The Walking Dead: Online

Season 1

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a part of The Walking Dead: Online, by Captain Calamity.

"The End Begins"

Captain Calamity holds sovereignty over Season 1, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

walking dead (tv show): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/the_walking_dead_(tv_series) walking dead (comics): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/the_walking_dead_(comic_book)

Setting

Season One of the Walking Dead: Online.

Season 1

"The End Begins"

Minimap

Season 1 is a part of The Walking Dead: Online.

20 Characters Here

Chuck Cherry (NPC) [11] A sportscaster who just can't sit still. (DECEASED)
Edmund Remington [3] An illustrious dance instructor.
Anna Park [1] This is too much to deal with...
Briana Hawke [1] A nursing student by day. Fashion
Ling Onosaki (NPC) [0] That one weird kid who blows stuff up.
Jason Gregory [0] A college jock (NPC)
Madeleine Jennings (NPC) [0] Terribly nervous germophobe with OCD.
Walter Chielo (NPC) [0] A single father whose daughter happens to be across the ocean.
Matt Morahan [0] A college fratboy (NPC)

Start Character Here »


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Thomas Blackthorne

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" The words registered in Thomas's brain immediately and yet they somehow seemed so alien on this day when everything had gone wrong that he almost shot the girl anyway. His finger fell off the trigger but he snapped on the flashlight attached to the bottom of the barrel and quickly played it over her, reassuring himself that she wasn't bitten.

He panned it up to her face and realized with the jolt that the look of terror on her face would be as much for the Walkers as him, he hadn't done anything other than almost shoot her and was now shining a bright light in her face. He lowered it at once and shoved it back into its holster.

"I don't think anyone really knows what is happening out there miss. We just lost our commander and well over half our team. I'm Sergeant Thomas Blackthorne, 41 Canadian Combat Engineers." He gave her a strained smile. "I'll fill you in a moment but right now we've got to find a way out of here."

He turned away from her and looked towards the boardwalk. Roughly three hundred Walkers were slouching and moaning towards the tower across the sand, most of them still well over a few hundred yards away. His team below was staying calm, no shots were fired, and he even heard a couple of strained jokes that all men tell when they're afraid.

They had come ashore into an area of boardwalk that was backed by a big residential neighbourhood. Big expensive homes lined the background, palm trees waving in the wind as screams filtered out of the streets and the first fires began to pump black smoke into the sky. It seemed that the majority of the Walkers were located on the inner streets, drawn there by the screams of civilians. One point in particular he could see that was drawing the largest number of Walkers was a Police Tactical unit. The team had clearly been clearing a house and been attacked from behind, they were now in the process of being overwhelmed.

Only half a black away their two black armoured cars still sat idling, the drivers having run to try and assist their buddies and even now were being dragged down screaming as they tried to engage hand to hand. He made a mental note to not try and wrestle with the things. Thomas lowered his binoculars and turned to the woman.

"We're moving out. I recommend you join us at once."

He hurried to the head of the ladder and dropped swiftly to the sand. His men looked at him with relief. They were all clearly nervous, their youth showing through, their eyes wide, fear plain on all their faces.

"Listen up boys. There are two police tactical trucks about half a klick west. We're going to make for those. The cops didn't make it, do not, and I repeat DO NOT, try to engage these things in hand to hand combat. I also found a civilian woman up there who we will be taking with us." He jerked his thumb at the tower, his back to the ladder so he couldn't be sure if she'd followed him or not. He saw their eyes light up and nods all around. He smiled to himself despite the situation. Take a bunch of tough guys and give them a woman to defend and they would be like the Knights of the Round Table, someone to fight for..

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Stevie Darden

Stevie looked out of the shack as she approached the doorway, and suppressed an urge to gasp loudly upon seeing the mayhem that had developed while she'd been hiding. Her brief glimpses out of the door didn't reveal anything like this.

She turned around and swooped her arms down to the rails on either side of the ladder and descended after Blackthorne made quick work of heading down. Her brightly-colored ensemble she'd carelessly put on earlier in the day was a stark contrast to the gathered soldiers' attire. Briefly in her mind she collected observations while the sergeant discussed a plan to take two armored cars. It certainly brought back memories—visiting her dad at work, primarily, and watching and interacting with the soldiers there. Being the commander's daughter often meant that she was treated with a high level of hierarchy-derived respect, but she held such a solid and fond appreciation for what these folks did that she was not at all prone to abuse that respect. It had been several years since she'd really been on an installation; she always felt a little bit nostalgic driving by Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which was a stone's throw away from Seattle.

They nodded to her respectfully, still as if she were the CO's daughter. She nodded back. The lingering stares then made her realize that it wasn't at all like she was the CO's daughter. The military sure looked different at 28 than it did at 12. Some things never changed. But, as she had to admonish herself promptly, this was a stupid time to worry about stereotypes, and decided instead to just laugh it off internally.

Blackthorne barked out instructions to the group, then turned to her and said in a far lower tone of voice, "You, just stick behind me." He beckoned for her to follow as he started to head forward. She obliged and started to sprint as best as she could to keep pace, regretting immediately that lately she hadn't had the time to enjoy a simple run and keep her physical endurance up.

It was then that she saw him. She paused in her run, having recognized Dean standing still off to the left, about 50 feet away, all by himself, his right-side profile visible to her. His clothes were spattered in red. His shoes were missing. His shaggy blond hair was matted at the ends, and he had a wound on his forearm.

Without thinking, she broke her path following Thomas and beelined for Dean. "DEAN!" she screamed, her eyes welling up. "Dean, are you all right?!"

His chin jerked up haphazardly, and he turned his body to face her. His shoulder was shredded, chunks of flesh blackening ominously, even staining his blue shirt. His left arm was conspicuously missing, as was his left eye.

Stevie stopped in her tracks and covered her mouth with her hands. Her heart jumped into her throat and her face turned as white as a ghost. He began to amble toward her, his remaining arm reaching forward and his head twisting uncontrollably. His eyes were flat and blackened, no longer the bright blue they'd been before. Clearly, Dean wasn't Dean anymore.

She reached into her bag and pulled out her Ruger, something that Dean had repeatedly poked fun at her for having and even bringing with her on the trip. Her father had taught her how to shoot and respect the value of a firearm. It wasn't a popular view to have in her social circles, but she wasn't one much for letting others tell her how to think. And she'd definitely lied to Blackthorne about not having a gun; she just didn't have it at the ready when he had burst through the shack's door earlier.

Those thoughts whirled through her head at a million miles an hour as she started to defensively step backward as Dean started toward her. She kept the pistol aimed downward; after all, as her dad said, you shouldn't directly point a gun at anyone unless intending to kill them. And she wasn't exactly sure if she really did want to kill him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC)

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.: CALVIN HAWKE :.


Harper took the lead as the trio sprinted to the front door of the station. By the time they reached the door, she already had her keycard in her hand, ready to swipe. Her hand stopped mid-way to the scanner as she peered through the porthole windows in the door and saw stacks upon stacks of equipment and metal cases piled high in some sort of desperate makeshift barricade, blocking them from entering. Whoever had set it up was likely still inside. And safe.

"Huh..." Harper muttered out loud. Clearly, she wasn't expecting to find herself on this side of the fortification. It only figured that they weren't the first ones to try and head through the front of the building. Nathan arrived at the door last, panting heavily. Harper turned to him. "They plugged the entrance," she said, gesturing for him to take a look. Calvin kept his eyes alert, scanning the darkness around them for any signs of movement. They had passed through a gated parking lot to reach the station, and he silently prayed that they had slipped in unnoticed. On the drive over, they had seen everything from lifeless bodies in the street to rampaging looters, demolishing storefronts and taking anything their arms could carry. Looting flat-screen TVs seemed to be an odd priority as the world was burning down around them, but who was he to judge... he had four different 3D TVs in his loft.

"What about the service door?" Nathan asked, bringing Calvin's attention back to the matter at hand. Harper's eyes lit up at the suggestion, and she bolted towards the back of the building. There were fewer lights on this side of the building for some reason, so they proceeded cautiously. The road began to slope down into a loading dock next to the service door, the last two viable options for getting into the building. Nathan lifted the chained rope for Harper and Calvin to pass under before ducking through himself. Again, Harper ran to the door and, card in hand, swiped again. A small LED light flashed briefly from red to green, and Harper pulled the handle of the door, swinging it open. "Thank God..." Nathan exclaimed, passing through first. He flashed a beaming grin and turned back to the two of them. "If that hadn't worked I'd have totally driven the van straight through the--"

"LOOK OUT!!" Calvin screamed, pointing past Nathan's head. A figure had emerged from behind the lockers and was charging up behind him, fast. Luckily, Harper had already been fumbling around for the light switch and hit it just in time to... well... shed some new light on the situation. The fluorescent bulbs flickered to life above them, revealing a disheveled man in a tattered suit poised with a bat in his hands. A flash of recognition and relief danced across his eyes as he saw who the intruders were.

Harper gave a sigh of relief. "Damnit, Chuck. You scared the hell out of us..."

The newscaster lowered the bat. "Harper?" He buckled over, hands on his knees. "Holy shit. I thought you were-- you guys scared the shit out of me. Christ... We thought you guys were gone." He took a few deep breaths to try to gain his composure.

Nathan clapped his hand on the man's shoulder. "Good to see you too, Chucky."

Chuck jerked a thumb towards the stairs behind him. "Steve's gonna want to see you, Harper."

She nodded and turned to Nathan. "Grab the van and get it in the garage. It might be our only means of getting out of her if we need to, so stock it up with whatever you can. You got that SD card?" He rummaged around his pockets, roaming for the card, and eventually tossed it to Harper who gave the two of them one last glance before heading up the stairs.

Chuck picked up his bat and offered it to Calvin by the handle. "I think you might need this..."

Calvin accepted the weapon and looked at Nathan, who signaled that he was good to go. As Chuck retreated up the stairs, the two of them ducked back out the service door and headed for the van. The constant wail of sirens and calamity around the city seemed closer now, oddly. Calvin was no stranger to the occasional blaring siren, having lived in Los Angeles for the last eight years, but this was something different. Something worse. The ferocious roar of helicopter rotors soared over the parking lot as a military chinook flew close overhead, followed by another. Calvin could faintly make out the shapes of the soldiers hanging from it's frame and wondered whether they had any better idea of what was happening. Somehow he doubted it. The two men continued to keep low as they hustled to the van. Other cars sat vacantly in the parking lot offering poor visibility of their surroundings, and they approached cautiously as they neared their vehicle.

"I think we're good," Nathan whispered as he looked around. Calvin stayed close behind him as they ducked behind a nearby Ford Focus before their final approach towards the van.

And then they saw them...

Several dark silhouettes slowly shambling through the parking lot from the way they came in. Calvin's heart leapt to his throat as he grabbed Nathan's shirt and threw him to the ground behind an adjacent car. "Shit," Calvin cursed quietly, "we've got company."

Nathan hugged the rear side of the car and peaked over to see what Calvin was talking about when suddenly somebody's hulking frame slammed against the car window from inside. Nathan jumped back, losing his footing and falling backwards into another parked car. The keys that were in his hand skittered across the ground, sliding to a stop behind the wheel of a nearby Harley. Instantly, Nathan's collision triggered the car's alarm, triggering a chain reaction across the parking lot. Painfully loud beeps, boops, and faux sirens echoed back and forth between the sea of cars, alerting every walker within a mile radius... if not further. From inside the Ford, the walker smeared its bloodied face back and forth across the window, gnashing its teeth at the two of them like a caged animal. "Shit, shit, shit..." Nathan repeated as he scrambled across the pavement. Calvin swung his head around, confirming what he feared to be true... dozens and dozens of walkers converging on their position. And fast.

"Get down!" Calvin ordered, pulling Nathan back down to the ground. The two of them sat motionlessly with their backs to the car, each pulsing siren like another nail in the coffin.

"What do we do?" Nathan bemoaned. They were running out of time and they both knew it. Calvin wasn't religious... but he had never prayed so hard for anything in his life. "Nathan..." The cameraman looked at him, panic-stricken. "The keys..."

"H-How...?"

Calvin tightened his grip around the weapon in his hand. "Like a bat out of hell..."

The two of them took off around the car in opposite directions, Nathan heading for the keys, Calvin for the van. Several walkers took notice of Calvin immediately as he approached them, bat in hand. The first opened its mouth in a grotesque snarl as Calvin swung hard at the side of its head. He connected forcefully, nearly knocking the bat out of his grasp, but the walker reeled sideways as it went down for the count. The sound of the blunt impact seemed to incite the surrounding walkers even more as they bee-lined for Calvin. From behind him, he heard the scrape of keys on pavement as Nathan scooped them up from under the motorcycle. Calvin threw a second swing, but was intercepted by the walkers flailing arms, affording him a mere glancing blow off of its body. It let out a bone-chilling scream as it staggered to the side, barely maintaining its balance.

"Behind you!" Nathan shouted out from somewhere amongst the cars. Calvin pivoted in place just in time to see three more walkers funnel in towards the van. They were bunched together so tightly that Calvin couldn't get a good swing in at any of them without hitting the other. One of them reached out for him with two groping arms and Calvin sent the hilt of the bat squarely into the beast's nose, sending him back into the crowd. He swung the weapon a few more times, batting the flailing arms away from him. Nathan had successfully navigated his way to the van and, being the only one without a weapon, started scaling the ladder on the back. The walkers had begun tightly circling them, affording little chance of escape, and Calvin followed Nathan's lead and vaulted onto the front hood of the news van. Nathan had reached the roof and offered Calvin his hand, pulling him up the rest of the way where they both remained barely out of range of the walker's reaching limbs. "What do we do, dude?! There's too many of them!" And he was right. Calvin searched frantically for any opening, anything at all...

And then the idea seemed to come to both of them at the same time as they looked at each other, then down at their feet. They were standing on top of a sun-roof. In a last ditch effort, Calvin flipped the bat around and jammed it through the pane of glass, shattering it. Nathan lowered himself through into the drivers seat, followed by Calvin, as the walkers began pawing ferociously at the outside of the van, filling every window frame with their bloody and maimed visages. Nathan jammed the keys into the ignition and their chariot roared to life. Calvin wiped some of the blood off his face with his sleeve, and looked at Nathan.

"Punch it, Chewie..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Edmund Remington Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins


Steve was waiting for Harper as she rushed to his office, ascending the stairs with Chuck.

He was tall and thin, with salt-and-pepper hair and an air of tension about him wherever he went. Everything had to be done quickly, whether it was ordering coffee, tying his tie, or even a visit to the doctor. At the moment his hair, usually neatly coiffed, was ruffled. He'd removed his suit jacket and rolled up his oxford blue sleeves up around his pointy elbows. He'd long ripped off his tie. His face was lined with concern and fraught with nerves, and his hands were shoved into his pockets.

Harper caught the look on his face the moment she whirled into the newsroom and spotted him standing up straight as a rail in his office door frame. She'd come to appreciate his mannerisms over the months she'd spent at WEND, but this was a look she'd never seen before.

"Hopkins!" he called out from his side of the newsroom, shouting out over the sound of phones ringing. The landlines hadn't gone out yet. "Did McDonald bring b-roll? Evans is looking for it."

She flicked the SD card from their dashcam at the aforementioned editor, who rushed it down to the edit bay to cycle it into the video rotation. Through the large plexiglass window looking into the studio she could see George and Maxine at the desk, shuffling through papers and glancing up at the camera while speaking. They obviously weren't relying on the teleprompter, but instead relying on expedient handing-off of new scripts and snippets of information ferreted from the newsroom. The corner of the studio with the greenscreen reserved for weather was dark. Weather was not the most sought-after topic on tonight's broadcast.

