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Yolanda Gunn

All pulling in the same direction, right?

0 · 391 views · located in The Mojave

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

Description

Image

Name: Yolanda Gunn (once nicknamed Yee-Yo) Gender: Female Age: 49


Description: Yolanda is tall, at 5' 8", well-built, and prides herself on her curves. Of African-American and Cherokee descent, she has shoulder-length auburn hair, golden-brown skin tone and almond-shaped eyes of dark brown. Even in the depravations of the Mojave desert, she tries to look her best, even filing and painting her long fingernails with a tightly guarded stash of bright red nail varnish. She has tattoos from her youth, on her back, upper arm and thigh, that she keeps covered with modest dress. Her voice is deep and husky, and while she is immediately friendly to everyone, she is strong-willed with a firm belief in doing what is right by people.

ImageBackground: Born in Philadelphia in 1974, Yolanda grew up streetwise, tough and adventurous, using her size and intimidating demeanour as often as her wits to get herself and her friends out of the dangerous situations her fearlessness had led them into. She had occasional run-ins with the police. Between 1992 and 1996, she was in R&B girl group Terra, going by the nickname Yee-Yo. The band had one massive global hit, Territory, and several US R&B chart hits, then faded into obscurity, victims of behind-the-scenes conflict between various business influences.

Yolanda moved to Martinsville VA and sunk her paltry pop star earnings into a laundry business, where her outgoing personality, organisational skills and determination helped her become a leading business community figure. In 2007, she was elected mayor of Martinsville, a position she held when the Invasion occurred.

At first, it looked as if Martinsville's isolated location and small size meant it would survive the Invasion largely untouched, and Yolanda did her best to maintain an air of calm in the city, visiting communities and making public addresses. However, it wasn't long until millions of refugees from the enormous population centres on the eastern seaboard came sweeping south and west, and Martinsville was in danger of being over-run. Yolanda did her best to maintain law and order and cater for the refugees, but with a minimal police force and no support from the military, it wasn't long until bandits took over the city, and Yolanda was forced to flee after one last confrontation with the bandit leader. She joined John Callum's group outside the ruins of Dallas and has been a stalwart member of Sanctuary since its foundation.

Skills: Yolanda is a leader and a people person, with a seemingly effortless ability to bring people round to her way of thinking. She still sings, though now preferring classic soul to the R&B of her youth.

So begins...

Yolanda Gunn's Story

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Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn
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Yolanda examined her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her hair, smoothly but firmly. She still had a can or two of hairspray, but if she could get away without using one, instead saving them for special occasions, she would. She leant forward as she brushed, checking her roots for grey. One or two treacherous grey hairs were nestled against her scalp, giving away the inevitable approach of age, but it wasn't time to deploy the hairdye again. Just as well. She was nearly out.

She wasn't vain, she maintained. Her looks, not classically beautiful, were nonetheless a source of power, a uniform almost, and in this post-invasion world, you had to take your power where you found it. The day she'd joined John Callum's band, she recalled, she'd been near death from thirst, but she'd wiped her face, straightened her tattered garb, and presented a business-like face. Since that day, there had been mutual respect between the two.

The mirror was her prized possession, along with her dwindling stash of beauty products, and this morning it told her, via her furrowed brow and pursed lips, that she hadn't dreamt up any solutions to the latest problem to come across her desk. Not that she had a desk. The whole of Sanctuary was her office. Unable to restrain the public-mindedness she'd learned as mayor of Martinsville, and with Callum's tacit blessing, Yolanda made a point of making herself available to any Sanctuary resident. It could be a cheery wave here, an exchange of pleasantries in the general store or a side-by-side stroll around Sanctuary's safer outliers, but every outreach gave residents a chance to unburden themselves, should they need it.

'I can't stop her going there,' Ana-Maria had told her yesterday as Yolanda helped her tie down supplies for the Bonell Bay irrigation project. Yolanda had let the Latin woman do most of the hard work, not wanting to chip or scratch her newly applied nail varnish, and also because Ana-Maria struck her as one of those people who become more open emotionally while they were occupied physically.

'I cannot control her. I tell her to stay, she goes anyway.' Yolanda had nodded as Ana-Maria described her attempts at cajoling, reasoning with, and disciplining Susana. 'If I make a real big deal, maybe she goes there to stay. Then it's official. My daughter, the town whore.'

