The old man rolled over in his Ancient bed, a gift from a recent Surface Expedition Team. Although tattered, such items were a luxury – but certainly deserved by one such as Andor. After all, he was the Vault Elder and the first Scavenger ever to return to Lau with treasure from the ruined world above.
Andor stroked his long white beard. Often he thought that his long life had been a curse. Due to a strange mutation contracted during his trek into the contaminated world above, he had now reached the age of 96 years, outliving even his grandchildren. In those years, he had seen the slow decline of Lau and now feared greatly for the community’s future.
But it is not a day to worry about that, he thought, today is special. It is the Day of Hope! Soon the sacred bells would summon the inhabitants of Lau to the Field of Champions, where members of the community would compete in tests of strength and bravery. As Vault Elder, Andor would oversee the contests and decide who would journey into the world above as a Scavenger. The chosen, he hoped, would return with the machinery and equipment needed to allow preserve the future of Lau’s citizens for yet another year.
Moving from the window, Andor donned his ceremonial clothing, thinking about the day’s event. Soon he would recite the history of the Fall to the Lauans as they gathered for the Day of Hope…
“In the latter days of the twenty-first century, the Ancients, controlling weapons of terrible power, lived in constant fear of destruction. It was then that the First Ones, having a considerable source of wealth and foreknowledge, built this shelter. The First Ones foresaw the Fall which would scorch the ground above, so they gathered their families and sealed themselves in the vault that we now know as Lau.”
“They listened to reports of the Fall until there was only silence. Then, declaring the surface unsafe, they committed themselves to building a life in their sanctuary below the ground.”
“As the First Ones grew old, they yearned for a better existence for their progeny. They developed a great plan to send out Expedition Teams to scavenge in the rubble of the scorched earth above. It was hoped that the equipment and materials brought back by these Scavengers would improve life in Lau and, someday, enable the Lauans to return safely to the surface.”
“But as the First Ones grew old and passed away, their dream was never realized. Then Adam II, Vault Overseer and among the first generation born and raised underground, declared that the day had come to venture out from our shelter and begin to fulfill the First Ones’ dream. And so the portal to the surface was opened and the rubble on it was tunneled away. Then he and his twelve counselors were able to exit Lau and survey the world above. And I was among them.”
“What a strange world it was! The surface soil was not like the rich brown dirt in the Agri-dome, but was tainted with a pale pinkish tint. The sky glowed with bright colours of purple, red, yellow, and orange which swirled overhead forming strange, unnerving patterns. In the distance stood the crumbled remains of what once must have been a city. Behind the city, on the horizon, loomed an ominous red sun. Thus was decreed the first day of a new era – the Era of the Red Sun. And a day was set aside each year when all the inhabitants of Lau would come together, and our youth would compete for the honor of going out into the ruined cities above to seek those things needed to complete the plan of the First Ones.”
“And in that First Year of the Red Sun, a party of Scavengers was chosen from the Field of Champions, as they will be today…”