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The Age of Gifted » Arcs » A Morning Vistor

The Wanderer's peaceful morning is disturbed when several members detect the presence of another Ashlander at the gates of Helton. A small party converges to meet with and gauge the intentions of newcomer Jake Vale.

As written by: LookingAtPerks, Miss Echo, FranklyLorelle, ianna_334, wolfsong4640, scoundrelboots


21 pieces and 12 characters involved, written by 6 different authors.

Character Portrait: Hel
Hel

2 places involved




So begins...

A Morning Vistor


The WastelandSetting: The Wasteland


Jake found the trip towards Helton to be a fairly peaceful one, though still interesting. When you have Jake's senses, you notice things others don't. For instance, while stopping at the Hightower settlement to pick up some foodstuffs, he heard some people mention a rumor that a legendary creature has been roaming the wasteland. That it was over one hundred years old, had sharp claws and teeth, a large tail, and was over three stories tall. It could sweep an entire squad off their feet in the blink of an eye. It could apparently tear through metal, and was resistant to everything. Jake doubted it was real, but he could tell that everyone telling the story believed it to be true completely, which Jake found a bit troubling.

From that point, Jake went with a large caravan heading towards his destination. He traded in some of his scrap for a new weapon, and another Celerium Power Cell as well as some more supplies. But to find two in such a short time excited Jake. After all, he had multiple uses for them. Being a scavenger, he knew the value of everything.

Along the way, they went through some old subway tunnels. Only the higher ones though, no one had supposedly gone down deeper in over a century. Jake thought about investigating it as a Scavanger, but nearly every entrance was blocked, or required the elevators to work. As Jake passed by one of the elevators, he noticed the word "Terminal" drawn on the wall with Red spray paint, as well as another thing that was odd. He smiled a little, and moved on. "Not worth the trouble".

When they finally reached the exit, they took different paths. Jake heard a rumor about Helton he wanted to go check out anyways, and it was on the way of where he was going. After all, he had someone very important to meet. As he thought about that person, he looked at his Chemical Distiller, which he had added that substance he recently acquired to. Just as he thought, it was the last piece of the puzzle he needed to get what he had been looking for.

He was so close now, he could hardly contain his radiant good mood. He looked at the city of Helton, and as he approached it, he was smiling.
“Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te plumerai. Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te plumerai.”

It was with a comfortable stride that Gale was circling the boundaries of the abandoned Helton city, a withered tree branch in one hand, the other left to dangle freely at his side. With every few steps, he swung the stick against any nearby surface that the thing could reach- tap-tapping against the rubble of a building, the cobble of the path he was following, the ash that had crept into the city limits.

“Je te plumerai la tête, je te plumerai la tête. Et la tête, et la tête, alouette, alouette.”

The raps of his makeshift staff fell in time with his song, thwacking with the beat. It was a lovely little song, Gale mused. A short ditty that he had heard several times when working in the Erubescian halls- something to teach the children there how to speak French. The faction of kings certainly adored its culture, but he could hardly complain. A little class could be appreciated now and then, especially when there was a decimated wasteland just on your doorstep.

“Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te plumerai. Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te plumerai.”

Of course, the others would probably disagree, and some might even consider it to be in poor taste, given recent events, but, really, they couldn’t protest it too much. It was an innocent tune by itself, and it lessened the deafening silence around him as he wandered about. There was the occasional call of some creature residing within Helton, yes- or even the distant footprints of some of the “lookouts”, but it didn’t do much to fill the emptiness.

“Je te plumerai le bec, je te plumerai le bec. Et la tête, et la tête…”

An emptiness that, although somewhat obscured by Gale’s own voice, did little to hide the unfamiliar stride of...someone approaching. As the sound reached him, he immediately cut himself off, straightening up and cocking his head to better listen. He hadn’t been mistaken- there was another person out there. Quicker steps, slower stride- the pace of a child. Immediately, the blond moved to hide himself behind a nearby pile of rubble, eyes nearly as wide as saucers as he squinted through what gaps the stone provided. It took a few tense minutes of waiting, but eventually the perpetrator showed himself. A young boy. Despite the relatively harmless appearance of this stranger, Gale remained tense, waiting some time longer before poking his head out into visibility.

“Hey, kid,” he hissed. “What are you doing? Don’t you know that the monsters live here?” His eyes were just as wide as before, and his knuckles had whitened where they gripped the edge of his makeshift shelter.

