The Fae Worlds


A Strange New World

Stepping out of town hall I took a few seconds to work out my next steps, so I’d be back as quickly as possible. I trusted my people to do what needed to be done when it came to the ship itself, but that wasn’t the only thing we needed to be worrying about, as it was probably going to draw in the monsters around Stormrock. Even though we were used to dealing with them the situation was unusual. We couldn’t know what might happen.
Jogging back up the hill the scent of burnt metal hit me once more, a reminder of what could have been. Had the ship not crashed where it did everyone who’d survived would have died. Some would have suffocated, trapped in stasis bays they couldn’t get out of, like Jessie. Others would have burnt. They were lucky.
It was possible it was good luck for us too, if some of them made the decision to stay. Our numbers were low, which was normal for what we were doing, because there weren’t a lot of people who were willing to put their lives at risk in order to help build up a new town. Some said it was better for us to stay in the city, where we knew we were safe. Travelling out to more dangerous areas was asking for trouble. They weren’t entirely wrong, but they also couldn’t see how it was necessary if we ever truly wanted to reclaim what was lost to the war. Having dealt with them in the past I knew a number of them thought it was best to leave the past where it belonged.
Only it wasn’t just the past. It was more than that. The lost towns were our future too, which was why I’d made the decision to make the journey with Galen. Arguing more than once with Father about it all simply made me more determined. He thought, and he wasn’t exactly wrong, I was doing it because it meant I became the leader of the Stormrock Defence Force, rather than having to work my way up in Erith. Taking a step up was a reason for accepting Galen’s offer.
More than that it was due to my belief it was the only way we’d be able to move forward. The Council in Erith had done a lot of work to retake the closest towns, so going out further was the next logical step. Yes, we were one of the groups the furthest out, complicating the issue if we ever needed help, and yet I felt safe.
Galen was the best person to be working with. I’d seen what he was capable of in the past, and it never once crossed my mind he might choose me to be the one to lead the Stormrock Defence Force. There were people I saw as being better for the position. I’d even suggested them, but he wanted me. Showing him he was right to make the choice was my priority, so we needed to be ready for whatever came next, no matter what it was.
As I reached the top of the hill, close to where the hospital was set up, I looked down at the ship. The Paladin. From what I could see the fire was mostly out, although it was impossible to know for certain if it would stay out. I’d had people working on that from the start, knowing how it would draw in monsters, but there was nothing I could do about how loud the crash was.
None of us knew what it was. There was no way we could have done. According to some of the stories we were told there was a time when we had travelled in space, but it was long gone. We should, maybe, have realised there were probably others out there with the same knowledge of space travel, and yet even if we had imagining it was possible one of their stasis ships would crash here was hard. From what Tom said they were made to be hardy, so it shouldn’t have crashed. Had it not been for their saboteur it wouldn’t have done. We’d never have known they were travelling above us.
Everything was different, for all of us. We knew there were others out there, who, possibly, might be interested in inhabiting our world. It was something I’d need to talk to Jessie about. She was the one who knew more about her people, and what they might be likely to do. Raking a hand through my hair I pushed the thought aside. There was nothing I could do about it right then. She was in the middle of talking to Galen about helping to build up Stormrock, and I needed to focus on the short term issues we were going to have.
Suggesting a curfew, again, was unlikely to go down well. People didn’t like to have their freedoms constrained. Mentally I was certain most of them were still in Erith, where it was safe to walk around at night, but Stormrock was different. We had more monsters to worry about, and less of us to deal with them. Jogging down to the ship I sighed. There was nothing I could do about their lack of understanding, even though I knew Galen was upfront with everyone about how dangerous it was going to be.
When I reached the ship Mara looked at me. “How are things with the survivors?”
“Complicated.” I shrugged. “Alexander and Penny are doing the best they can. I believe the majority of them will be fine, with some time to come through the after effects of the stasis, and once they have Galen will give them the choice to stay or leave.”
“Hopefully with a full understanding of what it means if they leave.” She bit down hard on her lip. “There are others out there, with no knowledge of the world they’ve found themselves on. I managed to reach some of the life pods, and it appeared at least half of them were used, so that’s around twenty people alone somewhere.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it now, Mara. Our focus needs to be on Stormrock.” I put a hand on her shoulder. “A message will be sent to Erith. They’ll help, if they can. We have our priorities, for now, and should we be needed to help then we’ll do it.”
