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Marina Preston

"Tell me what you need, and I'll find it for you."

0 · 182 views · located in The Mojave

a character in “The Desert Pilgrims”, as played by fallacywonderland

Description

Image Name: Marina Preston

Age: 29

Gender: Female

Description: Marina is a woman of average height standing at 5’5” tall. She is of African-American and Indian descent. Her long dark hair is usually in a high ponytail if she is out on the road or on the move. She hasn’t been able to part from her hair, however impractical it may be. She has chocolate brown eyes. Marina is a rather slim woman, with a slight athletic build. For practical reasons she is usually wearing cargo pants and a simple dark, long sleeved shirt.

Background: Marina was born in February of 1994 in a small town in Illinois to an Indian mother and an African-American father. She was an only child and thusly very much pampered and spoiled. Her mother was disowned for marrying a black man and Marina has never actually met her mother’s side of the family. Both of her parents were career oriented people, her father a lawyer and her mother a writer. She was an all-round amazing student, she had a perfect GPA, plenty of extracurricular and a stellar SAT score. So no one was really surprised when she was accepted to three of the major Ivy League schools.

She ultimately chose to go to Yale University because she absolutely loved the atmosphere and the campus. When the first attack on Tokyo happened, Marina was only a freshman. It was total chaos on campus, everyone was calling their family and generally trying to figure out what the hell they were going to do. Marina’s parents called her and let her know that she should stay put and that they would come over and pick her up. Marina waited for weeks on campus but there was no sign of her parents anywhere, she couldn’t contact them either. A small group of her classmates whom had also stayed behind convinced her to go into hiding with them in a nearby small village with an underground tunnel system.

The small group of students soon turned larger and larger, the more people heard about these safe bunkers and tunnels. Suffice it to say that it was no longer a secret nor a well concealed hiding place. She and five other people decided to leave the village, in hopes of finding a more secluded area. The attacks becoming not just a distant threat but a death sentence. This is how Marina acquired her skills over the years. The small group of six never stayed in a place for more than a year. They did some things they would regret, in the name of surviving. Marina being tired of running away, finally found some rest within the Sanctuary. And she has been there ever since.

Skills: Over the years Marina has learned to survive in the wilderness. She tries to avoid conflict in any way she can. Although she has some knowledge about guns, she doesn’t want to push her luck. Especially not with the invaders whom are very skilled in combat. She is very stealthy and can sneak by invaders and raiders unseen, most of the time… She has a small dagger with her at all times for protection, although she has only used it a handful of times. Close combat, especially, is not her forte.

So begins...

Marina Preston's Story

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Character Portrait: Marina Preston
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Marina rolled over in her small bed, yawning. The sun was shining directly onto her face, probably a sign she should get up. She was quite comfortable in her warm bed, but there were a ton of things to do around the settlement . Better start early. Her bedroom was located on the westside, meaning she didn’t have many days she could sleep in anyway.

Sluggishly she threw the thin blanket off her body, stretched out her body and got up. It was autumn but you wouldn’t notice that from the weather. She wondered what food she had in the pantry. Probably some more salted crackers and beef jerky. Maybe some canned fruit if I’m lucky, she thought wryly.

She couldn’t complain really, at least she wasn’t starving.

Quickly, she changed into a comfortable jeans and t-shirt. Not even bothering with making her bed, she walked over to her makeshift kitchen/living room. Marina let out a big sigh, she was indeed right about the food. “Well, beggars can’t be choosers, ” she muttered to herself. She ate her food with little vigor and went about cleaning up.

While doing the dishes, Marina heard some voices outside, it seemed like some guys were getting into an argument. Marina recognized one of the voices as her neighbor Jack. The past year had been especially rough for the guy. He lost his daughter during a raid 9 months ago. His wife couldn’t deal with the loss and chose to end her life soon after. It had taken a lot of time and effort for Jack to function properly again. But he wasn’t the same anymore, gone was the man always smiling and trying to cheer people up. Instead there was only this mean, bitter and angry man.

This can’t be good.. she thought when the voices got louder and more angry. Marina wasn’t a kind of woman who would try to interfere in other people’s business, especially not if it meant she could get in harm’s way. Call it cowardice or survival instinct, it had helped her get this far. But she knew she couldn’t turn a blind eye if it had anything to do with Jack. She was too emotionally invested, something she had promised herself not to do…

Not having much of a choice, she walked outside.“Hey guys, everything cool?” She called out. Jack was cornered by two men she recognized. She couldn’t recall their names, they had been new to the settlement.

“YOU! Stay out of our business! This only concerns him.”, one of the men spat at her, he was a short and stocky guy. This was no good at all. The other man, a young fit guy, stepped towards Jack and whispered something to him.

“Now, there is no need to be rude, let’s have an ADULT conversation about it.” Marina tried to reason. A pissing contest between testosterone overloaded guys wasn’t anything new, but Jack was unstable. There was no knowing what he’d do next. She had to get them to leave.

During this exchange, Jack was uncharacteristically quiet. This didn’t bode well, at all. With a sudden movement, Jack pushed the guy closest to him hard towards the ground. The short guy, reacting immediately, tried to counter Jack. Jack had seen that though and his hand went to his belt and he pulled out his gun.

