The old man rolled over in his Ancient bed, a gift from a recent Surface Expedition Team. Although tattered, such items were a luxury, though certainly deserved by one such as Andor. After all, he was the Vault Elder and the first Explorer 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 radioactive world above, he had now reached the age of 156 years of the red sun, outliving even his grandchildren. In those centuries, 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. This year, he hoped, the group would return with the machinery and equipment needed to allow preserve the future of Lau’s citizens.
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 known as Government Funding, 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 evolved 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 Parties would improve life in Lau and, someday, enable the Lauans to return safely to the surface.”
“But the First Ones grew old and passed away, as did many generations after them, and their dream was never realized. Then Adam II, the first of our Vault Elders, declared that the day had come to venture out from our shelter beneath the ground 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 what a strange world it was! The surface soil was not like the rich brown dirt in the Agro-dome, but was tainted with a pale pinkish tint. The sky glowed with bright colors 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 great 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 were chosen from the field of Champions, as they will be today…”