Author's Note

This adventure is 'journey-written' (unplanned) but with an added element. At certain parts of the story I will roll a die or two dice that will decide on the fate of certain characters or how a particular event will unfold. This added element of randomness will eliminate any bias I, the author, will have toward any of my characters. Due to this, each character developed or otherwise, has a very real chance of dying no matter their pivotal role in the story. A further warning is that if all the starting characters are eliminated through chance encounters… the story ends. Sometimes chance is cruel. It stems from the saying: 'life is cruel.' The aim of this story is to reveal that in dire situations, good won't always prevail, the protagonist won't always survive. Sometimes life is just… chance.

Prologue

I have watched the five of them grow from young babes, unable to walk, crawl or do anything for themselves. Now they are coming of age and must contribute to our way of life like we have done for the last twenty years. Kevin Basal, the oldest of the young group. He is my own boy, tall with brown hair like mine when I was a lad. He's fairly lean in stature but I suspect he's a genius in the making. Age-old computers spring to life at his touch and he wins at most of our weathered board games without a hint of struggle. I feel a spring of anxiety in my heart at the idea of sending him outside our home… but I cannot protect him forever.

Olivia Sergon was the next to be born to our small colony. Her parents came to us a year after the events that devastated our world. Sadly the girl's mother died shortly after her birth, leaving her father heartbroken. Still, he has managed to stem his grief enough to keep our generators active and electricity flowing through the shafts. Olivia does not seem to take after her father though. She is a sprite young one, eager to leave the confines of her home to explore the devastation outside. I fear she will not be happy with what she discovers. Still she has been a reputable shooter among our community. Her skill with rifles, particularly the Springfield M1903, is impressive. I am confident that with this trait, she will be well protected outside the safety of our home.

Kaito and Yume Takahashi, the non-identical Japanese twins. Their parents were tourists in New Zealand who became stranded here in Reefton when the sun destroyed civilisation. Fleeing the devastation they discovered our home and offered their services. Their skills have been invaluable as health care professions. It is fortunate that both Kaito and Ria seem to have taken after their parents and show great promise in health care as well.

And finally the youngest of the lot, Tai Parata, the boy with shoulders of a rugby player. The boy is built like a bodybuilder of the old world. To date, we've put him to good use clearing away slips within the tunnels and the jobs that require a bit of muscle. He appears to have adopted his parents' short temper but despite this, I can see he has a good heart.

Our small community has managed to survive deep within the mine shafts of the old world. It is safe here; fortifiable, and away from the scorching sun and dangers of the surface. Yet for all its strengths, our resources are constantly dwindling. We require food, ammunition, and medication.

Every few months, we send out a party of five to six of our own to scour the nearby abandoned townships. We have not required them to venture so far as the city yet. A wanderer, some years back, came to us bloody and weak. He warned us of the dangers in the city… raiders, wild animals, and the sun-touched… a few days later he passed away from his wounds.

Tai has recently turned eighteen years of age, making him the final one of our small colony to come of age. After much deliberation with the rest of my people, we have decided they are old enough to contribute to the colony. In one day's time, they will venture out with two of our more veteran collectors, James Evans and Reece Cicconi.

I know they will do us proud. Still, I feel a nagging sensation at the back of my mind. What if something happens to them? I put this feeling off to my overly protective nature. They will be fine… I hope.