New Year, Old Friends

Chapter One: Dawn of the End

January 31st

07:57 AM

Barrow-in-Furness

Christmas had been and gone, and now the end of the year was fast approaching. Light snow was falling across the British countryside as the country readied for the New Year celebrations that evening. Christmas trees and tinsels were being replaced with huge banners and fireworks, and everyone was ready for the New Year to roll over.

But while most people were planning on partying until well after midnight, other people had chosen simpler, conventional manners of celebrating the New Year. Most older people couldn't do the usual New Year's style of partying, so one of the big things that happened in the Sodor area were enthusiast trips to local nearby railways, giving them a fun but peaceful time to celebrate New Year.

And Gordon was the perfect engine for it.

The big blue Doncaster was a well known engine, for both his rarity as a class but also for his power yet smoothness as he pulled his trains down the tracks. This was the first time Gordon was doing one of these enthusiast trips, but he always loved a reason to go to the Mainland, and had quickly agreed to take part in it.

"Looks like storm clouds over Sodor." Gordon mumbled as he trundled through fields of fluffy white snow and near frost-covered trees. Three coaches chattered behind him, and a cloud of grey smoke rose up into the sky. But the thick storm clouds over Sodor looked dark and dangerous, threatening very serious weather. The sea that surrounded the island looked choppy, even from where Gordon was looking down from.

"I wouldn't talk about it if I was you, that bad weather may just come and strike us!" Gordon's driver shouted, and Gordon shivered in disgust. It was already cold enough, and Gordon hadn't been able to bring a snowplough with him, so his wheels felt sore as he moved through the fluffy substance that had spread over the tracks. The wind was beginning to pick up as well, so Gordon didn't want a full storm to arrive.

"I see the station." The fireman announced, and Gordon's crew began to slow him down. A small station that looked more like an old fashioned cottage was just up ahead, and it was the next stop on this part of the journey. Gordon had collected the enthusiasts from a station at 6 A.M, and was dropping them off at this countryside station where a bus would take them to several old castles.

"Good, I want to rest my wheels." Gordon grumbled. "It's too cold for me to be out and about!" Gordon's crew just laughed, but he ignored them: they didn't know what it felt like for him to be cold. It was dreadfully uncomfortable moving through snow, and Gordon was glad that he would have a few hours of rest before the enthusiasts returned.

As they pulled up to the platform, Gordon noticed that three men were standing outside the old waiting room. Two of them were casually dressed, while the third appeared to be wearing a uniform Gordon recognised from yesterday's bus driver.

"We've finally stopped, good!" Gordon boomed, and he was pleased as they came to a halt in a cloud of steam. One of the casually dressed men rushed forwards to open up the coach doors, while the other man moved towards Gordon's cab. Gordon couldn't hear what he was saying to his crew as the enthusiasts exited their coaches loudly, but he didn't like it either way.

"What's going on?" Gordon asked grouchily, ignoring the enthusiasts taking his picture. Gordon's driver sighed and walked along the platform to face Gordon, along with the man.

"This is the station master," Gordon's driver explained, and the casually dressed man nodded. "And he had received a phone call from Vicarstown." Gordon felt his firebox sink at the mention of Vicarstown: it was the big terminal station, connecting Sodor to the rest of Great Britain.

"A ship heading to Knapford was meant to be taking the fireworks that are being used for the big New Year's party," The stationmaster explained. "But it was held back due to bad weather. They need you to collect the fireworks and take them across to Vicarstown while the enthusiasts are away." Gordon pretended to be interested, but he was close to erupting in anger.

The main reason why Gordon had agreed to do the enthusiasts train was that he wanted a break from Sodor. All the Christmas cheer he had to put up with from the other engines had been annoying enough, but if he had remained for New Year's he would have had to take passengers to and from Tidmouth Station all night. Being in the midst all the exploding fireworks, jammed packed stations and sidings and all the cheering engines was always a waste of Gordon's time, and he wanted to remain in his change of scenery. Going to Vicarstown and into that storm could mean he'd have to stay there in case something went wrong, and Gordon couldn't have that.

But than Gordon remembered something: years ago James had to stop work during winter because his pipes froze, or something along those lines. If Gordon could fake an illness, he wouldn't have to collect the fireworks.

"I guess we could – OOOOH!" Gordon suddenly boomed, screwing his face up in pain. The enthusiasts cameras began flashing as Gordon groaned and moaned. "OOOOWWW….. OOOOHHH….. I need a drink…. OOOWWW!" Gordon's fireman quickly pushed the button, sending water from the tank in his tender into his main body. Gordon could feel it, but he had to fake it.

"OWW, IT ISN'T WORKING!" He huffed. The bus driver began shepherding the enthusiasts away, Gordon's moans echoing in the area. Two diesels pulling a long train of trucks came past, grumbling and moaning, and looked at Gordon in disgust.

"We'll move him onto a siding and see what's wrong!" Gordon's driver told the stationmaster, having to shout to be heard over Gordon. The stationmaster nodded and rushed back inside. Gordon continued moaning, but he smiled to himself once his driver had moved: now he got to have a rest, and someone else could deal with the fireworks.