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Cultured for the Humans

The Dome

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a part of Cultured for the Humans, by Shané.

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Shané holds sovereignty over The Dome, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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The Dome

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The Dome is a part of Cultured for the Humans.

6 Characters Here

Emma [5] How can everything I know possibly be a lie?
Adam [4]
Peter [4] "I'm not going to be fooled into exploring another Dome"
Beth [3] "I only believe what I can see."
Thomas [3] "Everyone has to believe in something."
Leah [3]

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Character Portrait: Emma
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#, as written by Shané
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Emma followed the rest of the Cultured into the vast dome that served as the Leisure block. It was the best part of the day, normally spent with a close Cluster partner or in small groups of friends enjoying the garden or simply discussing anything that came to mind. Emma loved the way it was all laid out with so much open space near the grassed quarters and then the rich canopy of leaves in the more jungle-like solitary quarters. There was usually a range of different things to use, most of the males tended to like the balls and took over the grassed quarters. Being as slight as she was Emma was not really a competitor in their free time activities so she preferred to spend time with her own friends. She was closest to Leah. Leah’s gentle and submissive way of life helped calm Emma and prevented her from fearing the Carer’s would not approve of her company. Thomas normally joined the other two, though Emma was sure it had more to do with Leah than herself. Thomas worried Emma a bit. While he did make an effort to obey the Carers, he had a natural curiosity that she had learnt to fear. Emma briefly wondered if one day the two would find a Cluster. Quickly she pushed the thought away, ashamed of her nosy thoughts. They were never to meddle in other people’s private business.

She was pleased to see that things had started to settle down since Adam had returned. For the first few weeks it had been pretty hectic. A reasonable crowd made up of the less conservative Cultured had gathered around him pestering him for details of the lower dome. Emma hadn't really been surprised. It had been the very first return that had ever been seen, anyone would want to talk to Adam and find out what the other domes were like. Nevertheless she had declined to join the ever growing group of Cultured. The problem was that now he was dangerous. If he'd been demoted, Emma was sure she should avoid him lest she end up incidentally following in his footsteps. It had taken him three cycles to return and she was certain it would not be worth the risk. Her own Carer had almost said as much.

She wasn't sure where Adam was now, if he was still as popular as he had been before he’d probably be soaking up his new status. Considering this Emma decided to make her way to the greenery opposite the grassed quarters to her group’s usual meeting space. Pushing past a few ferns she found the small pond and plonked herself down near the water’s edge. Peering at the surface of the water she idly traced her reflection with her finger watching as the ripples distorted her image. The tips of her hair dipped into the water as she leant over further causing its deep brown to go almost black. Emma quickly pushed it back not really liking the idea of putting up with wet hair for the rest of the day. She loved the ponds solitude. There was a small brook that wove through the outskirts of the Leisure dome with small clearings beside it that many groups of Cultured had claimed as their meeting spots. This one normally was quiet though. There wasn’t as much of a clearing and you couldn’t see the other Domes from here, perhaps the reason it hadn’t been picked as a meeting place for any particular group yet. Emma wasn’t sure where Leah was, but if she had to guess she would suppose Thomas would find her first. Besides, they knew she would probably come here first, so if they felt like her company they would come.

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Character Portrait: Thomas Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Adam Character Portrait: Leah
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Adam


Two years locked in a solitary confinement cell had changed Adam, more than even his escape had. For two years he was left alone with nothing but his mind to keep him company and his desire to break out once more, saving his fellow humans. They weren't "Cultured," he had learned, they were human. Just like every one else outside of the Dome and they deserved to live, really live. They were people, not meat sacks that got to be thrown around and used like a bag of organs awaiting harvest. Now he just had to convince most of the others that they were, in fact, in immediate danger without bringing attention to himself from the Carers.

He followed the large group of Cultured out into the leisure area, just as he had done so many times before. What was once a familiar, comforting stomping ground for him now just felt like he was a sheep being herded. The others looked incredibly happy and relieved that it was leisure time, but that was because they didn't know the truth. With the exception of a few he had confided in, no one else had a clue what was going on outside the walls. They were all blind, thinking that the air outside of the Dome was 'poisoned.'