"What's the plan?" she zapped out as she hurried in, dropping her bag on her desk.

"First off, let me just say I'm glad you're here," Steve started. "We had Reeves out there, but we lost the signal with the live truck about an hour ago."

Harper's face drained of its color. "You don't mean--"

"No, I don't know what happened," he interrupted impatiently, "but whatever it is, it isn't good. If he and Ann got out safe, then they're on their way. But we need you up on the roof."

"The sun's down!" Harper interjected furiously, pointing out the window at the dark violet sky. "You've got to be kidding me!"

Steve raised his hands and waved them. "We've got no live truck," he emphasized again, calmer than usual. "You're the only reporter here."

Harper opened her mouth to say something, but stopped. She looked over her shoulder at the newsroom. George and Maxine had been working at the station for at least two decades, but no longer had reporting duties. Producers and editors shuffled their way from desk to desk, answering phones, taking down notes, and typing updates and printing them for submission to the anchors on the desk.

There were zero reporters in this newsroom. Except for her.

Her mouth hung halfway open in shock as she turned back to Steve. Her lower lip quivered uncharacteristically. She wanted to throw up.

"Harper," Steve said slowly. She'd never seen him handle a serious crisis, or heard him call her by her first name, but now she realized that this usually-buzzing character was hired as News Director of a top-market station for a reason: he was cool under duress. He moved his forearms in front of him and gently held the sides of her arms, and looked her right in the eyes. "I hired you for a reason. I hired you because I know you'll do what it takes. Get your IFB, grab a mic, and head out on the roof. Schantz is already up on the roof with a camera ready to go."

She stared back, and pulled herself together. She swallowed reflexively and nodded, glancing briefly at the family photos on Steve's office walls. He was keeping it together despite having several reasons to be scared, himself. "You got it, Steve," she responded weakly, and quickly ran to her desk to pull out her earpiece. She fished her compact out of her bag to check her makeup, quickly blotted her face with a bit of foundation and blush, smeared gloss on her lips, and took off for the elevator after snatching her bag from the desk.

The ride up felt like an eternity, the first several seconds that she had in hours where she'd stood still. She wondered if this was happening all over the city. She wondered if this was only happening in L.A., or if it was happening in more places. What about her parents? What about her friends? Her brothers? Her sister? Her grandparents? Were they worried about her like she was worrying about them? She started to think again about Steve's family pictures again.

The elevator door opened the instant that her stomach squeezed into a ball. She looked around for a brief second, found that she was alone, and vomited into the trash can beside the elevator door. She stared at the white wall blankly for a moment to refocus herself, then spat the remnants out of her mouth, yanked a Kleenex from her bag and dragged it across her mouth, then set straight out for the double-doors leading out onto the roof.

She burst through and caught Schantz's eye as she hurriedly paced toward her. Tara Schantz was another photographer, who had always expressed preference for doing rooftop shoots, and had been working at WEND for about four years. "Harp, it's you!" she exclaimed. "Steve just told me to come up here and wait for whoever he could send up. I'm really glad to see you."

Harper tossed her the other end of her IFB, and Schantz tossed her a mic. Schantz plugged the connector into a box by her feet while Harper clipped the lavaliere mic on her shirt collar. She paused for a moment to look over the ledge of the building, up several stories from the ground. Street lights lit the ground sparsely, aided by the glows emanating from buildings. Car alarms blared down from the newsroom parking lot as a vehicle screeched around. On another side of the building, a crowd of people just like the secretary, Ross, and others they'd seen on the road swarmed a red Corvette. In other spots, people who still seemed to possess life about them ran toward buildings, zipping about, some carrying children or helping others limping along. Her heart sank as she thought about what the UCLA Medical Center must have been like at the moment, and what those with the children must be thinking.

"Ready?" Schantz broke in, aiming the camera lens coolly at her face and focusing. She flicked on the camera's light. It seemed as though either she wasn't bothered by the whole thing, or that it hadn't sunk in yet... or she just wasn't going to let any concern cross her face. "They're going to toss to you soon."

Harper's IFB flickered on. Maxine's voice filled her ear.

"Welcome back. You'll notice that the station currently isn't airing advertisements but instead we're airing public service announcements from the United States Department of Homeland Security, urging you to stay in your homes and remain safe. We at WEND-TV are urging you to do the same thing."

George's voice. "One of our reporters made it back to the station and we've got her live on the roof of WEND-TV... Joining us now is Harper Hopkins. Harper, are you up there?"

Harper's eyes shot up to the camera's eye. The way Steve had made it sound, they simply needed someone to tell them what was going on down below. She understood why he sent her up above now. Her brain flexed quickly into the uncomfortable position of being the person in front of the camera being interviewed. "George, Maxine, I'm here," she responded in a conversational manner.

"Harper, describe the day you've had and how you got back."

"Well, the day started out with WEND-TV photographer Nathan McDonald and I heading out to interview Hollywood's Calvin Hawke. While we were there, we encountered a couple of, uh..." her brain scrambled for the right words.

"Walkers," George's voice broke in, "we hear that they're being referred to as walkers."

Without skipping a beat, Harper coolly pressed forward. "Thanks, George. We encountered a few walkers at our interview location and had to leave. We managed to climb out of the building after a Jeep crashed into the side of it and started a fire. We got into our WEND-TV news van and left. We actually brought Mr. Hawke with us. That's the short version of the story."

"Harper," Maxine started, "you came into contact with these walkers. What do you recommend to our viewers that they should do in case they encounter one?"

Harper blinked and felt her stomach jump again. This was heavy, to be making life-or-death recommendations to whoever may be watching. "Well, the best thing to do is to avoid them entirely. If you're in a safe place, stay there and do not risk coming across one at all. That's the first thing. But if you can't stay where you are because you're in a dangerous place, grab something to defend yourself with. A long object like a bat or a golf club might be the best thing. If you have a firearm, even better. You have to keep them away from you. They're very strong. Keep your eyes open and move quickly to where you have to go to be safe. But I really don't recommend moving anywhere unless you absolutely have to."

"WEND-TV's Harper Hopkins, joining us on the station's rooftop," Maxine summarized for those who may have recently tuned in, "Harper, can you describe what's going on around you?"

Schantz plucked the camera off of its heavy tripod, and Harper moved along to step toward and gesture at the street. Schantz pointed the camera downward as Harper spoke off-camera. "Obviously there are walkers out on the streets, and people who are working to scramble to a safe place," she narrated. "You can see cars through the streets. Walkers are coming after the cars. What you're seeing now really ought to show you why you need to stay indoors and out of harm's way-"

"Harper, can we rely on you to stay up on the roof and provide us with updates from time to time?" Maxine interrupted quickly. "We've got a few new breaking news updates."

The camera turned back to Harper. "Sure thing," she responded politely, "back to you, Maxine and George."

# # #

Down in the studio, Steve himself handed a paper to George, only his hand and shoulder visible on viewers' televisions. George popped his eyes on and off the sheet and the camera as he read through the updates.

"We're getting reports that traffic is at a standstill on all outbound lanes. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the State of California, and the Los Angeles Police Department highly recommend that you stay in your homes. All medical centers and hospitals are asking media outlets to spread the word that no more emergency patients are being accepted at this time and all ambulances are occupied."

He continued to sputter off news updates from the sheets, inwardly panicking at having to read these unbelievably grim sentences.

# # #

Nathan shoved his foot down on the gas pedal, burning black marks onto the pavement as the van hurled forward, sending the small crowd of walkers throwing themselves on the hood of the van reeling backwards. Nathan grinned at the satisfying crunching noises from below his feet and kept the van on a hard trek forward. He flipped down the driver's seat visor and jammed his thumb on the garage door opener, whirling the van toward the opening door.

Calvin's eyes were flashing giddily as the vehicle pulled into the safe bay. Nathan quickly thumped the button again in order to hasten the door's closing. The thick, heavy metal doors careened down steadily as walkers stumbled toward them, closing just in time to keep them out.

After the door thudded shut, Nathan leaned back in his seat, looking up at the broken sunroof and laughed hysterically. "HOLY SHIT!" he shouted, "dude, I canNOT believe we just pulled that shit off!"

Calvin let himself laugh for a moment. "You're... you're not kidding," he said, his head spinning. "I wasn't really sure what was going to happen for a bit there."

Nathan opened his door, exited, and beckoned for Calvin to follow. He inspected the outside of the van... messy bloody prints were everywhere. The smell was horrendous. Nathan stopped in his tracks when he noticed a series of long scratches, peeling the paint off in messy chips. A fingernail was embedded into the end of the trail. He let out a sigh of relief for being on the inside, and not on the outside again with them.

The stairwell ended up being safe after keying in. They hustled up the stairs and entered the newsroom. Nathan nodded to the other staff in there, about eight that he could spot.

"Nathan." Charlie waved his hand at the pair, standing beside a tall, handsome man with glasses who looked extremely uncomfortable.

Nathan stared at the stranger briefly. "Who's Mr. Cool, over here?" he asked quickly.

"Nathan, this is my nephew, Edmund." Nathan reached out to shake Edmund's hand. "He came here because it's safe."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Briana Hawke Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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# Sarah Hawke #


“C’mon, Brett. Let’s just go,” Sarah whined from the hallway. She had to run to keep up with him as he cruised towards the auditorium. Katie and her friend Theo trailed close behind.

“I’m not leaving without Amber,” Brett called back, “she’s got theatre class.”

Another girl, Katie, trailed behind them as she struggled to keep up. “I can't get a signal! Nobody is picking up. I can't even get onto Facebook,” she cried out between breaths.

None of them chose to acknowledge how odd that actually was. The group turned the corner and found themselves facing the large double doors of the theatre auditorium. Unlike some of the others in the rest of the school, these doors didn’t have windows. Whatever was happening on the other side, the doors were locked. Made obvious after several attempts to wrench it open by Brett. A feat even his muscles couldn’t triumph over.

“What the hell!?” He grunted in frustration.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “It’s a lockdown, Einstein.”

“What about the other doors?” He protested.

“It’s a lock… down…” Sarah repeated. He wasn't necessarily in the running for "Brightest Bulb" in the yearbook.

“This is bullshit!” Brett demonstrated his frustration by kicking the door. Hard. “We have to—“

“Who the hell is out there?” A voice shouted from the other side of the door.

Brett kicked at it again. “We’re students. Let us in!”

“We’re in a lockdown. Why aren’t you in your classroom?” The voice answered. From the pinched, slightly British-sounding accent, Sarah guessed they were talking to Mr. Weston, the voice teacher.

“Mr. Weston, something bad happened to Mr. Geoffries. We can’t get ahold of the paramedics or anything. Please let us in…” Sarah was pleading her hardest. She hoped to God that a less abrasive approach might appeal to his sense of reason.

“W-What happened to him?” Mr. Weston stammered, his voice shaking.

“There was, uh—“ Sarah's words caught in her throat.

“He got attacked, man,” Brett yelled over her.

Sarah listened as she heard, Mr. Weston shuffle around behind the door. "Why don’t you just, uh, go down to the office and—“

BAM!

Brett’s foot collided with the handle of the door again, clanging all the way down the hall.

“Stop it!” Mr. Weston cried out.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

Again and again he kicked at the door, denting the metal in.

“Please! NO!!" The teacher continued to cry out. His screams began turning more desperate, as if he was suddenly in danger. "STOP! PLEEEASE!!"

Katie tugged at Sarah's arm, pulling her back from the door. The hallway suddenly filled with the rise of muffled sounds as dozens of terrified screams rang out. Panicked students. Brett backed away from the door too, as it began to shake violently from the other side. As if bending at the frames, the door burst open with pressure from the other side. A wave of panicked bodies surged out, people spilling over each other in a desperate frenzy. Amongst them, a student crouched over Mr. Westons limp body. They immediately took off in the other direction, barely head of the torrential mass of people. Straining desperately to keep her bearings, Sarah buried her face with her arms as she ran and passersby collided with her. She made it a few doors down the hallway before getting knocked to the ground by the sobering blow of someone's shoulder. Sarah hit the ground hard and rolled into the person in front of her, knocking them to the ground as well.

“Molly?!” Whoever he was, the crowd had already carried him away -- lost in the surge of people like a bottle in a flood.

Sarah looked to the girl next to her. Blonde and terrified. “I’m sorry,” she began, “I didn’t—“

Ear-shattering screams seemed to be coming from every part of the corridor, even from where they were running. Parts of the crowd ahead splintered into different directions, some doubling back the way they came. Sarah looked around, unable to see any of her friends from before in the swarming frenzy of bodies. The girl next to her seemed to be in the same predicament.

“This way,” she said, grabbing the girl’s hand and leading her down the stairs nearby.. As they delved deeper into the stairwell, the sounds of chaos resonated louder from above.

The woman pulled her wrist from Sarah's grasp. “W-Wait. My brother—“

Sarah rounded on her. “He's closer to the car than you are...” The woman’s silence was all the answer she needed. Briana turned and continued trotting down the last few steps, the woman following her after a bit of hesitation.

“What’s happening up there?” The woman asked. Her voice shook slightly. Sarah figured it probably wasn’t shaking from jogging down the stairs, but rather from her fear that the world might be ending.

“Haven’t you been watching the news?”

The woman shook her head. “No, I was at the airport…”

Sarah snorted. "Airplanes. That'd be a fun place to be right now." She began to slow down as they neared the hallway. It was likely that there were people still down here. In what condition would remain to be seen. “It’s an infection of some sort, from the looks of it. The media didn’t seem to know how to explain it.” The two of them crept into the hallway in front of them towards the locker rooms, their shoes echoing on the cement floor. “Whatever it is, it’s bad.”

The silence hung for a moment before the woman finally spoke. Where are we going?” She asked.

“These locker rooms let out onto the football field. We can go around the track to the parking lot,” Sarah explained as she ducked into a passing doorway.

“So those… things… up there… those are—?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah said, her gaze dropping to the floor. It was suddenly dawning on her how stupid it was that she was in Biology class when the world ended. It'd be a great story to tell her kids... as if she'd ever have a chance to have any now.

"Listen, my brother--" The woman started, pulling Sarah by the arm.

"If he's smart, he's already running to your car. You do have a car... right?"

"Yeah... and I have the keys...” she replied.

Sarah stopped in front of the girl’s locker room door and looked the girl squarely in the face.

“Then let’s hope we get there before he does.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC)

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Natasha Dean
Natasha jumped slightly at the sound of the bag dropping and she looked up to the thief, she noticed she was watching her, they were both aware of what the other knew. Before Natasha could say anything, Dyomie spoke.
"I hope everyone is accounted for goldie?" Natasha nodded, holding back her tears at the thought of Phillip back at the apartment.

Dyomie then leant closer to her and whispered, making sure Marie couldn't hear. "Listen, since it seems we maybe working together to survive and since you've probably already figured out who I am I need to ask you a favor. Tidbit over there doesn't know what I do for a living, she just thinks I'm a business woman and I would kind of prefer to keep it that way. So if you can, please don't tell her."
Natasha knew what Dyomie did was wrong and it certainly made her seem less trustful, but right now they'd need each other and if Natasha had too consider her certain skill set, it would definitely be a good thing to have in a survival team.

After a moments hesitation, Natasha looked back up to Dyomie.
"You're secrets safe with me," she said with a smile. "The way I see it, there'd be no point in arresting you anymore and... you've a pretty necessary skill set for survival." She let out a light laugh, lightly nudging Dyomie with her arm. "I'll go help your sister with the food and bottle some water up."

