A blog where one NaNoWriMo Seattle Duck posts the chapters of the novels she never wants published for people to enjoy in the literary abandon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Writers vs Ritters: The EPIC Battle Chapter 11

Dom did not like the idea of upping their current production. It would require people to be working around the clock. The person that was currently doing that was D00m, and that’s because she miraculously didn’t die; and living off Monster and Rock Star among other food—occasionally. The whole council was currently in a heated debate about whether they should move to working 24/7. Right now he was just listening as many of them argued.
            “If we just keep going at the pace we’re at, we’ll never get finished in time. They’ll have that thing up in thirteen months,” Ane said, pointing to the picture they had currently displayed on the large screen from one of the projectors. Staring at it for several moments, Dom moved the design of the satellite to be shown from one of the other projectors.

            He knew if he had too many people coming in and out of the warehouse every day, someone was going to get suspicious. They needed to move to a more remote location…like Hoth. Typing quickly he put a large picture of the country map up. Taking a laser pointer, he started to look through the areas as the others continued to debate.
            Sola was instantly at his side as he examined the pictures. “What are you looking for?”
            “We can’t stay here. At least not all of us,” he said, taking note of the forest by the mountain range. As his eyes skimmed the mountain and forest terrain, he had to zoom in to provide him a better picture. Oddly enough, there was a space that changed compared to the trees around it. The trees were no longer consistent. He leaned over to Sola.
            “Do you see that?” he whispered, pointing to the large space in the trees with his red laser pointer.
            “It looks square,” she said, trying to make sure she was certain that was what she saw. Dom smirked; he was glad he wasn’t the only one that saw the inconsistency.
            “Exactly. That right there is our new mother ship,” he said, grinning at her excitedly. Behind them, the debate had gotten louder in which now many of the council members were yelling at each other.     “What is that exactly?” Sola said, raising an eyebrow at him.
            “During the war, they used to have hidden military structures to make it very difficult to attack the base. It provided a great amount of protection because the enemy never knew where a base was located… This one was probably abandoned a long time ago,” Dom said, examining the photo a bit more carefully. “The road seems to have a lot of over growth, which means we could easily get things in and out without the trucks being seen. As long as we make sure we don’t cause any waste, or damage anything.” The two of them hugged as they stared at the building.
            “Okay, well what about this place? Isn’t it your home?”
            “It does belong to my family, yes. The drive between here and there isn’t that long… maybe an hour or two tops. I could easily use Ane’s car and drive back and forth,” he said, knowing he still had to remain here.
            “Aren’t you worried this place won’t be taken care of?” He raised an eyebrow at her after she asked that question.
            “Tom can watch after the place. Besides, we still need to keep a headquarters here. We just need to move the large group gatherings somewhere else,” he explained.
            “You can’t always depend on Tom to do things for you,” Sola objected.
            “He wants to help, Sola. And the only way he can is by helping us here. All the workers can keep a secret. They did sign a confidentiality form—and they hold a lot of loyalty to my dad,” he said, knowing Tom could easily keep everything around here under control. It was after all part of his job. Turning around, he blinked seeing that everyone was pretty much in a tense uproar over the topic of increased production. Opening his mouth to get their attention he was suddenly caught off guard by a loud whistle. Glancing to his left, Dom saw that Sola had two fingers at her lips and was the one that immediately silenced them all with the piercing noise. Blinking he smiled at her. “Thanks….” The others stared at him and Sola, confused why someone had been able to silence them with such a noise..
            “Now that you’ve all gotten your aggression out, Sola and I have a place for us,” he said, looking around the room.
            “A place? We have a place here,” Aldorel said, looking at him with confusion written on her face.
            “No. A new place. If I have people coming and going from here all day long, someone is bound to get suspicious and we’ll get found out. But, if we’re here,” he said, using the laser pointer and gesturing to the spot he and Sola had been staring at for several minutes. A circle appeared around the hidden building thanks to the computer sensing what Dom was drawing with the laser pointer.
            “What is that?” Minari asked, raising an eyebrow.
            “That my friends, is our ticket out of here… Or maybe some of yours. You see, we need to get all the recruits to go somewhere else. Thus, we’re going to get ourselves a new mother ship to call home. At least some of us will call it home. The rest of us will remain here where we can continue to keep an eye on the inner workings of the GFU and Ritters. Otherwise we might be hosed to lose this space,” he said, trying to figure out any sort of response they had. It was pretty quiet for a few minutes.
            “You want us to move to the woods…” said Ane, who was staring at him for a minute, her expression completely blank.
            “Yes. We’ll be able to have all of the recruits live there, and train them faster. Plus, all the room in the world to practice maneuvers and prepare,” he explained.
            “Are you nuts?” Minari said, not really able to comprehend the idea of living in a forest.
            “Understand that it’s probably pretty protected hiding there. People probably forgot about it. It’s not exactly a tourist attraction,” he said, looking at her. “Most of us will be living here. The only people that are going there are the recruits and their trainers,” Dom finished. Still more silence, which made Dom uneasy.
            “That is probably the only idea we have right now,” Ane said, nodding.
