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Luca Dobre

Romani Traveler

0 · 306 views · located in The Haven Universe

a character in “Live Together or Die Alone”, as played by Northgaze



Name-Luca Dobre



Physical description- Luca is from Romanian descent has short jet black hair and intense brown eyes. His skin displays a dark tan from the time he spent working outdoors. His hands reflect a life of hard work, both covered in calluses and tiny scars from various mishaps.

Luca stands a solid 5’ 10”, well-built and lithe; he can outlast his taller counterparts in the field.

Personality- Luca has a low tolerance for fools and idiots, he would rather handle something alone than bring a liability with him. Luca isn’t afraid to speak his mind, often voicing his opinions before thinking of the consequences associated with blurting them out. He is respectful, yet distant to fellow caravanners, old habits and prejudices being hard to break. Having a notoriously short temper he is more likely to punch someone than settle the argument verbally. Despite his brash attitude he is extremely loyal to Eden Valley and dares anyone to say disparaging remarks about it.

Biography- Growing up in a settled Romani community, Luca was surrounded by family and relatives, he was never lonely or without someone to play with. His father instilled a strong work ethic in his four sons while they were young, all of them helping in the small carpentry business that their father owned. Using a hammer and nail became second nature to them, Luca excelled in constructing rocking chairs, though his true passion was chest building. He loved carving intricate designs on the lids and sides, using the natural beauty of the wood to highlight the carved patterns.

Luca was eventually married to a woman of his parents choosing, but unlike his brothers who left once they married, Luca continued to work in his father’s shop.

The couple was quickly blessed with three children, two girls and a boy. The family was happy for a time, till a fateful day changed everything.
By the time he reached Eden Valley, Luca had buried his wife and two little girls. He arrived heartsick and hopeless, carrying his son and a small trunk.

Settling into Eden was difficult at first; the culture was vastly different from what Luca was accustomed to. He found his old skills had some use in the changed reality, Luca helped with mending the perimeter fence and doing odd carpentry jobs around the camp. When the offer to become a Runner was given to him, he jumped at the chance.

Skills- Carpentry, fighting

So begins...

Luca Dobre's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Allison Hartford Character Portrait: Luca Dobre Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Haven-A Rough Day

Her pack felt odd on her back. She only had the first aid kit with her. When she arrived in Eden she had a pack full of books and a few clothes. Ally hadn’t planned on this taking too long. She had a large knife in her belt. She wasn’t good with a gun and had opted not to take one.

Luca was still covered in dirt when Tam announced the jobs, he considered changing, but he felt that would be disrespectful to Karen's memory. He wore his mud-splattered jeans and flannel shirt, each step felt heavy as he approached the park's entrance. The question that weighed heavily on Luca's mind was how much his son had seen of the events that led up to the breach. The boy had already witnessed things that no human should ever have to experience; there was a small chance that he had slept through the noise and only awoke after the breach had begun. Luca really hoped that that was all his son had seen.

She stood on the edge of the camp. Her stomach hurt. She was still new at doing runs but she understood that she needed to help in this. There were no injuries that needed tending and Ally did not want to just stand around when there were so many other things to get done.

She looked over her shoulder and spotted her partner for this run. Ally gave Luca a slight nod. She knew him, though not well.

Returning the nod, Luca approached Ally till they stood a comfortable distance apart. He recognized her as the woman with doctor training, who was always the person they relied on when the inevitable injury or sickness struck the camp. He thought it was odd that she wanted to leave the safety of the park, but he couldn't deny that the idea of having a competent medical professional by his side made him feel more at ease. Her attractiveness didn't hurt either.

Ally turned and looked at the trees beyond. They were heading out there and there was no telling what they would run into.

“Are you ready?”

"I am, let's go meet this privileged Havener."

Ally gave a short laugh and wrapped her arms around herself. “Privileged? Is there such a thing anymore?”

"Yes," Luca replied decisively. "As long as we humans exist, there will always be an imbalance of power and wealth among different groups. I suppose we should be grateful that Haven is willing to share their materials with us."

It felt like they fought and scrounged for everything. Sure Haven had it good in some ways but in the end were they really that much better off?

The woman started walking. Perhaps Luca wasn't wrong about the imbalance but everything still felt like a struggle, no matter the camp you lived in.

The air was cool and winter would be fully on them soon. It’s only late,’s November. That made Ally’s shoulders hunched. Months had gone by since the outbreak and she had lost track of time.

She looked over at Luca, “The breach last night....hard to believe it happened.” She shrugged. “I never thought we were so vulnerable. I don’t even know what happened. One minute I am finishing inventory and the next I have hurt people waiting for me to fix them. Then there was the screaming....”

Ally shook her head trying to shake out the memory of the sounds.

At the mention of the breach, Luca set his mouth in a grim line. "Hopefully Tam will figure out how they got in so it never happens again. We deserve to feel safe in Eden." Though he secretly hoped for the exact opposite result from Tam's investigation.

“Investigations just turn into finger pointing and blaming each other.” Ally wrapped her arms tighter around herself.

The wind had begun to pick up, which caused Luca to sink his face deeper into his scarf. Probably another snowfall was on its way, something that Eden Valley could certainly do without.

Her eyes were scanning the area for signs of anything moving. She had a knot in her stomach. Why am I doing this? I am not made for running out to get things. Self doubt was her one companion in everything Ally had ever done. Except medicine. That was the one place that voice didn’t appear and remained blissfully silent.

“Oh goody windy too. That might make it easier to smell them coming I guess...”

Luca gave a short laugh, "Let's hope we can't, only large masses of them can be detected by their smell which usually means you are close enough for them to pick up your scent too."

The very thought of a large group wandering out here, so close to the camp made Ally shiver. "Yeah, I could do without smelling them..."

The wind blew as they walked. The camp grew smaller behind them and before them stretched trees and brush. Ally looked back over her shoulder once but could no longer see the camp.

“Who is watching your son?”

"Freya has been kind enough to help me with Tobar. She has treated him like her own grandson ever since we arrived." Luca replied.

