It was mid-day and the sidewalks were incredibly packed. Roving through the throng of people as they moved from work to lunch and then back to their desk jobs, Dom made his way to the supermarket. He needed some food for downstairs—specific items D00m had requested he get so she could bake some more. While he could easily order all their supplies in bulk, some items he really knew they wouldn’t need to last them eternally.
Ducking into the store, he wandered the aisles for sometime before he finally got the products he needed—or rather, D00m needed. Double checking to make sure he wasn’t sent for anything else, he meandered back to the cashier where he paid for the items and tucked them away safely in his backpack. Thanking the clerk, he bid her good-bye before he stepped back out onto the teeming sidewalk. Across the street, Dom could see that people were continuing to be rounded up. It had become a daily occurrence to see such a sight. People were just gathered and loaded up, never to return the same. Just as he was turning to return home, the young man stopped dead in his tracks.
Parallel to him stood a young woman in the horde of protesters. She seemed out of place, as she wasn’t speaking and was roped in merely by accident. Glancing at where her location was relative to the caravan, Dom knew he had to act fast. Otherwise, she’d be gone forever. It was a rather far off idea to rescue someone who was in the protestor’s line and not get caught yourself. He had to do something, anything to free this woman that had caught his attention. Crossing the street, Dom pretended to merely be walking back towards his warehouse when he stumbled. His items scattered everywhere, including into the current line.
A guard approached, obviously looking very unhappy. Moving on his knees, Dom started to gather his things.
“Watch where you’re going!” the guard barked at him.
“Sorry, I slipped off the curb,” he answered, acting very jumpy; many people were like that around the new government. Checking that he had all his stuff, he frowned finding he was missing items. “I-If I may, could I go in there and grab my supplies,” he said, gesturing to the bag of chocolate chips that sat right on the woman’s feet.
“Fine, fine. Make it quick,” he said, before storming off seeing that there was some kind of fight occurring further down the line. Stooping under the current area, he grabbed the chocolate chips and pulled out his knife. The woman stared at him, unable to believe what was going on. Slicing her free from the line-up, he took her hand and led her with him out of the line and down the road a good distance into the crowd. She followed obediently; probably glad to be away from her impending doom. Turning a corner and then down into another alley after crossing the street, he slowed to a stop and released her hand. Both of them were panting mostly from the sudden adrenaline rush in getting caught and of course causing them both to get arrested.
“Are… you okay?” Dom asked, leaning against a wall as he looked at her. The woman nodded, as she too was taking a well deserved breather.
“Why’d… you do that?” Her voice was certain yet also held an air of questioning his sanity. Swallowing, he pushed away and looked at her.
“I couldn’t watch them take you away. It would have been like killing a kitten,” Dom explained. He now got a better look at her. She was tall, with strawberry red hair that was about her shoulders. “How’d you end up there?” This young woman looked nothing like a protester. Many of them were more extremists than just plain civil citizens.
“All I wanted was to say I disliked how strict the law was. They wouldn’t allow me to apply for a job in a bookstore because I wasn’t a member of the current political party,” she said, hugging herself. Dom blinked for a moment, trying to process this ridiculous rule that was probably recently imposed on the public.
“Come on, I have to get you to someplace safe. Being out in the open like this is unwise. I doubt they will notice you have disappeared, but none-the-less… I don’t want to risk us both getting caught,” he said, holding out his hand. She hesitated for a moment, the look of worry in her eyes. “Don’t worry. I have a safe place you could stay.” With her hand now in his, he led her down the way a bit before stopping at a large drain grate.
“This better not lead to a sewer. That would be disgusting,” she said, pulling her hand from him, clearly disgusted by the thought.
“I’m not that gross. Look, it’s just going to take us back to where you can hide,” he said, bending down and lifting up the grate. It took a bit of work to raise the large steel, but he managed to get enough room for them both to slip in. Cracking a few glow-sticks, Dom dropped them into the bottom where it illuminated the flat surface they would shortly be standing on. “Ladies first.” Tentatively staring down the hole, the young woman started to climb down, followed by Dom, who managed to replace the grate. Dropping down next to her, he scooped up the light, and handed one to her. Taking her hand firmly in his, he led her through a large amount of turns and tunnels until finally they came to another large grate that blocked any further movement.
Releasing her hand, Dom groped around the bars for a brick before he finally found the one that came out right in his hands. Upon its removal, he revealed that it was masking a button that he pressed. The bars groaned for a moment before rising into the wall. Moving through the way, he led her down another two turns before at last they exited into a basement she never quite figured would exist in this city.