            “It’s better than getting us found out,” Sola said, glancing at those that were still a bit uneasy about the idea.
            “Alright then. Let’s get this place checked out,” Ane said, getting up.
            “Where are you going?” Dom asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
            “I’m going to look at this place… And get a lot of cleaning agent,” she said, heading for the closet.
            “D00m can clean. We need her there anyway. Sola, D00m and I will go there and make sure it’ll suit all of our needs. But I can guarantee you that it will,” he said, determined. Ane nodded.
            “Now that we’ve determined that… who is going there?” She said, letting her eyes wander around the circle.
            “As many of the council members will remain here; those that don’t need to leave. We can hide here, and the recruits can move to this new base,” Minari said.
            “We need to have the ones that have a talent for it—the recruits—to take charge and train others. Then we’ll have them also set up their own command center there, so that we can have twice as many people working on data collecting,” Dom said, setting down the laser pointer.
            “What else are we going to do here?” Mizzy said, looking at Dom pointedly for an answer.
            “We’re going to be recruiting more… Those of us that can leave will search for more that want to join up. From there, we’ll get them sent to the mother ship where they can get trained,” he explained.
            “Besides recruiting… what else is there for us to do?”
            “Well, we’re also keeping an eye on the GFU and Ritters. If they make any moves, we’ll know immediately,” Dom said, trying to answer her question to the best of his ability.
            “Okay. Works for me,” Mizzy said, shrugging.
            “Any other questions?” Not seeing any hands raised, he nodded. “Great meeting people. I have to get back to work now,” he said, waving as he walked out and returned to his workbench.
            Meetings like that always made him surprisingly uneasy. There were many women among the ranks, so he was always nervous that one of them would object or claim he was being sexist. Wanting to please all parties, he would rarely speak up unless he was asked. But with all these women, Dom felt not only intimidated, but just a tad bit outnumbered. Gathering the parts he needed, he resumed the process of building some portable shield generators… or at least some kind of protection that could regenerate if it were knocked down. Tinkering with some of the machines he had bought from Hadrian, Dom glanced at the crate of things he had already made: heavy-duty but light weight armor, several different kinds of weapons to use against all types, some basic shields and a few other gadgets that could use some kind of improvement once he had more time.
            After a little bit, he glanced over and saw that all the other council members had resumed their normal duties. Compared to the others, Sola seemed incredibly relaxed, which to him was a good sign. She had taken it upon herself to make sure Dom slept every night by dragging him to her room and tucking him into bed. So far he had been getting between four and six hours a night, so he didn’t look completely like a zombie. Either way, he had taken great comfort in being able to rest so peacefully thanks to her. Sola of course took great pride in being able to keep Dom in line and get him to not exhaust himself while working. 
            Staring at his current work he thought about the move. It would require a lot of work, and possibly a great deal of money, but so far they were doing really great with expenses—at least according to Sola. Anyone that could, would donate and apply as much of their paycheck as they could to their cause. Having taken over the job as accountant, Sola took a lot of pride in being able to keep the books so well balanced and still be able to do her other jobs. She made sure that every month they kept some money in a savings account to help them in times of emergency. And so far they hadn’t needed to touch that money. This might be that time when they did. Either way, he would have to ask her if this still fit into the budget or if the two of them would need to sit down and rewrite it.
            If they did, this would be the sixth time they had in the last two months. Ane had never mentioned them having all these extra costs, which was bringing them quite a lot of trouble if they weren’t careful with theirs pending. So far though, Dom had taken extra precautions to make sure he wouldn’t over spend, or add on anything that they didn’t need. Sola made sure he wouldn’t buy anything without consulting her—unless it was an emergency business expenditure that needed to happen in order for things to run smoothly upstairs. It was a miracle to Dom that they were able to pay all the bills and still have some emergency money. All it ever seemed he was doing was ordering provisions of all kinds.
            He snapped out of his thoughts as he got the idea on how the portable generator would work and how it would not spew horrible noxious gasses. The last thing they needed was for them to be using the items and then accidentally kill off their whole army because they used a device that could potentially kill because of the fumes. Taking apart the generator he had sitting on the floor—having nearly thrown it last time he attempted this—he had moved it now to the top of his workbench where it was quickly turned into several hundred pieces. It took some time, but after examining all the parts, he finally managed to replace some of the ones that caused the problems. Grabbing a plug, he immediately tested the generator after adding a bit of fuel. Waiting several minutes, he grinned to see that the light bulb lit as it was supposed to. Using another gauge, he determined if there was any amount of dangerous gas in the air, which much to his relief there was none.
            Grinning happily, he shut it off and set it aside. He would definitely show Sola later. She had been incredibly supportive of him finding a new way for them to generate power safely. So far his ideas for water and nitrogen weren’t very effective… so instead he went for the next best thing: chicken broth. After a bit of testing, he found out that the added saltiness transmitted the electricity well and provided a nice refreshing, and very comforting smell to many. Granted it also led to a lot of cravings of the soup, so he always had to keep some on hand for himself and the others in the base.
