The Walking Dead: Online

Season 1

0 INK

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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3,200 readers have visited The Walking Dead: Online since Captain Calamity created it.

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: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Silas Quinn Character Portrait: Patrick Dunn (NPC) Character Portrait: Eli Sharp (NPC)

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+ Niobe Kajja +


"So you can like break into anything, is that it? Is that like your super power?" Carl asked as he crawled through the broken glass window into the lobby. Niobe helped pull him through as he slid as he regained his footing.

"I don't like breaking into things," Niobe replied, matter-of-factly, "I do it cause I have to."

"Spoken like a true criminal," Carl said, smiling. The two of them crept through the empty dark lobby of the Capitol Records building. They had maneuvered past a makeshift barricade of desks and chairs to get inside -- noting that there were likely some guests on the inside. But it's 50+ floors had to have some useful supplies in them, not to mention the height needed to catch a signal on Carl's phone. He hunched over a panel near the elevators, adjusting the glasses ln his nose. "Hey, I think this place still has power..." he said, turning to Niobe. He punched the button with his thumb and the yellow arrow lit up. "Which floor?"

"Might as well go as high as we can. We'll have a decent view while we're up there," Niobe replied. They waited a few moments until the elevator rang open.

"Apres vous," Carl said -- ushering Niobe in first. She stepped inside and punched the "R" button for roof access. The metal doors closed behind them and the elevator lurched into motion. Carl twiddled his thumbs against the handrail as they zoomed upwards in silence. "What d'you think of the new people?" He asked, making small talk.

"So far they've been a bunch of drama queens," Niobe said, raising her eyebrows. "They seem alright though."

Carl nodded. "That Sarah chick seems like a bit of a loose cannon..."

"Yeah, we'll see." The elevator began to slow to a halt -- and the doors parted to reveal two armed men with rifles leveled at them. Carl put his hands up, but Niobe's flew to her pistol. It was out in a flash before either man had a chance to react.

"Don't you fuckin' move," the shorter one ordered. He looked over to his friend without moving his head. "I told you I heard the elevator, Patrick."

His friend hit him in the arm with the butt of his gun. "Eli! Don't use our real names you dumbass!"

"You just said my name!"

"Fuck you, dude!"

Niobe eased up a little bit, glancing over at Carl who put his hands down. She looked at the two men. "Since I just had more than enough chances to take you guys out, I'm assuming your harmless," she said, lowering her weapon.

The two men looked at each other and did the same. "And I'll assume the same since you didn't shoot us," Eli replied. "Welcome to the Capitol."



* * *



Niobe and Carl followed the young men through a labyrinth of cubicle walls and hallways, leading them by flashlight. Even though there was still electricity, they were smart enough not to light up their whole building like some sort of huge beacon. Judging by their welcome, they had likely had some not-so-friendly encounters since the start of thing.

"We're interns here," Eli began, gesturing to Patrick. "All the others went home to be with their families, but we're both from the east coast... so we stayed."

"How 'bout you guys?" Patrick asked from the back of the group.

In her mind, Niobe laughed at the thought -- the thought that this was the world they lived in now. There were no "hello's" or "what do you do for a living's?" -- it was just a gun to the face and a "what's your story?". "I was at the coffee shop next to this nerd's comic book store," she replied, pointing her thumb at Carl. He waved, sheepishly. "We're holed up with a group not too far away... came here to try and get a signal and see if we couldn't find some answers."

Eli opened a door to a bigger set of offices, holding it open for the others. "You came to the right place then," he replied with a smile. Niobe stepped through to find over a dozen other people all either lounging around or working on some task. Two people poured a map in the corner, lit by candlelight. A father and his boy curled up underneath a few coats in the corner. Eli weaved between a few desks further on towards the back of the room where a glass partition revealed a beautifully furnished office with a bar. A man sat casually on the corner of the desk -- in mid-conversation with a woman about Niobe's age. She stood up and left the room quickly once the two of them arrived, and the man stood to greet them.

"Who do we have here?" He asked, studying the two of them.

Eli had walked straight for the bar, pouring a glass of the brown scotch into some empty glasses -- spilling enough to show how unaware he was of how nice the scotch was. "These two showed up in the elevator with their radio looking for answers," he said, sniffing the bottle before putting it back down.

The man walked around his table and sat down in the large plush chair, drumming his fingers on the wood desk. "Well, I could save you the trip up there and answer anything you'd like to know. I've had my own ears out there since the start of this," he said -- offering the two of them a seat. Carl sat first, placing the satellite phone between his legs. Eli and Patrick left the room, closing the door behind them. "I'm Silas Quinn," he began, grinning widely. "You guys look like you've had quite the day..."

Carl laughed, taking off his glasses to wipe the lenses on his shirt. "I gotta say, sir, you've got quite the set-up here. Do you know what it's like outside man? I slept in a sewer last night..."

Niobe shot Carl a look, shutting him up instantly. They didn't know these people and surely didn't need to be giving away and of their whereabouts to strangers. She turned to Silas. He was a strapping man -- tall with broad shoulders. Even Niobe couldn't help but find him attractive and somewhat... dominant. She crossed her arms. "So what questions should we be asking?"

The smile on the man's face faded, and his gaze drifted past Niobe's head out into the rest of the office where several others bustled about. "I think the question everybody has on their minds now that they've realized they aren't waking up from some nightmare is 'now what?'..." He frowned, looking back at them. "The reality is, that three of the five refugee camps that have been broadcasting over the last 24 hours are now transmitting distess signals. One of the five stopped broadcasting anything at all."

Niobe bit her lip. "And the military? We saw a bunch of aircraft earlier, circling the city."

"Their lack of presence is a bit troubling, to be honest. I know they have their hands tied with these camps, but there seems to be no ground effort here where it matters. There seems to be no rescue effort."

Carl cleared his throat before he spoke. "You don't think they'd bomb us, do you?"

Silas laughed -- realizing quickly that Carl was serious.

"What exactly have you heard about New York?" Carl asked, glancing at Niobe nervously.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


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

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

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


* * *


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


* * *


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Bingo."

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Harper Hopkins


"Shit! Turn around, turn around, turn around!" Nathan barked at Schantz. She promptly stomped on the brake pedal and curled the SUV over the median and promptly back onto the other side of the freeway--the nearly-empty inbound side. "Wait, wait, where the hell are you going?!"

"Got any better ideas?!" she yelled back at him, sticking her foot angrily on the gas and speeding ahead, heading west on 10.

30... 50... 70... 90 mph...

Harper gripped her seatbelt and looked over her shoulder--the herd of walkers blocking the highway from Inland Empire had taken note of the vehicle and started to inch along in the slowest hot pursuit possible. She looked ahead at Nathan, red-faced and pointing ahead. "Harper said we're going to the airport!"

"'Harper this'! 'Harper that'!" Schantz screamed back mockingly. "Pretty fucking sure Harper is smart enough to see that we can't get through those fuckers back there!"

"You're the one who suggested the airport in the first place!"

"And you're the one who suggested we go back into the city and find what's-his-name. You're getting what you wanted!"

Schantz sped fast, darting amongst the cars at breakneck speed as though she were driving a Ferrari and not a clunky, older SUV. Both she and Nathan had red faces as they continued to argue. Harper tuned out, trying hard to remain calm and keep from screaming, herself. It sure was tempting to reach into Stevie's bag and pull out one of those Xanax tabs...

Onward they drove, past walkers and people alike wandering the road. Harper thought that she could see the white tents of the FEMA camps in the background, orange with fire and blackened with smoke--or was she imagining it? The place was likely being overrun by walkers by now. At least, maybe it would be in the coming hours. That herd was certainly heading toward the city, but it had been even closer to the camp.

"Did you see that?!" Schantz called out suddenly. Harper looked ahead through the window--a bright flare was flying up into the sky, sparkling brightly, almost like fireworks. "Someone set that off. We can go there."

"We don't know what's out there!" Nathan insisted, at this point wanting to argue almost everything that Schantz was saying. "We don't know who those people could be!"

"Okay, Nathan, let me spell it out r-e-a-l s-l-o-w for you," Schantz bit back, taking one hand off of the steering wheel to slowly circle a pointed finger in the air, "we're fucked if we're out there alone, and we could be fucked if we go there, but either way, we are LESS fucked if we go there."

Harper stayed quiet, not wanting to further antagonize the situation while the car was moving at such a pace.

"GodDAMMIT!" Nathan yelled, holding his head in his hands and stomping his foot on the floor angrily.

"It's over the Hollywood sign!" Schantz called out. "I'm taking 101 to Beachwood, people. That's the fastest way to get there!"

"I swear to God, Schantz, if we get killed, you better die first!" Nathan retorted.

Schantz rolled her eyes. "Yes, you look SO impressive right now, yelling at me, in front of your big fancy crush!"

Nathan shut his mouth instantly and turned white. Harper felt her own face flushing and sunk down in her seat, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.

"Now just let me drive. You okay back there, Harper?"