Natasha woke her phone screen up to check for a message but saw she had no signal, she bit her lip and let out a sigh before stepping into the kitchen area. "Hey, Marie? You got any spare or empty bottles we can fill with water?" She asked, starting to help her gather the canned foods. As they were emptying the cupboards, the radio clipped to her belt started to static, Natasha quickly grabbed the receiver and pressed the button.
"Hello? Hello?!" She whispered into the radio. "Please respond."
"Natasha?" She heard the receptionist reply. "Oh my god, Natasha, please help me! I've looked the doors to the station but there's some sort of mob rioting outside! I'm so scared, a few of the cops have come back and they all got a few scraps and bites from some crazies. There's a few of us holed up here but only 3 of us haven't blacked out..." There was a silence followed by a muffled growl. "Wait, Jerome has just woke up! Jerome, you okay?" before Natasha could warn her there was a scream emitted from the radio, Natasha quickly muted it and looked up from the radio, her hand covering her mouth.
"Oh my god." She managed to breath, her body started to shake. "Even the station... what's happening?" She looked to Dyomie, hoping her input would help.

Looking back at her radio, she regained herself. "We need a plan, we need weapons and gear, and I need to get my boyfriend. I don't want to ask this, but please, come with me? I'll literally run into my apartment, come straight back out and then we'll go to the precinct building and gather a few weapons and leave the city." Natasha didn't want to burden them with saving her boyfriend, but the promise of weapons and protection had to be something.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


Dymoie rushed over to the kitchen when she heard the screaming come from the walkie that the cop had, Marie had a hand over her heart after being startled. Neither of the sisters moved for a while, they feared it was loud enough that the walkers down the hall could have heard. So they waited. Hearts pounding louder than ever. Their eyes focused solely on each other.

A groan came from the hall and the the door knob moved slightly. Slowly at first, but getting more frantic with each second. Dymoie gave a murderous look towards the cop before running to the bags she got. She threw one to her sister who began piling random things of food in it. Dyomie went to her sisters room and shoved wrinkled clothes inside. When she came back to the kitchen the walker outside started pounding on the door and a loud growl that could have once been yelling.

"So much for being discrete tonight!" Dyomie yelled. She gave the cop the bag with the clothes inside while she picked up her backpack that held the only weapons, the two walkies, her stolen gold cup, and a few other basic thieving tools. "We'll have to climb onto the fire escape," Dyomie said leaning to look out the window. She couldn't see much, it was getting to be too dark for visuals. Though she could see the cop's car not too far from where the fire escape dropped off. It was hard to think over the loud growling coming from outside their door, which had grown even louder as the walker brought some friends, and having them all pound and tear at the door.

"Get your keys ready blondie, once we're on the ground we can make a break for your car and go get your boyfriend and more importantly the weapons," Dyomie took a deep breath and opened the window, "You first blondie and try not to attract more attention than you already have. Then you go behind her Marie, I'll come last."

The door started splintering under the pressure and the girls could see wrinkled, peeled, and slightly grey fingers clawing at them through the small openings. "Now! Go, go, GO!" Dyomie yelled, shoving Natasha towards the window. Dyomie took out the rifle, not exactly planning on shooting one of these creatures, but it could still be used to bludgeon the damn things.

"Hey Tidbit," Dyomie called over her shoulder, her eyes firmly on the door.

"What?!" Marie practically screamed, though it was more from fear and adrenalin than frustration with her sister. That made Dyomie smile a little; it was comical of sorts, her normally care-free sister was freaking out.

"Just remember that whatever happens, I love you," Dyomie said looking over her shoulder this time, eyes resting on her sister's frozen-in-fear expression. She smiled gently, "And I am very proud of you."

"I love you too," Marie said, walking backwards towards the window, "Just stay alive for me okay Dy?"

"Wasn't really planning on dying," the thief said bringing her face back to the door where she could now see arms waving at her. She stood there. Quietly maintaining that position. Until she heard a whistle from outside. She looked and saw that the other two got out okay. A head popped through the door now. Dyomie took one moment to smack before rushing out the window herself. She ran and jumped down the metal staircase of the fire escape, landing on her two feet at the bottom. She looked in both directions to see if it was clear. Of course, it wasn't. There were a few straggling walkers coming towards them, but not in life ending sizes. Dyomie flipped one of them off before running to the car. She crawled in the back seat with her sister, slamming the door behind her.

"DRIVE!" Dyomie yelled. She let herself lean back in the seat. A smile on her face again as she found her sister's hand and grabbed hold of it. It didn't escape her that here she was sitting in the back of a cop car, Never expected to be here. Especially trusting cop at the end of the world, she thought to herself as she looked out into the night.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins 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)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


The sound of running water was the only thing Calvin could hear as he ran his hands over his face. It had felt like forever since he had had a bit of peace and quiet. Bloody streaks swirled around the porcelain sink and down the drain. Calvin tore a few paper towels from the dispenser and patted his face dry, staring for a moment at his tired eyes in the mirror. The automated faucet stopped itself, and a gentle silence hung over the bathroom as he just stared. The eyes looking back at him weren't the ones he remembered, nor the ones he needed right now -- but sleep was still far away. He wondered where Sarah was and whether she was having better luck. Hopefully she had friends to help her get away because Calvin knew there was nothing he could do to help her now. If there was time, he would come back for her... but it just wasn't safe to stay in the city any longer.

Calvin stepped out into the hallway, brushing his hands dry on his shirt. Nathan leaned against the wall with a couple bottles of water. He tossed one to Calvin and twisted his own open, taking a long nice pull from it. "Thanks," Calvin said, opening his. Nathan chugged the last of his water and executed a hook shot into the trash can at the end of the hall. The empty plastic bottle ricocheted off the rim into the waste bin with a clunk.

"What a crazy day," Nathan lamented, wiping his face clean. "I wish I knew this was going to happen. I wouldn't have bothered doing my taxes this year."

Calvin choked on his water a bit, laughing. "I'm sure there's worse regrets than being a good taxpayer," he mused. Nathan shrugged and started down the hallway. Calvin followed as the two of them entered the tiled floor break room. Motion-sensored fluorescent lights flickered to life above them. On top of the fridge in the corner, a small TV showed Harper on the roof mid-report. The camera slowly surveyed the cityscape, trails of billowing smoke reaching up to the sky in what looked to be a city in flames.

"There's a career-maker," Nathan said as he tossed Calvin a bag of chips from the snacks shelf.

"Probably more of a career-ender really..." Calvin replied, pulling the bag open. He put on a voice: "I'm Harper Hopkins, signing off from the end of the world."

Nathan swung his leg over a chair nearby, saddling it as he dug into a jar of peanut butter with his finger. He licked his thumb clean and jerked it at the television. "You think she's gonna be OK?"

Calvin crunched down on a chip. "Who, Harper?"

"She was kind've quiet on the drive back."

"We all were," Calvin said, thinking. "She's probably just trying to make sense of this like anybody else. She may actually be doing better than we are. Harper's had experience with this kind of thing, after all, working out in the field like she has."

Nathan looked back at the TV at her. "I guess you're right..."

Calvin saw the look in his eyes as he watched the reporter do her thing. Whatever it was, there was something there -- something in that look.

"What about you," he started, "are you alright?"

Before Nathan could answer, his eyes widened at something on the screen. Calvin turned to look just in time to see Harper's camera operator swing around to focus on a truck careening through the parking lot towards the station. The two of them took off sprinting towards the garage to receive the incoming survivors. As they burst through the main floor, Nathan grabbed Chuck and one of the nearby assistants to help. The four of them tore down the stairwell and into the garage. Nathan immediately hit the button for the door as the rest of them scrambled to find weapons nearby. Chuck grabbed hold of his old bat, while Calvin acquired a crowbar from a shelf nearby. The automatic door began winding up into the roof as the sounds of chaos spilled in from outside. Screeching tires preceded the truck as it suddenly came spinning into view from around the corner. A couple of walkers clung desperately to its frame as it came barreling towards the garage. An older man was behind the wheel, gripping it for dear life as he fought control. A couple of men stood in the bed of the truck attempting to knock off the clinging monsters. Calvin retreated a few steps out onto the loading dock as he waved his arms to flag down the incoming survivors.

"On your left, Calvin!" Nathan shouted out from somewhere behind him. Calvin turned to see a handful of walkers stumble down onto the main portion of the ramp beside him. He felt the others at his back as he approached the first of them. He jabbed the straight end of the crowbar through the forehead of the closest walker, its body crumpling into a heap before him. Nathan came flying into sight next to him, driving a screwdriver into the temple of his assailant as the others swung their weapons wildly at the remaining walkers, warding them back away from the door. The truck cruised between the railings, laying on its horn loudly. Calvin hugged the railing as the truck skidded to a stop behind the news van. Once they were clear of the door Nathan hit the button again, sliding it closed. A rogue walker fell loose from the truck and tumbled to the ground in front of them. One of the men in the back of the truck hopped down beside the creature and plunged what appeared to be a fire poker into the back of its head. The man twisted the weapon free from the back of the walker's head and wiped it clean on his pant leg.

The other guy, a black man in a beret, jumped down from the bed of the truck and clapped a hand on Calvin's shoulder. "Thanks for the assist, man." Calvin nodded as he passed, eyeing the rest of the group as they exited the truck. The cab door opened up and a small girl stepped down. She was quickly pushed out of the way by the older man who had been driving. He reached into the front seat and began pulling out a fifth member of their group. Another young girl, this one maybe 18 or 19, fought back tears as they moved her carefully. She put her arms around the black guy and the man with the fire poker as they lifted her from the truck, and it became apparent to that she was severely injured and still bleeding.

"God damnit, get her upstairs!" the old man shouted at the two of them. Nathan gestured for them to follow him as he ran ahead. Calvin followed behind as the group of survivors burst into the newsroom loudly. Someone shouted out an order to clear some space as they set the girl down gently onto one of the desk. The girl screamed bloody murder as they struggled to keep her in place.

"Jack," the old man shouted at the guy with the fire poker, "get us some towels -- something to stop the bleeding!"

"C'mon--" Nathan said, motioning at the messy-haired man to follow him. The two raced off down the hallway as Calvin took the man's place lending his hands to help the flailing girl. In the corner of the office, the little girl watched silently as she hugged her little stuffed panda to her face.

"What happened?" Calvin asked.

The old man shot a look his way. ”She was attacked by one of those damned things." He explained, applying more pressure to the girl's neck. "Would've torn her right out of the car if we didn't get out of there like we did..."

"It's the little one's babysitter. We found them in a grocery store." The black man went on to explain. "I'm Wayne, by the way... this here is James. The kid is Lily." Calvin nodded to them. "And this here is Amber, I think." He finished, looking down at the injured girl.

"Not for long she isn't... where are those damned towels?" James growled.

He dabbed at the bleeding wound with the collar of her shirt, revealing more of it to Calvin. He could distinctly make out deep bite marks around her collar bone. It had already turned a nasty greenish-purple and begun swelling. "One of those things did this?" Calvin wondered aloud. Whatever these creatures were, they were not to be underestimated. He had seen the damage they could do, not to mention the damage they could take. If they were to do anything else, they were going to need to arm themselves or they wouldn't last long. Calvin looked into the eyes of the poor girl on the table and saw her eyes fluttering, desperately clinging to consciousness -- he feared there would be more blood shed before the day was over.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Thomas Blackthorne

"Dean!" Thomas stopped so suddenly at the scream that Bishop almost ran square into him. Both men reacted at once, turning, kneeling and levelling their weapons, expecting to see the girl with one of the creatures on top of her. Instead she was running towards one, calling out loudly and attracting the attention of every Walker within a hundred yards that wasn't already paying attention to them.

"Silencers." Sergeant Holloway said quietly and Thomas mentally kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner. Each man on the team carried a silencer for his side arm and long arm, it was hard to do a low key insertion without one. In the time that it took them to screw the silencers on the girl was standing there, a pistol held loosely in front of her, staring at the creature shambling slowly towards her. She took a step backwards.

"Grab her." Thomas snapped at Bishop and Clarkson. The two men seized her by the arms and, with Holloway in the lead, made towards the trucks again. Thomas stayed for a moment, staring into the blank eyes that had once been human. He fired one round, the creatures head snapping back with the effect of the shot before the body hit the sand with a thud. Contrary to popular Hollywood science, a silencer does not make a gun sound like a pee shorter, rather it makes a whip-crack sound that, even with the moans filling the air, still seemed dangerously loud.

Thomas turned and hurried after his team, noting that the girl was still staring at her fallen friend where his body lay in the sand. Bishop and Clarkson had her under the armpits and we hustling her along as fast as they could go in the loose sand. Holloway and Butskiy led the way, hand guns drawn, only engaging those Walkers close enough to be considered an immediate threat, ammunition was going to be scarce for a while.

They reached the APC's at a dead run and Holloway ripped open the door to one and immediately leapt back with a yell of surprise as a German Shepard narrowly missed tearing part of his face off. The dog was in a rage, snapping, biting, snarling, lunging at the soldiers as it tried to break free of the harness that held it into the seats.

"Shit. We'll grab the other truck." Holloway said turning towards the second one.

"Dude, we can't leave the dog here to be torn apart." Bishop had let go of the girl and was trying to calm the dog who was having none of it as it continued to lunge at them.

"Well there is no way I can get to his harness, he'll attack us as soon as he's free. These guys only respond to their handlers, the body of which I suspect is over there somewhere." He jerked a thumb towards the house where the SWAT team had been massacred.

They were wasting time and Thomas knew that they couldn't argue about this forever. He pushed Bishop aside and shot the dog twice in the chest. It gave a whine, sagged, and then collapsed onto the trucks back seat. Bishop looked at him for a moment with a look of horror on his face.

"Sarge, what the fuck..."

"Can't leave him and can't take him with us, no other way, and we don't have time to coax him out."

The others nodded though Bishop looked disgusted for a moment before sagging slightly in his combat harness. "You're right, sorry."

"Anytime guys." Holloway interrupted from the second truck. He was already behind the wheel, the girl buckled in to the back seat. The remainder of the team quickly hurried to join him. The truck was large, armoured, and fully prepared for SWAT operations with bullet proof windows covered by metal cages. It looked like the perfect vehicle for the situation until Holloway gestured towards the dashboard.

"Half a tank, takes diesel, and I don't know how to tell you this, but with gas stations being so automated these days and my credit card being at the base, we aren't going very far."

"Let's get a move on Holloway, we can worry about this when the times come."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC)

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Natasha Deans & Phillip Wilson

Natasha heard the groans from the other side of the door and she shook her head, "So much for being discrete tonight!"
How was I supposed to know she’d scream?” Natasha replied stubbornly before grabbing the bag of clothes from Dyomie and watched as she made her way over to the window.
"We'll have to climb onto the fire escape,"

"Get your keys ready blondie, once we're on the ground we can make a break for your car and go get your boyfriend and more importantly the weapons, you first blondie and try not to attract more attention than you already have. Then you go behind her Marie, I'll come last." Natasha squinted her eyes at Dyomie and shook her head. "Now! Go, go, GO!" Slinging the bag over her shoulders, Natasha climbed out the window with a sigh as Dyomie pushed her from behind.
I’m going! Calm down!” She whisper/shouted at her.

Natasha quickly scrambled down the fire escape, looking in through the windows, she noticed some of the monsters in certain apartments, either ideally bumping about the rooms and eating other humans.

Natasha swallowed her vomit and let the shiver crawl up her spine as she abandoned anyone asking her for help through their windows, Natasha looked at her uniform but shook her head, mouthing a sorry to one of the people she passed.

Natasha made it to the bottom of the fire escape, so far none of the walkers had gathered near the bottom and so she dropped down, pulling out her baton she clubbed one that was too close to the car for comfort before stomping their head in with her boot. Taking out the keys to the car, she fumbled to open the door but managed it before Marie had even reached the bottom.

