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The night sky was full of stars, but no moon. It was the ideal time for Pike to remove her goggles, improving her vision in general and allowing her peripheral vision to make a comeback. She tore them off her face with an exaggerated sigh. Like stretching after a long nap, the act left her feeling content in a way she hadn’t felt since before leaving home for the contest. It’s so nice to not have these pressing against my face.

She’d been watching the Dome for a while from relative cover, searching for security patrols. In that time she’d seen and heard nothing. Not a trace of drones to mar the unbroken sky. Their absence was infuriatingly suspicious. She grit her teeth at it, but she’d have to risk it.

Pike moved with incredibly clumsy stealth across the intervening ground between her hiding spot and the wall. She reached it alive and so counted it as good fortune.

She sidled along the wall until she found the exhaust vent she’d watched all day. Well, tried to. Boring work, watching a vent. Now moving close to it revealed the sound of a lazy fan inside. If she could open it and disable or remove the fan, Pike could use it to gain entrance to the Dome. She wasn’t sure of her plan, ‘find-tech-and-take-it.’ She didn’t know what she’d find, much less what it was for when she did.

Before her imagination distracted her, she focused on removing the last rusted screws holding the vent’s plate in place. With that struggle finally over she gave the cover a mighty tug.

Nothing

She fell to her rump from all the nothing that had occurred. The urge to growl and attack the resistant vent with her hammer was squashed at the memory of possible patrols. Instead, Pike looked around for anything she might use to pry the covering off. When she found nothing, she appraised her tool belt.

“This thing is great and all, but not nearly large enough to hold the crowbar I’m wishing I had right now. So what else can I use?”

Pike became so fixated on wedging two screwdrivers into the seam she didn’t hear the heavy footfalls behind her. Only when she’d gotten the tools well and stuck and equally resistant to her leverage did she take a step back to consider. She let out a shout at the polite cough from the warm body she’d just backed into.

Turning around she found she had to look up for the first time since childhood to meet this man’s eyes. Not only was he tall, he was broad in the shoulders and seemed to have a great club instead of a right arm. Dark hair was pulled back to reveal a disfigured face, though not an unkind one, covered in warts and growths. Pike was momentarily intimidated into stillness until she realized she’d be asked a question in a rather pleasant voice. She swallowed her spit and asked him to repeat himself ever so eloquently.

“What?”

“I asked what you were doing here and if you might need some help.” Pike knit her eyebrows together in confusion at the request, but answered anyway.

“Um, I’m trying to break into the Dome, but this covering seems to be fused together. I can’t get enough leverage with the strength I’ve got. Are…are you another competitor?” He answered as he lightly pushed Pike aside to take a closer look at the vent.

“I am. Or was. Not sure where I stand now that I’ve decided to smash this Dome open. I’m
Billy, by the way.”

“Pike. Nice to meetcha. So what do you think? Do you have any suggestions for getting that hatch open?”

“There’s a fan just on the other side of this, and probably more along the duct. You’re not going to get very far even if you do get the cover off.”

“Yeah, but it’s spinning drowsily, and I can handle a measly fan without issue. It won’t get in our way.” He raised an eyebrow.

“Our way?”

“I’m assuming you’d like to get in too, right? To do whatever smashing you have in mind? If you can help me get that cover off, that vent is big enough for even you to get through.”

“Well, if you’re offering.” Billy placed his thick appendage against Pike’s screwdrivers and used his other arm to push them back. With a protracted screech of grinding metal the covering gave way, revealing the large spinning fan blades as the metal dropped to the ground and the screwdrivers bounced away without restraint.

“Wow, you make that look easy.” Pike complimented as she retrieved her wayward tools, one of which had bent under Billy’s strength.

“I’ve had some practice. Your turn.”

“Let me get in here a bit. Yeah, this’ll be easy.”

The fan was indeed spinning slowly, but a current was keeping it moving. She wouldn’t be able to do much without stopping it and so decided on a brute force method. She placed her newly bent screwdriver against a bottom corner and lodged it between fan blades, jamming it to a halt. Without the threat of amputation she quickly went to work with a pair of wire cutters to kill the power behind the fan. Now it was a simple matter of unscrewing the fan from its housing. Pike was glad she had multiple screwdrivers.

“Heigh-ho. Heigh-ho. It’s off to work we go. Hmm hm hm hm…” Billy peered in at her.

“Are you humming?

“Yeah. I hum when I work sometimes. I figure if they’re not going to catch us after that racket earlier, me humming isn’t going to hurt anything.”

“But why that song?”

“It’s a classic working song! Or so I’ve been told.”

Within just another moment she had the fan down and outside the vent. There was definitely enough room for them to crawl through, but they’d have to go single file and it’d still be tight for the larger Billy. She put her tools away and beckoned for him to follow her in. She was able to twist around fairly easily within the tight confines, but she’d be right about his difficulty. He nearly scraped the sides with his large frame. But this was likely the best way into the Dome and so he’d have to endure it, despite his mumbling about tight spaces.

She led the way for the better part of ten minutes before they found their first obstacle. A sharp drop appeared before her with no branching paths for her to choose from. She motioned for him to stay put while she slipped down to test how far it fell. Another ‘heigh-ho’ escaped her lips as she went over the edge to slide down about ten meters.

She landed more or less gracefully but found their path was further blocked by a second fan, this one spinning much faster. The air it blew on her was cool and smelled musty. Pike attempted the same trick she’d used before to wedge the blades to a stop, but they were moving much too quickly and she couldn’t get the screwdriver to stick. She’d need a little more time to get this one, even if it meant ultimately bashing it with her hammer.

She called up to Billy telling him this, but his response was not reassuring.

“Uh, I got my upper half over the edge, trying to see down after you and now I’m…holding
myself up.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I’m sliding forward, I can’t get my weight back into the vent with my arms at the angles they’re at. I’m, uh, coming down whether we like it or not. And probably not slowly.” Pike could hear squealing from above her and looked around frantically for somewhere to go. She cried out in growing panic.

“No, wait! Just…just give me a second. I’ll…”

With a rumbling and a yelp Billy came hurtling down on top of the frantic woman below. The vent’s floor couldn’t take the impact of the sudden weight and burst open, spewing its living contents out onto a solid landing below.

After a moment of groans, Billy’s head shot up.

“Oh no! Is she okay?” Pike lifted her head up from the ground and tried to get her elbows under her without much success. Billy’s shifting weight was still on her.

“Yeah, I’m fine, just get off me and let me get to my goggles, this sudden light is killing me and I can’t see. I…you’re not talking about me, are you?”

Indeed, Billy was too busy pulling his satchel around to pay her any mind. In went his hand and when it came out a white ball of fluff stood on it. It shook itself vigorously and let out an unhappy grumble.

“Is that a cat? Why do you have a cat with you?” The cat was lifted to Billy’s shoulder as the man stood. Pike managed to pull herself to her feet and retrieve her goggles from her tool belt. She hurriedly fit them to her face and immediately knew something was wrong. There, on opposite sides of her right lens, tiny cracks had appeared.

When did that happen? Crawling through the vents? Or maybe…no, it must have been during the fall. His weight…ugh, this is just great.

She realized he’d been explaining the cat’s presence and she’d tuned it all out. Only its name had gained footing in her distracted brain. Pike couldn’t help the utterance that slipped out.

“Wish we could have had some of her luck with that fall.”

“What was that?” She was too upset to lie.

“I wish we were as lucky in the fall as her namesake. That sucked.” Billy rolled his eyes, but didn’t argue. Instead he pondered where they were.

“Did we make it inside?” The room they stood in was filled with vents and gauges and pipes shooting off in all direction. Under their feet was a grate floor through which they could see to a level below through several more pipes and machinery. Steps of the same grate pattern climbed up and down in locations, but there were no signs pointing out doors or exits. Looking around, Pike asked a question that paled the visible skin of Billy’s face.

“How’s life been since you left with the Nyckers? That jewelry you’ve got there suggests you’re not doing terrible.” The large man looked at her almost in fear.

“You know about that?” She responded without looking back at him, continuing her search.

“I’ve been a Socratic for thirteen years, and your profile is hard to miss. I’d seen you around as you grew up. There are very few adults in the clan who don’t know about the scandal that was your father basically selling you into servitude to pay for his own debts. I don’t know you, but I know of you.” He responds after a moment, sounding resigned.

“Yeah, I guess it’s difficult to forget someone who looks like me.”

“Oh, whatever. Nearly everyone has some deformity or another, even if yours is more pronounced than others. So you’re intimidating until people get to know you. People who won’t even try to learn more than skin deep aren’t worth your time.” Pike was still angry from the fall, but it was quickly evaporating.

You don’t know me. How do you know there’s anything more under my appearance than the Ogre they called me?” He’d turned to face her, his eyes as angry as they could express, glaring daggers. “This jewelry means I earned my place with the Nyckers. Maybe I’m exactly what that implies, nothing but a thug.”

Pike met his glare. This was a man scorned by people, and regularly treated only as muscle. But even their short time together had led Pike to believe differently. She considered briefly before answering.

“For nearly the first 20 years of my life, I was a Nomad. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the preconceptions about Nomads, you probably carry a few yourself. When people have found out, I’ve been threatened, ridiculed, mocked, and lost credibility as a person. I know what it’s like to be dismissed based on an incorrect preconception.

But I know where I belong. I never would have been completely happy with the Nomads, unable to pursue my curiosity like I have with the Socratics. I told you I’d seen you around as you grew, and often that was in the library, hulking form with his nose in a book. I can tell just from the way you speak and what I remember, your appearance is no indication of who you are as a person.”

