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About Varied / Hobbyist Member Jimi BoveMale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 7 Years
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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)
 It was when I was skinning a rabbit, poorly, that I noticed: I had started talking to myself. "Whatever, it'll just be more gamey," I said.
 I had been alone in the Wastes for a week--longer than any of my camping trips. I wasn't having much trouble staying alive, but the lack of company was murder. I know, it's weird. Back then, in my home, I spent most of my time wanting to be alone. But, once I finally had it, absolutely, all I could think about was the look on my mom's face when she found out I was a murderer.
 Murderer. I couldn't go an hour without reminding myself, out there in my first time on my own in the Wastes. "I'm Silvia Iglesias," I said. I wanted to follow that with how I wasn't a murderer, but that was how the law saw me, and I was inclined to agree.
 It's not that I regretted what had just happened; Sergio and his gang were awful, and I did what I had to in self-defense. I regretted my whole life. All of the choices I made that turned me into a cold-blooded killing machine, and eventually led me away from my home and family. I'll never know how many were actually bad. After I saw my would-be final target playing with his baby, I began to wonder just how many good people I had killed under Sergio's orders.
 Maybe Sergio was the real bad guy all along. It was certainly possible; I didn't pay any attention to his politics. Just his strong, teenager-indoctrinating rhetoric. And even by then, I didn't care about that, either. I just cared about getting out.
 "I'm an idiot," I said to myself, or maybe to that dead rabbit, the only company I would have for a good long while. I decided, I didn't deserve to hold my gun anymore. Every fiber of my being was telling me to bury it and never use it again, except the ones that cared about my survival. I listened to them. I kept the gun. I wasn't a complete idiot.
 In the beginning, I hoped that maybe I could find another dome. One that had no idea who I was and could take me in. Turns out, there aren't nearly as many of them as you'd think. I spent the next three years on my own. There were a few towns here and there, settled by fellow dome-leavers, but half of them didn't speak my language. As for the other half? Well, even after all that, I never stopped being a bit of a recluse, and none of those towns had anyone worth sticking around for. Still, I had my share of festivals, fights, and flings in that time. I was often not literally alone, even though I felt it most of the time.

 After 3 years, at the age of 20, I decided to go back home. I didn't care for the Wastes or anyone in it, and I wanted to see my mom again. Maybe after my self-exile, they had forgotten me, or at least enough to notice me on the street.
 Maybe. I never made it back to find out. It was a long voyage back, and I wasn't even halfway before some guys with ancient pre-war revolvers took me by surprise. I knew how many bullets were in my pack, and I couldn't afford another fire-fight, so I feined surrender. Once they were within punching distance, I'd find a way out, I told myself. But, these weren't any ordinary raiders. They had real martial arts training, and they won that fight, eventually overpowering me and tying me up.
 I still had no idea what or why when they started guiding me to their dome. Not that I knew that was where I was going at the time--they didn't speak the same language as me. Theirs was plainer and slower than mine, almost like each syllable was more deliberate,
 I tried to escape a couple times along the way. First, I used the old "I have to go to the bathroom" trick. I couldn't say that in their language, but the universal language of touching my thighs together and putting my hands downstairs conveyed it well enough. Unfortunately, they sent a guy with me to watch, and I was beaten when they found out I didn't actually need to go.
 After that, we were walking through some narrow canyons that ran deep through the red landscape. At the right moment, I shook their grip off my arms and ran into one of the crevices. For a while, they couldn't find me, but then I got lost myself. Eventually, I ran into a small creek hidden in the stone maze, and just that very first step into loud, splashing water alerted them to my position.
 When we finally got there, it wasn't much of a dome. There was a massive, violent hole in it, making up about a third of its surface, and the entrance wasn't a high-security hidden door like mine--it was a hole blasted into the wall.
 The scenery inside was even stranger. Somehow, out of the cement-and-iron bits of what was once the dome's ceiling, they had constructed a medieval castle. It was picturesque, surrounded by hilly grasslands, forests, and even a moat. No drawbridge, though--just a normal one. What was left of the dome was more like a circular wall surrounding the keep and its countryside, just tall enough to keep danger out, but short enough to let the sunlight inside.
 I instantly wondered how they were keeping all of that nature intact, when right outside the walls was a barren desert. My dome's society and technology were completely untouched by the war and the ravages of post-apocalyptic humanity, so we still had artificial sunlight, free of radiation or greenhouse gases, and recyclable water. And yet, there I was, staring at the kind of untamed nature that I thought had gone extinct before I was born. Part of me began wondering if there was some way to stay there, without being a prisoner, and after I went back to see my mom again.