In truth, the silver-haired scottish woman had almost become a surrogate parent to the young boy. Luca found himself nearly unable to spend time around Tobar, each interaction became a painful reminder of how he had failed to save the rest of his family.

Her voice was lowered now that they were further from the camp. It seemed like the danger was more real once they could no longer see the fence. Despite the breach Ally still felt it was safer there than out here in the unknown.

The trees were spread out offering lovely scenery but little cover from the wind. The pair managed to find a trail, though slightly overgrown it would make for better footing as they moved. It also meant having a reference point for the way back.

The grass rubbed against their legs and Ally fell in behind Luca as they walked. She kept looking around them, watching for signs of anything that might be lurking near by. She reasoned that if they were new she would hear them running through the brush. If they weren’t well, there would be time.

Behaving like a protective bantam rooster, Luca reflexively squared his shoulders and strode confidently down the forest path. He knew the true reason why Ally dropped back was the narrow path, but his pride preferred a different explanation. His only regret being that he couldn't sneak nearly as many glances at her with this new walking arrangement.

Her shoulders felt tight. In truth her whole body was tense. Her hand occasionally went out touch Luca’s back as if reassuring herself that he was still there. They had grown quiet as they walked, both focusing on their journey instead of conversation.

At first Luca thought he imagined the light contact, but by the second and especially the third time Luca knew it wasn't just his imagination. He felt a smile beginning to cross his face, though he had a suspicion that her light brushes were likely due to unease about the darkened surroundings. He wanted to give her words of encouragement, but he found himself at a loss for the right words.

They had no real way to know how long they had been walking but the tree cover grew denser after a time and the light grew dimmer. The trail suddenly felt smaller, more cramped. Ally started to walk closer to Luca, almost bumping into him several times.

The lessened distance between the pair, caused Luca's pulse to quicken as he subconsciously sensed her anxiety and began to feel an equal amount of apprehension. Ally's growing fear was slowly infecting Luca.

It was harder to see now. Before the trees were spread out giving them plenty of space to spot things that might be moving in the grasses and weeds. Now it was hard to see anything but tree trunks.

The blessing was the trees cut some of the wind down. The unfortunate part was the wind began to cause the tree branches overhead to creak eerily. Their soft footfalls were accompanied by a chorus of creaks and crackings.

The trail moved upward on a small hill and as they moved down it grew a little darker. The wind in the treetops picked up and Ally wondered if a storm might be coming in. It would make things harder for them if they had to find shelter out here.


Ally stopped dead, eyes darting this way and that. What? Where?

A branch, large and heavy fell on the path behind them.
Her heart was pounding. She hadn’t even reached for her knife. Turning she looked at Luca. Her face had lost all its colour. She licked her lips and tried to hide how frightened she was.

The sharp crack had startled Luca nearly as greatly, though he kept a firm hold on his outward expression. When he turned to see Ally's pale face, he realized the amount of courage it must have taken for her to leave Eden Valley. Even after the alarming sound, she was putting on a brave face. He admired her effort and was thankful that she hadn't panicked. Being level headed in an encounter with the dead could easily mean the difference between life or death.

“Wind is pretty strong.”

Luca gave a quick smile. "It is. I promise to not let you blow away." The small joke a weak attempt to lighten the situation.

She tried to smile at his joke and it was a good attempt but her heart was still racing. "Good to know." She reached out to touch his arm. "Thank you Luca." She knew he was trying to reassure her and she appreciated it.

Luca gently covered her delicate hand with his own. "You're welcome."

They resumed their trek. The pair went silent again as their senses were all focused on keeping them alert. Ally’s shoulders hunched over as she walked.

The cold was starting to seep into them. The wind was beginning to howl louder. Ally stopped. “Do you hear that?”

A moan. A definite moan. Ally stared wide eyed at Luca. The moan was loud and did not seem to have a definite point of origin. Ally had goosebumps now. She couldn't see anything that might be making the noise. Her heart was pounding. Where are they? Where?

Freezing in place, Luca's hand instantly sought the handle of his long hunting knife. His eyes scanned the surrounding trees as he tried to locate what had caused Ally to stop and ask if he had heard something. Small beads of sweat clung to his forehead while he silently listened for his worst nightmare to become a reality.

There again a moan. A low, long sound that made her blood drain from her face. She looked around frantically. Ally couldn’t see it. She could hear it but she couldn’t see it.

“Luca? Do you see it?”

“No. Keep a sharp eye out though.” Luca said in a low voice.

Her voice was little more than a whisper. The moan pierced the air again. Ally turned to look back down the path the way they had just walked. She half expected to see something coming towards them. Once more the moan hit her ears and she turned to her right, sure that it had come from there.

“I don’t see it!” This she hissed at him.

Ally hadn’t taken her knife out of her belt. The weapon was forgotten as she tried to locate the source.

She looked left. It did not sound like it was getting any closer though it sounded as it it was all around them. Her hair stood on end and a light sweat formed on her back. Could it be? Are we surrounded?

Ally slowly looked upwards. Do they climb trees? The very idea that the things might climb, might be above them just waiting seemed preposterous but she was not ruling it out at this point.


She was looking upwards at the treetops but she began to inch closer to him until her back bumped into his arm. “Could they be in the trees?”

At the mention of his name, Luca looked to Ally and followed her gaze upwards. For a split second his mind envisioned an infected zed dropping down on them from the branches above, but the reality was a less frightening explanation. Almost laughing aloud, Luca dropped his hands to his knees and released a shaky breath. Upon straightening, he turned to his frightened companion.

"It's the wind. The bloody wind through the branches nearly had us scared to death." Luca released another cloudy breath, his heart beat slowly returning to normal.

Ally’s gaze lowered to Luca. He was breathing a bit harder and she was trying to wrap her head around his words. Wind...trees...

She heard the moan again and this time Allison heard it for what it was. She cast her eyes down to her feet. “Right, the wind.”

Her heart was pounding, her pulse was racing and fear had left her full of adrenaline. That now changed to embarrassment, anger and nausea. How could I have been so stupid? Wind in the trees. Not something coming for us.