“Oh fuck.” Marina whispered. Thankfully, the two men stopped advancing, probably paralyzed in fear. Shit, Marina would probably be paralyzed in fear as well.

“Look dude, we didn’t mean anything by it! It was just a misunderstanding. Don’t do this.”, their tune had definitely changed now that Jack pulled out his gun. Marina stepped in between Jack and the guys. She had to do something.

“Jack, come on, you know you don’t want to do this.” She softly said to him, raising her hands. “They’re not worth your time, just give me the gun and let’s all move on.” Marina hoped she got through to him. She was not a people’s person like Yolanda was. Okay, just think what would Yolanda do in this situation.

She didn’t have to think much harder. “I… I am sorry Marina. I didn’t mean to..” Jack choked out. He was already lowering his arm and looked quite upset.

Marina deeming it safe enough quickly turned to the guys and whispered, “get the hell away. Right. Now.” They didn’t need to be told twice.

“I know, Jack. It’s fine. Just give me the gun.”, she stepped up towards him and gently took his gun. “Let’s just get you back home, okay?” Jack nodded, and walked towards his house. Marina, letting out a huge sigh, walked right behind him. She now had to probably report this incident to sheriff Finley. Pulling out a gun towards other civilians inside the Sanctuary was a definite no-go, and mostly a sure way to getting kicked out. She only hoped Finley would be lenient.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley
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#, as written by Messiah
Along the southern wall, a man in his fifties patrolled Sanctuary. John didn't like the idea of having an armed town, but he understood the necessity of keeping people who knew how to use firearms around. The threat of bandits and aliens was ever-present.

At the formation of Sanctuary, he had made a concession to allow sentries to keep watch. Along with the sheriff and his deputies, they were the only ones officially allowed by the people in charge to carry. Though, Callum and Finley were generally okay with citizens carrying as long as they didn't threaten other citizens with them.

On the horizon, this sentry, known as Deacon spotted some moving forms. From that distance, he couldn't rightly tell what they were. But, as they got closer, he could see that they were people sitting astride horses. Well, two of them were sitting - a third was lying slumped over.

He couldn't immediately grant them entrance, and he hated that, but those were the rules. They had all heard stories of how bandits would pretend to be injured to get the sympathy of a town and then ambush. Sort of a Trojan Horse thing.

When the three got within shouting distance, Deacon called out, "Who goes there?"
________________________

Zoey rose to her feet when Yolanda passed through the door and smiled to the older woman.

"Miss Gunn! Mister Callum is waiting for you, I think."

Inside his office, John was seated. He, however, did not stand. Not only did he have the luxury, as the only one that really had more authority than Yolanda. She didn't really have an official position like he or Finley did, but she commanded enough respect that she was allowed to tell other people what to do and they would listen. The sheriff even listened to her, even though he really didn't have to.

John was sixty-six, but he looked older. The ten years since the invasion, and the years since founding Sanctuary in particular, had taken a toll on him. It was like the President of the United States. Even at the end of the first four years, they looked so much older and more tied than when the term had begun.

When she entered, he smiled that tired smile that he always gave. He was much more candid with her than he was with anybody else, save maybe his son. With her, he forced the smile much less.

He'd spent enough time around her that he knew when she had something important to say, so he had to get his in first.

"We had a visitor from Garland today. Robert's son, Michael. They're offering free trade and travel between our settlements." The old man paused, allowing a moment or two for the information to register with her before he continued, "Robert wants to meet and speak with me in Garland. It could be a trap. If it's not, it's a dangerous trip. What do you think?"
________________________

Sheriff Finley took his job seriously. He knew that a lot of people in town saw him as a hard-ass, but in a place like this, there had to be laws, and there had to be someone around to enforce the laws. And that's where Moses came in. He tried to be fair. Everyone here was trying to make a life for themselves, so it wasn't like he was going around hanging people for anything.

After Michael Garland and his bodyguards had left the building with John's office, Finley followed them for a short ways. After a half-block, they stopped, turned, and approached the sheriff.

"You're the sheriff, right?" Michael asked.

"Sheriff Finley."

"Michael Garland, from the town of Garland."

Moses nodded curtly in response, "Can I help you?"

"Well, we could use some directions."

"Where to?"

Michael glanced to his bodyguards and then back to Finley, "Mister Callum invited us to stay until he's ready to leave. Is there a place we can stay for the night? Also, any place to relax - like a bar - would be nice."

"The Pitstop is a restaurant and hotel. That's in that direction," the sheriff replied, pointing north, "And then there's Freedom Incarnate," he said with a sigh, "That's just down the street from the hotel."

"Thanks, sheriff."

"Be careful, though. Freedom Incarnate is a little shady." It was no secret that Finley didn't like Freedom Incarnate, and it was no secret that he didn't have any kind of fondness for its owner, Gary Lane. But, since neither he nor his establishment were breaking any rules, Finley had no recourse to do anything. Not unless someone was causing trouble there.

"What do you mean?" Michael asked, looking a little worried.

