Blue Sky was inspired by a short Apocalypse World campaign I played in last year and is a possible epilogue for my character Farley. The apocalypse that has befallen the world is one of an apparently endless storm powered by a psychic maelstrom. The endless rain of this storm has wiped away the surface of the world, with survivors scraping by in small settlements nestled in mountain ranges or in convoys that travel the surface trading supplies for food and shelter. While the rain may be endless it all flows to the same end: the pits, gigantic circular holes that dot the planet. Their purpose, like their connection to the storm, is unknown.
For almost a decade people had laughed at the concept, that the sky could be anything other than a faint and menacing glow. Farley couldn’t blame them, that there was something beyond the endless grey sky was only marginally less implausible than saying the rain would stop one day and the one time he’d brought that up had gotten him and Wisher driven out of the convoy they’d joined. Not that it mattered, not really. They’d both seen the truth, that the world was slowly but surely changing. The first time after leaving Erzen, they’d been circling the mountains, searching for evidence of another mine or bunker that might hold clues about the Before, about the fates of Lemma and Mencken. To be dry, even for a few minutes had been startling enough but to bodies accustomed to shadows and dampness the light and the warmth was nothing short of painful. That was the only time the sky had opened that first year but it had been enough to revive their flagging spirits and finally convince Wisher that her uncle hadn’t been broken by isolation or what had occurred in the mine. Not that times had been easy since those early days, spent drifting from settlement to squalid settlement making the runs that nobody else could or would. Farley, not quite sure what he was looking for, had ensured they never stayed in one place long. Doing so had forced Wisher into the life of a Driver and while she wasn’t quite the mechanical genius that her mother had been the constant travel had honed her reflexes and focused her intuition. While he knew it wasn’t the life that she’d have wanted Farley was sure that his sister would have been proud of Wisher none the less.
“Farley it’s time, the engine’s charged. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be and the storm has passed” said Wisher as she stepped in through the airlock, her suit drenched to a degree that was becoming increasingly rare. Her arrival was enough to snap Farley out of his reminiscing, it was time to replicate the stunt that had got him driven out of his home all those years ago. That first time he’d been lucky to survive, insane recklessness and the broken flow of the water under the car had let him skim the edge of the pit. Shan, his main rival in the settlement, hadn’t been as lucky and had plunged his car into the depths when he’d tried to emulate the act. By nightfall Farley was on the run, the first of many journeys that would bring him to Mencken, then Erzen and finally here, to an abandoned settlement only a mile from the nearest pit.
“Yeah, I’ll be right with you kid, just… give me a moment.”
Nodding Wisher headed back outside, a minute later Farley grabbed his own gear before cycling through the airlock into a dry and bright world that made him pause. Lemma, I don’t know if you’re up there but if you are could you dial it down a bit? My eyes just aren’t meant for this sort of light, doubt even those from the Before could handle it. Snapping on his goggles he breathed a sigh of relief as he scanned over the small convoy they’d assembled by calling in every favour they’d built up over the years. If they were going to confirm what he’d seen before Wisher was going to need to skim the edge of the pit for longer than Marlene’s hover engines would allow. Solving that problem had meant dragging Bridget, Satan and the tank out of retirement just to provide a sturdy enough anchor to tie Marlene to. All to get a glance into the abyss, to confirm that he’d once glimpsed a secret of a world long forgotten.
“Can’t shake the feeling that this is what Mum built her for, no other car could make this run,” Wisher was checking over Marlene one last time as Farley approached, talking to herself as she did so. It was a habit he was sure she’d picked up from him.
“I know what you mean, same way as no other driver could make it. Lemma always talked about how we were all cogs in a bigger machine, guess this is just them coming together at last.”
The trip to the staging point was mercifully quiet, broken only by occasional check ins as the spotters reached their vantage points. If it looked like Wisher was in trouble they’d be able to call it in while the tank could still pull her in, before she plunged into the darkness of Farley’s nightmares. He said nothing as she went through one final set of checks, he didn’t need to. A simple nod of encouragement as she settled into the drivers seat said more than his words ever could. Then he retreated to the tank, pulling a pair of headphone on as she started her run.
“Hover is at 80… 90… 100%. Anchor is secure, speed.. 45… 53 and,” there was a thunk, “we have tension. Here goes nothing…”
Silence. Inside the tank nobody made a sound. 10 seconds passed, then another, and another before Farley grabbed the microphone, panic seeping into his voice.
“Wisher… Wisher… whats happened… WISHER!”
“It’s ok Farley, everything’s ok. I’m fine, I’m just… it’s beautiful. You were right, the entire edge is metal, section after section of it, all riveted together. I’m turning on the camera, you should see it now.”
The image that fed through to the tank was exactly what Farley had hoped for, a metal edge that had clearly been constructed during the Before. The pits had a purpose, the pits had meaning. Then the image started to move, Wisher’s voice barley above a whisper as she repositioned the camera.
“There’s something else, I can… I think I can see the water level, it’s not that far below me. There’s something in it, a ship or boat.”
As the image came into focus Farley found himself staring at a ship he’d seen only once, through a portal into the maelstrom of the storm. It dwarfed even Erzen, its vast angular deck flat apart from the vehicles that moved across it. Their purpose became clear moments later as one raced across it, diving not into the depths of the pit but soaring upward into the sky. The thunderous noise it made was deafening, but Farley knew what it meant.
Mencken. Mencken, the Rainwalker, had returned.