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Everett T. Bronson (NPC)

The King of New Hollywood.

0 · 195 views · located in Season 3

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

Description

.: Everett T. Bronson :.
"The Warden"

Image


Description:

 Portrayed By Jeff Bridges
 Ice Fisherman / Escaped Convict
 64
 Male
 6'0" / 191 lbs
 Southern / Polish / American
 Small scar above eye from a BB gun pellet.
 Wears a prison-issued grey coveralls and a worn black leather jacket with the sleeves torn off. May occasionally wear a bandana to keep his hair back.
 Gunshot wound to right ear.

Traits:

 3 Strengths
Outdoorsy: All those hours clocked in the woods and at sea have proven useful.
Instincts: Bronson's keen eye and sharp mind have gotten out of more than a few scrapes.
Pack Leader: Bronson exudes confidence and is well-loved by those under his wing.

 3 Flaws
Vengeful: He has a had time letting things go and thrives on justice.
Impatient: Not one to just sit around -- Bronson hates waiting.
God Complex: Having carved out a spot for himself at the top of the prison food chain all these years, Bronson has grown accustomed to getting his way; he is used to having others do things for him and hates being questioned or challenged.

Personality:

 Fears
A Life Sentence, Being Alone, Running Out Of Alcohol.

 Aspirations
Get Rich, Die Trying, Climb Everest, Figure Out The Ending To Game of Thrones.

 Dominant Emotion
Pride

 Demeanor
In any other situation, Bronson might seem like a decent man -- but he is far too suited to thrive in this new world to make anyone at ease. There is a disturbing calmness that he exudes, regardless of his environment or situation. He is an observant person, insightful and full of raw instincts and hard opinions. He empathizes with Buddhist practices, though he could never adhere to the religion himself, for he condones violence and justice more than peace. He has a silver tongue, always willing to talk something over before he's made his decision -- regardless of whether he'd allow his mind to be changed over the matter. He believes in equality, fairness, justice, and honesty.

 Quirks/Oddities
Has a wicked grin that would raise the hairs on most peoples' backs.

 Skills/Proficiencies
Knives, Handguns, Rifles, Hunting, Trapping, Tracking, Navigation, Fishing, Skinning, Motorcycle Use, Boat Use, Swimming, Woodwork, Meditation, Debate, Good Instincts, Leadership, Brawling, Pain Tolerance, etc.

Equipment:

 Always carries a knife and a walkie-talkie on him.
 Has poor vision and needs a pair of prescription glasses for most things.
 Wears his old wedding ring still.

History:

 Born in Texas; youngest of five siblings.
 Gets held back in 3rd grade.
 Moves to Alaska to work with older brother on an ice fishing rig.
 Buys house in Los Angeles, gets job on ranch in off-season.
 Starts working odd jobs around the west coast.
 Develops severe alcoholism over the years.
 Divorced by wife of 20 years.
 Arrested for grand theft auto, resisting arrest, and attempted suicide.
 Fight breaks out in mess hall; Bronson ends up critically injuring one inmate and killing another.
Is brought into the fold of one the prison's gangs. Masterminds his way to the top.
Bought by the Warden of the prison in exchange for an earlier parole date.
Orchestrates the murder of the Warden, framing two other guards for the incident.
Though not proven guilty, Bronson and several others are transferred to a higher security prison when all hell breaks loose.

So begins...

Everett T. Bronson (NPC)'s Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


"And so you just left them there!?" James shouted furiously. Chuck had finally finished his rambling tirade as he regaled the group with the night's events and his friends' demise. Finally having a moment to gain his bearings, Chuck realized that there were more people in the camp now. A Volkswagen bus and Toyota Corolla parked on the other side of the path, making a large wall against any roamers. A few unfamiliar faces looked on from the distance as all eyes were on him.

His hands shook a bit as he tried to twist the cap back on the water bottle. "It was the only chance I had! I-I swear!" James slammed his fist down on the hood of his truck and walked away.

Wayne crossed his arms. "And that's the last thing you heard -- gunshots?" He asked anxiously.

Chuck nodded, lowering his gaze to the ground. Whichever way he put it, he looked like a coward. But he was alive -- and that was all he cared about. Steve rubbed Lily's shoulders, trying to comfort the young girl who had already seen her fair share of loss and death for the day. James suddenly came marching back to the small huddle with a canvas bag. He pulled down the hatch of his truck and threw the bag down, spreading a small array of weapons across the bed of the truck.

"Some of the others pitched in..." James said gruffly, he pulled a handgun from the pile and offered it to Wayne, who took it and began inspecting the weapon.

Chuck looked around, enamored. "N-No! No fucking way are we going back out there!"

"You aren't," James replied, handing a small rifle to Steve, "we are." The man had to let go of the little girl's hand to grab the rifle. He looked at the girl as he accepted it reluctantly. Chuck threw his hands up in the air, laughing obnoxiously. James marched straight over to him and grabbed the collar of shirt-- throwing him against the side of the truck. "You left our friends down there... not to mention the van. I don't know what those men intend to do to them, but I'm not gonna sit around and find out." He lifted his elbow from Chuck's throat and the man fell to the ground gasping. James walked back towards the driver's side.

"Let's go."



* * *



All he could hear was the metal clanging of the chains struggling to hold the door shut as a group of walkers banged against it from the other side. Calvin had tossed their previous tenant over the edge of the building as fodder for the walkers -- possible bait to lure them away from the stairwell. They had searched his body beforehand finding a half-empty pack of American Spirits, a lighter, a map of Los Angeles, and a pair of binoculars -- along with his pistol and a spare clip. Further exploration of the roof had shown no alternative ways down, save for an unpowered window-washer's lift and a locked fire escape, unfortunately -- and so they waited.

Jack laid in the nook of the wall's corner where the most shade rested. He closed his blistered eyes -- trying to catch whatever sleep he could while they waited. Calvin had torn off part of his pant leg to wrap Jack's burnt hand until they could go back and get the bag of medical supplies.

Calvin sat with his legs dangling over the storefront, almost far enough to touch the huge unlit "S" of "Save For Less". The red truck had come and gone twice in the last couple of hours, but the density of walkers in the area made it nearly impassable. He had surely returned to find his two lost comrades -- or what was left of them. Calvin felt a nasty taste in his mouth and spit over the edge, landing on one of the walkers' heads below.

In the distance, a tight cluster of planes had circled back around for another pass. They had been roaming the skies as far back as he could remember since the Sun had come back up... but he had never seen them land for anything. Small helicopters would occasionally break out of formation and hover closer to the city to get a better look at things, but they seemed to be searching for something... or someone. The biggest plane in the lead veered its nose turning them north as they soared up the coastline -- far far away.

It had been the most momentous 24 hours of Calvin's life -- not that he felt like reflecting on the particular events that had to do with those 24 hours... Calvin looked over at Jack, realizing that he knew nothing about the man. He had no idea what his last name was, what he did for a living, where he grew up... yet somehow their paths had become intertwined indefinitely. He doubted either of them would ever forget what went down between them. At least Jack was somehow managing to sleep a little bit of it off.

His train of thought was brought to a halt as the distant whine of a blaring siren overcame the maw of walkers. A low rumble of roaring engines accompanied the assembly of vehicles as the truck from earlier led the motorcade into the shopping mall parking lot. At the center of the pack, riding proudly, rode a fire truck -- an American flag flying like a banner from its back. Men hung off of its top and sides as if it were some kind of amusement park ride. The vehicles rammed through the mob of walkers in the lot as the beasts clawed at its sides to no avail.

Calvin hopped back over the ledge and ran over to Jack. "Hey, man! Wake up!" He said, shaking him by the shoulders. Jack's eyes rolled open -- coming into focus.

