Stonewall is a unique place in New Eden. It is a place seemingly untouched by humanity’s plight, and unfazed by the Melding.
Stonewall is only one of the countless locations in New Eden, each with their own fascinating tales. As I travel across this world, I hope to document them all so that future generations – on both Alpha Prime and Earth – will have a complete picture of the human story during this trying time.
Nestled in the cliffs of southern New Eden, far from bustling city centers and Accord dropships, it would be easy to look at the tiny village of Stonewall and forget that all around us humanity is locked in a struggle for survival. The sun shines brightly in a cloudless sky, while the happy chirps of Storm Kestrel in the trees work to drown out the low, steady rumbling of the resource extractors. Small cabins dot the countryside here, each one looking like a worn-down shanty that’s being held together by little more than force of habit. Large tarps cover gaping holes in their roofs, and almost every window is worn, weathered, cracked, or caked in layers of dust.
Sitting at a small folding table in front of one cabin is Remigio, a farmer who has called Stonewall his home for over sixty years. Sipping on a glass of water, he’s invited me to join him to learn about the settlement, its people, and why this remote and forgotten community is a vital asset to the Accord. After exchanging pleasantries, Remigio begins to tell me about Stonewall’s establishment shortly after the Firefall...
Stonewall as you see it today is built on the foundation of the old Stonewall Farm, which stood here for decades and stretched across this entire valley. The old farm had two buildings: a small farmhouse which used to stand where that unsightly Watchtower is now, and a barn that couldn’t have been any smaller than a hanger. It was huge. I remember coming here as a boy and being awestruck by the sheer size of the thing.
Years later, after the meteorites fell, my wife and I were traveling to Fortaleza during an especially bleak period during that endless cold spell (the Nine-Year Winter – ED) when we stumbled on the old farm. By this point the farm was in disrepair; windows were broken out of the house, the livestock had all run off into the wilderness, and that big ol’ barn at the back was starting to come undone. The only two people that were still here were a couple of farmhands who were trying to keep it together. But they were as old as I am now, and they were dealing with the famine.
We did what we could, but they didn’t make it more than a few more months before illness took them. Same thing took my Mairin about a year later, though in her departing she had left behind a beautiful baby girl to raise.
I never did get around to seeing Fortaleza.
So you stayed here?
Nope. I moved to Paris and became a dancer!
Obviously, I stayed. I had a child to raise, and more or less a home that only needed a few things – a few new windows, some new flooring – nothing major. The barn, though, was just too far gone to save. I wound up tearing her down the first warm summer after the freeze.
You tore down the barn but you didn’t just dispose of the rubble, did you? What did you do with the refuse?
You’ve done your research, boy. You’re right – that barn is still here, in a sense. In fact, if you look closely you can see it right behind me, and you, and on the far end of the fields. Every house in Stonewall was built using wood from that damn shed. Sure, wood that’s nearly a hundred years old isn’t exactly ideal for housing but it’s held up so far – and it keeps the Accord or whoever else out of our hair, which is always a plus.
Not a fan of the Accord?
I don’t dislike them or anything like that – after all, they’re watching over our farmland. At the same time, though, before everything with this Melding thing… well, let’s just say that they hadn’t done a whole lot for us.
I think I understand. Sticking with the present – I see that there are people here. Do they live here, or just passing through, or--Stonewall has seen all sorts of people come and go over the past fifty years or so. For a long time, people would come through here and stay for a bit before moving on. Most of them were kids – about your age –who were looking to start a life for themselves, though we’d also entertain the occasional hiker or backpacker. They’d stay a few weeks, help us around the community by repairing the buildings or ensuring that our extractors are still working, and then they’d take off.
But now, with that thing--
Remigio points over my shoulder, at the massive fluorescent cloud – the Melding.
--more or less rounding us up, some have decided that it’s time to turn this little place into a full-fledged community. It’s taken
some getting used to, truthfully.
I’ve seen signs of that – with the children running around and all. Who all lives here?
Well I would be remiss if I didn’t start by mentioning my granddaughter, Domitila. She lives across the way, where she is always quick to remind me that she can always see what foolishness I’m up to. In truth she’s a very good girl – likes to think she’s taking care of her frail old grandpa. What she doesn’t realize is that when she isn’t looking I’ll still sneak in some time tinkering on this bucket of bolts next to me.
Remigio reaches out and pats the side of the rusted old tractor as if it were his pet.
At the bottom of the hill is Raul. He’s new here and to be completely honest he isn’t a particularly talkative man. He seems like a decent enough man when I met him, though, and he introduced me to his niece and nephew. They’re good kids, though I rarely see them playing with the other children. Usually they’re working the fields near their home.
Working the fields? I thought everything here was automated.
That’s just it! Everything is automated, so organically-grown food that’s actually harvested out of the ground, as opposed to what’s molecularly-printed can run a pretty high price in Sunken Harbor. A few good harvests and he’ll be able to live the high life in Copa, or secure passage to Alpha Prime if he wants.
Isn’t there a scientist who lives here, too?
Scientist? Oh! You must mean that geologist, Kaufmann. Yeah, he lives here, though anybody barely sees him. He’s one of those recluse types, always staying out in the canyons outside of town. He seems utterly convinced that there is some kind of special mineral in the rocks – a new strand of Crystite or some such nonsense – but good luck getting him to talk about it.
How long has he been here?
Kauffman has been here for years - almost as long as Domitila has been looking after me, in fact. Yet in all that time he never introduced himself, or bothered to be involved in community matters. He just keeps to himself, digging away at the rocks along the cliffs and rambling on. He’s actually gotten worse in the past few months.
Between you and me, I think he’s lost himself in his work.
Between the food that the farms here supply New Eden with, and the symbolic resilience of this place, Stonewall is something of a beacon of hope for some in New Eden. But you’re dangerously close to the Melding, and are under constant threat of a Chosen incursion. What happens if they come?
Remigio and I walk towards the edge of one of the cliffs, giving us a brilliant view of the Sunken Harbor arena. In the distance, we see a black silhouette that is accented by a glowing crimson. The sight of it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Stonewall will stand, friend. This place has survived meteorites raining down from the heavens. This place has survived a decade of ice and famine. This place survived the fall of Earth’s greatest hope when the Arclight came crashing down, and, so far, this place has survived the Melding. Stonewall will survive, as it always has.
Remigio cracks a small smile.
And this farm of mine will be providing the best damn food in all of New Eden.