(Authors note; As always , thank you to the few people that still read my story. I can probably count you on one hand, but hey, I don't mind. I am still here, working on this tale, and will do so for a long time. If you are still reading this story, send me a PM or leave a review. It always helps me write faster. Furthermore, the time in this story will remain imprecice for a long time, since no one really has any sense of timing in this universe (especially with no day-night cycle.) Thank you for reading, and enjoy!)
The ruins that were called Lab 16 loomed ahead, tall impressive buildings in absolute state of ruin and decay. the road had been decent so far, and they were getting close to the edge. All men aboard the vehicle kept their eyes open for any possible other survivors outside of Arris Dome. Up ahead was a very large structure, old, stately and dark brown. Taban motioned at the driver to half the vehicle in front of the building not far out of the outskirts of Lab 16.
"Split in 4 groups. one group stays here, the other three are with me. The old rotten doors in front had fallen by the wayside and the path was clear. inside, the three groups split up, forward in the darkness, heavily armed. There were bookcases on all sides, and the lighting was nonexistant. Taban took his team of 4 straight ahead.
"So what is this place, sir?"
Taban himself was delighted as he answered. "A library, son. A giant deposit of knowledge. We will be able to learn so much from here! just imagine...the knowledge of the future..."
"CONTACT! CONTACT!" The large scream from the left reverbed through the hall. "LETS GO LETS GO!" Footsteps all around, men armed to the teeth in full alert for danger, bursting ahead into a large room on the left side of the building.
Alertness quickly turned to confusion as the large open hall was littered with sofas and chairs...and people sitting upon them reading. Well..they were before the second team burst in, a group determined men fully armoured and armed, ready to unleash hell.
It must have been a surreal sight to live ones life of reading and discussing books and to suddenly have multiple squads of men in scaly clothing burst into your room.
"Who are you?" All of the readers but one had been completely frozen by the sudden burst of energy and sound.
"I am Taban." Taban entered the room, concern turned into cheering. "Were here to save you!" The reader stood upright, a middle aged man standing in what could only be described as brown shabby remnants of clothing. Taban spotted a working Enertron in the far right corner of the room with a line standing in front of it.
"Taban of Arris dome. We are here to rescue you!"
"Rescue us from what? We like our life here..." The man was at least 50 years old, his bald hair and sour, complaining tone made him seem even older.
"We have everything we need at Arris dome. Shelter, water, food..."
There was no further explanation needed as the whole room turned into a festival of pushing and screaming. Luckily, Tabans drilling paid off as his soldiers calmed down the crowd and escorted them to the Journey One. Crowded and cramped as it might be, they did manage to get all 46 readers to Arris dome. All of that despite the one old reader complaining about practically everything he saw during the ride.
As the readers stepped out of the Journey One they fell silent upon a proper view of Arris dome. The electric lights that weren't busted were lit up all around as the dome rose like a shining city of life in the black sands of the wastelands that surrounded them. Every hole had been patched up (roughly, ugly, but efficiently), The still unexplored towers in the back of the Dome reached impossibly high in the sky.
As they entered through the main passageway, it was Tabans and his men's turn to be surprised. The smelly and sweaty meat manufactory in the grand hall had dissapeared, replaced with all sorts of furniture placed together in cozy setups.
"They're here!" "They found others!" "Welcome home!" And so, the poor poor readers whom lived in mostly silence and quiet conversations were exposed to an Arris Dome party. All work was dropped and all rose to the ground floor to just consume food and hang out. The children of both groups, Arris and Readers went wild, playing and screaming and shouting, while the older Readers enjoyed their first properly cooked meal in an eternity. Yerians preparations for the rooms on the first floor had paid off as the new arrivals could quickly get settled in them. Not to mention, feasting and drinking all they could. All these men, women and children who had lived in austerity fell upon the endless supply of meat, eating almost like beasts. All work stopped, and the entire dome's inhabitants gathered in the main hall to welcome their new Neighbours and help them get settled.