"What? What the fuck is it?" He moaned, ribbing his eyes as he sat up. Calvin was already scrambling around him gathering their stuff. "What's that noise?" He asked -- the sirens even louder now as the vehicles had plowed their way into the parking lot.

Calvin grabbed the full pistol and loaded a fresh clip, then handed Jack his shotgun. He grabbed it, letting out a huge yawn. "They're back," Calvin said, running over towards the front of the building. Jack finally began to get the picture and followed with his weapon. They crouched against the short wall above the store's sign and peeked over into the lot below. The other vehicles had abandoned the fire truck now and it stood alone -- a bright red mass in a sea of walkers, their hands groping and pawing from all sides. The truck was just tall enough that its inhabitants were safe inside and above. One such inhabitant crawled through the porthole onto the ladder and stood up. Like the others, he wore a grey jumpsuit -- on top of which he wore a sleeveless black leather vest. He stroked his beard as he raised a megaphone to his mouth and waved his hand.

"Hello up there!" The man shouted through the megaphone. "It's OK, you don't need to stand up or anything. Chances are if one of my men has a shot, he's gonna take it -- so I'd advise keeping your head down." Calvin looked at Jack, unsure of what to do. "Fact of the matter is, I've got reason to believe you killed some of my men. Now, I don't know how many of you there are up there... I don't imagine it would take more than one of you two kill those two idiots, but one of those idiots happened to be my younger brother."

Jack rubbed his face with his hand. "Shit..."

"So I hope you don't mind if me and my boys come up there, and we can figure out what we're gonna do about that..."

The whinnying of the motorized ladder rang out as the front began to extend out and raise toward the roof. Other men began climbing out onto the top of the fire truck to start their ascent, assessing their weapons and gearing up. Calvin thought back to his earlier assumption of some biker gang affiliation and realized how way off he must have been. These men were armed, dangerous, and prepared. Calvin hoped he was at least one of those things as he peeked over the edge of the wall to get a view.

"What the hell do we do, man?" Jack asked, his voice shaking a little bit. Calvin shook his head and looked backed up at the sky. The cluster of aircraft from earlier had doubled back already but were even further away now.

"We have to get off this roof," Calvin said -- searching around for options.

Jack stood up and followed him. "How? We already looked for a way off..."

Calvin suddenly got an idea -- but it was going to take both of them. "I think I have something... follow me," he ordered, running back to the front of the wall. The white tip of the ladder was just coming into sight over the ledge. They hugged the side of the wall right beneath it, with their weapons. Calvin turned to Jack. "We're gonna take their ladder to get to the next roof. Hold off whoever tries to come up and I'll, uh--"

Jack pumped his shotgun. "Do the rest?"

Calvin grinned and braced himself against the wall. "On three..." Jack nodded, readying himself for the count. They bobbed the three count and Jack sprung up from the wall firing off two blasts towards the men on the ladder. Bullets rang out on the metal and stone around the two of them as the thugs returned fire. Calvin grabbed the center rung of the end ladder piece and pulled down on it, using the wall as leverage. He used all of his weight to pry it out of its bracket but it wouldn't budge.

"Jack!" He shouted, "Give me a hand here!" Jack fired off one more round at the attackers and then dropped his shotgun, grabbing hold of one of the rungs and joining Calvin in his attempt to snap off a piece of ladder. Scattered bullets rang out around them as the men began filing up the ladder. Losing one's balance meant plunging into the mob of walkers below. Whoever these men were, they wanted revenge badly enough to risk their lives doing it. There would be no time to explain that what was done was done in self-defense -- Calvin was sure they didn't care. This was personal to them... and it was about to get very public.

"Cover me, for a sec..." Jack requested as he let go of the ladder and scooted down its length a bit. He took out his pocket knife and began unscrewing the bolts to release it from its track. Calvin hung from the edge, looking over and meeting eyes with whatever brave thug had volunteered to come up first. The man saw him and raised his gun for a shot, firing one off wildly. Calvin ducked quickly, and jumped up -- firing off a couple of his own. His target ducked, catching one of the bullets in the neck. He fell sideways off the ladder, trying to grab hold he was lost to the walkers like a bottle at sea. "Two more bolts on this side," Jack continued, biting his lip.

"The harder you make this, the worse off it's gonna be for you..." the bearded man hollered out from below. He laughed into the megaphone, hoarsely -- a voice addled by too much tobacco.

"I got it," Jack called out, happily tucking the knife in his pocket. The end section of the ladder unhinged and fell to the rooftop, clattering loudly. Calvin gestured to the east side of the building where the gap was smallest.

"Set us up," he ordered, "we're getting out of here." Jack nodded and scurried away, holding the ladder piece with his good hand. Calvin peaked over the ledge again, checking the thugs progress, and saw that they were already half-way up. A streak of red light sped into sight as a flaming bottle came soaring by Calvin's head and splashed against the roof in a fiery pool.

"Not so close to the ladder!" The bearded man scolded.

Calvin looked to Jack for his signal. Across the way, he deftly slid the ladder into place -- spanning the gap between the neighboring building. He wiped his brow and looked back at Calvin, preparing for what was next. "GO!" Calvin shouted out. He knew it would take Jack longer to get across with his injuries, and he had to buy him more time. Before he even had a chance to make a plan, the first raider reached the wall -- lunging over with one arm and grabbing Calvin by the neck. Having heard Calvin's shouts, he knew exactly where he was and took full advantage. The two struggled in an awkward position as the thug tried desperately to hold on. His grip was the only thing keeping him from falling.

Calvin reached above him and grabbed his attacker by the hair, pulling him over his shoulder with a fistful. He used the butt of his pistol to smash the man's hand -- his knuckles audibly crunching against the metal of the gun. The thug yelped, retreating his hand away -- just in time for Calvin to kick away with his foot. As his assailant reeled in pain on the ground, Calvin struggled to his feet and walked a few steps towards the stairwell.

BANG! BANG!

The second shot broke the chain, freeing the dozens of trapped walkers behind the door. They spilled out onto the rooftop ambling in all directions as Calvin tore off towards the side of the roof to join Jack. His injured friend had just made it to the other side and offered his hand to Calvin -- who carefully crawled across the ladder, trying not to look down. Bullet fire sang out behind him as the invading thugs were intercepted by the horde of biters. Calvin gripped Jack's hand as he was pulled over to safety on the preceding ledge. He looked back at the swarm of bodied mauling, flailing, and fighting and felt happy for one second that he was on a different roof.

"Let's keep going," Calvin suggested as he pulled in the ladder. So far, it had done a better job of saving their asses than Chuck ever did...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


Chuck grabbed the pair of binoculars out of the man's hands as he sat by the fire. He stormed over to the vista of Hollywood and put them to his eyes, muttering curses under his breath as he watched the dust trail of James' truck kick off into the distance.

"You could of just asked, guy!" The frustrated man yelled over at him from the campfire.

Chuck continued to ignore him as he scanned the cityscape -- over past the rooftops of houses and businesses towards the news station. Plumes of smoke billowed out from other parts of the city as a number of fires burnt brightly. In the air, a formation of aircraft caught his eye as they sped into view from behind the USBank tower downtown. Circling below were a number of helicopters, none of which he recognized from before. It was the first time he had seen anything since that morning, and given the sudden dire circumstances -- he couldn't think of a better time to signal for help. He ran over to his bag and dug through it, furiously looking for the flare he knew he had packed.


* * *


Calvin jumped the last few rungs of the maintenance ladder to the ground, reaching up to help Jack do the same. He had managed pretty well with his injured hand, but Calvin knew that would only last as long as his adrenaline did. Jack's shoes hit the pavement with a thud, and the two of them were off again -- kicking up old newspapers from the dirty dark alley as they ran along. They had left behind the shotgun and ladder during their escape from the roof. Bronson was sure to have enjoyed Calvin's farewell present -- a mob of hungry walkers. It at least bought them enough time to escape from his assault.