Sleeping on the matter, letting her subconscious pick at threads of the problem, had not provided a solution. With one last check in the mirror, Yolanda set out for John Callum's office.

The problem was that Callum had allowed Freedom Incarnate. He'd laid down a number of regulations, and Gary Lane was abiding by them, so the bar was officially sanctioned. And Yolanda had to admit that the private rooms had their purpose. In a community this small, gossip could kill a fledgling relationship before it began; the private rooms gave them a chance. And love - or lust - without judgement provided a necessary safety valve when tensions ran high, for example following a brush with the Invaders. Yolanda herself had had a brief affair, conducted solely in Freedom Incarnate's private rooms, when she'd first arrived in Sanctuary and was shaken and unsure of herself. The physical attention - from a former soldier now long dead at the Invaders' hands - had restored her confidence, healed her psychically.

But Ana-Maria's fears for her daughter exposed another side to the private rooms. Susana was becoming a habitual feature at Freedom Incarnate, willing to trade her body - so the gossip had it - for as little as a few drinks. And though he'd never been anything but polite to her, Yolanda suspected Gary Lane was perfectly capable of exploiting the young woman for his own ends.

She couldn't confront him directly, despite Ana-Maria's urgings. She'd have to take it up with Callum, Yolanda mused as she turned the handle to his building.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Moses Finley Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Marina Preston
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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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: John Callum
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Yolanda returned John Callum's wan smile with a far broader one; even though it was obvious something was troubling him, and she also had something on her mind, there was no situation that couldn't be brightened, however marginally, by a flashing smile. So Yolanda gave him one of her best, red lips parting over healthy white teeth. It was almost like a game they played, his taciturn half-greeting countered by her exaggerated good cheer, and it was a game Yolanda was quite happy to play. Though he still had the erect bearing and steely air of a life lived outdoors, full of fresh air and hard work, Callum was beginning to look increasingly frail. Worn, Yolanda thought. Looking down onto his scalp through strands of white hair, Yolanda could clearly see the blue veins beneath parchment-thin skin.

Once the unspoken exchange of greetings was over, Callum spoke gruffly, typically to the point. Just as Yolanda had expected, his business would come first; hers would come second, whatever it was. She was quite happy for this state of affairs to remain, for Callum to bear the official weight of Sanctuary's mayorship, but she suspected he was toying with the idea of retirement, letting a younger, stronger man bear the weight, suffer the stress and strain of keeping the small community safe from threats - internal as well as external, human as well as Invader. His son Paul, perhaps, or the rugged, handsome sherrif.

"We had a visitor from Garland today. Robert's son, Michael," said Callum. "They're offering free trade and travel between our settlements."

She perched one rounded buttock on the edge of Callum's desk, detecting a near-imperceptible rolling of the eyes from Callum. It was all that remained of his resistance to her long campaign of familiarity over formality. "Trade and travel's always good," was all she said, waiting for him to continue. He wouldn't have spoken so quickly - or at all - on her entrance to his office if the matter wasn't troubling him.

"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?"

There it was, the hook, the catch. Yolanda nodded as she began to unpick the strands of the question. First of all, she reasoned why Callum was asking her at all. He was immediately mindful of the dangers - of a trap, of attack by bandits or Invaders on the journey - and that was even before considering whether the relationship could be good for Sanctuary or not. But therein lay the answer to her first question, Yolanda realised. Callum, like any good leader, could recognise his own weaknesses, and use the resources at his disposal to make up for them. And right now, he was looking for Yolanda's innate optimism to counter his innate skepticism.

"Well, you're right as usual, Callum. It's bound to be a dangerous trip." She lent towards him slightly and smiled again. A frown creased his face, angry that she was teasing him. "But there's a lot to be gained from reaching out to Garland. If nothing else, we benefit from them being strong too."

Callum looked out the dust-smeared window of his office, and nodded.

"As for it being a trap," Yolanda continued. "Well, sure, there's always that possibility, so I don't think you should go. But we shouldn't reject Garland outright. They've shown us trust by coming here. We should at least do them the same courtesy. Perhaps Paul might go?"

Still looking out the window, Callum's frown deepened. Perhaps he wasn't considering his son as a potential leader of Sanctuary.

