Nothing remains of the old world but a carcass of what once was. The lost cities loom over the endless waste like pillars of sand whipped bone. Mad cults and cowering survivors scramble through the blasted landscape, buzzing like flies over the dead. Chaos is the lifeblood of this new world. The flesh and sinew is insanity and wrath. Nothing remains of the old world, but buried in its corpse is a bastion of reason. Posterity.
It is not perfect here. Not by the widest margin. Even within these submarine walls the creeping rot of civilizations extinction can be felt. The cities inhabitants choose to bury their heads in the safety of this coffin while the rest of the world burns around them. Yet there is the glimmer of hope in these corridors. Science lives here. Intellectual minds working to rebuild the lost knowledge of our ancestors and creators. Here the power that built the old world thrives. I hope, someday, to see that power actually used.
“You…want to go outside…again?”
“You are…volunteering…to go outside…again?”
I’ve seen this look before. Disbelief mixed with a not insubstantial amount of condescension. The subtlety of Havassian expression is truly astounding. A bastion of reason, I remind myself. At least here it’s nihilistic elitism instead of a rebar spear through the face. Maybe I’m biased.
“Are…you sure…” The clerk begins again, but this time I cut them off.
“Quite sure. Yes. I didn’t spend the last three years training to be a glorified bouncer.”
“It’s an important position.”
“That everyone else is clamoring for. Let them have it. I’ve made it very clear what assignment I want.”
Silence. Good, my points been made. At least…I thought so, but then I see the look. That contemplation that comes right before dropping the nuke.
“Look, Isaac…your parents have lost one son already…”
There it is.
“Don’t you dare-”
“-I am only saying-”
“Don’t you DARE!” This subject was…maybe a little touchy. Old world tech is notoriously rare, but every scrap of it has the potential to reverse a hundred years of lost history. My brother had a sixth sense for it. I don’t know what his secret was, but I don’t think I’ve seen another scout bring back as much old tech as he did. That was, until a once extinct disease resurrected itself inside his lungs. Our last goodbye was from opposite sides of inch thick quarantine glass. People love to use him as their reason to hide down here. It’s not what he would have wanted.
“Isaac, please…” ah, Havassian manners. A close second to Havassian pride.
“Tech run. Next opening. I’m going. End of discussion!”
“You don’t have the authority-”
“-You don’t have the volunteers to replace me. Just…put me on the list.”
The clerk gives a worn out sigh.
“Why does this matter so much to you?”
Because people shouldn’t have to keep dying for the mistakes of a dead civilization. Because we’re living in a sinking ship and this is the only way to stop the flooding. Because I don’t want to see the last archives of knowledge swallowed by dust and forgotten. Because down here there is a glimmer of hope for the future.
“…because I want Posterity to thrive.” It’s what he would have wanted.