 Eventually, I finally ended up in my ultimate destination: a dungeon. A classic, honest-to-goodness dungeon, complete with a skeleton and another prisoner who looked like he'd been there long enough to forget what sunlight was like.
 I tried to talk to him, but he spoke their language, too. He must have been a citizen there, until he pissed them off somehow, I thought. The room was too dark to see anything, and both of us were bound in chains. From the scars all over his body, I assumed my inmate must have tried to escape at least a few times. I motioned my bound hands to him, trying to make a gesture that said, "How do we get out of here?" He shook his head. He must have given up a long time ago.
 Undeterred, I decided that I would have to get us out myself. I came up with a plan. I had no idea whether he had already tried it, but even if he had, there were two of us now. I grabbed a nice, big legbone from the skeleton and moved it behind my back, under my hands. Then, I used my iron chains to break it in half. I gave him one half, and hid the other down the back of my pants. He hid his, too.
 The wait was murder. I couldn't exactly talk to this guy while I waited, and we had barely met each other, anyway. Actually, I think the fact that we couldn't try to talk to each other was more of a blessing than an annoyance.
 Eventually, some guards came with his next meal. I noticed there wasn't one for me--maybe they were trying to break my spirit or something. It didn't matter. They unlocked the door and came inside, and one of them went to hand my new friend his food. He spit in his face. Overtaken by rage, the guard almost attacked him, until I jumped up from my knees, turned in mid-air, and kicked him down. Another guard came after me. I had to be quick. I swept my bound legs back to me, got out of the laying position that kick had brought me to, and jumped up. With my hands tied behind me, I turned my back to the approaching guard, pulled the bone out of my pants, and sliced his neck open.
 The other prisoner looked at what I had just done with wide eyes and a gaping mouth, before headbutting his own guard back down. I couldn't tell if he was impressed or horrified. Maybe both. Either way, that explained why he hadn't escaped yet. He didn't have the moves.
 There were two more guards in that group, and they were going after each of us in a hurry. I had to spend a while dodging mine, before I had an opening to push him over with the top of my head. I turned my back to him and stabbed him in the heart, moving down and up in one fluid motion.
 My partner was having a little more trouble. He could only headbutt them so many times, and had resorted to biting, but he was losing a fight against two opponents. Swaying my hips and carefully cradling my bone, I used the force of my body to throw my bone at one of the guards, and it dug into his side. While both guards were dumbfounded, my fellow prisoner took his chance to turn around and dig his bone into that same guard's heart.
 But, now there was still one living guard, and neither of us had weapons. While the two of them were busy fighting, I searched the other three, and managed to find a ring of keys. It took me a while to try each one, and my friend was getting beaten up, but eventually I unlocked my arms and legs and was free. In one fast motion, I pulled a bone out of the third dead guard, grabbed the last living one, pulled him away from my friend, and slit his throat. Then, I took the keys and unlocked the stranger's chains, and we ran out of our cell.
 The dungeon's hallway was also dark, but not nearly as dark, because lit torches were placed along the walls. Soon enough, we almost ran into more guards, and quickly hid behind a spot where the wall stuck out. My new friend looked me in the eyes and put a finger to his lips. For the first time, I could see him up close. He was covered in facial hair, the kind that takes years to grow, and his eyes were filled with fear, regret, and excitement.
 I shook myself out of my thoughts and gave him a nod. Then, he ran back to our cell, and emerged wearing a guard's clothes. It also looked like he used something sharp to do whatever he could to his beard in such a short time to make it look cleaner, but it was still long enough to hide the bloodstains from a slit neck.
 He walked up to the guards and had a conversation with them in their own language. After they left, he motioned to me and we went onwards. Eventually, we made it outside of the dungeon with our confiscated weapons (my rifle and his revolver), then the castle, then past the moat, and finally, we were out of the dome.

 At this point, the natural decision would've been to go our separate ways, but I think we saw value in each other that kept us together. He noticed my fighting skills, and he seemed a lot wiser than me. He shrugged in a gesture of "What now?" Probably because he couldn't return home after his imprisonment, and had no idea where to go. I pointed back in the direction that I had come, towards home. I had a feeling he'd like a change of scenery, and despite the lack of nature, the modern technology in my dome certainly made life easier.
 The next morning, I awoke to find him fiddling with my gun. I immediately sat up. "No! Don't touch that! It's mine!" I shouted in my own language. I was also worried, because its technology was far ahead of his own, and he could've accidentally shot one of us or something.
 When I furiously grabbed my rifle, he let me, and put his hands up, as if to say, "Sorry, I didn't know." That made me feel bad for my reaction. Out of guilt, I decided to teach him. I presented the gun to him, currently in the shape of a handgun, and unfolded it into a rifle. By the look on his face, it was clear that he'd never seen that before.
 "Gun," I said, plainly. I suddenly had an urge to try to teach him my language. I pointed at his revolver. "Gun," I said again.
 "He thought for a moment, and then carefully pointed at his revolver. "Gun," he said in my language. Then he pointed at my rifle. "Gun." I nodded.
 Time for lesson 2. "Rifle," I said, showing him my gun again. Then, I folded it back into a handgun. "Pistol," I said. He grabbed it, and I let him. "Pistol," he said, before unfolding it and saying "Rifle." I nodded again.
 Then, I pointed at his gun and said, "Revolver." He repeated the word and I nodded.
 He pointed at the campfire and said what must have been his own word for "fire." I repeated it, learning my first word of a new language, and he smiled.
 We went on like that for a while, pointing at various objects and teaching each other our languages. Finally, I realized we didn't know what to call each other. I put the palm of my hand on my chest and said, "Silvia."
 He pointed at me and repeated my name. I smiled. Then, he put his hand on his chest, too, and said, "Harold."