She had set them both on high alert and clearly Luca had been as on edge as she herself had been and all for wind blowing in the trees. Ally swallowed against the lump that formed in her throat. He is going to regret being stuck on this mission with you. Panic much?

“We should keep going...”

Ally muttered it into her sweater, just loud enough for Luca to hear her. She then turned her face away from him and fought back the tears that she was so close to shedding. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

Too late. A trail of hot, wet tears began to form down her cheeks as her body came down from the rush of the situation. Ally didn’t want him to see her crying so she turned her back to him and tried to stifle the sobs.

The wind overhead moaned again as if mocking them. Ally put both hands to her face and her shoulders shook.

Luca tried to ignore the soft distressed sounds from Ally, but he couldn't bring himself to treat her so callously. He felt very uncomfortable with the situation, he wasn't sure if a comforting gesture would be well received or appropriate. From years of marriage Luca knew that telling her to suck it up was out of the question, so that left the consoling option.

He took a hesitant step closer and draped his left arm across her back and rested his hand lightly on her left shoulder. Luca gave her shoulder a gruff squeeze.

An arm came around her and Ally wanted to crawl away and hide. He was comforting her like one might a child after they did poorly on a test. She felt idiotic. Why am I doing this? I shouldn't have volunteered. I am going to get us killed.

"Don't be upset, it was an honest mistake. The wind had me fooled as well and it is better to be watchful than caught off guard." Luca said diplomatically.

Luca's words sounded reassuring but Ally knew if she hadn't overreacted, hadn't grown so panicked he would have never been so on edge. Her tears slowed and through a small hiccup she managed to say "Right, watchful."

While he felt bad that Ally had been frightened by the moaning sound, her reaction gave him serious doubts with regards to her ability as a runner. Luca wasn't sure if he could rely on her if they encountered real danger. It was too late to do anything about it now, so he just had to hope that everything would go smoothly for the rest of the day.

Luca dropped his hand from her shoulder and ran his fingers across his knitted hat. "Let's keep going, the school can't be that far away now." He smiled at Ally, trying to put her at ease and show that he wasn't holding a grudge over the event.

His hand moved from her shoulder and Ally shrunk into herself as much as she could. She rubbed her arms against the cold and then looked up at Luca. "Yeah we should keep walking."

They started down the trail again. She fell into step behind him and after a few moments of silence Allison tapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks. You know...for well...just thanks."

Luca was startled out of his wandering thoughts by the unexpected shoulder tap. "Don't mention it." He replied, still keeping his voice low just to be safe. "I'm sure you will find your runner legs soon and feel more comfortable out here."

Ally went back to looking and listening for signs of anything moving around them. The ones that had breached the camp had been fast, new dead from what she was told by the people she helped. She worried that they would be caught off guard though she now worried she would overreact again.

The wind still moaned at them as they kept moving. They cleared some of the denser parts of the trail and soon the trees began to thin out again and there was more open space and tall grasses. Ally was breathing easier knowing that it would give them a better line of sight to have fewer trees. They seemed to be leaving the forested area for one that resembled the outskirts of a rural town. She hoped that meant the school would not be too much further.

The wind buffeted them more now. Less trees meant they were now taking the brunt of the cold but it also meant the wind was no longer tauntily moaning at them. The grass moved in the breeze.

Ally was looking behind them, checking their flanks when the movement started to their left and towards the front where Luca was. Whatever it was, it was about five maybe six feet away and moving quickly through the grass. She didn't see it at first but as she turned her head to front she saw the grasses moving. Was she imagining it? She did not want to cause panic like she had before.

The grasses moved more and it was heading towards them. Her eyes went wide. Low to the ground, moving fast... She was filled with a sense of horror as she realized it might very well be a child. An undead child intent on them. She moved quickly towards Luca with a yelp of fear and grabbed the back of his shirt, burying her face against him. No movement was made towards her weapon, no instinct to fight just hide against the man in front of her.

Luca had once again fallen into a daydream, blissfully unaware of the moving grass to their side. It was only the sudden yelp from Ally that brought him out of his quiet musings. He quickly scanned for whatever had caused her to cry out and cling to his shirt. Luca smoothly drew his hunting knife, fully aware that he didn't have time to pull out the shotgun from his pack. The patch of wildly swishing grass grew closer, Luca's heart leapt into his throat as he instinctively put his left arm out in an attempt to further shield his companion from what was rushing towards them.

"Aahhhh!" Luca gave a battle-cry, intending to bury his weapon in the first undead skull that appeared. He bent his knees ready to engage the first attacker.

Luca screamed, making a noise meant to scare off any opponent and bolster himself for battle. Ally simply clung to his shirt. Her eyes were squeezed shut and her knuckles were white. Please don't die..please don't die....

A piercing screech suddenly filled the air as three pheasants flapped noisily into the sky. Baffled for several seconds, Luca rather sheepishly realized he had just yelled at a couple of harmless birds. While he normally might have been angry at his foolish behavior, he was grateful that he hadn't been forced to meet an actual zed. For the third and hopefully last time, Luca felt his pulse slow and his muscles relax. He rubbed his cap back and forth trying to shake off the remaining tension.

The noise that followed was the most confusing thing Allison had ever heard. There was a flapping of wings and then everything was once again still. Ally frowned into Luca's back. His body relaxed under her hands. It was then that she pulled her face away and peered around.

"Where....where is it?"

Luca looked over his back, only just realizing that Ally probably had no idea what had just happened. Wordlessly he pointed to the sky, trying to lessen her embarrassment from causing another false alarm. As his heartbeat slowed further, Luca became fully aware of how close they really were to one another. He wondered if she normally behaved like this or it was just the high pressure circumstances that caused her to be so familiar with him.

There was nothing. Nothing but the grass, themselves and some birds. She looked around still scared but more unsure now that there appeared to be no threat. She hadn't imagined it, she had seen the grasses moving. Am I crazy? Ally ducked under Luca's arm. She was close to him, practically hugging him with her left arm.

