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Christopher Jones

A redeemed gangster who will fight to maintain decency in a broken world.

0 · 97 views · located in Season 2

a character in “The Walking Dead: Online”, as played by monkeyman

Description

Description:
Image
 Name: Christopher Jones
 Portrayed By: James Earl Jones
 Profession: Mechanic
 Age: 45
 Gender: Male
 Height/Weight: 6 ft./200 lbs.
 Nationality/Ethnicity: American/African-American
 Tattoos/Scars: A scar on his right shoulder, which he gained in a gunfight with a rival gang
 Clothing/Outfit: A reasonably good suit, although this may change.

Traits:

 3 Strengths:
1. Survival instinct: Living in the tough inner city has given Christopher the wits and sense needed to survive in an even tougher situation.
2. Cool head: Even in a desperate situation Christopher can keep a cool and rational mind.
3. Intimidation: Christopher's large body and deep booming voice, as well as his ability to influence others through fear gained in the past, can make any human opponent think twice about threatening him or his friends.

 3 Flaws:
1. Good nature: Christopher's essentially good nature makes it difficult for him to make survivalist decisions in complicated moral situations.
2. Brusque demeanor; Christopher's frank nature often complicates efforts to make a good first impression.
3. Age: Christopher isn't as young as he used to be, and as a result is not in peak physical condition.

Personality:

 Fears: Christopher has lived a simple life, and does not really mind dying so much. However, he does fear that humanity will never recover from the walkers.
 Aspirations: To live in a community where human kindness is able to thrive.
 Dominant Emotion: Stoic
 Demeanor: Tough, but warm-hearted
 Quirks/Oddities: Even in a situation as desperate as this one, he acts much like he did before the walkers came.
 Skills/Proficiencies: Shooting, mechanics, leadership.

Equipment:

 A Satchel filled with supplies such as food, first-aid kits, maps, etc.
 No keepsakes. Christopher is not a sentimental person.
 Double-barreled shotgun.

History:
  • 1969: Christopher born.
  • 1985: Christopher joins the Crips gang.
  • 1987: Becoming disgusted with their violence Christopher leaves the Crips, and in order to avoid being killed for his treachery, keeps a low profile until the Crips eventually give up/accept the fact he has left them.
  • 1990: Christopher gets a steady job as a mechanic.

    OOC: If anything else needs to be added, please give me a shout.

So begins...

Christopher Jones's Story

Setting

Characters Present

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

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The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Christopher Jones

Christopher had found the building he was staying in 5 days ago, and so far, it was shaping up to be a decent shelter. The building had plenty of food and was adequately defended from the walkers. However, the mechanic wasn’t sure it could hold off against a horde of them, obviously attracted by the recent explosion, so he prepared to escape. As he gathered up his supplies he pondered his current situation.

While he had gathered enough food for several months, Christopher was somewhat worried. Not of any physical condition, but of loneliness. It seemed like a somewhat silly concern, but he’d seen what happened to people who were deprived of human interaction. He had seen and talked to so many of them that he could spot the signs. Basically they had behaved much as a young child would, with limited social and mental capabilities. They could also hallucinate.

Christopher knew that he would not survive if he lived without any human contact for a long time, nor would he want to. So he resolved to set out and find people he could interact with. Of course, there were a large number of walkers outside, and even if he could somehow manage to find humans without getting bit, there was no guarantee they’d be friendly.

Christopher’s thoughts were interrupted when he heard a loud crashing noise downstairs. The walkers. The former gang member stuffed whatever he could into his satchel and walked at a fast pace to the ladder to the roof. Walking at a normal speed wasted precious time, but running quickly would make him vulnerable to ambushes. There were many different routes through the building, and it was very likely that the walkers could wander up the ramp used for disabled employees at the former workplace. Christopher’s wise decision prevented him from dying in the building, as there was indeed a walker in the next corner. Christopher thought for a moment as to the method he should dispatch the walker. His shotgun, while most certainly effective, would alert even more walkers. His pocket knife? He didn’t think it had enough of a reach to take out the walker without getting too close. His fists? No. No way. Christopher bit his lip and narrowed his eyes. He was in trouble.

Just as the walker was about to close in there was a thump on the roof. This was all the chance Christopher needed. Quick as lighting, Christopher slammed the butt of his rifle into the walker’s face. The force of the impact shattered the walkers’ nose and flung him to the ground. Quick as a wink, Christopher maneuvered to the side of the walker, raised his foot, and brought it down on the walker’s head. CRUNCH! The walker’s face was now a mess of blood, rotted teeth, and skin, but Christopher wasn’t done yet. He continued to stomp on the walker and finally jump on him with all of his might.

Not wanting to look at the surely disgusting area where the walker’s head used to be, Christopher was about to continue onward when moans very close behind him prompted the man to literally leap out of harm’s way. Christopher turned around to see 2 walkers facing towards him. Christopher didn’t think that his previous strategy would work against more than one walker, and even if it did, he wouldn’t have enough time before more walkers showed up. Now would be a good time to run. Christopher bolted for the door leading to the ladder at a speed even a professional track runner would be impressed by. Once inside he slammed the door shut and was pleased to discover it had a lock. Right before the walkers busted through, he locked the door.

