You never stop feeling the cold.
When I used to read books I always hated that line. "I'd been cold so long that I didn't feel it." It's not true. You can be in it long enough that you stop noticing it as much as you used to, but you always feel it.
I was in the cold 24/7, except for the few precious minutes during a raid in the dome. Which was actually where we were headed.
How did I end up here? On my way towards civilization with a band of marauders?
My stupid father.
I can remember the last conversation I heard between my father and mother.
"But Darl! You can't do this! What about the children? What about me?"
"You're coming too."
"Are you mad?!? We'll never make it! The weather, the animals, the rogues?!? How do you expect us to deal with those?"
"We'll make it."
My father made us leave the dome after that, thinking the outside to be safer than the crime ridden dome.
My entire family was hunted down by a pack of wolves half a day later. Injured and exhausted I had fought my way through the storm, while my family was distracting the wolves with their dead corpses. I made it to a rogue encampment and thought myself dead.
Turns out I was wrong.
They want to be found. Well... sort of. They don't want to be found by organized patrols, but those strong enough to fight through the storm are welcomed as fellow survivors.
"Are you ready newbie?" my friend Hunter asked.
"I'm not a newbie anymore Hunter. I've been here almost as long as you have." He grinned at me and I returned the expression. "But in answer to your question, yes. I am ready. Are you?"
He nodded enthusiastically. It was our first raid. One didn't become useful when he aged 18. One became useful when he proved himself useful. Hunter and I had proven ourselves useful and had been invited to participate in our first raid.
To say we were excited was an understatement.
Off in the distance the glow of the dome was rising steadily, coming closer with every step. When we were within speaking distance the party stopped and we all looked at each other. Weapons were procured, handshakes were given, nods were shared.
When everyone was ready you could feel it. No signal was needed, we all just moved at the same time. Quietly, stealthy, and hidden in the shadows. No sound was to be made until we were discovered.
Then we would whoop like hell.