Billy was silent, his gaze redirected to the cat that had crawled into his arms and was purring loudly. He answered while keeping his attention on the amputee fur ball.

“You can tell all that just by listening to me?” Pike snorted.

“That and the way you fawn over that thing just screams that you’re a big softie. Now, help me look for an exit from this mess of a room.”

Billy smiled gently and encouraged the cat back to his shoulders and followed after Pike. Before either could begin locating anything, loud banging steps erupted into the room, echoed by three people a moment later.

Pike has to blink a moment, their similar appearances to each other making her think there are more of them than are actually present. Their skin tone is the same, what hair is visible is the same color, they’re even the same height! All three wear sturdy looking work pants, thick jackets and gloves. A backpack is strapped to each, full of equipment if the larger tools attached to the outside are any indication. A well-fitted helmet covers their heads and everything they wear is covered in reflective strips.

The Domers freeze as they finally see the two Outers, a very large woman and the enormous man immediately behind her. One of them starts shaking at the presence of Pike and Billy’s stunned stillness. Unable to take it any longer she points and shrieks.

“Outers! Outers have gotten in!” Her scream jolted the two men with her to action, and all three screamed their way out of the room, leaving in the opposite direction they’d entered.

It was another moment before either of the Outers moved. Pike looked back over her shoulder to the larger man.

“Were they…scared of us?”

“I think so?”

“…This place is weird. Let’s see if we can find where they came from and go that way so they don’t think we’re chasing them.”

With a direction to look in, they found the exit easily. The corridor was nearly the same as the room they’d just left, only narrower and with no real boundaries save for those created by the path. They followed the metal walkway for a time, looking into rooms they came across, but not finding much.

“Billy, do you know what any of this stuff does? It’s all fascinating, but I don’t want to try taking something apart if it might blow me up in the process.” Billy shook his head.

“I’ve seen my share of technology, but I don’t recognize anything here. Well, not as a cohesive whole, anyway. I recognize smaller bits, like what looks like an air conditioner over there. But it’s connected to a larger machine, so I’m certain that’s not all it does.”

“Me either. We’ve been walking for an hour now, and I was hoping we’d find something I could grab and take with me back home. But I haven’t seen anything I wouldn’t need a truck to move, let alone what it would take just to get it out of the Dome. We haven’t seen anything that might suggest it could get us further into the Dome.” Pike stopped short and placed her hands on her hips, looking around in frustration. “What do you think?”

Billy stroked his cat as he thought. He too was looking around, but frustration seemed to be far from his mind.

“I think this place is much larger than I initially gave it credit for. I think this is all in the wall of the Dome, and we’ve covered only a small area of it. This place is huge.” Pike scowled at his wonder.

“That is not what I meant. Do you think we should head back and get out or keep going?”

“Do you think you could even get back to where we fell in? I haven’t been keeping track of our turns.”

“Um…”

“Keep going it is.” Pike sighed dramatically, hunching over.

“Fine, but I’m tired. Next room we come across let’s stop to rest for a bit.”

The next room turned out to be just around the corner and Pike let out a sigh of relief, immediately interrupted by the group of four engineers at the far end of the room. They didn’t notice immediately the newcomers to the room. They seemed to be focused on a large machine, murmuring about what needed maintaining. A bulbous droid hovered near them, occasionally beeping.

Pike whispered over her shoulder to Billy.

“You’d think we were making enough noise they’d have heard us come in.” Billy nodded, smirking in amusement at the unaware workers. It was replaced with a look of horror as Lucky decided to speak up, filling the cramped room with an echoing, “Mrrrow!”

The startled engineers jumped hard, spinning to look at the intruders. Just like the others they’d encountered, they seemed to be frightened of Pike and Billy. There was more pointing and shaking.

“The radio chatter was true! Outers have come to sabotage our home and kill us all! Let’s get out of here!” Before either of them could argue otherwise, the workers all fled, leaving them once again alone.

Except not all of them.

One of the workers had started to follow his coworkers, but stopped suddenly. He seemed to steel himself and stood protectively in front of the machine he had been working on. He even pulled a large wrench from his backpack to hold in front of him.

“I won’t, I won’t let you harm this machine! You’ll have to go through me!” Pike put her empty hands up in a placating gesture.

“Will you calm down? You’re breathing so hard you look like your chest is going to burst open. We’re not going to destroy anything. I don’t even know what that is, except that it’s apparently important. Nice job keeping that from us, by the way.” His face falls and with it the wrench drops a little.

“You didn’t? You aren’t? Then I…I could have…left with the others. Why didn’t I just go? Now you’re going to have that big thing squish me.”

Billy took a step forward, anger on his face.

“Excuse me? Big thing? You–“

“You mean this guy? The guy who checks on his kitten before the woman he landed on top of? You don’t have anything to worry about from him.” The man lowered his makeshift weapon even further, looking hesitant.

“You’re really not here to hurt us?” Billy looks sheepish.

“Well, not anymore, at least. Not since you all seem so scared of us.”

“Oh.” He finally lowers the wrench fully before just dropping it to the ground and leaning back against the machine with a weary sigh. Pike points behind him.

“What are you guarding? I was telling the truth earlier, I have no idea what any of this is.” He looks back at the mess of machinery and technology.

“This is one of eight climate regulators. If you’d damaged this, a huge portion of the Dome would have been subject to wild temperature and weather changes.” Pike’s eyebrows shot into her hair.

“Are you telling me the inside of the Dome has its own weather? How is that even possible?”

He shrugs and turns to take in the vast device.

“These make it possible. But it’s been so long since they were made, I have no idea exactly how it’s accomplished, just how to maintain the machines that do it. Heh, a historian would probably know better than I would. Not that there are many of those left, most of our history is stored in the database.” When he turns around Billy looms over him, causing him to jump violently. Billy merely holds out his left hand.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot, and I’d know about wrong feet. My name is Billy Vargha. Are you saying there is a store of information available for anyone to access?” Warily, the engineer clasped Billy’s hand and shook it absently.

“I’m Avidan. And…yes?”

“That’s incredible. Is it true that the Dome’s structure was built over the course of two months? I also heard it was accomplished by using construction drones that previously had never been used in a project as ambitious as this one? What about the designers? I heard that scientists from around the world collaborated to design the Domes in the year before it was built.”

“Uh, well…I’ve seen the droids that were used for the construction. They’re enormous. They’re buried under the Dome, but they haven’t moved in well over a century. But I’m not really great at history stuff, most of my classes were aimed to get me ready to do this job.”

Billy huffed, clearly dissatisfied by that response. Pike was poking at the floating droid that had remained in the room with Avidan. She got the next question.

“Why are you engineers even doing this work? Wouldn’t autonomous droids be much better at it and less a waste of manpower?”

“That I can answer. Here, let me show you.” He walked over to the droid and pressed lightly on a protrusion. With a whirr and a click a smaller droid peeled itself from the bulk and crawled into Avidan’s hand.

“They’re great for small places, and they can act as portable tools we couldn’t normally carry with us. When they come with us we can bring welding kits and vises and other equipment we might need. Watch this.”

He placed the small droid on the machine and moved to the far end. With a whistle the droid scuttled off, climbing between pipes and tight-knit machinery to reach the engineer. It was scooped up and brought back to Pike to examine closer. Her desire to dissect it grew.

“They’re great for things like that, but in general a human engineer is going to know what needs fixing better than an AI ever could.” Pike looked up in confusion.

“AI?”

“Uh, artificial intelligence. It means their brains were designed to be able to solve problems without needing direct input from us. The droids can ‘think’ for themselves.”

“Why not have human controllers then? Watching screens and directing the droids?”

“Eh, there’s so much ground to cover it’s better for us to be out and fixing things we’re more likely to see, hear, feel, or smell than a droid could.”

“I met a droid in a hospital set up by you Domers that seemed rather human like. It mocked me and was actually rather mean, trying to discourage me from my course.”

“Droids in hospitals tend to have personalities encoded into them to set people at ease, to make them feel like a person is watching over them, but they’re not actually alive.” Pike looked skeptical. “Believe me, if the tech-heads had figured out how to create people, we’d have heard about it by now.”

Having been silent for a while, Billy decided to speak up.

“That’s quite the peculiarity you have there, an engineer calling other people ‘tech-heads.’” Avidan shrugged and placed the small droid back onto the larger whole, connecting with a snap.

“Eh, I’m not that brainy. I can take a machine apart and put it back together with no problem, y’know, put one together from scratch, but I couldn’t tell you for a moment why they do what they do or how exactly. I’m great with machinery, but that theoretical stuff is beyond me.” Pike cut in with a raised finger.

“Wait, wait, wait. You’re an engineer and you don’t consider yourself terribly intelligent? What are your smart people like?”

“Busy.”

“Huh?”

“Our brightest brains are busy. There aren’t that many on their level, so they’ve got a lot to do. And all of it goes right over my head.”

“Are they trying to fix the broken world? That seems pretty important. Some of the older people in the Socratics say the world was vastly different half a millennia ago.”

“I think they’re a little more focused on our decreasing population.”

Pike opens her mouth to say something, but closes it soon after.

Just how much does the general public of the Dome know about the competition? Avidan hasn’t mentioned it at all. You’d think that would be what he’d think we’re here about. What’s going on?

Avidan relaxed against the big machine, and seemed to come to a conclusion.

“You know, everything I’ve ever learned says I should be terrified of you two, but I’ve gotten so caught up in talking with you I’d forgotten. And it’s just like talking to any of my friends on the inside, even if they’re not as curious as you are. Let me take you to a place where we can sit down and have a real conversation.” He waves for them to follow him, and after a shared glance, the two Outers do so.

