(note: there is a timeskip here, but of unknown length. You should know by now that since the characters have little way of measuring time, thus neither do I, really. Also, id like to individually thank every one of the 5 people whom are still reading this...after i abandoned it for 4+/- years. Welcome back , all five of you!. I'm going to keep this up, finishing the story as i had originally intended before my life fell apart (i glued it together again, it just took me a while.) About the timeskip, well, the developments that happened are easily understandable, so no need in dragging it out)
What does a human use to define time? How late is it? It's defined by the light, the stance of the moon and the sun, and the human sleeping rythm. But for Taban, Roan, and all the inhabitants of the Arris dome none of that mattered any more. None of them needed sleep when a few seconds in the healing machine fixed that, and there was no real sense of day and night. They worked and worked, as human industry and ingenuity started to revive itself.
Things were starting to really get into order now. The main hall, where an unknown time ago only contained weak, dying humans without hope, was now a bustling place smelling of meat. Several workbenches had been constructed, and among all of them were people making everything they could out of the infinite supply of creature limbs. It was a constant action of cutting off the creatures limbs, pushing it into the healing machine, and doing it all over again. Notably, one end of the room had a large kettle that was constantly burning seawater to obtain salt, their only real type of flavouring
In the start people were only desperatly producing meat to feed themselves. The rotten-seed soup had ran out, and people now relied on the only two types of food they had, fried limbs, and a sort of soup that existed of small pieces of flesh and creature blood that they let boil for a long time to let the flavors seep into the water. It was a monotone taste, and there was little option for anything that tasted different, but it was food and it supplied them with the energy they so desperately needed to start believing once again.
They didnt just have an infinite supply of flesh. At first, the limbs were stripped of their outer shrubbed skin and the skin was abandoned. But after a while, one of the dome's women, Yerian the clothesmaker began to set up a small clothes workshop. Drying and cleaning out the limb skin, some ripped into thin strips to form rope while bones were cut down into usable needles. She caused quite a ruckus when she first showed off her new set of clothes. Within a while she had almost 30 employees working under her, producing new types of creature skin clothing to suit the needs of all. The old clothign was abandoned, but not thrown away, merely saved for later. Arris dome was becoming a truely thrifty society, exploiting every possible advantage they had over their cruel merciless surroundings
The cooking room below had been repurposed into a grand workshop. As people started eating normally again they started actively supporting Taban in clearing out the lower levels of all sorts of hostile robots. Their scrap parts were brought back to the workshop, to be repurposed into anything they needed. Rifles, guns, lightbulbs, batteries. Taban spent most of his time down below, leading the charge on re-teaching the men and women that joined him in the basics of technology. They didn't quite seem to understand that much, but they could repeat the technical moves he showed off to start producing basic electronics of their own
They now had everything they needed to truely survive. Food, wather, shelter, power, clothes, weapons. They were no longer surviving, now..they were thriving. And with that thriving set came the first semblance of government. A council formed of it's own, one of Taban, Doan, and Yerian. While Doan wasn't quite the industrial entrepreneurs like Taban and Yerian he was respected by all and thus earned himself a place. They regularly met on improvised times in the small control room that overlooked the dome's main hall.
There was no doubt that Taban was the most powerfull amongst them though. His group of men and women was quickly forming into a proper,well armed tiny army, especially since they had gotten a hold of functioning rocket launchers. He assisted Yerian in developing a light reinforced shield, two layers of skin with tiny creature fingerbones stacked inbetween. Not to mention that Taban had enforced a strict but fair sense of discipline like he did with his daughter. Science, according to him, was equal parts
Taban entered the room only to see Doan and Yerian sitting there in their dark brown creature clothes. Everyone knew and acnowledged their positions as the leaders of this growing community, no, society.
"Hello, Yerian, Doan." Taban put his handgun away as he closed the door behind him.
"Good day, Taban." Doan nodded. He was the oldest amongst the entire dome, but behind the worn out grey moustache and his bald head was a very determined man. His outfit was as simple as it could be, without any frills yet everyone respected him. He took some time to think, but when he spoke it was usually from a wise place. He walked around in a general sense, helping where he could.