 In about a month, we finally made it back to my dome. I took in the scene that I hadn't seen in over 3 years, that had once been my home. Nothing changed while I was gone. At least, not on the outside.
The Dome Project: Chapter 3
Suddenly, first-person! This one's shorter, I know. I tried to avoid it, but that's just what the story called for.
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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)
 A massive dome sat on the horizon, surrounded by a red painted wasteland.
 It was made of some kind of gray material, possibly cement or metal or both.
 There were no visible entrances.
 A woman wearing a shirt, jeans, a large backpack, and a rifle, all in good condition (if a little dirty), was walking towards it. As she walked, she took the rifle off her back, folded it into the side of a handgun, and stowed it in her pack. When she reached the half-sphere of wall, she was so close and it was so massive that it appeared almost flat. She brought her head up against it, deliberately at a calculated spot, it seemed, and a green, flat, wide laser scanned up and down her eye. Soon after, an opening slightly larger than her appeared in the wall, and she stepped through it.
 On the other side was a metropolis. Flying vehicles drove around tall buildings scraping an artificial blue sky. Between the taller buildings were smaller buildings, pedestrian walkways, monorails, and greenery from parks, small farms, or the ocassional planted tree. The architecture was mainly points and curves, and the buildings were made out of anything from cement, to bricks, to solid metal, with plenty of glass windows. If it was possible to tell exactly where the real ground was, it wasn't easy.
 She walked forward along the main walkway for a minute before coming to a large monorail station. All routine for her, she walked through the gate, pulling a card out of her pocket and inserting it into the slot on her way in. She picked it up after it came out of the other end of the gate with her, and pocketed it again. Down an escalator or two, and her train was already arriving. Above and below buildings, walkways, skyways, and parks, it traveled on its suspended rail to her apartment.

 "Mom, I'm home!" she announced as she walked through the door. Her mother came out of the hallway to greet her.
 "And where have you been, Silvia Iglesias?" she interrogated. "Have you been with Sergio and his gang again?"
 "Not a gang, mom," Silvia replied, exasperatedly. "And no. I was at school, obviously."
 Mrs. Iglesias reached over to the phone, pressed a button, and a message played.
 "Mrs. Iglesias, this is Principal Reyes of High School 118. I'm sorry to have to give you this call, but your daughter, Silvia, has had her third unexplained absense this quarter today. I'm afraid she's on probation. If she breaks one more rule, we have to expel her."
 The message went on, but she stopped it with another button. "Don't lie to me."
 "OK, fine, I wasn't at school, but I wasn't with Sergio, either. I was exploring. I needed to clear my head," explained Silvia.
 "That's even worse! Do you have any idea how dangerous it is out there?" said Mrs. Iglesias.
 "Uh, yes, I do," Silvia answered, a little nervous about the secret weapon in her backpack.
 Her mother misinterpreted her tone. "Did something happen? Is that why you aren't doing a very good job of covering all this up?" she asked with concern. She wasn't a completely clueless parent.
 "Uh, uh, yeah!" Silvia took her chance. "I accidentally ran into some massive geckos, and I sho... whacked them to death with a nearby tree branch."
 "Oh, God, honey..." her mother embraced her. "I don't want you going out there anymore. Or with those awful boys." She reluctantly ended the hug, her arms still on her daughter's shoulders. "You're only 17, and you've almost graduated. And if you need a place to clear your head, there's always the nice, safe parks."
 "Mom, the greenery in this dome is nothing. It's sad and pitiful compared to the world before the war," complained Silvia. "At least the Wastes out there has its own sort of beauty."
 "Silvia, that's just angst talking. You're way too young to have any idea." She sighed. "I know it's been hard since your father died, but please, just stick it out for a few more months. For me. And your future."
 Silvia sighed. "Alright, alright, fine. I won't do anything bad at school anymore." At least for the rest of the quarter, she thought to herself.

 The next day, Silvia went to school. Leaning against a wall at the entrance, waiting for her, was Sergio.
 "Hey there, Silvestre," he greeted with a smug face. "Decided to come in today?"
 "Fuck off, Sergio," she replied, barely looking at him as she kept walking by.
 Sergio followed her as she walked by. "I think you're forgetting something, Silvestre."
 "Not my name."
 "You still owe us a lot."
 "I don't owe you shit."
 "Ooh, that hurts, Silvestre."
 She stopped walking, turned to him, looked him in the eye, and yelled at him, "Even if that was my name, I'd never let YOU call me it!"
 Sergio's face turned less smug and more frustrated as he grabbed her arm. "Whether I call you Silvestre or Cochina, you will repay your debt." His facial expression was a mix between anger and sexual attraction.
 Silvia shook his hand off of her arm. "Whatever," she said, turning and walking away quickly. Sergio didn't follow her.
 The rest of the day was uneventful and boring, other than robotics class. It was the only subject that Silvia could motivate herself to work on, these days. At the end of the day, however, Sergio was waiting for her again. This time, he had company.
 "You ready, Silvestre?" he asked her.
 "Just tell me where to go and what to do, so I can get it over with and never see you or your face again," she told him. Some of Sergio's gang laughed and gave little oohs. He looked very angry for a moment, before collecting himself again.
 "I hope your attitude changes when it's time to say goodbye," he said through the most convincing, yet fake, friendliness he could muster.
 "Whether I punch you or kiss you, Sergio, I'm out after this. For good," Silvia reminded him.