They approached the inlet from the alley onto the street and Jack motioned for Calvin to get down. Two men dressed like the other raiders jogged down the street trying to flank them, but they had overshot the alley. A steady stream of walkers stumbled across the intersection at the far end -- drawn to the sirens of the fire truck, so the raiders were forced to duck into the next alley to cross over to the adjacent street.

"OK, go..." Jack ordered, stepping away from the wall onto the street. He hustled across the street, tucking in behind a shattered bus stop with a car lodged into it. They scanned the windows of the shop across the way, wary of any movement from the raiders, and continued creeping down the sidewalk.

"We need to get back to the van," Calvin cautioned, "all our stuff's in there and there are just too any walkers out for us to get back on foot."

"It's gonna be dark again soon too," Jack added.

Calvin hadn't thought of that. They had to get back to the hill as soon as they could to warn the others about what happened. This guy, whoever he was, above all else was relentless -- and he didn't want to stick around long enough to find out what else he was. Jack suddenly stood up as something caught his attention down the sidewalk a ways.

"You're gonna hate me for this, but I have an idea," he said , smiling as he pointed over to a bicycle on its side.

"You gotta be kidding me," Calvin protested, "I'm way too sore for that..."

Jack crossed over to the bike and righted it, dusting off the seat. "I'm not seeing very many other options here, Hollywood."

Calvin frowned, giving up as he tightened the straps on his backpack. "How the hell are you going to hold on with one hand?" He swung his leg over the bike, bracing it for Jack to get on .

"You worry about yourself," Jack replied as he hopped into position atop the handlebars. "You remember where the van is?"

Calvin nodded, using his legs to guide the bike onto the street where there was less debris. He began pedaling, eventually gaining enough momentum where he could steer comfortably. "I do," Calvin answered with a grunt as he spun his legs into motion. "I feel like there's an E.T. joke to be made here," he said between breaths.

"Save it for when we get to the van and duck through this park over here," Jack ordered -- pointing with a nod and gripping the bike as Calvin forced it onto the path. A few straggling walkers limped through the grass, hustling after the two of them as they sped past them on the trail. Sweat began to bead on Calvin's forehead. He pedaled even harder, knowing that every second spent in the city was a second closer to being found.


* * *


"Would you turn that goddamn siren off?" Bronson shouted down at the fire truck. The driver inside clipped it off with a chirp immediately, letting the lull of hundreds of clawing and snarling walkers settle over them. One of his men pressed his boot against a downed walker's head and shot two rounds into it, exploding it across the white floor.

A couple of others jogged up the maintenance stairwell, stepping over the dozens of dead walker bodies littering the rooftop to get to Bronson. "They ain't in the other building either," he explained, panting heavily. "Our boys are checking out the back to make sure those tourists didn't dip out, but we ain't seein' 'em."

"I think we scared 'em," the other man added. Bronson glared at him, running his hand through his beard once.

"My point wasn't to scare them..." he began, walking over to the edge of the building to gaze down at all the creatures below him. "I had an ant infestation in one of my wood cabins up in Washington one Spring, and after failing so many times to get rid of them -- I finally found a solution. Y'see, no matter how many of them I killed, they always came back -- and in bigger numbers too. So what I did was took a dab of poison and put it along their trail. They scooped it up and ran back home with it -- straight to the nest. Killed every last one of them. That's the key to solving a problem... you gotta get it at it's source."

To the north, a bright red flare shot out into the sky up by the ridgeline. A whispy red chem-trail misted behind in its path. All of the men on the roof shielded their eyes against the setting Sun as they watched the pulsing light of the flare fade away in the air.

"Are we the poison in that analogy?" He asked, timidly.

Bronson smiled as his eyes followed the trail of smoke down towards where the Hollywood Sign rested -- like a finger pointing down from the Heavens.

"Bingo."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


Calvin whipped around and cupped his hands around his mouth. "JACK!" he called out. His friend's head popped out of the passenger window. The look on Calvin's face said the rest. Jack ducked back into the car and ripped open his backpack and grabbed a fresh clip for his pistol -- then ran towards the group. Calvin stood up one of the trail's benches and waved his arms frantically trying to get the group's attention as they talked over one another in a panic. "Everybody, please! Get behind the other barricade! Anyone who can--" he stopped himself short of saying what he was going to, realizing with one glance that none of these people were fighters. They had no idea that there was a worse threat than the walkers out there -- and that this particular threat had happened to show up on their doorstep.

"Just let me handle this," Calvin said with a sorrowful breath. The bearded man had come for his blood surely, but nobody else had to get hurt. He was going to see to that. The crowd began to disperse, and Chuck quickly stepped to Calvin's side.

"Your just gonna talk to this psychopath? He's gonna kill you."

Calvin pointed at the incoming hostiles. "He has us backed against a wall and he knows it. We're on his time now. Just stay hidden."

Chuck scoffed, walking away shaking his head. Calvin put the man out of mind and turned to Jack -- grabbing him by the shoulder. "Stay down and don't show your face, OK? I can't risk him seeing you," he said, quickly.

Jack's brow furrowed, not understanding. "But, I can--"

"Please," Calvin begged, "it doesn't have to be both of us. You gotta look after Lillan if things go bad..." He pulled his new friend in close, forehead to forehead. "You're the only other one who knows what this guy is truly capable of. You have to tell the others... it's gotta be you." Jack looked at him, reluctantly nodding his head in agreement. He ran after the rest of the group, helping to usher them behind the wall of vehicles for their safety. The first arrival was a jet black Jeep, a few men standing in its rear quarters gripping the frame for support. They spilled out of the car before it slowed to a stop, raising their weapons towards Calvin and the others. He raised his hands in a silent surrender, his eyes searching for their leader. Another couple vehicles pulled up beside the Jeep, forced to stop as they neared the camp's barricade.

All of the dirt they had stirred up whirled by in a great gust, and Calvin turned his head away from it, protecting his eyes and mouth. As the cloud of dust cleared, the silhouette of a taller man strode into view as he approached alone. He stopped a good 10 feet in front of Calvin, placing his hands on his belt. "Now hold on a second," he began with a grin. "Calvin Hawke?" Calvin just looked at him, simmering with rage over the fact that he was now face-to-face with the man who had made his day a living hell. "Well fancy finding you up here. Me and the boys used to watch your movies all the time in the joint. You really helped us pass the time," he said, glancing back at his soldiers.

Calvin's stomach turned. These men were escaped convicts... murderers, rapists, kidnappers... they could have any laundry list of charges and even a longer list of character defects. This was not going to end well. "What do you want from us?" Calvin asked, finding the courage to speak.

Bronson chuckled softly. "What do I want? A nice IPA and a burger sound pretty nice right now, but they wouldn't do much for my real appetite. See, I got a hunger for justice. Something was taken from me today, and I expect payment. It's how the world works. Hell, it's even how prison works. Nothing's for free, you understand?" Calvin narrowed his eyes, his finger inching towards his pistol. "I got reason to believe that some members of your group are responsible for the deaths of some of our own, and unfortunately... I wouldn't be much of a leader if I let that slide."

"They attacked us," Calvin said, trying to reason with the man. "Didn't leave us much of a choice."