Still, despite his rage, he had to put on a show. Any thoughts of rebellion or escaping had to appear nonexistent. After all, Adam had apparently been brainwashed into compliance after two years and was no longer deemed a threat to the entire operation. A lot of that had been acting, but for a while he had considered that the Carers might actually when. Solitary confinement had been Hell and he had attempted suicide by slamming his head against the wall more than once within the first year of it. In the second year he learned to meditate, though he wouldn't know what that was unless you explained it to him. His year outside of the Dome had taught him a lot, but not everything.

He glanced around the Dome, looking for the familiar face of his friends, and all but blowing off some of the more curious Cultureds. He had answered every question he could, he had done his best to be his old self, and he had lied enough for a lifetime. He couldn't trust them all yet, some of then were understandably happy. Ignorance is bliss, that was a saying he had heard outside and he had never heard anything more true. Before he had been perfectly content within his Dome life, his escape being purely luck and curiosity.

He wandered for a while, unsure of who he should look for first, and eventually he decided to find Emma. She would be the easiest to find, always going to the same spot. Adam found that he had a soft spot for the girl and he wasn't entirely sure why. He knew it was dangerous, but he couldn't help himself. The girl was beautiful and there was something about her that made him smile. He found his way to her pond and crouched down next to her.

"If you're not careful, you'll fall in." He told her, his voice quiet but teasing.

Leah


Normally Leah would be more than happy about going to the Leisure Dome, she enjoyed it almost as much as she enjoyed the exercise portion of the day, but the additional blood work these days often left her tired and desiring nothing more than a nap. Not to mention the fear that she could be killed soon, with the new information that Thomas had provided her. She wanted so badly to believe the Carers, who told her that she was sick and they had to remove the bad blood. The optimist in her still believed it, but the realist knew that it added up. The Carers were always so concerned with their health and Leah had always thought it was because they truly cared about the Cultured's well being, but really they just wanted to make sure their body's were in prime condition...In case a duplicate version of themselves needed the Cultured's parts. At least, that was her understanding of it.

She walked to an area of the Dome that was mostly left alone, leaving her space to lay down without fear of a ball from one of the other Cultured's hitting her. Leah had always loved the feel of the grass; it was so soft, even in comparison to the bed sheets in her cell. Not to mention it was the most lovely shade of green and it soothed her, even when she was afraid that she may be 'transferred' soon.

She wondered what death would be like, or if anything came afterwards, though it was safe to assume she just ceased to exist. She wondered if Emma would miss her or Thomas. These were depressing thoughts, but at the same time she knew that it could happen for her soon if what Thomas had overheard was true. So her natural predisposition to curiosity led her down the path to these darker thoughts, that didn't necessarily leave her sad or upset - just afraid. She was always afraid, ever since Thomas had told her, but there was nothing she could do. She tried not to dwell on it but that was all but impossible.

Speaking of Thomas, she wondered where he was. He had the ability to calm her usually, to ease her fears if only for a little while. That's why she had been so fond of him. Not to mention both of them were curious creatures, which was heavily frowned upon by other Cultureds and the Carers themselves, but it led to many interesting conversations and the feeling of not being alone with their questions and doubts. She was sure she'd spot him soon or he'd spot her, so she stayed in her area with no desire to exert more energy than necessary.

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Character Portrait: Peter
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When the typical bell rang for the leisure time Peter must have been pretty unique in being disappointed. That and apprehensive. With Adam back things were no longer simple and Peter felt both his calm demeanour and best friend slipping further away from him. Despite his growing reservations about the leisure afternoon, Peter studiously followed the routine, slipping into the vast mini dome behind the others. The large grassed oval in the middle gave him his normal call to just ignore all the growing political issues within his group and just give into a game. When Adam had been demoted, the grassy field had been a way to escape the truth and work out all of his anger into playing a good game. He was so tempted to follow his other friends as they began the typical negotiations for which game and what rules however the now familiar apprehension caused him to turn away and try and seek either Adam or Beth's faces.