"You'll see. It's not dangerous, just shady. Nothing your boys can't handle," Finley said, nodding to Michael's bodyguards. "By the way, if you do run into any trouble in there, it's best you come to me instead of trying to solve it on your own. The folks here might not take kindly to people from another town getting into fights, even if you didn't start it."

"Thanks for the heads-up," Michael nodded, turning back towards his bodyguards.

"It's what I'm here for. Just try not to cause any trouble, okay?"

"Sure thing." And then, with a nod to his bodyguards, they were off.

The sheriff watched them for a while before he turned and headed back the way he'd come, intending to return to Callum's office and see how things had gone there.

Finley walked down the street and, before he could turn towards the mayor's building, a pair of frightened looking men rushed towards him. He recognized them as Dan and Elias. Some how they were related, but he wasn't sure how. They hadn't been in Sanctuary long enough for him to find out.

"Sheriff!" the younger one of them exclaimed, Elias, "That guy Jack just pulled a gun on us."

"Goddamnit," Finley muttered, "Okay. Lead the way."

Jack had become increasingly unstable lately. It was getting bad enough to the point where Finley was going to have to have a serious discussion about forcing him to leave, and this incident might just force his hand. Pulling a gun on another citizen of Sanctuary was bad. And with Jack's state, there was no telling when something worse could be around the corner.

The pair led the sheriff back from where they'd come where Jack's neighbor Marina was, looking as if she'd just exited Jack's home.

Moses motioned to the house, "Marina, can you bring him back out here? I need to sort this out."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley
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The day had just started and Marina already needed a strong drink, preferably a double. She could not believe the way this day was going, she hoped it wasn’t an indication to what’s to come. “My god, Jack…” she whispered closing her eyes and letting out a breath.

When she took Jack inside his house, she finally got close enough to smell the nasty and unmistakable smell of alcohol. Jack was becoming a regular at Freedom Incarnate these days. It seemed the booze helped dull his pain, but they had all been through loss and pain. He would have to deal with the reality one day. She was getting more pissed off then concerned by the minute. And it wasn’t helping that Jack was sitting there on his couch, like nothing had happened, staring off to the distance.

“What the heck, Jack? Why in the world did you do that?!” Marina hissed angrily at him, she was this close to her snapping point. Still, Jack was sitting there like a lifeless doll. Marina was not a patient woman, and Jack wasn’t helping his case, for old time’s sake she tried once more.

“Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? ” This time Jack’s reaction was only the blinking of his eyes. This was not going to do. If this was the only response he had, she knew with certainty that Finley was going to kick him out. Maybe it wasn’t unprovoked even if it seemed like wishful thinking to Marina, she had to get him to tell his story and there was only a way to guarantee a reaction out of him. She didn’t want to go there, but it was for his own good. She hoped.

She took a breath and stepped in front of him, now he had no choice but to look at her. “Do you think this is what Sarah would’ve wanted? For you to waste your life away, risking other people’s lives along with your own?” she asked evenly. The reaction was almost instantaneously. He looked up to her this time, his eyes narrowing and she could feel the rage building behind them.

“Do not talk to me about what Sarah would have wanted, you know shit Marina.” , he screamed at Marina in rage. She wasn’t even a bit fazed though, it wasn’t the first time he had exploded at the mention of his late wife. She also had his gun and if he even tried to physically threaten her, she wouldn’t hesitate to defend herself and she definitely knew how to use a gun. Luckily it seemed that Jack also knew, because he backed down at her non-reaction.

Marina took this as her opening and continued, softer this time “Maybe I don’t, but I knew Sarah. You cannot tell me that if she were here right now, she would stand for this. She was my friend, you know. I may have not known her like you did, but she was an honest and good person. And right now, she would want you to explain yourself.” Maybe it was a bit emotional manipulation, but Marina wasn’t going to feel bad about it. She had to know if Jack had truly snapped, or if he just had been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This time Jack looked ashamed of himself. “I didn’t do it Marina, I swear I didn’t.” This confused her, what was he talking about. He put his face in his hands, she could tell he was crying by the way his shoulders shook. “I would never betray Sarah, I didn’t do it.” He was now speaking in between chokes.

“You didn’t do what, Jack?” She asked quite confused now.

“Those guys outside.” He sniffed, raising his face. “We were at the bar, I was drinking, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t even decide to go with her and she was just so pretty, it just happened. But I swear I didn’t betray Sarah, I swear.” He rambled on. Marina was even more confused now, was this some kind of ploy to get her distracted?

“What does this have anything to do with what happened just now?” she said in a dry tone. It wasn’t that hard to figure out the ‘her’ Jack was talking about was Susana. After all, this place was a small one and once such a word got out, everyone would know. Just like everyone knew what Susana offered to lonely men for trade. She was in no position to judge her actions, it was after all her own choice, probably. Marina only felt bad for the mother, who couldn’t just accept that her lovely daughter had turned to prostitution, and Marina could not fault her that either.

“They were there too, you know. At the bar, I guess they must have seen me leave with her, I don’t know. They were following me this morning, asking me how it was and making lewd gestures.. you know.” He said a bit more calm now. “Asking me how good a lay she was and what I would rate her, it was disgusting Marina I’m telling you, they wouldn’t leave me alone. I would never betray Sarah like that, never. Oh God.” He crumbled again in tears.