Harper nodded carefully. "Yep, right as rain," she said back quickly, again not wanting to add to the tension. "You know where you're going..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

Unsure on what to do, Rafiq picked up the backpack. It was heavy with food and two sleeping bags, but he would manage. He placed the bands on his shoulders and fastened them.

The man in the wheelchair looked at him curiously.

“What are you doing?” He asked. “Are you guys stealing from the shop?”

George sighed and crouched down next to the man.

“Sir, how long have you been trapped in there?”


The man closed his eyes in a way that made it seem like thinking about the progress of time pained him. It was difficult to make out his facial expression, hidden beneath a layer of wrinkles and dark red spots.

Just as Rafiq began to wonder if he had forgot the question, the man spoke up. “I think a day. Maybe. I was here with Regina. Like we usually do. Coming to this shop I mean. She’s lovely. She is the only one that still takes me out of the house. Have you seen her? Regina?”

George smiled faintly. “No sir, we have not. You see, there has been a... uh...”

“Crisis,” Rafiq spoke up, realizing that George was not sure on how to explain the situation to the man. Quickly thinking on the spot, Rafiq managed to spun a story to the man about how a virus had affected some people to become extremely violent. It was not that far from the truth, Rafiq figured, but he did not dare to mention that the dead were actually walking. He was not sure how the man would react to that.

“I see. That’s horrible,” the man said faintly. “And you boys are taking the opportunity to plunder this place.”

“No, that’s not...”

“Don’t lie to me.” The man slowly raised himself an inch from the wheelchair and gestured towards Rafiq. “I know how you people are.” The comment made Rafiq take a step forwards, anger flaring up at him for a second. Then it went away again. He was not entirely sure if the man was being racist or referencing something else.

The man must have noticed his movements, because he carefully glided a meter backwards with his wheelchair. “Look, I do not condone what you are doing. But you saved me from them,” he quickly glanced towards the bodies in the corner, “So I will give you time to go. I will wait here for the police and explain things to them. They surely will be here soon.”

“I don’t think that-“ Rafiq was about to say that the police would not come, but George cut him off.

“I think that’s for the best. We go.” And with that, George walked back towards his own backpack and shot Rafiq a look that said ‘do not argue, follow me’.

As they left the shop, George barred the door. Through the glass, Rafiq could see the man sitting in his wheelchair, watching them.

“We are just leaving him in there?” Rafiq asked.

“You heard the man. He wants us to leave.”

“Yes, but he clearly does not-“

“No. But what else do you want me to do? We can’t take him with us.”

Rafiq swallowed hard, not sure how to react to that. He knew George was right. It would be impossible to take the man into the sewers. Yet, this did not feel right to him. Not at all. It made him feel sick to his stomach. Was it going to be like this? Survival of the fittest? Leave the weak behind? He was not sure he was ready for that.

“But, at least I could go back and tell him the real situation,” he said in a last attempt to do something. “I should not have lied to him. He needs to know.”

“But you DID lie to him.” George scratched the stubble on his chin and looked at Rafiq with a hardened expression. “And I think he’s better of not knowing. Look, I locked him inside the shop. Maybe he gets lucky and the bombs kill him quickly.”

With that, he walked away.

Rafiq followed him in silence.

---

They got back to the maintenance room without incident. They had not spoken for the entire trip, but there was a silence acknowledgement they would not tell the others what had happened.

Annabelle was the first to greet them. “Where are the others,” she asked with a hint of panic after seeing their faces.

“Don’t worry. We just split up to cover more ground.” George hugged her briefly.

Molly was playing cards with the boy Samuel. Jessica was standing near the other door, which was halfway open to let her see into the tunnel.

Rafiq put the backpack down next to the table and sat down. He was disgusted and ashamed with himself.

“You’re okay?” Molly asked.

“Yes, just tired. How are you?”

“I’m alright.”

They looked at each other awkwardly. He and Molly had been through hell together, but they were still complete strangers.

“Have you brought a lot of food?” Sam asked excitingly, seemingly not very worried about the current state of the world. A thought struck Rafiq how both the old man and this young boy were, in a way, still complete innocents. It made him shiver.

He pushed the backpack towards Sam. “Have a look. I also brought you a couple of comics.”

“Really? Awesome!” The boy turned over the backpack and pulled everything out. He quickly found the comics and rushed over to his mother.

“Look mom! And I’ve not even read these yet.” He picked one out and showed it to her. “Well, except for this one. You bought that one just two weeks ago.”

Jessica squeezed him in the shoulder with affection “I remember. Go on, you can read them over there,” she said. She mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Rafiq. He nodded.

At least someone was happy today.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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# Sarah Hawke #


"You care repeating that?" Sarah asked as she double-timed to keep up with Oliver's stride. He had longer legs than she did and was making a point of hurrying back to the outpost before the Sun went down. Los Angeles was already a dangerous city at night -- and it was no different now. Sarah rubbed her shoulder where the strap of the bag had reddened it from the chaffing. She hoped they were close, having spent the day on her feet. The few hours of sleep she managed to pack away the night before were barely enough to keep her going -- not to mention that she had had maybe one collective meal over the last 48 hours. It made her lament on the missed lunch date she had planned with Calvin the day before. She pushed the thought out of her mind, not wanting to dwell on him or the days prior. Charlie's paws pitter-pattered across the pavement as he weaved around them, exploring the debris-strewn street and investigating strange odors. Sarah refused to keep walking until she had an answer.

Oliver stopped a few paces ahead of her, pulling a pack if cigarettes out of his jacket pocket. He tapped the pack a few times against his other hand before pulling a smoke out with his lips. He fumbled around for a lighter and lit it, taking a long drag from it and tapping the ashed tip onto the ground. "They're convicts," he continued, "each and every one of them."

Sarah scoffed. "And you didn't think this would've been nice to know before we walked all this way? Kind've a dealbreaker..."

Oliver turned to her, a white puff of smoke escaping from his lips. "They aren't all bad men. I've known some of them for years, and they've already saved my life more than once."

"So that makes you a convict too, I guess... huh?" Sarah asked, realizing with each word that she knew nothing about this man. Everything he had told her was a surefire red flag, but he hadn't shown any other ill will towards her -- and she really did need the supplies he was offering in exchange for her services.

Oliver looked her in the eye, tossing some of the hair out of his eyes so he could look at her more directly. "Would you still come with me if I was?" He asked, bluntly.

Sarah chewed her lip, trying to get a read on the man. Whatever his intentions, she had come too far to turn around and go back on her own -- and in a way, it was her fault all this had happened in the first place. No one had asked her to run off on her own like that. "I don't know..." she replied, looking at her feet.

"Well you don't have to worry, cause I'm not," he replied, heartedly. He flicked his cigarette and picked up the pace again. Sarah reluctantly followed with Charlie close at her heels. "I was a guard at the prison they were stationed at," Oliver began, "When all this went down, I was on a bus transferring about 35 of these men to another facility." He blindly flicked the finished butt of the cigarette off to his right where Charlie was sure to give it a quick sniff before trotting past. "Needless to say, we didn't make it there..."


* * *


A number of blocks further down Oliver raised a hand, signaling for Sarah to slow down behind him. She patted her legs, calling Charlie over to her and bent down, holding him close. He greeted her with a few licks to the face and one lick right to the mouth which she wiped away with the back of her hand. The dog wagged his tail happily, as if he had no idea the state of the world he lived in now. Oliver hugged the corner of the wall they had taken cover behind and put his fingers to his mouth, whistling loudly. A few seconds passed, and a second whistle answered back. Oliver grabbed Sarah by the arm and stepped out from behind the wall, waving his hand in the air. Down a few buildings was a large brick fire station. A man on the roof waved the two of them over, shouldering his sniper rifle. Sarah ran behind Oliver as he crept down the sidewalk, careful to stay low behind the parked cars on the side of the street so as not to be noticed by any of the walkers in the street. A few of the closer ones had already begun to converge on where they heard Oliver's whistle earlier, but they were already long gone. A loud shot rang out from the rooftop as the sniper put down a walker who must have taken notice to them. Oliver led Sarah by the hand into the alley beside the fire station, and lifted up part of a torn chain-link fence for her and the dog to duck through. He passed through last and closed up the gate behind him, sliding a large panel of wood over the hole to cover it from the inside.

"OK," he began, wiping some of the sweat from his forehead, "we're safe here now."

Sarah looked around the yard at some of the idled vehicles. A couple military-looking Hummers and a number of ATV's and motorcycles were parked about, a few looking like they had been through the ringer with paint scratches, streaks of blood, and cracked windows. "I'll be the judge of that," she replied.

Oliver looked at her, wishing she'd trust him. "Look, I let you keep my gun. You'll be safe here. These men may be criminals, but they aren't animals. We have a..." his eyes wandered as he searched for the proper word. "...a code," he finished, glancing back at Sarah. "Any new people we bring in have to be vouched for by someone already in the group. You're my guest here, and no one will mess with you. I promise..."

Sarah couldn't help but trust him and his dreamy eyes. He had been honest with her the entire way here, even surrendering his firearm to her to make her feel more comfortable. She only hoped she wasn't making a huge mistake by coming here. "OK... alright," she replied, deciding to place her trust in this stranger. "I'm with you."