 Silvia was alone on a hill in a park, hiding behind some bushes. Nights in the dome were almost pitch black, in the right places. She grabbed her gun out of a bag around her shoulder and unfolded it. Then, she took a scope out of the bag and fastened it on, tightening and adjusting various bits, looking through it to test its accuracy. This, too, was routine for her.
 She pressed on something in her ear and began speaking. "Alright, Sergio, I'm set up and facing number 626. Who's the target?"
 "Give me the screen, girl," replied the radio in her ear.
 She pressed a button on her scope, and a red light turned on, as did the night vision. She looked at apartment 626 with it, through an open window with a light turned on. There was a man holding up his baby, flying it around like an airplane.
 "It's that one," said Sergio. "The one holding the baby."
 "What? Him? But why?" asked Silvia.
 "Because he represents the enemy," Sergio answered. "The pendejo's one of the allies to the Communist regime."
 "But he's got a kid," said Silvia. "He can't be terrible enough to deserve this. Look at him! He's just playing with his baby!"
 "Silvestre, you're supposed to shoot, not have an opinion. Just kill him and you can leave the rest to us, since you're too lazy to help the rest of the revolution."
 "You know I don't give a shit about your revolution, Sergio... Fine. I'll do it. But you can never talk to me again afterwards."
 Siliva waited for an opening. Eventually, the man was standing still, talking to his wife, in front of the window. She aimed carefully at his head and began to squeeze the trigger.
 She thought of her father, and her finger eased off the trigger.
 Her target stopped talking and moved away from the window. Rather than cursing her inefficient mistake, she turned off her scope and dismantled, folded, and put away her gun. "I'm not doing it," she stated.
 "What? Girl, you better fucking do it, or you're in for a world of hurt," Sergio warned.
 "No. I won't be your mindless killing machine. I don't care what kind of hell the dome is heading to. I won't kill a baby's father in cold blood," she told him. Sergio began cursing at her, and she took her radio out of her ear and put it in her bag, too.
 On her way home, in the dark, with nobody around, she was met by Sergio and his gang. She quietly cursed to herself.
 "We told you, wild girl, you owe us, and you turned your back on a debt! That is not something that God lets go unpunished." Before Sergio was finished, two of his goons had caught Silvia by surprise and grabbed her arms. Sergio approached her.
 "I can tell I'm going to enjoy Mrs. Iglesias," he said with a sinister smile, as he ripped her shirt a little open.
 Before he could rip it more, Silvia kicked both of his goons with each of her legs, knocking them over, and landed in a splits. She immediately jumped up and punched Sergio in the cheekbone, causing him to lose his grip on her and stagger a bit, holding his throbbing face. While he did that, she ran.
 She didn't get far before they caught up again. Rather than let them grab her, she turned around, pulled out her rifle, and pointed it at them. It was still folded into a handgun.
 "Don't come closer!" she barked at them. "You're going to give up and let me go home, and we're all gonna forget about this, and our agreement."
 Sergio stepped forward, giving a tsk tsk. "That isn't how this works, Silvestre." He pulled out his own handgun and pointed it at her. "You're gonna drop that, and let us do what we want. And all we want is that debt to be repayed. With some well-earned interest."
 "You're gonna kill me, and maybe my mother, too!" Silvia yelled.
 "Who said we were gonna do that?" Sergio asked, in a suspiciously calm tone, looking to his gang.
 "Whatever you're gonna do to me, it's either death or something worse. I have nothing to lose by keeping this high-velocity, .45-calibre rifle folded into a short-range enforcer pointed right at your head." Her tone and her eyes were cool and convincing.
 Sergio's eyes turned vicious, but he was smiling. "Have it your way, then." He shot Silvia's gun-holding arm, and she dropped it.
 "He's too crazy to kill me outright," she thought to herself. "His dick's doing all his thinking. I have to work fast."
 She bent down and picked up her gun with her other arm, raised it, and shot Sergio in the head before he or any of his gang could react. The others started pulling out their guns, but the 17-year-old assassin was too fast. Four bangs for four heads, and all of Sergio's closest friends fell to the ground with him, just as lifeless.
 Silvia's situation was extremely dire. She had bled all over the place, she was connected to the gang by the school and people who'd seen them talking, and the police would be there any second after all that noise. Even if she were to make it out of the area in time, it wouldn't take much investigation to find who murdered 4 boys, seemingly in cold blood, and her life would be over.
 As quickly as possible, Silvia grabbed Sergio's knife from his pocket and used it to pick out the bullet. Then, she ripped off a piece of his shirt and tied a bandage around her wound. Finally, she stowed her weapon in her bag and ran to the nearest monorail station, slowing to a fast walk once she was around people. She took the train straight to the dome's exit, and left her hometown for good.