"I could go with him if you like."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Paul Callum Character Portrait: Moses Finley Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Marina Preston
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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: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Oliver Tatum AKA Oddball Ollie Character Portrait: Theodore Daclaveon Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Gary Lane
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"Oh, you're an old flatterer, John Callum," Yolanda trilled, leaning further across the desk and slapping the old man on the shoulder. He was little more than bone underneath the faded, but still respectable, suit jacket he wore almost as a uniform of office. Briefly the thought crossed her mind that he might be sick, what with the willingness to undertake an arduous an dangerous journey, not to mention the rare allusion to the heartache of his bereavements. Yolanda and John were friends, she felt - at any rate, they worked well together - but this was one subject that had remained off-limits. In one sense, Yolanda was glad. She'd never had children, and her relationships never lasted more than a few years, so John's hidden pain was alien territory to her. She knew better, too, than to try and dissuade him from going on this diplomatic mission. For whatever reason, he'd made up his mind. He'd only see further argument as a waste of time, an annoyance.

Her train of thought was briefly interrupted by the sight of Ollie Tatum passing outside, his head bumping up and down in his distinctive walk, almost as if he was on puppet strings held by a child. The engineer was a law unto himself, his slightly unhinged mind pinwheeling from one idea to the next, but the novel creations and solutions that sprang out of that chaos had served Sanctuary well and often. Yolanda gave him as much time as possible; when not baffling her with scientific terminology that seemed almost a language of his own making, he could be charming company.

John used the distraction to move the conversation on from his hints at Yolanda's temporary elevation. "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?"

"Well now," Yolanda murmured, drumming her fingernails on the desk as she ran through a mental checklist of the town's inhabitants. This really was the kind of work she was best at, partly because she loved it. She had a miniature biography of every person in Sanctuary memorised, with their history, family - living and dead - their personalities, strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams. She updated as she went about the town, listening to problems big and small, doling out advice, giving assistance and succour. Immediately her mind lit on one name.

"Well now, if you won't take Paul, and I know you'll want Moses to stay here, you couldn't do much better than taking Teddy Daclaveon."

John raised a spiky white eyebrow.

"Teddy. Hunter, survivor-type, makes his own bows and arrows," Yolanda explained. "Used to be Special Forces. Not a lot will get past Teddy on the road."

Moreover, Yolanda had the feeling Teddy had things on his mind he didn't want on his mind. Teaching Sanctuary's children to fire bows and arrows was a worthwhile pursuit, and Teddy appeared good at it - patient, fair, approachable - but some men needed to be busy, to keep moving. Otherwise, they moved to the bar and stopped there, another good man, another able body, gone to waste. Yolanda often thought the aftermath of the Invasion was harder on men than women, their failure in the role of protectors writ large on the changed landscape across the world. Even guarding somewhere like Sanctuary or Garland from bandits, they were still just fighting for second place. She drummed her fingers on the desk again and unfurrowed her brow, pushing the though out of her mind.

"You could take Luke off sentry duty too. The trip out might do him some good." The younger men, the ones who had come to adulthood after the Invasion, sometimes needed to blow off steam; sentry duty and irrigation projects weren't exactly the bright lights of the big city. "But you'll have Garland's men too. Take many more of your own, and they'll think you don't trust them. That's a bad start to a trade mission."

John steepled his fingers and nodded. Yolanda knew he didn't know Luke from the rest of Deacon's sentries, but it was no harm for him to see that she did. If nothing else, it would set his mind at ease about Sanctuary being in good hands while he was gone.

"But," she continued, this time rapping her knuckles on the desk, emphasising that this was her final opinion on the matter, "you could always take another negotiator.

"Not that you're not capable," she said hurriedly, cutting off the objection that seemed to be coming. "But two heads are always better than one. Makes it harder for their talking heads to gang up on you."

He pursed his lips. In the quiet as he thought, they could both hear voices - Zoey, the secretary, and... yes, those were Ollie's unusual inflections - and then a closing door and silence again.

"And you would suggest?"

"My first thought was Bobo." Again, the eyebrow peaked in query. "I mean Barbara Bowery. She used to be a businesswoman - Wall Street, not washtub," she explained, laughing self-deprecatingly. "Mergers, acquisitions, all that high-falutin' stuff. She's bound to have something interesting to say."

"And your second thought?" asked John, playing his part in their little dance to perfection.

"Mr Lane. And his morals. He's crooked enough to think through a corkscrew, and I'm pretty sure he only has his own interests at heart - not that I'd ever let on to him - but why not make that work for us, John?"

"Mr Lane and his morals," he repeated. "How interesting."