He leads them back into the hallway and sets out on a path easily. The maintenance droid follows behind the group. Billy starts humming and Pike realizes it’s familiar. Billy doesn’t notice Pike’s glances until a ‘off to work we go’ mumbles out of his mouth. His eyes widen as he realizes.

“Damn it, Pike! You got your stupid ‘working song’ stuck in my head! I’m never going to get it out now.” Pike laughed as she dodged a harmlessly slow punch. Instead of apologizing she began humming along with the frustrated Billy. Avidan wonders at their oddity, but goes back to leading the way.

Pike can’t see how anyone can know where they’re going in this convoluted construction. She asks him how he knows where he’s going.

“Oh yeah, this place would be confusing to anyone not used to it. See these colored bands around the pipes? Each band can be solid color or banded. Depending on the organization of the colors you can know where you’re going. There’s a band around this pipe with a purple and green pattern. If you follow them, they’ll lead you to the nearest break room. That’s where we’re headed now.” Billy runs his fingers along the bands around one pipe.

“I was wondering what those were for. I saw them all over, but couldn’t make sense from them.” Pike just shrugged.

“I didn’t even see them. My goggles make it hard to differentiate colors if I don’t focus on them. Also, why is this thing following us? It’s creepy just hovering silently behind us.” Avidan chuckled.

“You’ll get used to it. I’m the one holding a beacon for it, so it’s actually following me. If you broke off and went another direction it’d still be chasing me.”

The small group began walking again, but it wasn’t long before Pike’s stomach grumbled and she translated.

“How far is this break room? If we’re going to be walking miles to get there…”

“No, no. There are tons of them around the walls. Maintenance crews could be sent anywhere and need to take a rest, so break rooms are scattered so workers don’t need to back track forever to find a place to sit down.” He pointed to the overstuffed bag on his back. “It’s also why we carry these with us. They carry water and food and tools so that it doesn’t matter where we end up, we won’t end up starving because we stored our food in a cupboard halfway around the Dome. Ah, here we are.”

Avidan opened a panel on a wall they would have otherwise walked by and led them into a small room. Instead of the grated floor everywhere else, this room is linoleum, giving it a clean look. Cupboards lined the walls and a table with five chairs sat in the middle. He sits down after removing his pack and gestures for them to sit down as well. Billy’s chair creaked under his weight. Avidan looks apologetically at the chair.

“Sorry, not many people in the Dome with your bulk.” Billy shrugs with a sigh.

“I’m used to it.”

The three pull out food and water and eat in silence for a time. Billy is eyeing Avidan’s meal with distaste. His water bottle is disposable, and the rest of his packaging looks to be just as ready to be discarded rather than reused. Pike and he have simple food wrapped in cloth and canteens of water. He leans over to whisper to Pike.

“I would have thought the Domers would have learned from the past about disposable products. Looks like they haven’t progressed as far as I thought.” Pike merely shrugged, not entirely sure what the problem is.

Billy’s eyes widen as Avidan finishes his drink it into a bin, eliciting an audible buzz. Pike stands up only slightly faster than Billy, chairs scooting loudly against the floor. They both dash over to it, each with their own motive. Billy looks worried, but Pike is eager. She starts to reach her hand in the opening when Avidan warns her.

“I wouldn’t put anything you don’t want to lose in there. That’s an atomic recycler. It pulls material apart at the atomic level and recycles it into their composite elements. It’s meant to make reusing material easy, but it’ll take your hand and turn it into a block of carbon just as easily.”

Pike jerks her hand back, but only for a moment, this time picking the whole unit up with surprising strength to look at it. She fires off questions rapidly, without giving Avidan time to respond. She begins taking her tools out to dismantle it as she lists the things that could be done with such a device.

“…could clear out the wrecked city and its ruins and build new things with ease, it could be used for –“

“Strip mining.” Pike spins at Billy’s interruption. He was scowling at the bin.

“What?”

“When these atomic recyclers were first constructed, all the greedy leaders of the world powers could see was a way to efficiently strip and stretch of land into materials. Gold, silver, copper, iron, it didn’t matter. They could be used to produce it all. They didn’t bother with emptying out landfills or introducing recycling programs. They didn’t care.

It actually started some of the wars that led to the world being the way it is. Powerful countries used them to mine the resources from less influential ones sparked at least one nuclear terrorist attack.” Avidan stumbles over his words, desperate to explain.

“But that’s not what we’re using them for. Our founders were scientists; they saw their use as recyclers and have never used them for anything else!” Billy turned his scowl on the engineer, though it was losing intensity.

“That’s great and all, but it doesn’t change what their use was before all of this. And just because your founders were scientists doesn’t mean that career was entirely benevolent. After all, weapons of all sorts were made by scientists. Nuclear weapons, bio-weapons, nerve gas. Military leaders didn’t just stumble upon these, they were created.”

A sober quiet fills the room as Pike sits back down, interest drowned in horror at the thing’s potential. She still wants to take it apart, but the feeling isn’t nearly as overwhelming anymore. She asks quietly, “How do you know all that?”

Billy sighs and sits back down heavily as well.

“I’ve studied a lot. You know I was a Socratic. I learned a lot and was passing it on to my little cousins when…that happened. It’s why I ultimately decided to enter the competition.” Avidan raised a pointed finger to get their attention.

“I got so caught up on our conversation about technology I completely forgot to ask. Why are you here? What’s this competition?” Pike and Billy exchange a glance. She gestures to him.

“Go for it, you’re better at explaining things.”

“Well, about three months ago a rumor started going around the clans that the Domers were up to something. A competition some whispered, but others felt it was a trap to kill Outers. It wasn’t until droids filled the sky over known clan locations projecting tournament details did anyone truly believe the rumors. But it still felt like a trap, so I’m guessing that’s why only a handful showed up.” Pike nodded in agreement.

“But the offer was there. Win their tournament and be let into the Dome, you and your family. There was to only be one winner, and they and their entire family would be let into the Dome. It was mentioned that it would be to add some genetic diversity to your population, that you were becoming too genetically similar to keep going.

“I entered because I was in indentured servitude as an enforcer, club arm and all. I thought if I won, I could take my cousins into the Dome where I could go back to teaching them. The rest of my family would be grateful just for the safety and comfort the Dome offered, so it seemed an easy decision. What about you Pike?” She coughed at the sudden attention, but answered after swallowing heavily.

“Um, well, I entered because my family is sort of in a bad way right now. My son, Toby, was born with only one leg, and my daughter, Jessica, gets ill really easily. We have to be very careful in cold weather with her or she could be sick for weeks. And…my husband had an accident at work a while back that crippled the limbs on the left side of his body. They’ll never move again. I thought if I could enter I could get them the medical help they need, stuff much more advanced than anything we have among the Socratics. I consider my close friends as family, but I’m not sure the Domers would have accepted that anyway.”

She dropped her eyes to her lap, embarrassed that she’d shared so much. She felt like she was complaining, and the last thing she wanted was to be seen as not willing to work for better things. Billy was watching her, a small smile on his face. Avidan interrupted.

“You’re a mother? I’ve got three kids of my own. How old are they?” Pike rubbed her eye as she answered.

“Heh, they’re twins, and they’re just over a year old. Nick will be teaching them to talk, and Jessica might be up and walking around by now. Sometimes I wish I could have never left, and I could just be with them right now. I miss them so much.” Billy nodded.

“I know the feeling. I haven’t even seen my cousins in three years, or any of my family, really. My cousins love learning, and I was happy to teach them, especially Melissa. Whether or not this competition thing even pans out, I need to go see them after this is done.” Pike nodded at Avidan.

“You said you’ve got kids. What are they like?”

“Well, Anton, he’s my oldest, he really into math right now. I don’t know what he’ll do with it, but it’s great to see him excited about it. Virgie is my youngest, and she’s just figuring out how to hold things and walk at the same time. She extremely curious, so she ends up in all sorts of mischief. And then there’s Hanne. They…are frustrating sometimes. They have been really grumpy lately and no idea what they want. Won’t even join us for dinner sometimes. I don’t know, they’ll probably figure things out, but it’s difficult getting along with them right now. Still, I love all of them.”

The three lapsed into silence, each content to think on their families waiting for them at home. It was a comfortable silence, and only ended when the Domer remembered his original question. He sniffed and rubbed his nose.

“Anyway, this is the first time I’ve heard about this competition. No one I know has either or I would be more familiar with it. Our government heads must have just done it without asking us what we thought.”

“What do you think?” asked Billy. Avidan shrugged.

“I didn’t know things had gotten bad. I mean, I knew the birth rate had declined, but I figured that was because we were living longer and people didn’t want to have children immediately. And I guess every time I walked by an empty block I just shut it out. Are we really doing that poorly?”

Pike’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“Empty blocks? What’s a block, and why is it being empty weird?”

Billy answered.

“A block is a row of homes along a street. If there are entirely empty ones, their population must be low enough they have more homes than people.” Lucky chirruped on his shoulder to give her opinion on the matter. Billy smiled and scratched the white cat under the chin.

The engineer nodded.

“He’s got the right of it. The Dome has been feeling more desolate every decade. I don’t see as many young people around as I remember. I don’t know why they wouldn’t just let you Outers in if we’re running out of time.”

Pike jabs her thumb over her shoulder out the break room door.

“You’ll notice you’re the only one of your little group that didn’t run for the hills when they came across us. That probably has something to do with it. We’re nothing like you Domers inside your pristine walls safe from the outside world. They were terrified just by the looks of us. There are more like us out there.

You think your enclosed little world could handle us?”
Exploration - Round 4
Well, this took forever, but I'm rather pleased with how it came out.

Legendaryhero64 and I had to include these plot points.

