Breath of Dust

2147. 64 years since the dropping of the first bombs in America. First came Georgia. Then Indiana. All the others slowly followed. Eventually, every single state fell under the influence of radiation. It was as if America was being strangled, slowly and painfully. But the life it possessed never died. Such was the heart and soul of the people that wouldn't give up. Eventually, we recovered. But not fully. Even today, civilisation attempts to rebuild. Just hope we know the path we're following...

Chapter 1

Searching For Nothing

"Gah, how long until we get where we're supposed to be?" Rachel moaned, as she had been for the past two hours.
"What was that?" Dean rebutted in a sarcastic manner.
"We've been walking for ages and still, nothing. Leon's gonna kick us out if we don't get any good loot in the next three hours!"
"Maybe if you actually helped with the team effort instead of crying all the time, we'd find what we need faster! Jesus, it's like giving a three year old guns..."
"A three year old with a comprehensive grasp of every swear word in the English language." Marko added.
"What was that Marko? Speak up, I can't hear you from your head being so far up your backside." Rachel smugly retaliated.

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That's just the way those three are. They fight, they argue, they go silent, they make up. Just a daily routine in their lives. For two of them, anyways. The new guy may or may not wind up in the chaos. I'm glad I stay out of it. Not really sure if they'd take too kindly to Kain Solomon making an already intense argument even more problematic. If you haven't figured it out yet, yes, I'm Kain. We clear on that note? I ain't repeating it. I'll tell you what you need to know. I'm 19 years old, I'm the youngest of my scavenging party, I'm part of a small group of survivors that does fairly well enough for themselves. When I say survivors, I mean the kind that have managed to not get decimated by radiation, hostile survivors or horrible mutated creatures that prowl the wastes. If you were thinking more zombie apocalypse survivors, look in a book. If you could even find one. The many that are in existence have been either burned, eaten or in such horrible condition, it couldn't even be substituted for toilet paper. And guess what? That's in limited edition too.

But you're probably curious about the other three. The big guy's Dean. 25 years of age, 9 of that spent learning how to fight. Tanned skin, brown hair. He's practically a giant; heck, his weapon matches his size - it's an M60. A big clip in a big gun carried by a big man, who in turn is surrounded by a big wasteland. When I say big, I don't mean fat. Had it been that way, he'd probably be dead by now. Big as in muscular big. I mean, damn, he sure takes care of his pecs. He's an atheist, but if there was a religion which worshipped massive guns, he'd belong to it. I'm sure he loves his muscles even more than his own girlfriend. Which would be Megan, but she's not important right now.

The girl's Rachel. Around my age, 21. Unlike Dean, she's pretty slim. Slender, even. Minus the suit. Fortunately for her, that makes her more flexible. Same can't be said for her mindset, however. Probably for the better that we leave all the thinking in the group to me. She's no pushover, both in and outside of combat. She can handle a gun pretty well and get into a heated argument with her and she'll most likely get her way, sadly for you. Dean's not common prey for her, however. She still tries though, probably just to get on his nerves.

Marko... I don't really know what to say about Marko. He's a recent addition to our little band of survivors, only coming upon us two days ago. First impressions were that he was harmless. Argyle sweater? Rounded glasses? A mushroom on his head for hair (Not in the literal sense, mind you)? Looked like a dork. And I was right. The fact that he was 23 surprised me even more. When he greeted us, he got straight into how he was so glad to meet other people. Sounded almost too excited about the fact, really. As if, he had been alone for a while and had gone half crazy from the solitude. Like everyone, he was assigned to a job, no delays. And that job happened to be with our scavenging party. Can't say he's bad, but... I caught him talking to one of the items he found. A can of baked beans. I've made it a point to keep tabs on him, in case he gets... worse.