Marina sighed again, her hand going through her messy bun. She could figure out the rest. Now, she should probably get Jack to sleep off and go to Finley. Maybe go to the sheriff after a drink, she thought wryly. “Go to sleep now, Jack. Oh and take a shower, you reek.”

There wasn’t much to say anymore so she got up from her spot and moved to the door. Just when she was opening the door, she heard Jack’s voice “You’re going to tell him, aren’t you?” She turned to him, not knowing what to say, she didn’t say anything. Jack seemed to understand as he got up and left for his bedroom upstairs.

Just when she was leaving Jack’s porch she spotted three men coming her way. “Oh fuckin’ great” she muttered lowly. She had hoped to at least get a couple of hours before dealing with this mess. “No hello, Finley? Or a how are you doing? Because I’m doing just amazing” it probably wasn’t smart to sass the sheriff but it had been a draining morning for her. She looked over Finley’s shoulder to see the two guys looking at her with glee, she glared at them with pure venom.

“Look Finley, I am not going to tell you how to do your job but he is piss poor drunk right now, I send him off to sleep, plus I have his gun. He isn’t going to do shit for now.” She handed to him, glad that it was gone. “Jack wasn’t blameless but these shits over there”, she pointed towards the guys, “ were looking for trouble themselves.” She continued glaring at them. She had to blame someone, however right or wrong it may be.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley Character Portrait: Paul Callum
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#, as written by Messiah
A couple miles north of Sanctuary, not far from Bonell Bay, Paul and a few others were working on the irrigation project. The son of Sanctuary's mayor was kneeling while he held a piece of metal tubing, pieced together from salvaged metal.. He was wearing a simple white wifebeater, the light gray shirt he'd had on before had already been tossed into the dirt. It wasn't summer, but it still got hot fairly quickly, especially when you were working.

On his head rested a simple black baseball hat, and he also wore a pair of sunglasses, all at an attempt to keep the sun from interfering with his work.

A woman a few years younger than he was, Kate, approached him from behind and knelt beside him. She squinted as she looked at him, "What's the verdict?"

"It's going to have to do, until I can find a better piece. I really don't have anything better." He tossed the piece aside and stood up. Kate did the same.

"Did Ollie decide to show up?" he asked.

"I haven't seen him."

"Shit," he mumbled, "He's a genius, but he's not really reliable, or stable, for that matter." Paul wouldn't admit it, but Ollie's contributions were invaluable. The problem was, like he said, that the man seemed to be lost in his own world, and only sometimes did his world line up with what other people were thinking and doing.

Kate sighed, "You don't have to tell me that. I know."

Paul looked to the woman standing next to him, while nodding, "Yeah, I think everyone does." He smiled at her faintly, before stepping back towards the pieces of the irrigation system in front of him.

"Well, back to work."
________________________

Deacon squinted at the women as they spoke and argued, and then he turned towards another sentry that was approaching, Luke, a much younger man with light brown hair.

"Luke, lead them to Doctor Gutierrez's office when they come in," he said before turning back to the three outside the gate, "I'm opening the gate now." Then, he took the steps down to the ground, unbarred the gate and pulled it open. The younger of the two conscious women moved toward the gate first. When the mother hesitated, Deacon motioned for her to enter as well, and she did.

The daughter looked as if she were about to express her gratitude when Deacon stopped her, "We wouldn't turn you away, especially if you need medical help." And they didn't look like the type to be spies for a group of raiders, That kind of thinking was dangerous, though; anybody could be. But, Deacon had a feeling.

"But, you'll have to meet with the sheriff, or one of his deputies." He paused briefly to look at Luke, then to the conscious daughter, "Luke will take you the doctor. She'll do what she can for your sister."

It wasn't far from the gate to the doctor's office, but it wasn't a very big town.

Doctor Lisa Gutierrez was a Latina woman in her forties with glasses and a kind face. Sitting in her office, she was reading a piece of paper with her hair tied up in a bun. Luke entered her office.

"Doctor," he began, "There are some outsiders who need to see you."

Her eyes adjusted as they moved from the paper to the young sentry, "What happened?"

"I think one of them said she'd been shot."

Gutierrez stood up immediately, looking concerned, but she remained calm, and sighed, "Okay." They then stepped outside, speaking to all present while motioning to the unconscious girl, "Help me with her."

Luke and the others moved to help the doctor carry the girl. Once she was inside, they brought her to the back room where they laid her down on what amounted to a medical examination table. She looked over at the conscious mother and daughter, "I need you to tell me exactly what happened."
________________________

John stood up and rested his hands on his hips as he slipped into thought, for a little too long.

"John?" Yolanda spoke up after a while.

"I can't send Paul. He's been working on the irrigation project, and he's just about the only one who's worked on it every day of its production." He paused for a moment and he sighed, "And if anything were to happen, I don't believe my heart could take having to bury my last son." The death of his two eldest sons, Thomas and Jared, was not a secret amongst the people of Sanctuary. They knew about it, and he knew that they knew it, but he rarely spoke of it. Not to Paul, and not to Yolanda.