1) A conversation about Domer technology
2) A confrontation with Domer forces
3) A conversation about contestants' respective families and their similar motivations for entering the tournament
4) One contestant has a song stuck in their head, and through singing, humming, whistling ect gets it stuck in the other contestant's head, much to their chagrin


This is for :iconlet-me-in-oct:'s fourth round.
Billy Vargha belongs to :iconlegendaryhero64:

Round 3: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
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“There, there! Keep going!”

“Where?”

“There! The dump truck! Climb into it!”

“I’m not climbing into trash and filth!” A shove onto a ladder left her little choice.

“They were used for construction, not garbage. Shut up and get in there!” A boot connected with a snapping muzzle. It snarled at her, undeterred, but it was enough time to climb after the other woman. She’s stopped when her head collided with a butt.

The butt shrieked.

“Ah! Stop that! It’s me! Why haven’t you gotten in?”

“It’s a sizable drop, I might break my legs.”

“Get in already!”

“My bones fracture easily! It’s a miracle they didn’t break from all that running!” Pike sighed and pushed on the butt above her.

“Fine. Move over.” She scooted to the side, keeping her balance on the edge with her legs dangling inside.

Pike clambered inside, mumbling to herself about fractures versus being eaten, dropping solidly into gravel-sized rubble. Dust floated in front of her goggles. She reached up her hands to the younger woman.

“Lower yourself down a bit and I’ll get you the rest of the way.”

The frail woman squirmed in place but didn’t move. Pike sighed.

“Look, Delta G wasn’t it?” A nod. “I promise I’m not going to drop you. You don’t want to be worried about balance with those mutated coyotes jumping at you.” Finally Delta G scooted over the edge and Pike caught her about the waist to lower her gently down.

Pike’s face flushed as she realized where her hands were. She hoped the dim light would be enough to disguise her embarrassment. It wasn’t.

“Why are you looking so flustered?” Pike quickly pulled her hands to her sides.

“Just been a while since I held a pretty girl like that.”

“What? Did you just call me pretty?” But Pike turned away and waved around them.

“Make yourself comfortable.”

Howls surrounded them as several of the creatures prowled around the abandoned vehicle. Delta G looked around nervously.

“How long are we going to be stuck in here?”

“Probably until the fog burns off. They excel at hunting in fog or low visibility.”

“And you’re sure they can’t get in here?”

“They’re great jumpers, but even with flat tires the rim is too high up.” Gravel shifted and metal knocked about loudly as they settled in. “But in any case, we’re not going anywhere unless the sun comes out or something easier to kill shows up. Bastards are persistent.”

“What are they?”

“They were coyotes at one point. My friends and I think someone messed with their genetics to make them hardier or something. It worked too well.”

“How do you know so much about them? From your clothes you’re a Socratic, or imitating them anyway.” Another blush covered Pike’s face.

“I don’t understand fashion, okay? I’d rather have utility over something fancy.” She shifted uncomfortably on a metal pipe. And that’s the only reason I’m squirming, she told herself.

“Anyway, this isn’t my first encounter with them. I used to be a Nomad. Fog was always tense…Why are you doing that?” Delta G had curled into a ball to protect and distance herself from Pike.

“You’re a Nomad?”

Was.”

“But Nomads are all brutish and violent.” A howl filled the sudden silence.

“Oh, you listen to those Socratics. I’ve met them and been summarily threatened by them when they found out my heritage. I’ve had much more violence from them than I have ever meted out.”

“Really?”

“If I’d meant you harm, couldn’t I have left you behind to those things out there? Or after hearing about your bones, pushed you into the truck to leave you with broken legs? Both would have been easy.”

A considering sound came from the ball before it unfolded slightly.

“Is that why you’re in this tournament? To get away from people like that?” Pike’s head jerked in surprise.

“No, they didn’t even enter the equation. They don’t really affect my life. No, I’m doing this for my family. My kids and my husband need medical help, and the Socratics don’t have the resources we need. Though, I’m beginning to wonder if this is worth all that. The Domers don’t seem to think much of us…”

“No they don’t.” Another silence was ended before its time as Pike spoke.

“What are you running from?” Surprise was on the other face now.

“I’m – I’m not running from anything!”

“Then why was that the first thing you assumed I was doing?” Delta G put her head on her knees in resignation.

“I guess I’m trying to escape from my parents. They try to pressure me in every decision I make, and I figure if I can get in the dome I can make my own way without interference. But after what I’ve been through already, I’m not sure how much more I can handle.”

Pike moved closer to wrap an arm around Delta G’s shoulders in sympathy.

“I don’t see any of this fragility you talk about in your spirit, your courage is impressive. But if you consider yourself so fragile, maybe you should quit before the Domers send us into something truly life threatening. You’re playing down how much your legs hurt from escaping those things.”

“How do you know?”

“Your legs are trembling.”

“Oh.”

“You’ve been dealing with this for a long time, so I’m sure you’re prepared, but back in that medical facility I managed to steal a lot of meds. Nothing that sets bone, mind you, but some of these are heavier painkillers than anything you might have. You can have some if you want.”

“…Thanks.”

“…Listen, quitting is up to you. I know I’m thinking of leaving. I found a lot to help my family, so I want to leave. I’m not certain the Domers will let us go, though.”

Silence settled as a breeze picked up from the far end of the truck.

“What’s that smell?”

“Okay, sometimes for garbage.”
Fog - Round 3
Oh I feel so much better about this round than the last, which, I didn't finish. Oh well, moving on. Pike and Delta G find themselves in fog bank, and at the mercy of what hunts there.

For :iconlet-me-in-oct:
Delta G belongs to :iconkestrad: and I hope I did her justice, hard to do all this in just 1000 words.

Round 2: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
Round 4:
longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
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“Pike…”

Her eyes felt heavy under her goggles. She struggled to raise her eyelids.

“Pike…”

“Who is…calling me? Who are you?” Her eyelids moved and a shadowy figure reached for her. It retracted its arm and backed away before touching her. Confused and hazy, Pike tried to reach after it, only for her eyes to snap fully open as her arm refused to move. There was no one standing before her. Realizing she was lying down, she lifted her head to look at her left arm.

Thank goodness, it’s not paralyzed, just tied down.

More troubling was the patch of dried blood at her elbow. She shouldn’t have lost that much blood and still be alive. The right was clean, but just as strapped down as the left. Each was held in place by a brown strap with a bronze-colored buckle. If she strained the straps gave a little, but they were secured to the table and her arms would break before they would. They’d also taken her tool belt.

Pike surveyed the room and found it to be quite empty. To her right was another table with what she assumed was another competitor unconscious upon it. He had short brown hair pulled back in a small ponytail. Two intricate looking prosthetics lay beneath the table, an arm and a leg each. She could see the missing leg’s stump from her vantage, but the missing arm was on his far side. He too had a strap holding his left arm down, but he also had a larger one across his middle to secure him fully.

Beyond the man was a droid. Several of them had come to attend to Pike and Whelk after their race was over, tending small injuries and checking for larger ones. She’d never heard the term before, but the droids themselves had answered her question. They were like people, but fully mechanical and capable of flight.

She desperately wanted to take one apart.

This one seemed to be eying two monitors, each covered in squiggly lines and numbers. Pike had no idea what they were, but she could see her name at the top of the left screen. Something about her and the other guy, she assumed.

Pike returned her gaze back to herself, inspecting her situation once more. She was tired of being held down, and she didn’t think the droid would undo the straps if she asked nicely. They’d taken her tool belt, but hadn’t checked the pockets just within reach of her secured hands. Straining only slightly against her bond, Pike found the screwdriver in her pocket and managed to remove it without dropping it.

Keeping an eye on the floating droid, Pike maneuvered the tool under the buckle’s prong and lifted. She slipped several times before she forced it out of the loop it was in. A moment’s struggle later and her left hand was free! But so was the screwdriver from her grip. It clattered to the ground and drew the attention of the droid.

It spun around at the noise and immediately noticed her escape attempt. A panel folded out from its body and a syringe was produced.

“Please, lie still and relax. You are safe.” Mechanical and patronizing, its voice did not reassure Pike as it approached with the needle held toward her. She managed to undo the second strap and roll to the ground on the side of the table opposite the droid. It paused for a moment, then proceeded around the foot of the table to follow her.

“Please, let me administer this sedative. It is for your own good.”

“Yeah, I doubt that.” Pike moved to keep the table between them, when the droid suddenly lifted over the table to come directly at her. A yelp and a misplaced foot found her tumbled to the ground near the other table. The droid’s approach was menacing, and Pike frantically felt for anything she could use to fend it off.

Something heavy filled her hand. Without taking stock of what it was, she swung the object at the droid. It connected with a loud PING! and the syringe shattered. The droid fell back immediately, staying out of her reach as she stood back up. Pike held the contestant’s prosthetic leg in her hand.

Sudden dizziness washed over her and she put her head in her left palm. Flashes of light and color dance behind her closed eyelids, but nothing with a recognizable form. After the dizziness had passed she opened her eyes and found the dried blood at her elbow again. Looking closer she found a small scab at the center of the crease in her elbow. Noticing the stiffness in her shirt for the first time, Pike slipped her hand under the back of it. There too she found dried blood. A great deal of it had seeped into her shirt, but she wasn’t bleeding still.

How am I alive? I’ve bled from two places and I’m still here? What’s going on?

Her eyes found the broken syringe on the ground and she realized what had happened. Turning, she found the droid retreated into the wall near the monitors, watching her closely. She still had the competitor’s table between them and she could see him better now. He was indeed missing his right arm, but on his left elbow was a familiar pattern of dried blood, dark against his pale skin. Whatever they’d done to her, they’d likely done to him as well.