 Harold woke up with his face on a cold, cobblestone ground. His legs were tied together, and his arms were tied behind his back. It was too dark to see much of anything, but he did spot a skeleton in there with him.
 Trying not to panic, he focused on remembering how he ended up there. He was with his friends, and a new guy, getting medical supplies for his hospital. They found a weird new weapon, and his uncle Ben accidentally used it. It was loud. Raiders came, with their own, and he and his friends won that fight, but even more came later, and Josh and Rachel...
 He pictured them in his head: the utter shock on Rachel's face as she fell, the tears streaming down Josh's face before it exploded. Some tears of his own came.
 However, he couldn't remember how he came to be tied up, in the dark. He ran out of ammo, and put his hands up, screaming for peace, and one of them whacked him in the back of the head with that explosive device, and then nothing.
 He spent some time fruitlessly trying to find a way to undo his binds, and through some enormous effort, he managed to sit up against a nearby wall. It was very dark. He couldn't see anything besides that skeleton. With nothing to see and nobody around, all he could do was bide his time, and keep working at his binds. He did that silently, alone, for a long time.
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 "So, there I was," said Josh, as the fire's light flickered on his face. "Out in the middle of nowhere  with nothin' on but my honpants and that rope she tied tight 'round my arms, when out of nowhere, her posse shows up. They thought I was the bounty!"
 "And can ya blame them?" interrupted Rachel. "With how easily she had you wrapped around her finger?"
 Josh gave a sarcastic "Ha," and continued, "Anyway, getting on her steed wasn't easy. She picked me up BY THE EARS and let me do the rest. Had a dude pointing his X-bow at me the whole time. They took me a few miles before you guys ran into us, and you know the rest." He nodded at Tanaka, who had a treated wound in his shoulder.
 "It was really miraculous that we just ran into you like that, Josh," said Harold. "Saved us a lot of time looking."
 "Like we'd bother looking anyway," replied Rachel with a wry smile.
 "Well, I would," Harold said, overly earnestly since Rachel was joking.
 "You'd comb the entire Wastes for anybody who gave you the time of day," replied Josh. "It's this lot I've got to worry about." He motioned at the other two around the campfire.
 "I-I'm the one who took a shot for you," said Tanaka after a pause, awkwardly trying to joke.
 "Yeah, but you didn't choose to. You're new, and not from where we're from, dude. I don't blame you if you feel the same way as Rachel. At least, not as much as I blame Rachel," Josh replied. He looked Tanaka in the eye, and Tanaka looked down, more nervous. "Thanks, though. Choice or not, you really went through hell to get me back." His eyes looked around. "All of you."

 The next morning began with some breakfast--courtesy of Harold, with his trusty pack of cooking supplies. Normally, they had to hunt for the occasional gecko or jackrabbit, but after what they had been through, "I thought I'd use one of my special saved cans this time," he told them.
 "Right, 'special cans.' You mean the beans," Rachel replied.
 "Beans are mighty healthy, Rachel. And I think they taste pretty alright with a little spice thrown in," explained Harold.
 "I don't think they're so delicious a little afterwards," Josh complained. "But, better than those damn lizards."
 "Or being thrown onto a horse by your ears," chimed in Rachel.
 "Dammit, girl, I wasn't thrown!" Josh exclaimed. Whether he was playing along or geniunely mad was unclear.
 "Right, so what's the plan today? We were headin' west, right?" asked Rachel.
 "That's right, to visit old Ben's. I haven't seen my uncle in a long time," Harold answered.
 "But, that's not all there is to it. We don't go out and Brave The Wastes just to say 'sup to old friends," Rachel continued.
 "Maybe you don't. But, you're right. You see, fellas, my hospital's out of some supplies. The kind nobody knows how to make but him," said Harold. "Plus, I missed the old days, when we'd go out just for the thrill and the beauty. That's mostly why I brought you two along."
 "We were idjits back then," said Josh. "Young and foolish."
 "And most of all, without our own families to take care of," added Rachel. "Besides Josh, I mean."
 "Hey, I help out Harold's kids a lot!" defended Josh. "Might as well be family."
 "Maybe when you start acting like it, I'll believe you," Rachel said, this time matter-of-factly. Josh wondered what that was supposed to mean.
 "Never said I regret all these years we've spent safe inside the dome," replied Harold. "Or my wonderful family."
 "But your patients are running out of time?" Tanaka guessed excitedly, making an effort to be included in this group of strangers he'd already taken a bolt for.
 "Precisely," Harold confirmed, smiling at him.