"I don't know that I could ask you to go in my place, either," he said, turning back to the woman, "To be quite honest, I think you're the future of this settlement, and probably better suited for my position than anybody else, even myself." At that admission, he chuckled before continuing, "Paul is a smart boy, but I can't see him being in charge of an entire town. Sheriff Finley is a man of action and would grow restless in my position, I think. And Mister Lane, well..." It seemed peculiar, even to himself that he would consider Gary at that position, but he was a shrewd man, that much John knew, "He lacks the kind of morals needed. I'm not sure he would follow my regulations if Finley didn't keep such a close watch on things."

"With that said," he continued, "If anything were to happen, I think the town would be best served it happening to myself than to you. Robert seems to want to speak with me personally, in any case. That also means that you'll be in charge until I get back." John was going under the assumption that he would return; he didn't want to be the one just assuming the worst would happen all the time, but the threat was very real.

"But, I won't be going alone. I'll have to take along some protection, for the trip over to Garland, if nothing else. You know the people of Sanctuary best. Do you have any recommendations?"
________________________

Finley folded his arms over his chest as he looked to Marina briefly with a deliberately neutral look. As sheriff, it was important for him not to take sides and not to let people get to him. His job was to enforce the town's rules, one of which Jack had broken. He couldn't let that slide, no matter how sympathetic he was to what Jack had gone through. If something happened to Dee, his as of yet unborn child, or his mother, well... It would be hard.

"I appreciate your concern for Jack, but I can't. This is a serious offense, if true. He's going to have to come with me, as are you two," he said, turning towards the two men behind him, whose gleeful expressions soon faded, turning into looks of muted shock.

He looked back to Marina, "I'll give him the benefit of letting him sober up before speaking to him, at the very least. You'll have to come with me as well, if that makes you feel any better."

Finley was hoping she wouldn't fight him on this. He knew that both Marina and himself would prefer it if Jack came out with her, more or less willing. Because if the sheriff had to go in there, he might end up having to drag the man out of his house. It made the sheriff look unreasonably harsh, and it would be humiliating for Jack.

Marina tossed him a look that he discerned as a mix of anger and reluctance, but Finley remained stoic.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley
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As Marina was nibbling on her bottom lip – a nervous habit she tried to let go of – the logical part of her couldn’t help but agree with the sheriff. What the man was saying was undoubtedly true, and if the culprit had been anyone else, Marina would have no problems with the situation. She knew Finley wasn’t an unreasonable man, the opposite of that was true. Everyone knew that Finley was excellent at this job, and she was aware of his position as the law enforcer. These laws were here for a reason; to protect the people of the Sanctuary. She couldn’t be selfish on this and risk the lives of everyone around her. She looked Finley directly in the eye and nodded slowly.

There really wasn’t much else to say about the subject and they both knew that Marina would definitely come along. She sighed loudly, shaking her head, still not sure how it had come to this point. At that moment she caught some movement behind the sheriff. The two men had moved on from their shocked state to an indignant one, they looked ready to protest and Marina couldn’t help but feel a little bit satisfaction at seeing their reactions.

“I’ll go get Jack.” She spoke to Finley but her eyes were trained on the men behind him. She made a point to stare them down, hoping that they could feel the venom in her gaze. Without waiting for an answer from the sheriff, she turned her back to him and walked inside Jack’s apartment. What surprised her was that Jack was standing by the door, with a look of guilt and fear mixed with anger. He had no doubt heard the conversation on his front porch and realized that there were no take-backs. Marina couldn’t help but pity the man, sometimes people just couldn’t recover from tragedies even if they tried.

“So, I guess you heard everything then?” she tried to make some small talk, hoping to lighten the mood.

Jack didn’t answer her question, choosing to walk right past her out the door and towards the sheriff. “You don’t need to look no further, I’ll come willingly.” Marina could hear the tremor in Jack’s voice although he tried very hard to hide it. She followed him outside and placed a hand on his shoulder, a small act of encouragement and support but it definitely meant a lot to Jack.

“We’re both ready to go, sheriff.” She said giving Finley a firm nod.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley Character Portrait: Braxton Briggs Character Portrait: Jolly Roger
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#, as written by Messiah
Fort Defiance

"Commander," A partisan pushed his way into the commander's office. He was young. Probably wouldn't be old enough to sign up for the military if he was in the old world. Sixteen, maybe seventeen.

The aging veteran, Braxton Briggs, stood up, "What is it, son?"

"Sanders and Jones haven't come back from scout duty. They were supposed to be back an hour ago."

Briggs remained silent for a while before nodding, his lips pressed firmly together. Something could have held them up. Or, it could be worse.

"Give them another hour. If they don't show up, go out there and find them. Take Carson and Reeves with you."

"Yes, sir."

Somewhere in the Mojave Desert

The fearsome bandit leader and two of his most trusted friends, both of whom he'd been with since Boston, stood above a pair of cowering travelers. Behind them and all around them were the rest of the Crossbones clan, numbering nearly forty, and each of them was holding a weapon of some kind. The newer the member, the worse weapon they had.