He glanced towards the wild looking gardens, surrounded in their dense green foliage. Personally he hated them. They felt suffocating and enclosed, filled with so many different whispers of harmless Cultured secrets…now revolving around Adams dangerous tales. Speak of the devil, Peter just caught Adam taking off into one of the less popular gardens. He hesitated. Should he follow? On one hand Peter was worried he'd go and discuss all his mad stories with anyone other than Beth and himself, and therefore Peter needed to keep an eye on him. But on the other hand it looked like Adam was seeking some solitude and Peter couldn't help but hope that his conscience could work harder at silencing these lies. Feeling drained from all this tension and hidden agendas, Peter decided on the easy option: leave him be. Peter didn't think anyone else normally hung out over there so he could be reasonably sure that Adam would keep these strange stories to himself. That aside, surely Adam wouldn't just tell all that rubbish to an acquaintance anyway, not if the sole purpose was to convince Peter and Beth to attempt an escape attempt with him.

Finally settled on his decision, Peter started to search out Beth. He couldn't see the blonde's striking appearance anywhere. She must be in our typical clearing, he thought to himself at once beginning to make his way there. He took a deep breath letting it out slowly, trying to remove all the tension thinking about Adam had given him. Now he could just spend some well-deserved time with Beth and try and ignore all these new problems. He half wished Adam had never come back. There'd had never been anything even remotely as serious as this happening in the Dome, and Peter wished he had never got involved. Even though he was on the Carer's side, they still questioned him and suspected him of somehow following Adam's footsteps despite all Peter's attempts to convince them otherwise. He'd even gone so far as to lie to them. He grimaced. He was playing an ever increasing dangerous game. He'd never lied to them before, but his options hadn't been great either way. He could tell them about Adam's ravings not only putting Adam in a punishment cell but causing even more suspicion to fall on himself and Beth for listening to it. And so he'd decided the best thing for it was to pretend everything was relatively normal, though acknowledging that Adam had been effected by his punishment.

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Character Portrait: Thomas Character Portrait: Leah
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Thomas was late getting to the Leisure Dome. He seemed to be late getting almost anywhere these days. He couldn't help it. Try as he might to pay attention, he couldn't help himself from drifting off, especially with Adam's words of escape going round and round in his head. His mind was constantly occupied with thoughts of what lay outside the Dome, and, more recently, how he could go about getting there. Prior to leisure time he'd been sitting in the dining room, trying to figure out exactly what part of the Dome might contain an exit. So far the Carers had written off his tardiness to one activity or another as absentmindedness (for which they'd chastised him sharply), but he had a feeling they were growing suspicious of his lateness and apathy towards Dome activities. His failure to enthusiastically engage in the "perfect world" the Carers had manufactured was a threat to the Dome's delicate balance, a seemingly minute transgression that was just enough to disrupt the Dome's daily routine. And if there was one thing the Carers hated, it was a disruption to the routine. The Carers would never admit it, but at any given moment the Dome was on the precipice of total chaos. It was a delicate and carefully crafted world in which they lived- a world that, with the information Adam had provided, was beginning to crumble around the edges.

Thomas made his way into the Leisure Dome, scanning the clusters of Cultureds for familiar faces. He felt a pang of guilt as he spotted Leah lying in the grass, separate from the other Cultureds. She hadn't been herself since he'd shared what he'd overheard, and he couldn't blame her. If what Adam had said was true (and he believed it was), she could be in real trouble. It seemed she was with the Carers nearly every day now, undergoing one "treatment" or another. If she wasn't being "cared for", she was in her cell, recovering from some strenuous procedure. Sometimes she'd describe to him what she'd experienced, and he could hear the note of fear in her voice, although she did her best to hide it. He wondered if he'd been right to tell her what he'd heard. He wanted to be honest with her, but it seemed almost cruel to have her worry when he was powerless to do anything to help her. Still, he couldn't help but think it would have been worse leaving her in the dark. She deserved to know the truth...they all did.

Still feeling guilty, he began making his way towards her, the grass brushing against his legs as he cut a path towards her. Was this what real grass was like? Adam had said things outside the Dome were very different, but he hadn't said exactly how. Not to Thomas, anyway. Thomas had to keep reminding himself that he was never supposed to have heard the conversation at all. He understood why Adam had kept quiet, but if he couldn't help feeling a twinge of indignation at Adam's secrecy. If what he said was true, then the Cultureds were in danger. Leah was in danger. Didn't he care at all? Thomas reached Leah and sat himself in grass beside her, feeling a bit awkward. She looked tired, and paler than usual. He felt like an intruder, invading her quiet, peaceful world. "Hello," he said, his voice seeming incredibly loud in the quiet that surrounded them, "How...how are you? Are you...feeling alright?" It seemed like a silly question to ask (she certainly didn't look like she felt alright), but he wasn't sure where else to begin. It'd certainly be easier to talk her if he wasn't still feeling guilty for sharing information with her he wasn't supposed to have heard in the first place.