"Now that's where you're wrong. See I know my little brother, and as stupid as he can be... he ain't unreasonable. Compliance goes a long way, y'see, and had you cooperated with them today... we wouldn't be having this conversation." The playful grin had disappeared from the man's face, and he looked into Calvin's eyes sternly. "I know there were at least two of you down there. Reggie was put down with a pistol, ended up turning. He made an ugly fucking biter, I'll admit that much. My brother didn't have the opportunity for a second chance though. His head was blown off by a shotgun. Hell -- probably did him a favor." He inched a few steps closer. "So now I need a favor from you. Hand over the guilty parties so I don't have to get violent. Cause I really do hate it... violence. There was enough of it in this world before all this shit happened. I thought I was at the end of that road... set to rot to death in that jail cell. But I got a new lease on life. A second chance. I didn't think I believed in second chances, but well.... here I am. I want to extend the same kindness to you folks. Hand over the culprits in your group so they can do their time, and I promise them a fair trial. You have my word on that."

There was only a certain number of ways this could play out, and none of them were good. Calvin forcibly admitted that to himself. What he could do though was protect the others. There had been enough bloodshed in the past days -- of humans both undead and alive. What was the point of fighting each other with those things out there. The world had already lost enough, and Calvin was done. He reached his hand into the back of his waistband and pulled out his pistol. Several of Bronson's men leveled their weapons when they saw what Calvin was reaching for, so he slowly reached his arm out in front of him and tossed his pistol at Bronson's feet, looking him dead in the eyes,

"It was me," he said, his voice unwavering.

Bronson clicked his tongue in disappointment, digging the heel of his boot into the ground. He placed his hands on his hips and looked around. "Yeah, I was afraid you were gonna say that. Which is a shame, cause I really am a big fan." He crouched down, carefully craning his back to pick up the surrendered weapon in front of him and looked at it. "The awkward part now is that I know you weren't alone. My men saw another man on the roof with you."

Calvin's heart skipped a beat as his plan to keep Jack safe from this suddenly turned into a delicate situation. He hoped Jack had taken his word and hidden somewhere well out of sight before things turned ugly. His mind raced, thinking of the first excuse he could muster. He was Hollywood's 'Golden Boy', damnit -- and he was going to put his acting chops to good use when he needed it the most. "He didn't make it back..." he said, averting his eyes to the ground, as if it the memory was too fresh a wound.

Bronson studied Calvin, eventually nodding his head. "My condolences," he said, feigning his sympathy. "Well, shall we get to it?"

BANG!

Calvin flinched as a loud shot struck Bronson in the head, sending him off his feet into the hard dirt ground. His entourage of men behind him began lighting up the barricade of vehicles with their weapons as the dozens of survivors behind them shrieked in panicked terror. Calvin dove to the ground and immediately spied his handgun -- which had fallen onto the ground near Bronson when he fell. He rolled over and begun army-crawling towards it -- Bronson's back to him, unmoving... when suddenly he wreathed to life with a loud gasp of breath and put his fingers to his lips, belting a loud whistle.

"CEASE FIRE!!!" He boomed, loudly. His lap dogs obediently let up on their fire as Bronson stood back up, brushing himself off. As he turned, Calvin could see that a healthy chunk of his right ear was missing. Blood gushed down the side of his face and neck from the ruptured cartilage. He put a hand to it and looked at how much blood there was, muttering a curse to himself. Without a moment's hesitation, he walked towards Calvin and picked up the pistol, then stormed towards the bullet-riddled barricade. Moans and cries of pain from some of the injured wailed out above the deep silence -- all you could hear was the crunch of Bronson's boots. As he rounded the truck, he saw none other than Chuck... face down in the dirt with a scoped hunting rifle next to him. He clutched the back of his leg where one of the stray bullets had torn into it. Bronson reached down with his hand and grabbed Chuck by the hair -- dragging him back into the middle of the road near Calvin. He threw him face first into the ground and stretched his arm out placing the gun to Chuck's head. The foolish man looked up at Bronson with red, watering eyes and slowly raised his arm up to point past him.

"L-Look..." the sportscaster said, pathetically. Calvin glanced over to see a few jets screaming into sight from the West. "I told you they'd come!" Bronson even looked behind him, curious now as to what the idiot was talking about, but you could already hear the jets fierce roar.

Calvin's eyes widened as he realized what was happening. Those weren't like the aircraft from before. "Holy shit, everybody GET DOWN!" He shouted, running for cover. The first of a series of bombs boomed loudly off deep in the distance, its rumbles vibrating the very ground they stood on. A long and towering plume of fire rolled in the path of the jets like a tidal wave, engulfing any structure or being in its path. From even miles away, Calvin could feel the warmth of the explosions on his skin.

Before he got too far, he felt a tight grip on his collar as he was whipped around to face Bronson and thrown to the ground. His fierce eyes narrowed at him as he turned and stalked over to Chuck -- who was crying even harder now as he stared blankly into the sky, tears streaming down his face. He had watched his hopes and dreams go up in flames. There was no coming back from this. Bronson put his gun to the man's head and looked back at Calvin.

"Some situations call for swifter retribution..."

CLICK. BOOM!!

Calvin managed to avert his eyes just in time to miss Bronson put the man out of his misery. He had seen enough for one day. He heard the crunch of Bronson's boots walking back to him and felt a familiar hand rousing him to his feet once again. "Saddle up!" he shouted to his gang, spitting on the ground as he walked towards the jeep.

So much for no one else dying...

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)

0.00 INK

.: 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: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


Three men had been summoned into the walk-in freezer by Bronson. Two of them dragged Oliver out of the room by his legs, his jacket flaring up behind him as he slid across the metal floor. He was still out cold, and Bronson wanted to keep him that way so the kid would keep out of his hair. He'd hate to have to do something drastic. Bronson pulled the third man into the corner, slinging his arm around his shoulders as he brought him in close. Calvin watched them converse privately from his position on the floor, handcuffed to the metal rack of shelves behind him. Calvin had spit in Bronson's face earlier, forcing his other arm to be handcuffed to the rack -- completing the crucifix-like image, if that as even what the deranged lunatic was going for. The muted thuds of bombs dropping all across the city could be felt in his fingers and toes as the entire metal room shook with each boom. He squirmed on the floor, trying to adjust himself more comfortably, but the cuffs cut into his wrists every time he attempted to turn his body.

Bronson and his cohort broke from their huddle, and turned to him -- their eyes holding a suspicious quality. The revered "Warden" kneeled down at Calvin's side and smoothed out the beard around his lips with a couple careful strokes.

"So," Bronson began, "it has occurred to me that having ordered your sentence, it would be unfair of me to also be the one to carry it out... so I've brought in a man who's work I could not recommend anymore highly."

The man in the background grinned over his folded arms. "Shucks, Boss. That's awfully kind of you," he replied schmoozingly.

"You'll be in good hands," Bronson assured him, slapping Calvin on the face playfully. Calvin flinched away from his hands -- the dirty paws of an uncertain man. Bronson chuckled softly as he stood up to leave. "I gotta go deal with Oliver and find this new doctor of ours," he said to the other man. "I'll let her know to expect a patient soon," he added, helping himself out of the room.

The door closed behind him, clicking as it shut. A heavy silence fell across the room as the inmate shrugged off his jacket and slumped it on top of the rack behind him. He rolled up his sleeves, whistling a little dirty to himself as if he were about to start a day of work and the sun was shining. Neither of those seemed to be the case, and Calvin couldn't help but feel even more off-put about the man.

He suddenly turned to Calvin and slapped his hand to his heart. "Ah shit," he cursed loudly, "where are my manners?" He held out his hand to Calvin. "I'm Freddy," he said, smiling. Calvin stared daggers at him. "Oh right, the uhh--" Freddy pulled back his hand, nodding at Calvin's handcuffs.

"Freddy Kreuger? Man, you're even uglier in person," Calvin muttered, diggingly. Freddy's eyes beamed as he laughed and nodded, the corners of his mouth taut as he held his smile.