Yeria was quite different, never really leaving her workshop all that often. While her shoulder-length blonde hair was still quite rough, at least the bone combs that were created a while ago helped a bit. She wore one of her own made skin-dresses accentuated with stripes of red dye ...or as it should be called creature blood. A quick-thinking woman with a sharp tongue, she usually took the lead in the conversation compared to the more subdued Taban. Not that he'd let her get away with truely overpowering him.
It could be said that while Taban laid the foundations for their return to society, it was Yerian that started to truely build upon it. Money, and different classes arose once again, but no one lacked any basic needs to survive. She and Taban had entered a close collaborative relationship, and both of them were benefitting greatly from it.
Taban was wearing what had become the standard outfit for his set of guards, a fully blood-red, long sleeved triple-skin layered shirt shirt and pants, yet on his shoulders he had Yerian sow in three stripes of copper wire on his side, to designate his rank
"Hello Taban. You were late so we had already started." Yerian rose to her feet. "Tell him, Doan."
"Tell him what?" Taban didn't give Doan time to respond. The old man waved his boney finger at him.
"Ages ago...we had travellers here, from the other domes. But then the creatures in the labs, as they were called, grew ferocious and cut us off from them. We now are a community of...187 people, and we have more then enough food and water for all. But the other communities...they didn't have someone like you."
Taban nodded. "Thank you for that compliment."
"Taban, we need to retrieve these people. Right now, Arris dome is the only place that is actually growing. We have more then enough space. About that how fares the cleanup?"
"We're securing more and more rooms down below. But there must be hundreds more, according to the maps. Arris dome goes down pretty far, and we think they may be 3 or 4 floors we've yet to reach on top of the three we've cleared out now. We even found a new row of healing machines three floors down. "
Yerian wanted to fire off another question but Doan raised his boney finger once again. "Do you remember how we looked when you first arrived here, Taban? Lost...so lost... They need our help before more lives are lost."
Yeria nodded. "Agreed. Clearing out new rooms can wait, we need people to fill them up with."
"Hmm.." Taban stroked his 5 o clock shadow chin. "We could set up an operation, but we will need a way to transport these people. You would not have been able to trek through the wilds when i found you, so whomever survived in the other domes wouldn't have either.
"Here..." Doan pulled a set of keys from his pocket. "This unlocks the bike in the eastern lab...it might still work."
Taban picked up the keys, wiping dismay from his face about why Doan hadn't told him about this at all. A bike...he would have to see what it is first.
"Understood. I will send out a few men to retrieve it. Now, what else do we need to discuss?"
Taban climbed down to the Grand Workshop, which fell silent upon his entrance. The walls were lined with weapons, while batteries of all kinds were loaded in the mess of cables on the right side of the room. Multiple large workbenches and associated tools filled in the room. He smiled inwardly, watching those soldiers drill in the woods near Guardia castle did pay off in a grand way. "Attention! We are start preparing for a rescue mission. There may be survivors in nearby domes, and we are going to bring them here. We need to bring enough water, food, and batteries to last a long time. POURA, JERE AND MENGSK!"
Three of his soldiers abandoned their workbench, lining up in front of him. "Yes, sir.?" Poura, a young man, just barely an adult nodded.
"Take this." He handed Poura the set of bike keys. Doan says that there is a bike on the outsides of the lab to the east. Find it, and bring it back.
"Yes sir." All three men spoke in unison. "One more thing...what is a bike?'
"I dont know, Poura, all i know is that those keys unlock it."\
"We will find it, sir."
Taban entered the room that had come to be his office. It was something left over from before the great calamity. A fancy wooden desk and a comfortable chair, kept just how they were on the day when society collapsed. As he sat down and rested his thoughts turned dark once again. How long had he been here? What had he become? Why had his invention brought him here, and why did it malfunction? How would Lara and Lucca get on without him? They must think he was dead...dissapeared forever. Suddenly all these thoughts that he had supressed by becoming a true workaholic wore down on him deeply. This was the first time he had just sat down and relaxed in ages...