After that little encounter Christopher took a moment to catch his breath. He didn’t expect that little adventure to tire him out so quickly. I’m getting old, He thought to himself. The statement was not thought with bitterness or anger; merely a statement of fact. He wondered about the walker he had so brutally eliminated and pondered for a moment whether walkers feel pain. Despite everything, he didn’t hate the walkers. They were just animals following their instinct. Which was not to say he would complain if they were completely eliminated from the earth, nor would he forget the suffering they had caused. But he didn’t want them to suffer. What was the point? It wasn’t as if they would regret at the last moment their deeds, and it wasn’t as if killing them in a certain manner would help anyone. The best thing to do would be to survive.

He had rested long enough. The walkers moans’ were starting to gain in number, and if they broke through before Christopher escaped, he was dead. Christopher climbed up the ladder with haste, unlocked the ceiling door, (he had found the key and kept it in his pocket at all times) and opened it. It took his eyes a while to adjust to the sudden bright light of the sun, during which he finished climbing up. When his eyes successfully readjusted, he found himself looking at a surprised group of people. Hoping to break the ice, Christopher said, “Just so you know, there's a bunch of walkers downstairs. Say, are you looking for a group member? I may be old, but I can fix up cars, and the like, and I have experience shooting. Also, do you know what caused that huge explosion?”

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 1

Setting

Characters Present

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

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...

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Seven pairs of eyes set themselves upon the man who appeared seemingly out of nowhere, standing in a doorway that must have led down below into the building.

Niobe held up a hand and gestured to the others in the group. "You do not want to cross us right now," she insisted darkly, signaling for him to move away from the door and toward nearest outermost section of the roof. "Are you alone? We're searching you." She glanced back briefly at Carl and Jack, who immediately stepped forward to carry out her quick orders. She jogged ahead to the door from where the man had come in from and slammed it shut, in case there were indeed walkers that may have been making their way up to the roof, as he'd said.

"Ten bucks says that was a nuke," James drawled grittily, looking at his watch and staring northward.

Harper folded her arms across her chest, casting him a sidelong glance while facing the newcomer. "I'm not asking because I don't believe you," she started, "but I do want to know why you think it was a nuke. It could have been anything."

"That's right," he sighed resignedly. "What are you, maybe 30? You're too young to have seen old film reels about nuclear annihilation or sat under your desk in a bomb drill." He laughed out loud, mostly to himself. "You don't even know what the Cold War was. Well, maybe this old cat here could relate," he gestured toward the stranger, who cooperated with Carl and Jack in allowing them to search anything he had on him, "but anyway, that blast matched what they said would happen. A big, bright flash. A delayed blast. I learned how to count the distance between me and bombs while I was in Vietnam. Younger than you are, I might add." He turned his head back toward the north. "Don't forget the mushroom cloud. Which, you might recall, we saw. You can still see it, in fact." He gesticulated his hands anxiously toward the aforementioned cloud. "Gets worse and worse..." he muttered, trailing off.

There was a short silence that hung over the group as everyone exchanged glances. Harper pursed her lips and looked around. "Well, if that's the case, then what do we do?" she spelled out, as though detachedly and coldly reviewing their options. "The walkers are heading that way. If what this guy says is true, then this building is saturated with them and we can't go in through the door, there." Harper nodded toward the entrance the stranger had appeared at. Sure enough, the curious warbling of a couple of walkers echoed muffledly from the metal door.

Stevie peered down in the direction that two of the vehicles holding supplies had gone, spying them amidst the throng of undead piling northward, wandering in and around the entrance of the metro tunnel clearly labeled by the crooked signs close by. "There's enough room for almost all of us in those, just down there," she offered, waving and pointing down to the site. "I've got spare keys in my pocket." She shook her jacket by her side, keys jingling to confirm. "It'd be a tight squeeze, but we could do it."

"So, we'd have to go back down the steps," Harper said, turning from Stevie to the iron curling over the ledge connecting to the utility ladder they'd ascended to reach the roof, "back around the building, and get through the street, then pile into the vehicles?"

James shook his head. "I think it's better if we just go back through the building," he disagreed gruffly. "We don't know how much fuel is in those things, and we need to be under a roof, not on top of one." He looked toward the new man, who'd received a relieved nod of approval from both Jack and Carl after an extensive search. "What do you think? And what's your name, anyway?"

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Christopher Jones

Christopher followed all of the young black women’s requests. They were all reasonable, and the fact that the group hadn’t shot him on sight implied that they were the people he was looking for: The ones that still understood the importance of civility. While he was being searched by the two men, he took the time to observe some of the members of the group.

The first one he noticed was the black women, for obvious reasons. She acted tough, and he admired that in a person whether they were being true to themselves or not. It might’ve been because he was raised in a tough environment, but he felt that in difficult situations, one needed to show the toughest face they could. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The second person he noticed was one of the men searching him, the one without the glasses. For a reason he couldn't quite understand just yet, he got a bad vibe from him. He ignored it though, as it was crucial for survival that everyone was to get along. Christopher would keep an eye on him, just in case.

Christopher then noticed the man speaking up, the old one. Instantly, Christopher could feel a kinship with this man. Although he looked quite a bit older than Christopher, the ex-gang member was probably the closest to the man in age. Christopher sensed that he’d been looking for someone he could relate to, and even though Christopher and the old man came from very different worlds, the mechanic had a feeling they shared at least one thing in common: The desire to impart wisdom to the younger generation.