Alouette, alouette
Toby still held himself sheepishly as he nodded to Dawn's advice and gestured for her to come along if she liked, heading down the hallway toward the kitchen and the sweet scent of apples and warm cereal.

"K--Kayla," he greeted, spotting her in the doorway. As he spoke, their tagalong darted between Kayla's feet and into the kitchen, slinking into the corner and looking shifty, casing the area as though it intended to make off with their breakfast like a tiny scruffy bandit. "Um. Morning. Everyone. I was--"

But he broke off suddenly, his large eyes taking on a glazed look.

"Someone is coming into the city," he said, concentrating. "Some k--kind of regenetator. Gale is there. He doesn't seem--too alarmed--" Not that Gale's emotions were easy to read. If you could even call them fully fledged emotions. "Probably just an ashrat." He glazed into focus again, flushing, paranoid that what he had said was probably derogatory. Their potential victims in the wastelands had always been designated ashrats or faction scum, or some more original variation thereof. He felt an increased need to walk on eggshells lately, especially around Mina after his (in retrospect, miserably hypocritical) brief resentment toward her. He didn't want them to think he thought they were lesser or other or evil.

Even if a decent percentage of the time and despite his best efforts he still totally thought that.

"Sorry. I mean, we're all ashrats so...anyway. Ah. Probably just a wanderer, but...Should someone go and check?"

HeltonSetting: Helton


So, after passing through Helton, I should start making my way there towards that place. With everything I got from the last site, I finally have everything I need to finish what I have been working on for the past few decades... Jake thought to himself, as he got near the city. Helton was supposedly mostly picked clean, but he had been to old salvage sites before and found perfectly good salvage others had missed, including an Altari Motherboard, which was better then anything currently produced today.

As he got closer though, he heard multiple sounds. Most of them were heartbeats, each one of them giving off a different rythem....a different tune. Distinct to each person. However, one was that of a child singing. It was something French, Jake did not recognize it. However, he soon came into contact with the child singing it. The boy had stopped singing when he approached Jake, but Jake remained on edge and at the ready. No normal child would be out here on their own, so he was probably incredibly powerful. Jake was almost certainly stronger and faster then him, or at least one of those two, and at this range, he could easily take him on most likely, but better be safe then sorry...and not pick any unnecessary fights.

Still, there was no reason to think this person would be a threat to them, though according to his analysis, he was a capable fighter. He had not approached him randomly, this boy came to meet him alone on purposely. Therefore, his strength and power level must be high. The fact he approached him so quickly revealed he either had some sort of detection ability, or enhanced senses. The way he asked his question also revealed something. He was an experienced fighter, and capable of analysis in his own right. His comment about the monsters meant not only he had extensive combat training, but that he knew Jake did too. To most it would look like two children talking, but he and this boy were actually analyzing each other for strengths and weaknesses, staring each other down. It might be tense, if it didn't excite Jake a little. Old habits die hard.

"Monsters huh? Where are they exactly? Are they fun to fight?" Jake replied, deciding to reply in a way that wouldn't be as expected. "I hope they are not boring monsters. Boring monsters are no fun, don't you agree?"

Well, that just happened. Still, he kept on his guard. He was ninety percent sure others were around, and conflict was within his realm of expectations, though he would like to avoid serious conflict if possible. That said, this boy did put him on edge....though he interested him as well. "So who are you anyways?"
They jogged together leisurely, enjoying the morning air. Or rather, Sera jogged leisurely, while Talin lapped her every so often, his idea of an easy jog being closer to the pace most other would use for a running race. Still, it was a scene straight from their memories, when Talin was still her trainer, pushing her beyond her limits because that would get them both noticed, would push them both past the lowest levels of their sector and into position to become important, valued. And now, reunited outside the faction, the pattern repeats. Behind her, a whisper of sound let her know the speedster was approaching once again.

There was no warning as the brunette took her elbow, and steered her to the left with a destination clearly in mind. The light manipulator followed willingly, used to such manipulations. Not only used to it, but Seraphina was trained this way, to move instinctively and focus on using her gifts, while trusting someone other to watch her for danger, and if necessary, physically remove her from harm's way. Even though she could survive most anything, the healing it took to fix her body once it was blasted to pieces was a waste of time when she could just avoid getting hurt, and when she was in physical therapy, she wasn't able to work...

Sometimes, she forgot she wasn't supposed to think that way anymore.

