Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. No copyright infringement intended. Characters may be hers, but this plot is mine.

A/N: My first fanfic, be gentle. Reviews and constructive criticism welcome.

Bella

They tell me it seemed to happen overnight.

When it began, they called it a 'really bad' flu season. Then words such as epidemic, and pandemic were thrown around. Millions, possibly billions, of lives were lost as the world came to a screeching halt.

Travel and communication were cut off, and the food supply was basically nonexistent. People didn't know what to do. When it was discovered that the virus was a population control experiment gone horribly wrong, all hell broke loose. There were riots and uprisings all over. People turned, not only on the government but also on each other.

A vaccine was rushed through. However, due to production and supply issues along with the high cost involved in getting the project off its feet, government officials and the wealthy were first in line to receive it. Needless to say, the supply ran out.

Quickly.

The rest of us were left to fight over what was left of the crumbling world around us.

My parents, thank God, were a little more prepared than most. See, they were the crazy 'preppers' you heard about. You know the type. Gun toting, toilet paper and pasta hoarding 'nut jobs'. But see, they, along with a few of their 'nut job' friends had a chunk of land up in the mountains and enough supplies to start a new life. A simple life, but a new life. So who's the nut now?

They tell me that Mom and Dad both were both sick early on, but fought it. Mom's 'juju,' as we like to call it, was a saving grace. Herbs and supplements fought the virus, and they made it through. I don't remember much, as I was just a toddler. I had what they called a mild case; a fever, but not too high, and that was it.

So, this life is really all I know. We have books and photo albums to go along with all their stories of how life used to be. Television and movies, something called the Internet, telephones, cell phones, driving to the store to 'pick something up,' the list goes on and on.

Like I said, we live a simple life, and now, our little plot of land has grown over the years. What started out as a group of about thirty-five people in ten cabins has increased to over five hundred people and more buildings than I can count. So many have found refuge here. Most people are settled now, so we don't get many new ones anymore.

We know we're not alone, though. Occasionally we get correspondence from the other settlements. If we've heard from all of them, there are a total of seven. The closest one is south of us, in California, north of what once was Yosemite National Park. There are others in southeastern Wyoming, and another just outside of Austin, Texas. North of Chicago, northern Georgia, and the last one somewhere in New England.

We're not too far out of Seattle, so over the years we've salvaged building materials to add to our 'city.' Actually being in Seattle is out of the question, though. What's left there other survivors still 'defend' and it's the same in most of the metropolitan areas. Yeah, they defend them from people just wanting to survive. Thankfully, we have our own trained defenders.

The army's official story is one of defense of, and loyalty to, a government that actually doesn't exist anymore. It's just a bunch of power hungry men and a few women looking to take over what's left of this miserable world we live in. Oh, and to abduct any of us they find, to poke and prod and try to come up with a solution to their self-inflicted demise.

Oh, and here's the kicker … That lovely, oh, so, coveted vaccine? The one only for government officials and rich people? Yeah, everyone that received it was rendered infertile. The original virus left some unable to have children, such as my parents, but the vaccine guaranteed it; men and women alike. In their rush to get it to market, I guess they forgot to test a few of the vital parameters. Knowing this now, I'm glad that we were unable to get it.

We've heard stories over the years of scouts being taken while out looking for supplies or traveling between settlements. Those men and women were never heard from again. Recently, stories of people disappearing right from the settlements, have surfaced. Because of these abductions, there's been talk of organizing rescue missions, but it's just a rumor right now.

Hearing that any of the people I've grown to love may be sent off to what I feel is a suicide mission makes me ill. There are just too many unknowns. How do you prepare to face an enemy you know nothing about? With my dad's background in law enforcement, he's involved in the training of our defenders. But that also means that he would lead any rescue missions that would take place. So far, no one from our settlement has gone missing. But that doesn't mean it could never happen. I just pray that it doesn't come to that, and everyone I care for remains safe.

We lead a peaceful life. We all have our assignments. We all work hard for what we have. There is a strong sense of community, and we all help one another. Every day I'm greeted with smiles wherever I go. People fall in love and start families. Children go to school, laugh and play. We learn new things.

It may be a simple life, but it's a full life.

We rose out of the ashes of disaster, and we're stronger because of it. What's the expression? Forged by fire? Yes, we've drawn our strength from where we've been.

My name is Bella Swan, and this is the world I live in.

A/N 2; Chapters will alternate BPOV/EPOV for a while, possibly entire story. Pre written through chap 13, with much to go. Many thanks to my beta, SunflowerFran. She gave me the push I needed to get this out there, as well as wielding her magical red pen to make my words pretty. Also, thanks to 2brown-eyes for my lovely banner.