Oliver smiled slightly, and gestured for her to follow him. He traipsed across the yard towards one of the fire exit doors in the back and rapped on it with his knuckles. Two quick knocks, a pause, and then a third knock. She heard somebody fiddling with whatever locking mechanism they had in place from the other side, and the door swung open to reveal a scrawny, slightly toothless man with a shotgun. His face brightened when he saw Oliver.

"Ollie!" The man rejoiced, beaming wide enough for Sarah to get a good glimpse of the severity of his dental damage. She cringed a little bit, wishing she hadn't looked. "Get in here, quick..." he ordered. Sarah entered last after she was sure Charlie was inside, and the man closed the door behind them, locking it. She sort of wished he hadn't...

"Great ass-fucking Moses," another more heavy-set man called out as he sprung from a couch on the other side of the room. He eyed Sarah ravenously, rubbing his repulsive belly. "Did True Blue go out and find himself a piece of tail? I thought you were on a supply run?"

Sarah inched behind Oliver, already feeling exposed and threatened just by the way the men in the room were looking at her. Her fingers crept towards the pistol tucked into the back of her waistband. "Sit your ass back down before you do something stupid," Oliver ordered, pointing his finger at the man. He raised his hands in the air defensively and backed off as him and his buddy guffawed over the exchange. "She's got medical experience," Oliver continued, "I brought her here to fix up our wounded. Where's Buck at?"

The toothless man appeared from behind them, straightening his mustache. "Buck's gone already. Had to brain him before he turned," he admitted without any remorse. "We got new wounded though..."

Oliver furrowed his brow. "New wounded? What the fuck did you guys do?"

"There was a bit of a... situation," he replied sheepishly. The men on the couch looked into their beers, solemnly. "Francis got killed."

"Fuck..." Oliver said, running his hand over his face. "And Bronson?"

"Rallied some of the men to go after him a few hours ago. Took the fire truck too... wanted to make a statement." Oliver shook his head, and looked at Sarah -- wondering if this was the best time to have brought her here. He hoped to hell he wouldn't regret it.

"They still being kept in the rec room?" Oliver questioned. Mustache man nodded, pointing down the hallway next to them. Oliver grabbed Sarah by the arm and started leading her that way. "C'mon." Sarah followed him, not wanting to leave his side for a second while under the roof of these men. She took one last glance at the man on the couch before disappearing around the corner. He blew her a kiss, matched with a devilish wink. Whatever food was left in her curled inside her stomach as she continued down the hallway...

And she couldn't help but wonder just what the hell she had gotten herself into...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes

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Natasha Dean

Natasha looked back at the sound of Dyomie falling, she let out a sigh of relief, as she let the idea of Dyomie abandoning her and killing or hurting Phillip subside.
She looked back at the receptionist and shook her head. "I need to get to the kitchenette, there's a chance the first aid kit is still in there, unless they've already used it." Natasha looked up at the ventilation shafts. "These should run through the entire building, there's a chance I could get to the kitchen through these, if it isn't there…" Natasha tilted her head to look past Dyomie, at the dying receptionist. "I'll have to leave her, I can't risk putting you and your sister in danger because I tried to help her." she told Dyomie in a hushed voice before climbing into the vents herself, she looked back at Dyomie and gave her a smile. "I'll get the guns and the first aid, you wait here, make sure she doesn't die." Natasha ordered her before crawling into the vents, she did her best to get to the kitchenette but she ended up in the communications supervisor's room.

Holding the baton up, she cracked the door open to peer into the communication centre, the room was empty but any wrong movement or loud noise and whatever was out there would come for her, so she'd have to take her time and watch every set she made. The kitchenette was just next to the supervisor's room but she still had to be careful, once in the kitchenette, she silently closed the door and started searching the cupboards but she couldn't find anything, she took a step back as it dawned on her she would have to abandon her and let her die, surrounded by whatever these things were and not by her loved ones. Letting out a sigh, she looked around the room for an entrance to the ventilation systems and luckily it was on the ceiling and if Natasha was to reach it, she would have to climb up the cupboards, carefully, any slip up and she'll make a loud crash and it'll cause her to attract the attention of all those things. As she tried her best to climb up the cupboard, she noticed it loosening and the cupboard getting much less unstable, Natasha just about pulled herself into the vents as the cupboard crashed into the ground, the noise attracting whatever it was outside and causing a regular banging on the door, a sigh escaped her lips as she realised how lucky she was at climbing into the vents and not falling with the cupboard.

Crawling through the vents, Natasha stopped as she heard a voice, coming from the room below her, a radio broadcast.
"This is not a test, please, if you are listening to this broadcast, flee the city. A bombing of Los Angeles is imminent, please escape the city before it's too late!" The static was loud but Natasha could still make it out before it looped. Natasha quickly crawled through the vents, jumping out into the investigations room.
"Dyomie, we have to go." She told her, hoping the receptionist couldn't hear. "I know it's cruel but we have to leave, the military are about to bomb the city." She whispered, looking to make sure the receptionist wasn't listening. "Just outside, there's a sewer grate, go down it and wait for me at the ladders, I'll get the guns, just get Phillip and Marie to safety. If I'm not there when you hear the explosions, go on without me."

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Thomas Blackthorne

"Negative Sergeant, we have no available aircraft or pilots to come and pull you out. Over." The radio crackled quietly in Blackthorne's ear as he sat in the cockpit of the damaged helicopter. He slumped slightly, a heavy sigh escaping him as he resisted the urge to punch the console.

"So we're up shit creek without a paddle? Over." He glanced out the cockpit window at the remainder of his team who were sitting down and enjoying a quiet meal, it might be the last for some time.

"Affirmative." Came the response. "Be advised that multiple airstrikes have been ordered for the Los Angeles area and downtown core to try and hit the worst of the infestation."

Infestation. So that's what they were calling it now. Such an American solution, they were going to hit it with the biggest hammer they could find and hope for the best. Blackthorne felt slightly sick to his stomach as the voice on the radio continued.

"The situation is extremely hazardous. Command estimates that the FEMA camp you're in will be overrun in the next 6-8 hours. National guard units blocking the route have been wiped out."

Now Blackthorne did punch the console and regretted it immediately as pain shot up his arm and blood oozed from his knuckle. The three outside saw him do it and quickly climbed to their feet, making their way over towards the helicopter, meals still in hand. He took off the headset and turned up the volume so that they could all hear the next words as they came through.

"New orders from Command instruct you and your team to secure the Medical staff and get the hell out. Keep your SAT phone on hand and we'll contact you when we come up with a extraction package. Over."

"Bravo One roger, out."

"Best of luck Sergeant, god speed. Command out."

Blackthorne threw the headset into the cockpit and looked at his team. Three pairs of tired eyes looked back at him. Holloway spoke first, as Blackthorne knew he would.

"Seriously? Fuck Command man." He did a lisping mimic of the radio operator. "Don't call us, we'll call you sweetheart." He spat on the ground. "Sounds like the short of shit you tell a girl you never want to see again after you've fucked her." That got a few smiles.

"Agreed." Said Blackthorne. "But we need to get the fuck out of here and soon. I'm all for rounding up the medical staff and starting..." He was interrupted by a shout from the fence, turning briefly to see a band of civilians against the fence line, he ignored them. "Get them packed up and out of here stat."

The shouting increased and in irritation he turned to tell them to fuck off when he realized that he recognized them. He held up two fingers to his men indicating he wouldn't be long then jogged over to the fence.

"Do you know where Stephanie is?!" Asked the woman.


* * * * * * * * *


Blackthorne watched the refugees hurry away and turned to look at the ad-hoc FEMA medical unit. The fact that the girl Stephanie was still alive gave him a slight surge of elation. Another friendly face would be welcome. At least he knew she was somewhere nearby and she would accompany them if possible.

He returned to his teammates and gave them a brief synopsis of how the conversation had gone. They nodded slightly and Clarkson gave him a sly smile that, even that this moment, was in keeping with the rather dark sense of military humour they all knew so well.

"Cute bird, blue skirt, sounds like ye've got yerself a date for the end o' th' world Sarge." The man winked and Blackthorne actually laughed at the thought. Though, if he were honest with himself, she wasn't a bad looking woman if he remembered right.

Their conversation was cut short as a Medic came running towards them, waving his arms and yelling that one of the Doctors had locked himself into one of the medical units and was attacking his patients. In a heartbeat the whole team was in motion, sprinting in the direction of the mans frantic pointing, weapons swinging into firing position, silencers in place.

It was one of the smaller buildings, almost as far from the helipad as one could get, and two other male medical staff were trying to break down the door with a chair. Blackthorne shoved them aside with ease, eyed the door for two seconds and then, using Clarkson and Holloways shoulders for support, slammed his left heel into the door just above the lock.

The door shuddered but held. He swore, braced himself again and this time slammed both heels into the door. It flew open and he swept up his pistol as he stepped across the doorframe. He came face to face with a Walker wearing a doctors torn and bloodied lab coat at nearly point blank range, he fired without even thinking as he did it.