Christopher stopped his analyzing of the new group and listened to the old man’s words. At the mention of, “this old cat here could relate”, Christopher’s mind skipped back to his childhood.

By the time Christopher was born, the red scare of the 50’s was long since over, but the cold war’s last gasps were felt greatly during the 80’s, when Christopher was a teenager. The schools no longer taught the ineffectual “duck and cover” methods of the 50’s, but the threat of Communism was still very real. Maybe China…

No. There was no time for guessing what caused it and what it was. With his voice quieted, so as not to attract the walkers, Christopher said, “If it was a nuclear bomb, then we need to get out of here, and fast. Even if it wasn’t, there will be less walkers in a less populated area.”

Setting

Characters Present

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

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"Everything is just fine."

"Excuse me?"

Stevie continued to look toward the cloud climbing further into the sky, and then back at the intersection below. The horde almost looked like it was thinning and dissipating, at least to a point. The truck looked as though it was almost completely unsalvageable. At minimum, it wasn't meant to be driven. The metal frame of windshield and doors were twisted into a nearly unrecognizable state. Bloody handprints were splashed about messily on the scratched paint. No sign of anyone... no boots, no clothing, no recognizable trace of Thomas or the others. She turned her head to look at the two other cars down by the metro entrance. Just a few blocks away. This was totally doable.

"Everything is just fine," she repeated to the group, looking over her shoulder back at them as she rested her hands on the ledge. Maybe she said it more to convince herself of that. "We can make it. They're starting to slow down. This can totally work, if we hit it right." She turned around fully. "I've got the keys and it's my crazy idea. I'll go, myself."

"You're not going down there alone, Glasses," James barked. "We don't even know if it's a good idea or not."

"We just need to drive the cars over here, have everyone get in, and we're all right," she reassured him. "And, look, the first 24 hours after a bomb are the most dangerous." She pointed up at the heavy plume of debris surging up into the atmosphere, higher as higher as the minutes went by. "We need a roof over our heads. Even if it's a car roof."

"But you're still breathing outside air," he argued back.

Niobe released an exasperated, heaving sigh as she suddenly set off toward the ladder. "I'm not going through the building just to create more work," she grumbled loudly.

Carl clamored after her. "Hey, hey!" he called quickly, visibly panicking as she made her descent. "I really don't think you should-"

"Excuse me!" Stevie rang out in rushed politeness, working her way around him and grasping the handles of the ladder to make her way down. She looked at Carl, focusing on his face rather than becoming preoccupied with the long climb downward. Her fear of heights was paralyzing, but this was no time to allow the phobia to take over. She worked her feet down one rung at a time. "Can you guys maybe... find a way to distract them?" She kept going.

# # #

Niobe motioned for Stevie to stay still. Their steady meander toward the cars had been surprisingly easy, weaving between other dead vehicles and stepping about as quietly as possible. Carl's creative approach to distracting walkers must have been manifested into the shrieks of car alarms pealing out not far away; the few walkers who had indeed been in the street had begun to stumble toward the high-pitched din and allowed them a decent way to make a break for it.

She looked over her shoulder and studied the small woman. She wasn't sure about her yet... She certainly wasn't afraid of James, as she'd demonstrated. Considering the circumstances, a little bit of emotional distress was to be expected, of course, but she seemed to be all over the map. She and Carl had watched most of the dialogue unfold and had, for the most part, remained quiet, except for a few brief interludes. Yet, here she was, the only other person down on the ground, pistol in hand and keys to two vehicles in her pocket. Crazy or just headstrong, it didn't matter, as long as she was dedicated to reaching their destination.

Niobe turned her attention back to the street before her, and slowly slunk ahead. She waved her hand, beckoning Stevie to follow. At the end of their quiet dash, success--they'd reached the cars.

Stevie smiled as she brandished one set of keys and handed it to Niobe. She nodded as she unlocked the Mazda's driver door. The evidence of Schantz' severe nosebleed was indicated by the rusty pools on the upholstery and the iron'ish smell wafting about inside the confined space. Niobe nodded at her as she climbed into Nissan. The two quickly placed their keys in the ignition and thrummed the engines to life, preparing to pilot closer to the six left behind.

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 1

Setting

Characters Present

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

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...

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

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

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James shook his head as he peered over the edge of the roof while Harper stood next to him, staring intently through the rifle's scope as she followed the two women below as they snuck their way to the cars near the metro entrance. If any walkers were to pose a direct threat that Stevie or Niobe couldn't handle, she was ready to eliminate it herself from above.

"Shoulda gone through the building," he grumbled as he, too, watched them. "Woulda had a roof over our head and everything. This is ludicrous."

*CLUNK*

The top of the roof offered possibilities in terms of distracting walkers on the street. A few lawn chairs were scattered about, and a large cellophane-wrapped package of bricks sat near the door from where Christopher had come. Carl, Laura, and Jack gleefully lobbed bricks from the roof onto cars below, testing to see if they'd been outfitted with sensitive car alarms. Sure enough, a black Corvette began to shriek in protest at having been rattled by the unanticipated brick.

Carl pumped his fist and high-fived Laura enthusiastically. "Oh, yeah!" he cheered, a big grin instantly appearing on his face. "We shoot, we scoooore! Let's do it again!"