“Time for some answers.” She stormed around the table and directly for the droid, holding the fake limb threateningly. It cowered against the wall and pleaded with her to lie back down and accept sedation. She placed the foot of the limb against its neck to prove she wasn’t messing around. It paused in its pleading for a moment to look at the limb.

“While I may have a neck, I do not have a throat. Threatening my non-existent air passage is not intimidating.” Her pressure on his neck lessened as she leaned in to look.

“Oh yeah, you’re all machinery. But then why do you even have…never mind. What is this?” She pointed to the blood at her elbow. It hesitated before speaking.

“It appears to dried blood.” Unaffected by his sarcasm (can droids be sarcastic?), she retorted with a shove of the limb.

“Exactly! Why am I not dead? If this much blood came out, it never would have stopped.”
It merely scoffed at her.

“Hemophilia isn’t exactly difficult for us to solve, especially temporarily.”

“Hemo-what?”

“Hemophilia is the genetic disease that causes you to bleed out if you are injured. We administered a short lived coagulant to your system to prevent any…’leaks.’ It will wear off soon.”

“Hemophilia. So that’s what this is called. I wonder if any of the Socratics knew what this was.”

Pike examined her arm, searching for a second puncture wound, but couldn’t find any. They must have only stuck her once then. But that couldn’t be the only reason they’d jabbed her. The other contestant had a puncture mark too.

“You injected something into me, into both of us! Didn’t you? What is it?” The droid was silent.

Before she could interrogate it further, an enormous beast reared up before her, all teeth and claws and sizzling saliva on a frame three times her own. Pike stumbled back quickly as it advanced, bumping into a table with a cry. It reached for her and she held the limb in front of her defensively. Just as it was about to sink knife-like claws into her, the horror vanished without a sound.

She looked around the room frantically, it couldn’t just disappear. Then she saw the droid watching her. She pointed to where the monster had been.

“What was that?” She wasn’t sure droids could sound smug, but this one was when it answered her.

“There was nothing there. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Pike blinked her eyes clear and shook her head before charging at the droid again.

“You did something to me! You made me see that! What was that?” She pointed to the other patient, who showed signs of waking. “Did you do it to him too?”

The droid eyed her for a moment, silent.

“It will be enlightening to see what happens to the both of you.”

It then pushed forward into her, knocking her off balance. It opened the locks of the door by extending an arm from inside its body to a panel on the side of the doorframe. Another touch to the panel slid the door up into the ceiling, but by then Pike had caught up. As it tried to exit the door, Pike was slamming her fist into the same panel.

“You’re not going anywhere!”

The door slammed shut, crushing the droid underneath it. Its eyes flashed to the rhythm of several beeps that echoed from the ruined torso. A final beep as the flashing stopped, though Pike thought that last beep came from somewhere in the hall. She sighed down at the wrecked piece of machinery. There were probably pieces she could salvage, but Pike just felt like getting out of this place.

A confused grunt behind her reminded her she wasn’t suddenly alone in the room. Turning, she saw the man struggling to rise. His arm was still strapped down, so while he could sit up he could not get free. She moved to his side and undid the belt holding his arm down and he immediately swung it at her.

“Back off. I don’t need some stranger’s pity.” Pike held her hands up defensively.

“Just trying to help. I’ve got a son without a leg. It’s not easy.”

“I’ve got my legs, one just happens to be in your hands, for whatever reason. If you want to be helpful so badly, you can hand me my limbs.” She handed them over, flushing lightly as she passed him the leg still in her grasp. She ignored his request to turn around.

“Who made your prosthetics?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“I’m guessing it was a Socratic. That level of workmanship is nearly unheard of outside a machine shop. And I’m fairly certain we’re the only ones with working ones. So, which lazy bum in my community wouldn’t make my son a new leg?”

He didn’t respond, so Pike just watched him attach first his arm and then his leg. He stood unsteadily at first, testing that his leg was attached properly. He then turned about the room, taking in the crushed droid beneath the door, but also seemed like something was missing.

“So…you – “

“Pike.”

“Right, I’m Lance. Have you seen my bag? Did you take it?” She folded her arms over her chest.

“Where would I be hiding it? My things aren’t here either. I’m not sure if they were left where we were originally sedated or if they stored them somewhere in this place…wherever we are.”

Lance was walking slowly around the room now, pausing at the now blank screens on the wall. He turned to look at her from a distance.

“Any idea why we’re wherever we are? I don’t remember anything but a pain in the back and then I’m waking up to you standing over that thing.” She followed his pointing finger and felt another pang of regret at the destroyed machine. She fingered her elbow as she considered what to say. Finally she pointed at his arm.

“You’ll find a puncture mark at your elbow. I’ve got one too. I’m pretty sure they injected something into us. I have no idea what though, or why.”

He inspected his arm closely and Pike heard him whisper softly to himself.

“’Cause I don’t have enough things to worry about.”

“What was that?” He shook his head.

“Nothing. You got a plan?”

“I’m getting out of here. I’m going to find my stuff and see if I can find out what they did to me on the way. You’re welcome to come along if you want.” She turned to the door and depressed the panel, lifting the door from the destroyed droid with a squelch. His metallic foot clanked lightly as he followed her out through the door.

“I don’t need your permission.” She ignored him and surveyed the length of hall they stepped into.

Spots of light were spread evenly along the length, shed from hanging lamps. Sections of the floor were dark but there was nothing along the walls to cast shadows. The hallway was empty. To the left the hall continued a long distance before turning a sharp left corner. To the right the hallway ended at a wall holding a single window. The doors they could see came off suspicious, being flush with the wall. Their own door had a plaque next to it with a large 9 on it.

Pike eyed the left a long moment before heading to the window. Lance watched her go, confused.

“Shouldn’t we be heading the other way? There’s no exit there.”

“Never hurts to find out where we are before we get there. Keep an eye out for a second, will you?”

The view from the window revealed they were high above the ground, but she couldn’t tell what floor they might be on.

“Well, we’ll need to be on the lookout for stairs. We’re pretty…Are you okay?”

He jumped at her voice and whipped his head around to look at her before turning just as quickly back down the hall.

“Do – do you not see that? Do you not hear them?” She stepped close to him, looking down the mostly dim hallway. There was nothing and she told him so.

“There is something moving down there! Shadowy figures! And they’re…whispering, plotting. I can hear them.” There was still nothing there. Pike could see the far wall clearly, even though it lacked details. But his description sounded familiar to her, and her waking memory flashed into her mind.

“Are they calling your name?”

“What? No! They’re just whispering. It’s creepy!” Pike let out a heavy breath. So it wasn’t exactly the same, but near enough.

“I’ve been seeing some scary things too. I think whatever they put in us is doing it. I saw a shadow figure too when I woke up, and then something truly frightening appeared to me when I was confronting that droid with your leg.”

Lance looked at her and back down the hallway. He didn’t look like he wanted to believe her.

“C’mon Lance, we’ve got to keep moving. Let’s check some of these doors.”

She lead the way to the first door, only to realize she had no idea how to open it. There was no panel to press, and no handle. When she reached out to touch the door, she realized the cool feeling of metal was absent. It felt like the wall next to it. Curious, she leaned in and inhaled through her nose. Lance spoke up behind her, still sounding nervous.

“What is it? Can you get it open?”

“The door isn’t real. It’s painted on!
Hallucinations - Round 2 (Unfinished)
Unfortunately I couldn't finish this in time. I'm beating myself up about this, but this is the best I could do. I don't know why this round kicked me in the teeth this round. Sorry :iconforegoneconclusion: I hope I do better next round.

Round 1: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
Round 3:
longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
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Pike stood next to her opponent before the entrance of an old-style funhouse. The wooden archway was painted to resemble the gaping maw of a laughing clown. The once white face paint is now an ashen color. The wood behind one of his eyes has rotted and fallen out, leaving it sunken and hollow looking.

“Funhouse?” scoffed Pike. “How did the people of old see this as anything but terrifying?” She shook her head and rubbed her goosebump covered arms. Whelk tried to appear aloof, but his unwillingness to look directly at the entrance betrayed how disturbed he was. He pointed to the words spelled out across the clown’s teeth.

“Can you read? What does that say?” She squinted to see the words through her lenses.

“It says ‘Uncle Phil’s Funhouse.’ Whose uncle? That’s weird.” He shook his head.

They’d both shown up to this location as they were told, just before dusk. Pike had recoiled at the shadows the building cast and nearly jumped out of her skin when one of them moved toward her. Whelk was dark, so dark he nearly vanished in the dimming sunlight if she didn’t keep an eye on him.

Now they were waiting for the house to open. They’d each approached, only slightly worried that mouth would close on them, and tugged on the door. It was locked tight and wouldn’t budge. They were mostly silent toward each other, though it was agreed it would unlock at either sunset or full dark. Pike didn’t mind. She’d like to be able to take her polarized goggles off. In fact, it was probably dim enough she could do it now without much pain.

She slipped them off and put them into a pocket. Whelk chuckled, “It is a little dark to be wearing sunglasses.” She knew he was trying to lift the mood of that spooky place, but after hearing it repeatedly for the last few years, she was tired of the joke. She shot him a weary smile.

“Need them to see.”

She wasn’t too concerned about her tone, that joke needed to die a slow, painful death. Whelk looked away and she, at least, enjoyed the ensuing silence.

The sky got darker and darker, and Pike was able to make out more details of the funhouse’s entrance. Above the clown’s eyes rose rainbow-colored hair. She squinted. There was something else there, something glinting in the dying light. She was about to inspect it up close when she heard a click and groan from the entrance.

The door had opened!