Then his eyes swept the room along with the flashlight on his pistol. It focused on a small huddled figure on the floor spattered in blood, holding a gory pair of scissors and squinting at him through filthy glasses. The other soldiers moved swiftly passed him, checking the remainder of the building. Two shots rang out in the back and Clarkson appeared from one of the last beds.

"Another one, still strapped to the bed but trying to rip itself free."

Blackthorne gave him the thumbs up and then knelt before a face that was familiar, even covered in blood and deathly pale from whatever illness had brought her to this place of death.

"Stephanie." He said her name gently and saw the recognition in her eyes. "I need to know if you were bitten."

There was the tiniest shake of her head.

"Are you certain?"

The small shake again. He laid a gloved hand on one knee and she started slightly, still clutching the scissors as she finally made eye contact with him. He could something in her eyes that hadn't been there the last time. A sort of haunted look and he couldn't blame her.

"We have to be sure. Someone will need to look you over."

A tiny nod. She resisted slightly as he took the scissors from her hands and threw them into a corner. Then he stooped and slipped a hand under her legs and behind her back, carrying her out into the fresh air. She clutched him about the neck as he carried her across the compound and into another building. The three male medical staff were there and he jerked his head towards the chem showers.

"Find me a female staff member. This girl needs a proper check up and a shower."

The three looked at him, then at each other, and then back again. "We're it sir." They clearly had no idea how military rank worked. "The rest have either fled, or, well, you saw it back there."

Blackthorne stared at them for a long moment and then sat Stephanie in a chair and turned back around to find the remainder of the team grinning at him like apes despite the situation. Clarkson was the first to speak.

"Permission ta volunteer fer this dangerous mission sah! Pon my soul, do me proud ta make sure this 'ere lassie is checked over proper."

The "lass" in question had sat upright and Blackthorne saw her lip twitch in a tiny smile at the Britishers words. She had spirit, they couldn't take that away from her but someone was going to have to check her over. Blackthorne knelt next to her again and saw that she had already recovered rather well mentally.

"Well Stephanie, I'm sorry, but one of us has got to look you over. The best I can do if offer you your choice of "physician"." He smiled as he said it and, not for the first time, had to admit that the girl had a hidden reserve of strength he didn't think possible.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


Calvin carefully maneuvered through the back of the news van, careful not to trip on any spare wires on the floor. There had been no time to pack things in any organized fashion when they were at the station, and the loose gear had since rolled around making quite the mess inside the vehicle. They had abandoned the bicycle a short ways down the road and snuck the rest of the way in on foot. It had seemed to take forever, navigating through alleys, backyards, and parks to get back to the van -- and they had only needed to dispatch of a couple walkers who were lingering by the van when they arrived. Calvin's only assurance came from the fact that he alone held the keys. He knew Chuck would have surely stolen it, had he been given the chance. Anything to save his own ass, apparently.

A loud zip sounded off from the front cabin of the van as Jack closed one of the backpacks and tossed it back with the rest of the gear. They had been able to hydrate themselves and clean up slightly with what supplies they had with them. Still no food though. Their brief reprieve had allowed his body and nerves to cooldown a bit, and he was now beginning to feel the strain of the last couple days on his body. If he didn't eat something soon, he felt like he might pass out.

Jack snapped his fingers to get Calvin's attention. "Hey, I think I see an opening..." he said quietly from the front seat.

They had been sitting idle for the last 15 minutes waiting for a long string of walkers to pass by so they could get through to the road back up to the sign and Griffith Park. Going around was not an option what with Bronson and his men at code red. As anxious as they were to return to the camp, it wasn't worth risking being discovered or jammed up by a herd of walkers. Calvin crawled into the driver's seat and peered out the front window towards where Jack was looking. Sure enough, he was right. A tight group of walkers moved with purpose southbound on the street leaving a healthy gap behind them. The connected street looked clear too. It seemed as good a chance as any.

Calvin took a deep breath, placing one hand on the steering wheel -- the other hovering over the keys, dangling from the ignition. "Alright. Here we go," he said, giving Jack a sideways glance. He twisted the key and the van whined to life -- its familiar purr was oddly comforting. Very gently, Calvin applied some pressure to the pedal and began accelerating the vehicle, trying to keep the engine from roaring too loudly. Several of the walkers ahead had already turned towards them, drawn by their approach -- but the dark was working in Calvin's favor. Not 15 feet from the herd, Calvin pressed the pedal down as far as it would go and flipped the headlights on at the last possible second, illuminating the incoming herd with a ghastly white glow.

There was too much happening to really tell, but Calvin could have sworn he saw some of the walkers raise their hands in front of their faces in some reminiscently human attempt to block the light from their eyes. The distraction was enough for them to squeeze through the gap in the herd as Calvin steered them through to the other side. By the time the walkers had turned to pursue them the van was already more than a block away, speeding towards the hill... and an uncertain welcome.


* * *


The camp buzzed with frantic activity as Chuck ordered the newcomers to help him search for more flares or something to signal the aircraft with. The jets and helicopters had moved in a straight line up into North Hollywood -- either having missed or actively ignoring Chuck's distress flare. He figured they had to be doubling back soon, and wanted to be prepared when they did.

A man stepped out of one of the tents, holding a small duffel bag high in the air. "This one's got some fireworks in it!" he called out to Chuck, who raced over to grab the bag.

He let out a gracious laugh. "I remember these," he began, pulling out one of the roman candles. "They were from an old holiday party at the station."

"Won't those make a lot of noise?" One of the girls asked from a foldable table nearby. She watched Chuck suspiciously as he continued to pull out an assortment of fireworks -- studying his arsenal.

"Have you seen where we are?" Chuck questioned, waving his arm about. "We have hills on both sides of us, cars for barricades... I haven't seen a single roamer up here yet."

"Seems reckless is all," she added, turning back to her game of cards.

Chuck grabbed the bag and started walking towards an open spot behind one of the cars. "Well I'd bet it's going to get us rescued a lot quicker than your stupid fucking game of cards." The woman glared at his back as he went. He had certainly spent no time making friends with any of the newest arrivals. It seemed pointless when death was just around the corner for each and every one of them. What was the point? He fumbled around in his pocket for his lighter and flicked the flame to life, holding the roman candle as far from his face as he could. Fireworks still made him nervous for some reason. "OK, stand back, " he warned the few people behind him. Raising his arm up, he aimed the stick into the air as it fired off its first shot. A brilliant white flare ascended into the darkening sky, ending with a loud pop -- followed by another flare, and another...

Before the last streaks of the firework's smokey aftermath had disappeared above, they heard the familiar sound of tires treading rocks and dirt. The news van flew into view around the farthest bend, kicking up a trail of dust. Chuck's eyes widened, as his mind wondered who was behind the wheel. It could easily be more of the men who attacked him... or Calvin and Jack.

He didn't know which would be worse.

Calvin steered the van beside some of the other vehicles and put it in park, quickly hopping out. Several of the other survivors stared at him in awe -- either recognizing him as the celebrity he was or simply shocked by how wretched he looked strewn in blood and filth in his ripped clothing. He immediately spotted Chuck in the crowd and made a bee-line towards him, but not before Jack brushed past him.

Chuck smiled, his mustache twitching nervously. "Y-You guys... you made it out alive. I can't believe--"

SMACK!

The sports anchor hit the ground hard, reeling from Jack's punch. He covered his split lip with his hand -- feet slipping in the dirt as he tried to back away from the crazed man. But Jack made no move to pursue him any further, instead walking back towards the news van to unwind -- shaking the pain out of his fist. He didn't mean to punch him with his burnt hand, but the cloth wrapped around his knuckles had probably lessened the pain a bit for both him and Chuck.

"You deserved worse than that," Calvin scolded. Chuck struggled to his feet, unable to look him in the eye. "Those flares you fired? They're gonna lead those maniacs straight to us! We have to pack up and leave, NOW." he continued, lividly. Surrounding survivors looked around at one another with uncertainty, and something became suddenly apparent. "Where's James and the others?"

Lily stepped out from the crowd, looking up at Calvin with her big round eyes. "They went to look for you. I though we were safe from the monsters up here?" she asked, twirling her hair around her finger. Calvin looked at the kid with remorse, knowing he could never tell her everything that happened. He couldn't even admit most of it to himself. All eyes were on Calvin as the silent crowd looked on with a mixture of confusion, fear, and anxiousness -- and he suddenly realized as he looked around at the sea of faces before him.

"Chuck didn't tell you anything..." he said, more as a statement than a question. Calvin brought his hand up to his shoulder where the pain of his shrapnel wound was beginning to throb. These poor people were lost and scared, and he had no idea what to say to them. He knew three people out of this group of nearly twenty, and between those three... he really didn't know much.

"INCOMING!" the older man with binoculars shouted from the other barricade. The group surged towards the hillside where their eyes fell instantly upon a cavalcade of vehicles tearing up the dirt road. It obviously wasn't James' truck, and he didn't need a second guess to figure who it was.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Stevie blinked and reflected on the situation. It was everything that she could do to keep from laughing.