The three laughed as though Carl's joke was the funniest they'd heard in a long time. It probably was.

James rolled his eyes and turned back to Harper, who was still focused on the scene below. "Acting like a bunch of children," he gruffed bitterly. "Waste of time."

"Well, we are where we are," Harper sighed back, blinking and pulling her eye away from the scope momentarily to look at the older man directly. "You might be singing a different tune if this works."

"We could have just gone through the building like I'd said in the first place," he stubbornly ruffed, flexing his fingers and gripping the ledge distractedly. "Woulda been a lot simpler."

"Niobe said she didn't feel like creating more work for us by going through the building," Harper recounted, "and I'm pretty sure she meant she didn't feel like running into more walkers than necessary." She turned her focus back onto the street, then picked the rifle back up to her eye level. "Look. They made it."

The two watched as the silver and red vehicles slowly made their way toward their building, keeping quiet and inching along in order to avoid detection. A few walkers in the distance appeared to notice them and slowly bobbled and ambled toward them, but not quickly enough to put them in immediate danger.

"Hey! They did it!" Carl's voice boomed from behind. James and Harper jumped, startled by the sudden sound unexpectedly coming up so close behind them.

"Dammit, Carl!" James exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air.

Harper continued to look downward. "They sure did," she said flatly in an effort to hold back any premature excitement.

# # #

Both cars parked in front of the building, and both drivers peeked around in order to make sure it was safe to open their doors quietly.

Niobe paced toward Stevie. "Any reason why we didn't go into the alley, where the ladder is?" she asked quietly when she came within a few feet.

Stevie gestured to the entrance of the alley and shrugged. "It looks too narrow," she pointed out. "Let's just wave them down. And it'll be easier to get out of here this way."

Niobe stared at her for a brief moment, then walked past her toward the mouth of the alley. "Fine," she uttered as Stevie skittered after her. They jogged to the metal railing of the ladder, where Niobe turned toward her again. "After you," she permitted, waving a hand at the bottom rung.

Stevie gritted her teeth and looked up. "I'll slow you down," she said quickly. "I'll just wait here for you guys and show them the way. Mind asking your friend if he can bring my gun down with him?"

Niobe blinked, unsure of what to think. She sighed and began to palm her way up to the top. Stevie hung back on the ground, relieved that she didn't have to once again channel all her strength into not imagining herself falling and slipping. She stretched her arms above her head and glanced about. The silence was eerie... no cars, no passerby conversation, no airplaines, not even the sound of air conditioning churning from within a building. But silence also meant that nothing was coming her way.

And then it hit her. Niobe was well on her way back up to the roof and within sight, sure, but for the first time in a while, she was alone. Normally she relished the feeling of finally having a moment to herself. But not this time.

# # #

"So, where's your buddy?" James growled as Niobe took a moment to catch her breath after reaching the group's level.

"Down below," Niobe panted slightly, then took a deep breath and stood up straight. "She's down there. She said she'd help." She looked around at everyone and beckoned them toward the ladder. "I've got keys to one, she's got keys to the other. There's only enough room for maybe three in hers, five in mine."

"Shotgun!" Carl rang out cheerfully.

Niobe smirked and pitched her set of keys toward him. "After you, my friend."

His grin collapsed into a straight line. He and sheepishly looked at the ladder, then back to Niobe, then sighed as he slung a leg over the edge of the roof and began to slowly make his way down. "Y'know, I could just go last and still have shotgun," he commented as he disappeared over the other side.

Harper hid a laugh behind her hand as she stepped forward and followed suit. James, Christopher, then Jack came after, one by one, waiting until the previous person was at least safely halfway down the building before making their own climbs down, leaving Laura and Niobe up top by themselves. "Ready to roll?" Niobe asked.

Laura nodded. "I got it, you go ahead and I'll bring up the rear," she offered.

*THUD*

They darted their eyes at the door. Two snarling walkers burst from the metal barrier, taking less than a second to examine their possible prey before burling toward the two women. "Go!" Laura barked at Niobe, who vaulted over smoothly and began to make her way down. Laura pressed the backs of her legs against the inner wall of the rooftop and watched them come closer, peering back over her shoulder to ensure that Niobe was a safe distance down before she herself would descend. She then looked back at the walkers and felt her heart begin to pound.

# # #

"All ready?" Stevie asked Carl, James, and Christopher as they settled into the Nissan. She leaned through the open driver's side window and smiled at James and winked. He rolled his eyes and looked out his window on the right side of the vehicle. Stevie inwardly laughed. She loved it when she could just smile at anyone who had given her any ounce of a difficult time if it would cause them a moment of angst. A silly source of amusement at a time like this, but the plan had worked.

"Yep, just going to wait for our esteemed driver, then we ought to be hunky dory," Carl said as he buckled his seatbelt. He reached over to stick the keys in the ignition and switched the radio on, cruising through the channels. Static. Static. Static. And more static. He could have sworn he'd heard muffled voices on at least one setting--but the frequency sounded weak. Distant, maybe? "So, who wants to argue with me over what station we listen to?"

Stevie smiled and stood up straight and looked back toward Jack and Harper, who leaned against the Mazda, chatting quietly. She tilted her head in curiosity--Harper's face was tightly drawn, and even though she couldn't hear their conversation, she wondered what exactly it was that they were discussing.