During the festival, there was but one group that worked. The Council met, in the same run down room as they always did.
Yerian The Clothesmaker, Doan, And General Taban . Joined now by Berkan the Bonecarver a large, stubborn man who had carved out his niche of providing bone tools, decorations and knick-knacks to the community. Berkan had hair as dark as the permanent night outside, with dull brown eyes. Not to mention the fact that he was the tallest man in the room.
One thing that should be noted is that all last names had lost all meaning to those who lived in endless squalor and suffering. Last names only came back in fashion once people could once again have a real occupation and a reason to live. For instance, the bonecarvers had the families of Bone, Bonecarver and Bones working together to produce ever finer appliances, tools and decorations from Creature bones.
"So we reached this massive library on the edge of Site 17. We encountered these people inside, alive and reading. Im assuming any place that has a working Enertron device in it will have survivors. But the good news is that these people have apparently been reading to pass the time...that means that they have had the only semblance of an education in this wasteland! The other good news is that ive set up a small team of soldiers to start using Johny and the bike to ferry books from there to here. Soon enough we will have all that old knowledge here! Just imagine..."
Doan chimed in "Where will you place all these books exactly?"
"Oh, i was thinking of the small attached building on the right of the dome. Its got two floors of long halls, it will be make for a fine library! I've already instructed the workshop to invent a proper bookcase. Frendar's already working on it. Something simple, constructed with cross beams on the side and.." Taban caught himself going into inventor-mode and ended his sentence with an awkward silence.
Berkan nodded. "So, when are you moving out to the dome in the east? If anything theres a large chance of finding other survivors there then just some random building somewhere.
Taban shook his head. "We dont know what is inside City 17. Scouting patrols have spotted movement of...something that they said wasnt human."
Taban rummaged with his moustache for a bit. "I expect...hostiles. Plus the city is in ruins, we can expect a lot of blocked roads that are easy to get lost or ambushed in. So...what happened to the meat manufactory?"
"We decided to move it to the smaller empty dome on the left. We needed a place to gather and relax, and it was in the way. And imagine" Yerian added with a tinge of disgust "Coming here for the first time and stumbling upon people hacking meat to bits! We'd look like savages!"
"I see. So what are we going to do with these... Readers?" Berkan butted in. "How will we decide what to assign them to?
Doan interjected with a classic "Grandpa is lecturing you" wave of his bony finger "We should let them figure that out for themselves. After all, you didn't start out as a bonecarver did you?"
"I see." Berkan nodded.
Yerian rose to her feet, pointing at the massive feast happening in the main hall. "The practical matters are not hard to solve. Ive sent a few of my own off to arrange and prepare many rooms for them to move in. Weve already built up extra sets of clothing in all sizes, and the furniture group is running overtime."
"You can tell them to ease it. There were many chairs, seats and sofas in the library. we can just send the Journey One and have a few of my men retrieve them alongside anything else of value there.
"So, before you go, i am assuming you have not yet seen the vineyard on the second floor below?" Taban smiled.
"What is a vineyard?" was the only thing he heard in return.
Taban led all three council members past the abandoned forge and stepped onto the the black-brown dirt room. Well, room was a small word for it covered the entire floor of this level of the dome. Thin, lanky metal rods rose from the floor in large rows as little green saplings has started to grow along then.
"Within no time we shall have grapes, wine, and raisins for all. No longer a meat and blood only diet! were going to extend this to the third floor below as well."
"Taban handed each of the council members a purple grape, smiling as they carefully ate them. Most of them were caught off guard by just how sweet they tasted. "This is amazing...incredible!" Yerian almost shouted the words. "Well, we're going to expand this onto the floors below too. We'll have to grow them manually so we'll need any space we can get to keep up with supply for now and in the future."
He flapped his arms around in pride and joy, as if he was showing off one of his new inventions. Speaking of which...
