“Please get me out of here! Oh god… why did I think this was a good idea? Everything is so filthy and weird in this place! There are criminals trotting all over the place… There’s Tribals—savages! They killed my friends! Oh god… please, I beg you! Get me out of this godforsaken hellhole!”
-Transmission of an unknown survivor stranded in a rimworld, circa 5500
Trekking ever forwards on a journey to find safety, they swiftly made their way across the plains while navigating themselves using the moonlight.
Enduring the hail of fire and stone along the way, they soon made it to relative safety under the canopies of leaves inside a dense woodland patch. Only when they made some distance from ground zero of the crash-landings and impacts did the intensity of the orbital barrage lessen.
Looking at the stalwart oak trees which surround them while leaving a comfortable distance between each other, the tension of fear that aims to suffocate the air out of their thoughts becomes ever lesser. It was relatively lesser anyway—at the very least, it served to unnerve the trio.
Not that they were conscious of the fact that a rigid tree trunk would do little to shield them against the fury of scorched metal that were descending from the skies. A small chunk of debris would weigh at least 1 ton, not to mention those larger chunks that caused the earth to rumble ever so often. To only viable shelter that they could preserve themselves would be below a hollowed mountain or under the covers of a reinforced bunker—both were non-existent in their location.
Still, humans would follow their natural instincts to seek shelter—find something, anything to hide under—regardless of how logical would their choices seem when they are filled with desperation to survive. Moving anywhere else is better than not moving at all.
The barrage still continued even around these oak woodlands, although lessened in both intensity and density. The trio could finally catch a breath and make better judgment as they’ve composed themselves. Through their stroke of exceptional luck, and careful navigation—they suffered minimal damage throughout the journey. Aside from a few light bruise on their bodies, the most severe of injuries were skin-cuts by metal fragments on Jim’s arms.
On a side note, Jim was quite distraught over the fact that his bolt-action rifle was ‘wrecked’. Just as he said, a few light cuts were now present on the weapon’s polymer frame. To be fair, the shallow cuts did scratch off the dark paint—exposing a glaring, grey color of the polymer material underneath.
“We best get out of this place soon.” Aria told her companions anxiously.
Despite their previous antics, both men had sufficient reasons to be labeled with different perks, but ‘blindness’ was not one of them.
“Our best hope is to find a river or something.” Jim replied while surveying the dimly lit landscape.
“True.” Joshua replied absentmindedly.
Just as the hail of fire had begun to subside, the mark of the inferno had deeply scorched into the surface of these lands.
It was fire.
Under the cover of the dark, piercing, red light flickered all around. The raging fire had surely spread, and now the entire area is at risk of to receive its mark. Shrubs, trees, plants of any kind were getting on fire from multiple, sporadic sources.
Not all of them were idiots, they knew the fire will spread due to the abundance of vegetation. And nothing will stop it.
They quickened their pace until they found a river bisecting the landscape. If they were to cross the river, the fires would hardly spread to the opposite end, thus gaining them finally a moment of respite.
“Nah, it’s too risky.” Jim spoke as he knelt by the riverbank.
Judging by the noise and the light reflected off the water, it was certain that what they encountered was no mere river, but a grand river.
The water is somewhat turbulent, to say the least. Not to mention that crossing the river would take approximately more than 30 paces. Such a width would also mean that the depths in the middle would be simply dangerous for any human to traverse unassisted.
Meanwhile, they saw it clearly with their eyes—the fire grows ever larger in their field of vision. Blips of light across the horizon soon merged and expanded, into a line of sizzling flames that will surely leave nothing but scorched earth once the inferno had taken its due.
“Not an option to cross the rapids…” Aria spoke as she paced around. Unknowingly, she had already torn off a few strands of hair off her head with her fidgeting hands.
“What then?” Jim finished Aria’s sentence, also fidgeting with his fingers with unease.
“Hey, look.” Joshua gestured with his finger, pointed towards a location some distance away.
A rock hill was protruding out of the surface while being adjacent to the grand river. A portion of its corner seemed smooth, obviously polished by the rapid currents throughout the ages as it stood. The surroundings of the rock hill matched the river banks—composed mainly of rocks and sand with little vegetation growing.
“We could hunker there until everything else burns out.” He explained. “Looks like the safest place there is… if we could climb it or—”
“Yes! Yes we can.” Aria interjected with a chirpy tone. “We… have this…”
Both men looked on as Aria scrounged her satchel with expectant eyes. Surpassing their expectations, however, was when she pulled out a vibro-saw and powered it up.
“We don’t need to climb anywhere.” She spoke as she walked towards the raised terrain. “When we can carve a room inside.”
With the soft hum of the vibro-saw, the granite chunks of the small rock hill gave way like a knife slicing warm butter. Simply resting the edge of the blade on the surface and it will soon sink into the stone. Being far desirable than their other option to climb the giant boulder with bare hands, they made short work.
With the help of two men as labourers and a deft-handed lady with a miracle tool, they quickly accomplished their current goal.
A tiny room, encased in cold stone was carved out from the solid mass of stone that is the rock hill adjoining the grand river.
The tiny room, carved within the giant boulder was acceptable at best. It could hardly leave out some extra space after fitting in 3 people while also accommodating to their leg room, so that they could lie down and rest after their harrowing journey.
In fear of suffocation of fumes, they also ‘drilled’ a few straight holes from the upper walls towards the outside of the stone hill.
The stone chunks they extracted were subsequently dumped outside while arranged in a semicircle as a way to hinder the incoming inferno, just in case if the fires would ever spread this close into their temporary dwelling.
Select few chunks were crudely carved into bricks and were stacked up to the narrow entrance, to keep the elements out from invading their haven. Whether it be in the form of a gust of wind, searing fumes or the ashes of the burnt.
Only when the last brick was piled and the entrance was sealed, they finally got to enjoy their long awaited respite.
Lying side by side rather unwilling, with their shoulders touching—they all relaxed themselves and enjoyed the moment in silence. As they closed their eyes, they finally felt their own bodies—their flesh felt sore and tired inside and out; while their bones groaned in exhaustion.
They lie in wait, until then.
But what happens next?