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Character Portrait: Peter Character Portrait: Beth
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Beth hung back as the other Cultureds entered the Leisure Dome, watching the placid space fill with excited, white-clad figures. For many of the Dome's inhabitants, leisure time was the highlight of their day: a time for stimulating activity and friendly competition. The others raced off to their favorite places in the dome, ushering over friends with animated waves and wide smiles. Their trivial discussions about what games they would play today were white noise to Beth; her mind was set on something far more serious. As the other Cultureds passed by, she only had eyes for one: Adam. She made sure to position herself behind him so that he couldn't see her, using a cluster of Cultureds who'd grouped themselves by the entrance for added coverage. If there was one person she wasn't keen on talking to, it was him. After a few moments spent scanning the dome, Adam walked off in the direction of the pond. Beth exhaled a sigh of relief and set off in the opposite direction, determined to put as much space between her and Adam as possible. She wished for the hundredth timen that day he'd never told her what he'd seen outside the Dome, feeling her anxiety rise as she recalled his first days after returning from solitary confinement. As one of the few Cultureds who'd experienced solitary confinement herself (though admittedly for a much, much shorter period of time), and as a friend of Adam's, she'd felt obligated to approach him, to ask him what had happened. The answer she got was more than she'd bargained for, and it was safe to say she'd do just about anything to un-hear all Adam had told her. Honestly, what did he expect her to do with that kind of information? ...Believe him? Believe him over everything she'd ever known, everything she'd been taught to believe? She knew first hand the trouble asking questions could bring... There was no doubt about it: Adam was dangerous, and it seemed to her the less time she spent with him, the safer she'd be.

Beth's feet walked the familiar path to a clearing in the dome she and Peter often frequented, and she found a small smile playing at her lips despite her uneasiness. If there was one person who could put her mind at ease, it was Peter. They'd both been tense since Adam's return (Peter was increasingly threatened by Adam's talk), but they found comfort, and even happiness, in each other's company. Beth had never known real happiness before she began spending time with Peter. Of course she knew the definition of happiness, and there had been elements of life in the Dome she enjoyed, but no part of her life before Peter had ever brought her more than mild enjoyment or fleeting feelings of pleasure. After she was punished by the Carers at age 15, things had seemed particularly bleak. She shut herself off completely, trading her friendships for the security of robotic compliance. She did as she was told, and little else. The other Cultureds came to regard her as cold and distant, a girl so unapproachable she really wasn't worth the trouble. But Peter had, miraculously, seen past her icy exterior. Against her better judgment, she'd slowly opened up to him, allowing him entrance into her private, sheltered world. She still feared the Carers, and worried they might disapprove of the relationship that had developed between her and Peter, but she found him worth the risk. Besides, Peter was forever reminding her that as long as they continued to do as they were told, the Carers had no reason to separate them.

As Beth walked through a neat line of trees, Peter came into view. He was standing alone in the clearing, apparently lost in thought, and Beth felt her heart beat a bit faster at the sight of him. It hadn't been long since she'd last seen him, but the time between their meetings always seemed to last a lifetime. "Peter," she called to him, pulling him from his thoughts. "Peter!" She walked faster and faster towards him, until she found herself nearly running. What was it about him that made it so hard to control herself? She resisted the urge to throw herself into his arms as she reached him, instead stopping herself in front of him and gingerly reaching out to take his hand. "Peter..." she repeated a third time, her voice tender. I missed you. She wanted to say that, anyway, but she didn't dare say the words aloud. Instead, she let her actions do the talking, tightening her grip on his hand and taking a tentative step closer to him. These days anxiety had become her constant companion, but in this moment, Beth felt more at peace than she had in a long, long time.

