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Dax Faraday (NPC)

A backwoods computer hacker.

0 · 171 views · located in Season 3

a character in “The Walking Dead: Online”, as played by Captain Calamity

Description

Dax Faraday


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Description:

 Name: Dax Faraday
 Portrayed By: Alan Tudyk
 Profession: Computer Hacker / Tech Whiz
 Age: 37
 Gender: Male
 Height/Weight: 6'1"
 Nationality/Ethnicity: Welsh, Irish
 Tattoos/Scars: Scar of a pair of dice showing "7" on his wrist.
 Clothing/Outfit: Outside of his prison coveralls, he usually wears a shirt and suspenders or some kind of flannel. Sometimes wears a pair of glasses. Loves hats.

Traits:

 3 Strengths
Intelligent: All those hours clocked on his computer have given him a vast and unique intellect.
Virtuous: Though not always within the means of the law, Dax believes in doing the right thing and exposing the truth.
Tech Savvy: He knows computing systems and hardware in and out.

 3 Flaws
Non-Violent: Despite his willingness to want to help, he has a problem with inflicting pain on others. It's more than an ideology to him.
Quiet: He's not much of a people person. Has an odd way of expressing himself silently.
Submissive: For a self-made digital anarchist, he's not one to assert himself over others in person.

Personality:

 Fears: A Life Sentence, Drowning, Snakes, Bum's Hands.
 Aspirations: Hack into the Pentagon, Buy A Helicopter, Backpack Around The World.
 Dominant Emotion: Stoic
 Demeanor: Dax is an all-around good guy when you get to know him. He doesn't say much, and when he does -- it might come out poorly worded or phrased. All his time spent behind a keyboard talking in abbreviations and slang has made him a little less social in public. He is a loyal, team-player when it comes down to it -- and has a soft spot for women and children. Very chivalristic in most ways, his deviousness comes out in his digital persona which he uses to wreak havoc on all kinds of things. He loves to show off his propensity for technology and thorough knowledge of its uses and properties.
 Quirks/Oddities: Other than his silent nature, he sometimes rolls or drums his fingers on things when he's thinking or working.
 Skills/Proficiencies: Tech Savvy, Computer Hacking, Wiring, Herbalist, Farmer, Horseback Riding, Swimming, Knot Tying, etc.

Equipment:

 Any item/weapon that your character typically has on them?
His glasses.
 Do they carry any keepsakes, trinkets, or valuables?
- A very important flash drive.
 What is their weapon of choice?
- He likes tools you'd find on a farm or in a garage. Something familiar, like an axe, or a hammer.

History:

 Born in Kentucky to two gay fathers through a surrogate.
 Was raised on a farm until 18 when he joined the Air Force as a Tech Specialist.
 Toured for three years and returned to America, deciding to land in Los Angeles with his sweetheart he met abroad.
 Builds a ranch-styled house out in Pearblossom on a big tract of land.
 Marries his girlfriend of two years back on the farm in Kentucky.
 Begins taking night classes for job placement in his field of study.
 Gets a job as a night technician at a big computer firm.
 Dax is brought into the world of hacking through some of the other technicians who share his aptitude for computers and coding. Begins making mad profits.
 Expands his ranch and begins working from a home office, being sure to take the necessary steps to cover his digital footprints.
 Is turned in along with five of the other technicians by the 6th technician.
 Convicted on multiple charges and sent to prison for a ten year sentence.
 Breaks out of the prison charter bus on his way to being transferred. Joins up with Bronson' gang and holes up in a fire station to weather out the apocalypse.

So begins...

Dax Faraday (NPC)'s Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

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# Sarah Hawke #


The red-haired man bit his lip and closed his eyes, wincing in pain with a jerk of the leg as Sarah pulled a needle through his skin. She'd sealed up most of the deep wound on his calf, after disinfecting and cleaning it of course. It felt like no amount of schooling could have prepared her for the real thing. Experience was always the best teacher, in her opinion. She wiped her forehead with the back of her sleeve, and sat up.

"Man up, Dax..." she teased, grabbing a dirtied rag to dry some of the blood around the stitches. He scratched his beard, silently ignoring her de-masculization, but Oliver naturally chimed in with his two cents.

He sat with his legs kicked up on a desk in the corner. "Yeah, Dax. Man up," he added from behind an old Men's Fitness magazine. Dax rolled his eyes, folding his arms as Oliver reached for his glass of water as he looked around the room at some of the other patients. Two others slept soundly on the right side of the room on their own cots, having been treated earlier. Two broken fingers and an injured rotator cuff. Charlie stood up from his sleeping place underneath the desk and stretched out, unleashing a long yawn. He sidled up to Oliver, wagging his tail and took some licks out of the man's water as he held it low for the dog.

"So," Oliver began, placing the glass on the ground for Charlie to finish. "You never told me how you survived this long."

Sarah pierced the next notch on Dax's stitches as the man stifled another cry. She pulled it through again, slower this time as she neared the end. Really she just wanted to keep her hands busy so she didn't have to look up at Oliver. "There's not much to tell really," Sarah lied, blowing some stray strands of hair from her eyes. "I was in school... UCLA," she continued. "Escaped with some folks and ended up near here." She wasn't planning on getting anymore detailed than that. No need to advertise their group's location for no reason.

"You're lucky you got out," Oliver chided, setting down the magazine. That first day was unreal... we got stuck on the freeway in the charter bus. We're all jammed up, right? Cause everybody's trying to go the same damn direction out of town. So I'm there up front with the driver... and there's a mesh-wire partition behind me separating me from the prisoners. And all of the sudden, we see people getting out of their cars and running the other direction! No joke. Just running past the bus left and right -- prisoner's faces glued to the windows trying to see what was going on. One guy started pounding on the bus door for us to let him in, but I showed him my shotgun and he ran off..."

Dax was listening with rapt ears, gazing into the floor as he pictured it... nodding at the appropriate moments. Sarah pulled close the last stitch and snipped it free with the scissors. She unwound a fair amount of medical tape and began fastening the gauze to his leg.

"Pretty soon it wasn't people running by us anymore... it was these things." The word hung in the air and Charlie leaned over, resting his head on Oliver's lap as if he knew the sad part was coming. The two looked at each other. "I tried-- I tried to get the gate open as fast as I could, but... I had the keys to unlock the backdoor to the bus. The driver held them off at the front as long as he could... long enough for me to unshackle the prisoners and get the back open.... but they forced themselves inside, and--"

"And he died saving all of your lives," Sarah said, finally looking up to meet his eyes. "You shouldn't feel guilty, you should feel honored-- that someone would do that for you."

Oliver looked at her, his eyes betraying his feelings. He hadn't thought of it that way. It was always his job to protect people, so he couldn't help but feel some sort of responsibility when these kinds of things happened.

Sarah pulled Dax's pant leg back down over the treated wound and placed her supplies back on the table, wiping her hands on a wet rag amidst the deep silence. "I don't have anybody who'd do that for me," she finally said. "The only person who would is probably dead in a ditch somewhere, and the worst part is..." she said, beginning to tear up, "I'll never know if that's true or not." She quickly dabbed her eyes on the sleeve of her shirt with a sniffle. Oliver stood, as if he intended to comfort her somehow... but Sarah mirrored him, standing up too. "I held up to my end of the bargain," she said, crossing her arms.

Oliver looked at her, not understanding the rapidly shifting emotions that Sarah seemed to be exhibiting. He nodded, hesitantly and started towards the door. "You certainly did," he replied, holding it open for her and Charlie. They exchanged a look as she stepped through the doorway.


* * *


Painfully fluorescent lights flickered to life over messy rows of workout equipment and weight racks stretched across a mirror-lined gym -- only the racks weren't full of dumbbells, they were lined with weapons of all shapes and sizes. Several different melee weapons were laid across one bench, ranging from pocket knives to larger blades, a couple crowbars, bats, golf clubs, metal poles, etc. These guys had certainly been busy over the last 48 hrs... or maybe they were allowed to bring luggage along on the bus.

Sarah took in all of the heavy hardware with a sweep of the room. Oliver leaned against the doorframe, watching her pace the room-- touching a gun here and there, but not really knowing what she was looking for. She ran her hand over a silver Colt Python with a wooden handle-- looking like something straight out of the Wild Wild West. Her eyes looked up to see Oliver watching her, when she suddenly felt something. It wasn't heart skipping a beat, but rather the a low trembling in the ground. Figuring it was another of LA's quakes, she paid it little mind-- grabbing hold of a nearby squat machine to steady herself... and then the second shockwave happened, sending Sarah and her surroundings tumbling to the ground. The vacant rumblings of bombs dropping shook the room violently, the hanging lights swinging from their fixtures as dust poured through fresh cracks in the ceiling.

"Get away from the mirrors!" Oliver shouted, grasping the doorframe tightly. Sarah crawled underneath one of the nearby exercise benches and held on to its legs, as glass shattered to the floor around her.

"It sounds like it's right on top of us! What is it?!" She yelled out from her hiding spot. The stampeding footsteps of the other convicts rang out in the stairwell as they spilled out into adjacent rooms, two of them carrying an injured man with a fresh cut on his head. Oliver saw them carry him into one of the deeper rooms and turned to look at Sarah.

She hadn't planned on working overtime tonight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.
# Sarah Hawke #


BOOM! BOOM! B-BOOM!

Thunderous quakes shook the ground as dozens of convicts shepherded a hooded man down the halls towards the kitchens. Their riotous noise-making was almost enough to overpower the sound of the distant bombs dropping, but not quite. The captive was corralled across the kitchen tile and thrown into the walk-in freezer. Sarah struggled on the tips of her toes to see what was happening, but the halls were packed with too many bodies. Through the heads of the men ahead of her, she managed to see Oliver force himself into the freezer with a bearded man and the prisoner.

BOOM!

Another explosion in the distance, followed by the aftershock of a neighboring building crumbling to the ground. Sarah looked at the mob of strangers scrambling for cover all around her, feeling absolutely lost and alone. A passing shoulder knocked her to the ground, and Dax -- having witnessed Sarah's fall -- limped over to help her off her hands and knees.

Her eyes lit up when she saw who it was, his bright red hair like a lighthouse amongst the chaos. "T-Thank you," Sarah managed to blurt out. Dax pulled her to her feet, nodding curtly.

"This way," he ordered, starting down one of the side halls. She took his arm, helping to steady the man as they moved away from the frenzied crowd. Sarah looked over her shoulder one last time, hopelessly checking for Oliver in the mass of convicts. She hoped that whatever was happening behind that freezer door had nothing to do with him -- however serious it looked.

If only she knew...


* * *


Inside the freezer, Bronson slammed Calvin against the metal rack, cuffing his right hand to one of its legs. Oliver closed the door behind him as he entered, turning around just as Bronson ripped the bag from Calvin's head. He squinted against the crystal blue fluorescent light -- a bandana crudely tied around his head and mouth in a makeshift gag. His reddened eyes glared back and forth between his two captors as he sat on the freezing plate floor, shackled to the rack behind him.