The past 24 or so hours were so absurd, garnering a great deal for her to laugh about from a certain perspective. In that span of time, she'd watched Dean die. Twice. She'd crammed into an armored vehicle with a bunch of strangers. She flew into the side of a massive frigate and rode on a helicopter to a FEMA camp and had vomited profusely throughout. Add a kidney infection and a forced quarantine and a couple of hungry dead people, and that far outweighed any definition she could have possibly conceived of applying to the phrase "worst day ever."

Add this new quandary, and everything suddenly stepped up the next level of being just extraordinarily funny.

She looked at her feet and allowed a slight laugh and sighed loudly. "Well, I don't know who this has to be more awkward for," she piped somewhat sheepishly. "I'd say nobody, but it looks like there's not much of a choice. I'll need a shower and my clothes. They're back in that mobile... white bag with yellow boots. I'd really appreciate it." She smiled broadly, hoping that someone would help her out. It would be just absolutely impractical to be without normal clothes.

Holloway stood and nodded. "Ma'am," he acknowledged politely as he headed out, kindly sparing her from one option as he took off, heading back in the direction from where they'd all come. One down.

Stevie looked at both men's faces, still slightly bewildered by the situation but making herself consider the options. The goofy British soldier seemed like he would be a hell of a person to socialize with, but the thought of him inspecting her for walker bites just seemed a little too ridiculous, leaving the Canadian who stood well over a foot taller than her.

Well, it wasn't the worst thing. Not exactly the best of circumstances to have to get undressed in front of somebody, but she supposed that she'd hoped to see him again. Not that this was ideal, but, well...

She nodded her head toward him and stood up wobbily, refusing his help to stabilize her by gently waving a hand as she ensured she had part of the hem of her medical gown gathered in her other hand. "I hope you don't mind if I freshen up first," she said quickly, heading over to disappear behind one of the curtains with one of the showers.

She mindlessly untied her gown and tossed it into a nearby bin marked with a "Biohazard" sticker, then pulled quickly on a lever on the wall. The device vaguely reminded her of her chemistry classes. A stream of cold water surprised her and caused her to yelp loudly. The British soldier let out a loud laugh as he walked out of the unit.

Well, it was funny.

Had she not endured these last several hours, she would have been shocked at the ribbon of inky red water disappearing around her feet through a drain, clearing the residue of the encounter in that unit from her arms, hair, and face. Once she was satisfied that the water ran transparent, she shut the lever off. A towel soared over the curtain and landed on her head; she moved her arms quickly to catch it and patted her face, arms, and legs with it.

"Thanks," she called out to Thomas, and poked her head out and looked toward him. "The sooner we get it over with, I guess?"

He didn't show much on his face as he walked over slowly and stood at a safe distance away from the curtain. Stevie's face reddened just slightly as she held the towel out to her side, stretching out her arms. She just looked up at his face, trying to just pretend she wasn't naked in front of someone who really was a stranger. He did a quick visual check, then spun a finger around in the air. She complied, trying hard to not laugh or blush or say anything that would somehow make the situation just that much more laughable in general.

"What happened to your left hand?" he asked carefully.

"I fell off of my cot and my IV ripped out."

He reached out toward the hand in question. "May I?"

"By all means." She stood quietly as he studied the red dot on her hand followed by a relatively long cut and already-forming bruise.

"You're all right," he said finally, then darted his eyes to look away as she wrapped the towel around herself, but not walking away from his spot. "You have a lot of tattoos."

"I do." Stevie wrapped her arms around her covered ribcage, very grateful that the experience was as painless as it was over. "So much for leaving the light on."

"Pardon?"

"The last time I saw you, you told me to leave the light on."

He laughed just slightly and nodded. "Oh, right," he remarked. "Well, you're obviously not bitten." A pause. "I'm glad."

Another pause. Stevie smiled and relaxed just slightly. "I wondered if I'd run into you again," she mused aloud, finally allowing herself to make eye contact with her huge brown eyes. She cleaned her messy black-rimmed glasses on the corner of her towel and placed them back on her face.

Another pause. But as he opened his mouth to say something, the door knocked, opened, and a familiar white bag seemed to hurl itself inside about four feet from the entrance. Thomas helpfully crossed to the door and returned the bag to its owner, and offered a small smile. "I don't think you need help with this," he stated quickly as she reached one arm out to accept the bag.

She let herself grin and allowed herself a laugh. "I think I've got it from here," she said tamely. He nodded and turned to head toward the door. "Thomas, right?" she called after him just as he touched the doorknob.

He looked back at her and nodded. "That's me," he responded.

She continued to smile genuinely. "Thank you for helping me."

He just smiled, then walked out the door and shut it behind him, leaving her alone to change back into her clothes.

# # #

Ten minutes later she poked her head out of the unit's door, having made use of one of the hygiene kits to use a small comb to pull knots from her wet hair. In the dry southern California heat, it would be dry in no time.

The sound of bullets rang through the air, causing her to stop in her tracks. A couple of bodies fell flat to the ground not far from the unit.

"Stephanie!" Thomas called out quickly, waving for her to follow along.

... out of the reach of a couple of wandering walkers.

Nothing seemed surprising anymore. She bounded after the three as they wove through the fenced-in area, trying hard to keep pace with them as she didn't quite feel like she was out of the clear as far as the kidney infection was concerned.

Nobody in the camp moved once as massive display of fireworks darted into the sky from the west, distracting even the walkers. Must have been a mistake... Either way, those bombs were due to hit the center of the city, and soon, so perhaps it was best to find some kind of cover. Things were getting worse, and fast.

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
and

Natasha Dean
Phillip Wilson


Dyomie huffed and slumped to one hip when Natasha gave her orders, The nerve of that woman, she thought as she walked back into the room with the woman. She was blubbering at this point and Dyomie sat down next to her. "I know it hurts now, but with all the blood you've lost it won't be long before all pain will go away," she said in consolation. The woman looked at her.

"W-w-what?" she asked.

"From what I can see you're almost dead, then you won't feel any more pain. You should be making your peace with that fact instead of complaining about the pain," Dyomie answered. The woman's blubbering only increased at this, the ex-thief rolled her eyes. Then the woman's breath started to come out in more jagged and her tears stopped, with one last huff she slumped where she was, her eyes still open.

"What did I say?" Dyomie said standing up. She walked to the door about to put the lights out and leave the corpse in there, when she heard a thump behind her. She looked and saw the woman move, "Excuse me?" Another movement, then the jaw moved like it was chewing, and milk white eyes glanced towards Dyomie. The receptionist began moving towards her making growling noises. "What?" Dyomie asked. She quickly picked her pole up where she had put it down and stabbed the woman in the head before backing away. Dyomie closed and locked the door. When the quite started to settle into her she looked down to her leg. It wasn't bleeding profusely, but it did seem to be cut a little. She pulled back her blood stained pants and looked at it, the cut was fairly clean through, no jaggedness to suggest one of the walkers got her. She sighed a little, sure she didn't know what would happen if one of them did get her, but honestly she didn't really want to find out.

Before Dyomie could look for something to wrap it in, Natasha dropped back down into the room. "Dyomie, we have to go." Natasha whispered to Dyomie. "I know it's cruel but we have to leave, the military are about to bomb the city." Natasha looked back to the receptionist. "Just outside, there's a sewer grate, go down it and wait for me at the ladders, I'll get the guns, just get Phillip and Marie to safety. If I'm not there when you hear the explosions, go on without me."

"Now that I can do," Dyomie said, she thought it would be funnier if she didn't specify what it was she could do. Dyomie went out into the hallway and headed out the building. A couple of walkers saw her and started after her, she stopped her running and turned to face them. They stumbled and slashed, but being re-animated corpses, apparently, they were clumsy and slow. Dyomie dashed left to right, never standing still, she stabbed them each in the head after she got behind them. Without stopping she immediately ran to the car. She knocked on the side, Marie jumped out and hugged her.

"Quick grab our things, the city's about to be bombed, we need to head underground," Dyomie said.

"What about Natasha?" the boyfriend asked.

[b]"She's getting the guns, but in the meantime I'm taking care of you, so grab your stuff."
Phillip took the biggest load as he had also grabbed Natasha's bags. Dyomie cut a strip of fabric off from the car seat and wrapped it around her leg, running after the other two to the sewer entrance. Phillip was almost there first and opened the grate, he turned the flashlight on and stopped. There was a small horde of walkers grabbing up at them.

"What do we do now?" Marie asked as Dyomie caught up. She looked down and cursed at seeing the horde. There wasn't much time to figure out where to go. Phillip closed the grate and looked to Dyomie. She sighed.

"Let's leave a note for Natasha saying we're heading towards the metro tunnels, I believe there's an entrance close by here somewhere."

"Leave the not in what?" Phillip asked. Apparently he was going to be a hard one to push on and leaving Natasha behind like this.