"Someone new entered the city," Talin said, pulling her along briskly. "Gale found him, I can also sense Reith nearby, and we're close enough. I want to /see/ him" he emphasized "see", and the manipulator at his side understood immediately. Behind the building, Talin adjusted his pace so he was meandering along, and looped his arm through Seraphina's in the matter of close friends. So linked, they turned on the street where the meeting was taking place, stopping several feet behind and to the left of Gale.

"It's a child." Sera raised a brow, turning to the speedster skeptically. "Is he what you were worried about?"
Meanwhile, Talin's eyes scan the stranger with his gift sight, and he exhaled. "No, he's not. He's like the Mercenary"

A regenerator the woman translated

"And supersensory." he finished, and tapped the back of her hand with a finger.

Sera didn't respond outright, but there was a faint glimmer in the corner of Talin's eye. She understood the message, and had her gifts ready for use.

The WastelandSetting: The Wasteland


Kayla looked up as she heard footsteps, and she turned her head at the sound of Toby's voice. She blinked and offered a small smile. "Oh, hey." She replied. "Good morning." She would have said more until she felt soft fur brush by her ankles. A small, surprised yelp escaped her and she looked down to spot the tiny bandit making his way into the kitchen. Her expression grew dumbfounded. She looked to Toby again for an answer, but his eyes had glazed over, and he announced the newcomer's presence.

While she paid no attention to the term "ashrat", she did feel wary about who the person might be. "I don't mind checking, if that's what we should do." She offered after a moment. Even though they weren't too sure about the newcomer's intentions, it wouldn't be too hard to simply check and see who they were.
Mina. For all that could be said about what had happened- about the good doctor’s actions during the attack- it was hard for one to deny that she was a decent enough person at heart. It reflected in the fact that she had woken up so early to prepare breakfast for Hel, or the hand hovering cautiously at Clockwork’s back. The crease that appeared at the suggestion of a raid. The caution of approaching some of the darker topics that might have risen. It was too real to be anything but, and this was something that both father and child could easily agree on.

Even when you couldn’t boast a squeaky clean record of morality, kindness was one of the most priceless things to offer in times of need.

Clockwork had half a mind to address the Mina’s positioning, but decided against it- eyes instead focusing the movement of the greyish mush as she stirred. It didn’t take any sort of special Gift to take note of the...impression Clockwork gave off, and the little child was very much aware of this. She was just as aware that acting as if you had eyes on the back of your head could be as equally off putting. Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary, indeed.

She handed the opportunity to speak for the moment over to Soren, who gingerly took it, cupping it in both hands. Like a hot-potato game between the two- a childish comparison, but accurate nonetheless. Hold and pass, everyone gets a turn.

“I suppose you’re right.” A wan smile. “It does seem that we’ll have to move on soon, doesn’t it? We’ve been- oh, hello Ms. Kayla, good to see you- we’ve been looking through a few of the maps left around, but the pickings have been slim, unfortunately. The most that we’ve found is the location of a few other bases, but nowhere that would exactly be the best place to call ‘home’. And- oh, thank you, by the way. Like we’ve said, it really is no trouble.” By this point, Soren had moved over to one of the cupboards, rifling through its contents in search of a pot. That was one of the very few things about their little base he would miss when they left- a well-functioning kitchen.

(You would be content to live in a lion’s den as long as it had a oven, wouldn’t you)

(Not exactly- it would need a sink, too, after all)

Clockwork’s upper lip twitched.

“We were thinking about asking one of the others if they knew any potential areas,” Clockwork said. “Many of them have been travelling for long enough to have an idea as to where we should head next.” The girl had been just about to turn on Kayla to ask her that very question when the company suddenly grew by two- or, well, three, if one were to count the ball of fur that had suddenly darted into the corner. Clockwork reflexively took a hold of the countertop to keep herself from getting knocked over by the creature, but as it passed, her eyes settled upon it curiously.

“A cat?” As one could easily expect of the healer by now, she didn’t immediately follow the route for others her age and hop off the stool after it. Instead, she merely watched as the cat stretched in the corner, soon getting distracted by a stray scrap of food that had fallen on the floor and beginning to bat at it. Again, a question came to mind, but she quickly snuffed it in favor of listening to Toby. Unlike Kayla, Clockwork had managed to catch the “ashrat” comment, but remained silent on that point, as well. For as articulated as the man was, his background was still very much there, after all. This was something that Soren also found himself agreeing upon, and, as he drew the last of whatever utensils he had been searching for out of the cupboard, he turned to face both of their sensory Gifteds with an expression of concern.