Entering the small space, Dom led the girl a good distance into the basement where he went to a small closet and dug out a stack of towels. Setting them on the table that sat between them, Dom started to dry himself off. Timidly she took a towel and did the same. It was surprisingly warm down here, even though it was incredibly open and appeared drafty. Tossing the towel onto a chair, he moved into the kitchen.
“D00m? Uno! I’m home!” he called, listening for any sound of movement. It was silent for a while before finally several barks were heard, followed immediately by a crashing noise and then a “I’m okay.”
Opening her mouth to say something, the young woman blinked, seeing a new person approach. The girl seemed to look rather misplaced, as thought she didn’t belong. Her appearance was incredibly messy, as if she just came in from a warzone. D00m stared at the newcomer, trying to place why there was suddenly a new person. Granted Ane had told them to search for members to the rebellion… Maybe she was a new recruit. Realizing he had not formally introduced himself, and of course he didn’t know this woman’s name, he glanced at D00m before smiling.
“I’ve been incredibly rude. I’m Dom, and this is my assistant, D00m,” he said, explaining the two of them and then looking at her. She stared at him blankly for a moment before realizing it was her turn.
“Sola. I’m Sola,” she said, shaking his now outstretched hand, followed by D00m’s.
“A pleasure to meet you,” Dom said, smiling. Sola stared at them both, seeing how friendly they were being.
“Would you like tea? Or cookies?” D00m piped in, seeming eerily cheery.
“Um, tea? And maybe a cookie,” Sola answered, seeming a bit uncertain.
“Great!” D00m turned on her heel and immediately went about the kitchen to make tea, hot chocolate and get out the cookies.
“Please, have a seat. I’m sure you are very confused,” Dom said, gesturing to a chair. Sitting down tentatively, she looked at him for a moment, to observe. He was currently watching D00m make the tea and other drinks before bringing them tea, cocoa and cookies.
“Anything else I can get for you?” D00m looked between the two, curious.
“Thanks D00m. I’ll let you know if I need something,” he said, before she disappeared somewhere in the basement.
“I know this must be some form of culture shock, or maybe you are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but don’t worry. I didn’t kidnap you. I was saving you from getting brainwashed,” Dom said, sipping his drink and then taking a large bite of a cookie. Sola remained silent across him. Had he said something wrong? Either way, he didn’t know until she responded.
“If I thought you were kidnapping me, I would have sprayed you with mace a long time ago,” she said, giving him this stare as if he were stupid.
“But isn’t that something in your purse—“ he began.
“Oh just shut up. You know as well that you are trying to not freak me out because you dragged me down here to this basement where who knows what vile things you’ve been doing down here. I would have told you to kindly piss off and get back to your own business,” Sola said, glaring him down.
“Ummm… I’m sorry?” Dom was incredibly confused. He didn’t know if she was thanking him, or just spewing all her anger at him at once. Opening his mouth to add something, he blinked as Sola suddenly smacked the side of his head with her palm.
“You should be sorry! You could have gotten us both shot and then we wouldn’t be in this creepy basement that you apparently live in with some bizarre girl that barely seems to know her way around. How do I know you’re not some pervert, or mass murderer that wants to add me to his list?” Rubbing his head, Dom was still trying to follow exactly where all this insanity was coming from. Earlier she just seemed to be suffering from a mild case of shock. It was nothing a talk, some tea, and maybe a bit of food couldn’t fix. Or at least that’s what Dom hoped would work. Apparently not.
“Why am I getting the blame?! You nearly just accepted the fact that you were going to get brainwashed and have your whole life completely rewritten,” he said, obviously now frustrated that things weren’t quite going how he planned.
“What exactly were you thinking when you broke me out?! There were hundreds of others in that line. And you just picked me. What, do I look tasty for you, or are you just hoping to get a quick lay before sending me back on the street?”
“Where is this anger coming from? I saved your life! Look, if you want to go out there and get caught again, go right ahead. I’m not stopping you. But just know that you are making a big mistake. I want to recruit you!”
“For what? To join your murderous scheme to kill more women just like me? I think not!” Sole glared at him, crossing her arms in disgust.
“Where on earth did you get that idea in your head? I just want to recruit you for a rebellion! I want to give you a safe place to stay before you get taken again,” he said, looking at her. Hanging his head, Dom took a huge drink of cocoa and finished off his mug.
“You’re trying to help me,” Sola said flatly, obviously confused.
“You hate the government. I can tell. Everyone should hate these new people. They took over and killed the people we loved and are now trying to change everything to fit in their perfect empire,” Dom explained, shaking his head. His fists were currently clenched as he glared at the center of the table.
“Regicide is a crime you know! And they all just got off free because they’re the new political party. This “Good for You, Ritters” party is making me sick. There is no freedom anymore, for anyone,” he said, looking at Sola. “Don’t you care that they killed off our reigning monarch and no one batted an eye?”