Dyomie unwrapped her leg, "Well we have blood," she said. She covered her finger and began to write on the ground, 'Don't go in here, go to metro'-Dy. When that was done, bad hand-writing, but legible, Dyomie re-wrapped her wound and ushered the other to forward, having to literally pull Phillip behind her as he protested.

Dyomie could hear helicopters in the distance when they finally reached the tunnel's entrance. Dyomie through Phillip ahead of them, his flashlight illuminating their way. Marie grabbed her sister's hand. They made their way in, but didn't go too far down. Phillip insisted they stayed within seeing distance to the exit just in case.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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"Whoa, whoa, whoa, what the hell is that?" Nathan snapped as the short series of fireworks burst in the sky.

Schantz' jaw dropped slightly as she kept one eye on the road and examined the fireworks sparkling with the other. "You've got to be kidding me," she drawled slowly, still gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.

"What do you mean?" Harper asked from the backseat, ducking her head between both front seats to stare out the windshield with the other two.

"Those are OUR fireworks," Schantz pointed out.

"Are you kidding me?" Nathan replied. "How do you know?"

"Those are our New Year's Eve fireworks!" she retorted sharply. "I've been helping launch those for years!"

"How do you know?!"

"Because we launch red ones only!"

Nathan paused briefly. "Wait, I remember helping take those damn things down into the locker room!"

"Do you think that's Calvin?" Harper asked, turning her head to Schantz.

The gruff woman nodded fervently. "I'm just about positive that's them. If they've got a van and they stuck a bunch of shit in there, then they're guaranteed to be in there."

"How do you know that?" Nathan asked curiously.

Schantz pointed ahead in the direction of the Hollywood sign, which in all reality was not too far away, maybe a further five minutes' worth of a fast drive. "Who's with them? Chuck? Steve wouldn't be stupid enough to grab fireworks. Your buddy Calvin doesn't know what those things look like. Those other people who came in don't, either. But you know who does? Chuck. He helped bring them down in January. He knows."

Nathan rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, Chuck wouldn't do that," he insisted.

Schantz shook her head. "That guy is just about as bullshit as they come, Nathan. He would TOTALLY do something like this."

"But why?"

A low rumble passed over their heads, and a few dark figures zippes along the skyline, blinking lights twinkling at the tail ends. Harper's face fell. "Those are jets."

"Think they'll be dropping the bombs?" Nathan asked.

Schantz didn't say anything; she just stomped her foot farther down on the gas pedal, hoping that those orders would hold off just long enough to get up there and see if there were indeed familiar faces on that hill.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BANG!

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

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

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

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

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

"Some situations call for swifter retribution..."

CLICK. BOOM!!

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

So much for no one else dying...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: 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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"What the hell was that?!" Nathan said as the car came to a jarring stop after spinning out wildly off the side of the road.

The firetruck had seemingly come out of nowhere, sirens blaring and lights obnoxiously flashing, causing Schantz to lose control of the vehicle as it clumsily lurched to avoid them. The urgency with which it flew down the road just served to heighten their nerves; just moments ago they saw what almost looked like a straight line of fire cut through the congestion of buildings not far from them. It was hard to register what they'd seen--this kind of thing just wasn't supposed to happen.

Schantz quickly put the car back on the path and continued climbing up, up, and up the hill. They followed the heavy tracks of the firetruck that had just whirled past them to a small clearing featuring about ten nervous people, shielding their eyes from the oncoming headlights.

"Hey, they came into the newsroom with the girl who got bit," Nathan said, pointing toward Jack and Lillian. Neither Harper nor Schantz had been in the newsroom during the chaos that had erupted after those newcomers had entered, leaving Nathan as the only one capable of making that connection.

Schantz stopped the vehicle and stepped out onto the dusty ground at the same time as Nathan did, both approaching the group. Harper took the opportunity to quietly sneak a tablet out of the clear orange prescription bottle from Stevie's satchel and wandered to stare out at the view over the city, featuring rapidly-catching fires that originated with that first strike from the sky.

She couldn't even pay attention to the conversation going on with the main part of the group. Schantz and Nathan were talking with the man in the leather jacket and a few other people who stepped forward, filling them in about what had transpired. She watched the fire spread over the metropolis below, her mind suddenly freezing as she began to think about her family back east, Stevie at the camp, and other co-workers and friends who must have been worried about the same things she was... if they were even alive.

Harper felt the back of her pant leg tug. She turned to look down, and saw a small blonde girl staring up at her. "You're only wearing one shoe," she said simply.

Harper looked down at her feet and smiled at the one worn white flat. It was a little pathetic. She laughed a little and turned to the girl and nodded. "You're right," she said. "Looks like I'll need to fix that soon, huh?"

"I hope so," the little girl responded, "because it looks like you're going to need them." She looked down and dug her toe in the ground. "I'm Lillian. I remember seeing you on the TV in that office. Are you Harper?"

Harper nodded. "I am. It's nice to meet you. Have you seen Steve?"

Lillian shrugged. "He and James and Wayne went to go look for Calvin... but Calvin came back and they haven't yet."

Harper's eyes widened. "He did? Where is he?" she asked, looking around in all directions and preparing to step off toward him to ask him what happened--and instead saw a familiar figure lying on the ground, his head drenched in a thick pool of blood starting to turn to mud thanks to the dust. Her face went white. "I... Lillian, is that-"

"Yes, that's Chuck," she said. Harper noticed that she was nervously keeping her back toward the corpse. She then began to spill the beans in a somewhat jumbled but precocious childlike fashion. "No one's telling me anything. But I think that Calvin and Jack got into trouble. Chuck came back alone a long time ago, and then James and Wayne and Steve went to look for them, and then Chuck set off fireworks even though people told him not to. Then Calvin and Jack came back with the van, and then this firetruck showed up with these people. They shot Chuck in the head and took Calvin with them." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a familiar-looking set of keys. "Calvin dropped these. But I picked them up after the firetruck left. I think they belong to the van."

Harper's mouth hung open in shock. She looked at the small group talking, and caught Jack's eye and then looked back to Lillian. He looked back at her for about a second too long before Nathan was able to track what Jack was looking at. Nathan's face twitched just slightly, veiled frustration in his expression as he looked back at Jack and continued to participate in the conversation.

"Thank you," Harper said to Lillian as she took the keys. "Stick with us, all right?"

Lillian smiled and pointed to the group. "You need to go talk to Jack and the others."

Harper complied, wondering if she was strangely obeying a child's orders or if the little girl just happened to say exactly what needed to be done.

"Harp, we've got to make a decision," Schantz said as the taller woman approached. "Chuck's dead, and-"

"I know," Harper said quietly, bringing her hand up to her mouth anxiously, partially annoyed that the Xanax hadn't yet kicked in and partially to demonstrate interest in the conversation. "Lillian's filled me in." She tossed the keys to Nathan and looked toward the van, thrilled to see a familiar large green rucksack stashed in the back, visible through the open back doors. Excellent--they'd brought the bag containing a few things she kept at the station in case she had to rush out of town for an assignment or stay late due to breaking news: her flak vest and helmet from her overseas assignment, an extra bag of makeup and a hairbrush, a blanket, a few bottles of dry shampoo kept for emergencies, a few books, a change of clothes and a pair of backup boots, and odds and ends from her desk such as pens and notebooks and even a flashlight. She'd even had that rucksack overseas with her to carry whatever she had.

A few other people were packing up their vehicles, and preparing to leave. Harper watched them momentarily and then looked again at the others. "It might be good if we left." Her eyes also looked up to the sky to watch another jet careening high above their heads. Larger, clunkier aircraft rumbled low over the city below.

"Where would we go from here?" Nathan asked. "Higher ground seems safer."

Jack shook his head and pointed at Chuck. "Are you kidding? Now those assholes know where we are. We can't stay here."

"But where do we go?" Nathan asked irritably.

"There's an underground tunnel system," Schantz volunteered, "that's got the railway, and lots of other spots, too. I think it's our best shot. We have to go underground."

"What makes you so sure that the bombs won't affect that?" Nathan posited curiously.

Schantz shrugged. "I dunno, we used to do it during tornados back home. We had a shelter under the house through these doors we'd lock behind us. If the sky turned green, we had to be down there in three minutes or we were going to be screwed. Same principle could apply here."

The jet soared once again above their heads. A couple of cars took off down the long dusty path to the highway.

"Jack and Schantz are right," Harper said quickly, seeing Chuck's stiff corpse still down in the muddied pool of blood in the corner of her eye. "Those people sound absolutely horrible. We have to plan how we're going to get Calvin back."

Nathan nodded, and Schantz shook her head. "We can't worry about that right now," she quipped fast, "for all we know, he's dead and the same thing can happen to us if we go near those creeps."

Harper took a breath. "You're right, we should first worry about where to go," she said, "but we have to go back and get Calvin."

The jet circled above again.

And then it hit Harper fast. They were surveying the area before letting another set of bombs cascade down onto the ground. The hill might be next.

Harper pointed fast at Nathan and the keys. "Nathan, get the van prepped and ask if anyone wants to ride with us, right now," she instructed, "Tara, get the SUV cranked up. Lillian and I are coming with you." She worked hard to keep the panic from showing in her voice.