“I believe we should,” he answered, unconsciously hefting the items upwards. “Even if this person merely stumbled upon this place, letting him roam freely after what has happened may be dangerous. And then- you said...Gale was with this person, as well?”

He left that thought hanging in air. There was no need for clarification, after all.

HeltonSetting: Helton


“What in the name—“ Mina exclaimed, taking a jumping step in toward the stove and reaching for the weapon on her hip as something small and quick darted past her periphery. Her head whipped around assess the threat in a wild shake of hair (which likely grazed Clockwork’s face with a puff of black curls), but the alarm soon proved pointless. Mina’s hand relaxed away from her gun and resumed its place behind her tiny sous-chef, and broad smile spread across her face. 



She let out a low whistle, and then cast a glance to Toby. If he was not alarmed, it was safe to say that the cat was simply a cat, and not some kind of shifter. “Well, doesn’t that just take the cake?” she crooned, watching the scrawny little creature sniffing about the back corner.

She had just been about to reach across the counter for an apple scrap when Toby got the “half-there-but-only-barely” look that could only indicate something new happening. His words only served to confirm this, and scrunched Mina’s face into a worried frown. 
“Ashrat’s’re the least of our worries, given circumstance,” she muttered, picking up the term that had once been a staple of her mess-hall vocabulary without hesitation or salt. “‘Specially with the interest’s been taken in Miss Helena.”



She caught Clockwork’s hand mid-stir and muttered a half-minded, “That’s fine, sugar,” as she took the spoon away and settled a lid over the oatmeal. 

“I’d say that Mr. Soren and Miss Clockwork here, well as maybe Spire and Montana, if we know where they’re at, should go keep Miss Helena company for a short bit while the lot of us go and um…” She caught herself from saying “handle the situation,” as she turned the stove off, settling for, “Greet our company?” after a brief pause.



“Myself, Toby, Miss Dawn, Miss Kayla, and whoever else is there already should be plenty, and I think it’s best if the rest of the lot hangs back with the precious cargo. And I'd say it'll be good to wake up anyone who's not stirred yet. Maybe have Allen go be sure that Miss Reith's looked after, if she's still down?”
It had been with her own soft “Good morning” that Dawn had followed Toby into the kitchen, hands dug deep into her pockets, winding a loosened string around and around her finger as she nodded towards those already gathered. The gentle, pleasant smell of whatever breakfast the de facto chefs were making had already filled the room, and she took in deep lungfuls of the stuff as she entered.

“Smells great,” she said, offering up her own, little smile towards the few who appeared to have taken up the roles of chef this time around. Her interest didn’t linger on the topic of breakfast for long, however- Toby’s announcement did well to draw attention.

Another one?

Almost reflexively, Dawn threw out her own reach, stretching the tendrils of her Gift to the very boundaries of Helton, where, just as her fellow sensor had said, she found both Gale and...whoever had decided to wander into their little homestead so early in the morning. She did her best not to delve deeper into the former’s mind than necessary, simply dabbling briefly before rerouting her power to the stranger. After all, even in the best of times-

(the fun thing about those stories is that they teach morals)
(like fairy tales isnt it interesting)
(nice day for a walk)
(smells like copper but not copper not really)
(alouttealouttealouttealoutte)

-it typically wasn’t the most pleasant place to linger in.

Dawn remained discreet about her probing of the regenerator’s mind- gently sweeping the surface of his thoughts, picking ever-so-carefully around his intentions, but hardly going any further than that. While the chances of the stranger being another member of a faction was just as considerable as it had been before, there was still the possibility of the person being just another traveler. It was better to be careful, she thought, than risk setting off an uninvolved party with the happy realization that you were no longer alone in your own head.

The term “ashrat” slipped easily beneath the manipulator’s nose as she wrapped up her little examination, surfacing to reality in order to relay her own news to her companions. “He doesn’t seem like someone from the factions,” she began, “but I still wouldn’t put anything on it. He’s...like Montana.” An explanation in itself, given the nature of the man’s existence- and an unconscious echoing of a certain speedster speaking on his own findings. Dawn paused for a moment, Gift fanning back outwards again, before continuing. “Sera and Talin are out there, too, but I think Mina has a good idea about some of us going out there to meet...whoever-it-is.”

And help control the situation if we need to.

The words were unspoken, but still there.

The WastelandSetting: The Wasteland


The boy’s reaction had been, admittedly, against Gale’s expectations. The blond had already gathered that the “child” wasn’t your run-of-the-mill little darling- the boy would have been long dead by now, if that was the case, especially given the fact that there was no guardian in sight. Besides...while the younger Schipper had gone out of his way to hide away as many corpses as possible, that didn’t change the fact that Helton remained the same forsaken place it had always had.