            Digging into the drawers Sola had him add to his workbench, Dom grinned at finding that one of them was stocked with some snack food. Taking out a package of graham crackers he munched away at them as he looked through the other designs in his composition book. So far he had managed to get several of the gadgets working. Now it was just a matter of having his other techies getting them built in mass production. If that could happen he would be incredibly ecstatic that such a thing was possible.
            Thinking to how fast the past two months had moved, he eyed his calendar. His and Sola’s date had been cut awfully short… which made him quite sad that they weren’t able to finish it completely. Although he was glad she did at least enjoy dinner. Dom vowed they would go to another great restaurant when things weren’t so hectic, but so far that opportunity didn’t look like it was going to be any time soon. They were going to have to wait until after all this brain washing the whole country thing blew over and they had accomplished their goals of fighting the government.
            It was probably getting to that time when they could let the recruits know what the next plan of action was. After all, they had been kicked out rather suddenly the previous night. And now here they were getting ready to move a large amount of their stuff to an old abandoned military base. The worst case scenario would be if the GFU party was still using that building, but secretly wasn’t. Hence why the following day, he, Sola and D00m were going to do a bit of exploration and make sure the building was safe.
            Leaving his work bench, Dom started to go about to some of the different closets and cabinets to collect items they could use for their adventure… Or at least that’s what he liked to call it. They might do a bit of spelunking since the base probably did have a rather deep area… He was betting it once held missiles. All they had to do was get a way so that they could have power and probably reroute all the electricity. Dom made a mental note to get to work on getting them some windmills and solar panels out there to make sure they weren’t stealing any amount of electricity from the grid. Otherwise they would definitely be caught. It would be best if they just found a source that was renewable and inconspicuous.
            This matter would be one he would have to bring up to Sola if he wanted to even think about purchasing the items required for powering the base. It would require a lot of work, but Dom was certain he could convince her that these costs were beneficial—and not just to the environment of course. Knowing Sola though, she would approve. She was an environmentalist like so many others, so it would probably be easily “Okayed” by her.
            His work bench was steadily becoming a large pile of items: rope, miner helmets, backpacks, water bottles, food packages, and of course flashlights and extra batteries. There would probably be more items later, once he spoke with Sola and D00m, but there was no telling what they would need now. It would be best to wait until after they chatted; then he would know what else to add to their currently growing pile. Taking a good look at all the items he had gathered, it was a good start, but they were going to need more. He continued to go through all the closets, taking out some climbing harnesses, and of course a first aid kit—very important. Leaving the items behind, he wandered over to Sola’s desk, hoping he could bug her for at least a little bit. D00m already worked for him, and would probably enjoy the jaunt into the new unexplored territory of their new mother ship. She looked up as he approached.
            “Whatever it is you want to purchase, the answer is no,” she said, one headphone currently up while the other was resting against her temple.
            “How did you—? Look, this isn’t about that, exactly. With this new place we need to generate power for it—“ he started to explain.
            “And so you want us to purchase generators and get those all hooked up?” Sola said, looking at him over her glasses.
            “Well, no. I wanted to—“
            “Use some other form of generating electricity? Good. I’ll approve of it once I see the budget written up on my desk,” she said, reaching over to the dial and changing stations of the news broadcast she was listening to.
            “I never had to submit a budget before, just the item request,” he said, confused why there was a sudden change in policy.
            “It helps me keep track of everything. I put it all in a binder and my computer. All of the information is easy for me to access and make sure I have it recorded,” Sola said, grabbing a form and handing it to him. “If the form is in to me by tonight at bed, I’ll approve it all for purchase tomorrow morning.”
            Accepting the form he looked it over. There was a great deal of information he had to provide, which definitely wasn’t what he was expecting. All he thought he had to do was speak to her and get it easily signed off as an expense. Then again, this was an expense that they could use as a tax write-off. It had some incentive, but he needed to gather a great deal of data to give Sola. Some of the terms were incredibly foreign to him, which he figured would require him to actually do some searching.
            “I can’t just tell you and get it signed off?”
            “No. I can’t show favoritism to you; people will think we’re sleeping together and that you get everything you request,” she said, listening in on the broadcast.
            “We’re not sleeping together in their terms. And I get everything approved anyway. So does everyone else. When have you rejected someone?”
            “Never. I just want all my ducks in a row,” Sola said, looking at him. “Just please fill out the form.”
            He nodded as he turned and approached his desk. It was going to be a long day, and a while before he was able to get anything approved and turned into her. Dom still had a lot of other tasks to do, but Sola always urged him to have his paperwork done first. Plopping down in his chair, he grabbed a pen and started to fill in the basics that he knew off the top of his head. All the other boxes to fill in required him to use the internet. The light from his laptop was brighter than usual, or maybe he was just a tad tired and his eyes hurt. Digging into a drawer, he grabbed some eye drops and took care of any pain he was currently experiencing. Sure, the drops made his eyes water, but at least they helped with some of the swelling, cloudiness and red eye he was suffering from.