Sitting in the car, made her feel vulnerable as she waited for the sisters, the engine was running and she could feel the walkers approaching. Suddenly, Dyomie jumped in yelling.
DRIVE!” Hearing the voice, Natasha hit her foot on the gas as she speed down the street. Heading towards her apartment building.

Arriving outside, Natasha opened the private garage and drove in the door closing quickly behind them as they stopped the car. The garage was relatively quiet and it seemed the apartment was quite safe for the moment, of course, a few walkers were bound to be in the building, and no way everyone in the building was safe or free.

You can stay here, I’ll only be a few minutes. But you can come with me if you want. The doors only open with a code and that gate won’t open without this, so the garage is safe for now.” Natasha showed the girls a fob, it didn’t look like much but it contained a microchip that opened and closed the gate, her stare was directed at Dyomie as she implied she wasn’t trusting her to not steal the car.

Regardless of the girls choice, Natasha quickly ran up to the staircase doors and entered the code, the door opening and Natasha walking into the staircase, she noticed there were no walkers on the staircase. She let out a sigh of relief and ran up the stairs, 2 at a time until she made it to her floor, her breath was gone but she couldn’t stop. She took in a deep breathe and looked through the doors window, there was currently none of the walkers walking about the halls and so she unlocked the door, sneaking into the hall ensuring there was no walkers around and so she continued to her apartment, unlocking the door with her key.

Natasha opened the door, silently closing the door behind her she went into the bedroom. “Phillip?” She whispered and he sat up.
Natasha, thank god!” He quickly got up and ran over to her, hugging her tightly. He kissed her forehead and moved down to kiss her lips, which she didn’t resist. She pushed him away and then whispered into his ear.
Quickly, grab the bag you prepared while I get changed.” Natasha ran over to the wardrobe and pulled out a white loose fitting tank top, her leather jacket and a pair of skinny jeans. Quickly striping down, she pulled the outfit on and finished it off with a pair of black boots. “Ready?” She asked Phillip as he returned with a bag and a pair of sweats covering his legs.

As they were leaving the apartment, Phillip grabbed his hoodie and they left the apartment, the hall had 4 walkers roaming about it now and Natasha grabbed her pistol and baton and beat them on the head, while Phillip used his baseball bat and took down the remaining two walkers.

The pair quickly ran down to the garage after dispatching the walkers and running to the garage, once in the safety in the garage, Natasha pulled Phillip into a hug and kissed him. Once she pulled back, she rested her head in her shoulder. “I thought you might have died.” She said, clutching the fabric of his hoodie and resisting her tears. They quickly ran to the car and climbed into it, they looked at the sisters. “We should be safe in here, that gate is secure enough to prevent anyone or anything getting in. It’s the same with the staircase, we could stay here the night and then go to the police station during the day? It’d probably be safer.” Natasha suggested to the sisters.
I’ll do whatever you want, Tasha.” Phillip said, implying he agreed with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins 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: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins


Nathan dashed down to the stairs to the photographers' floor, where a large set of lockers and even showers hung off via a hallway from the main room. Jack wasted no time behind him, cycling his legs down the concrete staircase.

He'd only just landed in L.A., and this was the kind of greeting he'd gotten upon his long-awaited return. It had been a surprisingly uneventful arrival; calm flight, calm disembarkment, calm afternoon and night... but not a calm late morning, when his plans were interrupted by a lousy, ghoul-faced tourist in sandals who thought it would be a great idea to bust his door down. One broken lamp and a short car ride later, he found himself clutching his pistol, hiding behind a dumpster not far from the Los Altos Apartments on Wilshire Boulevard.

Nathan skittered to the lockers and snagged a hold of the stash of spare towls. "Here, man, thanks," he said as he tossed two rolled towels to him, then plucked the first aid kit from a higher shelf. "Let's head back up."

Jack said nothing as he continued to keep pace with the tall blond-headed jock with the vest. Now wasn't the time to ask or answer any questions.

Nathan burst through the door to the newsroom and came upon the scene--Steve Hilpin and the old man arguing, while the girl continued to bleed on the desk. The news director looked as though he was having far better luck at containing his frustration, while the old man's face was burgundy as he pointed to the desks. The little girl gripped her panda for dear life and the producers and editors buzzing in the newsroom stood nervously, unsure of what to do.

"Sir, we can appreciate your position, but, once again, we need those desks to do work," Steve insisted firmly.

"Goddammit!" James fumed. Calvin was still perched next to the girl, gripping her white-knuckled hands as she dug her nails into her own palm to brace against the pain. "What 'job' are you doing, staying on the airwaves so your coporate shill ratings will go through the roof??" he demanded.

"People are depending on us to give them information on how to survive," Steve responded immediately. "There is no handbook on how people can work through this."

"Hey!" Calvin interjected, "we're wasting time!" He, Jack, and Nathan were working together furiously to press and hold the towels straight onto the girl's gaping neck wound. James abandoned the argument and joined in, providing a fourth pair of hands in holding her shoulders down as she started to shake vigorously, her body in shock due to the blood loss she'd sustained by that point.

# # #

"Clear," Schantz piped after the newscast's director buzzed into her ear to let her know the broadcast was wrapped. "George and Maxine want to talk to you."

Harper nodded as the two started to pepper her ear. "Next time pick it up a little, Harper," Maxine's voice edged up, making a poor attempt at covering her needless criticism with sappy sweetness. "You look like you haven't slept in days."

Harper rolled her eyes. "Wow, Maxine, you try having the afternoon we had," she shot back flatly. She pulled off her blood-flecked jacket, the warm night air and her nerves starting to become uncomfortable. She smoothed out her gray summer cotton slacks and re-clipped her mic to her lavender-purple tank top.

Maxine huffed. "You have no idea," she said, "one of them came at us when we were downstairs in the lobby coming in to work. Chuck smashed it in the head with a baseball bat. You have no idea, Harper, how awful that was!"

Harper rolled her eyes. "We'll talk, Maxine," she said dismissively, finding the idea of being lectured by the nearly-geriatric plastic surgery addict about who had the worse experience with walkers quite repulsive.

"Hey, Harper," George broke in. "We're sitting on the desk and... whoa, a bunch of people just came in... they've got this gir--WHOA. She's bleeding!?" George's voice was usually smooth and contained, but now it sounded startled and scared. "They've put this girl on the desk. Harper, she's bleeding. Two people running away--Steve and this old man are starting to get real mad at each other... Whoa, Maxine, are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she insisted, clearing her throat a little. "My eye's itchy, that's all."

"Actually," the newscast director broke in, "Maxine, you look sweaty. Are you hot under the lights?"

"No, no," Maxine snipped in. "I'm feeling fine. Just fine. In fact, I'm actually a little cold." She cleared her throat again.

"We've been sitting here for five hours and you haven't gotten up once," George stated. "But in the last few minutes your eye's gotten really red."

"What?!" she exclaimed. A moment of silence over the earpiece as she clicked open her mirror compact. "Jesus! I've got to cover this up!" A rustle of activity as she forked her way through her portable makeup bag that she kept pegged behind her chair in case of on-air makeup emergencies.

"On again in 30," the director spoke calmly, "can you do this, Maxine?"

"Of course I can," she retorted back. She cleared her throat.

"Schantz, Harper, standby. George and Maxine, stand by."

# # #

Nathan breathed a sigh of relief as the bleeding seemed to stop beneath the pile of soppy towels. He kept his blood-soaked hands on his corner of the towel to continue to apply pressure, not daring to lift his hands.

The staff who had been staring wide-eyed at the scene while phones continued to ring off the hook were on the receiving end of a very harsh stare from Steve. They immediately set about going back to their work. Calvin stood up, catching the glimpse of the petrified little girl standing all by herself. He smiled tepidly, a sudden thud of guilt pounding his head about her having to see all this unfold right in front of her. He looked down at his bloody hands. Not exactly the most reassuring-looking person in the room.

James rose and turned back to look at Steve. The news director glared and shook his head. "Hey, sweetheart, I've got coloring books in my office," he said to the girl, beckoning for her to enter his glass-paned office. He walked over slowly to her and started to help her along. Calvin watched as Steve quickly set her at his desk and pulled out a box of coloring books. Clearly, he must have been a parent.

Calvin looked through the window to the studio and noticed that the older, platinum-white-haired woman at the desk was raising a fist in front of her while coughing frequently. Her left eye was looking red and swollen; several minutes before, he hadn't taken notice of that detail when he'd first entered the room. "Is that the green room over there?" Calvin asked out loud to the staff. A few nodded toward the direction of a black door beside the studio. "All right. I'm getting that lady some eyedrops. She looks like she could use them."

Nathan and Jack remained with the prone girl breathing raspily on the desk. In front of them a television monitor played the broadcast, rolling back and forth between the two anchors on the desk and Harper up on the roof. Both men watched, catching bits and pieces of the low audio. "Oh, who's that?" Jack asked casually, his eyes lighting up a little too enthusiastically for Nathan's liking. "She's on the roof?"

Nathan looked sidelong at him, a brief pang of irritation coming out in his facial expression. "No one you need to know," he retorted quietly.

Jack raised an eyebrow. He'd not known this guy for twenty minutes and already found a trigger. "Geez, sorry, didn't realize she was already taken," he responded, knowing how he sounded every ounce like he'd intended to provoke the defensive younger man.

"It's not like that," Nathan blasted back sharply. "Seriously, don't even tal-"

"Uhh, guys," Calvin broke in. He hadn't even entered through the door to the green room when he saw the older lady pass out on the desk, hitting her nose head-on. He watched as George cast his eye quickly to her, and Harper came on the monitor suddenly to cover the brief interruption caused by the commotion.

"Shit," Nathan muttered as he saw Maxine's head thunk down. In all the year's he'd worked at WEND, he'd never seen Maxine sick, weak, or with a stitch out of place. Instead, he knew her as being a ragingly disconnected old bat who took vacations when sweeps weren't in effect. Now she was a ragingly disconnected old bat burying her face in a hard, shellac'ed surface.

Nathan watched George jump visibly after Harper signed on, who worked hard to disguise her nerves as she no doubt heard the commotion in her earpiece. He mouthed something to Maxine, who didn't respond. George reached over to shake her, and she fell heavily off of the desk. George's hands clasped to his mouth in shock as he let out a yell. The newcast director's voice blared out over the newsroom's PA system. "Steve, everyone, we've got an emergency," the voice smoothly but tensely called out. "Maxine's not breathing."

Next to him, Jack jumped just slightly. "Hey, guys, she's not doing so good," he nervously barked. "She's not breathing..."

Nathan snapped his eyes downward and watched as the girl's jaw slacked open. He lifted his hands up and watched for a moment. This was the second dead girl in one day. He stared for just a second.

It was then that he remembered what had happened to the secretary. Without even thinking, he swept his arms out and pulled Jack back as teeth clicked up viciously toward them. Jack reflexively whipped his fire poker out from a spot on the desk in front of him and slashed it down on her torso. Nathan jumped back and watched helplessly as she leapt from her spot, having turned her attention on a producer just feet away who felt like he'd been on hold for hours.

It was then that Maxine also sprang into life, almost in a reanimated fashion. George sprang from his seat, forgetting that he was leashed to his desk via the IFB in his ear and the lapel mic clipped onto his suit jacket. He tugged back sharply, and lost his footing and fell off of the raised platform the desk was mounted on. Through the window, one could see him grasp at his ankle after he hit the ground, his other hand trying to yank his earpiece out of his ear. Maxine darted over the desk rapidly.

The director's voice came over the PA system again. "Guys, Maxine's attacking George."

"Jesus Christ!" Wayne shouted in bewilderment as he backed away from the commotion.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

0.00 INK

Stevie Darden


Stevie shoved her bag at her feet and squeezed herself against the window to give as much room as possible for the armed men piling quickly into the vehicle. Her heart pounded in her throat. Already it felt like it had to have been a lifetime ago that she saw Dean's head fling backwards, body completely horizontal in the air as the bullet dragged him backwards into stillness. After the two soldiers had tucked her up and away from Dean, they took her gun and rushed her along. Everything after that felt like it may or may not have happened, even the sudden shooting of the angry dog. Her mind felt like a record skipping every few seconds and starting the song over.

The APC lurched forward, jolting Stevie out of her head and back into the vehicle. She turned to her right and noticed Thomas occupied the spot next to her. She edged toward the window to give him room to turn to talk to his colleagues. The sun was on its way down.

The vehicle rumbled ahead, mainly street lights acting as the source of illumination along the road. A fire was burning just down a ways. Several disabled cars littered the road, forcing the APC to maneuver carefully through them. Not far away, two hunched-over figures were crunching their teeth on a screaming woman pushed up against the inside of an open car door. Stevie watched in complete silence, noting the similarities between that and the surreal sequence of Dean's attack. Whatever this was, it was happening everywhere. The occasional dead body sprawled out on the ground amongst the cars.

She kept her mouth shut while the group talked amongst themselves. At this point she couldn't see what she could contribute. Right now it was her job to just follow along and stay out of the way. Except... She pulled her bag up to her knees, unbuckled it and retrieved a folded-up map of the Los Angeles metro area. She opened it up and offered it to Thomas cautiously, having the strongest desire to be helpful. "We're not far from Santa Monica, right here," she said, pointing to a specific spot.

Holloway looked back over his shoulder. "Sarge," he said, trying hard to hide any kind of bewilderment upon the sight of a group of approximately twenty pallid, dead-faced men and women shuffling in place about fifty yard ahead, the largest group they'd seen yet. "We've got company."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

“Shit! Oh shit!”

The blood was still dripping from the knife. Rafiq’s running motion stained his hand and put blood spatters on his clothes. He did not care. Instinct made him hold onto the knife. It’s function the only thing that made sense right now.

“That... it bit me! That thing bit me!” Nasir shouted behind him in disbelief. Rafiq glanced behind at his friend. He did not appear to be hurt. The street they had ran into was empty. Rafiq slowed down and placed a hand on Nasir’s shoulder. “You’re alright?” Rafiq asked worriedly. Squatting down, Nasir rolled up the right part of his trousers. A small bite mark was visible, barely breaking the skin. “Yeah,” Nasir sighed, “It’s just a small mark. Nothing drastic. I’ll be fine.” He stood up again and looked Rafiq in the eyes. “But you... you stabbed the thing,” Nasir hesitated, “the child. No, it was not a child. Not really. I mean...” Rafiq looked away. “I know,” he said.

It had been a child. Once. Rafiq knew that for sure. But he had not realized that in that moment. He only wanted to safe his friend.

It seemed ages ago that he and Nasir had been at the swimming pool, doing their laps as usual. It was one of Rafiq’s favourite pastimes, being able to let go of everything. Just him, his friend and the water. Gliding along as dolphins. How he wished he could return to that moment. Back when his world had not turned crazy. Instead, his mother had called when they had left the pool. She had been hysterical, shouting in that Levantine Arabic dialect of hers. Some crazy people were trying to get into the deli. They had not seem normal. She had even called them demons. Rafiq had not understood what she meant. Now he feared he did.

On their way to the deli, they had seen abandoned cars, scared people running around and buildings on fire. It was like Los Angelos was under attack. Then they had seen it. A group of those things. Hunched over a mutilated corpse, they were feasting on it. Rafiq had felt sick to his stomach, but Nasir had pushed him on to go further. Quickly after that, they had come upon a group of people who had just forced their way into a weapons store. The whole situation was chaotic and threatening. Yet Nasir had argued to go inside as well, for they clearly needed a weapon too. Rafiq had been reluctant, but did not have much time to even consider it. Because in that moment, they had come.