Oliver shook his head, running one hand over his face to calm his nerves. He waited a beat for Bronson to speak, but knew that the man probably felt he had nothing to explain. Since things had gone down, Bronson had assumed total authority over the surviving convicts, including Oliver -- so much so that the men had coined the monicker "The Warden" for their bearded leader. The assumption was that his orders went without question, his means and deviances without mention -- and in return he would provide security, safety, and sustenance for those who followed him. And the cycle continued, and continued... leaving Oliver as the only real voice of reason. Had things gone down differently, Bronson would have likely killed him during their escape from the prison bus, but he recognized that Oliver was the only reason they survived in the first place. He wondered how long that immunity would hold out for -- given the way things had been going lately.

"What the hell is this, Everett?" Oliver asked, jabbing a finger at Calvin.

Bronson sighed, dramatically. "Now why would you go and use my name -- my God-given birth name -- in front of our prisoner?" Oliver rolled his eyes, as if that was the point here."Are you fucking stupid?"

"Explain this before I get pissed," Oliver replied, already tired of these games. Calvin wrestled with his wrist against the pole, testing the strength of his bindings. Bronson served up a sharp kick in the knee to shut him up, and Calvin yanked his leg back in pain.

"Maybe if you had been around today when I needed you, we wouldn't be in this situation," Bronson chided, circling the floor. "This man murdered my brother," he explained, turning to look at Calvin. The two glared at each other for more than a moment, reveling in their dislike for one another. "He was smart enough not to resist me when I found him, and so I've brought him here to serve his sentence."

Oliver shook his head at the ego of it all. "Serve his sentence? Listen to you! Did you really just break out of prison to start another one?" he scolded. "You ever think of asking him why he killed your brother?"

"Finally, someone with some sense," Calvin chimed in from the floor. Bronson delivered another sharp kick, this time to his shin. His handcuffs rang taut against the rack as he winced in pain, grasping for his leg. Oliver leapt forward, placing his arm across Bronson's chest as he wound up for another kick -- this one aimed at Calvin's stomach.

"You really gonna put hands on me, boy?" Bronson asked, calmly. Oliver eased up, eyeing the man with suspicion. He knew from their time together in the joint just how unpredictable the man could be. It was a very calculated impulsiveness -- one that treaded the fine line between genius and suicidal. But there was something in Oliver's eyes that Bronson didn't like. He wound back, quickly striking out with his elbow against Oliver's jaw. The man reeled backwards into one of the other metal racks, gripping it with all his strength to keep himself steady. Cansan d bags of food clamored on the ground as they were knocked free of their shelves. Bronson was already on him again, this time driving his knee into Oliver's stomach. His limp frame dropped to the ground, effortlessly. This was the real Everett T. Bronson... the "Warden" that everyone whispered about. He reached down and drew a knife out from Oliver's waistband.

BOOM!

The Warden turned to Calvin, examining the knife in his hand like a surgeon with his tools. He inched a few steps closer to his prisoner, pondering his fate...

BOOM!

Another bomb dropped as he placed a foot on Calvin's chest, pinning him against the rack. His other hand grasped Calvin's handcuffed wrist and braced it to the pole, holding the knife close. But, no... it didn't add up. His brother was an idiot -- too much so to be considered his right hand man. Besides, such a small knife would take too long for a proper severing, and Bronson hated doing a messy job. He backed off a bit, watching Calvin wreathe and squirm against his restraints in protest.

BOOM!

Dust sifted down from fresh cracks in the ceiling, falling past Bronson's judging eyes. What was his brother to him? What punishment fit the crime? He supposed that in a way, he was his eyes and ears. Always the talker, never the thinker -- his dear baby brother. That seemed fair enough -- an eye for an eye.

Having finally decided, he looked Calvin straight in his... for the last time.


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


The bold young woman kept her weapon held high as she popped out from behind the corner of the overturned train car. The girl kept a steady aim on Niobe as others from the group crept out from behind the car. Niobe watched as the girl's eyes widened and she adjusted the grip on her gun.

"Easy there now, kid," Niobe muttered, keeping as still as could be. Another girl came up from behind the armed one and put her hand on the gun, lowering it.

"There's a little girl with them," she said, nodding in Lily's direction. Dyomie noticed what she was talking about and dropped her guard a bit. Natasha joined them, sauntering out from her hiding spot with her weapon drawn -- Phillip close behind. They looked just like the rest of them... as if they had just been through Hell and back.

BOOM!

They all braced themselves as the entire platform shook again, the metal rails ringing like church bells as parts of the ceiling crumbled from above loosening the tracks. Niobe sized up the four newcomers.

"Look," she called out, "this is the most people I've seen in one place since this all started... so I know I'm not crazy when I say we need to stick together if we're going to have any kind of future here. None of us know each other, I know... but that's the situation we're in." Harper looked at Nathan -- and Steve, who stood behind Lily with his hands on her shoulders. "There's no more how do-you-do's, no more shaking hands and talking about the weather. There is only one thing... survival."

BOOM!

The hanging silence was stifled by yet another explosion. "She's right," Rafiq added, pushing to the front of the crowd. "We can't keep pointing guns at each other when the real enemy is out there." He pointed up towards the streets above. "We have to go deeper into the tunnels until the bombings stop."

Dyomie squinted her eyes, still unsure of what to do. "We don't know you people," she protested in defense of her situation.

Niobe lowered her weapon, slowly -- too tired to put up with anymore of this. "And you're not going to at the other end of a gun," she preached.

Jessica lovingly squeezed her son's shoulders as she edged towards the front of the group. "There's a junction about a quarter mile down the tracks that could hold all of us. It might be tight, but the foundation should hold until all of this settles down," she advised, looking around the group.

Jack crossed his arms. "One of our friends is still out there," he protested, pointing behind him. "Calvin could have made it somewhere safe before the bombs got this close..."

Harper's gaze lowered to the ground. "So the best possible scenario is that Calvin's holed up somewhere with a bunch of psychotic escaped convicts?" Molly stood next to her, chewing her lip in thought. Something they had mentioned caught her ear, and it all suddenly added up in a flash.

"Calvin... Hawke?" She asked, hanging on their every breath. Harper looked around at some of the others, not quite understanding. He was enough of an established film personality that anyone with a TV would know the name, but Molly's face didn't show the excitement of a fan... it showed nothing but worry and panic.

"Uhh, yeah... Calvin Hawke," Harper replied to the girl.

Molly looked Rafiq dead in the eyes. "That's Sarah's brother..." she said, loud enough for everyone to hear. Rafiq furrowed his brow, sad that she wasn't here to rejoice in the news that her brother is alive... or at least, was a minute ago. Only time would tell how many deaths they'd be mourning in the inevitable aftermath of the bombings.

"Who?" Harper asked eagerly, her interest peaking.

Rafiq shook his head. "One of our own is missing too," Rafiq replied, somberly. "Sarah." Harper traded a look with Nathan through the crowd.

"Two of our own," George corrected, bristling at the thought of his poor dog.

Rafiq nodded. "His dog went with her..."

Niobe holstered her gun and took in the group. "There's nothing we can do for them now," she insisted. As much as they all hated the thought, she was right. It was only them now -- they had to keep moving. "Jessica, lead on..." Niobe commanded. The group slowly started trudging along, helping each other around the wreckage of the train cars and debris. Dyomie glanced back at Marie and the rest of her group, slowly stowing her pistol and following suit. Jessica pulled to the front, guiding the group deeper into the blackened metro tunnel. The pitter-patter of over a dozen different footsteps trailed behind her as more bombs thudded against the surface above. Niobe gritted her teeth as she ran, hoping she knew what she was doing. Whatever this new world was, it was clear that the rules were made up as you went along.

If this really was the end... she had a feeling it was only just getting started.


.: END OF SEASON :.

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

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# Sarah Hawke #


Sarah slurped the last bit of noodle out of what was only luke-warm spaghetti after so many minutes of catching up with her brother. They had barely talked about what had happened since they'd seen each other, instead reminiscing about happier times together. Calvin took a long sip of water and placed his mug back down on the side table. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and flung his legs over the edge of his bed, wondering just how in the world it came to be that he was sitting underground across from his should-be-could-be-dead sister, eating cold pasta... a prisoner in a medical room.

A lot had changed in the last week.

Sarah sighed a deep sigh, full from all the food they had ate. It was the best she had felt since everything had turned to shit. Felt like they had never left each other's side. She always loved how no matter how long she went without seeing Calvin, they always fell right back in stride with one another. It was part of the reason they were closer than any of the other siblings. Calvin looked at his sister, adoringly. The muscles around his eye throbbed in pain as his tear ducts tried to work. It made his other eye water up enough for both of them.

"I don't know what to do anymore," he admitted softly to his sister. She put down her plate and came over to sit on the bed with him, licking her fingers clean as she sidled up next to him.

She wrapped her arms around him tightly and he hugged her back, closing his eye. "None of us do," she said, trying to reassure him. "Everybody's just trying to do their best. Unfortunately for some people that means doing their worst," she said, hinting at Bronson. Sarah's gaze dropped to the ground as she shook her head at the thought.

"I think about all of the things that have happened... that will happen." His thoughts were disconcerting. He had had enough time for reflection during his week of entrapment, drifting in and out of consciousness as they kept him sedated during the early stages of recovery. He had come to the conclusion that he may not be fit for this new world. Whatever that was supposed to mean for him in the moment... maybe it was the drugs talking.

But then he saw his sister -- and if he wasn't so sure he was lucid, he'd have thought her a hallucination. And he remembered what was worth surviving for... that feeling. That catharsis from knowing that there is somebody you'd fight for in this world who would also fight for you.

"Were you already down here when they brought me in?" Calvin asked, shaking his spiraling sentimentality from his thoughts. Sarah nodded, slowly. She sat up, looking him in the eyes as the memory of that night played again in her mind...


* * *


...7 Days Prior...

Sarah rubbed her hands back and forth together as she tried to get the gravel off of her palms. She had stumbled more than a few times in their rush for cover and her palms were worn and bloodied. She wiped them on the front of her pants, trying to brush the pain off as well. Dax sat on an egg crate nearby, dumping the rocks from his shoes. Dust and debris was showering down upon them during their escape, leeching onto their clothes and hair.

"Thank you," Sarah managed, as soon as the silence set in, "for helping me. I saw Oliver go into that room with--"

"Don't you worry about Oliver. He's a tough guy. There's a reason he's made it this far," Dax assured her. He scratched at his beard as he broke eye contact with her as she smiled at him, thankful for his comforting words. It wouldn't have been so hard if he didn't find her to be so darned pretty. He opened his mouth to say something else, but the heavy sound of footsteps stormed towards them in the hallway outside. The door to their room was yanked open, and a tall skinny man, riddled with tattoos stepped through the frame to face them.

"There you are," he growled at Sarah, taking a few steps towards her. Dax jumped to his feet, curling his fist into a ball.

"The hell do you want, Raphael?" Dax barked back at him, stepping in front of Sarah. The two flared their chests at one another like a couple of proud birds. Sarah couldn't help but be slightly amused as she covered her mouth, curious as to whether or not she was about to see a fist fight.