            Dropping the bottle back into the drawer, he grabbed a tissue and wiped at his eye to rid himself any excess liquid. Feeling the pain dissipate, he quickly began his web surfing to find all the requirements Sola was looking for. Squinting at the boxes he was filling in, he scribbled in the information as much as he could—attempting to make it as legible as possible. Sola had complained how horrid his handwriting was. He spent much of his time welding and building, not writing eloquent poems and sweet nothings. Finding that the page was full of everything, he looked it all over to decide if there was anything else he needed to add.
            Getting up from his desk, he left his office to find a lot of the recruits had returned. There was significantly less than the usual number. The ones that had arrived must have been the ones that they had selected as leaders. So far they were checking in and getting to the main lounge area so that Ane could talk to them. Seeing that many of the council members were going too, Dom moved into the command center and went to sit by Sola; in his hand he clutched the form to get his expenses paid for.
            “You get that all done?” Sola inquired, typing away on her work computer as she added more information to the current window that was open.
            “Yeah… But I was just wondering if you wanted to go with D00m and I to the new base to check it out,” he said, deciding he shouldn’t spin in the swivel chair so as to be a distraction. Sola reached over and snatched the paper from him, and looked it over before adding it to the pile.
            “I don’t know. You seemed to just volunteer the three of us,” she said, giving him a sidelong glance before she turned her eyes back to the screen.
            “I just thought you would want an escape, and have an adventure,” he said, shrugging. Sola had been down there for quite a while, and had only left for grocery runs when they didn’t get something that someone wanted. Usually it was chocolate chips, or some kind of ingredient that D00m or someone else needed for something they wanted to cook.
            “Remember to ask first okay? I hate to discipline you,” she said, reaching for a magazine that she kept rolled up to hit him with. She swung and caught him in the forehead just as she had aimed for. Dropping it unceremoniously on the top of the desk, she grabbed his paper and read it over.
            “I’ll ask next time. I promise,” he said, nodding. “It won’t happen again.” He watched her skim his paper, which made him curious what she thought. “So…?”
            “You want us to purchase wind turbines and solar panels?” She turned and looked at him, looking for some kind of response to her question.
            “Yeah… I wanted to use that at the mother ship. That way it won’t be suspected. They could take satellite pictures and just assume some company is being greener than most,” he said, choosing his words carefully.
            “What if they take pictures and figure out that we’re in the old military base?” Sola looked at him, expecting that he hadn’t thought about that.
            “One of us could hack up there and make sure that the original photo of the mountain is the only one they ever see,” he said, thinking that was the only thing they really had to do.
            “They could find out really quickly, Dominic. You have to have a better idea than that,” Sola said, reaching for the magazine again. Upon seeing this, Dom’s brain went in a panic.
            “Okay, okay! I’ll come up with something else. Did I at least get your approval?” He held up his arm to protect himself just in case she still struck him.
            “Yeah, yeah. You jumped through all the hoops, now you get a cookie,” she said, still hitting him with the magazine.
            “Hey! What about my cookie?”
            “Go get one from the kitchen, you goof. Seriously,” she said, shooing him away. Despite being waved off, he still remained sitting there.
            “So they’re the ones that are going to run the mother ship?” Dom was looking out the command center door and towards the lounge where Ane was instructing the new leads.
            Without even looking up Sola responded. “Yup.”
            “You think they’ll be able to handle all the pressure of maintaining the status of our training?”
            “Let’s hope. But you know, we won’t be certain until we check up with them and see how they do in battle,” Sola said, shrugging.
            “We shouldn’t be finding out if they’re all skilled or not when we actually fight. I’ll suggest that we run a few simulation sessions just to be sure,” he said, glancing over at the room. They were the only two in the command center, which right now was perfectly capable of running on its own for the time being. He could see Minari had gotten up and was helping Ane explain what exactly these people were going to be doing. Several other members were there too, mostly standing around in the back—probably glad for the break from all the data reading and interpreting.
            They were sitting happily, enjoying each other’s company despite the fact they weren’t doing anything other than sitting quietly. As they dwelled in the silence, D00m skidded into the room and right to where they sat. She looked pretty happy and not at all tired—which Dom thought she was lucky she never looked like a zombie despite the fact she almost never slept. It was getting hard for them to keep up the amount of Monster and Rock Star D00m required in order to stay normal and be herself.
            “Something wrong D00m?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at her. Looking frantically between them, she flailed about.
            “Are we going exploring tomorrow?!” Her eyes darted between the two.
            “Yeah. We’re going to be gone for a few hours as we make sure everything is set up for us,” Sola said, glancing at Dom before back at D00m.
            “Should I bring my cleaning supplies? I’m sure it’s just waiting to be sanitized and scrubbed clean,” she said, obviously incredibly excited.
            “If you’d like. We won’t be doing any tidying tomorrow, but you are welcome to remain there while we return here and let people know what we’re planning,” Sola suggested, knowing that the two of them could easily come back and D00m could have free range of the whole entire place.
            “That would be amazing!” And with that D00m was suddenly out of the room and going about her usual duties of cleaning. She disappeared into the kitchen for a while to make some food for everyone there. After setting it out for people to serve themselves, she was off with a flash as she went off to clean some more. The two exchanged a glance before they laughed.