A group of those monsters had sneaked up on the looters, their growling noises drowned out by the angry shouts of the people in the store. Two people were already grabbed before anyone noticed what was going on. Everyone screamed, some stood frozen in fear, others tried to scramble away. The monsters had kept coming, grabbing everyone they could. Before they had a chance to react themselves, one of those things, a boy not even ten years old, had made his way towards them. Nasir had tripped, out of fear or something else, Rafiq did not know. The child had grabbed Nasir’s ankle and tried to bite him. It had been a rush of the moment thing, but somehow Rafiq had picked up a hunting knife - dropped by one of the looters? - and had stabbed the boy in the face. This had given Nasir enough time to get away, but the child had not seem disturbed in the slightest. While a part of his nose was falling off, he kept coming towards them. Rafiq and Nasir had ran.

Rafiq tried to push those thoughts out of his mind. “Come on, man,” he said, “we have to find my parents.” They ran along the streets, knowing the way like the back of their hands. They passed other people. People who were running as well. People who were trying to barricade their shops. People who stood still, drenched in sweat or blood. Some even called for help, but Rafiq ignored them. He knew he had to find his parents and that he was running out of time.

They even occasionally caught a glimpse of those not-quite-people, either shuffling around or trying to get into a building. Without a need to communicate it, Rafiq and Nasir avoided them as best they could. Thankfully, none of the things were noticing them. “At least,” Rafiq said, “they do not appear to be fast. We can probably outrun them.” Nasir smiled faintly. “Thank Allah for that.”

They were nearing the street where his parents’ deli was located. Rafiq held up his hand. “Wait. My mother said they were trying to get in the shop from the front. We better get around the back.” Nasir nodded and they took a turn into one of the alleys. It was deserted, but they could still hear noises all around them. Sirens, cars, people. Growls. The alley was dark, as it always was. Nobody had ever bothered to put up street lamps. Without being able to see, they slowly made their way forward. Rafiq could feel his heart thumping in his chest and never felt this scared in his entire life. What if one of those things was hidden in the alley? What if something had happened to his parents? He did not want to think about it.

Thankfully, they found the distinct red back door of the deli without incident. It was still locked. “At least nobody got through here,” Rafiq sighed with relief. Nasir let out a small groan. “You’re okay?” Rafiq asked his best friend. Nasir looked up at him and tried to smile reassuringly, but failed. “Yeah. Just nauseous. From seeing all this shit, you know.” Rafiq considered him from a second, then turned his attention back to the door. “Okay then,” he said and took out his keys. He unlocked the door and carefully made his way inside.

They entered from the storage into the shop. The deli was quiet. Familiar smells from the herbs and other products reached his nose. He turned the corner and had a full look of the shop. The front door was open, but the place was empty. “Mother? Father?” he said in Arabic. No answer. “They are not here...” Rafiq said quietly. The place was undisturbed, save for a shelf at the front. Lemons, tangerines, pomegranates and mangos were strewn about everywhere. Rafiq sighed defeated and turned towards Nasir. “You better close the door. I’ll check the office. Maybe they left a message.” He opened the door to the office and hoped against hope that his parents would be in there. They were not. He walked over to the desk, but could not find any messages.

“Ra... Rafiq?” Nasir called from the front, “you better get over here.” The way Nasir had said it filled Rafiq with a sense of dread. Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong. He slowly walked towards the front of the shop. Nasir had closed the doors and was now pointing at something outside. Rafiq came up to him and looked through the glass doors. “What is it?”

Then he saw them. His mother and father. But they were not really them. His mother’s arm was torn off. His father had a gaping wound in his stomach, intestines spilling out. They were shuffling around, unseeing, unknowing. Without any hint of humanity left. Rafiq looked at them in horror. Nasir gave him a tight hug.

Rafiq could do nothing but to keep staring at his dead parents in shock.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

0.00 INK

Image
Thomas Blackthorne


The first part of the drive through the suburbs was surreal. Most people here had heeded the broadcasts from the LAPD and were barricaded into their homes. Small groups of walkers were battering away at locked doors and in many cases the doors, or windows, had been smashed in and figures could be seen staggering around the inside of the houses, screams came from all corners.

The Team spoke quietly amongst themselves as they went, excluding the woman due to her civilian status. It was a fast urgent conversation. They had to reconnect with command but all of their radio equipment, save for the short wave sets on their combat harnesses, had been in the boat that flipped over. They could still pick up snatches of military, police and civilian broadcasts but even the radio within the APC was virtually useless. Someone, somewhere, was holding down, or more likely had fallen onto, the transmit button which made it impossible for others to get a word in edgewise.

Thomas was wracking his brain for a plan, he didn't know the area at all, none of them did. Salvation came from an unexpected quarter when the woman suddenly piped up, shoving a map into his face. At that moment he could have kissed her. It was a little old fashioned but it didn't require a cell tower or data streaming so it would do nicely. He quickly folded it down so he could make out the majority of the waterfront. Bishop identified the intersections they passed through and Thomas quickly located them on the map. They were indeed somewhat near Santa Monica, but they were also near to Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. They might be able to find other soldiers there, or at least make contact with the command.

Holloway interrupted his thought process. He sounded bewildered and Thomas couldn't blame him. Only an hour or so ago they had been engaged in training to combat living, thinking, and well armed enemies but now they were faced with something that no amount of training could have ever prepared them for.

50 or so Walkers were shambling down the street. Some of them were bare ass naked, others in their house coats, and even a few in civilian issue hunting camouflage, for all the good it had done them. They were in slow pursuit of a cat that was staring at them in surprise as it skipped a few feet ahead of them. It sensed danger but was clearly one of those few felines that genuinely liked people.

"Run them down, and then take your next right." Thomas said, his finger on the map.

The big trucks engine roared, the cat fled, and the Walkers turned just in time to get hit by a tonne of speeding metal. They bounced off the armoured sides like a bouncy ball does off a wall. Their reaching, grasping arms, made no impression on the armoured plating. Most of them vanished underneath the truck as it roared through them but one, taller than the rest, was hit so that its head tore lose, slammed into the window and for one horrible moment they were face to face with it as it tried to bite through the window. Holloway gave a shout of alarm, hit the windshield wipers and the head vanished. It was almost funny. Thomas hadn't even looked up other than to make sure they didn't miss their turn.

They stayed close to the water as they went. The vast majority of people would likely have headed towards the edge of the city, those that could flee at any rate, and the growing fires further inland testified to the horror that would be taking place there. Street after street flashed by, the entire Team having to avert their eyes every now and then as they saw Walkers, whose numbers seemed to by multiplying swiftly, break into houses and the screams of those inside mingled with the moans as gunshots rang out.

"We can't stop lads, I know it's hard." Thomas felt a great ball of anxiety in his own chest as he spoke. The Team was riding in tense silence now as they watched the city dissolve. "We don't have nearly enough ammunition to be effective out there."

The others nodded and he was grateful for their silence.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

0.00 INK

Stevie Darden

Stevie gripped her seatbelt as she watched walkers. Her first estimate had not been correct; there were far more of them than she'd originally thought that the vehicle sent hurtling off in all directions. She gripped her leather bag and watched in stunned silence as the walker's head gnashed its teeth upon the reinforced window, flicked aside by the swiping windshield wipers thanks to Holloway's quick thinking.

She watched as the APC turned and commandeered a pedestrian walkway as it navigated close to the coastline, avoiding main thoroughfares with more cars lined throughout. Bicycles were still hitched into concrete-laden racks, some in disarray. One person lay clutching the back wheel of a bike; obviously, he hadn't unlatched his lock in time, or had just plain attempted to grab any bike in sight to get away from whatever got him.

The APC remained ensconced in silence as they headed south toward Seal Beach, just outside of Long Beach. Stevie didn't want to open her bag and possibly risk a distraction or annoying the others, so she started to mentally recount what was in her bag. She was in the habit of carrying a bag on long trips; her suitcase was now a long ways away, and held spare changes of clothes, a hair dryer, materials from the conference that she decided she'd just unpack after returning home, and a few small souvenirs she planned to send to her family stationed in D.C. Her parents, and most recently Dean, always poked fun at her for over-packing the bag she'd actually carry with her. Previously she'd had her Ruger in there, and made a mental note to ask for it back when the time was right. She'd had the metro map in there, and also had a map for the entire Pacific coastline stashed within, as backups in case their map apps on their phones were sidelined by sparse rural California cell coverage; other contents included a makeup bag, packs of gum, fruit leather, a cell phone charger, Kleenex, a spare shirt and leggings in case she spilled coffee on herself (as she was prone to do) and didn't want to dig in the packed suitcase for a change of clothes...

Her mental inventory was interrupted by a swift interjection. "Hey, we're not long at all," someone said, "it's just up ahead."

She didn't realize how far they'd traveled; it was almost 40 miles, according to a quick glance at the map's distance key. She peeked carefully over Holloway's shoulder and noticed that the red line on the gas tank was pointing dangerously close to the "E" on the left. She kept her eyes ahead, looking for signs of the black iron fence that typically surrounded most small installations.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins 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: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


It was like somebody had flipped a switch and all hell had broken loose. Calvin watched as several WEND employees abandoned their cameras and desks, frantically running for the exits, as if outside was going to give them any reprieve. A scream rang out behind him as the once-dying babysitter lunged over a nearby worker. Jack's fire poker dangled from her chest like some sort of weird fashion accessory as she chomped down on her victim's shoulder. Calvin had a brief remembrance of watching preying mantis hunt and trap food in the grass behind his house when he was younger. Though much more graceful and infinitely less terrifying, the approach and execution were nearly identical.

To Calvin's left, Harper's head director, Steve, took refuge behind his large oak desk with the little girl, trying to get out of sight. Jack had dropped the rest of the towels and scrambled to find his footing as he ran back into Nathan. Another scream... this one from in front of Calvin. He turned just in time to see a cloud of papers float through the air as the lead anchorman was set upon by his co-anchor. Calvin turned and locked eyes with Nathan, the only guy in the room he knew he could rely on -- and no words were spoken. They knew what they needed to do.

Nathan took off first, heading for the stairs to the rooftop accessway. He bolted right past Chuck, who clutched his wooden bat for dear life, unsure of how to help. Jack gestured at Nathan as he ran off. "Where the hell is he going? We've got to get out of here!" he shouted.

"Back to the truck, GO!" Wayne called out, grabbing Jack by the sleeve. The two of them raced down the staircase towards the garage, without hesitation.

Calvin went for the office, nearly pulling the glass door from its frame. "Steve, we've gotta go!" he shouted, "grab the girl." The two peeked out from behind the desk.

"I'm not abandoning this office," he said, gripping his chair.

Calvin narrowed his eyes. "Do you really want to die here? It's not the time to be honorable, it's time to survive."

The office director gulped, and looked at the little girl. He looked past Calvin at the chaos unfolding all around the newsroom. With all the glass windows it felt like he was inside some kind of fishbowl. He turned to the girl. "C'mon, stay close to me."

They retreated out from under the desk and lined up beside the door behind Calvin. He peered through the blinds out at the newsroom floor, measuring what they were up against. Calvin suddenly recognized the feeling of cold steel against his lower back and remembered the pistol had taken from Ross' office. He pulled it from his waistband and checked it to confirm what he already knew: there were two bullets left. Calvin handed his crowbar to Steve, who took it reluctantly. "Aim for the head," he advised, "and do whatever you have to to keep that girl alive."

The man nodded his understanding, and Calvin pulled the glass door open by the handle. The cacophony from outside the office spilled in, as Calvin's heart began to beat faster. Nobody was going to call cut if he missed his mark here. There were no do-overs or re-takes. He couldn't afford to screw up now. There were too many people counting on him.

As they stepped out of the office, Calvin shielded the other two with his back, aiming the revolver at the babysitter and her first victim. She had taken a nice piece of the WEND employee's face off during the assault, but enough of it remained to turn and see Calvin. It's hulking frame rounded on Calvin, oblivious to anything around it as it stumbled towards him. The girl noticed too, growling with anticipation as she shambled behind.

Nathan still hadn't returned from the roof with Harper. He knew it would be a deathtrap to follow after them, but they were running out of time. The two newscasters and a couple of their camera crew had already broken through the partition to the studio, dragging their bloodied bodies across tables of equipment and soundboards.

Steve hugged the girl close to him as he rushed towards the stairwell to join the others. Calvin backed towards the door, stretching his neck to see if there were any other survivors on the floor, but all he could make out were the droning walking corpses of his undead pursuers. He stood defiantly in the doorway, unwilling to closer the door... knowing full well he'd be closing out any hope of Nathan and Harper getting back safely.

The first walker was within arms reach now as it groped the air trying to get ahold of Calvin. He leveled the revolver at its head and placed his finger over the trigger. Two bullets wasn't a lot, though, and it seemed like a waste. Cursing to himself, he holstered the gun and drew out the pair of scissors he had swiped earlier. Calvin launched himself at the babysitter, driving the blade through her temple and kicking her to the floor. He composed himself barely in time to receive the next assailant, but the walker tripped over the babysitter's corpse and latched itself onto Calvin's pants. The two of them stumbled backwards to the floor with a crash. The walker snarled and snapped its teeth, ferociously, clawing at Calvin with its sharp nails. He kicked and kicked at it trying desperately to separate himself from the walker's clutches, and eventually gained some traction on the ground. Calvin scuttled towards the stairwell using the doorknob handle to pull himself up. He felt the tug of something at his leg and looked down to see that he was partially entangled in the walker's headset.

A thought suddenly crossed Calvin's mind as he grabbed hold of the mic and earpiece and rolled through the doorway. Steve slammed the door shut behind him, blocking any other walkers from entering the stairwell. The little girl watched precociously from a few steps further down. The old man helped Calvin to his feet, and brushed him off. "Close one..."

"You're tellin' me..." Calvin said between breaths. He lifted the headset to his ear and called out, hoping to god that the lifeline to his only friends would somehow come through. "Harper? It's Calvin? Do you read me?"

Silence. And then-- her voice.

"Calvin?"

"Harper! Are you guys alright?"

He could hear the wind blaring against her mic. "We're stuck on the roof," she began, "Maxine and some of the others are blocking the stairwell and we don't have any weapons up here."

Calvin closed his eyes, silently cursing to himself. Steve took the girl by her shoulders and started to lead her down to the garage. As the pair stepped through the door, Calvin could make-out loud voices coming from inside. "There's even more of them down in the newsroom. Steve and I and some of the others made it to the garage..."

Her voice cracked slightly as she said, "We're separated?"

"Looks like it," he said as he ran his hand through his hair. It seemed to be one thing after another. Every person, every minute, a new obstacle. "Sit tight. I'll think of something."

Calvin plugged the earpiece into his ear and jogged the rest of the way down the stairs. He had a feeling he was about to step into a whole different shit show.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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# Sarah Hawke #


Sarah sprinted through the bleachers with Molly in tow. Like a lighthouse in the fog, two beams of headlights cut across the parking lot where her brother sat in his car. She waved her arms, beckoning at him, and he kicked the car into gear peeling up next to them. In the background, dozens of other students tore through the sea of cars, chased by whatever infected things chased them. Sarah got in the backseat so Molly could sit next to her brother. She slammed the door shut, and the kid peeled out.

"Holy shit is it good to see you," he said, eyes darting out the window. "Is this really happening?"

Molly leaned back in her seat. "Y-Yeah... I think it is."

"Molly, I saw one of them-- I saw it..." the kid trailed off, shaking his head. Molly put an arm on his shoulder and looked back at Sarah.

"We saw it too..."

The kid looked back at Sarah through the rear-view mirror. "Who's your friend?"