"You have no idea how refreshing it is to see that you're just as entertaining in real life as you are in your movies," Freddy admitted, clapping his hands together. He noticed the change in Calvin's expression. "Oh, yeah. Don't think I didn't realize who you were when I came in here. A lot of the other guys are big fans of yours. They played a few of your flicks in the slammer. They'll be bummed out after they find out what we had to do to you...

Calvin gritted his teeth. "Glad to meet such a humbling fan," Calvin replied, gratingly.

"The honor's all mine," he teased. "Now that we've introduced ourselves, I'd like you to meet somebody else," Freddy said, digging into his pocket. He pulled out a small, seemingly hand-carved knife. The edges were crude and sloppy -- some sort of prison weapon no doubt. He held it up in the blue light of the freezer. "This... is Rosalind," he began, looking at the blade, inspecting it lovingly. "She's a cruel bitch once you get to know her. Stolen many hearts -- cause all the boys can't stay away from her." He inched a bit closer. "Rumor has it you have an eye for her..."

Calvin tensed up, the meaning behind those last few words gripping his heart like a metal vice. He had little time to react before Freddy lunged at his throat with his hand, grasping Calvin tightly around his jaw and forcing his head back against the rack. The skin of his neck pinched against the rail as Freddy forced the blade down into Calvin's right eye.

What followed was a mixture of blood-curdling screams, a sensation of burning metal piercing his cornea, a hot white flash and then darkness. First in the damaged eye, and then in both as Calvin slipped into unconsciousness. He heard the careful grunts of Freddy as he deftly maneuvered the knife, as if putting the final touch on a painting he had been working on for quite some time. Everything faded gently to black... and Calvin could have sworn that the last thing he heard as he drifted off was the hollow barking of a dog nearby...



* * *



Image


.: 7 Days Later :.


Calvin's remaining eye snapped open as he jolted awake, beads of sweat resting effortlessly on his forehead. He had dreamt about that same horrific night several times over the passing week as he tossed and turned in his slumber. He rubbed the bad thoughts out of his good eye with the knuckle of his hand and gently felt for the edges of the bandage over his wound. Someone had already cleaned and wrapped it in a makeshift eyepatch with gauze, though a glance down at his shirt showed the bloody aftermath of what had been done to him. He didn't remember anything after he blacked out. They must have had some sort of doctor look at him. He felt around with his fingertips, admittedly still sore around his eye socket from earlier. Looking around, he gathered his bearings enough to sit up on the table -- realizing that he was in a totally different room from before. He could faintly hear some movement and chatter from outside in the hallway, and Calvin struggled to his feet to lean his ear to the door, but his wrist was yanked back by the handcuffs restraining him to the bed. He cursed under his breath, straining his ears to hear the muffled voices outside.

After a brief exchange that he couldn't hear the details of, the lock on the door clicked, and the handle began to turn. Calvin whisked himself back onto the bed, covering himself back up with the woolen blanket in an effort to appear asleep. A cringing creak of rusted metal signaled their entrance, and the door slammed behind them -- the lock clicking back into place. Calvin stayed as still as he could under the covers as he heard their footsteps circle the room. They something metal down on the table nearby, and then stayed silent. Calvin could feel their eyes on him.

"Calvin...?" His heart stopped at the sound of the voice. It belonged to a girl. A girl he knew... a girl he had feared was dead. He slowly rolled over, abandoning his charade of being asleep. His eye welled up with tears as he looked upon the last person he ever expected to see alive...

"How about that lunch you owed me?" Sarah said with a smile, gesturing at the tray of food she had brought in. Tears ran down her cheek as she stared at her long lost brother -- finally found, but not found whole.

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)

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.: 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)

0.00 INK

.: Calvin Hawke :.


The dead body pinning Calvin down had seemed to grow heavier since the rest of the walkers had flooded the room. Blood continued to seep out of the hole where his knife rested, planted firmly in the side of the inmate's head. He felt the warm blood soak into his shirt near his shoulder, adding further to the weight he was already enduring.

He gritted his teeth as one stray walker from the group devouring the more recently deceased inmate stumbled over to him, falling to its knees as it began to tear at the abdomen of the lifeless body with its dirty fingers. Fleshy pieces of its previous meal hung loosely from its mouth as it tore through the fabric into the insides of Calvin's cadaver camoflauge. He held in a groan as the added weight pushed him further into the tile floor -- each of his aching bones and muscles screaming silently.

*!BANG BANG BANG!*

Gunshots popped off from deeper into the station. The feasting walkers all turned towards the sounds in unison, abandoning what was left of the ravaged corpse and shambling out the door into the hallway. More gunshots rang out chaotically, demanding their full attention. Calvin couldn't remember being so happy to hear gunfire in his entire life -- though they were likely signs of someone else's life ending, they had saved at least one today -- and for that, Calvin was thankful.

The walker propped on top of him had craned its neck towards the sounds and was just about to join the herd, when Calvin shimmied his knife loose from the skull of the dead inmate and reached up, pulling the live walker down by the collar of its ratty shirt. He thrust the blade as deep as he could into its eye socket -- ironic, given his own injury... but there was no time to be amused. A gurgle fizzled out in the creature's throat as he -- or it, rather -- collapsed on top of Calvin and his growing body blanket. He pushed up with all the might he could muster, rolling the stack of bodies over as they spilled onto the floor beside them. All of the fresh air came rushing back into his lungs as he laid sprawled out on the ground, catching his breath. He raised his head to scan the room and was happy to see that he was finally alone. It had been a long time since he had come into contact with a walker... and perhaps it was the horrific injury he sustained, but he never really relished the fact that for a solid seven days he was perfectly safe in his makeshift jail cell. He went to sleep every night certain that at least he was safe from the walkers. The guards even fed him on a decent schedule. Calvin hung his head low, realizing that the friends he had left behind had doubtfully had as easy of a week. He hadn't realized how much he missed them all until now. If he was able to get out of the station in one piece, maybe there'd be a way.

'They survived... they have to have survived,' he told himself, half-convincingly.

He rose from the ground and brushed himself off, scanning the room to confirm that he was indeed alone. That would have been enough of a victory, if only he knew what to do next. There were undoubtedly dozens of walkers within the walls of the station by now, complicating any plans of escape he may have had earlier. Not to mention the countless panicking inmates who, in the absence of their leader, seemed to have adopted the "shoot first, ask questions later" strategy. Calvin secretly wished he didn't have his face... a simple request the walkers would have been happy to have obliged. But the fact was -- he was too recognizable. Sneaking through the station unnoticed was out of the question...

And then a thought crossed his mind. He looked down blankly at the bloody corpses at his feet, their tattered clothes and shredded visages staring back up at him. He couldn't change his face -- but he could certainly change his scent...


* * *


Calvin sized himself up in the dusty mirror leaning against the back wall of the rec room. He had taken the blood-stained, foul prison jumpsuit from the more decrepit dead walker and zipped it up over his own clothing. The rank smell was enough to overpower his own senses -- and he only hoped it would be enough to get him out of here. If his previous attempt at masking himself was any consolation, this was his ticket out of his own week-long involuntary confinement. He cringed, rubbing more of the filth on his head and hands -- smearing it out evenly across himself. He crouched down, spitting the overwhelming taste and stench from his nose and eyes and mouth. His eye swelled with stinging tears as he struggled back to his feet and trudged towards the entrance. Distant cries and shouts filled the dimly lit corridors with only a few sparse flaming metal drum barrels casting any light at all. So on he walked into the darkness...


* * *


"CUT!" the irritated director shouted from his chair. The sandy-haired man slipped out from behind the video monitors and slid the headphones down around his neck, scratching anxiously at his head. "It's still too much, Calvin..." he admitted, pulling the actor aside as the crew around them jumped to action, setting and resetting all of the key elements on the soundstage.