Luca pointed. Her eyes went to where the birds were disappearing into the distance. Birds? Ally turned and hugged Luca. Her face was against his chest. "I'm sorry. I thought...well I thought it was something running at us..."

The words were mumbled into his shirt. She felt as if once again she had cause so much panic for nothing. Her body grew warm as a wave of embarrassment washed over her. He thinks you are useless you know. Bet he was happy to have the 'doc' with him and now he knows you are like dead weight. Bound to get him killed Once again the urge to crawl away and hide was overwhelming.

He wanted to feel angry at her mumbled apology, angry that this was the third near heart-attack he had received since leaving Eden, but looking down at her face pressed into his muddied shirt he felt ashamed for thinking those unkind thoughts about her. Luca placed a hand on her back, both in an effort to calm her and make her aware of the continuous embrace she was engaged in. The contact wasn't unwelcome by any means, but Luca felt anxious standing out in the open with Ally during such a sensitive moment.

She was coming down from the latest wave of adrenaline and suddenly became aware of the fabric against her forehead and the presence of a body in her arms. Ally dropped her arms and slowly backed away. Great not only does he think you are a high strung idiot he also thinks you have no concept of personal space. Well done.

Thankfully Luca didn't have to wait long before Ally dropped her arms and stepped out of the embrace, though a part of him missed her closeness he had to remind himself they were on an important mission for Eden and the rest of their group was depending on them to bring back the supplies. Almost regretfully, Luca straightened his shirt and regained his serious demeanor.

Ally blushed, turning bright red. She turned and looked down the path. "School shouldn't be far right?"

Luca pretended not to notice the sudden high color in her cheeks. "Yes, about another five to ten minutes up the road." The memories of their previous scares still fresh on his mind, Luca took off his pack and pulled out the shotgun. Replacing the pack on his shoulders, he held the shotgun firmly in his right hand. "I think it's a good idea to keep this handy, just in case." He told Ally before continuing their journey to the schoolhouse.

The rest of the walk was uneventful. No odd noises, no rustling in the grass. Both were still on alert knowing full well that at anytime danger could rear its head.

As they hoped, the path did not go on for much longer before they could see a building in the distance. A fence, damaged in many places, surrounded what was likely once a decently kept schoolyard. The building itself was two story and brick.

As they drew closer broken windows became visible. Like a lot of things now the school had seen better days.

The path led to the fence. At one time a person might have had to climb it or begin the trek around but now there were places where the chain link had been pulled back and the pair easily fit through a hole.

Ally swallowed and scanned the yard. Something about the fact that it was once a school made her stomach tighten.

“Where do you think this person will be?” She whispered to Luca. She silently prayed that they would not have to go too far into the building to meet the contact.

"I'm not sure, probably we should check the front entrance first, then we can look from there." Luca replied in an equally quiet tone.

Luca felt an involuntary shiver pass down his spine as they continued to approach the school. He could only hope that they would be fortunate enough not to run into any dead children while inside the rundown structure. As the pair drew closer to the entrance, they saw that the large double doors were wide open. The weather was to thank for hiding any indication of the inevitable violence that had to have occurred on the front steps of the school. A passerby could almost imagine that the school had been condemned, rather than the more sinister reason for its current vacancy.

The entrance hallway was dark compared to the outdoors, though there was still plenty of light from the windows to see fairly clearly. Luca gripped the shotgun tightly as he stepped deeper into the darkened hall. Each shadow seemed to have a menacing air to it, reaching towards the runners with dark intent. Scanning to the left and right, Luca was disappointed and relieved to see that they were the only ones moving inside the building.

Speaking quietly over his shoulder, Luca continued to look for the Havener. "I don't see anyone. Let's go check this left hall, see if the person is waiting down there."

The pair walked as silently as possible past all the empty and disheveled classrooms. While they walked Luca began to feel a prickling sensation on the back of his neck, almost like someone was watching them. The runner tried to brush the nagging thought away, but it stubbornly refused to leave. Luca took a quick glance back at Ally, curious to see if she felt the same way.

She remained quiet as they entered the building. She feared making the whole thing awkward again and the place gave her chills up her back. Her eyes took in the sight of overturned desks, discarded coats and random shoes. Ally kept looking around seeing no sign of someone waiting for them but she couldn't shake the feeling that something else was in the school.

The look Luca gave her told her he felt the same. She came alongside him. Ally's voice was low and she leaned in so only he could hear. "Is something following us?"

"I don't know." He replied honestly. "We need to keep a sharp lookout for whatever it might be."

Luca wasn't sure if it was a good thing that Ally agreed with him. This was the same woman who had thought the wind blowing through the trees sounded like moans of the undead. Maybe some of her paranoia was starting to wear off on her partner and it really was all just in their head.

As they continued down the hall, Luca noticed that not all of the doors were open as he had first thought. At least three of the classrooms were closed in this particular hallway. Despite knowing that it might be dangerous, Luca became unable to resist approaching the closed door nearest to him. Carefully he pressed his ear to the door and listened for movement. It was silent at first, but gradually he started hearing quiet moans, the sound slowly grew louder, followed by a sudden screech of a desk as one of the dead likely bumped into it. Luca could almost feel the press of the zed on the other side of the door. The moaning was still realtively quiet, but a scratching sound could now be heard on the solid wood. The most disturbing thing Luca found about this new sound, was that it seemed to be emanating from hip height. A somber glance at the placard next to the room, confirmed his suspicions.

"Don't even think about opening that door, boy." A voice growled menacingly from behind the pair.

Whipping around, Ally and Luca stared wide-eyed as a lone figure emerged from the shadows. Luca held the shotgun defensively as he tried to gauge the intentions of the person before him.

"I wasn't going to open it." Luca replied indignantly. Now that the stranger was out of the shadows, he took in the man before him.

Ally simply stared at the new arrival. She edged a little closer to Luca but didn't hide behind him. The man was big but it was muscle big. To the point where his coat seemed snug on his arms and shoulders. Bald but bearded and he had an air about him that said 'do not mess with me'. Ally wasn't sure if Haven sent him because they thought Eden might cause trouble or because he was the best suited for making the run.