Niobe dropped down, within view of the two vehicles, and motioned to the others frantically, trying not to shout and possibly draw in attention. She then pointed up at the ladder. Laura was about halfway down the side of the building and there were a couple of walkers clawing pointlessly up top. Suddenly, one of them heaved itself over the side and tumbled toward the ground. It all happened so fast--the walker fell directly onto Laura, sending her tumbling down with it. The two bodies hit the ground with a sick crunch. Stevie gasped and covered her hands with her mouth. James immediately opened his door and grasped the handle of his long knife purposefully as he sprinted toward the scene, pushing his physical limits considering his age. Jack and Niobe rushed after him instinctively. The others' faces went white as they witnessed the two bash in the skull of the offending walker before stooping down to take Laura's pulse. It didn't take long to figure out from their body language that Laura was gone.

A couple of distant guttural shouts curdled out from behind the vehicles. Harper and Stevie whirled their heads around just in time to see a sizable swarm heading toward them, and then another from the opposite side. They scrambled into the Mazda as Christopher shut the passenger door to his right, and Carl frantically pressed on the buttons on his own door to roll the driver's window up.

Harper looked at Stevie from her spot in the passenger seat, and watched her wince as the walkers began to swarm the cars. Soon they couldn't even see the Nissan through the thrashing mess of faces, hands, and teeth bashing onto the windows. The car rocked with the force the walkers pushed onto it from all sides. "Are you fucking kidding me?" Stevie breathed, hitting the locks on all the doors and gripping the steering wheel tightly, despite still being in "Park." She knew perfectly well that they were safe, but the sight was still incredibly disconcerting. No way to back up, no way to move forward.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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The car jerked from left to right, fists pounding on the exterior and groans waning muffledly through the glass and creaking metal. Harper clutched the shoulder strap of her seatbelt while Stevie continued to grip the steering wheel with tensed white knuckles.

"I can't see the other car," Harper muttered loudly, peering intently through the shifting series of faces outside. Suddenly the hard heel of a hand bunted like a rock against the glass, inches away from Harper's face. She let out a loud scream and leaned away from the window, backing into Stevie. She pulled Harper in and reached back for the handle of one of the fencing weapons. She yanked one forward and quickly bent the blade to point safely toward the cracking glass. Harper gripped the handle and pointed the weapon purposefully toward her feet.

"Just hang in there," Stevie said steadily, "we'll be okay, we just need to stay calm..." She trailed off, glancing around at the gray and green faces cramming noisily around them. She took a deep breath and kept her face still, trying hard to hide her panic.

Harper eased back into her seat and reached for the rifle, set on top of the boxes of ammo stacked in the back. She handed the epée to Stevie and pointed the gun ahead, preparing to shoot if necessary.

A loud horn sounded a short distance away, drawing the swarm away toward the origin of the sound. The two women held very still and sank down into their chairs. They watched as a yellow school bus pulled up in the middle of the street nearby, each window filling up with a face, arms, and firearm of some kind, targeting walkers and taking them down easily.

Harper turned to look back at the Nissan--still intact. She caught Carl's eye as he stared beyond the Mazda toward the bus, then followed the trail of a couple more straggling walkers as they went on. Niobe jogged by, accompanied by James with his machete. The old man enthusiastically chopped ahead, connecting with walkers' heads and sending them toppling down. He almost made it look easy.

Harper turned her head again and watched as Carl signaled something; Niobe beckoned widely with her arms. A small group of people with pistols raced out to the Nissan and pulled Carl and Christopher out, then ran them onto the bus. Harper let out a brief yelp when she felt the door behind her open--Jack stood there with the fire poker he'd been carrying around for days. "We're heading to the bus," he informed them, "Ni and Carl are saying they've met them, so we better go, now!"

"What about the ammo and everything in here?" Stevie asked, looking around. Would all that work have been for nothing, after all?

Jack shook his head. "Maybe we can come back," he offered carefully, "but for now, let's go!" As he offered Harper a hand to pull her from her seat, Stevie pulled a Sharpie from her coat pocket immediately after springing from her own side and began to scribble something on the driver's side window. She tossed the key under a floor mat, slammed the door shut, and darted toward the bus with the others. After everyone jumped inside and ducked into the faux-leather seats, the diesel engine roared to life as it propelled the group forward toward their next destination. Harper could have sworn that she saw Lauren struggling slowly after them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Christopher Jones Character Portrait: Silas Quinn Character Portrait: Patrick Dunn (NPC) Character Portrait: Eli Sharp (NPC)

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+ Niobe Kajja +


The nearest Capitol pulled the folding door shut as the bus rumbled to life, tearing forward across the littered street ahead. Harper, James, Stevie, Jack, and Christopher were all ushered towards the back of the bus by a few others as various weapons were thrust into their hands. They stepped into the open spots near the makeshift shuttered windows to help clear the sides of clinging walkers. A heavier-set woman rose from her seat near the back upon seeing the sudden strangers around her.

"Uhh-- excuse me?" she said loudly, waving at the driver through the front mirror.

