outposts.
The Fishing Village by their east continues to bring a steady supply of arctic cod and shellfish every morning since the river outpost was established two days ago. The storm froze up most of the river's water but it was nothing a few drill holes were able to solve, especially since the drill left behind by the Tesla fishermen was still somewhat functional.
In that topic, scavenger findings from the re-established Tesla City outpost fell shorter than expected. The storm destroyed or damaged most of the electrical devices guarding the city, allowing access to the members of the scouting corps. This was good because they finally had access to the advance technologies and abandoned buildings hidden in the city. Workers began tearing down the most damaged buildings and sent the steel wreckages over to New London while engineers and scouts search for any new designs and blueprints that they could build in the factory.
Unfortunately, most of the city is now buried in the snow and sources of the rare steam cores scavengers took from city, such as defenses and other advanced designs, were destroyed. From these first five days alone, only one steam core was found. Engineer's digging through Tesla City hope to find the knowledge for steam core manufacturing within the abandoned factories buried and wrecked in the snow, but nothing has resulted so far.
The bottom-most notes were regarding the preparation for the Winterhold expedition caravan, expected to launch next week. The expedition hopes to not only establish an external source of wood, but search for more intellectual properties that can still be recovered, whether it be scientific researches from the observatories or any potential aesthetical treasures that could have been brought by nobles.
After placing down the report in front of him, the man slowly ran a wrinkled but muscular hand over his bleaching hair and took a long sigh. There always seems to be bad news around the corner, but at least there is good news.
He was tired. After hours of reading reports, papers, and other proposals, He looked out and watched a few snowflakes dance down to the earth, glowing gently as the blue sky of the morning came without the sun. It was small moments of peace like this that still kept him together, all because of one fact in his life.
Steven Swordfoot was not a rested man.
How could any man be if there were in his position? He had to play the world's most important balancing act. One wrong move, and humanity dies. Basically it.
Even right now, despite the relative peace brought by the high temperatures of -40 degree celcius, there was still so much still so much to do. The mad amount of papers and folders stacked on top of his desks was just one proof of such. There always a new problem to solve, a new question to answer, a new mystery to answer, and it goes on and on.
People have complained that they work 24 hours shifts when in some days, he doesn't even sleep for days. They raised their voices at the soup law during the final days before the storm but they don't realize that he was the first to fill his stomach with the gruel so that others can eat the last few whole meals. And while he did live the closest to the generator, he made sure everyone had proper housing before he did, residing in the last bunkhouse. And that was during the air-freezing temperatures of the storm.
It looked like a thankless job, but he knew it was far from such. The people of New London had their hope in the city and their captain and many made sure to express such to them. Letters of gratitude and praise, sometimes a special trinket or gift from a citizen, the provision of warm meals for the city's guards, and a simple but unforgettable drawing from a young child. Yes, discontent rose from time to time. It didn't end with the Londoners. But in their dying world, you can't have everything.
He took another deep breath again and looked back at his desk. To his left was a neat stack of finished readings. The one at the top, was the statistics report of their supplies. With the new drill wall set at the south of New London, a welcome surplus of wood would help warm the houses of the citizens, as well as ease the coal usage of the life-sustaining generator. With the recent weather patterns, maybe they can put the generator settings to a gentle level two and focus on re-stabilizing the mines with stronger support beams.
Which brings him to the next program in his hands, the scheduled memorial for the sixty men and women who lost their lives in the dark and freezing tunnels of the coal mines. Some froze immediately upon contact with escaped drafts of freezing air. Some were crushed by rock and ice as the supports failed and buried them to never be seen again. Some died by sheer exhaustion, willingly cutting themselves off from food and shelter for many days straight, just to reach the deepest mines.
He hasn't forgotten any of them. Not a single name, not a single of detail on their face as they volunteered.
Cody Newmann, an aged engineer in his 70's and one of the first to volunteer, personally told him that he believed the world was for the young ones, not old men like him.
James Deacon, a young coal miner who has not even reached 20, entered the frozen shafts with a carefree smile on his face.
Ellysa Princeton, a lord's daughter before the storm, had the fiery eyes of a woman with nothing to lose.
Andrew Runner, the father of a family of four, shivering with fear on the outside but steadfast with an aura of sacrificial love.
Kelly Smith, a refugee from Tesla who gave her life for a people who used to be across an entire ocean
And so many others. All gone.
There were sixty of them. Sixty people who had their own lives, friends, and families. Even now, the miners continue to find bodies of those who sacrificed themselves. And there are bodies that still haven't been found as well.
It was only five at first. Steven was told it wasn't as bad as they thought, and wanted a quick trip for the volunteers. In and out quickly. Then they told him it was worse than all their predictions. Another wave of volunteers so that the sacrifice of the five will not be in vain. And an even more dreaded report after. He was about to cancel the restoration when the last thirty stepped up and willingly went into the mines, even fighting some of the guards who were told to stop anyone from entering the death trap.
He should have said no. He should have stopped them. There was enough coal for the generator for a few more days. They could be there right now, all celebrating the life that they should have kept with everyone else. He should have put his foot down. But he didn't.
He was weak. A mistake. They never should have placed him as Captain. It only lead to disaster.
Only lead to the division caused by the founding of the New Order.
Only lead to the infighting between the Loyalist and the Londoners.
Only lead to the abandonment of the sick refugees, just so that the city lived.
Only lead to the deaths of sixty brave souls.
The weight was a heavy burden in shoulders. His heart ached and his body sored. His spirit was tormented by all these consequences. The voices that taunted him when he is alone. Was it too much?