Not exactly “playground material” at it’s finest.

Nevertheless, Gale remained just as he had been- lips a fine, bloodless slit, gaze glossy and distant. His fingers had clenched even tighter to the granite in front of them, as if the stone served as a security blanket instead of just dirtied rubble. “I just told you,” he whispered, voice harsh. He paused for a moment, throwing a hasty glance over his shoulder, before turning back with a visible “hysteria”. “They’re in there. In the city. They kill kids for fun- and- and they eat them, too! They’ll skin you alive!

And then, the rubble shifted behind him. The blond once again took a panicked look over in the direction of the road at the sound- although, this time, instead of fear upon catching sight of the arrivals, he...changed. It was not a physical transformation by any means- Gale still remained the same light haired, dark-eyed boy as before- but something else entirely. As he slid down from his perch on the wall, the earlier paranoia and stress seemed to melt from his face, and the tension in his shoulders drained away just as easily.

He smiled, sugary sweet, and trotted from behind his hiding spot and into open view.

“Hello, Mr. Talin, Ms. Sera. It’s good to see you both.” He greeted the ex-Liberty pair with the grace of a young gentleman, even going so far as to bob his head in salute. As his head lifted up, Gale reached into his pocket, pulled out a single cherry lollipop, and, swiveling on his heel, spoke once more to the stranger. “Oh- and my name is Gale, by the way. A pleasure..”

His smile widened even further- genuine in appearance- but he did not extend his hand for a shake.

HeltonSetting: Helton


Move on soon? Toby was always a bit unsettled when the others spoke of moving on from Helton. In his eyes, the factions could find them no matter what rock they crawled under, and he thought at least this was defensible. Still, it wasn't a battle he wanted to pick, and one place was probably as good as another.

Anyway, they had the more pressing issue of their visitor to think of.

At Mina's suggestion, Toby nodded. "Sera and Talin and Gale--probably wouldn't mind the--extra--the extra c--company. You know. Just in case," he said. Well. Gale might mind if he had been planning to wring their visitor's neck like he did to members of the local avian population. He pulled out his handguns one at a time and checked the clips.

There was still something strange about walking out to meet a strange Gifted hoping not to have to shoot anybody.

"Shall we?" he said, holstering and stepping back out into the hallway.

He decided he'd leave the problem of the cat to those who would staying. He'd happily shirk that responsibility.

---

Spire stuck out his hand to guide Hel along as they started toward the dining hall. At first, interacting with her had been persistently awkward and ridiculously far out of Spire's comfort zone, but he was a quick study. The rhythm was easy as breathing now. His gaze was alert--he was wary after the speedster nearly snatched Hel away under their noses--but not unhappy. He didn't try to make unnecessary conversation. No need. He had nothing important to say, and Hel didn't usually like to talk, which was alright, since Spire only really enjoyed smalltalk if it was to cut somebody with the edge of his sarcasm or threaten to cut them with something a little more tangible.

Separately, Spire and Helena were rather troubling, unsettling individuals in their own rights, and it was difficult to say whether the picture of them together changed the impression to something rather sweet or just multiplied the disturbingness. Possibly a bit of both.

They met the cluster of Wanderers at the door, and Spire perceived the note of tension on the faces.

"What's the fluster this time?" Spire asked Toby in a drawl. "Too much to hope Dutch lit up by the fuel tank of one of those cars he's been tinkering with and blew himself to hell?"

"Visitor," Toby replied, wishing he wouldn't say inflammatory things about Dutch--or anyone else, for that matter--around Hel. At the end of the day, the younger Schippers brother just wanted everyone to get along. "Probably nobody. You can stay here with Hel."

"Put a few between the freak's eyes if something's off. Don't wait for somebody to get killed," Spire said calmly. His mouth turned up in a half smile. "Because let's be honest. Given historic evidence, it'd probably be you."

Thank goodness for Clockwork.
Not that Spire was gonna say that aloud more often than he had to.
Mina rolled her eyes and then fixed her gaze on Spire with obvious disapproval at his comment about Dutch, but said nothing. It was hardly as if anyone was out of place to wish him ill, but that did not make the joke any less in poor taste, especially with little ears around.


The doctor’s accusative stare dropped when Spire mentioned Toby being killed, however.



That one was definitely on her.



Sort of?