The meeting had ended, and all members parted ways. Taban did a quick check up on his own workshop on the first floor below, looking at the few people that had returned to work on engineering and metalworking. As he did a quick headcount he noticed that apart from his own away team, quite a few of his craftsmen were absent. Not just that, but quite a few work-desks were completely empty, indicating that they hadn't been used in a while. Taban strutted over to a young blonde woman in an overall working hard to dismantle a half-destroyed robot for parts. "Where are the others? Aren't we missing a few people?"
"Oh sir." The women whom had been fully engrossed in her work suddenly blushed ferociously. "They're working in the garage, on the ground floor."
"I didn't think Journey One needed much repairs..."
"You haven't been told? They're working on a whole new design!"
"I see..." Taban felt conflicted, unsure as to if he should be angry or excited about his employees overstepping their boundaries like that. "Let's see what they've been working on then!"
With a brisk pace he made his way to the ground floor, crossing through the sea of couches and sofas to the Garage that had been placed right next to the big passage that led to the black wastelands. Even this far away he could hear buzzing, sawing, and the hallmark clanks of a hammer shaping metal. In the middle of the open hall stood Journey One, being inspected and fretted over by a few men, while most others were at work at workbenches that were placed on the side of the room. Large bundles of Creature skin rope hung from the ends
And right next to those stood...what amounted to three smaller versions of Journey One. The front cabin, crafted from a Creature skin covering placed upon thick metal rods was big enough to just allow two people to sit and drive. In the back was a big covered room on equally thick wheels with a long metal sheet hanging upward to cover the back.
"Just..what is this?"
"Ah, Taban, right?"
A thin, underfed man in a brand new overall approached Taban and shook his hand. Taban couldn't help but notice just how frail the man looked, his ribs poking out quite clearly. One of the recently-arrived readers, obviously. But compared to how his body looked his face had quite a bright smile on it. He also, curiously, lacked any semblance of facial hair. He was a bit shorter then Taban, but then again so were most of the people who grew up malnourished in this terrible time.
"I'm Theres, I am helping these men construct these new cars. Back in the library I loved to read all about these kinds of vehicles. Cars, SUV's, Trucks, Flatbed Trucks, the works!"
"I..see. So what have you been working on?"
"Improvements on the cargo bed. I already am starting to improve the back so that we can easily push goods inside on a ramp, while also attaching several ropes and straps to the sides so we can tie cargo down,"
Theres clicked open the back end of one of the smaller cars, pulling at it to slide out a thick sheet of metal that fell onto the ground creating a ramp. "This makes transporting anything a lot easer."
"I see..." Taban could only smile. Already, one day in, these readers were starting to contribute to this new society. And then his smile faded as he realized that there were still people out there...across the wastes, slowly suffering and dying. He needed to get them here, and he needed to do it now. The more people they could absorb the stronger the society they were creating would become. And from this dome filled with life and hopes they could eventually repopulate the earth and overcome the terrible fate that had befallen this planet. The technology and knowledge to keep millions alive now only supplied a small group of 350 people. Already new families had formed, new healthy children were on the way, and they would grow up in a world of plenty and of hope. All Taban had to do, is keep the course that he had laid out for Arris Dome. Hope from despair, and life from death. His mind looked back at the long time that he was out here, working on his own, working all day and night to get things going. Once...here lay people slowly waiting to die, scavenging for loose rats. Now...there weren't just enough supplies for everyone, but for thousands and thousands more. All Arris Dome needed was more inhabitants. And Taban was going to bring all those lost souls in the wastes to the place of their salvation.
"AWAY PARTY GATHER YOUR GEAR, WE MOVE OUT SOON!" His voice could be heard throughout the main hall, and immediately several of the men in the garage stored their tools and returned to the workshop to equip themselves for the long journey into the unknown dangers of City
P.S. I've also gone back to improve and patch up some of the older chapters to make it more coherent and descriptive.