Raphael flipped Dax the bird, playfully. "Warden wants to see the girl. She's... needed," he finished, creepily looking her up and down. Sarah averted her eyes and covered herself up more -- shuddering at the feel of his eyes on her. Her mind raced as she wondered what Bronson wanted with her. Only bad news seemed to come from a man like him.

Dax frowned. "Fine, but I'm coming with her.

Raphael shook his head, clicking his tongue. "The girl only. Them's my orders."

Dax ignored him, looking at Sarah instead and taking her by the hand. "I'm walking you," he said loud enough for Raphael to hear. He turned back to the man with a 'fuck you' look. "Where is he?"


* * *


Charlie's barks echoed through the hallway as he stood planted, facing the freezer door. His tail waved bag and forth in a kinetic frenzy as he howled at the door. Sarah pulled on Dax's arm, as he noticed the dog too. For the last couple minutes they had been relying on each other equally for support as they dragged their wearied bodies down the halls following Raphael to the Warden's summoning.

"Do you hear that?" Sarah asked, referring to the muffled shouts behind the freezer door. Whoever was inside sounded like they were in tremendous pain, and Sarah's heartbeat quickened as the sudden thought hit her that it might be Oliver. Dax tugged Sarah along, continuing around the corner after Raphael.

"Bronson won't want to wait... c'mon," Dax insisted, quietly. Sarah took one last glance over her shoulder at the dog, wondering whether he knew something she didn't. That small thought disappeared along with the dog as Sarah slipped out of view around the corner. After a few more twists and turns, they finally arrived at something that resembled a medical bay. There were three beds, neatly laid out with fresh sidetables on a white tiled floor. On the center bed, Bronson sat in his torn denim vest and matted blue prisoner's coveralls. The last third of a cigarette lingered restlessly in his fingers and he drummed his other hand against his shin in an improvised rhythmic pattern.

"You shouldn't smoke in here," Sarah remarked, icily. The mere thought that this man had hurt Oliver made her blood boil. Whoever he thought he was, he was majorly suffering from some sort of God complex -- what with all the "Warden" garbage and everything. Bronson turned to her, an amused expression widening across his face. He loved a girl with some spirit in her. The cigarette fell to the ground beneath his loosened fingers and he stamped it out with the heel of his leather boot as he stood up to greet her. He spit in his hand and slicked back his wild hair before offering the very same hand to Sarah. She looked him dead in the eye and spit into her own hand, grasping his with as much strength as she could muster. His grip was admittedly tighter as their handshake lingered a moment longer than Sarah wished. She doubted the bones in her hand were all still in their proper places.

"I've heard a lot about you," he began, scratching at his head. "I really do appreciate you fixin' up my boys. He gestured at Dax and his stitched leg. Bronson beamed his million dollar smile. "As promised, you can take whatever you'd like back with you as per your and Oliver's agreement."

Sarah's eyes narrowed slightly, waiting for the catch. A man like this had to have at least a few. "Good," she muttered, resistant to give the man an ounce of gratitude. She had done far more for him than he had for her.

Bronson grinned again, seeing all of this play out in her eyes. Her emotions weren't necessarily buried deep. "Before you go though, there is one more patient I'm gonna need you to take a look at. If it were anything less serious, I'd have us take care of it ourselves... but this one's gonna be a doozy," he said with disturbing excitement bubbling up in his voice.

Sarah's cheeks flushed as she thought again of Oliver. "What did you do to him?"

Bronson cocked his head slightly. "Who?"

"Oliver..."

"Oh, that kid? Big Blue's fine. I only gave him a couple knocks. I needed his attention," Bronson said, his tone suggesting that his actions were entirely reasonable. "And guess what? I got it."

Raphael and Dax shifted uncomfortably near their spots by the door. Either one of them knew it could just as easily been one of them in that same situation. Treading lightly seemed to be the only course of action under this roof. Some commotion broke off from outside down the hallway as another bomb hit the surface above with a loud --

BOOM!

"As for the other guy..." Bronson's eyes lit up, suddenly remembering what was coming. "Well... what I need you to do now, darlin', is go gather your tools and get ready to receive your patient. Time's gonna be of the essence on this one, OK? Can't have this one dyin' on me." Sarah felt Dax's hand on her shoulder, pulling her back towards the door. She started to back up as Bronson fished another cigarette out of his jacket pocket and popped it into his mouth. He met Sarah's eyes as she was ushered out of the room. "I'll light up outside and let this place air out," he offered, as if he was doing her a favor. Sarah could still hear Charlie's distant barks as she was whisked out of the room.


* * *


Dax had offered to carry the tray of medical tools so that Sarah could carry some of the more fragile equipment herself. They rounded the corner and found themselves face-to-face with Raphael and another man, standing guard outside the medical room. He reached behind him with his hand and rapped his knuckles against the door a couple times.

Bronson's muffled voice sounded from within. "Send her in," he ordered. Dax looked to Sarah, and she nodded her consent, placing her tools on the tray and taking the whole thing from Dax's hands.

"I'll stay close," he said, kindly. She smiled at him and turned towards the door, ready to enter. Raphael rolled his eyes as he opened the door and let her in.

Bronson was in an office chair near the bed with the patient. Another man with heavy stubble on his face loomed in the corner behind the bed, biting his nails with calculated precision. Without saying a word, Bronson waved for Sarah to come closer. She inched forward a few steps, trying to keep the try steady as she felt her hands begin to shake. An injured man laid motionlessly across the table in some state of unconsciousness. A blood-soaked towel had been hastily applied to his face to stem the bleeding, but it hadn't stopped the blood from getting all over his clothes... not to mention all over the man in the corner's clothes too. She figured he fancied himself some kind of surgeon from what she feared lied beneath the bloodied towel. Sarah had been so preoccupied with taking in her surroundings that she hadn't noticed that the patient was practically within arms reach... and each step closer to the bed moved her one step closer to a massive revelation...

Her jaw, along with her tools, fell to the floor -- some of the latter shattering as the metal tray clanged loudly against the tile. Bronson jumped back in his seat, slapping his leg with laughter. "And I thought I overreacted when I realized who it was!" he shouted out.

She was looking at her brother--

Or at least what was left of him...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Sarah Hawke :.


"Your... brother?"

Oliver had just finished re-wrapping his mid-section. The remnants of Bronson's harsh beating one week prior had taken their toll on him in many ways -- the worst of which being his cracked rib. He grimaced as he cinched the bandage tight and folded it into itself, tying it closed.

Sarah nodded, chewing on her lip as she paced the room. Dax lingered in the corner, playing with a loose thread in his coveralls. "I waited this long to tell you guys for a reason," she admitted. "I had to know I could trust you."

Dax shrugged, unable to argue her logic in the matter. Oliver said nothing as he pulled his shirt back over his head with a grunt. "So why now?" he asked, bluntly.

Sarah looked him straight in the eye. They had every reason not to get involved with whatever it was she was in the middle of, but she needed their help if she was going to pull off what she intended. "Oliver... you went in that freezer and stood up for Calvin. You don't know what that means to me. And Dax," she continued, turning to the red-haired man in the corner, "you stayed with the me that entire first night while Oliver was away. If I can't trust you two, I can't trust anyone."

The two men stole a glance at one another, clearly moved by her words. She stopped pacing, folding her arms as she tried to command their attention. "I've got a plan... w-we have a plan. Calvin and I. But it's going to take time.

"And you're planning to just walk him out of here?" Dax asked, standing to join them in the center of the room.

Sarah shook her head. "Not exactly." She scooped her backpack from the ground and slung it over her shoulder. "I have to go back and try to touch base with the rest of the people I was with. We're gonna need help on the outside."

Oliver's gaze dropped to the floor. He scratched his head, glancing sheepishly at Dax. "Sarah... it's been over a week," he said, sullenly.

"And they might still be there waiting for me," she fired back. "I have to hope they are. Because I need them." Oliver didn't want to press the matter any further. Clearly the girl had her heart set on freeing her brother as Bronson's captor -- but the poor girl had no idea what kind of wrath that could incur. "I'm heading back now," she continued, threading her arm through the other strap of her backpack. Oliver rose to join her, and she quickly held out her hand. "No-- Oliver, you're in no condition to travel."

"At least take Dax with you," Oliver pleaded, nodding to his friend.

Sarah still refused. "I can't let either of you see where we're hiding."

"I thought you trusted us," Dax protested.

Sarah placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I do. But I don't trust Bronson. I know you'd keep it quiet -- but if he took an eye from my brother, he can certainly get a secret out of you..."

"I understand. And you're right... it is safer," Dax grumbled in agreement. "Just be safe out there, y'hear?"

Sarah pulled him in for a quick hug, giving him a peck on the cheek. The already red man grew even redder as he scratched at the stubble on his face, nervously. "I'll be fine," Sarah teased, "Charlie'll protect me." The dog poked its sleepy face up from underneath one of the kitchen tables where he had been sleeping for the last thirty minutes or so. His tongue arched into a wide yawn as he shook the last bits of sleep off.

Oliver walked over to the door to open it for her. "We'll keep an eye on your brother while you're away," he began. "As long as he behaves, I don't think Bronson intends to do him anymore harm." He picked up the second duffel bag full of guns and food and attempted to hoist it onto his shoulder. As soon as he began to struggle with it, Dax jumped in to take it from his hands, shaking his head at the foolishly injured man. "Are you gonna see him on your way out?" Oliver asked, turning back to her.

"We already said our goodbyes," she replied. They entered the outside hallway and began walking towards the main stairwell, back up to the surface. "You two are the only ones who know anything about this," she whispered, looking around to make sure she wasn't been listened upon. "Bronson can't find out about this or else he'll never let me back in here."

The two men nodded their understanding as they walked alongside her. Other men wandered the halls too, oblivious to the three of them, huddled near the stairwell.

"I already told him about you," she admitted, beginning her ascent up the steps. She stopped before the top and turned back to them. For all they had done for her, she hated getting them involved in this too. "Thank you... for everything," she offered with a smile. Oliver and Dax waved to her as Sarah jogged up the last few steps and made a bee-line for the exit, keeping her head down from the pervy glances she received from nearby lounging inmates. The feet of Alfie, the door guard came into view as she halted before the back door. Charlie, who had been clipping along at her heels, stopped too -- distracted more by the loud noises and drilling next to them. Half of the fire station ceiling had caved in on the middle of the crushed fire truck during the bombings. Debris was scattered everywhere. A small group of convicts worked to clear the pile, shoveling out the smaller pieces and wheeling the mess outside.

The guard held up his hand to Sarah. "And where do you think you're going?" he asked, challengingly. She raised an eyebrow at him, adjusting the duffle bag full of guns on her shoulder.

"I'm free to come and go whenever I please," Sarah spat back. She made to move towards the door but the man stepped in front of her, blocking her way. Suddenly a hand clamped down on her shoulder from behind as Bronson slid into view.

"This man giving you any trouble?" the Warden asked, hoarsely.