“Well, best get moving before anyone else does,” she said in her usual warm tone, checking that the stove was off before striding toward the kitchen door, “And Miss Dawn, I suppose you could tell the others what’s going on?” 


She moved at a pace just below a jog as she passed into the hall, taking long, quick strides like a server during rush still trying to look collected. "Y'all don't think it's some kinda ambush, d'you?" she questioned, pulling out her handgun as she walked and checking to be sure that it was properly loaded. "I mean, what with the company we've been getting thrown lately... "
The sudden brush of fluff against her face quite visibly took Clockwork by surprise- head jerking away, nose wrinkling in what was, undeniably, a rather undignified manner as she fought back a sneeze. It was after a few moments that she recovered, and, absentmindedly rubbing the side of her nose with the side of her hand, continued to stir the pot. The oatmeal was coming along nicely now, with some of the chunks softening under the heat. Only a portion of her focus was on the state of Hel’s breakfast, however- the rest remained on the matter at hand.

“We would be more than happy to stay behind,” Clockwork intoned, willingly offering up the spoon to Mina as the doctor took it. “It would be for the best to make sure that there’s enough people on alert around base, after all. Soren and I can finish preparing breakfast for the rest of the group, as well, once we’ve finished waking everyone up.”

“And if you need any more help, however, then just call us.” To emphasize his point, Soren tapped gently against his temple, letting it linger there after a few beats. “If we can’t bring help ourselves, then we’ll try to send someone else as soon as possible.”

Not the ones to dawdle, the two moved to follow into the hall- Clockwork quickly loping from the stool and to her guardian’s side, reaching to grab the extended hand with her own- although they soon came to a halt as Spire and Hel came around the corner and into view. In all truth, the ex-Liberties found the former to be a bit more than a little ominous, but it was with a smile that Soren greeted both him and the young Norrevinter, and a slight bow of the head from the healer at his side.

“Good morning, Spire. Helena,” Soren said. He gave a slight nod as Toby explained the situation to the other Schipper, but, rather than add any commentary, remained silent. His attention had been torn away by the vision that had suddenly took form before his eyes- Dutch’s car, in its place outside Helton, with the man himself positioned beneath the hulking metal. There was a sudden flash, blinding him- then a brilliant bloom of oranges and yellows as the vehicle exploded. Soren could imagine the warmth across his face, smell the gasoline and ash as it scattered…

(there would be nothing left to heal the body would be too damaged for even me to help with he would be finally gone)

Alarmed, the man looked over to see his adoptive daughter staring forward, eyes gleaming fiercely as she watched the mirage along with him. She had stuck to the idea Spire provided like a fly to honey, and had begun to weave the idea out within her mind almost...blissfully. Frowning, Soren gave Clockwork’s hand a slight press, and, when her attention had been caught, a disapproving look.

The vision vanished.

Expression once again settling into one of welcome, Soren once again brought his attention to his current company with a quiet clear of the throat. “Mina was preparing breakfast for you before she left, Helena,” he began. “It should be done in a bit, but I can get you a glass of milk for you until then?” Then, to Spire, “I hope you don’t mind waiting for breakfast this time around. We woke up a bit later than we expected, so it may take us some time to prepare everyone’s meals.”

It was an odd thing to apologize for, really- especially at a time like this- but old habits died hard.

The WastelandSetting: The Wasteland


Kayla followed Mina and the others out of the kitchen, a grimace on her face. She had bit back a reply to Spire's little joke about Dutch. Now wasn't the time to start another argument. It was time to make sure they weren't receiving unpleasant company.

Hearing Mina's question, she looked over at the medic with an uncertain expression. "Hopefully not, since it seems to be one person, according to Toby." She answered. "You can never be too careful." She watched as the woman pulled out her handgun and she frowned a bit. "Though, I wouldn't have weapons drawn just yet when we find them." She added hesitantly. "We wouldn't want to set them off at the sight of them before it's necessary."
(Sorry, suffering from a bit of writers block right now, best I could do)

Jake had to admit, he was a bit curious about the people in front of him. Of course, he always expected to meet a few people, but three in close proximity already most likely meant a larger group in the area, so it meant that right now the area was pretty active, considering. He decided to play it safe and cool for the moment tho, since it didn't seem like anyone wanted any hostilities right now.

"Nice to meet you Gale, Talin, Sera. Also, really? That's what the monsters do?" Jake asked, before smiling a little. His voice suddenly calmed, and he closed his eyes a little. "If that's all, then you must have the situation well under control. Guess there is no reason to be worried about danger then. And thanks for the warning". Of course, there may or may not have been some other meaning to his words, but nothing hostile.