* * * * *

            The drive up there was incredibly fast. Thankfully the roads were not very crowded, making their trip down into the country a whole lot easier. Dom had Sola get him there at least partially using the map, but it was finding the back road that took them the most time. For the better part of an hour, they searched along the usual way people would come to arrive into the city. D00m walked along the road with Sola while Dom parked the car in a single location so that he could walk and find the road.
            Sola managed to find the right path. It had become so overgrown that just going by it someone would think it was just a deer trail. Instead, it was a long seemingly winding road that actually had a corner midway down the way that hid it completely. They could easily park the car back there and remain hidden, without even being spotted. Dom slowed the car as they saw the large building looming ahead. Pulling to a stop and shutting it off, he got out, grabbing his pack and handing Sola hers. D00m took hers, which was loaded with all kinds of cleaning supplies.
            Taking a few steps forwards, Dom had the area scanned for any sort of alert system. From what his probes told him, nothing was in the vicinity that could possibly tell anyone that they were there. Walking slightly ahead of both D00m and Sola, he stopped when they reached the entrance doors. Tentatively he placed a hand on the doorknob and pulled at it. The door resisted as it had been a great deal of time since they were last moved. Tugging a bit harder, he added more force in order to finally gain access to the facility. With a loud creaking noise the door swung open, allowing them entrance.
            Unhooking his helmet, Dom turned on the light to his helmet and stepped into the stretching expanse of darkness. It was too risky turning on a light switch for fear that someone would discover they were there. So instead they would traverse the darkness with only some lanterns and their headlamps. So far it felt incredibly intimidating to know that this was once a military base that at one point held missiles, tanks, guns and many other items they used. D00m’s eyes were on all the dirty surfaces she could see—which at this point was pretty much anything and everything.
            Sola watched where she stepped, nervous that she would accidentally set off some kind of mine, or weapon that would kill them. She had a hard time believing Dominic that they hadn’t left anything there. The war had been over for more than half a century; the cleanup had already taken place and yet there was still plenty of debris spread about. Ahead of her, Dom walked as he checked out every room and all the hallways—although D00m was significantly farther ahead, making sure everything was completely clear. So far they hadn’t found anything that remotely signified that someone was watching them, or had sensed their presence.
            Dom glanced back at Sola, who was following behind, taking in the sights. He knew she would probably be safer in here than if she chose to wait in the car. Turning his attention back ahead of him, he kept a close eye on the rooms he had passed. So far there were a few small offices, and then they had recently passed some kind of medical place, followed by a mess hall and now they were coming up to a barracks. Opening the door to the women’s barracks he could see that it was full of plenty of beds; and upon doing the same for the one across the hall, he could see that the men’s was equally as well stocked. This was turning into a great, successful trip. All they needed now was to find the hanger, where they could run training sessions and hopefully get others in the practice of combat. Hell, he could even turn a good portion of a hanger into a shooting range.
            Pushing through the last of the doors in the hallway they came upon the largest room of all—the hanger. It never held any planes, as there was no need for this base to host anything like that. Instead it held unarmed missiles, tanks and many other forms of battle ready equipment. Despite being able to hold all these items, it seemed huge since it was so empty. Dom could already see all the possibilities with this space. Grinning, he flicked on one of the lanterns and set it down. D00m was already on the other side and switched on another. Between the two, Dom calculated there must have been at least two and a half to three football fields inside there. And that wasn’t even counting the rest of the building that they had already explored. How this place hadn’t been already converted for some kind of use by the GFU was beyond Dom.
            “How perfect is this place? I mean, really, this could probably be our greatest discovery,” he said, looking up at the ceiling and shaking his head. His voice echoed slightly in the acoustics.
            “Before you start counting these chickens, how about we make sure the heating and electricity can be changed and powered by the solar panels and wind turbines?” Sola looked at him pointedly that it should be examined before he assumed anything.
            “Right! I’ll go find the generator. You have the first shipment of panels and windmills getting shipped to the factory, right?” His eyes scanned for the tubing he would find all the wires located in; if he could locate those, he could follow them to where the main substation was so that he could get to rewiring it. Sola watched as he wandered off, hopefully going to do what he said he was. She headed for where D00m was, a map of the place clutched in her hands. Judging by the pencil currently scribbling around the chart, she was planning out how exactly she was going to clean this place.
            “Are you sure you can clean this place with just what you have?” Sola raised an eyebrow at her.
            “Well, even if I can’t, I’ll still manage to get some of this done. Once we have electricity, I’ll have this whole place cleaned in a jiffy,” D00m said with a nod. Sola had no doubts that D00m could get this whole facility spotless and looking like it were brand new. It would not surprise her at all if D00m went so far as to repaint the whole place and possibly retile anything she could.
            “How long do you think it’ll take before we have any electricity? We still have to get all the solar panels, set them up and install the proper wiring… and then we will still need to get all the recruits here and help build the wind turbines,” Sola said, estimating in her head how long it would take. “That right there is several weeks of work.”