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Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Adam
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The sound of rustling leaves behind her warned Emma that someone was approaching. Unconcerned, she didn't bother turning around instead continuing to trace swirled patterns in the water. Thinking it was Leah she was about to ask her how she was feeling. She'd seemed out of sorts recently. Just as she began to turn, Adam's voice broke the silence.

"If you're not careful, you'll fall in."

Emma started, quickly spinning round to face him. Her eyes widened with shock before gradually becoming weary. Nonetheless her expression was open, and a half smile tugged at the corners of her mouth despite herself. Quite a few questions rushed into her head. What was the other Dome like? Was it all the bad? Why did you get transferred?
She started to open her mouth to ask but quickly shut it when she saw his eyes. Sure he looked fine on the surface, but his eyes were not the same as they had been. Something was worrying him- perhaps the residue of whatever punishment he had been forced to endure for the last three years.

"What are you doing here?" She attempted to sound calm and casual, but couldn't hide her perplexity. She glanced quickly behind him, looking for Beth or Peter, both part of his normal group, but it appeared neither had followed him here. Emma was glad of that. At least if it was just Adam perhaps he'd get bored and she could have her solitude back…however when she glanced back at him she was no longer sure that was the case. Maybe he too was seeking to get away from everyone for a while. Surely all the attention would only be enjoyable for so long.

"Are you trying to avoid their questions?"

Emma hated the slight curiosity evident in her voice, that and the hint of disappointment. Truthfully she wanted to know just as much as the others, but there was no way she could risk having such an undesirable trait as curiosity. She sighed quietly. Despite her best efforts it didn't seem she'd ever get the chance to be Transferred. Aside from Adam, only one person had ever been transferred, and that was many years ago. Even so, Emma couldn't really remember anything special about the girl that did get to be Transferred. She didn't particularly seem any more well behaved than anything else. She quickly shut the thought down. The Carers knew far more about it than she did.

"Adam…" Quickly she cut herself off, refusing to ask the question that had been on the tip of her tongue. She frowned slightly, shaking her head.

"Sorry, it's nothing."

She was frustrated both at herself and him. It seemed she'd managed to control herself for so long and now all these questions and thoughts kept coming unbidden. Even with such limited knowledge of what had gone on in the other Dome Emma could feel something had changed. It was only subtle for the moment, but there was a growing restlessness within a few of the Cultured. Now that someone had tasted something different, the same routine no long had its rustic lure. She just could no longer be content with the daily routine. Somehow she found herself longing for something more...substantial. She shifted uncomfortably. With thoughts like these there was absolutely no possibility of ever making her dreams of being Transferred up a reality. She had to find a way to either quell these strange new ambitions or to use them as motivation for proving that she had the capabilities to be promoted.

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Character Portrait: Thomas Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Adam Character Portrait: Leah
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Adam

"What are you doing here?"
"Are you trying to avoid their questions?"


"I often try to avoid questions, but it seems they find me anyway." The corners of his eyes crinkled as he smiled, trying to determine her reaction to his teasing. He assumed she would be curious too, it written in every human's DNA to be. He could see it in every emotion that splashed across her face. Should he tell her? He wondered. Of course he should tell everyone but despite her allure, he hadn't yet determined if he could trust her. At this point determining who he could trust was detrimental to his continued survival and those he had already confided in.

His smile quickly turned into a frown, his eyes clouded by a dark haze which wasn't uncommon for him these days. He ran a hand over his chin, feeling the stubble scratch against his fingertips. No matter how hard the Carers tried to make him look clean shaven, it seemed the hair there just grew too fast.

"It's tiring, answering questions that you don't have real answers too."

Adam, of course, was referring to the lies he was forced to tell about the Dome he had been "demoted" too. Sure he could spin a thousand fanciful tales and stories to pacify the crowds, but speaking those words as truth was horrifying...because it gave them a new hope and a new curiosity that was all put in the wrong place. It made them dream of transfer and fear demotion and not think of the world outside. It didn't make the Cultured question their reality, only reaffirmed their already established ideals.

"Adam…"
"Sorry, it's nothing."


"If you have questions ask. I may be tired, but I'm not a Carer. I'm not going to chastise you," His voice was quieter this time. It was hard to tell if a Carer was around. The last thing he needed was to be put under more surveillance than he already was. He nervously glanced around, doing his best to be subtle before finally laying his gaze back on the girl.