Jack turned to Schantz' direction, but looked mostly at Harper. "I can drive if you wa-"

"Nope, you're coming with me," Nathan broke in quickly, "let's get these people in." Jack stared again at Harper and then took off with Nathan, rounding up the remaining four at the hastily-made camp.

"Follow me!" Schantz called out at them as the three headed to the SUV, Harper quickly snatching her pack out of the back of the van before running with them. Harper sat up front with Schantz and let Lillian take the backseat as the engine started and hummed to life. Within moments the two vehicles were on the ground, thrumming down the hill.

"Look!" Lillian pointed from the backseat at a truck coming up the hill. "It's James and Wayne and Steve!"

Schantz clicked the headlights at the truck, which complied in stopping and turning around to follow the news van down the hill. Harper was glad that the other three would be able to join them, after all.

After a short few minutes but several miles away, as Schantz once again drove as fast as she could, the rearview mirror showed them a massive blast of fire, followed by loud rumbling bangs. These bombs were close. Lillian scrambled into the cargo area to gape out of the back window as Schantz guided everyone toward the nearest underground metro entrance as fast as she could.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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# Sarah Hawke #


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


* * *


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

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

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

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

She hadn't planned on working overtime tonight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: 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: Tara Schantz (NPC)

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The small group rushed down the still-running escalators and down into the tunnels, the electricity somehow providing light despite the odds. The entrance had been smartly but simply barricaded and they'd left the vehicles in that vicinity, hauling whatever they could out of them just in case they weren't there later.

Harper dashed ahead, finally wearing a pair of boots and able to rush and keep pace with the others, hauling her tan rucksack on her back. The trains weren't running, and the platform was oddly vacant. Lillian held Schantz' hand, who carried her own duffel bag that had been pulled out of her own locker. All three rushed down, two other women accompanying them. The men had insisted on them going ahead while they kept an eye on the walkers lumbering their way toward the metro. A train filled the tunnelway; Schantz and Harper forced the doors open and crammed themselves inside, ducking down onto the floor. The others filtered their way down and stuck themselves through the train's door.

The ground rumbled above them.

"Hit the ground NOW!" James shouted out loud.

Everyone dove down onto the rubberized floor of the train, a huge "BOOM!" shattering through the underground tunnel and nearly shaking the stopped train on its tracks. The lights flickered on and off. Steve covered Lillian's head with his arm.

Another "BOOM!" cracked above and rumbled the train off and on its tracks again. Nathan spotted streams of dirt flying down onto the platform from the ceiling, but the foundation still held, all the same.

"BOOM!"

The train jumped upward off of its tracks, thumping heavily down at an angle, lying almost on its side, propped up by the ledge of the platform. There were surprised yelps or exclamations of pain as everyone slammed up against seats and windows, unprepared for the impact.

"BOOM!"

The car jolted and shook over and over again.

"BOOM!"

"BOOM!"

"BOOM!"

It went on and on and on, until finally the train stopped shaking and the noises stopped.

Harper opened her eyes, which she'd squeezed shut as their safe haven tipped over. She also found her hand squeezing Jack's, who was hunched uncomfortably by a nearby bench seat. Jack grinned broadly at Nathan, who glowered darkly at him from just a few feet away, even though he was just as shocked and jarred as anyone else by getting bounced around like a town inside a snow globe.

And then the lights flickered off, even inside the car. A long, awkward pause followed.

"You've GOT to be kidding me," Wayne blurted out with nearly perfect timing.

# # #

It had been a long, awkward trek downward. Nathan and Jack didn't click back at the station, and they certainly weren't clicking now, either.

After James' truck screeched to a stop and whirled behind them, they finally hit Mulholland, and followed Schantz as she wound through. Nathan wondered if she wasn't trying to get everyone into the underground metro.

"You're awfully quiet." Jack finally broke the silence. "Your name is Nathan, right? Didn't catch your name back at the station. Things kinda happened fast."

Nathan nodded. "Yep. That's me. Jack, huh?"

There was another long pause.

"Calvin told me your name. So that's Harper, huh? You're her camera guy." Jack cracked a small grin in the corner of his mouth. "You must love your job."

Nathan bristled. He didn't at all like the idea of this guy being near or talking about her. "We're a good team," he warned, "I've been working with her for months."

"So is that why you ditched us?" Jack asked slowly. He saw Nathan's face turn red. "Help your girlfriend out?"

"First off, nobody ditched you guys," Nathan insisted angrily. "We couldn't go down. Walkers in the hall and in the elevator. We had to fly out. Crashed in the water. Got out, somehow. You try it sometime," he added, curling his lip as he jerked the steering wheel to follow close but expediently. Those jets were continuing to circle up above.

"What's the second part?" Jack queried nonchalantly. Nathan looked toward him, confused. "You said, 'first off.'"

"Oh." Nathan frowned. "Second off, she's not my girlfriend."

Jack glanced out the window and nodded. "That's interesting." He knew full well that he was getting on Nathan's last nerve, for no other reason than to simply entertain himself at Nathan's expense.

Nathan felt his stomach flip. He could feel his dislike intensifying for Jack. He inwardly resolved to do what he could to keep Harper away from someone that he just had a bad feeling about.

"We've got company," Jack broke in, pointing to the concentration of walkers just ahead.


# # #

Harper steadied herself and pulled the pack from her back, reaching inside and pulling out her flashlight. "Is everyone okay?" she asked as she flicked the switch on and a circle of brightness shone through the window facing the platform. She directed the beam around the car, taking note of everyone's faces with alert expressions. "Everyone here?" Several noises came back acknowledging her question.

James let out a long sigh. The still darkness made it difficult to understand others without seeing their faces. "We've got to get out of here," he said simply. "Think that everyone can lean over and tilt this tin can back up?" The group promptly climbed up toward the diagonal ceiling. "On the count of three... one... two... THREE!"

The effort exerted by the ten people hurling themselves against the railcar's window proved laughably futile. As this railcar was connected on both sides to others, weighing it down considerably.

"Worth a shot, right?" James cracked, his dry voice trying hard to shield any worry. "Can we get that door open?"

Harper continued to shine to the flashlight through the window, spotting the silhouettes of a couple of figures out on the floor. She froze as she studied their movements, and could feel a collective silence and holding of breaths as others noticed them. Luckily, they were not staggering around lifelessly or aimlessly... they were real people. She tapped her flashlight on the glass and shifted the flashlight's beam quickly back and forth, hoping to get their attention and obtain help.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

“Another can of beans.” Rafiq placed it next to the others.

“Well, at least we won’t be lacking for beans for a while,” Molly said while scribbling it down in the notebook. Feeling useless because of her ankle, she had asked Rafiq to help out making an inventory of everything that they had. Figuring out rations was probably a good idea.

“I don’t like beans,” Sam said from behind his comic. His mother looked at him reproachfully. He did not notice, as he was already back in the wonderful world of the Marvel universe. It suddenly hit Rafiq that the kid was probably reading the last story Marvel would ever publish.

The door flung open and Niobe and Carl sashayed in. Annabelle peeked in behind them, smiled and then returned to her watch duty.

“Where is George?” Niobe asked, dropping a stuffed backpack near the others.

“Hello to you too,” Jessica responded with a tinge of sarcasm.

“Yeah, yeah, where is George?”

“On watch,” Rafiq said and nodded towards the other door. “Did something happen?”

She simply looked at him for a second and then went to find George without saying another word. Carl shrugged at them apologetically.

“What’s her problem?” Molly asked indignant.

“Nothing,” Carl said. He reached over to a bag of potato chips, but thought better of it when he saw the way Molly was looking at him. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Anyway, we ran into some people. Niobe wants to talk with George first before we decide... uh... on things.”

Rafiq looked at Molly, who seemed equally confused. “Things?” He asked, “what things?”

Carl thought for a second but then figured there was no point in lying.

“We got to Capitol Records, where we ran into a bunch of-“


BOOM!

The sudden noise made him shut up as a shock all went through them. For a moment, they all just sat there. Stunned.

BOOM!

“The bombs!” Rafiq shouted, “Get down!” He hoped he could hear them, but if they did not, they all seemed to have the same idea, as they all crouched down on the floor. Jessica ran to her son and covered his ears.

BOOM!

BOOM!


Annebelle scrambled back into the room, having realized that the room was safer then the tunnel outside. Jessica had told them earlier that this room was as earthquake proof as an underground place could get. They had hoped this would be the same for bombs as well.

BOOM!

BOOM!


It felt different from an earthquake though. There was a lot more noise for one thing. And it was apparent that the danger came from above. Rafiq had instinctively wrapped his arm around Molly, who in turn was holding his other hand.

The bombs went on for a while longer, but then eventually died away. Rafiq could feel his heart racing and sweat was trickling down his forehead.

Once they were sure it was over, Rafiq helped Molly up. She was a bit pale, but otherwise not in any visible signs of panic. The others seemed to cope as well, considering the situation. It was unnerving to think what would have happened if they had not been here. This was not the moment to just sit down though.