Alfie nervously played with the sleeves of his coveralls, evading the man's hard stare. "N-No, Sir... I-I was just t-trying to--"

Bronson held his hand up to the man and crossed over to him, clapping his hand against the man's cheek. He reached behind him and opened the door wide for Sarah to exit. She shot a look at Alfie and his scared-to-shit expression as she slipped out of the door into the hot L.A. sunlight, Charlie trotting after her as he inspected the ground with his nose. Sarah shielded her eyes with one hand as she ducked out from under the outside awning. The crunch of gravel behind her signaled Bronson's lingering presence. She gritted her teeth, honestly hoping to do without an exit interview as she eagerly walked back home to her people.

"We're lucky Oliver found you when he did," Bronson called out to her back. Her steps slowed slightly, still unwilling to give into the conversation. The crunching of the gravel was all she focused on as she marched forwards. "You've done a lot of good for us here..." His flatteries hung in the air, buried in an awkward silence. Sarah neared the chain-linked fence that her and Oliver had snuck through on their way in. She reached down, pulling up the frayed end of the grating and Bronson's hand leapt out, catching a handful of wire. Her heartbeat quickened as her breath caught in her throat -- but he didn't look at her... only outside the gate at the gathering of wandering walkers out in the streets. "It's a shame to have to let you go," he muttered, pulling the corner of the fence up for her. She threw the bags through first before stepping out herself. Again, Bronson unobligingly followed. Perhaps he didn't trust Sarah to be wandering the grounds by herself. There were certainly other secrets being kept hidden amongst the so-called Warden and his subjects. She figured she'd probably rather not know what they were.

The two of them approached the end of the alley and Bronson waved his arm to one of the men on watch across the street -- perched on the roof with his rifle. "Just remember who your friends are..." he advised, signaling to the sniper. The man let out a loud whistle, and suddenly a symphony of gunshots sang out all around the intersection. Walkers were systematically clipped in the head from all sides, their bodies falling to the ground like limp pieces of meat. Sarah covered her ears until the display was finished and the street was cleared. "...and who your enemies are..." Bronson said as he rolled a freshly-lit cigar around his mouth with his tongue. He furrowed his bushy-greyed eyebrows as he took in a few tokes, the smoke curling out from under his lips into the warm summer air.

"Have a safe walk back," he warned, brushing past Sarah as he headed back towards the station. She heard his gravelly steps fade away behind her, leaving her alone to the sound of her own racing heartbeat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


Calvin slipped through the metal door into the underground causeway beside the engine room, the muffled shouts of Bronson and his cronies echoing through the vents and pipes surrounding him. He closed the door behind him as gently as he could -- neatly timed with a passing walker that brushed against the frame as it lumbered down the hall. Calvin wiped his brow with the back of his hand -- the last remaining patch of skin without any walker residue on it. He'd have shrugged out of his blood-ladened coveralls already if he didn't think he'd need them still.

The slitted windows cast lines of light across Calvin's body as he crept along the maze of pipes on the wall. A generator, along with all its fixtures, kept the room filled with dull hums and sharp hisses. Calvin warily eased on, his eyes locked on the beams of light ahead of him -- careful not to wander upon a lingering walker in the darkness.

Figures blurred past the windows on the other side as Bronson and his crew scrambled for their vehicles. The garage floor sloped up towards a wide metal gate that served as an outlet to the city streets above. Some of the vehicles had already begun to pull out into a messy formation, lining up at the door. A man's sharp whistle pierced the air as he whirled his finger in the air, signaling for them to open the door. He then -- along with the other convicts -- began mounting into their vehicles to depart along with a symphony of doors slamming.

Calvin leaned against the grated wall, cupping his hands above his eyes to curb the glare -- when he felt it give just enough to freeze his heart in his chest. The entire wall gave way as the pane of metal burst out of its frame spilling out onto the floor. His hands and knees hit first, crashing against the concrete. There was enough white noise around him to mask his abrupt entrance -- other than the three men standing outside the jeep in front of him. They craned their necks his way, the entire spectrum of emotions playing across their features as they looked down at Calvin in all his gory and blood-soaked glory.

"I got this one," the closest called out, boastfully. He raised his pistol towards Calvin, lining up his sight -- but the man next to him lunged up and pulled his weapon down.

"There's a generator right behind him," he warned, "you'll send this whole place up,"

The man eased up, tucking his pistol away slowly. "Fire in a fire station. That'd be ironic."

The red-haired man's hand hovered just above his tucked-away pistol. "H-Holy shit, Oliver-- is that?" Oliver lowered his weapon too, leaning in to get a closer look at the person in front of them. Calvin stayed miserably still, his eyes following their movements around him,

"Oh my God..." Oliver drawled, looking over at Dax.

Dax scratched at his red beard, realizing the immediate predicament they were in. Their third accomplice's eyes nearly bulged out of his head as he suddenly recognized the smattered figure sprawled out in front of him. His hand flew for his pistol, but Dax's found it first. He ripped it from the man's waistband and clubbed him beside the head with it, dropping him to the floor in an instant. Oliver stuffed his weapon back in his pants and walked over to Calvin. He knelt down next to him and whispered gruffly, "Go limp." Calvin didn't have to think twice about the command. He was already in over his head. He lowered his body to the ground and stayed still, as Oliver crouched above him.

Bronson watched him from afar, squinting his eyes in the dim light as he tried to make out the shifting faces and figures as they loaded the vehicles for departure. He watched closely as Oliver feigned a stabbing motion into Calvin's head, careful to shield a clear line-of-sight by blocking the view with his back. Bronson tapped on the hood of his Jeep, signaling for it to go. The garage door lifted from the ground, sweeping up to reveal the darkened exterior outside. Several convicts moved up first on foot, firing shots into the night to clear the exit. They jumped up onto the frames of passing Jeeps, evacuating along with the rest of their fellow men. Dax rolled his Jeep up further just as Calvin felt Oliver's hands on the back of his jacket pulling him up to his feet.

The two looked each other squarely in the eyes. "Do you know who I am?" Oliver asked, directly. Calvin had already recognized him from that awful night a week prior. The man had stepped in to try to reason with the unreasonable before Bronson knocked him around and had him dragged out of the room -- the evidence of which still lingered in scratches, scrapes and bruises around his face. "Get this off of you--" His hands fumbled with the zipper on the coveralls as the whole sopping thing crumpled around his feet. Streaks of blood that had soaked through to his clothes underneath stained him from head to toe. Calvin just stood there in a daze, letting all this transpire around him.

He nodded, slowly. "I remember..."

"And I'm the hero who sprung you from your cell," the red-haired man added, quite bluntly. "Had to ditch out fast though... somebody snuck up on me."

That solved one small mystery. "S-Sarah...?" Calvin managed to stutter out. He had barely used his voice the last seven days and found it hard to get his throat to work the way he wanted. His mouth was uncomfortably dry too, which didn't help.

Oliver led Calvin towards the Jeep, wiping his hands clean on the spare bits of dry cloth on his bundled coveralls. "She's already gone, man--" Calvin stopped short of the car at that news. Calvin reluctantly, climbed inside the Jeep as Oliver closed the door behind him. "She made it out. I'm sure of it," he promised -- trying to raise his hopes. It was hard being a sibling in the apocalypse. More gunshots rang out near the exit as some of the final vehicles departed.

Dax kicked the Jeep into gear as Oliver climbed inside, buckling himself in. "Now keep your head down," he warned Calvin, "or else we won't..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC) Character Portrait: Patrick Dunn (NPC) Character Portrait: Eli Sharp (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.

"Mind telling me what the plan is," Dax barked nervously through chattering teeth as he steered the Jeep around strewn street debris and loitering corpses.

Oliver craned his neck over his seat looking back through the cloud of dust kicked up in their wake. The vacant headlights of several other trailing vehicles followed closely, swerving in stride as they too pitched their courses through the wreckage in the streets. He whirled back around in his seat, adjusting the seatbelt back around himself. "We've got eyes behind us," he began, "it's not like he wouldn't notice we're missing."

"So we follow the mad warden after breaking his prized trophy out of its case?" Dax shouted from behind the wheel, jerking his thumb over his shoulder at Calvin -- who glared back at him through the rear-view mirror.

"We have to find Sarah," Calvin chimed in groggily from the backseat.

Oliver scoffed. "Yeah, sure. If you can tell me where that broad is right this very second, and I promise you we'll go and get her..."

Calvin stewed silently in his seat, diverting his scowl towards the back of Oliver's head now. It was his sister they were talking about, after all.

The Irishman rolled his toothpick over to the other side of his mouth with his tongue, victoriously. "That's what I thought. I ain't in the mood for a wild goose chase right now. Not with the sky how it is..."

Calvin's attention drifted out his window at the vacant, ashy buildings lining the boulevard. Many seemed to be crumbling by the second -- others too blackened by fire and ash to assess. Dax looked up in the rearview mirror, catching Calvin's vacant gaze. He chewed his lip, looking over at Oliver. "I forgot-- you've been away for awhile," Dax started, returning his eyes to the road. "It's... pretty bad out here."

"That's an understatement," Oliver chastised, butting in from the passenger's seat. "We're fucked is what we are. But we're making the best of things. That's all we can do."

The words all just washed over Calvin as he morosely watched the buildings march by, one-by-one, hurrah hurrah. Remnants of a civilization lost.

Dax jerked the Jeep to the right abruptly, speeding by an overturned bus as the other convicts followed suit behind them. "Where do you think the Warden's taking us?" he asked -- his eyes darting between ash-crested obstacles on the road ahead.

"Where do you think?" Oliver replied, annoyed with the obviousness of the question.

Dax's eyes widened -- his grip tightening on the wheel as he fidgeted in his seat. He lowered his voice slightly. "What if they're still there though?"

Oliver picked up his pistol from between his feet and began to check the insides of its chambers. "Then the Warden's gonna make 'em wish they weren't." He turned back towards Calvin. "I'd buckle up."


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


Niobe stooped over the wheel of the bus, arms draped over the back of the driver's seat as her eyes lazily lingered over the gas meter behind the glass of the dashboard. The ticker rose one last hashmark to the 'F' at the top, and Niobe jogged over to the door of the bus and swung outside.

"Cut it!" she hollered, cupping one hand to her mouth. Eli jumped to a start, breaking off from his conversation with Patrick to run over to the hose and clamp the lever shut. He flashed Niobe a thumbs up and she cut the engine, pulling the keys out and tossing them to Patrick.

He shoved them into his pocket as Eli began coiling up the hose behind them. "Well that's the last of 'em. Gassed and oiled, like the doctor ordered."

Niobe wiped her hands on her jacket. "This warehouse is pretty convenient," she mentioned, craning her neck to look around at the towering rows of shelves and racks lining the walls around them.

Patrick grinned. "Yeah... it's nights like tonight that we're thankful we have this place. I keep forgetting that a lot of other people aren't so fortunate."

Niobe nodded, stuffing her hands into her pockets. "So, what happened to the Capitol? Carl and I tried to make contact with you guys this morning but the whole place looked abandoned..."

Patrick's gaze dropped to the ground as he came to a stop in front of the bumper of the bus. "You saw that, huh?" he began, his voice lowering slightly. "We had been having some-- trouble," he started, looking over his shoulder at Patrick who was still pre-occupied with the hose. "A few days ago, we were attacked..."