"As for Mister Lane and his morals, well, that's why I came to see you," Yolanda said, pushing herself up from her informal perch on John's desk. He'd baited the hook earlier, but she'd known better than to go jumping feet first into the delicate subject. Now that John had dispensed with his own business, Yolanda knew she had his full attention.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Braxton Briggs Character Portrait: Moses Finley Character Portrait: Jolly Roger Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Marina Preston
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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

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Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: John Callum Character Portrait: Gary Lane
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"What have you come to talk about?"

And with that, John abruptly pulled the curtain down on the conversation. Yolanda could almost hear the clang as the town's leader shut away her suggestions in another part of his mind, to be ruminated at his leisure - and in solitude. Growing frail he may be, but John Callum still had a mind like a steel trap.

"Well now, don't you know how to put a girl at her ease, John Callum," she frowned in mock annoyance, folding her arms and pursing her red lips. "In fact, Mister Lane and his morals, well, that's why I came to see you."

An almost imperceptible nod of the head told Yolanda she had John's attention, even while his agile brain was leaping ahead to consider whether her motives for suggesting Gary go to Garland were tied up in her own interests. She ploughed on regardless; John would conclude, in his own time, that nominating Gary hadn't been done out of malice or self-interest.

"I got an angry mother on my hands, John. Ana-Maria Fernández. If I'm not mistaken, I might have a few angry wives on my hands soon too. The back rooms in Freedom Incarnate... well, they're perhaps not as free as all that."

Under John's calm gaze, she elaborated. "Ana-Maria's daughter, Susanna, it sounds like she's turning tricks. Now, I know you allowed the back rooms for a reason" - she paused briefly as memories of her brief, passionate relationship in the back rooms flashed across her mind - "but this sounds like straight-up prostitution, John."

She stepped up to the edge of the mayor's desk, the wooden lip pressing a line into the meat of her thigh.

"The back rooms are like a safety valve for the human needs of Sanctuary, that's why we have them. But this... this is not good. Ana-Maria is fit to stab Mr Lane, and the gossip about who else sees Susanna is only going to grow. You know what people are like. That's what concerns me. That, and it's hard to know how safe she's being."

John lent back in his chair, and Yolanda realised she'd been looming over him. She stepped away, took in a brief circuit of the office while John steepled his fingers again. She instinctively knew what he was going to ask next.

"No, I haven't spoken to Mr Lane yet." She could feel the blood rising in her cheeks, anger on behalf of Ana-Maria, who only wanted to protect her daughter just as Yolanda wanted to protect Sanctuary; anger at the supercilious Mr Lane, who would only duck and dodge and avoid any direct line of conversation, and suggestion of responsibility. "He'll say he's not responsible for Susanna. He's not so foolish as to say he doesn't know what happens, but he'll say he's not responsible for what goes on in the back rooms."

There was silence for a moment as Yolanda struggled to control herself. John would feel such outbursts were unnecessary between friends, that she didn't have to personalise what was clearly a political issue, that losing one's temper was an undignified attempt at extra leverage. Nonetheless, Yolanda couldn't help feeling towards Gary Lane a degree of the same anger that Ana-Maria felt. He had his own short-term benefit in mind, and nothing else, certainly not the long-term peace and prosperity of Sanctuary.

John nodded four times, each nod more definitely than the last. Yolanda imagined the steel shutters coming down on the matter again.

"I'll take my leave, John Callum," she said, slipping into formality in an attempt to mask her irritation. "Take care now."

'Take care, Ms Gunn,' John replied in kind. Just as the door closed, she glanced back and suspected she saw a teasing twinkle in the old man's eyes. As she crossed the dusty street to Doctor Gutierrez's practise, meaning to investigate what precautions Susanna was taking, if any, she conceded a wry smile at John's deft leadership skills, his ability to disarm her potentially disruptive temper.

"Luke Hall? Shouldn't you be on watch?" she asked as the tall young man emerged from the hospital. Not a year ago, she would have described him as gangly, but he'd undergone that growth spurt all young men had at that age, outwards rather than upwards, where his muscles had thickened and his build broadened. He was rangy now, not gangly.

"M- Ms Gunn?" he stuttered, as if guilty for having been caught away from his post. His gaze flicked around her curves, then up to her face, then settled on the dry ground as the safest location. "Ms Gunn, I was bringin' a hurt girl to the Doc. Deacon telled me so."