"Anyways, you don't need to worry either" he then added. It was probably his most direct statement yet. "I don't plan on staying long".

HeltonSetting: Helton


Toby’s hesitance was quickly picked up by the little radio in Dawn’s head, although by this point, she had grown aware enough not to comment on it. His logic made sense- the walls around Helton, while broken down, could still be reinforced, and they had learned the layout of the city well enough to use in a fight- but she still found herself in agreement with the idea of leaving their current home behind. A large part of it was that, in spite of the Helton curse, it had proved to be easily invadable by Erubesco- a faction that was only a short distance away. And given the frequency that they had been attacked...Unconsciously, Dawn’s hand slipped into her pocket, fingers curling around nothing.

It was easy to believe that they would never really give up their pursuit, but it felt better to make it just a bit harder to be found. Better to add more hassle in being moving targets than sitting ducks, waiting for the next thing to happen. It may have been the part of her that was brought up in the ash that clung stubbornly to that belief, in truth- the survivalist that still made her sort her backpack’s inventory each night, or strain to catch any odd noise or presence when out raiding- but that did not change Dawn’s view in the slightest. Her instincts had grown unnecessary with the safety of the group to the point of dulling, but they were still something she had grown to trust with the years.

Shaking off her little reverie, Dawn followed into the hall, previously thoughtful expression shifting into a frown as a certain serial killer and his young companion met them at the doorway. There was reason for them to dislike Dutch at the level they did, but that didn’t make it much better in her eyes. Dutch could be a bit...much at times, but at the end of the day he wasn’t a monster. Besides, stroking this kind of fire would only cause more trouble in the long run. Gnawing on her cheek, Dawn gave a slight nod in response to Mina’s request, and proceeded to send out a brief mental broadcast to those awake, explaining the situation, before coming back into focus and following down the hall.

“It doesn’t seem like one,” she said, casting a glance over her shoulder at Clockwork (whose face was just as impassive as ever) for a moment, before returning her eyes back to the hall. “The person- he’s…” Dawn’s brows pulled together, “he figured out that there’s more of us. Trying to avoid a fight for now.” Her face relaxed, eyes losing the odd glazed look as she returned to her own mind, before she continued. “I do think we should be prepared for the worst, though. Just because he’s feeling peaceful doesn’t mean that something will happen.”

Dawn fought off the urge to cringe at Kayla’s comment- and the hurt that went through Mina in response- teeth gritting with the effort. While friendly, the air within the Wanderers was still very much tense. Strained, almost. It made her uneasy. Rubbing her shoulder, she followed into the morning light of the Wasteland, silently training her focus upon the bubble of activity that awaited them. Hers wasn’t a weapon that she could draw out and threaten it, but it was a weapon nonetheless.

“Like Mina said. We shouldn’t go into things like this without any backup plans. Just in case.”
Toby corroborated Dawn's information about the stranger with a nod. "I d--don't feel anything especially hostile about him. I mean--not deliberately malicious, I guess. But he seems a little guarded, with the others over there. Which makes sense, considering he probably didn't expect to find, you know, sentries at the Helton gates. You know. And, um, I don't know...secretive?" He cleared his throat.

Mina's caution wasn't misguided. Even if he hadn't shown up with the immediate intention to harm, that didn't mean he wouldn't hurt anybody. Desperate Wastelanders could be just as dangerous as predatory ones. One could just as easily be shot by a nervous, guarded scavenger as by...well, somebody like he and Spire used to be. (Toby may have been overly optimistic with that "used to.")

He slowed his pace as they neared the place where Jake was speaking to Sera, Talin, and Gale.

"Um, hi everyone," he said carefully, a bit surprised by the youthful appearance of the newcomer. Something about the emotional signature had struck him as mature. Then again, so did Clockwork's. "What's going on here?"

---

Spire smiled a perfectly cheerful smile, despite a blunt throb of dissatisfaction at the fact of the missing Pierrot. "I'll be sure to let him know," he said, and though he sounded sincere enough, the promise was deleted from his mind so quickly it was as though it hadn't even found purchase in the first place. Unimportant trifles were always erased to make room for more important things. Like wringing Oren for more information.