"Never stop asking questions, Emma."

That statement he knew was dangerous. It hinted at something to her and that could go horribly wrong or work in his favor. He mentally slapped himself for letting something so careless fall out of his mouth, but he couldn't take it back now and he wouldn't. He believed in that statement more than anything else.


Leah


"How...how are you? Are you...feeling alright?"

Thomas' voice put a smile on her face, as bright as ever. No, she wasn't feeling particularly swell and she was terrified but she didn't want to make him worry. He already appeared to be suffering from some sort of guilt, she could see it in his eyes whenever she looked at him. She didn't understand why he was seemingly distraught, but she wasn't about to increase those feelings by complaining about how tired and afraid she was. Leah figured it was best to be as happy as she ever was and with his freckled face around, it wasn't hard to pretend.

"Of course I'm alright. Just sleepy. Don't worry," Despite wanting to remain as positive, her voice shook a little at the end.

Her arms were bruising from all the needles these days, she had overheard one of the Carers worrying that she was going to become to anemic. Of course when she asked about it all they said was that it needed to be done in order to get the bad blood out and a moment of discomfort would be worth her health in the end. It was in these moments that Adam's stories, the ones Thomas had told her, would pop in her head. Not that they weren't always there, in the back of her mind, intruding into her everyday thoughts.

She was grateful to Thomas for telling her though, even if it all turned out to be stories and the Carers really were just removing bad blood.

Leah pressed her hands back into the grass and looked up at the ceiling of the Dome, for a moment she wondered what it would look like if the ceiling wasn't there. If she went outside and looked up, would it look the same as it did in the Dome? Or would their be something else? She didn't have a word for it, but she wished she did. If Adam's stories were true and he had really been outside, he would know. Maybe he would tell her if she asked, but right now that didn't seem important.

"You know the Carers, they're always concerned with all this bad blood I have," She laughed quietly, looking back at him with her ever present smile. "How are you, Thomas?"

She wished Thomas didn't look so grim around her. It was never that way before Adam came back, she almost wished she never had...because now she was questioning where she would be in a few months time. A few weeks? Days? How much time did she have left? Maybe she had forever, but now she spent more time thinking about it than she ever had before. Maybe that was why her friend looked so guilty and concerned all the time, but it wasn't his fault.

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Character Portrait: Peter Character Portrait: Beth
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How was he going to keep all this a secret from the Carer's? If they ever found out, he and Beth would be in a myriad of trouble. Perhaps-

His name was called and abruptly all his thoughts tumbled aside as he saw Beth's glowing face. His own face lit up with an uncontrolled grin, happily dragged from his morbid thoughts.

"Peter."

She started to move faster towards him and he couldn't help but chuckle at the simple joy that radiated from her smile. He started towards her, letting out a contented sigh as she took his hand in hers and repeated his name once again. Gosh he'd missed her. As false as it was, he felt much more secure with his position with the Carers when Beth was around. As she tightened her grip on his hand, he felt the urge to draw her even closer; to be completely lost in a world where it was just the two of them. Alarm bells immediately went off in the back of his mind and he quickly withdrew a bit mentally. He gazed around quickly, content that as of yet, no one seemed to be particularly aware of their actions.

"I think now would be a perfect time to head to our garden?" He asked gently, raising his eyebrows at her. His eyes spoke far more than his words did. We will be far safer to discuss whatever we want.

Then he gave her a loving smile unable to control himself, before quickly started leading her down the well-worn paths to their own, more private, clearing.

"Finally." He stated grinning. "Know we don't have to worry about any of them."

He sat himself down near a tree, leaning his back on it, beckoning to Beth to join him.

"It's crazy how it feels like forever since we could finally get away."

Peter laughed again, unconsciously reaching for Beth's hand once again.

"I wonder if the other Dome's have a more interesting schedule." He mused. "…like more free time to spend with whoever we choose."

He gave Beth a flirtatious smile, his eyes sparkling.

"I am pretty sure I could do this all day…"

The filtered sunlight made the day pleasant, and in that short moment Peter couldn't help but feel almost completely at peace. What more could you possibly want? Aside from more time, that was. The gardens were beautiful, he had the best company in the entire Dome and there was nothing particularly he felt a need to do…Unfortunately the more he thought about it, the less content he became. His thoughts stubbornly refused to ignore all the issues with Adam. He frowned slightly.