Sarah crossed her arms. "Sarah. Hawke."

The boy smiled. "You're Calvin Hawke's sister?"

Molly turned around in her seat. "Someone just mentioned him on the news..."

"What?" Sarah said, jumping forward in her seat. "What'd they say?"

Molly turned back around. "Some Channel 8 reporter mentioned she was with him. Ya know Daniel, if it wasn't for her I probably wouldn't have made it... out... of--" Her voice trailed off as something outside the window caught her attention. Her brother seemed to notice it to, as he began to slow the car down. Sarah leaned forwards in her seat, trying to get a better view.

Several feet in front of them, a man in a shredded suit stood with gun pointed squarely at them. He panted heavily, gesturing with his gun.

"Out."

Molly's brother pulled the parking brake and began to unbuckle his seatbelt. She grabbed him by the arm. "What do we do?"

Sarah unbuckled her seatbelt too. "Just get out of the car."

They each slowly opened their doors as their hijacker circled around towards the driver's side door. Once he was near enough, he grabbed Daniel by the arm and dragged him away from the car onto the pavement.

"C'mon, he didn't do anything!" Molly screamed out. "Sarah, do something!"

Daniel swatted at his attacker as he was forced onto the ground, he punched the man in the face and flipped him over, wrestling for his weapon -- but ended up with the tip of the pistol placed square against his head. "Get your hands off me, asshole!" he shouted, swinging furiously.

"Please," Molly begged, "we'll take you anywhere you want! You can go back with us!"

The hijacker pinned the kid down with his knee and stared into Molly's eyes.

"There's no going back..."

BANG!

Molly fell back into Sarah's arms, unable to look at the horror in front of her. Tires squeeled out in front of them as their car sped off down the road. The two girls clutched each other in the middle of the street, unsure of where to go. Molly sobbed into Sarah's shoulder wishing that today never happened.

Sarah looked around for a street sign to figure out where they were. There were too many trees around blocking the street lights for her to make out anything definitively. Out to their right was a small strip mall with a row of storefronts. It seemed quiet enough to take shelter in for the moment, so Sarah led Molly across the street that direction. As they got to the corner, Sarah was able to get a better look at the array of stores. There was a hair salon, a bank, taco joint, ice cream parlor, and a deli. All the shop's lights were off except the hair salon's, which flickered in and out silhouetting a few stray walkers on the walkway in front of the windows. Sarah squinted her eyes as they crouched by the brick wall, trying to make out any movement in the shops ahead.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC)

0.00 INK

Harper Hopkins



Nathan burst out of the stairwell door, rushing as he burst out onto the rooftop and met Harper and Schantz mid-shoot. Harper did her best to not look terrified as she regurgitated statements that had been thrown out by George and Maxine earlier.

He looked over to the small metal "hangar" housing the news department's traffic chopper, operated in conjunction with a radio station's traffic service. The station's pilot for the day had stayed out of the way of the broadcast, preferring to keep in touch on the emergency radio and look over the edge of the roof on occasion.

Harper kept talking. Schantz kept filming. Nathan headed over to the pilot to ask what was going on up there; the pilot informed him that all aircraft were encouraged to stay out of the air and stay safe on the ground if there was no immediate emergency situation. The station's location in West Hollywood was headlong through massive looting and carnage, but not nearly as bad as downtown L.A. or the residential neighborhoods.

At some point, Harper stopped talking. Schantz looked up from her camera. Their newscast director had abandoned the booth and was screaming within earshot of his microphone.

There was no broadcast.

Schantz smushed the "record" button off and stood back from the camera. "Hey, anybody there?" she asked into the channel, hoping desperately that someone had taken the a portable headset that connected to the frequency.

Harper frowned, then glanced at Nathan talking to the pilot. He'd come back to check on them, after whatever had happened downstairs. That was awfully considerate of him.

"Nathan!" she called out, gesturing him over to her as she picked up the cords coming from her earpiece and mic. "What happened down there?"

He left the pilot to monitor his radio and rushed to her, standing in front of both her and Schantz. "Okay, here's the deal," he said, raising his hands in front of him. "Maxine's dead." The two women's jaws dropped. "And that's the good news. The bad news is, these other people came in the newsroom and brought some dying girl with them. We tried to help her, but she started to go crazy, bit a few people... Maxine did the same thing. Except she was in the studio. She totally ate George's face."

"What do we do?!" Schantz asked anxiously. "We can't stay here. We've got to go."

"Come on, you guys have to follow me back down," he said to them quickly.

A loud bang came from the area of the elevator and stairwell. Through the windows of the metal door they could see Maxine's bloody face and smashed nose, ahead of a few other similar faces. On their side, smooth doorknobs made opening the door harder than a handle or push-lever would have. Wrenching hands punched the metal by the glass.

Safe, for now.

"Nathan, there's no way I'm following you that way," Harper said after a brief moment of surprise.

The channel fizzled to life when Calvin buzzed them via the other portable headset. After the quick exchange, the four communed close to the helicopter.

"Okay," Harper said, calmly looking at the pilot, "we're going to need to leave the roof. You're going to take us."

The pilot nodded. "Yep, I can," he said immediately, "but this is a small chopper. Can't hold much more weight."

"That's all right," Harper answered quickly, "we don't have much up here to carry down. This is the only way out. We need to go to a safe place."

"What about a military base?" Schantz blurted out. "They've got walls. And guns. Lots of guns."

Nathan nodded to Harper. "We went to Seal Beach a few weeks back, remember?" he asked. "It's just south of here. We can fly down that way."

"They'll want to know who we are," the pilot stated calmly, "but I bet lots of people are heading that way."

Harper nodded. "Yes, but they won't have a helicopter. And I see no other way of getting down."

Nathan had to agree with her. There were no ugly green curtains to get them out of a jam this time.

The door banged. Schantz drew in a sharp breath. "Oh shit, oh shit!" she said quickly. She pulled off her headset and handed it to Nathan. "I'm helping the pilot. You, figure it out with the others." She took off with the pilot to help with flight prep, something she'd done what had felt like a million times before.

Nathan jammed the headset on and clicked to talk to Calvin. "Yo, Calvin, mind grabbing some gear out of lock number 56? I've got my favorite tripod and metal bat in there," he called out. Harper made a few numbers with her hands. "Oh, and Harper's is number 40. Just bash the locks, don't worry about combos. Open all the lockers and take what's there if you want. I'll take the flak if this whole thing's a joke."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Image

Thomas Blackthorne


They saw the Walkers before they saw the fence, hundreds of them, all of them moaning and trying to climb the high fence, even ramping up in some places. Massive floodlights lit the space beyond, affectively back lighting the entire horde like some grotesque nightmare.

"Go left, go left!" Blackthorne shouted to be heard over the din of the Walkers. "Access gate should be two hundred yards up on your right!"

Holloway spun the big trucks wheel and it drifted slightly, smashing into the crowd of Walkers with a dull meaty thud. Tires screamed, the smell of burning rubber mixed with cries of the Walkers and then the truck leapt forward again, ploughing through the Walkers like an NFL line backer through a little league team.

Blackthorne strained to see into the Naval Station and what he saw did not fill him with much hope. Small arms flashes were everywhere, bodies littered the tarmac and he could see desperate hand-to-hand combat on at least two of the three moored ships. The first two were old class Frigates, one was even on fire, it was clear that their crews were not winning the battle. The third, and furthest down the wharf, was a big Guided Missile Cruiser and he could see the name Bunker Hill printed on the gangway that led from shore to ship.

"Hang on!" Holloway yelled as he swung the truck to the left and then slammed the wheel to the right so that the heavy vehicle tore into the massed Walkers that were already surging through the broken gates. A dozen paces inside the gate a military police truck was rocking violently as Walkers dragged the passengers from inside and began to tear them apart. The APC narrowly missed the back end of the MP's car, two walkers crunching brutally under the reinforced tires.

"Make for the third ship!" Blackthorne roared at Holloway as he popped the hatch above his head and stood. He turned in place and fired a short burst into the head of the struggling MP closest to him. The man was missing half his leg already but the mercy kill would save him the pain of what came next.

Blackthorne turned back around so that he could see down the length of the wharf. Small arms fire pricked the night from the flight deck of the big cruiser and he could see her lines beginning to snap one by one as power was given to her engines. The gang way was falling free. It hung for a moment and then plunged into the sea.

"Mother fuckers! NO!" He swore and then, with the vehicle swaying beneath him, he aimed and fired a burst at the super structure of the ship. He saw sparks fly as the bullets cut a path high above the heads of the human defenders but it sure got their attention. They looked towards him, finally, and he waved frantically. He almost cried in relief as he saw someone wave in response as they grabbed a radio.

Then the APC gave a cough and the engine died.

"That's it!" He heard Holloway shout from inside. "We're walking!"

They were still a hundred yards from the Bunker Hill and he could hear the men on the flight deck screaming at them to run, the ship was going to begin making way shortly. Fifty or more Walkers lay between them the ship and, as the others piled out, Thomas began to fire into those nearest to them. He emptied his last clip for the MP5 and threw it aside, drawing his pistol as he dropped through the hatch and clambered out on the pavement.

"Move your asses!" Someone on board the Bunker Hill had gotten their hands on a megaphone and was encouraging them as only the military mind can.

More men appeared at the rail of the flight deck and a murderous barrage of fire was laid down, clearing a path for the refugees. Blackthorne grabbed the woman about her waist, amazed she was still with them, and began to run with her, firing at the Walkers with his sidearm. The big ship was still moving slowly forward and her last lines snapped with a sound like a gunshot.

He threw aside his pistol as the last round was expended and focused all of his efforts on running. The woman was in good shape but nothing compared to the special forces soldiers and he could feel her tiring.

"Holloway, her other arm!"

The big black Sergeant fired his last round and grabbed her other arm. Together the two of them virtually lifted her off the ground as they ran. They were gaining on the ship and Blackthorne could see a mass of white foam pour out from beneath the stern as someone ordered the engines reversed for a moment to hold the ship steady.

"Heads!" A shout came from the flight deck and a rope curved high and then fell towards them. It struck the tarmac thirty feet in front of them and Bishop hurried forward to take hold of it.

"Girl first!" Blackthorne panted as he and Holloway rushed up. They took the rope and made a quick sling out of it, placing the rope over her head so that it was beneath her arms and then hurried her to the edge of the jetty. It was a good forty-foot drop and Blackthorne made certain she kept her eyes on him as he spoke quickly.

"Hold on here, with both hands." He guided her hands with his. "Close your eyes and don't open them until you're on board." She nodded and he pushed her into space. She gave a small scream and then spun crazily for a moment, bouncing off the steel hull before she shot skyward as dozens of willing hands took hold of the line and dragged her upwards. She vanished over the edge of the flight deck in moments.

"We've got company Sarg." Butskiy shouted, still kneeling and firing. The Walkers, while not terribly fast, were relentless. Dozens of them were slowly pushing forward and though the gunfire from the upper decks remained undiminished it was clear that the shooters didn't know they had to hit the head to kill them. Blackthorne saw countless little pops of grey flesh as bullets passed through torsos. He turned and shouted up towards the flight deck.

"Head shots! Head shots!" It was no use; they couldn't hear him over the blaze of gunfire.

Three ropes came sailing over this time and landed virtually on top of the small party. Blackthorne tapped Butskiy on the shoulder and took his weapon, jerking his head towards the waiting ropes.

"Up you go. And don't fucking argue." He snapped as the other man opened his mouth to argue. "Move yourself."

The three corporals went next while the Sergeants, Holloway and Blackthorne, stayed on the tarmac, firing carefully as the horde drew ever closer. Blackthorne risked a glance over his shoulder, the other three were only half way up to the flight deck. He swore and fired the last round from his weapon. He fitted his bayonet while Holloway did the same next to him.

He heard a shout as the three soldiers made the flight deck but didn't have time to turn as the first of the Walkers reached them. He ducked a clumsy swing and stabbed swiftly with the bayonet. It struck the creature right in the eye and it collapsed with a gurgle. He kicked the bayonet free and jabbed towards the next attacker, the long blade travelling up beneath the jaw and forcing its head back but failing to reach the brain.

He tried to drag the blade free but it had become lodged somehow and the weapon was torn from his grasp by the Walkers frenzied movements. He kicked out, sending the Walker tumbling back into several of its advancing fellows. Then he heard it, the blessed call from above.

"Heads!"

Whoever had made the throw deserved a pitchers job in the Major League. The throw landed on his shoulder. He didn't even bother to flip it under his arms. Instead he wrapped it around his right forearm and with a quick step hurled himself into space. He felt a hand grip his harness and heard the grunt of a Walker as it came off the jetty with him.

Their combined weight made their drop, and subsequent fall, happen that much faster. They slammed into the side of the ship and the creature lost its grip, plunging down into the water, still trying to reach towards him. Pain had exploded in his brain and lights danced before his eyes but he held on for dear life as the rope rose swiftly towards the flight deck. Above him he could see Holloway vanish over the side.

Then it was his turn, willing hands reaching down to pull him to safety. He gasped a thank you to the men who had grabbed him before collapsing onto his back on the flight deck. Never had non-skid decking felt so welcome in all his life. His entire right arm and side were on fire. Beneath him he could feel the rumble of the ships engines as they engaged and began to drive them forwards once more.

A Petty Officer knelt next to him and offered him a bottle of water. "Rest easy buddy, we've got you."

"Thanks." Blackthorne responded as he chugged the water even as he turned to look for his team. Four grins and thumbs up told him that they were okay. He painfully dragged himself to his feet and staggered over to the woman they had brought with them. She was sitting staring towards the city and he knelt next to her, wrapping his good arm around her.

The city was burning. Somewhere something had exploded and the fire, unchecked by man, was raging out of control. Walkers seethed everywhere, in every street, on the beach and even in the harbour where the water was choked with floating, writhing corpses in lifejackets. The APC sat forlornly amid the sea of Walkers that had flooded through the broken gates and behind them one of the warships shivered from an internal explosion.

"I’m sorry about Dean." Was all he said as he gave her shoulders a squeeze.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden

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Stevie Darden


Stevie swiveled her head over to meet the Sergeant's exhausted, wired eyes. It took her a few seconds to process what he had said. She nodded and pulled her knee-length orange coat, spattered with rust-colored flecks of blood, off of her shoulder opposite from Thomas. After all the running combined with the warm night air, it was beginning to get hot. Earlier in the day, when there was a breeze in the morning, the coat had seemed like a good idea, even though Dean had made fun of her a little for wearing it.

She felt as stiff as a board, surprised at just how calm she really was being. Freaking out wasn't her go-to reaction during a tough situation, but she still found it incredible that she hadn't been in an all-out panic mode. "Don't be sorry, you did what you had to do," she responded quietly. The image of Dean with his arm missing and his face torn to shreds filled her brain. She took a deep breath, feeling her chest start to tighten. She exhaled and shook her head, still looking ahead at the burning city. "By the time you did it... it... it wasn't him anymore. Don't even worry about it."

Everything felt like a blur. Even the beach felt like a blur. Even the hours spent hidden in the shack felt like they might have never happened. Her head spun and her heart pounded. On the surface, she looked exhausted, with flushed red cheeks and blinking eyes. On the inside, she fought against her body's urge to pass out, the fires starting to form sparkling, cloudy dots in her vision. It was everything she could do to keep from passing out.

She looked over her shoulder in the other direction at one of the men who'd helped her onto the ship. "Hey," she called out, "you don't have a way to access a DSN line on here, do you?"

The Petty Officer furrowed his brow, unsure of how a civilian knew what that was. "We've got VoIP capability, but good luck even getting on right now," he responded. "Why?"