 After packing up their pots, pans, and sleeping bags, they set out to continue west, guided by the red, barren landscape that was once their oyster, and the occasional road.
 "So, Tanaka, what's it like where yer from, anyway?" Josh eventually wondered.
 "I-I think my dome is a bit different," Tanaka answered.
 "Oh? How so?" asked Harold.
 "Well, nobody would ever behave like Rachel does to Josh," Tanaka explained. Josh gave a hearty laugh. "Or the way Josh did last night, with that woman who captured him afterwards." Josh's laughing was cut short.
 "He's got you both," commented Harold. "Why'd you leave, Tanaka?"
 "Well, I was looking for something else," Tanaka replied. He looked down.
 "That sure wasn't cryptic!" Josh said sarcastically. Tanaka responded with silence, and remained looking down.
 After a pause, Harold said, "Hey, he'll tell us what he feels comfortable with. In his own time. I mean, he did take a bolt for you last night, Josh."
 "And I'm never gonna hear the end of it," said Josh.
 "That's right!" added Rachel.
 After another, longer pause, Tanaka said, "N-no, it's alright. I had my own friends, and sometimes we would go out into the Wastes, too. Well, they would. I never wanted to, but I had to follow them. I had no family, and my home was a bad place for people like me without some friends.
 "Eventually, everything went wrong. Out of nowhere, we were ambushed by raiders. But they weren't... normal. They were wearing strange clothes and wielding oddly-shaped, shiny, hand-held rods of some kind, and when they pointed them at you, they could somehow create explosions out of them.
 "My friends all dropped around me, but I managed to think fast. I dropped low and crawled as fast as I could behind a rock nearby. They were hiding behind some rocks uphill, shooting something too fast to see with those explosive devices. They weren't too far away. I took one of my friends' X-bows and launched one, right between a raider's eyes, and hid behind the rock and waited. They must not have been very smart, or maybe they cared about their dead friend, because they ran off even though I was out of ammo.
 "After that, I was in shock. My friends had all died in front of me. I wandered around aimlessly until you guys found me, but I think I would have decided to leave my old life anyway."
 "Wow, Tanaka..." Harold began.
 "I had no idea you could fight like that!" Josh interjected. "You are the most bad ass dude in this group."
 "Where I'm from, my skills are normal. We're all trained like that, to be literate in both fighting and words," Tanaka explained. "Given a choice, I'd be in a nice home with a family."
 "Well, when we get back, you're more than welcome to stay with mine for a while," said Harold.
 Tanaka smiled. Then, he remembered something. "When the raiders ran off, they didn't stop for their... friend. I was out of food and ammo, so I had to loot everybody, including him, and I found his explosive device. It looked exquisitely crafted. I have no idea how it works or how to use it, but I've got it here in my pocket." He pulled it out and showed it to them. Captivated by its beauty and mystery, the four of them stopped walking.
 The device was almost pure, solid, polished metal, except for its carefully shaped, wooden handle. It was a 2-dimensional design, mirrored on both sides, but sticking out of its relatively flat body was a rotating cylinder with 6 holes bored into it--some of them filled with other metal devices. At its end, it came almost to a point, and another, deeper hole was bored into that end. And between its metal and wooden sections was a small rectangular frame, with a small, curved, metal prick inside.