            “Everyone working together would get it done super fast. Especially if we all worked the way I do,” D00m responded, making a few more notes before stuffing the map back in her pocket. “You gonna stay and clean?”
            “No. I’m needed back at HQ. But once Dom get’s the electricity set up, you’ll be able to do all you want with this place. Just call one of us if you need any kind of supplies sent up,” Sola said, shaking her head.
            “Monster and Rock Star for sure. Lots of cleaning agents, and paint,” D00m said, giving Sola her list before she knew it.
            “Wait, how do you know you’ll need those?” Sola didn’t even have time to jot all that down… granted it wasn’t much so it was pretty easy to remember. Just think of D00m and she could probably figure out the list.
            “I just know. You’ll know, Sola. It’s all I ever need,” D00m said, before she headed off to go start her cleaning. Staring blankly at the wall, she then went in the direction Dom had wandered off to. He was a pretty easy person to track down. Stepping into the sunlight, Sola squinted at the brightness. Shielding her eyes, she glanced around until she found Dom outside examining some wires. Right now he was frowning, obviously not liking what he discovered. “Something wrong?”
            “Yeah. I have to somehow get under this place to get to where I want. This is the main entry lines, but I need to find the substation room,” he said, standing up. Pointing up at a large tower that resembled a tree, his finger followed it to the corner of the building. It was an area they hadn’t quite explored so thoroughly.
            “And that is?”
            “How I will find the way to rewire everything. Luckily I could just send the power in through here, but I need to turn those off or switch it to store energy for us, that way we could have electricity at night, when it’s most vital,” he said, covering the wires again.
            “And you’re going to do this how?” She observed him, hoping his face would reveal any details.
            “We need to find a blue print of the layout, so that I can somehow get down there and get the rewire job started. It will make the installation of the solar panels and windmills much easier,” he said, adjusting the bag on his back. “Where’s D00m?”
            “Already starting on her cleaning spree. I swear she’ll go insane here,” Sola said, glancing back into the dark hanger.
            “Nah. She was a born cleaner; loves to do it, and would probably spend her life doing that, or accidentally getting herself blown up in the process,” he said, causing Sola to gape at him.
            “That’s so mean!”
            “I’m sorry! You know as well as I that it’s true! Without her, all of our lives would be a mess. Literally,” Dom said, pointing at Sola. She couldn’t lie, he had a point. But still, he deserved some kind of punishment for that. Reaching over she smacked him on the side of the head.
            “Maybe you should start doing the cleaning around the warehouse for a change,” Sola suggested.
            “Hey, I did that for years when I was a kid. It was the only way I could earn money,” he said, holding up his hands in defense.
            For a while, Dom had been the only male that was really willing to fight for this cause, but over time others had started to join. Now he was taking charge of aiding in training some of the other males that had started to object to being trained by all the women around. He didn’t really like being singled out, but when Ane or Minari really needed him for when they gave instruction, they often times used him as their punching bag. It would hinder him to work, but so far he would just be there to pretend to be a threat. For a time he had suggested that the women practice on each other, as when it came to the real thing, they would be fighting against everyone and not just men. Rather than let him down easy, Minari found it fun to just as easily tell him “No” by throwing him or flipping him onto the self defense mat. Somehow Dom figured it helped relieve her aggression.
            “That doesn’t mean you can just pawn it off to someone else,” Sola said, rolling her eyes.
            “Like you didn’t wish you could pass your duties off to anyone else,” he said, looking at Sola. Anyone would want to just go get rid of their daily duties and go about what they wanted to do.
            “Don’t you have something you should be doing right now?”
            “Oh, right. You can come along if you’d like,” he said, heading off back inside. Sola hesitated for a moment, not really wanting to be left outside. She turned and followed him as she didn’t really want to join D00m in cleaning either. It was pretty easy to trail Dom, as he was the only light source that she could see. Not to mention he was stumbling just about as much as she was.
            Together they managed to make their way towards the far corner of the military base. Just as they thought they had finally reached their intended destination, they found an infinite amount of darkness that seemed to go on forever. Taking a larger more powerful lantern from his backpack, he switched it on, revealing a huge expanse of space that seemed to just go on forever below them.
            “It’s a missile silo,” he said, propping up the lantern so they could see clearer. High above them was a domed ceiling that arched and had lots of machinery attached to enable the top to open.
            “Is there any in here?” Sola’s eyes followed up until she could barely make out the roof.
            Turning to peer downwards, Dom looked down to try and see the bottom. So far he couldn’t even see anything other than lots and lots of stairs leading in a large spiral downwards. He had a hard time making out if there was anything down there. From what he could see, there wasn’t much… collected rain water and maybe leaking waste.
          “I’d have to go down there and be sure. But somewhere down that way we might find the source for electricity,” he said, fixing his helmet to his head. Taking his rope from where he currently had it secured to his bag, Dom also took out a harness and several other materials he planned to use for spelunking this area. “Do you want to come?” He looked up at Sola, expecting some kind of response. Instead, she just looked at him blankly.