Spire would feel more comfortable leaving Hel with Soren and Clockwork than he would have with any of the other Wanderers, but with the issue of the ashrat knocking at their metaphorical door, he decided he'd better not, yet.
Talin, in the meantime, had sent his visual of the apparent boy, as well as his instinctive understanding of the meanings of the visions to their most efficient communications system – the mind manipulators, who could transmit the information to everyone else. Sera, in the meantime, smiled fondly towards Gale – no need to reveal the experiments dark nature, when he was pretending so well – before scanning over the newcomer. “Just passing through then?” she asked, as the most reasonable assumption. “Or are you scavenging through the city?” The second would be especially inconvenient, after all, since they didn’t know how much of a “finders keepers” mentality this wanderer would have.

“Hello, To-“ she turned then paused, realising there was a group there, ”everyone.” She amended. “Just someone else who’s wandered into Helton. We were out for a jog and came to check it out.” She explained, gesturing to herself and Talin in turn. “We had a bad scare with a faction not too long ago, so we’re on alert” she told the new one, almost apologetically. “Seems like nowhere is safe these days.” She finished off with a slight shrug.
"Right. Yeah." Kayla murmured to Mina and Toby. She mentally kicked herself for acting so cautious about Mina's actions, as well as the actions of the others. This was something to definitely be careful about. She kept quiet for the rest of the way until they ran into Talin, Sera, Gale, and the newcomer. "Ah, hello." She said awkwardly as Sera greeted them.

Her eyes rested on the boy observantly as Sera spoke to him. He seemed harmless enough, but she stayed alert. The others could probably pick up more than she could. "Any immediate danger,
Dawn...?"
She asked curiously.

The WastelandSetting: The Wasteland


Gale beamed again- the pearly white, saccharine grin of a “do no evil” schoolboy- and pressed the lollipop deep into the corners of his mouth. “It would depend on what you consider ‘under control’ to be in this case…” His fingers folded at his chest, eyes widening in realization. “I don’t believe we’ve gotten your name yet. A bit rude, I’d think, given the fact that we’ve already introduced ourselves.”

Lips curled. “It’s quite surprising, actually. I would have expected better manners from someone so...mature.” The words were left hanging in the air, the implication in them thick, but Gale did not pursue the topic further. Instead, he gave a decisive suck of the candy’s stem, gave a pause of thought, then lowered his gaze to lock eyes with the stranger. “Just passing through.” A statement. “Well, if that’s all it is, then I’m sure my friends and I would be more than glad to escort you out.” The word “glad” fell thickly from his tongue, rolling as smoothly as syrup.

As yet another round of footsteps sounded out nearby, the blond glanced up, the picture of innocence.

Although, given the child giving off said effect, it didn’t exactly stand for much. It was the same expression he gave when caught with his new pet of the day, or when trailing several of the group members with his gaze- a little “i wasn’t doing anything” sort of look. Once it had been fully established, he looked from Toby, then Mina, Dawn, and Kayla. The last of the bunch would find herself at the end of a particularly pleasant beaming before Gale turned his attention to the group as a whole.

“Nice to see you all again,” he said. “We’re simply greeting a new friend, that’s all.”

It was the word friend that received special attention this time around.

HeltonSetting: Helton


Mina approached with the little party wearing her usual hospitable smile, honey brown eyes giving away little of the survey she was taking of the newcomer: She waited for the moments his gaze was on one or all of the others to take careful inventory of the weight of his pockets and the lay of his clothing.

Not that being armed was exactly a crime in the Wastes.

Moreover, it was good to see that the young Mr. Eden had not been granted the chance to inflict any injury.

“Mornin’,” she responded to the general greetings being exchanged, offering no names just as none were given. “Ain’t a bad day for passing through,” the doctor added, taking the opportunity to glance out past the gates for any further backup or secrets the boy could have been hiding, “Nicer than some we’ve had out this way.”

Her stance was open and relaxed, with her arms at her sides and her weight shifted onto one hip in a relaxed posture. Neither the slow, calm gestures that punctuated her words nor the easy drawl with which she spoke betrayed how acutely aware she was of her own weapon. It was a half-second from her reach, to be precise, with one more second needed to flick the chamber closed and ready the first shot.

“Sorry to say that there ain’t a helluva lot left in here to ‘pass through,’ though. Not that we’d mind escorting you, though. Ain’t any one of us can take a quarrel with someone for being an Asher, and it ain’t a problem to keep some company for a short meeting, Mr….?”

She certainly did not want to escort him through the city, but it beat the alternative of letting him wander past unchecked. Their numbers may have been enough to provide confidence and deter most, but the newcomer seemed unfazed by the small party that had converged.

It was disconcerting at best.