Pike and Whelk spared just a glance at the other before making a dash for the door. Just before she reached the steps, bright light exploded into being, blinding Pike. Differently colored bulbs were strewn throughout the clown’s hair, illuminating the space before the door.

“Ah, Domer piss!” She spun away, her arm over her eyes, as she tried to retrieve her goggles. By the time she fitted them into place, Whelk had entered and disappeared down the hallway. Pike glared up at the now brilliantly lit up jester.

“Thanks a lot,” she grumbled at it before hurrying to catch up with her opponent. As she went through the open door she rubbed at the skin around her eyewear. She could feel it already. Her skull was going to ache for days.

The floor groaned under her weight and the air seemed to smell of rotten wood. She couldn’t see Whelk, but her line of sight was stopped short by a sharp turn to the left a few feet ahead. She turned it and found a short flight of stairs down. A much longer set of stairs to the left at the landing descended into darkness. She took to them quickly, reminding herself that Whelk could be very far ahead.

Only a few steps down her hurry proved a hindrance. The floor swept out under her foot with a bang, throwing her violently to the side. If not for the banister, Pike would have tumbled downt he rest of the staircase end over end. She hauled herself up and the step shifted under her weight to slam into the wall she clutched.

Pike experimentally shifted her weight back and forth, eliciting loud bangs with each shift. She looked down the stairwell and tried again.

Looks like this is all one piece, just supposed to drop your feet from under you and give you a fright. I don’t see how that’s fun, but it’s not dangerous if I don’t sprint down the steps.

Pike proceeded cautiously, shifting with the stairs until she reached the next landing. She could see even floor beyond a few more steps again to the left. These didn’t move under her weight.

His lead wasn’t that big. Either he’s got magnificent balance or he tumbled to the bottom.

She rounded the next corner and jumped out of her skin. Someone was waiting at the far end of the hall! She quickly ducked back behind the corner. When she poked her head out, the person was no longer there. It took her a moment to find their head sticking out as hers was.

Pike narrowed her eyes. She reached out her hand and watched as the other person mimicked her waving exactly.

“Ah, it’s my reflection! I see now.” She stepped into the hallway and approached herself. Mirrors weren’t uncommon among the Socratics, but new ones weren’t being made and Pike had only used a few. Most of the larger ones had been claimed by the growing fashion industry among the scholars. Pike didn’t understand the allure, but mirrors themselves were rather interesting.

As she stepped near the mirror, the ceiling cut away, briefly revealing a large room easily two to three stories tall. The mirror blocked her view as she got closer.

Touching her reflection she saw that the path split to the left and the right, both lined with mirrors. To the right mirrors were cracked and broken, many shattered to the ground, glinting oddly in the low light. The left had pristine mirrors and honestly looked better lit. Pike could see herself at the far end as it turned again.

If I take this path, I’ll be able to see better, but the mirrors might mess with me. The right path has sharp edges and low lighting, but I’ll be able to tell if something’s a mirror or not.

After a moment’s deliberation she turned right to follow the darker path.

She moved briskly, aware of the gap growing between Whelk and herself. Pike wanted to keep a hand on one wall, try to follow advice she had heard once, but the broken glass made her keep her distance. The last time she’d gotten a bad cut she’d almost died. The blood wouldn’t stop flowing. She’d been careful since, and had managed to keep her skin intact, even after joining the Socratics and working with their machines. She wasn’t going to bleed out here.

Pike continued along the right wall until an odd intersection gave her pause. It turned left and right like the others, but straight ahead on the opposing wall rose a sturdy ladder. The lights flickered as she traced it up and up where she could just make out a platform hidden in the gloom.

She looked down both the left and right paths, but they each ended with a sharp turn back in the direction she’d come from.

“I hate to break my pattern now, but I like the idea of being able to look down at the maze.”With a shrug, she started climbing.

She tried to climb quickly, but it was a long ladder. There was no telling how far ahead Whelk could be, but falling now wouldn’t help her chances. The lamps casting their infrequent light came into view and then she was past them. A short minute after that saw her pulling herself onto the waiting platform.

Pike stood and shook her arms out. It really had been a long climb. Looking down over the sides revealed that the details of the maze were difficult to see beyond the lamps. Out in the distance other platforms rose from the twisted path.

“Are those ramps leading up to them? Mine doesn’t have one, does it?” A bright blue glow grabbed her attention before she could investigate. In big, bold letters the word EXIT glowed above a doorway in the far wall. It was the most colorful thing in the room, even if she hadn’t been able to read, it was obvious which way to go.

She was so intent on trying to trace the path back to the base of her ladder she failed to notice the floor dropping out from under her. There was no banister to latch onto this time. She fell solidly onto her butt and started sliding forward. Walls grew around her as the slide hurtled her down at an ever faster speed. She let out a shriek as she entered a tunnel and winced as it echoed around her. Everything was pitch black for a moment and then she was tipped forward as the slide ended to stumble across a new room.

Picking herself off the ground, she looked around the room. One wall featured free standing, oddly shaped mirrors. As she stepped in front of them her image showed up but grossly distorted. This one made her skinny and tall, and the next made her squat and wide. She rolled her eyes at these. There was only one exit unless she wanted to try climbing the slide. Hmph, I suppose that would be fun if I’d known it was there before I was on it.

With nowhere else to go, Pike left the room only to come to a three way intersection. Back into the maze it seemed. She knew choosing a direction was entirely random, but she tried to remember which way the exit had been from the slide. The slide had been straight, right? She shrugged and chose the path directly ahead of her.

Fewer mirrors were broken along this path, but it seemed the walls were getting closer. The path became so narrow for a while she had to turn sideways and pull her bag after her. She was sweating nervously by the time the walls had retreated.

“Stupid sharp edges. Next time I enter a maze of broken mirrors, I’ll bring body armor along.” She continued grumbling to herself as she turned corner after broken corner. She was getting really tired of seeing herself at the end of every corridor. She stopped short when the next turn revealed she wasn’t.

She dashed forward in hopes that, yes, the light from the sign was visible! She was almost out! Her reflection appeared so suddenly that she yelped and tripped over her own feet and smacked into the clear glass plate ahead of her.

She pulled her way up it and glared at the EXIT sign just out of reach. She was so close. She started again as something moved sharply to her left. It was Whelk! How had he gotten on the right path?

Whelk stopped short as he saw Pike through the glass. He placed a hand on the pane and looked it over. He let out a whistle.

“That is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. That’s downright mean putting this here when you’re so close.” His voice echoed oddly over the top. Pike wondered briefly if she could climb over before dismissing the idea. Too much risk she’d break the glass in the process and cut herself to death. She supposed talking to him was the only thing she could do now.

“I’m curious, which way did you choose at the beginning of the maze? There couldn’t have been just one correct path.”

“I chose the path with the unbroken mirrors. I’ve heard all about broken mirrors, I wasn’t going to risk going down that path.” She gave him a confused look, but he didn’t stop to explain. “Anyway, since this is a competition and there’s not much you can do, I’m just going to step through this door and win. Sorry!”

His cheerful grin grinded on her, but there really was nothing she could do about it as he opened the door and stepped through.

“What? There’s more? Don’t tell me that was just the exit from the maze!”

Pike’s eyes widened at his shock from inside the door. It wasn’t over! But what could she do? Turning back would still take too long and climbing still didn’t look any better an option. There was only one option; she’d have to break through.

Hesitantly she hefted her rubber mallet and looked once more at the obstacle in front of her. This is going to suck! She hauled back and brought the hammer down heavily on the pane. The tiniest crack appeared. Disbelief spread across Pike’s face as she swung the hammer again, only to grow the crack imperceptibly. Now fully frustrated she slammed the tool down again and again, slowly widening the crack as well as the lead Whelk had on her.

Suddenly the crack widened significantly, and she could hear it creak as it spread across the whole sheet of glass. This was it. But how could she strike it again without shattering it and being shredded in the process?

She narrowed her eyes at her tool of choice before taking several large steps back. She released a hesitant breath and hurled the hammer with as much force as she could muster. Shards went flying in all directions, causing Pike to cower. She felt several pieces strike her back, but her tough shirt kept them from punching through.

When she looked back only a few shards dangled from the frame. She hurried through the hole and through the exit, stooping to pick up her mallet as she went.

A short corridor led to a larger room, and Whelk wasn’t that far ahead! She could see him halfway across the room. She squinted. He seemed to be having trouble walking? He wasn’t moving very fast in any case.

Pike briefly looked over the room, searching for traps or any reason Whelk might be acting strange. Nothing stood out until she turned back to the entrance. Two grotesque clown statues stood on either side of the doorway, gesturing out to the floor. With a startled yelp, Pike jumped back, thinking they were there to attack her.

They didn’t move, but the floor did. As she stepped onto it the floor groaned as it began to tilt to one side. She nearly lost her balance, but managed to wobble upright. Whelk laughed from across the room.

“That’s why I’m going slowly! The whole place tilts back and forth.”

Her side was still tilting, but not so much she had trouble standing. She could see now that only the floor she stood on was tilted, while Whelk’s section of floor was mostly flat. Small cracks ran width-wise across the room, showing where each part of the floor was separate from each other. A soft thud echoed as the floor came to a stop.

It’s like the stairs from earlier. They can only go so far before being stopped. But since there’s not one huge piece, I wonder if they’re centered differently. She wasn’t far from the center of the room, so she took three large steps, bringing her to the next section. As she stepped up to place her feet on it, the ground tilted heavily and she scrambled upslope trying to find the fulcrum. As it rebalanced and she caught her breath she had to admit to herself, If this wasn’t a competition I think I’m beginning to see how this could be fun. Have some friends with you and giggling over running into dead ends and scrabbling as the room tilts. I can see that.