"Lara...Lucca... I miss you.." He began to cry, all emotional pressures released after the long journey from a stranger in a land of the dying to the leader of an army in the wastelands. Yet there he was, a crying, wailing grown man as memories of his wife and child filled his mind. He missed them so much, so incredibly much. He was lost...so lost."
There was a knock on the door, but Taban was too occupied to even respond. Yerian entered the room, looking quite concerned.
Taban leaned back as far in his chair as he possibly could as tears continued to stream down his face. He imeddiately hardened himself, wiping away the tears and trying to sound confident. He got up, pretending he hadn't been crying.
"Your men said...you had been crying..."
Taban looked at the ground, not sure how to respond as he continue to wipe his face clean.
"Yes. Well. I have." Taban fell back into his chair. "I...had a family. Me and my daughter we lived a simple life of inventing new things. My wife didn't aprove, but she deeply loved us nonetheless. Lara..."
"What happened to them?"
"What happened to me...you should ask. I was showing off a new invention...and then i found myself in this strange world...all alone. They must think I am dead..."
Yerian sat down on the small couch on the right of the room. "You never told us anything of your past...where you came from. You have some grief to work through, dont you?"
"..." Taban leaned back in his chair. "Where i came from, we did not have all this technology...but we had trees, and green grass and fish in the sea. Somehow, my teleportation machine brought me to this...forsaken future."
Yerian remained distant, unsure of how to comfort him. "But...it's not all forsaken. You came here, and started turning everything around. All of us can remember...what came before. A life of unsure scavenging, a slow decline into...nothingness. But now...look at us. We've got new clothes, new weapons, all the food and water we could ever need. While you may have lost them...you were a lifesaver for us."
Taban didn't respond, falling silent. He pointed at the door.
Yerian didn't bother to say a word as she slammed the door behind her, leaving Taban all alone, still leaning back in his chair. It took him a moment, but finally he continued to tinker with the scrap electronics that littered his desk. If he could just figure out how these robots seemed to communicate with each other...yet, Taban could not finish the puzzle that lay in front of him. Frustrated, he got up, heading back to the Grand Workshop. The gossipping immediately fell away.
"Gear up. We are going to clear up the remainder of the fourth floor, right now."
(author's note: for reference, the main floor with Yerian's outfit manufactory and the butchery is 0, the grand workshop is located on -1, while the structure goes down to -7. On top of that, you also have above ground floors that go up to a fourth floor)
As Taban returned to his office he began gathering equipment. A flashlight, his rifle, a flask of water and a fried creature arm for if he ever got hungry. He gathered it up in the large rucksack, meticulously crafted from their infinite supply of skin. He waited a few minutes before stepping outside, seeing his crew all armed and prepared. Their standard equipment was the trifecta of a laser rifle, a hammer and a flashlight. But as of late people had been specializing themselves. of the 47 people that worked for him, 6 of them were now armed with only a small pistol and a rocket launcher. Yes, a rocket launcher. Once they discovered that some of these robots could launch small but lethal rockets they immediately began reverse-engineering the system. While they had only a limited supply of ammunition, they could salvage quite a bit from the robots. For the most part, the rockets were a last resort to quickly eliminate or cripple groups of attacking robots. Some of them even had the new reinforced shields that greatly helped against debris and lasers. Multiple layers of skin, with small bones inbetween to keep the structure upright. It didnt provide as much defense as a proper shield would have, but it offered decent protection for it's weight.
The final piece of outfit was a small flask of creature blood. it was essential in quickly marking which rooms had been cleared and which had not. Methodically and carefully they operated, but when they got into a battle they quickly came together to form an overwhelming amount of firepower. All of them had but one thing in mind. Destroying any and all hostile creatures down below. Yes, creatures, because they sometimes encountered wild rats, and strange grey bugs. Still, their laser-powered weapons didn't differ between cutting metal and cutting flesh.
"All right. Let's go!" Taban pointed to the nearby stairwell. "We are not returning here untill we've cleaned out the entire floor! Move out!" As Taban led his group down the stairwell to the forth floor belowground, he wondered to himself what his life, and more importantly, he had become...a millitary commander...somehow. One more floor down...and then they'd be into the unknown...