"What are we going to do about Adam?" As soon as he asked the question he regretted it. The mood immediately soured, however he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong, and it needed to be fixed before he could completely unwind. Maybe he could convince Adam to shut up about it all. After all, once Peter assured him that there was no way he was going to be fooled into doing anything drastic surely he'd give it up. Beside, Adam knew how much he cared for Beth, Adam had to know there was no way Peter would ever do anything that would risk putting her in danger. Beth had already gone through enough at the Carer's hands, he would do anything to ensure that there were no more bad memories to add to that.

Peter couldn't help but scowl at that thought. Why had the Carer's been so harsh? Understandably she'd been out of line- but solitary confinement for that long? Come to think of it, most punishments seemed unnecessarily strict. He'd never question whether what any of them had done was wrong- that was a given, but did they really deserve the punishments constantly dished out? Adam had dealt with it for three years for goodness sake. Then again, he hadn't really seemed to learn his lesson. Perhaps that was the issue. Harsh punishments ensured lessons learnt. Why on earth had Adam not learnt his?

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Character Portrait: Peter Character Portrait: Beth
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The feeling of Peter's hands in hers banished Beth's anxiety, and her body flooded with feelings of warm contentment. For a moment, they lost themselves in each other, each overwhelmed by the simple joy of being with the other. And then, as was so often the case, the blissful moment was shattered by the reality of their situation. Peter's eyes darted right, surveying their surroundings, and Beth felt herself tense, her hand now poised to withdraw from his. Someone could come walking through the trees at any moment, and there was no way of knowing what might happen then. You were never truly alone in the Dome, and it was a well known fact that most secrets, no matter how well kept, got back to the Carers eventually. That was why it was so dangerous to associate with Adam, especially with him sharing his nonsense stories. If Beth and Peter's handholding was considered an indiscretion, Beth could only imagine what the Carers would have to say about one of the Cultureds sharing the stories of his escape. "I think now would be a perfect time to head to our garden?" Peter kept his voice light and pleasant, ensuring that anyone who might happen to overhear wouldn't give his words a second thought. It was only Beth, looking directly into Peter's eyes, who knew what he truly meant: Let's get away from here. Let's go somewhere safe.

She returned his charming smile with one of her own and followed him off to the clearing, their fingers still intertwined. As they walked, Beth couldn't help but wish they could keep walking, right out of the Dome and off to somewhere better. She dismissed the thought as soon as it popped into her head, appalled that her mind, usually so logical, would produce such delusions of grandeur. Then again, something about Peter had always made it exceedingly difficult for Beth to think logically. Before long the two of them had arrived at the clearing, and Beth breathed a small sigh of relief. While still not truly alone, it was as close to a private space as the two of them had been able to find. Confident they were as far from the others as they could be, Beth joined Peter against the trunk of the tree, positioning herself so that she could lean against him. "It's crazy how it feels like forever since we could finally get away," Peter mused. Beth nodded her agreement, trying to recall the last time they'd been to the clearing. Peter had had his hands full with Adam, who they both considered to be a loose canon. He was unpredictable, and the two of them had decided that someone needed to be watching him at all times. Since Peter was Adam's best friend, the job usually fell to him. With all the time they'd spent policing Adam, it'd left little time for the two of them. "I know," said Beth, tucking a stray strand of pale blonde hair behind her ear. "The days have been dragging by. They always seem to go by slower when I can't see you." She blushed slightly at her confession. The fact that she was blushing embarrassed her further, which made her blush even more.

Peter casually took her hand once more, and she observed the sight of their fingers together, studying the way their hands fit together. Maybe it was her heart playing tricks on her eyes, but she didn't think she'd ever seen two things fit together more perfectly. "I wonder if the other domes have a more interesting schedule. …Like more free time to spend with whoever we choose." Beth felt her heart skip a beat at Peter's words. There had to be a name for what she was feeling. She wondered if any of the other Cultureds had felt it. She supposed it was possible, but it didn't seem likely. The Carers frowned upon relationships of any nature, and most Cultureds would rather play things safe, given that the Carers watched them so closely. Some of the Cultureds didn't even maintain friendships, let alone... whatever it was that was happening between her and Peter. "I'm pretty sure I could do this all day..." Peter smiled at her, and Beth felt herself light up on the inside. "Me too," she said, trying very hard not to think of how much of their time together was already gone. Why did their leisure time have to be so short? "There's never enough time, is there?" she trailed off, her free hand tracing lazy circles in the dirt.