At Roger's right stood Lane Jackson, nicknamed Calico Jack, and he held an assault rifle. While, at his left, Sam Morgan, nicknamed Black Sam, held a shotgun.

"Now," Roger began, addressing the civilians, "You may have heard of me. They call me Jolly Roger. You've probably heard that I'm vicious and merciless, but that's just not true. I'm giving you a chance to walk away from here alive." He paused, watching their reactions briefly, "All you have to do is agree to join our clan. I can't guarantee how long you will survive with us, but if you don't join us, you will die."

There were five of them. An older man, probably in his seventies. It was likely a miracle that the man had survived even this long. Then there was a woman, probably his daughter; she looked like she was in her forties or fifties. Finally, there were three who looked to be the woman's children, a daughter who looked be in her mid-twenties, and two sons - probably twins - who looked to be no older than nineteen.

"Anybody who wants to be spared, stand up."

There was a long silence as they all looked at each other.

Roger's face turned into a menacing scowl, "Last chance."

At that, the two youngest boys stood up to the horror of his family beside them.

"Why are you doing this?" the sister asked, her eyes pleading.

"They're going to kill us!" one of the boys retorted.

"So you'd rather--" the sister began, only to be cut off by a gunshot. She and her mother screamed as the old man fell to the ground, dead from a bullet wound to the head.

The bandit leader had grown impatient and had executed the man to force them to make a choice. Besides, he was too old to be useful anyway.

"Hurry up and make your choice!" Roger growled.

They all looked to Roger in horror, the boys included, but nobody said anything. Roger sighed, waiting their responses, growing even more impatient.

After another moment or two of horrified looks between family members, Roger fired two more bullets. The first one into the older woman and the second into the younger, killing them both.

The boys stared at Roger, and one of them took a step back. And then he turned and began to run.

Roger looked over to Calico Jack, who raised his weapon and fired. The bullets shredded through the boy's torso and he collapsed to the ground in a heap. His friend even went through the trouble of walking over to the boy's body and firing a few extra shots into him.

"Now," Roger said, looking to the only surviving family member - the same one who had pleaded his case to his family, "Are you going to run?"

Hastily, the boy shook his head, already afraid of the bandit clan leader.

"Good choice. What's your name?"

"Will," he answered quietly.

"Welcome to the Crossbones, Will."

Back in Sanctuary

Yolanda's attentiveness to the details of the town never ceased to both astound and amuse John. He didn't consider himself out of the loop, not by any means, being the mayor of Sanctuary, but her knowledge far surpassed his own, and it even surpassed Finley's, who was supposed to know about everyone in town. That was his job.

John had to consider his options now. All the names Yolanda had said were all at least somewhat familiar to him, except for Gary Lane's - Callum was more than familiar with the proprietor of Freedom Incarnate. With the others, he felt like he'd at least given them a friendly hello on one occasion or another.

As he sat, he leaned forward and placed his hands on what served as a desk in front of him. He knew enough about Yolanda to know that she didn't come to his office everyday, and a lot of times, she came to his office to speak to him about something. It was fortunate that she did come, at any rate, due to the arrival of Michael Garland.

True to his nature, John came right out with the question. "What have you come to talk about?"
________________________

Doctor Gutierrez listened intently before going to inspect the girl's leg. After a moment or two, she looked back to the younger of the two women standing with her. "You have no idea how lucky you all are. A centimeter in any direction and she'd have bled out. I'll do what I can, but I don't think she'll walk right from now on. She likely has permanent nerve and tissue damage." She looked between the mother and her two daughters, "When dealing with bullet wounds, it's a good idea to get it taken care of as soon as possible."

The doctor turned towards one of the cabinets she had in the room, found a pair of gloves, a needle, and some antibiotics. She approached the younger daughter and injected the antibiotics into her leg, "I don't mean to lay a guilt trip on you." After injecting the antibiotics, she retrieved some bandages and wrapped the leg, "She should stay off her feet for a while, just to let it heal - as much as it's going to. I'll bring you some crutches."

Gutierrez then took off her gloves, tossed them into the trash, and exited the room. Several seconds later, she returned with a set of crutches, which she set against the wall. Then, finally, she offered her hand, first to the mother, and then to the daughter, "I'm Doctor Lisa Gutierrez."

"Amber Cartwright."

"I'm Lilly. And that's Holly," the daughter said, motioning towards her younger sister.

"I'm sorry our meeting wasn't under better circumstances, but welcome to Sanctuary. You're welcome to stay here until she wakes up," the doctor announced with a small, friendly smile, looking towards Holly.
________________________

Finley folded his arms as Marina turned to go back into Jack's place, and looked towards Dan and Elias, who smiled nervously at the sheriff. He kept his eyes on the pair, carefully observing their expressions while they all waited. The younger and taller one, Elias, averted his eyes, looking down to the floor, while Dan gave Finley the same nervous smile as he rubbed the back of his head.

The sound of the door opening caused them all to look back. It was Jack, followed by Marina. He spoke to the sheriff directly.

“You don’t need to look no further, I’ll come willingly.”