"Hmph. I assume you two are from Eden Valley then." The man said gruffly.

After a moment's hesitation, Luca replied. "Yes. My name's Luca and this is Ally. Who are you?"

The man seemed to visibly relax after hearing Luca's words of confirmation, but Luca still felt suspicious of the stranger.

"I'm Mark, from Haven." The man said with pride.

Ally offered him a sort of half smile.

"We were told you were able to bring us some tools and things to help us out?"

She really, really hoped he was not goign to give them a hard time. It was bad enough that there was so much danger out there, they didn't need to be fighting amongst themselves.

Mark looked them over critically. There was something akin to amusement in his eyes. "Yay I got a drill, couple of hammers, some nails and screws too. You know the basics."

Ally didn't like the way he spoke to them. It seemed like he was almost mocking them for needing Haven's help.

"How is your scavenger, Ben doing?" Luca interjected. He hoped to disarm the gruff man by reminding him how the caravanners had helped Haven in the past.

"He's alright." Mark replied, a hint of gratitude sneaking into his voice.

The trio lapsed into silence as they set about transferring the items from Mark to Ally and Luca. They divided the things up between their two packs so no one person carried it all. As promised there was the basic items one would need to do basic repairs. Ally noted a few screwdrivers, some nails, a hammer and a drill along with other things she didn't know the name of. The bags were weighed down with the tools from Haven, though they were not full or overly cumbersome. Ally had to admit the man was gruff but he had come through. It wasn't a lot but it was enough to help them get things fixed.

When it was done Luca gave Mark a nod of thanks. Nothing more was said. Mark turned and with the same speed and quiet as he appeared he vanished down the hall.

She moved across the classroom towards the windows and watched the man head off towards Haven. They too would be heading back to Eden, back through the trees and brush. She vowed not to let herself get spooked by things that were not there.

Ally’s hand came down on the window sill. She bumped into a basket. It was a pile of work the children of the class had once done. It was waiting for the teacher to mark the pages, maybe put a little star sticker or write ‘good job’ on them. It would never happen. Both the teacher and her students were no longer here and would not be coming back.

The woman looked away from the basket unable to think any longer on the children that once filled this place with laughter and learning.


Something caught Ally’s eye. It was a container of crayons. She smiled a small crooked smile.

“We should take these back with us.”

She crossed the room and scooped up the container. She turned to Luca. “I bet we can find a few supplies in this place. Staplers, paper, pencils. Maybe even some books. I know seems silly but just think it might help, you know make people be able to relax. Really though, pencils and things are always handy.”

Luca felt skeptical about wasting time and adding more weight to their packs just for some useless school supplies. The sooner they returned to Eden, the better. Crossing his arms, Luca was about to suggest they leave, when an image of his young son crossed his mind. Tobar would be delighted to have paper and crayons again. Luca cracked under that compeling argument and quickly found himself searching right alongside Ally.

Ally ran up to where the teacher’s desk sat. In other rooms some of the desks had been overturned but this one sat as it should. She pulled open a drawer.

“Look! Elastics, erasers, paper clips....”

Another drawer opened and Ally started to laugh. “Oh someone liked to sneak a little fun into their morning coffee it seems.” She reached down and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

“But there is a hole punch and three staplers, man they were a hoarder.”

She placed her bag on top and began to scoop in anything and everything she could find. Ally looked up at Luca. “Shall we check out a few more rooms?”

Luca found himself cracking a wide smile at the humorous commentary she gave for each discovered object. "Why not." He replied agreeably, already setting off to scour the next room.

The last thing she grabbed from this particular desk was the bottle. She slipped it into her bag along with everything else.

For the next 25 minutes the pair quickly ran from classroom to classroom trying to find whatever they thought could be useful. In one room they found bowls, a sweater in the closet and loads of construction paper. Rolls of scotch tape and duct tape. Rulers, tacks, chalk and other basic school supplies found new homes in their bags. They grabbed as many books as they could manage as well. Ally even grabbed a few coffee mugs.

As they made their way back towards the main entrance, avoiding closed doors, Ally stopped. “A broom closet! Where would the janitor’s office be? There would be tools and other things in there! What if it wasn’t raided?”

The possibility of finding a fully loaded broom closet was too tempting to pass up, even though Luca wasn't entirely sure what might actually be found in such a room, he readily joined in the search for said treasure trove.

The duo began to roam the halls frantically looking for the office of the custodian. When they did manage to locate the little office it seemed that someone else had already scavenged what they could. Perhaps the very tools Haven gave them had once had a home in the office.

Ally’s face was crestfallen. She had really hoped that if they had found more tools, more supplies that would help them fix the breach and do maintenance that it would help offset the panic she had caused on the trip in.

“Oh well, it was worth looking.”

She shrugged and headed back the way they came. “Let’s head off before we get caught out here at night.”

Luca was considerably less upset than Ally over the empty closet. He was actually quite pleased with what had been given to them by Mark and he was looking forward to seeing how excited his son would be to have art supplies once again. Luca tried to convey his positive mindset to his partner as they set off for Eden Valley. They passed back through the yard, out the fence and back onto the path.

"That was a good idea to bring back school and art supplies. I know that my son will love being able to draw with crayons and pencils once again, not to mention the other survivors who could certainly use a creative outlet after the recent breach. My personal favorite pastime is wood carving, I used to carve all manner of designs on chests and other wooden pieces." Luca fell silent for a moment, realizing he had just shared several personal details about himself that he would normally have kept private. Clearing his throat, Luca looked over to Ally. "What are some of your hobbies?"

She was glad that she was walking behind Luca again. He couldn't see the grimace on her face. "Hobbies?" Here he was a man with a talent, something creative and she was a boring former med student who didn't have a life before all hell broke loose. "I don't have any unless you count cramming for tests and not sleeping as hobbies. I read a lot..."

Ally didn't add that all she read was textbooks or medical journals. "So carving? That takes a steady hand."

It was something she could relate to. The ability to carve details into wood meant a practiced steady hand, not unlike what it took to stitch someone up or use a scalpel.