She took in another deep breath to clear the clouds from her eyes. "Pentagon," she managed simply, "my dad's at the Pentagon. He and my family are in D.C. I have to know that they're okay."

He nodded. "Sure," he said slowly. "First chance we get, we'll try that. But for now we still need to make sure we get out of here safe."

Stevie sighed again. "Okay, thank you so much," she answered politely as the man sauntered off quickly to learn what else needed to be done. She had a feeling that her family was going to be okay. If anyone were to be able to survive anything like this, it would be them. Dad might have made it to the point in his career where he spent more time behind a desk than being out and about, but his years' worth of experience as an infantryman was never going to go to waste. Add one determined mother and two unbelievably tough sisters, and a family contingency plan they'd always talked about while growing up: stick together at all costs. Stevie suddenly felt bad for anyone who might cross paths with the four, and her heart sunk a little at the thought of being separated from them to the tune of thousands of miles.

But being on a frigate was the second-best possible outcome. In a strange way, it felt at least a little normal. She'd spent most of her time around the U.S. Army, a lot around the Air Force, and not as much around the Navy or Marines, but still a bit. A quick study of Thomas in her mind told her that he wasn't American. Canadian, maybe? His accent wasn't too far off.

"What do we do now?" she asked him, somewhat comforted by the feeling of his arm around her, reminding her that everyone else was probably just as scared as she was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

Bang!

The noise snapped Rafiq back into reality. “What was that?” He asked Nasir, who had sat down on the stool behind the counter. He appeared tired. Nasir rubbed his eyes and said, “What was what?” Rafiq shook his head. “Never mind.” He looked back out through the glass doors. His parents and two other walkers had turned their attention to something else, slowly moving away from the shops. Rafiq suddenly felt madness coming over him. He turned back to his friend. “You look like shit. Why don’t you go into the office and grab some aspirin or something?” Nasir did not protest, but simply stood up and entered the office.

With his friend out of sight, he picked up the hunting knife that he had dropped on the floor earlier. He silently opened the door and stepped outside. He was not sure what he was doing. He took a step forward. Somehow he felt a sudden need to get close to his parents and do something. He took another step. He had to put them out of their misery. If only he kept really quiet. They would not hear him and...

Then he noticed the two girls opposite in the street. They were crouched down and staring at him. He stared back. In the faint light of the moon, he could just see that they were both blond and in their twenties. One was holding on to the other. Sisters? The other one was staring at the knife in his hand, still bloodied from before. Suddenly he realized how he must look. And how stupid he was. What was he thinking?! He must have gone insane.

Movement at the end of the street caught Rafiq’s attention. An entire group of walkers was coming towards them! The girls did not seem to notice, but were still staring at him. He beckoned them to come over. One shook her head, still staring at his knife suspiciously. Rafiq lowered the knife and pointed behind them in a panic. They both looked back and one of them screamed, “Sarah!”, which only focused the walkers attention on them. The other girl – Sarah - pulled the screamer up and pulled her along towards Rafiq. “Follow me,” he whispered.

They ran back into the deli and Rafiq closed the doors behind them. Knowing the glass wouldn’t hold long, he looked at Sarah, who seemed to be the more assertive of the two. “We need to lower the security gates, or they’ll get in. Grab that piece over there and start turning it.” Sarah did what she was told immediately. As they lowered the gates, Nasir walked back into the shop. “Wow! Who are you? Where do you come from?” Rafiq shot him an angry look. “Not now!”

He could see the walkers coming closer. They were groaning angrily, hungry for something. Just as the gate hit the pavement, the first walkers reached the shop. They grabbed the gate and began clawing at it, the chains rattling under the pressure. “Do you think it will hold?” Sarah whispered. Rafiq nodded. “It should.”

They spent the next few minutes without speaking a word, all holding their breath in fear. The rattling of the gate was nerve wrecking. The growls the undead made was downright terrifying. Suddenly, without warning, the walkers lost interest or were distracted by something else and moved away from the deli.

It was Sarah who broke the silence. “Thank you. They would have caught us if it weren’t for you.” She looked at the knife, the suspicion on her face not entirely gone. “The way you were standing out there. With that knife. Well, we just...” She looked away. The other girl began sobbing. “Ow Daniel...” she moaned. Sarah walked over and patted her on the back. “This is Molly. She... she just lost her brother. My name is Sarah.” She looked up at the two Arabic men, clearly expecting their names as well.

Rafiq tried to be reassuring in his tone, but was not sure if he succeeded. “My name is Rafiq. This is my friend Nasir. I’m sorry about your brother.” “Yeah, I’m sorry too,” Nasir said, “Some of those things got Rafiq’s parents as well.” Rafiq closed his eyes, not feeling like discussing this. Molly wiped away her tears. “My brother was not killed by those things. Some bastard killed him for our car. Shot him in cold blood.” She said sadly. Nasir sagged to the floor, raising his arms in despair. “What has this world coming too!” He exclaimed.

Sarah looked at Nasir, worry showing in her face. “Are you okay? You look ill.” Nasir smiled that smile that he used when he did not want to show how bad things were. “Don’t worry. It’s just my luck to contract the flu at the end of the world,” he said jokingly. “I’ll be fine.” Sarah was not convinced but decided to let it go for now. Instead, she said, “So, what now?”

Rafiq considered for a moment. “We have to get out of here. It will only be a matter of time before they, or some looters, come back.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins 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: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Chuck Cherry (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


If this was some kind of joke, Calvin didn't want to be around for the punchline.

He stepped out of the coolness of the stairwell into the garage. Jack, Wayne, James, and Chuck were heavily engaged in some argument. Steve had taken Lily to the corner and sat her down on a spare tire, trying to distract her. Calvin stepped into the huddle of men to interject.

"What the hell is the problem down here?" he asked in frustration.

Chuck backed up against the control panel to the door, wielding his bat as he tried to fend off the others. Jack circled the newscaster like a prowling cat. The mustached man, thankful of Calvin's return, tried to appeal to him in his moment of need. "They were trying to open the door and let in every one of those drooling freaks from outside!" Chuck shouted. "They'll compromise the entire station."

Jack thrust a finger at the bumbling man. "Compromise? Did you see what just happened up there? You already lost the station."

Calvin threw himself between the two of them, pushing them back from one another. Getting under Jack's arms, he was able to get him pinned against the side of the truck. They were now face-to-face, eyes locked. "I don't think we lost anything. I think a some cowboys came riding in and dropped a damn bomb on our lap... that's what I think happened." Jack wrestled himself from Calvin's grasp, glaring at him as he walked away.

"Where are the others?" Chuck asked, quietly.

Calvin shook his head. "I don't know who's left, but some of them are trapped on the roof. I just talked to Harper," he said, tapping his earpiece. He hoped they had figured something out, because he had no idea how he was going to get through to them with the newsroom in the state it was. "Look, we're safe in here, OK? There's no point in rushing off before we've had a chance to talk things out."

Wayne scratched his head, "Alright. What do you have in mind?"

Calvin looked around at the others, face-by-face. "I was thinking about this earlier. We need to get to high ground. Somewhere entrenched... secluded. If there's any chance of us getting rescued, it's going to be from somewhere accessible. We have got to get out of this city before we go down with it."

James, who had been sitting in the truck the whole time, chimed in from behind the wheel. "What are we waiting for then?"

Calvin bit his lip, a bit unsure of how to proceed. He suddenly remembered what Harper had said to him. "There should be some lockers in that storage room over there. Wayne, why don't you take Jack and see what you can find in there," he began, pointing to one side of the room. "Chuck, search the news van for anything useful... see if you can find us some radios." The man nodded and crossed over to the vehicle, sliding the side door open to reveal its cluttered interior. Streaks of bloody handprints still covered most of the panelling from their close call with the walkers earlier.

Calvin ducked his head into the open passenger seat window of the truck. James had lit up a cigarette at some point. He held it in his lips with no hands, puffing away. "James... you uh, keep doing what you're doing."

The man grunted, a plume of smoke billowing out from beneath his stubbled lip. "Mmhmm."

"Steve, can I get your hand over here?" The ex-news director stood up and came over to Calvin. "How's she doing?"

The two of them looked over their shoulders at the little girl on the tire. She had found a loose rock somewhere and was scraping out little chalk drawing on the concrete floor. "Honestly, I don't know," Steve replied. "I haven't heard her say a single word this whole time."

Calvin couldn't blame the kid. "Listen, can you help me rummage through the garage. We're looking for anything that'll help: weapons, tools, food, clothing. Pack it into the truck if you find something." Steve nodded his head and put an arm on Calvin's shoulder.

"I'm glad somebody down here's taking charge."

Calvin shrugged. "I'm nobody's leader..."

"Why not?" Steve asked, lowering his voice. "Seems to me you're just the kind of guy they need right now. A face they recognize. A face they can trust."

The thought was interrupted by Chuck, who sat on the edge of the van grunting as he struggled with some tangled cords of various gadgets and recording equipment. Steve wandered away, beginning to scrounge through different drawers and cabinets for any supplies.

"Why aren't we packing the van?" James asked, sternly.

"We can't take both of these. If they happen to make it back down--" Calvin stopped a second, weighing the chances of that ever happening. "I just don't want to leave them without some way out of here."

Between them all they only had a bat, a crowbar, a knife, some scissors, a gun with two bullets, and a rifle with however much ammunition. They weren't necessarily equipped to throw down, but they could manage. At least they were in greater numbers now. Both a blessing and a curse, really.

Calvin joined in and began scouring the garage for stuff just when his mic chirped from the other side. He put his hand up, adjusting it in his ear for better sound. "Harper? Hello?"

"Calvin..." Her voice sounded a bit thinner now that they were further apart.

"Hey... are you alright?"

"We're fine, listen Calvin... we've got a way off the roof and we've got a plan. Just sit tight, and we'll--"

KSHSHSHSHSSHSHHHhhhhhh

"Harper? Hello? ... Shit."

The feed cut out with a sharp hiss as something loud drowned Harper out on her end. For whatever it was worth, they had found a way to get off that roof. But it sounded like Calvin and the others would be on their own for awhile. That changed things only slightly. Calvin grabbed a small toolbag off of one of the shelves and started packing anything that caught his eye, a wrench, a handsaw, duct tape, wire cutters...

Suddenly, something echoed out in the stairwell. Wayne had just unloaded arms full of gear into the bed of the truck and heard it too. "Did you--"

THUD!

Another one. This one was closer. Wayne and Calvin approached the door, leaning their ears close. The sounds were unmistakeable, as splintering wood signaled the walkers descent down the stairs. Wayne jumped back from the door.

"Shit, you guys, we gotta hustle!"

Everyone in the garage kicked it into overdrive as James keyed the truck's ignition and revved the engine. Jack came jogging out of the storage room with another metal bat and some backpacks jammed full of stuff. He swung them up into the back of the truck and hopped in himself. Lily got into the middle seat next to James and began buckling herself in.

Calvin turned to Chuck and the van. "Guess you're with me. Hit the door and let's go." The newscaster dropped the wires he was working on and threw the equipment back into the van. He ran to the control panel near the garage door and looked back at the others to make sure they were ready. Jack tapped his bat against the side of the truck.

"If you're done pressing my buttons, maybe you can press that one," he offered up, dryly. Chuck tossed him one of the walkies he found in the van and punched the controls as the door rose to reveal the blackened lot outside. James kicked the truck into reverse, tearing back out of the driveway and spinning it around to point the nose the other direction. Calvin started the van and followed, giving one glance at the news station through his side mirror. Every part of him hated leaving Nathan and Harper like this... but they had to do it to survive. On top of the roof he could see the rotors of the news chopper start to spin. He could see Harper and the others climb into it as the gentle hum of the blades grew louder and louder.

Calvin just hoped it wasn't the last time he would ever see them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC)

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Harper Hopkins


Schantz jammed the tripod in the door's handles as Nathan pinned the door shut. While Harper shut off her IFB channel, the small helicopter started to prep for takeoff, its rotor blades starting to whir centrifugally to life.

Harper ran over to grab her large purse and her jacket that she'd removed earlier. "Harp, those people are STRONG," Schantz called over the noise. "I don't know how long that thing is going to last."

They got their answer when they heard the sharp whine of fast-bending metal. The top-of-the-line, titanium-reinforced tripod was no match for the walkers in the hall as they succeeded in busting the doors off of their secured runnings. A few more good pushes and that thing would crumple out onto the ground.

Schantz ducked under the spinning blades and hurled herself into the seat next to the pilot, motioning for the two to join. Nathan and Harper started to sprint ahead, just as the tripod predictably sprang apart. Maxine and two editors started to break toward them, snarling like vicious primeval predators. Nathan looked over his shoulder as he pushed Harper ahead, shocked that the wild-eyed, messy-haired, thrashing bony walker rushing toward them was so much unlike the old Maxine, slow and dramatic and sour-faced, without a single hair out of place.

Nathan skittered under the helicopter's blades and climbed in. Harper threw her bag ahead into Nathan's hands and made her way inside. A lot easier than they thought it would be. Nathan pulled the small hatch shut seconds before the trio smashed into the side of the chopper, their bodies smashing against the hull. The small craft lifted off of the ground and took off southward to Seal Beach. Harper was glued to the window, observing the fast-moving rush of bodies, face and arms as they got smaller and smaller. "Buckle up!" the pilot attempted to shout over the engulfing noise.

Too late. Harper fell face-first into the wall as the craft banked a hard left to circle off in the correct direction. Nathan, who had already secured himself in the bench seating behind the pilot and Schantz, instinctively pulled her away and close in, wrapping both arms around her waist. She kicked her feet onto the wall to stabilize herself. Nathan pulled her in a little more. She reached a hand up to her face and grimaced as she felt a trickle of blood. "FUCK!" she burst out, the first moment she had shown any sign of real panic in hours. Nathan kept her pulled in as the craft leveled once again, gripping tightly to keep her head up and away from the door or the ceiling. It briefly made him think of the night he met her, after the station welcome party when a group decided to go out on the town. The two danced for what had seemed like hours to Nathan. Very enjoyable hours.

Harper breathed heavily, briefly staring ahead, adrenaline rushing. If she had a reply, Nathan didn't hear it over the noise. He loosened his grip so that she could set herself into her own crash webbing, seated close to him on the bench.

The pilot shouted above the noise once more, knowing full well that not everyone in the craft had a headset to hear him better with. "JUST AHEAD, IT'S SWARMED!"

Harper's jaw dropped as she saw Seal Beach from overhead. The Naval Station stood out sharply, fires blazing off of the customary cookie-cutter buildings littered across the installation. Just off the shoreline a few frigates sat atop the orange water, some spewing flames of their own. One, however, featured people dotting along its surface, broken away about one hundred yards away from the others.

The pilot took a hard dive toward the frigate. Nathan swiped his arm behind Harper and covered her head. Schantz gripped the edge of her seat and turned behind to the two. She mouthed something, but the pilot inexplicably lost control of the craft and suddenly the water was above their heads.

SMASH.

Shutting his eyes, he unbuckled Harper's restraints and set himself free next. The doors had blown their way open. Harper's bag flew off of her, becoming disattached from her shoulder, as she sped kicking for the surface, grabbing Nathan's hand and pulling him up with her.

The four popped their heads above the surface of the water, drifting in a messy spiral thanks to the still-spinning blades as the helicopted submerged further and further beneath the surface of the water. They'd barely missed the frigate.

"HEY!" Nathan managed up to the crew looking over the edge of the floating safe haven, his boundless energy powering the volume of his shout, "A little help?!"