"Well done, Luke," she smiled warmly at him, which did nothing to stop the red blush from rising from his neck to his cheeks. "Is this hurt girl still inside?"

"Yup," he nodded enthusiastically, proud of his role in the girl's survival. "And her Ma and her, her, her sister."

"Go on, Romeo," Yolanda grinned as she passed and patting Luke on the shoulder. "Back to your post. Keep on keeping us safe." The rangy young man snapped an improvised salute as he jogged back to the wall.

"Hello? Dr G?" she called as she stepped into the sparsely-lit waiting room. "Hi, it's me?"

After a moment, the doctor stuck her head through the door to her office. "Back here, Yolanda," she nodded, and disappeared again. As another senior member of the town, the doctor was on familiar terms with Yolanda.

In the doctor's office, a young woman was laid out unconscious on the couch under a blanket. A woman in her 20s and an elder, obviously family to the girl on the couch, looked on anxiously. The doctor busied herself a final check on a bandage on the girl's leg and pulled the blanket over it. "These here are the Cartwright girls," said Doctor Gutierrez. "Amber and Lilly - " the onlookers stood apprehensively - "and this here napping is Holly."

The older woman, undeniably mother to the others, offered her hand. "Amber Cartwright, ma'am. I just gotta say how mighty grateful we all are you takin' us in like this. Holly - " The words seemed to catch in her throat and she fell silent, tears brimming in her eyes.

"Ms Cartwright, I'm Yolanda Gunn, not 'ma'am', and you don't have to thank me," smiled Yolanda, taking her the proffered hand. "That's just how we are here in Sanctuary. If we can help folks that need helping, we'll help. And Lilly, it's good to have you. Your sister is in safe hands with Doctor G."

Pretty although dust-grimed and drawn by exhaustion, Lilly managed a broad smile. Yolanda could easily understand Luke Hall's stuttering.

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Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn
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#, as written by ShyFox
After her mother mumbled her name and shook the doctors hand, Lilly shook the her hand, introduced herself and the unconscious Holly. She could tell that the physician had experience dealing with emergency situations. As she quickly, did what she could for Holly.

"Yes, thank you doctor. I don't know how we can repay you." Lilly smiled, something she hadn't felt like doing in a long time.

After things calmed a bit, and Holly rested, Lilly and her mother sat down, she watched intently as the doctor cleaned up. All Lilly's mother did was sit there quietly, looking at Holly on the table. Lilly had noticed lately that her mother had grown quiet, especially since Holly had gotten sick. The once exuberant, lively, sharp tongued woman had turned into a shell of herself since this whole mess with the alien invasion happened. It was like the chaotic world that had become reality, had sucked the life out of Lilly's mother. She reached over took her mother's hand in her, and squeezed it gently to reassure her that things were going to get better. Just as she was about to say something, Lilly heard a conversation going on expecting the sheriff or a deputy she looked up at the door to the clinic.

Lilly was surprised when a woman walked into the room, she and her mother stood up out of respect. The doctor introduced them to the woman. Her mother must have realized that this woman must have been some kind of authority in the town, Lilly watched as her mother introduced herself... and then broke down, Lilly reached out and hugged her mother as she sniffled. She patted the older woman's back.

"I'm sorry Ms. Yolanda, my moms been through allot recently, especially with my baby sister being sick and all." Lilly led her mother to sit back down.

She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and walked over to the woman that had welcomed them to Sanctuary.

"There was a little while where we were afraid we'd never make it through this trip, but I feel like this is where we're supposed to be. Well beats living in the back woods of Texas, with nobody to talk to but the squirrels and a crazy old man that thinks the squirrels are government spies. Ms. Yolanda, we'll do whatever we have to, as long as we can be somewhere safe and secure."

Lilly's mother nodded, and wiped her eyes, "Yes, ma'am Cartwright's aren't afraid of work, besides if we lived in the woods as long as we did without running water or electricity. I think, we can do just about any job you give us around here."

Lilly looked over at her mother and smiled, it was like a little bit of life was breathed back into her mother and finally things might turn around.

She turned back to Yolanda, "Ma'am.. I mean Ms. Yolanda, the sentry at the gate said we'd have to speak with the sheriff or one of his deputies. Begging your pardon, but are you one of the deputies?"