Calvin sighed, running his hands over his face. They'd been stuck on this scene for the better part of the afternoon, and he just couldn't deliver what the director wanted. At this point, he didn't even know who was more to blame. "How many takes is that?" Calvin asked, dejectedly.

"Don't worry about the takes," the director replied, "worry about you. Remember... less is--"

"Are you fucking kidding me," Calvin snapped at him, cutting him short. "Don't start quoting generic crap from books on acting. Tell me what you want."

The director held up his hand in apology. "I'm sorry, you're right. I'm just saying... it can be smaller. Like, uh-- how do you say? When a butterfly with the wings comes out of his little, y'know? If he comes out too early, then-- you see? You don't have to force it. Let it happen organically." His German accent crept in and out as he spoke, waving his hands in vague gestures.

Calvin's eyes narrowed as he nodded, both understanding and not understanding simultaneously. This particular director wasn't one of his favorites and had been attached to the project well after Calvin had. The two didn't see eye to eye on most things, but it was both of their jobs to make it work. "Alright, alright..." Calvin said, shaking it off.

The director clapped him on the back. "Okay, let's do this! We've only got one shot at this." Words that nobody loved to hear. He walked back to his tape mark on the set and closed his eyes, trying to get rid of all the tension and anxiety built up from the hectic day of work with a few cracks of the knuckles. His director had returned to his seat in video village and flashed a thumbs up to his star actor. "Ready when you are, Calvin! Big energy, but think small -- and remember... act natural!"


Calvin gave a half-hearted thumbs up and took his place back on his mark, rolling his neck and shaking the energy out. They only had one take to capture it -- so there was no room for error.

All or nothing. Great. Seemed to be a recurring theme lately.

The direction raised his hand in the air in anticipation. "Aaaaaaand--"


* * *


ACTION!

Calvin stumbled down the hall amongst a pack of roaming walkers, their filth and stench oozing from him. There wasn't enough light in the world to have made him feel comfortable in his current situation, but a little more certainly wouldn't have hurt. All he could hear at the moment was the cacophonous echoes of dozens of hungry walkers hunting for unlucky survivors. The sound was unsettling enough without the accompanying smells and constant threat of death. They passed a partition into one of the larger junctions between corridors and began to split in different directions as scattered gunshots, screams and sounds filled the air. Calvin felt as if he was walking through a hurricane as convicts and walkers ran past him hurriedly and maniacally. Through the thickness of the madness, he laid his eye on the last man he expected to see so close to the madness...

The Warden -- in all his infamy.

He chopped viciously with his machete at the walkers dumb enough to run at him as several of the other convicts around him frantically fought off their attackers too. They backed towards a set of double doors leading towards what looked like a stairwell. As soon as Bronson was clear, the last man through cleaved into one of the approaching walkers and kicked its body clear of the doors as two other convicts pulled them shut.

Calvin moved forward in the surging crowd of walkers, like a piece of driftwood, trying to keep his head down as the walkers went marching on and on...

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: 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: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC) Character Portrait: Silas Quinn Character Portrait: Ezrael de Lorian Character Portrait: Brooke Callaway (NPC) Character Portrait: Harold St. James (NPC) Character Portrait: Ari Dinkowitz (NPC) Character Portrait: Patrick Dunn (NPC)

0.00 INK

The Warden



A pair of brown snakeskin boots rested lazily propped up atop a pile of old books-- thrown to the floor days prior no doubt to free the bookcase up to use as a barricade elsewhere. A thick wisp of smoke curled above Bronson’s head towards the ceiling-- his eyes fixated on a dormant ceiling fan. The room might has well have been spinning though. Nothing ever seemed to go as planned these days. A plan set in motion would derail, deroute, or detour. But that was his job. To keep things on track. In motion.

The door was thrown open shortly after as Kaufman barged in, slamming the door shut behind him. Bronson closed his eyes, averted to the sudden but inevitable disturbance. The gunshots had fired minutes ago, and then ceased as quickly as they began. He knew the situation had been handled, one way or another. Things like that didn’t become important until they became important. This was why he kept people like Freddy around.

The shifty man stopped a few steps short of Bronson and folded his arms, bowing his head in thought. ”It’s nothing we weren’t expecting,” he prefaced, rubbing at the stubble on his face.

Bronson grinned. He was expecting some kind of attempt like this. Not nearly so soon though. ”Which one was it?” he asked, mumbling out of the corner of his mouth as he held the cigar tightly with the other half. Bits of ashed dusted down across his jacket as it rolled around his lips.

”It was Dax. Took Wallace down with him too-- poor bastard,” Freddy began. ”Idiot went down to take a piss alone and caught the bastard sneaking a peek at the transfer. He was, uhh-- shot… so he came back after awhile-- before our guys got there. Santos.... Chance… they went down too.”

Bronson sighed, brushing his long grayed hair back with a stroke of his hand. More men lost. Between accidental deaths and turncoats, his numbers were dwindling-- and fast. He straightened himself in his chair as more books toppled onto the floor beneath his shifting feet. ”And we’re certain he saw the girl?” he asked, warily. The question itself was rhetorical. He knew there was no way to prove it, and besides-- what Dax saw didn’t matter. Parading the girl across the blacktop so blatantly like that wasn’t for him.

”It’s too much of a coincidence. He had to have seen her…” Freddy replied, assuredly. His fingers twitched at his sides, erratically. Bronson always sensed a controlled nervousness coursing through the man whenever they were in situations alone like this. He always found it funny. Another reason he kept him as close as he did.

”And you idiots killed him before he could report what he saw back to Mr. Hawke.” It wasn’t a question. It was the situation as it stood now. A wasted effort. And soon… a forgotten memory. ”There’s no time to fix this, we need to get him ready… now. Find out what he saw, and get him prepped.”

Freddy nodded and shuffled away towards the door without another word. Bronson stood and turned to face the window, stretching the morning aches and pains out of his joints as he reached towards the ceiling-- the trail of smoke following close behind him. ”And have someone clean Wally up for Christ’s sake…” he added as an afterthought.


# # #



# Sarah Hawke #



Sarah twiddled the fingers on her left hand idly, noticing a lack of sensation in them after having her limp wrist dangling above her at the angle it had for so long. She grabbed the railing with her other hand, pulling herself up to her feet to invert her circulation and get some blood flowing. The dizzyness set upon her almost immediately, causing her to waver a bit and clutch the railing even tighter. She felt her heartbeat in her white knuckles, one after the other-- somehow still stable… constant. That was all considering that she felt like the rest of her was falling apart.

The door swung open across the room, silhouetting Brooke’s frame as light poured in from outside and she entered. A bundle of drinks and snacks lined the nook of her arm as she closed the door behind her and crossed over to Sarah, setting the food before her. She stooped slowly, placing the items down gently. Sarah reacted, reaching out with both hands to help Brooke back up-- but her wrist was snapped back violently as the cuffs reached their limit and grew taut. Sarah rubbed at it sorely, wishing this part of the day could be over with already. She and Calvin were more alike than she had previously thought… both marred by their mutual incarcerations.

”I’m sorry I took so long…” Brooke began, brushing her fallen locks back behind her face. Her rosy cheeks heaved in and out with each calculated breath as Brooke kept everything calm and controlled. How she managed to keep it all together, considering, was a real mystery. But she was much more prone to exhaustion these days with her extra passenger. She stood back up, rubbing her stomach gently with her palm. ”We’ve had some… arrivals-- from outside,” she confessed with a bit of hesitation. There was the possibility that maybe Sarah knew these two kids… they were all about the same age, after all. Maybe they were the missing links as to what happened. But why come back if they had anything to do with what happened to the girl? Or the preacher, for that matter…

Brooke thought better than to ask any of these questions aloud while the poor girl was still recovering from her shock. She unscrewed the cap to one of the bottles of water and offered it to her. Sarah took it from her, thanking her with her eyes before guzzling down the first few sips, thirstily. She stooped her head as she gasped heavily, wiping the spare drips from her mouth with the back of her hand. Brooke stood a few paces back from her, playing with her hands-- unsure of how to proceed.