They sat in silence for the next few minutes, enjoying each other's company. The dome was sunny and pleasant, as always, and Beth felt warm and content. Well, as content as she was capable of feeling under the current circumstances. All was well until Peter's voice broke the silence, dragging the question that'd been lurking at the back of their minds to the forefront. "What are we going to do about Adam?" Peter's words sat between them, awkward and heavy as a large boulder. Beth's face fell at the mention of Adam's name. She knew the question had been resting heavily on both their minds, but still, she'd been enjoying her alone time with Peter. She felt her frustrations with Adam well up inside her, leaving a stony expression on her face and a bitter taste in her mouth. Her body, relaxed moments before, was now tense and rigid, her spine straight against the trunk of the tree. Nothing made her more anxious than thinking about Adam.

"I...I suppose we're going to have to talk to him," she said, her voice quiet and resigned. "Make him see reason." That was there only hope, wasn't it? To sit Adam down and tell him he had to let go of his delusions, once and for all? "And if we can't make him understand," Beth took a deep breath, preparing herself for what she was about to say "then...then we'll just have to tell him that he's on his own. That we can't be responsible for him anymore. I won't let his selfish plotting and scheming ruin this." Ruin us she added in her mind. She felt her cheeks burning, and she lowered her head to hide her furious blush. Oh Adam she thought Why do you always have to make things so difficult?

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Character Portrait: Emma Character Portrait: Adam
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#, as written by Shané
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"I often try to avoid questions, but it seems they find me anyway."

Emma responded with a hesitant half-smile back despite herself. Her head warned her not get lax and to remain weary, however the rest of her just wanted to slip out of the constant pretense of disinterest. Abruptly the mood changed. Adam's teasing smile suddenly changed to a serious frown. His eyes became distant and blank. Emma cocked her head to one side, on one hand she was frightened. These sudden mood changes had apparently become common according to the gossip and yet she'd never seen anything like it. On the other hand something warned her that this was not something to be afraid of, rather someone that needed help. She pushed both thoughts away forcing herself to remain neutral as he began to absently scratch his chin. She got a strange feeling that he was no longer here, but instead in some world of his own.

"It's tiring, answering questions that you don't have real answers too." 

This time Emma frowned. What was that supposed to mean? From her perspective most of the questions had been reasonable, only asking for facts. Why couldn't he just tell them the truth? She started to ask him, and then apologised. That was not a question she should ask, no matter how simple it sounded, Emma was sure the Carers would deem it rude.

"If you have questions ask. I may be tired, but I'm not a Carer. I'm not going to chastise you,"

His tone dropped, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end in sudden alarm. From the way his eyes were darting around, he was about to say something that perhaps he shouldn't. She considered carefully backing away when he suddenly looked straight at her.

"Never stop asking questions, Emma." 

Her mouth opened in shock, before she quickly jammed it shut. Now it was her turn to gaze around fearfully. Feeling slightly sick, and knowing she looked pale Emma was sure now was the time to leave…but for once she was tempted to go against what she was supposed to do.

"How can you say something like that?" she whispered hoarsely. "Surely you wouldn't risk being demoted again?"

From his state of mind, Emma could tell whatever he had gone through in the other Dome had had a negative effect on him. She had been frightened by it only seconds earlier. Even so, she couldn't understand why he would say something as foolish as that. Even in his current frame of mind he would know that was sure to be condemned by the Carers. She stared at him intently. It seemed the full realisation of what he had said had just occurred to him. He was fortunate that she wasn't interested in sharing such information with the Carers. She had no wish to be bought to their attention, even if it was not her transgressing.

Her hands were shaking slightly, but the next question suddenly just fell out of her mouth.

"What did you actually do in the first place?"

Immediately a blush crept over her cheeks, her embarrassment plain. Of all the rude question she could ask, that was perhaps the worst. So blunt and uncaring. Immediately she started trying to think of ways she could take it back.