While Luca wouldn't consider himself to be a particularly clever fellow, he could tell when someone was trying to deflect questions about themselves. He let the topic slide for the time being, but he was determined to learn more about the quiet doctor.

"Well we will have to find you one then. Everyone should have a hobby, even if it is small thing. Keeps the mind busy." Luca replied with a wink.

My mind is plenty busy trying to figure out what I am going to do if people start to get really sick this winter. She had been doing some reading up on more natural medicines, ways to help lessen colds and flus without the use of antibiotics. Finding a stash in a hospital would be a god send but Ally couldn't wait for a miracle. She needed to think ahead now. People were counting on her to take care of them.

"Everyone should have a hobby...sure." Ally blushed a little when Luca winked at her. He was being nice to her despite the way she had acted on the walk to the school. Her hope was that the way back would be less stressful.

When Ally mentioned that carving must require a steady hand, he saw an opportunity that might allow him to speak with her again when they returned to camp. "I learned from my father, my family owned a small furniture shop. And it does take a steady hand, mistakes in wood are hard to correct, but with skill, they can be covered.Would you like to see a few small pieces I have been working on?"

Her teeth nipped at her lower lip. He was offering to show her his work. She wasn't used to people being so open and personable. Ally tended to be closed off and professional. After faltering for a moment Ally managed to find the words. "Yes. Yes that would be nice."

"Great!" Luca replied a bit over eagerly. He chastised himself for sounding so excited.

Ally missed the excitement in his voice as she was too wrapped up in her worry that he would realize just how socially awkward she was.

The shadows around them had begun to gradually lengthen. Though it would still be many hours before dusk, Luca didn't want to spend any more time away from Eden than he absolutely had to. He was eager to begin the repairs and return the camp to its former glory. The soft rattling of pencils reminded him of the other reason why he hurried to return.

The runner pair had lapsed into companionable silence for the last half an hour. Ally seemed to prefer the quiet presence of another person rather than lively conversation. Luca didn't mind, especially during a time when the slightest sound could mean the difference between safety and death. He had learned that lesson the hard way.

The wind still blew fiercely, threatening to divert Ally and Luca from their set path. The buffeting gales were deafening, so much so that they nearly missed the desperate scuffle occurring just over the hill and to their left.

"Do you hear that?" He softly asked his partner.

Ally wasn't sure she could hear anything over the wind. She had hunched her shoulders and put her face into her sweater to help keep the chill out. After her over reactions to wind before she decided to be very cautious. Ally strained her neck as if it would help her listen better. She frowned. Not the wind this time. There was something happening. Her mouth went into the straight line.


Luca dropped his pack to the ground and started slowly moving towards the sound. Any thought he had of merely imagining the cries and groans was quickly swept aside as he drew closer.There was a distinctly female voice among the groans of the undead, Luca noticed with alarm. Cresting the hill, he beheld a very unique sight.

Ally dropped her pack gently beside Luca's. She drew the knife from her belt and followed closely behind. She too could hear the groans and gurgles of the undead and the sound of a woman fighting for her life.

Not far from where he stood there was a small older woman, swinging a rolling pin in an almost comical fashion at two attacking zed. Luca hesitated for a moment, trying to weigh the different options that lay before him. He glanced back at Ally who stood just behind him, a wave of guilt swept over him as he realized that he had been tempted to leave the woman. It was obvious that Ally would not have agreed to leave the woman, so with a yell to distract the gray-haired woman's attackers, Luca charged down the hill while brandishing the shotgun menancingly.

Knife in hand she stood behind Luca. She gave him a nod as looked at her. Ally had no idea he had been contemplating leaving the woman. She followed him down the hill.

Luca continued yelling as he ran down the hill, one of the zed whipped its head around to locate the origin of the sound. Having spotted or smelled the approaching human, the corpse turned from the woman and began a stumbling gait to meet the new food source. Luca slowed his pace down the hill, having no intentions of colliding with the zed while he had a strong downward momentum going. When the zed was four feet away, Luca leveled the shotgun and blasted the corpse's head clear off its shoulders.

Ally darted around Luca, knife in hand. Her goal was the woman. She sprinted hard down the rest of the hill. The woman was still swinging the rolling pin at the remaining assailant. Ally approached at a good speed. She was breathing hard and ignored the burning in her legs. Her eyes were focused on the clawing hand that was reaching to the woman. With a grunt Ally brought her large knife down in a chopping motion. The blade contacted bone and it lodged in a bit before cracking. Though not a newly dead as others this one was certainly not old either. Ally gritted her teeth as kicked a foot out on the zed's torso. With a kick and a yank she freed her knife.

"Come on!"

Ally grabbed the woman's arm and yanked her as hard as she could. Her head turned to where Luca stood, gun in hand.

"Shoot it!"

The thing was already trying to come after the women. The older woman, clearly more physically fit than Ally now grabbed her and pulled her away. She urged Ally to go faster and the younger woman tried. Her chest hurt, her legs hurt but fear was a great motivator.

Another shot rang out. Something hit the ground but the women kept running up the hill. They ran until they were back at the trail, back at their packs and only then did Ally turn around. Luca was sprinting up the hill towards her and she could see there was nothing moving now at the bottom of the hill. She put her hands on her knees and took great heaving breaths.

Taking the time to catch their breath all three said nothing at first. The runners finally took a good look at who they had just rescued from certain death. The woman appeared to be in her late fifties or sixties, with silvered hair and wrinkles from an active outdoor life. The small woman still held the rolling pin defensively as if she expected another zed to suddenly pop out of a bush. Luca valiantly stifled a laugh at her feisty behavior, but he was actually very impressed that she had managed to survive for so long.

The old woman was the one to break the silence first. "Who are you lot?"

"We're from Eden Valley, I'm Luca and this lovely lady is my runner partner, Ally." Luca said grandly, while making a sweeping gesture from Ally's head to feet. He hoped the survivor would feel more at ease by seeing another woman and realizing that they didn't mean to do her any harm.