Sarah looked up with her baggy, bloodshot eyes and blinked at her-- aimlessly. ”Do you wanna talk…?” she asked, dryily.

Brooke’s gaze dropped to the ground, uncomfortably. ”Uhh, no-- I mean. Not unless-- do you?

Sarah brought the bottle back to her lips. ”I’m just fucking with you.”

Brooke stood, dumbfounded. This girl was hard to place. Without having known her before her accident, there was no way of telling whether her behavior was a result of the injury or if she was typically this odd. Whatever the case, she didn’t deserve to be held against her will any longer. How long could they possibly keep this up for?

”When’s your boss coming back?” Sarah posited, taking another swig from the bottle. She tipped her head back, gulping it down as she closed her eyes. It was the closest thing to bliss she was able to get, considering her circumstances. Every drop mattered.

”Val isn’t anyone’s boss,” Brooke shot back with perhaps a bit too much edge. Sarah rose her eyebrows. There seemed to be a story there somewhere. The dynamic was unfolding. Whoever this shotcaller was, she’d apparently lost a litte love amongst the others somehow. She then realized that the truth in that didn’t bode well for her situation. It was possible that Brooke could be the only hope in helping champion her escape. Maybe instead of antagonizing her, she should appeal to her senses instead.

Sarah set the bottle down beside her and licked at her lips. ”Sorry,” she began, ”I didn’t mean anything--”

”Right,” Brooke replied, brushing her hands off on her pants. She adjusted her ponytail, cinching her red locks back from her face into a tighter bunch. ”Look, I’m sorry we did this to you. A few of us-- out there-- we tried to stop it… but considering your situation--” she continued, gesturing at Sarah’s bite, ”we didn’t want to take any chances.”

Sarah nodded. ”I don’t hold it against you…” she admitted, settling back into herself.

Brooke regarded the girl with quiet pity. There was only one way she could help her, but not without knowing something first. She braced her hands on her hips, looking at her feet as she cleared her throat-- then she looked Sarah straight in the eyes, a bit disconcertingly. ”What’s happening to you?”

”I wish I knew…” Sarah droned, sourly. ”I haven’t had a chance to really look at it. I have medical training, you know? I’m a nurse… and if I had my stuff--” she emphasized, raising her voice. Brooke glanced back in the corner of the room at Sarah’s duffle bag, draped half-way in a colorful palette made by the light beaming through the stained glass window high above.

”We already took the weapons out, just in case…” Brooke admitted, walking towards it slowly. ”I suppose there isn’t anything in there you shouldn’t have. I can’t uncuff you though,” she finished, her voice remaining firm. ”The key isn’t here...” She must have felt Sarah’s eyes rolling in the dark. ”Not my choice,” she added. Brooke crouched down, carefully grabbing the straps of the bag and beginning to drag it over to where Sarah was shackled. Her movements were graceful, even in her current state. There was some kind of unexplainable easiness to her movements, almost like she knew what she was going to do before she did it. A very calculated grace. It was the first thing Sarah had noticed about her.

”All I need’s my supplies and I can do it myself. I can do it properly… please--” Sarah peeled her tattered shirt away from her clavicle-- still sticky with bloody residue. It was looking worse every hour now. She grimaced as she leaned back, shaking her head. ”Who can I thank for the hackjob on my shoulder?”

”That was me,” Brooke replied, firmly-- her voice lilting just barely. She let the bag slump to the ground and blew her red locks away from her eyes, wondering if there was any use in saying anything else. Decided, she turned to leave. ”And you’re welcome… I guess.”

Sarah slouched deeper against the brick wall, heaving a deep sigh.

So much for appealing to her senses...


# # #



Brooke closed the door from the other side and leaned her arm and forehead against the wood. Her energy was fading by the second. It didn’t help that she was one of the very few competent ones left behind with the balls to do something about their situation. Somehow it always ended up falling on her to square things up. The pregnancy sure did come with some perks… certainly greater leverage, if anything. She looked over her shoulder at the sound of overlapping hushed whispers and saw Ari and Ezrael engaged in a very intense conversation over by the stairs to the cellar. Charlie licked at his chops on one of the benches near Sarah’s door, his ears perked up from the moment Brooke set foot outside the door. They thought it best to keep the two separated until they knew what Sarah’s true condition was.

Brooke used the backsides of the pews to steady herself as she walked towards the lot of them. Harry had joined the group from the other side of the door, closing it behind him as he rose his hands in front of him trying to settle the two neurotic bickering men.

”Gentleman, please--” he begged, trying to quiet them.

”What the hell are you two on about now?” Brooke bellowed, exasperated by just about…. well, everything.

Ari ruffled his jacket, trying to straighten it out-- his chest puffed out like some aggro’d rooster. ”This Saint over here thought it wise to let in a couple of strays.” he spat out, verbally accosting Harry.

”They’re just kids…” Harry reasoned, looking to Brooke. Surely she could understand that. ”And besides, they were here before us… with the Preacher. Before us. Before the girl…” He gestured behind all of them at the door, and Sarah.

Ezrael ran his hands through his hair. ”When they find out it was her that did it--” He shook his head at the possibility. ”How are we going to explain this?”

”Easy,” Brooke replied. ”We don’t. We don’t know what happened. We weren’t there. She’s the only one left who knows the whole story. Her and the dog…”


# # #



.: Fort Fallback :.

"Amoeba Music & Records"



’Mobile in ten minutes, everyone. Ten minutes. Scout teams meet in the garage in five to be delegated into your teams and briefed on your tasks. Everybody else… you know what your jobs are. Quinn out.’

His booming voice squawked out of all of the surrounding intercoms simultaneously, resounding throughout the massive floor of the record store.. Various Capitols bustled about on their tasks, many of them hauling crates of equipment towards the garage to help setup the vehicles. Others simply loitered around, but the tension in the air was palpable. They had all spent so much time trying to push the outside world away and keep things as normal as possible… but that was surely a lie. The truth was-- everyone and everything was in danger. No matter where you were. The ones lost out in the city had it worse, but they all had it bad. Niobe rubbed at her temples as she leaned against the hood of the bus-- it had been a long three days, considering everything they had been through. There had been countless hours of planning and coordination-- spearheaded by various camps in conjunction with Silas, Harper, Stevie, and others who had stepped up to help. She was beginning to get a sense of who really had a voice in a place like this. There were way more Capitols than she had originally alotted upon her first visit to the tower. For a moment, she wondered how many they had lost.

And how many they would find…

Niobe had managed to go wherever she was needed. Most of it involved working with Patrick and Eli and some of the others to rig up the buses and retrofit them to suit the purposes of their trip. The main bus had basically been converted into a mobile command center-- someplace Silas could direct the rescue from as well as a mutual fallback point for all parties. They reinforced the metal siding with aluminum plates, barred the windows-- setup with escape hatches on the top and floor of the bus. Built a table centerpiece with a map of the surrounding areas for his team to coordinate from. It actually felt nice to hold some familiar tools in her hands, she had thought. She couldn’t even remember the last time she got to use a welder. A second bus had also been procured in the days prior, to accomodate the amount of people should the best case scenario play out and everyone be rescued. At least then they’d be able to shuttle people back as needed. It was a pretty airtight plan-- the best they could hope for given the circumstances. Who knew what they'd find out there?