“Monarchies are incredibly old fashioned,” she said, shrugging. “Democracies are in now.”
“….I am going to take you back to the surface now. You obviously prefer to join the rest of the brainless masses and enjoy their company,” he said, grumbling as he got up and deposited his mug in the sink.
“Okay, I did care that the monarchy was killed off. They were a cool family. But don’t you think we’re living in the past?”
“No. It was great to think we lived much like they did in Camelot or in England for that matter,” Dom said, looking at her. Going to his desk, he dug around in a drawer for a moment before pulling out a little cell phone like device. “Here, look at this. I have to wipe your memory.”
“If you’re going to return to the above world, you can’t know about this place,” he explained, staring at Sola. It hurt him to wipe her memory of the last few hours, but it was something he had to do.
“No. I should have a say on whether you get to wipe my mind or not,” she said, reaching for his hand.
“Then are you agreeing to join the cause? I wouldn’t have to wipe your memory then,” he said, giving her a sidelong glance. With all of his mental power and might, Dom hoped she would join them.
“Yes, fine,” Sola said, dropping her hand from holding his back. “You better know where I can get a job and live,” she grumbled.
“You can live here. And I can easily get you a job upstairs,” he suggested, dropping the mind-wipe device on his desk.
“…I’m sure it’s not that simple. I can’t just appear to start working upstairs and the owner won’t notice,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Besides, what are we under, some giant corporate office building?”
“Actually, we’re under a warehouse. My family owns the business upstairs, which means I’m currently running it.” Sola stared at him blankly. This whole situation was getting more and more ridiculous.
“…A warehouse? You live under a warehouse?”
“It is the family business. And rather than waste money on a house, I figured I could just live around here. Plus I save money on not owning a car,” he said, grinning. Dom was rather proud of not contributing to the global climate change problem.
“What exactly is the family business? Do you make sex toys or something?” Bursting into laughter, Dom shook his head. Sola didn’t understand what was so funny. Did his laugh mean that what she guessed was right? “What do you find so funny, genius?”
“The look on your face! You have to admit, living under a sex toy factory would be pretty hilarious. How that was the first product that popped into your head, just astounds me,” he said, shaking his head. It wasn’t exactly clear to him how that happened, but oh well. Dom had learned to expect the unexpected.
“What the hell do you make?!” Sola was incredibly frustrated that he found amusement in her annoyance.
“The family business is making poster tubes.”
“You have a whole fucking warehouse wasted on making cardboard…”
“I don’t make the cardboard. We get shipments of it in. And don’t worry. All of our cardboard is made from recycled cardboard and recycled paper,” he said, beaming as he crossed his arms across his chest.
“I think I need to lie down,” she said, putting her hand to her head. This was definitely a shock to her. And of course this guy seemed to be incredibly out of his mind.
“Here, I’ll show you your room,” Dom said, taking her hand gently in his and leading her down a hallway and to where several doors were. Going down towards the middle, he stopped and opened one of the rooms. “Here you are. If you want, I can send D00m to go retrieve your belongings from where you live,” he suggested. “That way you’ll be most comfortable.”
“Yeah, sure,” Sola said, going to the bed and flopping on it. She curled up and closed her eyes, resting. Dom stood there, not sure what he should do. “Are you going to stand there and stare? It would save you time and me sleep if you just took a picture.” Blinking, his face flushed red seeing that Sola was glaring at him.
“Your… um, your address. I need it,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets casually.
“Just look it up. I’m sure that brain of yours could easily use the yellow pages or even go online and Google it,” she said, closing her eyes and curling up further into the blankets.
“Right… Sleep well,” he said, his face still red as he left her room, closing the door quietly. Turning around, Dom nearly jumped out of his shoes the instant he saw D00m and Uno standing behind him. “Don’t do that! How the hell did you sneak up on me?!”
“You seemed pretty involved in watching her, stalker. Not to mention I heard you mention my name. So I figured I would come see what you needed,” D00m said, shrugging. Uno barked, happily eager to see his master.
“Did you finish your other chores?”
“Duh! Why do you think I came over here? I have another case of Rock Star to use, so I figured I’d see what other tasks you had for me,” she said, vibrating with the same intensity she had been the past few nights.
“Yeah… Come on, let’s let her sleep,” he said, walking with the two of them back to his desk. He looked up Sola real quick and then jotted down the address. Handing the scrap of paper to D00m, he sighed. “It’s just a recover mission. All you have to do is retrieve all of her stuff and bring it back here. Got it?” D00m nodded, saluted and immediately disappeared.Glancing at Uno, Dom sighed. He gestured with his head for them to go, and the two walked down the hall to Dom’s room where he collapsed on his bed in a dreamless sleep.