“Wouldn’t hurt if you didn’t find clowns to be creepy, either.” This she mumbled to herself as she stepped lightly onto the next section, placing only enough weight on it to see where it moved. This time she moved quickly toward it without trouble. The next section was the one Whelk had been standing on when she entered and she had no problem moving to his position.

Looking forward, her opponent was now climbing up a slope on the final section toward the door. He still had a lead on her and Pike needed to fix that. Quickly judging the distance she leapt completely over the section between her and Whelk, landing solidly on the opposite side of the fulcrum. The lever moved violently, bouncing Whelk into the air and sending him sliding down the shifted plane.

Pike managed to hold her stance as the swearing man slid past her and moved surely to the door. She had to maneuver around the raised floor, but was finally ahead! She jogged down the hallway, not sure what to expect next.

The hall emptied out into a suspiciously empty room. There weren’t even the creepy clowns to greet her as they had before. She took a cautious step out onto the floor. It didn’t shift, or lean, or sprout demonic vines she’d have to fight.

That last one’s probably a little unrealistic, but I don’t know what to expect.

Two more steps revealed nothing more. She paused and raised her hand to her chin in thought. Whelk entered behind her and stopped short when he saw her motionless.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Quite frankly she was surprised by the concern in his voice, but she tried to keep it from her own.

“I’m fine. It’s this room that’s got me concerned. All the other rooms have had gimmicks, but nothing has happened in this one. It’s too empty, if that makes any sense.” She turned on the spot to look at him. He just waved his hand dismissively.

“Sometimes it’s just an empty room.” He took two steps and a loud click echoed in the room as his foot depressed into the floor. Pike could see his eyes widen as he looked at his foot. She almost missed his frightened whisper.

“Booby trap.”

Her own eyes widened at that and she turned to dive to the ground, followed closely by Whelk. She covered her head and waited. When nothing happened, she looked around. The room hadn’t changed. No opened panels on the walls, no knives or darts thrown about. She looked back at the spot he’d stepped on.

“Are you sure about that booby trap? Now that I think about it, this is supposed to be for fun. I doubt you’d have many repeat visitors if this room killed whoever came into it.” She rose to her feet to examine the depression. Whelk rolled over to look at her.

“Maybe they enjoyed near death experiences back then. It could be a dud.”

Pike shook her head, sure of herself now. She reached a hand out and pressed on the floor. It clicked again and retreated to floor level.

“No, look. I think this was just to make you stumble, feel like the floor is falling out from under you, like a lot of the other tricks here. I don’t think they actually wanted to hurt anyone here.”

Fascinated as she was with the mechanics of the device, Pike failed to notice Whelk get to his feet behind her.

“Well, if you’re sure, then…bye!” She whirled as he took off, stepping high to avoid the indents as he created them. She moved to dash after him and promptly tripped over her own dropped floor, landing flat on her face. She rose onto her elbows and watched Whelk disappeared down the next hallway.

She pounded a fist on the floor. She just couldn’t seem to keep up, and this time it had been her own fault. She sulkily dragged herself to the nearest wall and pulled herself to a standing position. She sighed as the mental scolding began. Will my curiosity always get in the way? Will I never learn to stay focused? Will I…what is that?

The tirade ended as quickly as it began as she reoriented herself on a crack in the wall in front of her. She felt along it with her fingers and could feel a small draft. A light tap revealed a section of wall that was different from the rest. Further down she found another crack, though this one wasn’t as visible. She reexamined the first crack and found it jutted from the while just a tiny bit.

A door? Maybe? But why would there be a door here?

Her drive to know had taken over and she found a flathead screwdriver in her hand. She wedged it into the crack and jimmied it back and forth. The door became more defined until she could get a grip with her fingers. She yanked it open and found a narrow passage beyond.

Immediately to the right was a ladder leading under the floor. The hole extended out into the previous room as well as under the false trap room. Confused, Pike took the left path leaving the door to swing softly shut behind her. There was just enough light to make her way. The floor was solid and nothing attempted to move on her.

A small room opened up and she saw a metallic box sitting on a desk. Approaching it she found  an image of another room on a display, words written underneath. The text seemed to be referring to a disk that made up the floor of the room on the screen.
Rotation: Inactive


“Is this…an active computer? I didn’t know there could be such a thing outside the Dome! This is incredible! I should – no! Stay focused! These have to be maintenance tunnels. That means they’ll bypass all the obstacles. I’ve got to keep going!”

Despite her fingers itching to disassemble the lost technology, Pike swept out of the room into the next narrow corridor. The next room was a little larger and had a vast work bench shoved against one wall. Several stools suggested this was for many people to work at once. Lying on a section of table was a mechanism she hadn’t seen before. This time she couldn’t help picking it up to examine it, but she kept moving. As long as she didn’t stop, it wouldn’t impede her progress, right?

Before she could step through the door Pike heard a shout. She looked around the room, maybe Whelk had found a way back here too? But the next shout sounded muffled and she realized it was from beyond the wall. He was in the room adjacent to her. Was there a way she could see him?

Searching along the wall revealed a sort of peephole. The view was a little hazy, so there must be something covering it to give the illusion of a whole wall. She could see Whelk near the entrance pacing back and forth. He looked frustrated. Pike watched him walk forward a step only to flail his arms about and quickly jump back.

She couldn’t help watching him try again, this time hearing a soft pfft before he filled the silence with cursing at spirits for holding him back. She could tell it wasn’t spirits, there was something under the floor. The voice that had told her to ignore the computer failed to speak up as she looked for some way under the floor.

There! A trapdoor lead underneath the room, revealing several devices like the one Pike had found upstairs. Each had its nozzle stuck up to cracks through the floorboards of the room Whelk was in. A circle of larger ones in the center of the room drew her attention. All of the devices had hoses attached that connected them to a large tank in the corner. Each device seemed to be anchored to the ground above them with a pressure plate. As she watched, Whelk attempted to move forward again, depressing a pressure plate and the device under him made that same pfft sound she’d heard before.

He stepped back once more and Pike’s eyes widened.

“They’re air jets! That’s so interesting!”

“…Pike? Was that you? Where are you? Air jets? You mean…”

Oh, poop.

Pike turned and bolted for the ladder. Whelk was clever enough he’d figure out the room didn’t actually have any obstacles for him to overcome in just a moment. She had to move! Her hands automatically latched onto the air jet on the table and slipped it into her tool belt as she moved to the door.

She nearly sprinted down the hallway, bruising her shoulders heavily on protruding support beams in her haste. The path ended at a wall and she looked around frantically. She could hear Whelk thumping up stairs outside her walls. There had to be a way up.

Then she spotted it. A ladder was hanging out the darkness above. She jumped to reach it and with the sound of metal scraping the ladder dropped to her level. She scaled the ladder and found herself in a room more the size of a closet. There was a rather well marked door on one side with a peephole, but she didn’t bother with it. Pushing at the door accomplished only a shift in the door. Pike narrowed her eyes and stood at the far wall before throwing herself against the stuck door.

It slammed open and she hurtled out, narrowly missing Whelk who took two surprised steps back down the steps he was ascending. Pike caught herself on the far wall and got a good look down the corridor around the corner. Another blue exit sign. This one had to be the end!

She locked eyes with Whelk for just a moment before pushing herself up and toward the exit. She could hear Whelk right behind her. They were both so focused on the exit ahead they failed to realize there was still an obstacle left.

Hearing the groan just a moment too late, Pike lost her footing and fell to the ground, Whelk falling nearly on top of her as well. There was a long tunnel and it was spinning! Pike struggled to get to her feet and keep her balance, briefly considered just crawling the remaining distance, but moved forward.

She couldn’t be sure if he’d pushed her or used her to retain his own balance, but Whelk was suddenly in front of her and she was leaning against one wall as it rotated, her goggles scraping noisily. Once again he was too far ahead for her to catch.

“I can’t lose this close to the end.” Without thinking for more than a breath, Pike hefted her hammer again and threw it after the escaping Whelk. She’d never been good at long range…anything, but this time her aim was spot on. The mallet struck him in nearly the center of his back, knocking him to the floor. She ran after him and paused only to pick up her hammer.

He wheezed as he tried to grab at her legs, but she managed to avoid his grasping. The pouch on his waist squirmed, as if something was trying to get out, but he was almost laying on it.

“Ooh, knocked the wind out of you. Uh, sorry. You’ll be fine…yeah…” She turned and staggered the remaining way out of the tumbling tunnel and nearly fell through the exit door. Down two rickety, grated steps and she was on solid earth again.

There, just a few paces away was a pedestal, sleek blue lines drawing her eyes to the top. There a screen overlaid with a grid waited. When Pike approached the pillar beeped at her and the outline of a hand formed on the screen.

With a hesitant look at her hand she placed it down on the outline, covering it completely. She let out a small chuckle. Her hand was bigger than the hand provided. But the machine did its job and moment later beeped to let her know it was done. Pulling her hand away revealed a single line of text:
Handprint Accepted


Pike let out a sigh as she turned to see Whelk burst out the door. Seeing her standing next to the scanner he could only drop to sit on the metal stairs to try and catch his breath.
Pike's Fun(?)house - Round 1
Well...that took forever. Pike and Whelk enjoy an amusing jaunt through an only slightly abandoned Funhouse, with all the tricks and turns two post-apocalyptic citizens could never find 'fun.' How will it turn out? Take a read and find out!
Doing research about the original funhouses was both exhausting and really interesting for this. And I hope I got the abandoned amusement house, Scooby-Doo feel right.