Niobe's brow furrowed as she folded her arms. "Attacked? By what?

"By who. I don't know what they call themselves, Patrick muttered aloud, "but they're no good. They've been hassling us from day one. First they wanted supplies, then vehicles-- Silas brokered all these deals just to keep them off our back, but they got more and more hostile..."

"So that wasn't the military who bombed your building?" Niobe asked, unable to believe what she was hearing.

"No-- it wasn't. This was way worse... and I'm scared that--"

He suddenly flinched as Eli clapped him on the shoulder from behind. "You guys ready?" he chirped, enthusiastically. "I can smell the food all the way out here." He took in a deep breath, grinning with hunger.

Patrick looked at Niobe and nodded. "Guess we're all done then. Let's grub." The three of them walked towards the hallway, each falling in step behind the other. Niobe's mind was already racing, wanting to know more about what Patrick was talking about, but it had seemed secretive -- like maybe it was a taboo topic with these people. From what she'd heard, it sounded more like a small war going on. Except the Capitols weren't fighting back.

They turned down the next hallway and found themselves facing a man with long hair walking the other direction with a plate of food. Patrick waved as they neared and slowed to a stop. "Hey, Marshall. Damn, that looks good." His eyes had fallen upon the plate. Macaroni, sausage, broccoli, bread... each more delicious looking then the other. A sin for the senses.

"I thought everyone was eating in the mess hall?" Niobe asked, stepping out from behind Eli.

Marshall's eyes darted over to Patrick. Then Eli. He swallowed. "Y-Yeah-- no, we are. I'm just bringing some food to someone." Niobe watched the man nod nervously as he looked around at the others. "I'll, uh-- let you guys get goin'. Don't want that food to get cold." He began to hurry off, but stopped just a few paces further. "I'm Marshall, by the way." He shuffled the plate into his other hand, licking the food off his finger and wiping it on his pants before holding it out to Niobe.

"Niobe," she offered. She shook his hand firmly and watched as he walked off down the way they came.

"C'mon, we should get going. I bet the sausage is gone already," Patrick bemoaned, dragging his feet towards the converted mess hall. Eli fell in beside him, equally eager for food as did Niobe, glancing over her shoulder as she followed suit.


* * *


Marshall unclasped the metal lock from the door and unlooped the chains from the handles, letting them fall to the floor so he could kick them aside. He pulled them open with a jolt, letting the fresh air and light from the light fixtures above pour into the corridor of stairs leading underground. The yellow bus, fully fueled now, sat quietly behind him in the soft light -- a bright beacon in the darkened warehouse it called its home. He snapped his flashlight to life and picked up the plate of food from the crate beside him, continuing down the stairs quietly. What light still remained from below shone like a pale light on the brick sidings of the narrow staircase, almost like candlelight -- reflected off their ashy exteriors.

The last few steps dropped into a square room, decked out in band posters and memorabilia, vintage records and apparel. Marshall shut the door behind him -- locking it carefully -- and placed the plate of food down on an office chair behind him. He reached up, hooking the flashlight onto a stray cord hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room. He used his other hand to unscrew the flashlight, turning it into a lantern -- its radial light brightening the room in a brilliant orange glow reaching out to its corners. "Feeding time, partner."

A figure's legs stirred to life in one such corner, his dirty feet slipping across the cold stone marble as he righted himself. His shackles shuffled across the ground, adjusting to his change of posture. Marshall placed the plate of food on the ground and pushed it towards the bound man with his foot. It slid to a stop against the man's knees -- some of the vegetables spilling over the floor around him.

He leaned forward, the shackles taught against the floor, and dug his fingers into the mess of food -- shoveling it into his mouth. He gulped it down hard and looked up at Marshall, quizzically. "No fork?" he asked mockingly, his voice ripe with a british accent.

Marshall smirked. "Yeah, I'll grab you a knife while I'm up there." He turned around, moving towards the door -- the keys already back in his hand.

"Who's the new blood?" the prisoner questioned. Marshall knew he was being toyed with, but this game was old. He'd played it enough times already. "The black chick. Early 30's? No-- late 20's. They sure were talking a lot up there..."

Marshall's eyes narrowed a touch, his hand resting on the handle of the door. He opened his mouth to speak. "I--"

"They'll find out about me," the prisoner continued, his voice growing low and gravelly, "and you won't be able to explain yourselves."

"As if your side's any better."

They glared at each other in silence.

"You have no idea who I am," the shackled man hissed.

"I don't," Marshall responded, cracking the door open. "But I'm sure it's a really good story..." The door slammed behind him as he trotted back up the stairs, his steps quickening as the fresh air beckoned to him from above -- the walls closing in around him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Christopher Jones Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC) Character Portrait: Silas Quinn

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


Dax rolled the Jeep to a stop alongside a couple of the others, their occupants spilling out of their ashy vehicles simultaneously as various figures unloaded crates and weapons out onto the pavement of the parking garage. The heaviest loads were carried by two men, while others grabbed what they could and rushed towards the stairwell to the adjacent apartment building.

Calvin watched through the dirty tinted windows as bodies blurred past in motion. He gritted his teeth, sinking lower into his seat as Oliver stowed his weapon in his waistband and reached for his bag down between his legs. "This is as far as we go," he mumbled, pulling the bag onto his lap and ripping the zipper open. His hand plunged inside sporadically pulling out a few ammo clips, his knife, and a few other random things before zipping the bag shut and tossing it back to Calvin. "There's enough gas in this thing to get you as far as you need to go... so you wait until the garage is clear -- and you get the hell outta here. You understand?"

Calvin slid the bag off of himself onto the seat next to him and looked up, catching Dax' eyes in the rearview mirror. "You guys are seriously going back in there with that guy?" he asked. "After all that you know he's capable of..."

"That's exactly why we have to go in there," Dax insisted, shakily. "You don't understand this man. You didn't see him when we were all still locked away." His eyes looked towards Oliver's. "He doesn't let things go..."

Calvin's eyes narrowed as he tried to comprehend their sudden irrationalities. When suddenly his mind lingered on something even more complexing. He leaned forwards, grabbing onto the back of the front two seats. "Were either of you with Sarah when she left?"

Dax fidgeted in his seat. "W-Well-- we walked her to the stairs out in the--"

"No," Oliver offered, quite bluntly. The notion had started to dawn on him now to. It was just like Bronson to have kept an ace up his sleeve. Nothing was beneath this man.

Dax turned to stare at him, then craned his neck back at Calvin. "What are you saying?" Calvin leaned back in his seat, rubbing his hands over his face while Dax was still left wondering. Oliver slammed his foot against the dashboard, cursing aloud.

"I have to know," Calvin muttered through strained breaths.

"I know you do," Oliver replied, defeatedly. Of course he understood. "I gotta know too," he admitted.

"I'd fucking love to know what the fuck you're fucking talking about..." Dax blathered, still eagerly wanting to know what was happening.

"If we're gonna do this, we're gonna play it out then--" Oliver ordered, straightening himself in his seat. "Open up the bag and grab those handcuffs and a shirt.

"What are we doing?" Dax asked again, becoming more annoyed by the second.

Oliver grabbed the shirt out of Calvin's hands as soon as he pulled it from the bag and began tearing a thick strip out of it using his knife. He looked up at Dax, knowingly.

"You remember Star Wars?"


* * *


Calvin marched front and center down the aisle, flanked on each shoulder by Dax and Oliver. Or at least that's who he assumed it was beside him. The makeshift blindfold had been fastened around his one good eye before they had left the Jeep, so he hadn't seen much. They had gone up at least 8 flights of stairs -- which had taken forever and was filled with countless stubbed toes, rolled ankles, and missed steps. More recently though, they had arrived on another flat surface. Carpeted. Hallways, based on the narrow lengthy turns.

"I think I hear him up here," Dax whispered over his shoulder. They continued along the corridor as the raucous shouts of the convicts rousting any squatters in the vicinity echoed throughout the halls. Vacant gunshots and loud thuds rattled off from the floors above. Calvin gingerly stepped across the cluttered floor towards where he hoped Bronson would be waiting. "This is it," Oliver said, motioning at the door to their right. "You still sure about this?"

Calvin swallowed. "I gotta see this through. If there's any chance she got out..."

"We'll find her." Oliver said, gripping Calvin's shoulder and nodding to Dax. "See you on the other side."

Dax pat him on the back as he ushered Calvin forward towards the door. Oliver grabbed the handle and the three of them passed through the threshold of the doorway. Calvin could already tell there were others inside, because whatever conversation they were having stopped as soon as he entered the room. Bronson's gravelly voice boomed out from the farthest corner.

"Well, I'll be damned..."

Oliver shoved Calvin to the center of the room, careful not to send him tumbling too hard. "Look what I found," he feigned. "Crawling around in the back of one of the Jeeps."

Bronson couldn't believe it. He walked over to Calvin, holding his hands in the air. "I do have to apologize, dear boy-- for having to leave you behind. I knew you'd be safe locked away in that room though. I wasn't gonna leave ya to no biters."

Calvin bit his tongue. "Gee... thanks."

"And now you're here..." Bronson said, pulling the blindfold up from Calvin's good eye. Light flooded back into his vision, even in the dingy and dimly lit apartment he discovered himself to be standing in. Several of Bronson's henchman, including Freddie-- the coward who had taken his eye, lingered around the edges of the room. They each rose to their feet as soon as the newcomers had crashed their party.

Calvin rubbed at his eye with his bound hands, readjusting his sight. "I am," he replied, maybe a bit too defiantly. "I could've left. I should have...."

"Then why'd you come back, Calvin...?"

His question hung in the air for awhile as the other shifted in the silence.

"Don't I have a debt to settle?" Calvin said, mockingly.

Bronson shrugged, rubbing the scruff of his greyed beard. "I thought an eye for my guy made us square?" He turned and walked towards the edge of the room, tearing down the sheet draped over the window as it fell to the ground to reveal distorted blinds. "Since you're here though, maybe there is something you can do for me..."

"Haven't I given you enough?" Calvin sneered, tapping his hidden eye.

Bronson grinned, looking past him at Dax and Oliver who both struggled to hold his gaze. Even he could sense the odd vibe in the room. Other convicts stood idly by behind him, weapons dangling loosely in their hands. "This is about the girl-- isn't it?" he continued, kicking the sheet aside.

Calvin's eye widened as his breath caught in his throat. How could he have known? Calvin turned quickly to look at Oliver-- immediately realizing the trap he'd fallen into. That was the giveaway Bronson was looking for -- his eyes lingering on their exchange as he motioned to his surrounding men. They sprung into action, grabbing Oliver and Dax and dragging them out into the hallway in a flurry of arms and legs.

"They didn't have anything to do with this!" Calvin pleaded, struggling against the men who had come to restrain him.

"It doesn't matter," Bronson grunted. "They got too close to the girl, and now they're feeling sympathetic. That's when a person starts making the wrong types of decisions." Dax and Oliver's shouts echoed from further down the hall as Bronson's men began working them in.