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Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: Gary Lane
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"A deputy? With these nails?" Yolanda held up her carefully manicured hand, threw back her head and laughed, then flashed a complicit smile at Lilly. "Oh honey, my rough-and-tumble days are long behind me." She didn't want to shame these women for the disparity between her glamorous appearance and their road-worn clothes and borderline malnourishment, but rather hint at the possibilities that Sanctuary held for them.

"No, I'm what I suppose you'd call a busyboy. I keep people busy and keep bodies together. It helps stick Sanctuary together, you know? And I don't doubt your ethic, ma'am - " here she nodded at the elder woman " - I don't think y'all should be worried about work right now. Why don't you two head on off to the kitchens - it's the big metal-sheet building about four down on this side - and see if there's a late breakfast or an early lunch to be had. Tell them I sent you, and Doc G and I will keep an eye on this one for you."

A short while later, Yolanda emerged from the hospital, squinting as the sun upped its punishing glare as it neared midday. She waved as two girls ran past, shrieking and laughing, each holding one end of a length of red ribbon. Amazing what passed for toys in these difficult days. Dust swirled up in their wake. The sooner we get that irrigation project finished, the better, Yolanda thought.

She took a deep breath, trying to suppress her annoyance at Doctor Gutierrez. Sure, she could see patient confidentiality still had a place in the world today, and no, she wouldn't like it if just about anyone could find out her private business by asking. But couldn't the doctor see this was no mere snooping? There wasn't just the issues of a spread of disease and an unwanted, possibly contested pregnancy. Did John Callum really want a town where prostitution was acceptable? Did he not see the damage that could to to morale? And what's more, if a character like Gary Lane could get away with this, what else would he attempt?

In the doorway to Freedom Incarnate, Yolanda primped her hair and smoothed her dress down on her hips. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she picked out Gary Lane standing by the bar, seemingly in conversation with a customer. She stepped towards them, her high heels click-clacking in the sudden silence.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lilly Cartwright Character Portrait: Yolanda Gunn Character Portrait: David McAllister Character Portrait: Lazarus Glennon
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Lilly and her mother nodded after Yolanda explained her position, and when food was mentioned, as if on cue Lilly stomach growled. She placed both her hands on her stomach slightly embarrassed. Her mother, shook her head "I'm gonna stay here Lil's if you're hungry you go on ahead, I'll catch after your sister comes to."

Lilly looked at her mother, she had always had a soft spot for Holly, not that she showed favoritism it was just that Holly was the baby. And once Holly truly grew up, that meant that both her girls weren't her little babies any more, it was like her mother was holding on to that for dear life. She felt like she had already lost that with Lilly being so independent, and very often taking charge of tough situations. Despite feeling a little down that her mother chose to stay, Lilly nodded.

"I'll bring ya something back okay Mamma?", she said with a little bit of concern for her mother.

Her mother nodded and the turned her attention back to Holly. Lilly slipped through the front door and headed for the what she thought was the kitchens as she walked along she realized she had turned the wrong way and was now lost. There wasn't anything around her but what looked like living quarters. She was just about to turn around and go back when she almost ran right into three men who had just come around the corner between a couple of buildings. One was a smaller man with red hair and a short beard, another was a behemoth of a man that towered over Lilly like a giant, and the last was a shorter black man with a thick large beard. She stopped before she crashed into them, and swallowed nervously, they looked like a group of men that she didn't want to interact with.

"Would you look at this one boys, another one. I swear to God if Callum keeps letting every needy little waif in here we're going to all wake up to another bandit raid with our throats cut.", the red haired man looked Lilly up and down. "At least this ones easy on the eyes.", the giant guy chuckled a bit and then moved on around Lilly. She heard them going on about the guy they had just taught a 'lesson' that they left behind the barracks.

As they made their way out of sight, Lilly sighed with relief but she wondered what they meant by the man they were talking about. Curiosity got the best of her, and besides if those three had been teaching anyone a lesson it wasn't a good thing. She turned the corner in between the two building that the men had emerged from before. She came up behind a guy that looked like he had been hurt. She was just grateful to find a living person and not a dead body or something.

"Hey.... you all right?", she asked, "I saw those men come out of here and well it was obvious they weren't friendly." she walked up to the young guy, and placed her hand on his shoulder. "You need the Doc or anything? I made the wrong turn down here on my way to the kitchen... I guess its a good thing I did now.... My names Lilly by the way, just came through the gate this morning. My mother and sister are at the clinic, at least I know where that is."