Despite lots being drawn to determine which families leave the island first, the skyport was crowded with people when Satik arrived with her three children. It was a struggle to weave through the writhing mob and reach the dock where guards held back the crowd from the ships. On their way down the hill into town she saw one ship leaving and hoped they would not be too late.
Satik scrambled to find the paper that guaranteed their passage on this cycle. Running had crumpled it in her pocket and it was damp with sweat. The guard looked at the sheet while Satik's worry grew. A sigh of relief when they are let through and instructed to board the Barle. The Barle, the ship that brought her grandparents here all those years ago.
The First Signs
Fortunately for the inhabitants of Outpost 4
, the Cartographer's Guild
noticed the steady decline of the island well in advance. The guild began to gather this vertical data in the summer of 38EX. Islands normally drift up and down by small amounts over the course of a season. The previous observation that prompted this data collection revealed that islands that sink into the Floor
never rise from it again.
By the autumn of 42EX the island had only drifted toward the Floor
for 11 seasons in a row and if it continued at that rate it would enter it by the winter of 43EX. Something had to be done, over 1000 people inhabited the settlement at that time.
The Plan and the Panic
Moving over one thousand people is a tremendous undertaking and it took several seasons to convince the powers that be to supply the resources to relocate them. Only on the 43rd of spring 43EX was a plan completed. Several skyships
would be diverted from their normal duties to move the people. It took 15 cycles to contact all of the ships.
When word of the relocation reached Outpost 4
- from whom this information had been kept from to avoid panic - it was met with hesitancy. However, the people had noticed more frequent storms and the people knew the skies looked different than they did years ago. Quickly hesitation was replaced with panic and people flooded to the skyport
A lottery was run to determine which families would leave first. There were categories of lottery, those with elderly and with children would leave first, then those who required medical attention, then everyone else. These lots were traded for goods, even one story of someone trading all of their possessions except their clothes for a better lot only to end up on the same ship as the person they traded with.
The process took longer than anticipated. The panic at the docks slowed down the boarding and delayed departures. The limited number of ships means this also delayed the next boardings. Among the ships involved only one was designed for passenger transport, the Barle
. The other ships could only hold three or four families at most.
At the very end of the evacuation, the Barle
loaded the last citizens - and last people to ever stand on that island - onto her deck mere moments before the Floor
engulfed the island.
1431 people were evacuated from Outpost 4
, more than anticipated. Some of these families had relatives to return to on Breharan
but some did not. There were no support programs in place for these people when they arrived at the docks of Darapur
and many left the city.
Some travelled to Burim
to find a better life but ended up with the Muck Drudgers
. Others joined the Drifters
and lived on the rivers of the Zinato Region
. Some missed life on the fringes and moved to other outposts while others integrated into the bustling city life of Darapur