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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