"What did you do with her!?" Calvin growled. He wished he had dealt with this coward the second he got into the room. It was at the point now where the bastard was preemptively doing horrible things, just as collateral to protect his own ass.

"She's just fine," Bronson replied. "Or at least she was the last time I saw her..."

"If you've done anything to her, I swear to God--"

"Relax, cowboy. She'll be alright, so long as you continue to cooperate for just a little while longer. I'm gonna need one last favor from you, and then we're square." Bronson turned and ripped the last of the mangled plastic blinds off of the window next to him, revealing the distinct form of a charred building through the falling ashy haze -- its burnt facade only a silhouette in the blackening night. "It's amazing what people will do to protect what they love..." he said-- salivating at the thought as he gazed upon the Capitol, salaciously.


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


Niobe found herself embedded in a room full of smells and senses she'd long been missing. Accompanied of course with the unfortunate whirring grind of a number of running generators, powering portable electric stovetops, microwaves, lighting, and other such fixtures. Steam coated the ceiling as boiling pots and trays of food were shuffled around the makeshift kitchen in a hurry. All it really was though was a converted back office outside the commons. The tiled floor made it an excellent candidate for the chef and others to setup shop since they wouldn't be dealing with the carpeting.

She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder from behind. "Grab and go. Otherwise you might get trampled," Patrick said, handing her a plate from a shelf nearby as Niobe snapped from her food daze. She hadn't seen this much goodness in over a week. Not knowing where to start, she wandered over to the longer portion of the table where several trays of vegetables and meats were organized waiting to go out to the commons.

"Coming back to the kitchen like this-- isn't that kind've like cutting?" Niobe asked, dryly. She grabbed a large spoon from the table and dug into the buttery mashed potatoes in front of her, dropping a large dollop on her plate.

Eli fell in beside her, heading for the greens first. "We're staff. We were busting our asses gassing up that bus." He said, flashing a toothy grin as he piled a heap of vegetables onto his plate.

"Can you not talk about asses and gas, please. Seems a little pre-mature considering we haven't stuffed our faces full of all this food yet..." Patrick added, childishly.

A large pot of some kind of pasta was suddenly dropped right center on the table by a broad-shouldered man in a fedora. "Oodles of noodles, mates--" he chimed, tossing the lid off to the side and stuffing a pasta ladle in the pot. A half-burnt cigar tumbled around his mouth as he wiped his hands on his apron and held one out to Niobe stiffly. "And what's your name, love?"

Niobe rose one eyebrow, grasping his hand firmly. "Niobe."

The man spoke quickly, as if the greeting was something he had to get out of the way. But he held her gaze as firmly as their grip. "Gorgeous name-- beautiful. I love dark meat. Let me know how the potatoes turn out, eh?" And like that, he was off.

Niobe was slightly stunned. "Uhh-- who was that?"

Eli and Patrick both chuckled to themselves, apparently more used to the stranger's antics than she. "That's Lou," Patrick confessed. "He's the Cook."

"He always that strange?"

"Think of it as eccentric and be thankful he's a good cook," Patrick advised, giving her a hard pat on the back. She shook her head as she followed the two of them towards the back of office. The door swung open to reveal another hallway. Random stragglers filtered into the commons area where boxes and crates had been pushed together to create small clusters of tables around the floor. Others sat in small groups on the floor or ate on their cots. The heavy din of conversation washed over Niobe as she followed Eli and Patrick through the arched doorway. She figured there had to be somewhere upwards of 60 or so people all collected together-- but it seemed like so many more. The space, though convenient, was not necessarily built to accommodate so many people for such a long period of time.

A hand stuck out of the crowd, waving high and wide trying to get Niobe's attention-- which it had. The arm belonged to Carl, who sat in a circle of cots around a table with Harper, James, and Christopher. The two old men were engaged in conversation over some talking point, but Harper sat hunched over her barely-touched plate of food, resting her chin on one hand as she stirred at the food vacantly. Niobe split from Patrick and Eli to join her friends and crossed over towards them.

"There you are," Carl crowed as she neared their table. She leaned over to set her plate down and lunged over the cot to take the open seat. "We were wondering what happened to you."

Niobe brushed her hands off on her pant legs. "I was helping Eli and Patrick work on the bus," she replied, not really feeling like she had to explain.

"Those the two that picked us up?" James cut in, switching conversations.

Niobe nodded, grabbing her fork and digging into her food with one huge bite.

"You sure warmed up to these folks quickly..." he finished, his voice ripe with judgement.

Niobe gulped down her first bite with some water and wiped her mouth. "They saved our lives, James... have some respect."

"This seems like a good place to stay if we have to," Carl reasoned, pushing his already empty plate aside. "They're good people."

"What do you mean stay?" James barked from across the table. "As soon as this dust clears, we gotta get out of here. This city is going to shit, frankly-- and I don't want to be inside it any longer than I have to."

Harper sat up, rubbing her temples. "Don't you think that's a decision we should be making as a group?" she said, voicing her concerns aloud.

James scoffed. "I'd think we would all have the common sense to see that everything bad that has happened to us has happened because we're still in this giant goddamned city. The bombings, the nuke, all these walkers... we need to distance ourselves from this place fast. We'll have a better shot out there."

"Out where exactly?" Niobe asked, challengingly.

James shook his head, slumping back into his chair with his arms folded. "Anywhere but here..."

"We still have friends out there..." Carl said, mindfully. "We can't leave now-- even if we could."

"And why not?" James argued.

Harper turned to look at him incredulously. "Are you seriously this selfish?"

"Now c'mon you two--" Christopher interjected from the sidelines.

"It's a completely legitimate question. We don't owe anybody anything. Not even El Capital and his Capitols, or whatever the hell they wanna call themselves. All we owe is to ourselves-- to get out of this city while we still can. Do we really have time to waste sitting around waiting to find all these missing people when we don't know where they are or whether they're even alive?"

"We have to make the time," Harper said, resolutely. "We're all we have, James. Can't you see that? This is what it takes. This is humanity. What else is worth saving if we can't save our friends?"

Jack's bulky frame suddenly plopped down next to Carl as he vault onto the cot between him and Harper, unaware of the conversation he had just interrupted. He turned to Harper, handing her the coffee mug he had borrowed earlier. "Looked everywhere. Couldn't find any coffee."

Niobe laughed at the thought. "That would be heaven. You should go ask Lou in the kitchen. Nice guy..."

Jack's eyebrows peaked in interest. "Oh yeah?"

"Forget to grab yourself a plate?" James chided from his side of the table.

Jack looked around at the plates in front of everyone else. "Oh, I-- uhhh..." he began to bumble, gesturing over his shoulder.

***TING TING TING TING TING TING TING***

Silas rapped on his glass with the butt of his fork, silencing the grounds effortlessly as everyone settled into their seats and turned their attention towards the staircase where he stood alone. The soft sound of the generators poured out of the kitchen office behind him as he cleared his throat to speak.

"I, uhh-- never know how to start these kinds of speeches," he began, scratching his head. "This time last night there were many more of us... and we were thankful that we had been able to endure a week without a night like tonight." Others around the room nodded in silent agreement, lamenting the nights events together. "I want to welcome our newcomers. Strangers to our home, but brothers and sisters in loss." There was a collective murmur of welcome from scattered individuals. Carl gave a half-wave as the others at the table awkwardly looked around at one another. "For those of you haven't heard, the surviving bus stumbled across these individuals during their escape. Some of which we've met before..." Stevie suddenly came into view through the back hallway with her plate of food. She snuck along the back aisle as Silas continued, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. "We all know somebody who is lost out there... somewhere. And we all want to do something about that. I think we can all agree we feel the same way." Harper glanced over at James, who fiddled with his toothpick between his lips as he listened to Silas drone on about salvation. "But we have to do it in a way where nobody else gets hurt. We have to wait for the streets and skies to clear before we can search for the bus... there's no point making any needless risks."

The crowd broke out into hushed whispers as disagreements bubbled up from various corners of the room. "How do we know they'll last the night?" somebody shouted out from the back.

Silas shook his head. "We don't. But there's nothing we can do about it right now. If they're still alive now, then they will be in a few days when it's safe to go look for them."

"And what are we supposed to go after them with?" another voice cried out. "We fled the Capitol so quickly, most of our stuff was left behind..."

Silas rose his hand in the air trying to settle the crowd so everyone could talk at once. "One at a time, please-- I understand that a lot was left behind. That is what we are going to spend our idle time preparing for. One of our newcomers, Stevie, has been kind enough to offer up a couple vehicles worth of supplies in exchange for our assistance in providing them with their own search party to recover their losses. We welcome them... and their help... in these dire times. We have a lot of ground to cover, and more bodies now to get it all done. Detailed plans will be made in the following days so that we understand what our priorities are going into this, but for now-- rest, recover, and remember: we are survivors. We've made it this far. We'll make it further yet, OK?" Silas rose his plate into the air. "Now let's eat! Thank you for the dinner, Lou." The broad-shouldered man waved from his post near the hallway's arch, his never-ending cigar still cradled in his mouth. The crowd applauded his contribution as everyone returned to their place and dug in.

Stevie had just finally reached Carl and the others at the table as Silas spilled the unsettled news of their private conversation. James glared at her from his seat as she set her plate of food down on the table. "Sneakin' around makin' promises in the dark, are we?" he growled.

"James, cut it out--" Harper wheezed.

Stevie stammered slightly, adjusting her glasses with one hand. "I didn't mean to speak for anyone... I even told Silas th--"

"We just heard all about what you told Silas. What? It doesn't bother any of you that we've been here barely a couple hours and she's already making deals... deals involving us with this so-called leader? We don't know these people..." James balked.

Stevie sighed. "I know him better than I know any of you..." she remarked, scathingly. "And those vehicles? They weren't yours to bargain with anyways. They belonged to my people. The one's your people shot at. I wouldn't forget that..." she scooped her food back off of the table and marched off towards Silas and the others.

Carl tapped his foot nervously. "What the hell man? What's gotten into you?"

"Nobody seems to have their head on straight around here," James fumed, striking out from the table as well. Christopher watched him go as he took a big fat bite of corn, chewing complacently.

Harper buried her head in her hands, trying to rub away the pain mounting in her forehead. Jack pat her on the back and leaned in to her ear. "I managed to swipe a mostly full bottle in that coffee mug for when you need it..." he began. "But you really need to figure out a more long-term solution for this, Harper-- it's getting worse." She nodded quickly, waving him away. That was the last thing on her mind with these new problems at hand.

"I'll be right back," she muttered, forcing herself up out of her seat. She pulled her blanket down over her shoulders as she headed towards where Stevie stormed off to.

Niobe mopped up the last few bites of her food and stood as well, having had enough drama for one day. "Done there, hotshot?" she asked Carl in his haze.

His attention snapped back. "Huh? What? Oh-- yeah..." He got up to join her, grabbing his empty plate and following her back towards the kitchen, leaving Jack alone with Christopher.

"One big happy family..." Jack said, mockingly. Christopher simply smiled and nodded, taking another bite of green beans, genuinely unbothered by the goings on of the group around him. Their problems went far over his head-- too far to care about.