Eli jerked the wheel to the left, his teeth clamped down on his lip as he fought with every muscle to not flip the bus. "They're friends," he shot back without taking his eyes off the road. Patrick held on tightly to the back of the driver's seat as he exchanged quick handshakes with Niobe and Carl. They held onto whatever they could to keep from falling over as the bus violently swerved through the streets. A small gaggle of walkers splattered across the front of the bus as Eli braced the wheel for impact.

"Wish we were meeting again under better conditions," Patrick said, disparagingly.

Niobe squeezed his shoulder, her face damp with sweat as she breathed quick and shallow breaths. "We're very-- thankful," she managed.

"Yeah, man--" Carl butted in, "We were in a pretty shitty spot back there."

Niobe turned to look towards the back of the bus where her friends were -- each of them involved in some activity amongst all the moving bodies. "Where's Silas?" she asked, noticing his absence.

"He's back at HQ," Patrick replied.

Eli shook his head, somehow having managed to listened to their little conversation despite the clusterfuck of a road he was navigating through. "Alright, Cobra Commander--" he teased. He glanced at Niobe in the large rearview mirror. "He means Amoeba. Y'know, the record store? We relocated there after the Capitol was hit."

Carl frowned. "We wondered what happened to you guys."

Patrick shrugged, glancing between the two of them -- until something took his focus past their shoulders. He shoved past them, walking towards the back of the bus. His gaze shot out the back window into the growing darkness of the night. "Eli!" he shouted back, pushing past some of the other passengers as he fought towards the front. "Eli-- the b-bus... it's gone." Everyone onboard lurched forward as Eli applied the brakes slowly, turning onto a side street.

"What the fuck, Speed Racer?" Jack shouted out from his spot near the window, drawing his head back in. Others around him did the same, wondering what was happening as well.

Eli stood from his seat to face the hushed crowd. "Where's the other bus?"

Muted voices and whispers bubbled up from the group as they pressed their faces against the windows, anxiously searching outside for any sign of their tandem vehicle.

"Oh, God..." somebody cried from deeper back in the bus. "C-Claire... Boone... Gus? They all made it right?"

"We can't stay sitting here!" another voice shouted out. Several others seemed to agree as the hype built inside the bus. Eli looked pleadingly at Patrick, but they both knew it before they said a word. There was no going back. Black ash had caked against the edges of the buses windows, a reminder of the ticking clock to get indoors -- lest they risk further... biological problems. Eli slid back into the driver seat and flipped the bus back into gear, lurching it forward. His white knuckles gripped the wheel as they dipped around the next corner, gunning for home.


* * *


"Once the gate's shut, you high-tail it indoors," Eli warned Patrick. "I'll back it up against the rear exit and come in that way, but you'll have to unlock the door for me from the inside." Patrick nodded his understanding and clasped the man's hand tightly as the last few passengers exited the bus and filed into Amoeba through the side exit as one of the Capitols held the door open. A makeshift, wire gate had been erected over one side of the alley -- wide enough for vehicles to move through, and fully retractable. A clever feat of engineering given the circumstances. Several of the Capitols helped the more injured members of their party inside as Harper, Jack and the others followed.

But it was Stevie who ended up coming in near to last. Her eyes adjusted to the light and met his, and their breath caught for just a moment. It wasn't love at first sight or anything like that -- but rather like the remembrance of a distant memory... as recent as it may have actually been. He walked towards the door with several other armed Capitols in tow to receive their injured allies, rolling up his sleeves as they approached and slowing to a stop and he recognized who he was was looking at.

"Stevie...?" the man's coarse voice asked -- disbelief in his eyes.

Silas knew this woman. And she knew him.

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 1

Setting

Characters Present

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

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...

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Christopher Jones Character Portrait: Silas Quinn Character Portrait: Patrick Dunn (NPC) Character Portrait: Eli Sharp (NPC)

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"Silas!" Stevie exclaimed as her tired brown eyes lit up with an almost joyous air of surprise. Without hesitation, she wove ahead through the others and half-sprinted to him and threw her arms around him in a tight hug. She looked up at him after letting go and blinked, her mouth creaking into a jubilant, open smile. This was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened. "Silas, it's... it's really good to see you."

# # #

Stevie examined the wood panel on the glass door of the entrance to the restaurant that Dean had raved so much about, insisting that they come out to Venice Beach for this occasion. He opened the door and paused to allow her to enter first, stepping ahead on gray wedge-heeled shoes toward the smiling hostess perched at a podium. Stevie reached a hand up to smooth back her long hair and returned the smile.

"Hi!" the woman greeted cheerfully, sizing the two up as they approached. "We don't have a table free until around 10."

Dean nodded and gestured slightly toward the sleek, wood-dressed dining room crowded with people. "Actually, we're here to join someone who might have showed up already," he warmly answered. He confidently strode ahead after gently tapping Stevie's shoulder to usher her along. "Oh, I just know he's already here," Dean assured her as his eyes scanned about, searching and searching. He brightened just seconds later, offering a hand to the far-shorter woman and leading her ahead. "I see him now."

"Dean!" As if on cue, a tall black man, impeccably dressed in a light gray vest with dark slacks and a scarlet-red tie. He smiled broadly at the blond man and expanded his long arms out to his sides. Stevie paced ahead slowly, allowing Dean to simply strike out ahead to embrace the man in a friendly, brief hug. Dean extended a hand toward the pretty woman—Silas' date, no doubt—seated on one of the benches at the table, and soon all three looked back toward Stevie. Dean patted a hand on her shoulders as she got closer, almost proudly beaming at the other man. "Dean, you didn't tell me she was so pretty!"