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"Rachel, when was the last time you actually found anything good?" Dean questioned.
"I found this, didn't I?" She said, holding her rifle with the barrel pointed skywards and leaning on her shoulder. An M16.
"Compare that paperweight to my baby over here, this is real firepower!" He held the M60 above his head.
"Men... I'll never understand you." She caught my eye. "I'm going over to speak with Kain. He's been quiet."
"You do that Rach. I'm gonna see if I can make a man out of Marko." Marko had a confused look on his face.
"Pretty sure I'm already man enough. I mean, I've survived the wastes for a long time." Marko exclaimed. All down to luck, most likely. Boy doesn't look like he knows what he's doing. He's not even handling his gun properly. Good thing it's a pistol; he could seriously hurt someone. Not even trying, probably.

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"Hey. How's things going on in this lonely little corner?" Rachel asked, approaching me.
"Fine. And despite what you may think, it's sociable enough with you three going at it." I replied with a grin. She sighed loudly.
"You should try it sometime. Would be a nice change of pace."
"It would be even nicer if you never had those arguments in the first place." She chuckled a bit.
"Look around you Kain. The world isn't exactly sunshine and rainbows."

"Are you kidding me? I'm melting over here from 360 degrees of solar energy. Dean, pass me your water canteen, I'm thirsty." Marko complained. He tried to reach out for the canteen kept on Dean's utility belt, but Dean's large hand took a hold of Marko's scrawny arm.
"Listen to yourself speak!" Dean said.
"How could I not? You'd have to destroy my eardrums." Another personality trait which I so very much hate about Marko.
"No, seriously. Have you listened to yourself say that you're thirsty for the past two hours? You finished your own damned canteen in the first ten minutes of the trip. Want water, go find an oasis. Oh look, there's one over there!" Like the gullible fool he was, he looked to where Dean was pointing.
"Really? I don't see one. I think you're going crazy Dean. Might want to get that head of yours checked." Says the dork who speaks to canned food.
"It's sarcasm, Marko. He's just messing with you." Rachel intruded.
"Huh? Oh yeah," Marko replied with a disoriented look, "I knew that. But whatever, come on Dean, I'm going to die of dehydration if I don't get some pure liquid in my system."

"No. This is my water, which I so preciously preserved for me and me alone. Now quit your asking about it before I have to do that for you." Clearly, Dean was getting frustrated and had a fist clenched.
"Err... Guys? A little help over here? Come on, you'll help one of your own, right?" Marko pleaded. Rachel looked my way with disgust. She put a hand in her head and grunted.
"You want my opinion? I don't care. After having to deal with nothing but swears, problems and more swears for the past two hours, I'm tired of it." Rachel groaned.
"You're always tired. I can tell by the way we need to haul your butt and motivate you to do stuff all the time." Dean snickered.
"Yeah? Maybe it's because you're doing nothing yourself."

Rachel turned to me. "Kain, what do you say? The boy's drowning in sunlight. He would prefer to drown in water. But because Dean over here is so nice and refuses to allow Marko to suffer the latter fate, he'd rather give him an overdose of vitamin D. What do you make of all this?"

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Dean is the most physically capable of us all here, in my opinion. Honestly, Marko's not much in my eyes, but he could really turn out to be useful in the long run. 10% chance of that happening. Could get on Dean's good side. Let him keep his water. Probably get more acquainted with Marko. Let him have a share of the water. If I manipulate my words right, maybe I could even get that water for myself. There is the option of keeping silent though...

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A/N: A little change from my other works. At points, there will be interactive segments at the end of chapters in which you can vote to determine the final outcome of a situation. Your feedback is greatly appreciated; the way I see it, the responses you give me can allow me to mold Kain's personality in correspondence with the outcomes. A private message in my inbox or a comment will do nicely, but personally, a string of messages makes it easier for me to keep track of everything. For the first decision...

The Canteen
A. Deny Marko a share of the water.
B. Allow Marko a share of the water.
C. Coerce Dean into making you in charge of the water.
D. Remain silent.

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