“We have to make sure the others are okay,” Rafiq said. He picked up one of the flashlights they had collected earlier.

“What about Sarah?” Molly asked. Rafiq swallowed hard. He did not want to think it, but if the girl had not gotten underground, she was probably dead. It made him feel sad.

“One thing at a time,” he heard himself say, although it came out a lot colder then he meant too. He turned around and left the room. Carl and Jessica followed.

The tunnel was dark. The bombs must have cut of the power, Rafiq thought to himself. Thankfully, George would not have gone far.

Just as that thought came into his head, they could make out George and Niobe leaning against the wall. They appeared alright.

“Oh my God, you are okay.” Jessica said loudly and ran towards them. George held up a hand and indicated for them to be quiet.

“Yes, we are alright,” he said in a low voice, “and you guys?”

“We are all fine,” Rafiq whispered. “What’s happening?”

Niobe took a step away from the wall and looked at something a bit away from them. It was a train, derailed. “Just before the bombs fell, this group ran inside that train. They have not seen me or George. We were lucky. That railcar not so much.”

They carefully shuffled closer to the train. Those people might be in need of a help. At the same time, they might be trouble. Or worse, they might have died and turned into walkers. George lifted his gun and Rafiq and the others did the same.

Suddenly a light fell upon them. It danced away and around them. Someone inside that train was trying to get their attention.

“They are trapped,” Rafiq said.

“That they do,” George said in a flat tone.

Rafiq was the first to reach the train. Through the glass, he could make out a number of people. There were ten of them, including a little girl. They would outnumber his little group, but then again, they did not seem particular dangerous. It was quite a mix match of people.

The woman with the flashlight was shouting something, but he could barely make it out through the thick glass. It was clear what she wanted though. Getting out.

He looked at George, remembering what happened earlier that day with the man in the wheelchair. If he did not want to help these people...

Thankfully, George was not that cruel. “Alright,” he sighed, “let’s try to get them out. Still, be careful everyone.”

Rafiq gave the woman in the train a reassuring smile, which seemed to ease her tension a bit. She said something to her fellow people and backed away. Together with Carl and George, Rafiq tried to pull the door open. With the way the train had fallen, this proved to be quite difficult, as the door was heavy and gravity against them. Yet, they managed and after a couple of grunts and cursing, the door swung open.

The woman with the flashlight was the first to get out and was about to say something, until she saw the gun in George’s hand, who was pointing it straight at her. “What the...” she began.

“Look,” George said, “we don’t want to do you guys any harm. But I’m sure you understand that we have to make sure you are not the wrong kind of people.” He placed a deliberate emphasis on the word 'we'.

A man propped his head behind the woman. He was angry, “Come on! We already had a shit day!”

George narrowed his eyes, but focused his attention on the woman. “You seem like a reasonable lady,” he said, “I only ask of you people to get out of the train one by one and see if you are carrying any weapons.”

The woman nodded. “That is only sensible,” she said.

They did as George asked and got out of the train one by one. They all lifted their hands in the air upon coming out, indicating that they were not holding any weapons.

“Alright,” George said, “that was not that bad, was it?” As he said that, he lowered his gun as a sign of goodwill. They all just stood there, not sure what to do next.

At that moment, they could hear another bomb falling in the distance. It was not close enough to do any damage, but nearly all of them looked up at the ceiling regardless.

Another bomb fell, clearly audible this time.

Later, he would be amazed at the fact how he was the one who had made the decision. But at that moment, all Rafiq could think of was to get everyone to safety.

“George!” He shouted, “we have to get back to the maintenance room! We’ll figure this out later!”

Niobe and George briefly exchanged looks.

Another bomb.

Niobe nodded.

“You heard the boy! Let’s go!”

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 & Phillip Wilson

Natasha let out a light sigh as she watched Dyomie leave, she was scared but she couldn't let it show, she had to keep going. Turning back to the ventilation shaft, she pulled herself up into it again and made her as many educated guesses as to the direction of the gun store, but her guesses only got her so close and it was good enough for her.

Slipping out from the vent, Natasha crouched down as she took her steps cautiously and with haste, any minute now the city would be lit up like a bonfire and she'd have to get underground before that could happen. The hallway was too quiet, as she made her way down it, looking down, she noticed Dyomie had left a few bodies littering the hallway and the door open, so some must have wandered out of the building and onto the street.

Natasha, after finally reaching the door, quickly made her way in and locked the behind her. Hitting a light switch, Natasha was surprised to see that the lights still worked and she quickly set about filling a duffle bag with guns and their respective ammo, a few batons and even tear gas, after watching one too many post apocolypse movies and playing one too many survival games, Natasha knew that humans would be the greatest threat next to whatever the things outside were. However, that wasn't what worried her the most, she could her the sound of oncoming helicopters approaching.

Finally filling the bag, Natasha grabbed a few flashlights, flares and glow sticks and managed to fit them into the bag, which was too big and heavy for her to bring through the vents. Opening the door, she looked to the door which Dyomie had conveniently left open and Natasha made a run for the door, looking behind her, she looked down every hallway and watched as more walkers started to emerge, she kept pushing herself down the hallway and as she ran out the door, she quickly whipped around and slapped the door closed before running to the sewer grate. Lifting it, she noticed the huddle walkers reaching up at her. "Shit." Escaped her lips as she looked around for a clue, nothing, no note or even trail. Natasha rubbed her forehead with a sigh and as she did looked down on the ground, there was blood on the floor but it was smudged slightly but the last word was clear. Metro.

Natasha quickly took off, the walkers slowly walking towards her, she could hear the helicopters now, they were right on top of her. Natasha pushed herself harder as she neared the entrance, it was getting hard to breath and her legs were killing her, but she had to keep going. Bang. Natasha's heart stopped as she heard the first bang and several screams. "Oh my god." Natasha could see the entrance and she pushed herself forward. She leapt down the steps to the entrance and landed at the bottom but she was so exhausted she fell to the floor. Bang. Another explosion came from outside.

"Tasha!" She heard the familiar voice call as she looked up to see Phillip reaching down to pick her up. "What's happening out there?"
"There's no… no time. We have to go deeper." Natasha said through heavy breaths as Phillip helped her up. "Come on, we have to hurry." She said as she nodded to Dyomie in approval and thanks for keeping her word and keeping Phillip safe.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


Dyomie sat down, giving her injured leg a break, Marie looked down at her worriedly, but Dyomie just ignored her gaze. That would be something to address later. Then they heard the bombs starting in the distance. Marie sat down and curled into her older sister, Dyomie watched Phillip with great intensity to make sure he wasn't honestly stupid enough to go running outside at this moment. She was about to stand up and say they should get deeper into the metro tunnels when heavy footsteps could be heard in the distance. Dyomie looked and sure enough Natasha was scrambling towards them.

"Son of bitch," Dyomie said, shaking her head. In all honesty she hadn't thought that this woman would actually make it back to them. Phillip in a completely emotional scene ran towards his girlfriend and hugged her. This is exactly why she was never in a relationship, way too cheesy.

"Come on, we have to hurry," Natasha said. She nodded to Dyomie in approval of keeping Phillip safe, the thief cringed at that, Great now a cop is approving my actions. This is just fantastic, she thought. They all grabbed their bags and started to move hastily down into the tunnels. Dyomie held a flashlight as they got deep enough no light could be seen. The walls and ceiling rumbled around them as the bombs hit the ground, sending small pebbled raining on their heads with a boom that made Dyomie and Marie want to ever their ears.

It was Dyomie who had heard the voices first. She pushed Marie against the wall, hoping the others would do the same. "There are people up ahead," Dyomie mouthed, she handed Marie one of her walkie-talkies as well as pulled out her pistol. She dropped her bag on the ground, "I'm going to go talk to them, if things go wrong find another tunnel to go," she whispered. At this point Dyomie felt it was a bit redundant to say 'and protect Marie with your life', plus it would also put Marie in a worse mindset. Without any answers, Dyomie nodded and walked up to the corner. She looked around the corner and saw a train cart that was trapped, a few others were moving around it trying to help whoever was inside.

"George! We have to get back to the maintenance room! We'll figure this out later!" a boy shouted to the others.

A woman nodded, "You heard the boy! Let's go!" As the people moved it looked as though they were coming towards them. Dyomie crept around the corner, staying close to the wall, her pistol cocked and ready to fire if needed. She then stepped out in front of them, a safe enough distance between both groups.

"Stop there or I'll shoot!" Dyomie yelled at them, her pistol raised, "What do you want?" Her hand was steady and her eyes narrowed. There was no way they were going to get passed her until she knew for sure they were safe.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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.: Calvin Hawke :.
# Sarah Hawke #


BOOM! BOOM! B-BOOM!

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

BOOM!

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

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

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

If only she knew...


* * *


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOM!

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

BOOM!

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

BOOM!

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

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


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


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

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

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

BOOM!

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

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

BOOM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


.: END OF SEASON :.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown

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Setting

Characters Present

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

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC)

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Christopher Jones

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