The man immediately stepped forward to greet her. Stevie placed a polite peck on his cheek as he bent down, and smiled at him after he drew himself back up to his full height. "Hi, Silas," she greeted sweetly, "I'm so thrilled to meet you. I've heard so many wonderful things."

Silas batted his hand and laughed teasingly. "All lies, I assure you," he answered with a grin, "I guarantee that that Pike's palace you live in is paid for by the money I fork over so that Dean can keep saying those nice things about me."

She laughed and shrugged. "Actually, we rehearsed it on the way over," she joked with a small smile, then turned her attention to Silas' date and greeted her. The very beautiful woman was clearly three drinks deep. At least. "Hi," she tested gingerly, smiling respectfully to gauge her comfort level, "I'm Stephanie."

"Oh, hiiiiiii!" the woman slurred. There was a grating, Kardashian-esque quality to her voice that instantly made Stevie want to burst into peals of laughter. "Oh, what a pretty name!" She craned her neck to look up at Silas from her spot on the bench. "Siiiiiiilas, you should have told me Stevie wasn't going to show up!"

Silas' brow furrowed in confusion. "Pardon?"

The woman took in a high-pitched sigh and gestured her head toward Stevie. "She just said her name's Stephanie!" she insisted. "Where's Stevie? Is she coming, too?"

Stevie didn't know how she managed to keep a straight face. She could feel Dean's amused expression directed at the side of her head, just waiting for her to turn and meet his eyes. She willed herself to just keep looking ahead—otherwise, the evening would have been cut short abruptly by an uncanny inability to control her laughter.

Silas blinked. "Deirdre, 'Stevie' is short for 'Stephanie,'" he gently corrected, managing a battle-tested smile.

The woman wrinkled her nose. "Oh, seriously?" she remarked. "I've never heard that before. Is he for real?" she asked Stevie after turning her eyes back to her.

Stevie managed a kind smile. "It's true," she said simply, shrugging her shoulders mildly, working hard to be as neutral as possible. "My mom's been calling me that since I was a baby. It kind of stuck."

Deirdre took a sip of her glass of wine. "Wow, I can't believe your mom calls you that!" her voice gritted out girlishly. "I would never name a kid 'Stevie.' No offense."

Stevie held her smile in order to mask her surprise. Silas blinked again and signaled toward the table with his hands, desperate to change the subject. "Let's eat!" he interjected cheerfully as he cleared his throat.

Dean stepped aside to allow Stevie to slide onto the bench across from Silas. The two quickly exchanged knowing glances. Stevie looked away and out a nearby window to compose herself after Dean crooked his eyebrow at her, and then back at the two across from her, allowing her laughter to manifest in another large smile. Dean picked up two menus from the table before him and handed one to Stevie. "Pretty much everything here is great," he commented as she read through it. "I'm sure even the tripe is good."

"Tripe?" Deirdre blurted out. "What's tripe?" She glanced down at her wine glass and blinked at the maroon lipstick smudged on the rim, then reached down into her large purse—a Palladino, by Stevie's estimation—and retrieved her lipstick and a compact mirror and proceeded to smear more pigment on her mouth, not without the assistance of her previous drinks.

"Tripe?" Dean parroted back, putting his menu down and glancing across the table at her. He propped his elbow up on the table and rested his chin in the palm of his hand. "Deirdre, you mean to tell me you've never had tripe?"

Deirdre blinked her long, caked eyelashes at the blond man. "Well, no, but what is it?" she asked, holding her lipstick up against her lips in mid-application, visibly intrigued.

Stevie could see Dean's eyes flash wildly. Uh oh. "Deirdre, it's amazing," he assured her. "My mom used to make it all the time growing up. I'm serious. My favorite meal growing up was tripe with a side of macaroni and cheese. I still ask her to make it for me when I visit my parents."

Silas took in a breath. "Dean—"

"But, what's it made of?" Deirdre persisted, putting her lipstick on the table, half-applied. Stevie turned her head to Dean to continue to suppress her laughter.

"It's only the best cut of chicken you could ever ask for," he said, doing well at feigning playful indignance. "Deirdre, you just haven't lived until you've had a plateful of tripe."

"Oh, my God, I had no idea that chicken was so good," Deirdre spoke wonderously, almost as though having some kind of an epiphany. She paused, then looked at Dean suspiciously. "But, you made it sound like you haven't eaten the tripe here before. Why not?"

"Because I just love the way my mom makes it," Dean answered earnestly without skipping a beat. "This traditional Danish recipe has been in my family for generations." Stevie saw Silas' stoic face waver just a little, not daring to look at Deirdre.

"Awwww, that's so sweet!" Deirdre chirped as she plucked her compact up from the table. She clicked it open and took one look at her messy lipstick and immediately snapped it shut. She pursed her lips and picked up her bag. "Excuse me," she offered quickly as she stood from the bench, "I'm headed to the little girls' room. Si, could you order me some tripe, please?" She started to prance away, almost giraffe-like on skyscraper heels, her perfectly-coordinated ensemble suddenly cursed under a cloud of ungainliness.