 Later that day, they arrived at Ben's home. It was half-wooden, half-carved into a cliff-face. The wooden parts were disguised by a combination of red paint, trees, and foliage. A visible, lone house in the Wastes was a dangerous thing, and lone buildings in general were uncommon.
 "Hey, old Ben!" Harold shouted, knocking at the door. "It's me, Harold, and also Rachel and Josh, and a new friend. I've come for a resupply."
 After a long moment, they began hearing many locks behind the door come undone, and the door opened wide to an old man with a smiling face. "Hello, my nephew!" said Ben. "Come inside!" They did, and the door closed behind them.
 The house inside probably had a lot of space, but it was piled almost to the ceiling with junk and scrap. Workbenches with recently-worked-on projects were scattered about. In the corner was a bed, a clean table and chair, and a refridgerator hooked up to an abnormally quiet generator. The house was very dark, with shafts of daylight illuminating just enough from holes high up in the wall. That would explain why it was very dusty inside. It looked like Ben had a few electrical light fixtures, but none of them were turned on.
 "Rachel. Josh," said Ben, nodding at them. "And who's this?"
 "We ran into him on our way here," explained Harold. "His name's Tanaka. He's been through hell, both off and on our account."
 "Sir," Tanaka greeted, bowing a little.
 Ben inspected him briefly, with quizzical eyes. "I see. Where's he from?"
 "An older dome out east, called Yamato," Harold answered. "Don't feel nervous, Tanaka. He's like this with everyone."
 "Oh, right! I'm sorry; where are my manners?" Ben exclaimed as he reached out his hand to shake. Tanaka stared at it for a moment, before Ben confusedly lowered it again.
 "I, uh... I don't..." Tanaka's voice trailed off. "Why do you live out here?"
 "Somebody's got to gather the local herbs and make what Harold needs for our people," explained Ben. Something told Tanaka that wasn't the real reason.
 Harold, Josh, and Rachel had been gathering Ben's newest batch of medical supplies. When the conversation died, Harold said, "Uncle, Tanaka found something curious right before we met him. You seem to know more about these things than we do. Wanna take a look?"
 Taken by surprise, Tanaka took out the metal device and handed it to Ben. "This is interesting..." Ben said, almost to himself, as he poured over it.
 "Some raiders were using it as a weapon against me," Tanaka explained. "They pointed that end, there, at me, and little explosions shot things too fast to see around me. I think they were supposed to hit me."
 Ben didn't take long to figure out the proper way to hold it. From there, he noticed his finger slipped naturally onto the curved, metal prick. He fiddled with it, and realized it gave way in one direction, towards the rest of his hand...
 A loud BANG shattered everyone's ears and echoed through the surrounding countryside. Everyone turned to Ben, and saw Tanaka against the wall, his face in shock, and a small red stain in his abdomen growing in size. Tanaka fell down along the wall to a sitting position.
 "Tanaka's hurt!" somebody shouted.
 "A-alright, Ben, I'm a doctor and you're an herbalist. We can figure this out," said Harold. Trying to be calm, but shaking a little, he walked over to Tanaka and inspected his wound.
 "You said those things shot something too small to see with their little explosions..." began Harold. He noticed the bloodstain and, upon inspection, found a hole in Tanaka's shirt at its center. "Whatever it is, it's punctured you and gone into your body, like a bolt. Only this time, it's not conveniently sticking out. Ben, I'll need some tweezers or pliers."
 Ben handed Harold a pair of pliers. Then, he walked over to a chest filled with herbs, opened it, and began mixing something. "I'll make something for the pain," he said. Harold nodded at him.
 Slowly and carefully, the pliers made their way into Tanaka's stomach, twisting and pushing to give Harold enough of a view. Tanaka grimaced.
 "You just keep taking hits for us, Tanaka," Harold joked absent-mindedly as he worked. "One o' these days, we gotta make you a cake."
 As Tanaka watched him work, he noticed through the pain that Harold's nervousness had completely evaporated. Harold was consumed by his focus on saving his life.
 After a few moments of excruciating pain, Ben gave Tanaka something to drink. A day ago, he wouldn't have been as trustworthy, but he took Ben's mixture without hesitation. The pain subsided to a dull, numb echo and he felt a little woozy, but good.
 "Found it!" Harold announced, as he used the pliers to pull out a small, half-circle metal object. He inspected it for a moment before putting it and the pliers on a table nearby, immediately dirtying it with blood. He then reached for some alcohol, poured it over the wound, and rapped bandages around Tanaka's stomach over the hole.
 "That should do it," he said with a smile, his nervousness replaced with a strong success-based pride.
 Suddenly, another BANG sounded from outside, and Tanaka's head whipped forward. They all stared at each other in shock for a moment, until Tanaka fell over with a gasp, revealing a fresh hole in the back of his head.
 More shots followed as Ben and the original trio jumped behind tables and junk. Dozens of them came through the wooden wall and bounced harmlessly off their cover, on and on, until eventually, they stopped. But the four of them didn't get up or stop being quiet.
 "They must have heard us," Ben whispered, referring to when he accidentally fired their device. "Those damn bandits have known someone was around here for years. I figured when I found my herbs outside cut by someone else. I figure they did the same. But I made sure they never found this place. I didn't realize that thing was so loud. I had no idea they had their own, either."
 Soon, they heard shouting outside. "Search the place!"
 Ben grabbed a crossbow he kept on one of the tables and ran back to his hiding place, handing it to Josh. Then, he handed the metal device to Rachel. "You're our best shot," he said. "Make it count."
 As Rachel took a moment to familiarize herself with this new device, they heard footsteps as the strangers came closer to the door. Soon, it was open, and a woman they had never seen before, weilding a bigger, longer metal-and-wooden device with two hands, was in Ben's house uninvited and pointing it wherever she looked. Josh began to raise his crossbow, until Rachel put her hand over it. She gave him a glare that said, "Not yet."
 The weapon-wielding woman walked around, inspecting the place. She was getting closer and closer to Josh and Rachel, who had picked the same hiding place. Rachel silently and quickly traded weapons with Josh, realizing she needed something quiet. As soon as the stranger saw them, she had a bolt going through her neck, blood spouting as she gurgled and fell to the ground.
 They waited for a few moments. Soon, another shout came through the open door.
 "Hannah! You still in there?"
 The strangers must have realized their friend was either dead or captured, because they fired another volley of shots all over the place. A stray shot hit Ben's generator, a piece of it flew off, and it suddenly began leaking gas and making a lot of noise.
 "They're trying to escape!"
 The strangers ran for their house and were soon through the front door. What followed was a bloodbath. Rachel was unloading bolt after bolt, Josh was firing their new weapon, and Harold and Ben were throwing random sharp objects they could find. Josh's weapon quickly ran out of ammo and gave a click sound, but soon, Rachel had finished them all off.
 In shock, and almost like it was routine, they looted and carried out the bodies, and inspected Tanaka to find he was dead.
 "We'll have to leave this place, for good," Rachel advised. "If any more of this group exist, they'll have heard all this."
 "No," Ben replied simply. "I can't go back. Just give me one of those things, and I'll fend off any more that come."
 They didn't like it, but they followed his direction, and left him one of the devices and a crossbow. They took what was left--one explosive device for each of them--and set out back home, with the medical supplies Harold had come for. They left the fifth one, the one Josh was using that ran out of ammo, with Ben to study.