She suddenly realized then and there that she hadn't spent much time thinking about the departed-- aside from George on occasion. Sure, it was possible they managed to escape the walker herd-- perhaps back in the tunnels somewhere? Jessica knew the layout pretty well, and she had Rafiq with her to help look after the others. There were just so many of those things... it was a miracle anyone got out alive at all. Everything had just escalated so quickly.

Niobe noticed a black scuff mark on the hood of the bus and rubbed at it with the butt of her hand in a wide circular motion. The smear dissipated after a few passes and she quick wiped the residue off on her pant leg.

”I wouldn’t bother,” a strained voice called out from around the side of the bus. Patrick came struggling into view, lugging a large plastic crate towards the back. ”It’s just going to get dirty again…”

Niobe blinked slowly. ”Need a hand with that?” she offered, dryly. She had more muscle on the kid by a mile. He did look surprisingly spry though, considering.

Patrick scoffed. ”I can carry a crate,” he chided, using his knee to help prop the box up as he adjusted his grip on it.

”What’s in there?”

”Uhh--” his eyes shot down to the crate, nervously. ”It’s-- it’s just gear. Equipment and stuff for the lead bus. We’re trying to prepare for every situation, you know?”

Niobe shrugged. ”Whatever you say…” A pair of Capitols wandered between them with a larger crate of their own towards the rear of the bus, nodding as they passed. Niobe saw them heave it into the a pair of waiting hands inside the back of the spare bus. Niobe turned back to Patrick, drumming her fingers on the yellow exterior of the vehicle. ”What’s this I hear about you not coming with us?”

Patrick’s eyes bulged a bit. Clearly that news wasn’t supposed to be in the public domain yet, but Niobe was persistent and Carl had a very, very weak constitution. He set the crate down at his feet, carefully-- and stood straight, shoving his hands into his pockets as he wandered closer. ”Yeah, about that--” he swallowed, looking over his shoulder to make sure they were alone. ”Silas asked me and a few others to look into something for him. We’re going to uhh-- go with you guys and take off from the same point.”

Niobe furrowed her brow. What was with the sudden audible? The plan had changed enough over the last few days. What they needed was a firm plan. Unwavering. ”So there’s three teams now?”

Patrick nodded. ”Seems so…”

”Is it really smart for us to all split up again? That’s what started this in the first place...”

”Believe me, if you knew what I knew--”

She crossed her arms suddenly. ”And when will I know what you know?”

Patrick looked around, hurriedly moving in closer in an effort to try to keep her from talking any louder. ”Look-- things are tense around here, OK. I wish I could tell you everything, but there’s a lot at stake. That’s as much as I can tell you… I’m sorry…”

Niobe squared up, pointing a finger in his chest. ”Whatever it was you were trying to tell me earlier, it sounds like you guys are gearing up to go to war. And I’m not convinced that’s something we want to throw ourselves in front of.”

”We just want to go home…” Patrick sighed, wearily. ”None of this has anything to do with us… it’s all bigger than that. We’re just the pawns. All we can do is just keep moving forward until we can’t anymore.”

Niobe toyed with one of her molars with the tip of her tongue. ”Or until you get your ass captured.”

Patrick hung his head, scratching it lackadaisically. He turned back around, crouching to hoist the crate back up and moving to pass around Niobe. Maybe she had been a bit too hard on him. She already had a difficult enough time warming up to any of the other Capitols without purposefully alienating anyone. Patrick and Eli had been two of the only ones who had made an effort to reach out and include her in things. Maybe she owed them more than that.

”So in this analogy,” she called out over her shoulder, turning to face him. ”Shouldn’t we be going for the King?”

Patrick halted in his tracks and knowingly met her gaze. She understood more than he believed.


# # #



"What the hell are you doing?" James coughed out, a half-spent cigar dangling out of the corner of his mouth.

Carl looked up from his seat on the bus, his hands clasped around his satellite phone. Other Capitols hustled about around the bus, loading the side holds with cargo, weapons and gear. A handful of people worked under the hood in the front while the driver responded to commands, testing the shift stick and other components of the vehicle. These people were covering their bases, checking everything, taking all of the precautionary measures they could...

So why did he feel like he was going to throw up?

"I'm, uhh--" he swallowed a heavy gulp-- to maybe help the room stop spinning. Nope. Next idea?

"What's wrong with you? Why are ya just sittin' on yer ass in here?"

Carl closed his eyes, rubbing at his temples. "Can you just please? Can you not... He sighed, burying his face in his palms. "I just-- we were out there... we saw what it was like. How could any of them have survived that...?"

"We did," James grumbled. He dabbed the cigar on the leather of one of the seats, ashing onto the floor. "We've all survived worse things. What else is there to be scared of?"

"That's just who I am!" Carl rasped, throwing his hands up in the air. "I'm that guy! The fucking guy in all those platoon war movies who's hiding behind all the real soldier son his radio while they're actually putting their lives in danger and fighting on the front! I'm not a rescue guy... I don't go do rescues. I mean look at what we're up against!"

James grimaced. "We've got buses. They don't. You wanna be on the side with the buses... trust me." He clapped Carl a little too hard on the shoulder, spilling a little bit of ash from his cigar onto his sweatshirt. He walked past him, climbing out the back door of the bus. Carl brushed his shirt clean and turned towards the old man. "Hey, man-- why the church?"

"Cause I heard bells a ringin'..." James crooned.

"Are you fucking stoned?" Carl berated. "Why are you so calm about all of this?"

James flashed a smile of pearly whites. "Cause this is the world now, kid. Buck up." He took one long soothing drag of his cigar and gritted his teeth as he exhaled a thick curling cloud of white smoke. "Now get out here and make yourself useful." He turned, wandering off in a wispy hazy trail.

Carl could only shake his head, exhausted by it all. He scooped up his phone as he stood up from his seat and shuffled out the front down the few steps towards the pavement. He plopped down hard onto his feet causing his glasses to slide down his nose which he quickly remedied with his index finger.

"Easy there, Cowboy..." Jack's catty voice drawled from next to the folded door. Carl felt his heavy hand pat him hard against the back. What was with all the hitting anyways? "You alright?"

Carl shrugged, rolling his eyes. "I'm great..." he droned, sourly.

Jack squinted his eyes. "Well, listen-- I just wanted to say, before we left-- I know you and James are going on your little secret mission thing or whatever, but I wanted to ask if you'd keep an eye out for our friend, Calvin. He's out there too... we don't really know where..."

"Calvin...?"

"Yeah, that movie star guy... Calvin Hawke. We were with him before all this and... well, things got dicey. But he took a bullet for me... and I owe it to him to find him."

Carl's eyes nearly burst out his head as he suddenly had an epiphany. C-Calvin! Hawke?! You mean Sarah's brother?"

Jack scrunched his forehead. "How do you know his sister?" Then his tone changed as his brow furrowed even further. "How do you know his sister...?"

Carl waved his hands in front of him. "No, no-- it's nothing like that. I mean, I suppose I would... she's pretty hot-- but, ew! No, I'd never-- Jeez... oh man, when she finds out he's alive, she's gonna freak!"

"We have to find them. Both of them. Pass it on to James when you see him," Jack insisted, clasping his hand on Carl's shoulder. He looked him straight in the eyes. "We're gonna find them..."

"FIVE MINUTES!! OUT IN FIVE!! Grab the last of your things, say your goodbyes-- this is it, ladies and gentleman! Meet on the floor in FIVE!!!" Silas' bombastic voice echoed out across the garage-- no longer with the same gravelly tin as from the loudspeakers, but rather in person-- as his large frame came bumbling past in haste. The last flurry of activity commenced as everyone made their last rites and prepared for sendoff. Carl, in all the chaos of the moment looked across the sea of faces for anyone he knew and saw no one-- suddenly feeling very alone...