Jack sighed, watching his so-called friends disappear into the crowd in separate directions-- and he wondered for a moment if there was such a thing as true happiness left in this world anymore, or if everyday would be a different version of the same struggle. How could they ever be content again? The rest of the Capitols stuffed their faces and corralled in conversatjon and laughter as they ate -- seemingly oblivious to the nightmarish landscape just on the other side of those walls. Feigned normalcy. A true escape. It didn't seem to be enough anymore, Jack thought to himself.

Not while their friends were still out there.

In the distance, Carl jogged a few strides-- catching up with Niobe. "Things are getting really bad around here--" he said, solemnly-- glancing at some of the Capitols as the two of them weaved between tables towards the kitchen.

Niobe pressed on, not even looking over her shoulder at him. "We're all handling this shit in different ways, Carl. Some of us better than others." That was the truth of it after all.

Carl furrowed his brow. "And how are you handling it?" he asked, sincerely.

That stopped Niobe in his tracks. Nobody had asked her that yet. Hell-- she hadn't even asked it of herself. But she thought about it for only the slightest second, and she didn't like what she found. "We've got to tell them... y'know-- about what Silas told us about the infection," she whispered, drawing breath.

Carl adjusted his glasses, evasively. "I-I know, we just h-have to--"

"They have every right to know. It doesn't feel right keeping that from them. Silas and everyone else in this room knows the truth about infection... they'll find out eventually," Niobe reasoned.

Carl scoffed. "Were you sitting at the same table I was? That could be the end of us. Just one little secret could undo everything. As far as they're concerned-- what is there to know?"

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


The door to the converted apartment rustled opened, and Calvin was tossed inside-- tumbling across the floor with his hands bound by rope. Oliver struggled to his feet in the corner of the room, shackled to a metal bunk bed with metal handcuffs. Calvin pushed himself up off the ground and spat at the feet of his handlers.

"Is it really necessary to throw me inside every time you bring me back?" he asked, dryly.

The burly man winked at him and slammed the door shut, clicking the lock from outside. Calvin rubbed his aching knees with his hands and righted himself, glancing over at Oliver. The irishman plopped down on the bed, the chains of his cuffs rattling against the bed's supports as he watched Calvin walk across the room and sit down himself.

"Where's Dax?" he asked, rubbing the soreness out of his wrists.

Oliver nodded towards the door with his head. "Took him out about an hour after you."

"And he hasn't come back yet?"

The irishmen shook his head, stifling a yawn with his unshackled hand. "Been here all night... what time is it?"

Calvin shook his head. Time didn't mean much anymore. Not when you were spending every living second trying not to die. "Sun came up a few hours ago. It's still morning."

"What about you?" Oliver asked, looking at Calvin through bloodshot eyes. "Sure have been spending a lot of time with Bronson..."

Calvin ran his hands over his face, shaking his head. "He wants something from me... that's all," he replied, wearily. Oliver had done little more but grill Calvin over his repeated meetings with the Warden over the last couple days. Clearly it was bothering him that he had fallen so far out of Bronson's favor. Not a man you wanted to be on the wrong side of, either way.

"Has he told you what yet?" Oliver queried, perking up.

"No. He hasn't shown his hand yet..."

Oliver sat up straight. "You do not want to get into bed with this guy, Calvin. He will not let you out." He laid his head against the post, every bit as exhausted by the grueling week. That and the lack of food and water were getting to him. He gritted his teeth. "He's going to use Sarah as collateral to get you to do everything he wants-- all of his dirty work."

Calvin shot up from the bed, beginning to pace the room. "I don't see what other options we have," he half-shouted, careful not to let his voice rise too far. "If I don't cooperate there's no telling what he'll do to Sarah. I'm not gonna take that chance."

"And I'm not asking you to," Oliver interjected. "I'm just telling you to be very careful where you step here. You forget that I've been playing this game with Bronson for far longer than you have. I've watched how he plays people-- finds leverage on them... blackmail. He doesn't have any boundaries, Calvin. The man's his own God."

Calvin opened his mouth to speak as the hinges of the door creaked open and some of the morning light poured into the room from the hallway outside. Dax's silhouette was thrown through the door much like Calvin had been, the door slamming shut behind him. Calvin rushed over to him, grabbing him from under the arms to help him up off the ground-- and finally saw his face: bloodied and beaten and bruised and broken-- redder than his hair, and dashed with cuts and scrapes.

"Jesus Christ, Dax... w-what'd they do to you?" Oliver trembled from across the room. Dax waved them both off and stumbled over to a ratty sofa chair. Dust exploded into the air catching little splinters of light from between the blinds by the window as Dax collapsed into the chair, cradling his ribs with his bound hands.

"What happened?" Calvin asked, eagerly. Bronson had been cold over the last few days, but he hadn't resorted to torture or violence. Until now...

Dax wiped the blood from his mouth, looking up at the two of them through his orange locks. "He k-kept asking questions. Obscure things. About the n-nuke-- radiation... I couldn't make sense of any of it. B-But whatever it is... he's up to something..." He flew into a fit of coughs trying to regain his breath, his eyes watering as he recovered. "I think he's planning s-some sort of attack..."

"Fuckin' hell--" Oliver moaned, running his hand through his hair. "It's the Capitols..."

Calvin turned to the Irishman. "The who...?"

"They call themselves the Capitols--" Dax cut in, standing to spit a fat wad of blood and saliva onto the ground. He wiped his lip again with the back of his hand. "Bronson's been feuding with them over stupid shit this whole past week..."

"I thought they had come to terms after their last run-in," Oliver continued, shaking his head. "Guess not."

Dax paced the room, locking his fingers above his head as he wandered in thought. A defeated silence hung over the room as they all settled into the fact that there may not be a way out of this. Not where they win. Not against a man like the Warden. They were just pawns in a much larger game.

"You see what I'm talking about now-- right Calvin?" Oliver demanded. "Whatever Bronson wants with you... it's gonna make you an accessory to all this. You don't want to get involved. Too many people have already died over this bullshit..."

Calvin looked at the two of them, feeling as if he was being talked in circles. "What exactly is going on between you and them? I've seen enough to know that Bronson doesn't necessarily play nice with others-- so what does he want from them?"

"To go away," Dax replied, quite somberly. "One way or another..."

Oliver nodded his head, begrudgingly-- and suddenly a realization grabbed hold of him. "That son of a bitch!" he cursed, pulling his cuffs taut against the bed frame. "He knows they're gonna come back for the Capitol... once all this nuclear dust clears. He's gonna be waiting for them..."

"Aw, hell--" Dax uttered, wrenching his hands together. "We've got to warn those poor bastards. Somehow..."

Oliver scoffed, leaning back in his seat. "After you," he offered, sarcastically gesturing at the locked door. There was simply nothing they could do.

"If Bronson notices any of us are gone, who knows what he'll do to Sarah..." Calvin said, reminding them of the fact. She was the reason they were where they were. She was also they reason they couldn't do anything drastic-- for fear of it blowing back in her face.

"We don't even know if she's here..." Oliver argued. None of them had seen any sign of her upon arriving at the hideout or even during the following few days. But the possibility still existed.

Calvin pointed his finger at Oliver's chest. "And we agreed that wasn't a risk we wanted to take. There's nothing we can do until we know she's safe. " He walked back to his bed and plopped down, rolling over as he drew the blanket over him. The past night spent with the Warden weighed on him heavily as his heavy eyelids blinked closed. Sleep would come quickly.

Oliver leaned back in his bed, staring up at the bunk above him as he shook his head. His arm dangled next to him, fixed to one of the metal supports. He sighed, reaching into his jacket with his free hand and pulling out a limp cigarette as he rolled over onto one side, freeing his pocket and stuffing his hand inside to retrieve his lighter so he could light up. Dax groaned with pain as he rolled over onto his, and the room grew silent and still.

"We'll think of something," Calvin promised with a whisper.

Oliver stirred from afar as he rolled onto his side, blowing out a plume of smoke. "Yeah..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC) Character Portrait: Ezrael de Lorian Character Portrait: Seth Tanner Character Portrait: Kire Barrow Character Portrait: Brooke Callaway (NPC) Character Portrait: Harold St. James (NPC) Character Portrait: Ari Dinkowitz (NPC)

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.: The Lost Church :.


Harry stopped in his tracks at Seth’s question. The preacher. They had yet to unearth any recollection of the event from Sarah, and in truth, Harry didn’t know quite how to explain the delicate situation. How close were these two newcomers to the freshly deceased priest? The dangers of what the truth could trigger in them far outweighed the risks of any careless divulgence on their part-- especially without knowing the whole truth.

Seth must have noticed the concern in Harry’s eyes, because he too halted his movements-- looking first at Kire and then around at the others. ”What…?” he asked, suspiciously.

Harry grimaced. ”You should probably come with me.” He gestured for the boy to follow, holding a hand up to Ari who had moved to join them and who-- still even after the tension had eased-- was keeping a wary eye on the two young newcomers. The lawyer stiffened at this request, relaxing his grip on the weapon in his hands as it fell to hang loosely at his side.

Kire rushed up quickly beside Seth, her hands rubbing at the cold exposed skin where her sleeves were pushed up. She pulled them down, nervously. ”Is everything OK?”

”I think it’ll be easier if you just… see it for yourself.” Harry turned and continued towards the stairwell, his uneven steps leading the way. Seth reluctantly followed, turning back to Kire slightly and gesturing for her to follow. Neither of them liked the way he had made it sound, but they had a feeling all was about to be explained. Ari watched them parade their way towards the basement, his eyes lingering on them before he too split off back towards the front of the church.

Ezrael hovered nearby Brooke as she sifted through one of the backpacks on the church pew next to her. He took his glasses in his hands and began rubbing the spotty lenses with the hem of his dress shirt. ”We shouldn’t have opened the door,” he began, looking around to make sure the others were well out of earshot. ”You know what Val’s going to do if she sees that we let two total strangers in here… with you... the baby…”

Brooke zipped the bag shut, forcefully-- once she had found the bottle of water she was searching for. She tossed her dangling hair out of her eyes and slowly rose back to her feet. Ezrael moved to help her up, but she waved his hands away with a heavy breath. ”We’re capable of taking care of ourselves. She’ll have to understand that.”

”And if she can’t?” Ezrael asked, returning his spectacles to his eyes.

Brooke tilted her head. ”Then we’ll help her understand.” She spun on her heel, making way back towards Sarah’s holding room with the water in hand-- cradling her stomach with the other. She disappeared behind the wooden door… out of sight but not out of mind. Ezrael chewed on her words, his gaze falling upon the somber fixture of Jesus hung high above the front altar. From up there, something became painfully clear suddenly. It wasn’t sadness on the Lord’s face. It was pity....

He was literally looking down on them.


# # #


Harry hung the lantern high above the covered table, its matted sheet dusty with cobwebs and filth from lying crumpled in a ball on the floor for only God know’s how long. Underneath lied the silent motionless body of what had once been the proprietor of the chapel they now took refuge in. He came to a stop just behind the head of the table and reached over, gently peeling the vale back from the corpse-- starting with his face.