 They didn't have a long time of peace back on the road. The stress had gotten to them, and Rachel and Josh were fighting.
 "Yes, Josh! It is your fault! I haven't seen these weapons around before, so those raiders must have been the same ones that attacked Tanaka. Which means they were going in the same direction as us, and the only reason they were around soon enough to hear Ben's mistake is that we were delayed. A lot," Rachel explained, aggravated.
 "And what about Ben's mistake? It was that damn shot that got Tanaka killed in the first place!" Josh replied.
 "Ben couldn't have known!"
 "Oh, and I could have known that beautiful woman was a bounty hunter?"
 "Ben was trying to inspect a new device. At least he made his mistake while doing something right!"
 "What do you got against me and women?"
 "I think it's something all women have against you alone, Josh."
 "Enough!" boomed Harold. "We lost a man, and we probably lost my uncle, too. I don't need you two being petty. I just want to get home to my family and forget about this."
 Rachel and Josh calmed down and looked sympathetically at Harold, even though he was walking ahead and couldn't see them.
 "I'm sorry, Harold."
 "Yeah, sorry, dude. Didn't realize you're probably taking this a lot harder than us."
 Harold walked on in silence for a moment. He sighed.
 "It doesn't matter. You keep walking forward," he said, trying more to convince himself than his friends. He was a doctor. He'd seen death plenty of times before, but this was different. This was a life he had just saved, and at that moment, nothing could have touched him. But something did.
 "I wasn't observant enough," Harold said.
 "Harold..." began Rachel.
 "No, it's true. The shot signaled for those raiders to show up. It was so obvious! I mean, we were still around the same area as Tanaka when..." His voice trailed off. Rachel hoped it was because Harold was done blaming himself, but it was for an entirely different reason. Harold stopped moving and stared, frozen, at a nearby hill.
 "Uh, Harold?" Rachel asked. She waved her hand over his face. "Are... you OK?" She looked worried, until she saw what Harold saw.
 Josh was the last to see it. "Fuck!" he shouted, at the top of his lungs. Barely sticking out of a rock on that hill was somebody's head, and on top of the rock between them was another explosive device.
 Rachel was first. A boom, a zip, and her body was oozing blood, right where her heart was. She stared at it in shock for a moment before falling down. Josh screamed her name as Harold ran for cover.
 When Harold got behind a rock, Josh was still out in the open, cradling Rachel's head and crying over her dying body, apologizing for his entire life and then some.
 "Josh, you idiot! Get back here!" Harold screamed at him. Josh didn't seem to hear him, and soon, a shot exploded his head. This time, Harold screamed. He pulled out his device and tried to use it on the lone raider, but it made its out-of-ammo click.
The Dome Project: Chapter 1
So, I'm rewriting The Clone, but I want to do a really good job on it. One thing I want it to do is, despite having a deep, overarching plot, also have each individual chapter feel like an awesome, complete story. Kinda like a TV show that's amazing at being episodic and non-episodic at the same time, like Babylon 5. So, as practice, I'm gonna write something else for a while. It's called The Dome Project, and it will be highly episodic. For the most part, the only constant throughout this thing will be the character of Harold and the world he lives in, but even he and his world will grow and change as it goes on. My goal is to have each episode be awesome on its own. My secondary goal is to also have the world building and Harold's character development be awesome. My tertiary goal is to bend genres and use them all. Tell me what you think and don't refrain from criticism.
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Leo-Garth's Profile Picture
Leo-Garth
Jimi Bove
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Computer Science & Engineering & Electronic Music student at UCSC who sometimes posts a story, an art piece, or a song. Future plans include traveling the world, a PhD in AI, an MD in music composition, a vast portfolio of music spanning every genre and style I can get my hands on, a career in video games, and becoming a university professor.

Check out my Bandcamp page to see my music.

                                                  

(BTW, my username came from the main character of a book I've kept in the graveyard for many years.)

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:iconbraenuun:
Braenuun Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hey, how are things going?
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:iconme-duhhh:
me-duhhh Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2009
I come to REAP YOUR POTATO

.............harvest harvest
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Writers-Slam Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2009
Thank you so much for the watch!

The Writers Slam Team :heart:
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TheRealAstroPenguin Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2008
dudeee guess who it is! send me a message of your e-mail or something
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:iconangelkittin:
angelkittin Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2008
:iconangelkittin::iconfaveplz::hug:
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BloodshotInk Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2008
:iconrudeboyskunkplz::iconrudeboyskunkplz2::iconrudeboyskunkplz3:
Thanks for adding me, I hope
you like my future stuff. :) Kate x
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:iconzukoscute2:
Zukoscute2 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2008   Writer
Thanks for the :+fav: on 'The Return' :glomp:
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:iconbroadcraig:
Broadcraig Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks alot for the fave! Although, i didn't do that artwork, fo shame!
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demon-polecat Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2008
Thanks so much for the watch and omg the journal mention!

*crazy blushing*
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happygoatguy Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
thanks for all the faves, comments, sex and what-not!

<3
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TommyTheFox Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
Thank you for the favorite ^.^
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:iconthe-literati:
The-Literati Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
:heart: CONGRATULATIONS :heart:

You have officially joined ~The-Literati - the amazing club for writers...

Expect to be watched very soon if you are not already, we like to keep an eye on all our lovely little members.

(Be lovely to be watched too, if you aren't watching us already. So you know what's what, and maybe add the icon somewhere, on your journal, up your nose, etc)

Be sure to check out current contest here! It's sure to be exciting and fun (I wouldn't miss it if I were you...)!


Thanks again.
The Literati //
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:iconarrancarsemiazas:
ArrancarSemiazas Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2008
Hey man, thanks for ading my stuff to your collection, ';preciate it =)
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Sheblackdragon Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav! :)
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XiceGfx Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2008
thanks for the :+fav:
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:icontoyflamethrower:
ToyFlameThrower Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008
Hey, dude. I'm replying to your forum post last month. I just found a way to put music on DA, but it only works if you have a flash animation program (like macromedia flash MX or sWiSh MAX). you put the song into the project, make a player for it, and export it to an .avi or a .swf or a .fla file. then you go to submit deviation on DA and put it in to " animations" category. Then, I would suggest doing a creative commons license for it (you don't want pplz stealin' your music, right?!).
then, just submit it, and there you go! if you want to check out my electronic music or my band's varied music, then visit my account. Have a good one!
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BoStevoD Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2007
Thanks a lot for the favourite, eh!
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yashfau Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
dude thanks for all the post in the forum. you totally rock :headbang: :XD:
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tinyplaidninja Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2007  Student Writer
Thanks for the fave!!
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Tharikifa Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2007
Thanks for the :+fav:
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