Nodding, Mara smiled. “I know. This is just…” She looked at the wreck of the ship. “When I woke up this morning life was as normal as it could be for Stormrock, and now… I don’t even know how to put it into words, Arlo. This changes so much of what we knew about everything.”
“Yes, it does, but we can’t think too much about any of that right now. I will talk to the survivors about the situation, to get a better understanding of what could happen. For now we can only accept how little it is we really know. The stories we were told as children were something more than we thought they were at the time. Space travel is real.” I shrugged. “Not that it really matters to us. It’s going to be a very long time before we can get to this level of technology.”
“Unless someone out there makes the decision to claim this world for their own.”
“If it happens we deal with it. There’s no point in causing imaginary problems for ourselves. We have enough real ones to deal with.” I looked past the ship. “Have there been any sightings?”
“So far it’s been safe. I don’t doubt we’ll have trouble at some point, but for now I think they might be biding their time. There’s been a lot of movement.”
“Would you back me if I suggested a curfew?”
“Of course.” Mara’s eyes met with mine. “I have done before, and this is no different. We make the choices we have to in order to make sure the people here are safe. Their acceptance is not something we need. Viewing Stormrock the way they do is dangerous, and sometimes I wonder why Galen made the decision to bring the people he did.”
“Limited options.” I ran my tongue over my bottom lip. “There are very few people willing to leave behind what they have to start a new life in a place like Stormrock. Galen did the best he could to get the right people here, but sometimes the most talented are the least sensible. With only five of us here we can’t be everywhere we’re needed, and yet, to them, we’re going to protect them no matter where there are, because that’s how it worked in Erith. Explaining how things are different works for some, and not for others.”
“Adding in this area we’re going to be more stretched than we were. A curfew is the only logical option, if they want to survive long enough to build Stormrock into the success place Erith is, but they’re going to argue against it.”
Slowly looking around where the ship was, beginning to plot out new patrol routes in my mind, I nodded. “It’s possible we might be able to make use of the skills of the people from the ship to buffer our numbers, if they make the decision to stay. For now, though, I’ll work out the new routes, and get the schedule up before the end of the day.” I glanced up at the sky. “Sunset’s not too far away. Stay careful. I need to head back, so I can talk to Galen about annoying people with a curfew.”
“He’ll agree with us.”
“Fortunately Galen always has, but he’s not the problem.”
Mara reached out to squeeze my hand. “No, he’s not. We’ll make this work, one way or another, and Stormrock will be the kind of town we imagine it can be. It’s not going to be easy, but neither of us made the decision we did because we thought this was going to be an easy job.”
“True.” I smiled. “Thank you.”
Laughing, she shook her head. “Nothing to thank me for, Arlo, although I appreciate it. I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t given my name to Galen. I’d still be back in Erith, struggling to work out where I fitted in to the whole thing, and probably giving it all up entirely.”
“You’d never have given up.”
“Oh, I was closer than you realise. When your family is so against everything you stand for it can complicated.” She shrugged. “Without this I’d still be fighting a battle on two fronts, and now… well, things aren’t easy, but they’re better than they ever were.”
“I agree with you on that.” I squeezed her shoulder once more. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Take your time. We know what to do. You trained us well.” She smiled. “If we’re lucky there won’t be any monsters to deal with.”
“Since when have we been lucky.”
With a shake of my head, smiling back for a moment, I turned away from the ship, to go back up the hill again. The hills around Stormrock were both an advantage and a disadvantage. When Galen asked where I believed the best position for the Defence Force building was I chose the hill, but it also complicated everything. With the crash happening on the other side… well, it wasn’t as complicated as it could have been. There was a chance it could have undone all the hard work we’d already put into building up Stormrock. Instead we simply needed to add in a new patrol area. Less of an issue, in a general sense, but more of one for us.
Jogging over the hill I thought out how I was going to talk to Galen about the curfew, especially as it would admit admitting to Jessie exactly how dangerous Stormrock was. Hopefully Galen had already explained the situation to her. If he hadn’t then it there was a chance she might make the decision to leave, and make the journey to somewhere safer.