            “That should be phrased, would I like to come,” Sola corrected, still looking at him.
            “Okay. Would you like to come along? Or are you going to stay up here and make sure I don’t die?”He glanced over his shoulder at her as he finished fastening his harness and then grabbed the line of rope and other items. Securing the carabineer clips and many of his rope climbing devices, he set up the line to a very sturdy section of the wall. Tugging on it firmly to make sure it was going to hold, he headed to the edge. “Well, are you going to come?” Still standing there, having not answered, she moved to where he was currently perched over the edge.
            “Yeah. I’m coming,” she said, going to his bag and taking out the other climbing harness. Getting into it, she moved to Dom, who made sure it was safe and ready for use. He took out another line and attached it where his was. Her helmet was resting over by her bag, which Dom made sure she secured to herself before they descended.
            “There won’t be anything down there, I promise,” he said, as they both slowly backed over the edge and down. Together they made their descent past broken stairs and platforms into the depths of the missile silo. Dom kept a very watchful eye on their ropes and the deep darkness below. It seemed to span on forever, as no amount of light they had shown down there so far revealed the bottom.
            “How long is this?” Sola asked, looking over at him as they had chosen to rest for a minute or so, suspended above the air. She drank from her water bottle, feeling the cool liquid run down her throat. This was a lot of work, and they were just descending. Right now, she didn’t even want to think about climbing back up.
            “Well, judging by the length of rope we’ve used so far, and the number of glow sticks we have placed so far… I’d say close to five hundred feet,” he said, seeing that below them was a platform. They had both nearly reached the end of their rope. It was getting time to where they would either need to climb back up, or continue on with another length of rope. Turning to Sola, he slowly lowered himself the remaining twelve feet to the platform. Finding that it held his weight, he helped her come down and release herself. “What would you like to do now?”
            Sola looked at him, not exactly wanting to climb up right now. They were on one of the last platforms from the spiral staircase, which seemed to not continue any further. It would require a lot of other means that they didn’t have… such as maybe an elevator or some kind of lift. And right now she wished there was a lift that they could take back to the top. Staring down into the dark abyss, she shrugged. Her arms were too tired right now.
            “Let’s take a break then,” he said, reaching into the smaller pack he had brought with him. It was lighter and mostly full of food and all the glow sticks they used. Cracking two glowing sticks, he set them between them and sat down so that he could get them some food. Handing her an energy bar, he took half of one for himself and bit into it. Staring at the bar in her hand Sola unwrapped it and nibbled at the corner. Thankfully it did not taste too horrible, or else she would have spit it back out. Taking a bigger bite, she took another swig of her water bottle. She sat down next to him, and enjoyed the eerie glow that the two little chemosynthesis sticks provided.
            “This place is pretty creepy,” she said, hearing some shifting of metal and groaning of the building. “It would be a fantastic haunted house,” she said, just waiting for something to fall on them, or the platform to break.
            “And yet, it’s also fascinating to think that somehow, this place once held missiles and nuclear armaments that could have destroyed the whole world,” he said, also gazing around them. “We’re sitting in history.”
            “Yeah, a history that is falling apart… If we don’t do something about this building, it could collapse on us,” she said, not liking the sounds it was making. Granted, the whole time they had been wandering around the facility it had been making those noises—which Dom attributed to it still settling, along with the usual expansion and contraction in the heat.
            “I’m sure either D00m or I will make sure everything is able to stand,” he reassured her. Dom didn’t want to worry Sola with any outrageously offhand comments that could spell disaster if they came true.
            Having finished his energy bar, Dom got up and stuffed the trash into his bag. Sola followed suit, taking another good drink of her water bottle before reattaching it to her harness. Grabbing one of the glow sticks, Dom chucked it off the platform as far as he could. It sailed through the air in an arch before dropping quite a distance below them. The other one he just simply dropped off the edge of their platform. Together, the glow sticks had fallen the same distance and landed with a soft clack on the cement below. It must have been close to another fifty feet that they had fallen.
            “Well, that was disappointing. I hoped they would keep going,” he said, staring at them for a moment.
            “And what? Show us this hole went to the center of the earth?” Sola quipped.
            “No, I just wanted to see how far it could possibly go before it landed in water that had seeped in from below. Generally it would pool at the bottom,” he said, shrugging. “Come on. We have a long climb up,” he said, turning and reattaching himself to his line. Sola continued staring for a moment more before turning and following suit. They started the very long ascent upwards, trying to be careful of the stairs, platforms, and any protruding items. In total, they had only made it about seventy-five feet when Sola couldn’t take it.
            “Why the hell did I agree to traverse this with you?! I must have been out of my fucking mind!” Sola glared at him, not at all happy that he had convinced her to come down here with him. He remained quiet and was currently taking up a lot of the slack to ease her current climb.
            “I’m sorry… Look, it’s not much farther. We’ve already passed… One glow stick,” he said, trying to remain optimistic for her.