Moses unfolded his arms and nodded to Jack, grateful for both his and Marina's compliance, "Thank you, Jack." There was more that he wanted to add, but he refrained, wary of appearing biased towards Jack.

Finley had his own theories about what had gone down. Jack had been increasingly unstable lately, but he had a suspicion that Dan and Elias had something to do with what happened, based on Marina's reactions to them, their uncomfortable manner, and Jack's current unwillingness to make eye contact with the pair. Of course that could just be his guilt at drawing a gun on them.

The sheriff led the others to his own office, which was next door to the mayor's, but smaller. The interior was small as well, just a desk that was flanked by a few doors, one of which served as a makeshift cell. But, he didn't want to have to lock up Jack. At least not until hearing what he had to say for himself.

Besides the chair behind his desk, there were a few chairs, which he motioned to, "Sit, please."

After a moment's hesitation and an exchanged look between Dan and Elias, they sat, as did Jack and, eventually, Marina. Finley looked between those sat before him, before his gaze stopped on Marina.

"Tell me what happened."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley
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The walk to the sheriff’s office was a calm and quiet one. Finley was leading the group followed closely by Jack. Behind Jack and Finley the two men were walking together, whispering to one another, they were definitely having an argument by the looks of it. Marina choose to take the rear, because frankly she wasn’t so sure if the two strangers wouldn’t try the bail. Cornered animals were , after all, very unpredictable.

The residents of the Sanctuary were filling the streets by now, and she saw some familiar faces here and there. Marina tried to keep her eyes in front of her, she was sure the talk about four people being lead by the sheriff to his office was already making the rounds. No doubt that anyone she made eye contact with, would try to get something out of her. The town gossip was one of the few entertainments these people had, it was their version of those Sunday night celebrity gossip shows they used to air on television.

The walk to the sheriff’s office seemed like a life time to Marina, but finally she saw the building nestled against the Mayor’s much bigger office. The interior was as dull as the exterior, there weren’t many personal items in the office and Marina wasn’t sure why she expected there to be.

"Sit, please." Finley gestured the chairs next to the desk in the room. Marina took the last chair, the one closest to the door, right next to Jack. One could never be too prepared.

"Tell me what happened." For a short second Marina didn’t realize that Finley was speaking to her. When she did, she was a little confused why he started with her but she wouldn’t question Finley’s judgment, he was the sheriff after all.

“Are they really going to be here for this?” she whispered, gesturing the two men, though they could hear her perfectly clear. Their gaze made her extremely uncomfortable, but most of all, she wasn’t sure if her story would trigger Jack in some way. Finley just gave her his long stare and that was enough to let Marina know she should get to the facts. She cleared her throat and started.

“I was at home today, you see it’s my day off, when I heard some people arguing. I knew it was Jack because I recognized his voice and when I got outside I only saw the end of their … altercation.” She continued with her story, telling Finley that when she tried to de-escalate the situation it only triggered Jack to pull his gun. She did not fail to mention the men’s hostile attitude towards her and how she was the one that got Jack to lower his gun.

“So, when he did lower his gun, I told these two to get the hell out.” She finished her part motioning the two men with a venomous look. “Look, Finley, I am not saying that Jack is not with blame but Jack told me how the argument started.” She hoped Finley was open to hear her and when he nodded for her to continue she gave him a small smile.

“Jack was at the bar, drinking, and apparently he was with Susana.. I don’t want to make any comments about what they did or did not do, because that’s totally irrelevant but these fuckwits were there too, I am sure anyone at the bar can confirm that.” The short one glared at her insult but Marina continued unfazed.

“They followed Jack home, just for the sake of antagonizing him. They made lewd comments and practically begged for trouble. You can’t tell me that is the behavior of ‘innocent’ men.” She spat.

“He told me they wouldn’t leave him alone when he asked for it, Jack was drunk, and ..” here she lowered her voice, speaking softly “-you know how he hasn’t been himself.” She shrugged feeling a bit drained. “And that is all I have to say about this.” She finished finally. She hadn’t looked at Jack once since she began her story, daring to take a peek now, she saw that he remained stoic as he was on his porch. She let out a breath in relief, at least they were making progress. But one look at the men, and she knew that they were not going to agree with her retelling. They looked ready to maul her, especially the short one. She paid them no mind and turned back to Finley.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Marina Preston Character Portrait: Moses Finley
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#, as written by Messiah
As soon as Yolanda left, John brought his head down into his hands and sighed exasperatedly. This job was going to be the death of him.

"I'm too old for this," he muttered to himself. How did the politicians do it? The men in their seventies and eighties. He was still four years away from seventy and he wasn't sure how much more he could take of it.

For a while, he sat in his office in silent contemplation. After the first few minutes, he really lost track of the time, but he did come to a couple decisions.

First, he would not be taking Mr. Lane. He wanted this meeting to be as friendly as possible. Whether or not Lane would be disposed to being shrewd and harsh in a situation like that, John wasn't completely sure, but he didn't want to take that chance.

Second, he had to speak to Finley regarding this situation with Susana and Lane at Freedom Incarnate. At the very least, the sheriff had to be informed. It was an open secret that Finley disliked Gary and his establishment; he had made his feelings clear to John several times while it was just being built. If he had his way, he would shut the whole place down, or evict Lane, at the very least.