Harper blew the salty water out of her nose and worked her way to Nathan to float beside him. Schantz approached as well, her wet hair matting flat on her head as she struggled to keep above the choppy water. The pilot had started to swim on his way over, but let out a yelp as he was dragged beneath water. He splashed back up. "HELP!" he called out.

"Just swim!" Schantz responded to him. "Just swim over!"

Harper yelped suddenly when she felt a cold, squishy hand grip her heel. "They're in the water!" she screamed, kicking her white flat off along with the walker's hand.

The pilot disappeared back below the water, then popped back up, a raw, salt-rotted face ripping his collarbone to chewed ribbons.

Harper screamed again, feeling some kind of relief when she saw Schantz lift up into the air. She looked over and saw Nathan struggling similarly, kicking his legs down and smushing a face below the surface. "Come here!" he shouted to her as he took a hold of a lowered harness.

Without thinking she flailed her way toward him, the cold blast of Pacific water switching fast into frigid ocean breeze as she sailed into the air. Nathan held her again tight around the waist, very close, and she flung her arms around his neck to stay stable. The next thing she knew, Nathan hurled her over the metal rail aboard the surface of the frigate. She coughed and rolled over on her side, curling into a ball as she caught her breath. Nathan followed suit, flat on his stomach beside her.

Schantz was already up, a blanket draped around her shoulders and holding a bottle of water, standing in front of a small group of assorted sailors and a few others. She stared at them wordlessly, too tired to think.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


While Natasha went up into the building to get her boyfriend, Dyomie stayed behind with her sister. She looked around. There wasn't much in the garage, but there were a spare few things here and there. Dyomie took out one of their bags and started putting whatever she could find inside it; be it tools, a pair of roller skates, and something random on the ground that she didn't look to closely at.

"Dy?" Marie said. Dyomie looked over to her sister who was hugging herself, "What happens now?"

Dyomie knew what Marie meant. It wasn't just what happens next, but what happens when they get out of the city, or if they survive, "Honestly Tidbit I'm not sure. The best we can do now is survive, for each other. Live from day to day or second to second. I doubt there will be much planning after all this." She said walking over to Marie and hugging her. Everything was quiet, which left Dyomie a bit unsettled, but she knew that at this moment they were safe enough to just hold each other. Natasha came back into the garage with the door banging loudly, a man coming behind her. The two got into the car, with the sisters scrambling in after them.

"We should be safe in here, that gate is secure enough to prevent anyone or anything getting in. It’s the same with the staircase, we could stay here the night and then go to the police station during the day? It’d probably be safer," Natasha said.

Dyomie looked to her sister who was unwilling to hold a gaze with anyone. She would love to keep her sister safe for the night, but just because this cop believed this place to be secure Dyomie couldn't help but think of those things busting down her door. Plus she doubted if anyone was going to get sleep tonight and if they weren't going to sleep then they should be trying to put distance between themselves and the city. "I think we should head to the police station. You said their would be weapons and I think we should keep moving. If we stop that will give these things time to find us and catch up. We should just keep moving," Dyomie said. The thief was pretty sure that this woman was going to start fighting with her, but surprisingly no words were exchanged, just the car starting to move again.

Outside it was complete chaos. Cars were crashed on the sides of the roads, bodies were everywhere, and small fires starting in some of the buildings. It certainly did look like the world had ended with them passing slowly by it. Some of the walkers had taken interest in the moving vehicle, but thankfully there was enough stuff between them and the walkers that the things were stumbling slowly to get to them. The station wasn't far from where they had left, but it had taken longer than it would have on a good day, what with the traffic and the fact they had to drive through some allies at times. When they pulled up to the station however, Dyomie was starting to regret her choice at coming here when it was getting so dark.

Walkers were surrounding the station, stumbling aimlessly around the building. They had parked a little ways away when they noticed the walkers in the distance. The cop turned the car off, hoping none of them had taken notice in the noise of the engine.

"What now?" Marie asked. Dyomie dragged her hand over her face as she thought. It was too late to head back to the safety of the garage now and they needed whatever weapons they could get, meaning they had to get inside that station.

"We'll have to clear it out so we can give ourselves more time to gather whatever weapons are left," Dyomie said. Her brain worked hard at trying to figure out how to do this. She was a thief, sure she wasn't used to killing monsters, but essentially what they were doing was going to steal weapons. Something clicked in her head. They were just here to steal. She looked towards the walkers as they walked back and forth, just like guards. This was like any other mission she had accomplished so far, she was telling herself, the only difference was she was going up against monsters who seemed to like the taste of human flesh and she didn't know where anything was, she would be going in blind in other words.

"Alright, blondie you're with me. We'll have to take these things out one at a time and as quickly and quietly as possible. We'll clear a path out here so when the inside is safe you," she pointed to the guy, "and Tidbit can run in quickly if needed, but don't come in until I tell you Marie. Still have your walkie?"

Marie nodded.

"Good. Now blondie, since this is your station you're the best one to help me figure out where these weapons are, so you'll need to stay behind me every step of the way and take out any of these Cretans that come too close. I'll head out in front and take out as many as I can. We'll move step by step in this, the trick is to keep going only stopping for a few seconds and don't make any noise; breathe through the nose and walk on the balls of your feet; always stay in a position that you'll be ready to fight in, elbows in, a good balanced position; and most importantly no guns," Dyomie said giving Natasha instructions. She looked towards the building. The walkers were mostly crowded around the front door and windows beside it. There was a door on the side, but Dyomie planned to go to the roof in case it was jammed, locked she would be able to deal with but jammed would cause too much noise to get through. She took a deep breath and got out of the car, swinging her backpack over her shoulder. They would have to look for something to use as weapons now since their guns would be staying with Marie and the Natasha's honey. There were two bits of metal, probably from something that had broken off there. She picked them up and gave one to Natasha.

"Ready blondie? Though honestly it doesn't matter if you are or not," Dyomie said as she made her way to the station. Her movements were that of a trained thief, quick, quiet, and sure footed. She was constantly looking in every direction she could and the bar she had in her hand was raised and ready to hit something. Just another day at the job, she kept reminding herself as they neared the station, their direction towards the side door, sidelining away from the big crowd of walkers out front.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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.: Sarah Hawke :.


Speckled beams of light shot through the slitted metal gate as dozens of walkers poured against it, clawing and scraping with their bloodied hands. The shadow of their backlit silhouettes played over the four huddled strangers in the dimly-lit deli like a dark fog. Sarah broke the silence with a sniffle. She had run out of the classroom with nothing but her t-shirt, and it wasn't until now -- when she had finally stopped running -- that she had started to feel the deep coldness of the night air.

Rafiq glanced over at her. "Are you crying?" he asked her quietly.

"No, I'm not crying," she snapped back.

"Hey, you--" she said, calling over to the young man's friend. He had his back slightly to them on the farther side of the shelf of goods, scratching at something on his leg. Once he realized she was talking to him, he quickly stopped.

He looked around at the others. "Who? Me?" Sarah continued to glare at him.

"There's blood on his pants!" Molly exclaimed, pointing at Nasir and backing away.

Rafiq stood up, raising his hands in defense of his friend. Sarah had backed Molly up towards the main isle, huddled together. "No, no, no. He's fine! Just a small gash. Tell 'em, Nasir."

His friend shrugged, wiping some of the sweat from his reddened forehead. "I really do feel fine. It's no big--"

"Were you bit?" Sarah yelled, cutting him off. Her hands had balled into fists. She still didn't know what the cause of all this was, but knowing the nature of infection this was something airborne or biological. All it could take from one of these things is a bite or scratch -- a little blood in the wrong place -- and it could be game over. Would he change instantly like a werewolf? Or did it takes hours? Days?

Werewolves, Sarah? Really? she thought to herself.

Nasir looked to Rafiq nervously. Their eyes spoke to each other.

Rafiq smiled slightly. "Simply a cut."

Sarah narrowed her eyes at the two, no closer to knowing if she had just been played. Trust was going to be a hard thing to earn back after what she had just seen done to Daniel. People were desperate enough to do anything to survive -- and that was almost more terrifying than the mass of biters staring at her through the grated door. "C'mon, Molly. We're leaving," she said taking the girl by the hand. She began leading her towards the rear exit, praying that none of those things had managed to come around back.

"Please," Rafiq protested, "we-- we need help. If we want to get out of the city, we're going to need each other."

Sarah turned on him, throwing her hands in the air. "Look-- I appreciate you taking us in here. You probably saved us from being those biters' dinner right now. Don't think we don't appreciate that. But--" she turned to look at Molly-- the poor girl's eyes looking at her with the weariness of a thousand lifetimes. She had seen more today than she could have stomached in her whole life. "What we saw out there--" Sarah lowered her gaze to the floor. "Nothing's ever going to be the same again. Not after this. How are we supposed to escape this?"

The two boys looked at one another, solemnly-- and suddenly an idea hit Rafiq, perking him up.

"Would a Vespa help?" he asked, excitedly.



~ + ~



Minutes later, Rafiq cracked open the door, pressing his eye to the crack to scan outside. The street lamps really were vacant in this area and the general clamor of the city was making it difficult to really hear anything distinctly -- especially with the horde of walkers causing a ruckus on the other side of the store. He turned back to the others, gripping his knife. "I think we're as ready as we're gonna be..." he said. The others nodded, and Rafiq gently stepped out into the night, making sure to keep his head on a swivel as he crouch-ran towards the two parked Vespas. "Ever driven one of these?" he asked.

Sarah ran her hands along the grooves of the handlebars, feeling the smooth metal against her fingertips. "My oldest brother had a bike growing up. He used to take me on a few spins with that thing. Can't be any harder than this, right?"

Rafiq tossed his set of keys to her. "Then Nasir and I will take the green bike so you two can ride together."

Sarah nodded. "Thanks..."

She rose her leg over the bike, mounting it as Molly took the same position behind her gripping her tight. Molly poked her head over Sarah's shoulder. "This is gonna be cold, isn't it?"

Sarah grinned. "First one with tears dripping down their face loses."

Molly butted heads, playfully. "You're on."

It was nice seeing her in somewhat better spirits. It had been less than 30 minutes since the incident happened -- it was almost like she couldn't bare to think of it with everything else to worry about. Rafiq had taken his spot on the bike behind Nasir. They looked at the girl's nodding to let them know they were ready.

"So where are we even going?" She couldn't believe she hadn't thought to have asked earlier.

Nasir looked up at the sky, as if surveying the stars. "East. North-East? Probably our best bet. We don't want to get pinned with our backs to the ocean."

Against her back, Sarah felt Molly lurch forward at the mention of ocean. "Ocean? That sounds safe. Maybe we can find a boat."

Sarah asked the obvious question. "And anyone here know how to operate a boat?"

The dead silence was the only answer she needed.

Molly sat back in her seat, folding her arms. "We could find somebody down there who does?"

"Seems like a long ways for a longshot," Sarah expained, brushing her hair back from her face. "East it is." She revved the Vespa to life, brilliant white lights instantly illuminating the alley around them -- and echoing all around. Nasir quickly keyed the ignition on his moped and started backing it up.

"Stay close," he warned, kicking off the ground into the night. Rafiq hugged him tightly from behind careful not to fall off the bike. Sarah leaned into the handlebars as she hugged a turn and felt Molly do the same. The biters only heard them coming a second or two before they actually made it to the street, but the Vespas sped by them before the walkers even had a chance. The dead horde began turning around and stumbling their direction down the road. How many hours it would take them to catch up the pace they were going gave Sarah a slight sense of relief, but she knew full well that there were thousands, possibly millions more of them to worry about.

In Nasir's headlights ahead she could see the outline of a tipped-over bus covering 3/4 of the road. The street was littered with glass and a few stray corpses of those fortunate enough to have escaped a worse fate. Sarah took a moment to examine how worse off the walkers were than she was. It wasn't a great time for anyone or anything anymore. Nasir began using his legs to walk the bike around the tight corner as he slowed down. But before he even got few steps, the familiar growl of a nearby biter sounded out from somewhere nearby. And then, like a chain reaction, more of them began calling out from the other side of the bus. Nasir wrenched the handlebar, sending his bike into high gear through the crack between the wrecked vehicle and building. Sarah knew she only had a split moment to make a decision: there was an alley to her right, but it could easily be a dead-end... or-- she plunged through the opening in the same, but possibly less successful fashion as Nasir did. By the next moment, she was past the edge of the bus and saw the size of the swarm with her own eyes, every reflex in her body wanted to turn into the alley, but she hunched down into the bike and plowed through the divide.

Rafiq turned around on his bike up ahead, flashing a big grin and thumbs up--

And then his eyes bulged.

Sarah looked to the side and saw the swiping limb of a passing walker. She managed to duck just in time-- just in time for Molly to get snagged by its fingers. In that moment-- three things happened.

The walker was jerked in the direction of the bike, its limb crunching as it ripped near out of its socket. Molly, on the other hand was violently yanked backwards, losing her grip on Sarah and the bike. Sarah was pulled back by the girl as well, forcing the Vespa into a wheelie. The bike flew out from under Sarah as she, Molly, and the walker skidded down the road. The Vespa veered off ahead, straining to stay balanced on its wheels before giving out into a bus stop bench nearby. It was a blur in every sense of the word, but Sarah felt her shoulder hit first. After that it seemed like multiple parts of her body were colliding with the pavement at the same time. She rolled to a stop several feet ahead of where Molly lay, motionless. The walker whined a weak growl as it tried to regain its composure. Sarah rolled on her side, howling inwardly-- her face red. She didn't have the air in her lungs to scream out in pain. That was gone too.

A hazy figure slunk in towards Molly as Sarah blinked and blinked to try and clear her vision. Sarah didn't need to be able to see to know what it was... and she was too far away. Gritting her teeth against the pain, Sarah put one elbow in front of her-- forcing her body across the pavement towards the girl. She wasn't about to watch another person die in front of her.

She didn't get far before she heard the distant hum of the boys' moped heading back her way. Sarah collapsed back on the pavement and turned, raising one hand in the air so they'd see her. A violent gust of wind blew by her as Nasir deftly maneuvered the bike around her and towards Molly. Rafiq readied his knife as Nasir lined up with the encroaching walker on his right side. As they began to pass one another the walker turned, rearing its hideous face-- just in time to receive Rafiq's blade. The knife lodged firmly into the beast's face. Rafiq began losing his balance and tumbled off of it onto the ground far less roughly than the girls had. He rolled to a stop mere feet away, sliding to a stop on his ass, eyes as wide as the moon. Sarah guessed he hadn't done something like that before.

*COUGH COUGH*

Molly wreathed to life a few feet away, as she got her breath back. Nasir had abandoned the moped and ran over to Rafiq who was nearest to him. Sarah looked past them at the shambling bodies of the walkers they had attracted with all the commotion. "You guys!" she yelled weakly, pointing past their heads. Once they saw what was happening, Nasir pulled Rafiq to his feet and the two boys split to attend to the girls.

"Oh my God..." Rafiq muttered, kneeling by Sarah.

She winced a bit, as she straightened herself up with his help. "Is it that bad?"

"No, you just-- we got lucky," he replied, pulling her to her feet.

The herd of walkers was closing in now, both from the way they were coming and the way they came from. Surrounding buildings boasted chained doors and boarded windows -- a deterrent to both the walkers and Sarah's group from getting inside.

"We shouldn't have left the deli!" Rafiq said aloud, mostly scolding himself. Nasir appeared from behind with Molly-- half carrying, half guiding her.

"We ain't dead yet..." Sarah breathed out, each word coming out with a little less air. She raised her hand to point past them where the bike had peeled out. Black skid marks tracked right across a manhole in the ground that was cracked open a few inches. Two frightened eyes peered out from under the metal lid, staring right at them...

And Sarah stared right back.