            “That’s one fucking glow stick out of fourteen. Fourteen, Dominic. The next time you even fucking bring this up, I’ll push you off before you even ask,” she grumbled, continuing up after him. Right now though, Sola didn’t even want to hear him come up with any apologies, or tidbits that might keep her going. She just wished she could ride up and relax. Her legs hurt, her arms hurt; even her butt hurt, and that was from the stupid harness riding-up on her.
            “Think of something different. Like… imagine you’re climbing up a mountain so that you could jump off it and land in a gigantic bed that is so soft, you’ll fall right asleep. And you’ll have tons of tea and hot chocolate brought to you whenever you want. You wouldn’t even have to get out of bed,” he said, trying to give her some kind of goal to picture.
            “Are you saying this is what awaits me in the future? You’ll wait on me hand and foot?” She perked up and started to climb a bit faster in order to keep up with him and hear his answer.
            “If that will get you climbing, sure. But it has to be within reason,” he said, continuing his ascent.
            “Hell yeah!” And with that, Sola was re-invigorated for another three hundred feet or so before Dom had to start making more promises and deals with her.
            “I feel like I’ve just sold my soul to the devil,” he muttered, seeing that they had finally passed the last glow stick. Hoisting himself out, he reached out and helped Sola out also. Together they flopped on the floor, breathing heavily from the work out.
            “The enslavement begins now,” she said, reaching over and poking him.
            “What? I thought we agreed it would start once we returned to the factory,” he said, not liking the sound of this idea.
            “Oh no. It starts now. Way down there you said I could pick when you started paying me back,” she said, grinning.
            “That right there is messed up.”
            “You were so distracted, I conned you into a long list of things, boy-o. Just you wait until I get them all jotted down,” Sola said, smirking at him now. Forcing himself to get up, he divested himself of all the climbing equipment and started to put it away. Removing her own harness Sola tossed it to him and resumed relaxing on the floor. Opening his bag, he pulled out some food for them and handed a sandwich to Sola. She gratefully took the ham and bit into it. It was the first real food she had all day, since they had spent the better part of the day climbing down that missile silo. This was definitely going to restore her energy, or maybe get her ready for a restful night’s sleep.
            After they had finished their meal, they got up and went about searching for D00m. This task of course took the better part of an hour, as she had already moved through several rooms. It ultimately came down to tracking her by following the path of clean rooms she left in her wake. When they did locate her, she was in the kitchen scrubbing the floor. Every other facet of that room had been cleaned but the floor, which by now was about half finished.
            “D00m, Sola and I are heading back. Do you want us send up some supplies?” He observed her working diligently by lantern light, which was actually pretty effective. It may have been fairly dark, but D00m was doing an excellent job.
            “Yeah, yeah. Just don’t make a mess in the halls or any rooms I’ve cleaned so far,” she said, waving them off.
            “Are we distracting you?” Sola raised an eyebrow at D00m as she continued to scrub.
            “Yes. All you’ve been doing all day is distracting me. Once you leave and go inform the others I’ll actually get some work done,” she said, dunking her brush into the water and resuming her cleaning spree. Carefully backing out of the room, they headed for where the car was parked and left.

* * * * *

            Sola slept almost the entire ride to the factory. The only time she was awake was when Dom woke her when they had stopped for food. She thanked him, at her meal and then resumed sleeping. Once he parked, he helped her to her room and then unloaded the vehicle. It was another ten minutes or so before he was standing before the council members in the command center.
            “So, how does it look?” Ane asked, arms crossed.
            “You’ll be glad to know it’s all in really great condition. D00m is cleaning everything and giving the interior a brand new paint job,” he said, smiling. He felt the need to shower as he was covered in dirt, water, and a cracked glow stick that had exploded on him after he hit it with a knife.
            “How much usable space are we looking at?” Minari inquired.
            “Plenty. There’s a hanger, mess hall, individual rooms, command center, and plenty of space that we could utilize. Including a missile silo,” he said, leaning against a desk. He was so tired it was getting hard to keep himself standing to speak.
            “Alright, then what’s left to do?” Aldorel said.
            “Order our supplies, and get to work with the set up of the solar panels, windmills, and getting the electricity working. After that, everything else will fall into place… All the network building, and of course getting the recruits down there as inconspicuously as possible,” he said, opening the bottle of water he had in his hands. Dom drank a good half of it as he waited for his next question.
            “How long is that going to take?” Ane asked, hoping to get this moving as fast as they could.
            “A lot of them should be here by the end of the week. Sola and I already spent the time ordering them,” Dom explained, shrugging. “Are we done here?”
            “Yeah. Go ahead and rest for a while. Oh and please go bathe. You smell worse than a cow’s bottom,” Minari said, shooing him away.
            Sighing, he waved over his shoulder as he left them to finish talking. He so badly wanted to go relax for at least a few hours before he felt he should return to working. Entering his room, he kicked off his shoes and grabbed a change of clothes and headed into the bathroom. The warm water from the shower felt great on all his sore muscles. Going back to his room, he blinked to find Sola curled up on his bed. His mind reeled, trying to remember if she was there before—and as far as he knew, she wasn’t. Smiling, he moved in next to her and fell asleep, setting the alarm clock on his watch to vibrate in a few hours.

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