Finally, John stood up, and exited the room. On the other side of the door, Zoey was seated at her desk, reading a book. When she saw John approach, she put the book down, hurriedly.

"Oh! Mister Callum! Sorry, I--"

"It's alright. Was that Mister Tatum I heard earlier?"

"Yes, sir."

"What did he want?"

"Something about a twinkle twinkle. He said it's a tool of some kind."

"Anything else?"

"Just that he was going to go see the Spider."

That was probably Gary Lane. Ollie wanted something and he would be going to Lane to try and get it.

"Thank you. One other thing, Zoey."

"Hmm?" she intoned.

"I'd like you to try and find a Teddy Daclaveon, and Barbara Bowery."

"Yes, sir. Should I tell them what for?"

"If they ask, tell them that I will be discussing it with them in person."

"Alright."

"Have them wait in here if I'm not back by then. I'm going to go take a walk."

With that, John took his hat off the rack and pushed his way out of the door.
________________________

Finley sat patiently, allowing her to finish, "Did you see Jack with Susana, or either of these two men at the bar?"

"No, but Jack told me-" she started, but stopped once the sheriff held up his hand.

"Okay," he said, looking from Marina to the other three now, "Thank you." He then turned his attention in Jack's direction. "Jack?"

Jack was silent. He wasn't even looking at the sheriff, or Marina, or anybody. After a long silence, Finley spoke up again, "Jack, please."

He was still silent.

Finally, the sheriff rose to his feet and put his hands on his desk as he looked down to Jack, his eyes narrowed. "Do you know what's going on here? This is a serious offense. I want to help you, but it's hard if you don't even speak up for yourself."

Jack looked up and finally spoke, prompting the sheriff to sit back down.

"I shouldn't have done it, I know," he began, "I'm sorry."

The sheriff sighed, "Just tell me what happened."

"It's just like Marina said. I was at Freedom Incarnate, and I was with Susana."

Finley knew about Susana and her mother. He knew that the young woman had a certain reputation around town. When he first heard of it, his conscience told him to go straight down to Freedom Incarnate, lock its dubious owner up, and escort Susana out here and back to her mother. But, he couldn't. Callum allowed Freedom Incarnate to be built and to exist, and everything that went on within its walls was technically not illegal. Many of the town's citizens seemed to be of the mind that the place, no matter what went on inside, to be a necessary evil. That may have been true, but there had to be a line somewhere.

"We didn't-" Jack continued, stammering a bit, "We just talked, I swear."

"Is that all?" Finley asked.

"Well, I--" Jack began, only to stop himself.

"What is it, Jack?"

"I gave her Sarah's old necklace."

Finley raised his eyebrows in surprise, but urged Jack to continue on, "Anything else you did with her?"

"No."

"What happened next?"

"I stayed at Freedom Incarnate after that. I was there all night. These two-" Jack said, motioning to Dan and Elias, "-were there, too. When I left, they followed me, stared harassing me. They asked me how she was, how fast I got off, and when I'd be coming back."

Dan scoffed, "Asshole. You still pulled a fucking gun on us."

"I know!" Jack exclaimed, "I know! I'm sorry."

Dan shook his head, his face turned into a scowl, "Whatever," he muttered, "Asshole."

The sheriff then turned his attention to Dan and Elias, "So, is what he's saying true?"

"Yeah, but, I mean, I wouldn't say we were harassing him. We were just joking. We didn't mean nothing by it. If we'd have known he was going to pull that shit, we wouldn't have done it."

"He says you were harassing him."

"That's how he saw it, I guess. Can't say I agree with him."

"That doesn't matter," Finley snapped back, impatient at Dan's flippant tone, "You two are leaving here with a warning. If I hear any more complaints about you, then I'm going to punish you further. Understood?"

Dan sighed and nodded, "Yeah."

"Good, now get out of here."

The pair stood up and scooted their way past the chairs and out the door. Finley was sure he'd heard the older of the two mutter something like "Asshole" on his way out, but he ignored it. It was then, once they'd left, that the sheriff noticed the look Marina was passing his way.

"Don't give me that look. It's worse than they were expecting, and there's not much else I can do. We'll be keeping an eye on them." Finley then redirected the conversation, focusing now on Jack again, "Now, about Jack. I know that things have been rough for you lately and you've been facing a lot of stress, but I can't just pretend this didn't happen. A lot of people here have had it rough, but I can't give you preferential treatment." It wasn't fair to the rest of the people of Sanctuary. Plus, it would only add fuel to the fires of certain citizens that believed the city's government was corrupt.

He continued, standing up, "I don't know that you can stay here. I doubt Callum would allow it. But, I can't send you out into the desert alone to fend for yourself. Not in good conscience. I'm going to recommend that you be conscripted with the Partisans at Fort Defiance. I know some people there, including Commander Briggs. He'll be happy to have you."

"In any case, I'll be speaking with Callum about this. He might be more lenient. One way or another, I'll let you know. I just thought I should tell you what I'm thinking."

After a moment or two of silence, Finley finished, "I'm sorry it came to this."