’It’s face...’ Seth reflected quietly to himself, correcting his own thoughts as his eyes narrowed at the scene literally unfolding in front of him. A deep hole rested over one of the preacher’s eyes where the crucifix had done its work. The rest of his face looked yellow and gaunt and sickly, made paler by the makeshift light hung above as it cast shadows and odd shapes around the room. Kire shied away into the corner, bringing her hands to her face-- unable to hold her gaze on the remnants of the man who had taken them into onto the street mere days before. He certainly didn’t deserve this fate. Nobody did.

Harry took a couple steps back and folded his arms across his broad chest as his chin hung low. ”He was like this in one of the confessionals… with this in his eye.” Harry shoved his hand into his jacket pocket and drew the crucifix, holding it out to Seth. The boy took the memento from Harry’s hand and regarded it closely-- bloodstains still clearly visible on traces of the blade and handle. It was odd that out of everyone in the room, it was the crucifix alone that knew the whole tale.

”What happened to him?” Seth asked, rounding the table to examine the corpse closer. He looked under the preacher’s arms and legs, looking for signs of some kind of struggle or claw marks. Traces of scratches and tears etched the man’s face -- or at least the parts not covered in dried blood. Carefully, he rested his middle and index finger on the corpse's lips, drawing his jaw down and stretching his gums around with his other hand as he examined its teeth and gums. Deeper inspection showed bits of flesh stuck between its darkened molars. There was clearly more to this than Harry was letting on. Ones hand had to be played close to the chest these days though… there were just too many wild cards, and so he kept silent.

”Like I said, we found him like this…” Harry admitted, stopping himself short of getting to the part about the girl in captivity upstairs. However long these newcomers intended to stay, that little fact wouldn’t be able to be kept secret for much longer. Harry cleared his throat, gruffly. ”I’ll give you two some time. We’ll be upstairs whenever you’re ready,” he grumbled, before leaving the room back up the stairs. Seth watched him go, gripping the crucifix in his hand.


# # #


.: Calvin Hawke :.


Calvin awoke with a shiver, his arms clutching his sides as he laid curled in a ball on the ratty cot he had called his bed for the last couple hours. His untucked hand searched for the folds of his missing blanket, grasping nothing but empty air-- and it was then that his eyes snapped open to reveal that his covers were nowhere near. Beside him, the shutters of a pried window clattered softly against its framing. A series of tied sheets and apparel netted a long rope which hung loosely out the window-- pinned in place by one of the shutters themselves. Calvin jumped to his feet, rushing the window to look out at the other buildings and courtyard below. The fabricated rope hung from where it was tethered, dropping deep into another window only a few flights below. He tucked his head back through the window, feeling the vertigo begin to rush into him as the reality of the situation kicked into gear. He spun around to survey the room, instantly spotting Oliver’s sleeping figure-- still bound to the rail of the very bed he slept upon now. That made the culprit of the sudden escape quite obvious.

’But why would he just jump ship without us?’ Calvin wondered, looking back at the window. He couldn’t not go after him. If Dax were to get caught, the blowback would be severe… and regrettable. Calvin knew he couldn’t risk that, and soon one of his legs was already through the window as he perched gently on the ledge. He braced both of his feets behind the sill of the window itself and began to push off once he was certain he had a firm grip on the rope. He let each of his feet fall one after the other as he edged his way down the facade of the building-- careful to hug the building as tightly as he could as to avoid being seen. Luckily, a large cropping of tall trees in the courtyard across from him cast a generous enough shadow that it didn’t feel like he had a spotlight on him for his quick outing.

He eventually found the next ledge, and carefully lowered grabbed ahold of the brick siding and pulled himself into the window, toppling onto the next floor of the apartment. The musty carpet coughed a dark cloud of dust up from beneath him as he landed with a plop and rolled into the darkened interior. Dax’s silhouette filled the frame of the doorway several paces ahead-- splintered beams of daylight breaking through the dilapidated blinds hung upon the window in front of him. His moppy head bobbled towards the window, darting up and down the hallway to make sure he was alone as he sidled up the wall beneath it. His fingers fumbled with the folds of the draped plastic as he peered through with one eye, scanning the street out below. Calvin was all too curious what he’d have made such a foolish effort to come see, but he owed the man a chance to explain himself at least. He crept closer, walking softly across the mangy carpet towards the hallway-- stopping a couple of steps before the door.

His dried lips stuck together slightly as he spoke up. ”What are you doing, Dax?”

There was a hint of wariness in his voice that crept in faintly. Dax’s shoulders tensed as he let go of the blinds and spun around to face Calvin. He looked up and down the hallway again-- as if expecting some kind of additional ambush-- and then relaxed slightly. ”C-Calvin, no-- it isn’t anything b-bad…” he assured, waving his hands in the air. He gestured towards the window, beckoning Calvin into the hallway. ”I had to be sure,” he began vaguely, his face becoming as red as his hair. Calvin inched closer, hanging on Dax’s every word. ”An old cellmate of mine tipped me off last night,” he continued, breathlessly. ”I had to be sure. I didn’t want to put all of us in danger by just taking him at his word, but--”

Calvin gritted his teeth. ”You put us all in danger the second you opened that window.”

”Well it was all worth it,” Dax bragged, waving him closer. He lifted up the folds of the blinds and Calvin rose his head slowly to look through the window, wary of what sights awaited him on the other side. ”Do you see her?” he asked, the excitement and relief both equally prevalent in his voice. Sure enough, past the mangled chain-link fences and cluttered parking lot, a group of individuals led a small woman by her arms towards the front entrance of the Capitol building. Even without binoculars, Calvin could see her golden locks bobbing from beneath her bagged head as she stumbled forth against her will. His breath caught in his throat at the sight of her, thankful she was alive-- albeit barely. ”I couldn’t believe it ‘til I saw it with my own eyes,” Dax continued to babble, cheerily. ”That means she’s safe. That means we can--”


*%$ BAM $%*


A steel-toed boot burst through the frame of the door just beside them as a heavier man rushed through with his weapon up. Behind the bandana tied around his nose and mouth, he grinned. ”Thought I heard whispering in here… damn near thought I was losing my mind.” Dax’s eyes darted towards Calvins as the two slowly raised their hands into the air. They stood upright, bunching together near the doorway they had snuck in through. The convict edged closer-- his gun still trained, just waiting for someone to do something stupid. ”The Warden’ll give me a nice fat reward for this. I should sneak off to take pisses down here more often.” Even from that distance, Calvin could smell the overwhelming scent of alcohol, cigarettes, and an unfortunate amount of time on the man’s breath. The bandana over his mouth suddenly seemed like less of a fashion choice and more about containment.

”Uhh-- L-Listen… Wallace? Right? That’s your name, right? You remember me, don’t you? From that time in the y-yard, when those guys were playing b-basketball, and--” his voice drifted off anxiously as the man’s weapon suddenly started shifting towards him the longer he talked. ”We weren’t even trying to escape,” he continued, trying to play all his cards. ”We just had to--”

Calvin couldn’t stand watching the man dig himself deeper any longer. Especially not if he was being dragged down with him. ”I wanna see the Warden…” he demanded, speaking loud enough to top Dax’s incessant mumbling. The man shut up once he saw the expression change on the convict’s face.

”What do you want with him?” he inquired, suddenly playing the role of guard as if it mattered anymore.

”That’s between me and the Warden. And nobody else.” Calvin turned around and placed his hands behind his back, trying to queue the convict to come arrest him. The man stupidly inched a few steps forward, lowering his guard just enough to prompt Dax to do the most heroic thing he may ever do. He turned to assume the same position, stopping and spinning on his heel the second the convict was within arm’s reach, and then launched himself forward at the man-- grasping at his gun arm with both hands to shove it towards the ground. The first bullet rang out loudly in the shallow hallway, barraging all three of their ears with a warm metallic symphony-- a burning sensation that simmered long after the actual sound had gone. The burn whitened, as voices and struggles muffled themselves along with the rest of the world-- arms and legs doing battle with one another as they tried to wrestle the convict to the ground. Calvin knelt down, grabbing for the man’s legs. He flailed and kicked-- eventually exposing the small knife tucked in just above his sock. Calvin made for it, gripping the handle just as another gunshot ripped off-- knocking him back on his ass, blade in hand. He turned to see Dax’s limp body crumple into a heap against the wall-- parts of him splattered against the peeling eggshell wallpaper behind him. ”NOOOOO!” Calvin shrieked. The convict shouted out too, scrambling back on his hands and feet right into Calvin’s waiting blade. It filled him silently as Calvin twisted and jerked the knife free of the man’s torso. He tossed the man’s body aside as his lips burbled dark red bubbles and he wreathed softly into stillness. Calvin tossed the blade aside and climbed over to Dax, rolling him onto his side. Through the door down the hallway, more voices and hurried footsteps thundered closer. Dax’s pupils rolled around in his head as he fought to maintain focus, trying to find Calvin’s eyes. Calvin held his bloodied face in his hands. ”I’m gonna save her,” he promised-- knowing that was the only thing that could make Dax at peace. ”But I have to save myself first…” he laid Dax back against the wall, propping him up so he faced the end of the hallway-- grabbing the pistol from near the dead convict’s hand and laying it in Dax’s. ”Thank you for saving me… however many times that was.”

Dax laughed a little, the red now spilling from his lips too. ”Go, man…”

Calvin placed his forehead against Dax’s, giving him a brief farewell before scooping the knife up from the ground and hustling out the door he came in from-- making sure to close it, and Dax... behind him. He rushed to the open window, peeking outside to make sure the coast was still clear as he pulled himself through the open frame and back onto the makeshift rope. His legs fell clear of the window sill and dropped below him, causing his hands to slide a few inches down the rope and his heart to fall a few stories out his ass with fear. He could feel his heartbeat quicken against the empty air as he put one arm over the other, using his shoes to cinch the line and help him climb up. Enough moments went by as his fingers reached out, fumbling against the edge of the next window above. He latched on, forcing one last feat of strength to get him through to the other side.

His body tumbled back onto the rug of his former holding, and he quickly righted himself-- hurrying to the window and untying the knotted sheets from the bedpost. Calvin took the moment to finally look at his hands, glancing down to see the plainly obvious blood-stained palms staring back at him. He used the last of the linen rope to wipe his hands clean before dropping the whole string of them down into the forested abyss below. He watched as they landed in a scattered heap several stories below, descending into the space between the two apartment buildings. Calvin pulled the windows back shut and draped the sheet back over them, the way he remembered. The light was blocked once more from the room as it cascaded back into darkness-- mere slivers of light breaking through the moth-eaten holes and uneven edges. Oliver stirred off to the side, seemingly undisturbed by the frenzy of activity that had transpired around him. Despite being the only one who had been allowed the time to simply stay chained up to a bed and sleep all day, he managed to find himself in another deep slumber. Calvin slightly envied him… but only for a moment.

Almost like a drumroll, more gunfire erupted from beneath the floor. Calvin laid his head back down on his cot, curling up into a ball as he closed his eyes against the darkness. The day could only get so bad, after all-- even after all this...

His sister was alive.