Ally gave Luca a skeptical look as he called her lovely. He was making a show of it for the woman she realized but it was still an odd way to describe her. Ally offered the older woman a friendly smile. She said nothing about the rolling pin though she knew it wouldn't have been her weapon of choice.

It seemed to do the trick, the woman let the rolling pin drop to her side and her face visibly relaxed. "Pleased to meet you both. I am Mrs. Valerie Wilson." She replied politely. "I fear I may be the only survivor from Upton Abby. Have you heard any news about my husband or other survivors?"

Luca was shocked to hear that something catastrophic had happened to the Abby. While the caravanners kept mostly to themselves, the runners all knew that the Rands had successfully held the Abby since the beginning of the outbreak. Had they been overrun or attacked?

Ally frowned. She kept to herself in the camp, more concerned about medical supplies and taking care of people than what went on in the other areas that held survivors. There was gossip and rumours of course but Ally tended to ignore it all. The expression on Luca's face indicated he knew of Upton but he was shocked so Ally didn't think he knew what the woman was talking about.

Ally put her knife back in her belt and shouldered her pack. She made herself as unobtrusive as possible.

"No, we haven't heard anything about it. What happened?" He asked, concern shown clearly across his face.

The old woman heaved a sigh, she had already suspected the worst had happened to her friends and family, but it was still hard hearing the truth from strangers. Still, she wanted to share her story, so that at least someone would know the truth and be able to remember those that had fallen at Upton. Mrs. Wilson began sharing stories of the people who she had come to love and care for at the Abby. Each one tugged at her heartstrings, especially little Eric, his death was probably the most tragic to the old woman. Finally her tale reached to the horde that suddenly set upon and quickly overwhelmed the Abby's defences, creating chaos and death across the elegant estate. She told of her narrow escape out a window and the difficult journey that followed, though she refrained from mentioning Brand and Tilo to the fixated runners.

Ally listened growing sadder and more sick to her stomach with each word the woman said. She shrunk in on herself, eyes filled with tears. That could be Eden. We could be wiped out, last night could have gone to hell worse than it did. There was no comfort in Valerie's stories just foreboding.

Luca rapidly blinked his eyes to clear the moisture that threatened to spill out. "I'm deeply sorry for your loss." He felt touched that she had shared the experiences and history of the Rand members with them. There was tragedy everywhere you looked, so it was nice to hear stories that proved friendship and community could still exist in a broken world.

Mrs. Wilson remained silent, the effort of telling her story seemed to have drained the older woman.

Ally cleared her throat. "I think you should come with us. We are heading back to Eden. You can't just stay out here."

Her hands were shaking now. The adrenaline from the fight had worn off and the emotions were getting the better of her. She shoved her hands into her pockets. Ally's eyes went to Luca. They spoke a silent apology for not asking him first but she couldn't in good conscious just leave the woman out here.

"What do you think?" She asked Luca and Valerie.

Luca agreed with Ally's decision to invite Valerie back to their camp. He couldn't in good conscious leave a defenseless woman out in the cold, especially one who had survived through so much already. For the first time, Luca noticed that the older woman wasn't wearing any gloves. Quickly he pulled off his own and held them out to her.

"We could use a good cook back at our camp, Jake's food could kill rats. Though you can't tell him I said so." Luca said while clutching his stomach comically.

Ally just shook her head at Luca’s embellishing of how bad the food was. A smile tugged on her lips.

Valerie accepted the gloves gratefully, handing over her rolling pin for Luca to put in his bag. "Thank you both very much. I will gladly accept your invitation."

The trio set off down the trail towards Eden. The older woman linked arms with Ally and Luca on either side and with a captive audience, she began telling them stories from when grown children were young.
The trio walked for a good length before finally taking a rest. At some point Valerie ended her stories and they moved back into a single file. They were alert but the trio all showed signs of fatigue.

"Rest time."

Everyone seemed to agree judging by their small groans that signified stiffening and sore muscles.

Ally sat just to the side of the trail and rested her legs. It had been a long day and she was beyond exhausted. I am so not used to this... She knew that is she was to survive, to be of any use in the long run she needed to get faster, more steady and less panicky. She needed to be more like Valerie and Luca. Less high strung. Ally sighed and rested her arms across her knees. Her head hung down and she closed her eyes.

Luca watched as Ally sat down on the side of the trail. The woman was tough, he hadn't expected that she would have held up so well. Being a runner wasn't for everyone, it was a dangerous and nerve-wracking job. From her earlier reactions it might have been more likely that the woman ended up dead than charging into a fight.

Luca led Valerie to a large rock where she could rest before they started walking again. The older woman put a hand on his arm. "I need to tell you something about your fellow runners." She said softly into Luca's ear.

"What is it?" He asked, not having the slightest idea what she was talking about.

Valerie pointed further off the trail; Luca easily catching her meaning. Whatever the woman had to say, she didn't want Ally to hear it. Likely wishing to spare the young woman from further distress.

With a shotgun in one arm and Valerie on the other, Luca walked out of sight from the trail.

Ally didn't notice Luca and Valerie head off the trail. She was tired. She wanted to go back to Eden and crawl into her bed. Body ached with the exertion. She rolled her shoulders and then looked up. Everything was quiet. Her eyes darted around the trail and at first she thought her mind was playing tricks on her. She couldn't see either of her companions.

"Luca?" Ally whispered his name as she slowly stood. She turned around and around looking for them. Have they walked on? I thought we all stopped. How long did I close my eyes? Why would they leave me? Panic set in as she frantically scanned the area for some sign of their whereabouts.

A gun went off breaking the silence and her thoughts. Allison's eyes went wide and she turned to face the direction of the sound. Luca has a gun. An attack? Ally took off in a half jog towards where she heard the sound. She picked her way as quietly as she could through the brush. There was something just behind a pair of trees and Ally slipped up to them. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she slowly peered around the tree.

Luca stood fixed in place, his entire front plastered with hot blood and tiny chunks of gore. He instantly regretted standing that close before pulling the trigger. With the shotgun still smoking slightly, he carefully leaned over to make sure that it was truly a clean shot. His concern was necessary, at such close range and to the head, there was hardly a recognizable feature to identify the deceased.