He lowered a shivering hand down under his desk to feel the cold metal of his personal revolver. His fingers run down the gun's short barrel, moving into smooth edges of the cylinder before lastly resting on the stiff metal of the trigger. His mind wandered to the bullets that were just stored by his desk's drawer that was in front of him.
Steven Swordfoot was not a rested man. He wanted rest. And rest was easily within his grasp.
With just one click, he could rest.
And he let go of the revolver's handle.
Now's not the time to doubt.. Doubt leads to death.
He cannot doubt himself. Not in this critical time of growth and repair. This time to mend the city and its people. And he knew it will only lead to more pain if he was not there. More suffering in the chaos that would ensure. More death.
Maybe rest would be his someday. Just not now.
He coughed slightly as he got his mind back in order, bringing the lowered hand to his face to cover his face. He took note of how they will proceed with the ceremony later and placed on top of the list of finished papers. The captain then took another report from the slightly less organized pile on his right. It was a report from one of the infirmaries in the housing districts. Before he continued, a hand landed gently on his right shoulder, followed by a voice that sounded angelic to him.
"Steven…" The voice came with care and warmth, laced on the sides with worry. "You have been awake since the work shift ended yesterday. You need to sleep, love."
He turned around to see a beautiful human that he did not deserve. Her deep, blue eyes, while aged and surrounded by wrinkles, never failed to take his breath away. The isolated strands of silver hair on her brown locks only added to the wonder he felt for his wife. He shook his head lightly, dispelling the spell he cast on himself every time he saw her.
Steven Swordfoot was not a rested man. And Layla Swordfoot knew this fact about her husband.
"Just these last two reports, Layla. I will be done soon." He responded with a sigh in his voice.
"That is what you said ten reports ago, Steven. Your body is weary and your eyes are betraying you." She said lighly with humor in her voice, yet carried a strong message of concern.
"I'm surprised it has been that long. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without you." The aged captain held the hand on his shoulder with own, looking straight into the eyes of Layla with gratitude.
"Do not change the subject. Please rest." She requested with firmness, ironically unaware that rest has entered his mind a few minutes ago.
"Please, let me just finish these last two. If you want, you can stay with me and help me read them." Steven offered as a compromise
"It would be an honor, dear." Layla said with glee before giving a reprimanding gaze. "And should be my duty. As the Captain's wife, I want to help you."
"The burden is heavy. I wish not to put such weight on your shoulders." Steven looked away from his spouse, with a hint of shame in his gaze, his voice was steadfast with guilt of being weak.
Which was completely ignored by her.
"I will have none of that. You are mine and I am yours. What you have is mine and what is mine is yours. Remember our vow." She reminded him tenderly before placing an open palm across Steven's hand that held the infirmary report.
"Now give me that report and let me help you. Please."
Steven first hesitated, but soon recognized the wisdom in his wife's words. He placed the report in her hand and she began reading. A concentrated face soon turned to wide-eyed surprised before turning into glee.
"What heavenly news, Steven! New London, as off yesterday midnight, had its first born resident!" She announced with joy in her voice.
"What?" The Captain inquired with the same level of surprise. "How? New London Has only existed for 5 months."
"Mary Everlastt, who left London pregnant, went through labor and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, who she named Hope." Layla answered, almost spilling tears in her own eyes. "Hope Everlastt. What a lovely name for a lovely girl, especially in times like this."
It was news that this that let Steven go on. From the good deed report of a guard, to the news of a father surviving The Great Storm just to save his daughter, it gave him hope. Hope that it was not all in vain. Hope that in the end of all this, Humanity will go on.
"That is indeed special news. Great news, in fact. Please fold the report and hand it to me. This is news that I will definitely have to announce during the morning assembly." He kindly asked his wife, who nodded before folding the report and giving it to him. He placed the folded paper in his pocket and took another paper from the right pile.
"As I promised, this is the last report I will read." He looked at the title and saw that it was the recent findings of the scouting corps.
When The Great Storm hit, the entire geography around them changed. Many locations and previously known areas were buried under snow. Only certain landmarks from their old maps, like the ruined cities, certain human infrastructures, and a few observatories, remained recognizable. Scouting groups had to map their area again, but with boosted, lighter sleds and surviving landmarks, it was reestablished and they continued to expand the range of their expeditions. In fact, the northern scouts soon found themselves following the storm as it head northwards.
Steven opened the paper and started to read. And then came the shock. He could not believe the words seen in this paper.
"Layla… look at this. I need to know I am not imagining this." He said slowly while his eyes continued to scan the report. Layla went beside him and also read the report. She then too had complete astonishment and wonder on her face as she continued.
"Oh my Good Lord…" She said quietly, bringing a hand up to the open mouth of her face. "Steven…"
The paper in front of him was… Unbelievable. Shocking. Unreal.
Steven Swordfoot was not a rested man. And ever since all the tragedies that were accursed upon him and the city, he was willing to believe the he, and New London, will just continue this endless cycle of restlessness forever.
But if it was true… then…
This changes everything. Our priorities. Our mission. Our new goal.
We are not alone.
As the Rockwing's crew stepped off the air barge, Jackson noticed his fellow hunters from other ships started running towards the entrance of the compound. Not only hunters, but support staff and engineers as well.
He grabbed the arm of one of the running hunters, getting his attention.
"Hey, What's going on?"
"The Captain! He's in the airbase!"
This might be the last chapter I write on reddit, because it's much easier to format on FF.net and allow me to also edit easier.
But for those who got interested with the story here, Thank you for reading my writing!
© Post "AfterFall (Chapter 4): A Frostpunk Fanfiction [Spoilers]" for game Frostpunk.
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