For :iconlet-me-in-oct:

Whelk belongs to :iconbistreblack:

App: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
Round 2: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
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Character’s Name: Pike


Age: 32
Gender:  Female

Clan:  She grew up with her family among the Nomads, but joined the Socratics at 19 when she became fascinated by machines.

Genetic Deficiency or Mutation:  Pike has had a growing sensitivity to light all her life. Bright light, which for her is almost all light, causes her great pain. She either must find something to cover her eyes or a dark place to hide. At first she could handle being in broad daylight without protection, but then needed at least a head covering. Now she’s downgraded to having some sort of shades over her eyes in any kind of light. She wears goggles with lenses made from a welding mask. Unfortunately, goggles being what they are, means that Pike has no peripheral vision in light. At night she’s just fine though if not around torches or fires.

She also has hemophilia, causing her great issue if she begins to bleed. Since an incident in her childhood where she nearly bled to death, she has avoided getting cut at all costs. Because it has not occurred in the vicinity of any of the Socratics, she has never learned what it is called, doesn’t know there is a name for it.

Physical Appearance: Pike is a large woman with broad, brown shoulders that lead into muscular arms. She has short black hair pulled back tight against her head, a small tail keeping it from covering her brown eyes. She wears sturdy, black boots below a pair of loose tan pants. A thick grey shirt protects her from small debris and sparks, though heavier objects or sustained flame would cause issues. It isn’t armor, after all. The shirt covers her girth well. Having carried twins and having a slower metabolism than some has left her with a round belly, though it’s never gotten in her way when she works. A decent size tool belt graces her waist, bristling with the tools of deconstruction and tinkering.

Major Skills: Climbing, hiding, running. You’d think someone used to living off the land would be able to swim, but she hates any water that’s too deep to stand in. She’ll try to find another way around, thank you very much. She’s good at mechanics, can disassemble machinery and put it back together, with modifications or not. Due to this she’s also rather adept at basic construction, knowing how things go together and how to build structures sturdily.

Tools: Has a tool belt with various tools. Screwdrivers, a few wrenches, mostly things she’s found while wandering around because the Socratics didn’t want to spare their tools for her ‘adventures’.  She also has a big rubber hammer she uses to smack things into or out of place. They’re basically enough to get her into messes, but for her, they’re also enough to get back out again. Black tinted goggles she uses to cover her eyes in any amount of light. She carries a length of rope in her pack, about 15m of it, along with any supplies she thinks she may need on any individual trip.

Family: Her mother and father are still traveling with the Nomads. She’d gladly participate just to get them inside, but they’re likely to refuse the offer. They’re comfortable with the life they have. She has no siblings, not by birth anyway. She considers four of her friends to be her adopted siblings, though Pike worries the Domers won’t take that.

She’s also married with two children of her own. Her husband, Nick, had helped her conceive twins, one boy and one girl. Toby and Jessica were too young to really know what their mother was getting into, but they seemed enthusiastic about her doing anything.

Personality: Pike is above all else, curious. She wants to know how everything works. She didn’t really understand this impulse until she joined the Socratics. Before then she’d had to fight down the urge, because wandering in to explore something could get you killed. So, she learned to be cautious when things seemed too good to be true, to notice the small details.  She’s quick to forgive those who sincerely regret their actions, but will remain wary of anyone with a half-hearted apology, even over something minor. She is often hyper-focused on whatever she’s interested in, and can forget the people around her, even if she’s been talking to them for a while. She hates being interrupted when working on a project. Just let her get her work done, or she’s going to be grumpy at you until you leave. While she has her small group of friends, she prefers to spend a lot of her time alone. If she spends too long with any one person, she will desperately want to leave the situation.

History: Pike is a 32 year-old woman living on the outside. She was born to the Nomads, and grew up learning how to survive on little and using the world around her to her advantage. Can’t reach something? Is there anything you can move and climb on top of? If you’re attacked, what can you use as shelter or a make-shift weapon?

She was raised more or less non-violent. Fighting only when all other options had been exhausted, including running. That being said, she has an eye for details, and has learned a lot from watching fights. Some fights were between humans, but they were not the only combatants. Intimidation, feinting, taunting, even dirty tricks could be used to ensure survival.

Though she’s never been in a real fight, muscles have built up over the many years interacting with her environment. She’s skilled at climbing hiding, running. She’d list parkour among her skills, if she had any idea it existed. But she hardly counts these as skills. These came from growing as she did. The abilities she’s most proud of come from a different culture.

At 19, Pike was part of a Nomad group hired to bring certain equipment to the Socratics. She had no idea what any of it was, but she was immensely curious what it might do if it weren’t broken. She asked so many questions of the people on the receiving end, they were almost desperate to get rid of her.

Pike was rescued from rejection by an elderly Socratic who took interest in her curiosity. She had been asking intuitive questions about things she should have no knowledge of, being a Nomad. He invited her into their library and answered many of her questions with the help of old manuals.

She couldn’t read the words, written language hadn’t been important to her survival, but she understood what he explained to her. The hour grew late and the man invited her to join in meal with him, where they could keep talking.

While hesitant at the offer (food from unknown people usually meant a trap), she couldn’t deny she wanted to learn more. Pike followed the man to his home and shared a meal and a curious evening talking about machines. She’d never been so interested in anything before.
It was late when they retired, and by morning Pike had decided. She wasn’t leaving with the other Nomads. Some ridiculed her, believing she was abandoning their way of life. This was somewhat true. Pike would be staying in one place for an extending period of time.

But others accepted this as another Nomad trait. Sometimes you leave the group to travel your own path. This was true too. These Nomads worried about her, knowing her often overwhelming desire to be alone. She would be joining a large, stationary group.
She was a little worried about that herself, but Pike reassured them and sent them on their way with a message for her parents. So began several years of teaching. She had an eye for detail and could understand concepts easily, though reading, writing, and mathematics were difficult.

She persevered, however, and became quite adept with machinery. She prefers the simple machines, but can also reassemble complicated machines she’s taken apart with ease.
Pike had a difficult time adjusting to the Socratic community. Most people were smarter than her (though she later learned the difference between inherent intelligence and education) and many looked down on her at first. Her questions were persistent and often seen as annoying.

But she found allies. The first Socratic to answer her questions, the elderly Onion. That wasn’t his real name, but it was what everyone called him, an affectionate nickname from his youth. A small group of friends near her age also took her unknowingly into their circle. They showed her around and answered questions when they could. Pike quickly found herself more attached to them than anyone else before them.

Nick, Sophia, Lucy, Bryan and Emma were the people she went to when she wanted comfort or just company. They helped each other study, and do chores. Working on projects was a breeze when the six of them were together. Pike was romantically involved with Emma for a few years, but split up when a rough argument convinced the both of them they didn’t work as lovers.

Nick would later romance her with machinery and honey drops, her favorite sweet. They shared a lot of interests, and after only a few years decided to join together. Six months later she gave birth to twins and named them Toby and Jessica. Toby was born with only one leg, and Jessica fell ill easily. The medical advances of the Socratics helped her through these obstacles, but life seemed determined to make her new life difficult.
Before the twins could turn a year old, their father had an accident that permanently crippled the limbs on the left side of his body. There were very few jobs he could physically do. Their friends helped him find a place in the library, but it was still a devastating blow to his pride. Pike did what she could to make their lives flow smoothly, but never felt she was doing enough.

When news of the tournament reached the community, Pike only had to think of her family to push her to enter. Many of the elder Socratics claimed the Domers had medical technology even more advanced than what was available to those on the outside. If she could win, maybe their lives could turn around again. She also wouldn’t mind a look at the technology they were hiding away. What could she do with it if she could get her hands on it? Probably take it apart, first.

Pike arranged for Emma and her girlfriend to watch after her family while she was gone, and asked her and their friends to help out if she didn’t come back. She left the settlement just after sunset, brushing the dust off her old Nomad skills.
Let Me In - Pike
This is my profile of Pike for :iconlet-me-in-oct:
Thanks to :iconleafquill: for giving me a shot at being a late entry. Let me know if this works or if I need to change anything.

Update 01/10/2016: Fixed her appearance, and added some things forgotten in my haste to get this last minute profile up in time.

Round 1: longshotlink.deviantart.com/ar…
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deviantID

LongshotLink
Joshua
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Ft. Collins, CO
Personal Quote: Character is who you are in the dark.
Interests
Woo! Writing down all my notes for how I want things to pan out for my character in the first few rounds of :iconnuzlocke-challenge:'s NOCT tournament is brutal. Writing down the possibility of characters dying is rough on the emotions. Both Jack and I are going to be a mess when this is over.
  • Listening to: Indigo Girls
  • Reading: Martyr by A.R. Kahler
  • Playing: Pokemon White 2
  • Drinking: Water, Lots of It

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:iconawakingdormancy:
awakingdormancy Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2015
Thanks so much for the watch! :)
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for writing Wonderwall, it's really fun so far.
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:iconumbreongal:
UmbreonGal Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+devwatch:
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:iconplutonian-frostmonky:
Plutonian-Frostmonky Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015  Student Writer
  Hey, been meaning to say this to you in skype but I guess we're just never on at the same time. Congrats on the win man, you deserve. Was tons of fun trying to surmount you, and hey I may have loss but I lost o the guy in first place so that works for me. 

 Thanks for helping me kill a god. Highfive fella (Reactions) 
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! Glad to fight alongside you! You did a great job!
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:iconalex-namn:
Alex-namn Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the watch!!! :icondragonlick:
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome. I'm sorry it took this long to read your awesome nuzlocke.
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:iconalex-namn:
Alex-namn Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hahah :XD: awsomeness take some time ;P
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:iconphyllocactus:
Phyllocactus Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015
thank you for the watch Blush 
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Your nuzlocke looks to be interesting. I'm in
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