Ally thought she was going to be sick. Horror filled her as she stared at Luca. He stood over top of a body, gun in hand and covered in blood. Ally took in the figure on the ground and she knew it was Valerie. She covered her mouth holding in a cry as she turned and pressed her back against the tree. He killed her. He killed her...oh my god.... The woman they had saved, the woman they had been walking with and talking to. Dead. She is dead.

She hadn't thought of Luca as a killer, not in the sense of another person but now he was standing there over the body, covered in blood and Ally began to wonder who they had sent out with her. Would he kill her too? Her whole body was shaking and she tried to figure out what to do. She peered around the tree once more to assess the situation.

Dropping to his knees, Luca began digging for the second time in one day. The freezing wind quickly chilled Luca's hands to the bone, forcing him to retrieve his lent gloves and continue working. The manual labor relaxed his racing heart and caused him to remember his partner. Had she heard the sound? How could she not have? Standing suddenly, Luca wondered what she must have thought after hearing the gunshot and if she had seen anything. He stripped off his coat and placed it over the grisly incident. Figuring that there was no need for her to see the details of the shotgun's handiwork up close.

He was standing and looking around. He is looking for me. I should Her legs wouldn't move. Ally pressed herself back against the tree. Her lip trembled and she closed her eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks and she tried to hold in any noises she might make. I can run, go back to Eden and tell them. They won't let him back in once they know. What would happen if Luca found her or caught up to her? Her hands were in fists. What do I do?

"Ally?" Luca called out tentatively as he continued walking back towards the path.

Oh god...oh god...what do I do? He was calling out to her. It was like something from a horror movie she liked to watch back when there had been time for things like that. Ally could hear his footsteps as he carefully walked towards the path. She remained behind the tree and took a deep breath.

"Luca? I am here...." She let the words trail off as she stepped out from behind the tree and faced him. Her eyes were wide and her cheeks red. Don't look scared or he might know that you know....

Shit. Luca had wanted a chance to explain himself before Ally started drawing conclusions about the scene. His blood-spattered appearance certainly didn't speak well for his case. First, he forcibly relaxed his muslces and let his hands fall naturally to his sides. If she bolted Luca knew he would have an even harder time convincing her it had been the right thing to do. He didn't know where to begin at first, but he finally found the words.

"She was bitten." He said somberly. "She pulled me aside while we were resting and told me the bite had happened just before we rescued her. I'm sorry I didn't tell you immediately."

Ally was wary. She kept her eyes on him as he told her that Valerie had been bitten. Her gaze moved over his form taking in the blood that was splattered all over him. She nodded. "Bitten. Of course."

She took a step backwards. "She walked with us that whole time and didn't say anything." Ally was trying to figure out why the woman hadn't said anything before, why she had told Luca and not both of them. Luca seemed sad about the whole thing but Ally wasn't convinced. Her heart thudded in her chest. Run, run, run.... "She told you and just let you shoot her?"

Her face was pale as she took one more step backwards.

Luca should have expected Ally to have questions and suspicions about the circumstances, but he felt slightly insulted by her skepticisim. Still, he knew she had a right to ask questions and if answering them put her at ease, he was happy to sit there all day if necessary.

"No. Some people have trouble accepting their fate, I think she was trying to put off the inevitable as long as possible." Luca's eyes darted away from Ally as he answered her second question. "She told me and we both agreed it was for the best."

Though she was terrified beyond belief Allison decided if he wanted to prove Valerie had in fact been bitten, that shooting her had been out of mercy than she wanted proof. Trembling with fear, voice low Ally looked squarely at Luca. "Show me. Show me her bite."

It stung to hear Ally want visual proof of his claims, he wanted her to see him in a positive and trustworthy light. The wary and frigtened expression she currently wore was disheartening to Luca. Though secretly he knew he had no right to judge her completely reasonable reaction to a shock of this type. Luca should have been grateful that he was getting out of it so easily and with very minimal repurcussions. Valerie had made dubious accusations about people and events that she couldn't possibly have known whether they were true or not.

"Okay. I'll show you." Luca didn't know what else to say. He hoped seeing a bite with her own eyes would be enough proof that he was telling the truth.

Walking in front of the trembling woman, Luca approached the coat covered body. Gently lifting Valerie's right arm, he rolled back her sleeve to reveal a gruesome bite. Little drops of blood still traveled out of the wound to splash the frozen ground with tiny bursts of red color. He let Ally view the wound for several seconds, before rolling the sleeve back down and placing the arm respectfully across the woman's chest. Luca stood up and gave a questioning look to his partner.

"I'm very sorry that I caused you so much distress. In my attempt to spare you, I only made the whole situation far worse. I hope you can forgive my failure on this subject." Luca said with a thoroughly exhausted expression on his face.

Ally was breathing hard. She stood there and the fear ran out of her body leaving her chilled. The bite was very visible. "I am sorry...I..." Her eyes were on Luca as he recovered the bite on Valerie's arm with her shirt.

"I just heard the gunshot and then saw you..." Her reasoning now sounded hollow. She should have trusted him but she didn't know him well enough to just believe what he said. She was working with him though and if they couldn't trust each other what good were they as runners. Ally was pale and looked on the verge of tears. She stepped towards Luca but stopped at the sight of all the blood on his clothes.

"I don't need to be spared but I understand why you tried. I am sorry I didn't believe you about the bite."

Her eyes spotted the disturbed earth. She looked at it and then back at Luca. Guilt sat even heavier now. He was digging her a grave. "I will help."

The pair of runners kneeled down together and resumed digging the grave. Ally pulled out her knife and used it as a makeshift shovel. They worked tirelessly.
They walked away from the mound both looking worse for wear. The packs were pulled on once more and there was silence between them as they walked the path back to Eden Valley. Ally reached out and held Luca's hand. She said nothing but it just seemed like they could both use some human contact.

The camp appeared before them. Though they were returning with the tools and some other items from the school it didn’t feel like a successful run