Stevie watched the woman walk away. As soon as Deirdre disappeared behind the hallway in the far corner of the restaurant leading to the ladies' room, she immediately looked over to Dean and thrust the heel of her hand out to punch him playfully on the shoulder. "Dean, you are such an asshole sometimes!" she offered hushedly but loud enough for Silas to hear, finally allowing herself a long-anticipated laugh. Dean bordered on giggling as he doubled over.

"So, why are you laughing?" he asked

"I'm not laughing!" she insisted, while, in fact, laughing.

"Si, I'm really glad that you brought Deirdre as entertainment to dinner," he managed between breaths. "You... you must have known I was going to completely die over this."

Silas laughed and rolled his eyes. "Oh, Deanie, I see you haven't changed a bit."

"'Deanie'?" Stevie repeated, "did you just call him... 'Deanie'?" Silas nodded with a grin. Stevie laughed through her nose and turned to Dean. "That's funny."

"Your man has always had a flair for the funny," Silas offered, "so he deserved a funny nickname when he came to work for me." He grinned and glanced at Dean. "A nickname perfect for a 22-year old twerp who walked into my office wearing boat shoes. Ten years ago."

Dean pointed to his feet. "And I'm still wearing them," he said smugly. A series of tonal chirps cheerfully extruded from his pocket. He to retrieve his phone, glanced at the screen, then back up at the two. "I better take this. Stevie, could you order me the bigoli with the chestnuts? I hate tripe with a burning passion," he added with a grin. He stood, planted a quick peck on the top of Stevie's head, and headed toward the door to take his call outside in the cool evening air.

Silas glanced across the table at Stevie and laughed. "And then there were two," he said, picking up his glass and taking a long sip. "It's nice to finally meet you."

Stevie nodded and smiled. "You too," she answered sweetly. She reached for her glass and took a sip of water. "Dean talks about you all the time."

His eyes seemed very kind. "Well, he's one of a kind. Good kid." Silas nodded as he glanced back down at his menu. "Should I really order her the tripe?" he asked sing-songedly, "I'm afraid she's going to be mad at me."

The brunette smoothed the skirt of her light blue dress and adjusted her yellow cardigan as she studied the menu again. "Well... there's polenta on the side, so..." she trailed off, wanting to stop in her tracks.

Silas peered across the table at her and laughed. "Go on. Just say it. We're practically old friends and I'm not going to judge."

Stevie pursed her lip, then smiled. "She might not know the difference," she finished. She relished the rare opportunity that she had a chance to be truly irreverent while talking to others. Normally she kept these sorts of observations close to the vest to avoid offending others. But there was something about Silas that told her that she didn't have to worry about what she said.

He let out a ring of laughter and shook his head. "Yeah, I know," he sighed.

"She's going to hurt her throat if she keeps talking like a little girl," Stevie offered with slight apprehension. But she was just dying to talk about it, all the same, now that she knew Silas had a sense of humor about it. "That's some serious vocal fry she's got going on, there."

"Vocal 'what'?"

"Vocal fry. You know when grown women talk like little girls?" She cleared her throat and offered her best imitation. "Like, seriously, listen to how much it must hurt to do this alllllll the tiiiiiime!" she abrasively half-growled, half-whined. Her throat stung like hot water was poured down it. She coughed mercilessly. "See, I can't... ugh, God, I just felt my IQ dip down to extraordinarily low levels."

Silas laughed again. "And you haven't even started drinking yet."

Stevie returned the laugh. "Oh, don't worry. After the week I've had, I'm ready to lose a few brain cells, myself. But the difference is that I have to work at it." She paused. Maybe she'd gone a little overboard. That didn't feel very good to say. "Well, if that's not a good first impression for me to make. I'm ridiculing your date to your face. Please forgive me. It's been a long week..."

Silas shrugged his shoulders. "And I'm not stopping you." He rose his glass to her in a mock toast, downing half the glass with a few deep gulps. Stevie joined him, easing the sudden silence between the two of them as a server placed four drinks on the table. There was an odd feeling of familiarity between the two, though they had heard more about each other than from each other at this point. Silas cleared his throat, resting his arms on the table nonchalantly. "So--how long are you in LA for?" he asked, grasping for a topic.

Stevie set her glass down, dabbing her lips dry with the back of her hand. "Just this week," she replied, "then we're heading for Seattle."

"Ahhh, Seattle!" Silas exclaimed, clasping his hands together. "Great city. I mean, I'm a Bears fan... but--"

"You're really gonna bring football up?" Stevie said with a wry smirk.

Silas raised his hands in the air, guiltily. "Mea culpa, mea culpa..."

She laughed. "No worries. I like football, but I get wrapped up. You don't want to see me go on about my team."

"Mmmm hmmm," he said in a friendly taunting manner, "I heard you're a Dallas fan. You poor thing. How the hell did that happen?" he asked, making it apparent that it was only friendly jabbing.

She shrugged. "That's not the first time I've heard someone say that," she said somewhat resignedly. She paused and sat up a little straighter, and softened her tone. "So... Dean's relieved that you're back. He was really worried about you."

Silas shifted slightly in his seat, adjusting his tie routinely. "I'm just--glad it was taken care of quickly," he began. "I have some court-mandated counseling and therapy for my part in things, but there was enough evidence to clear me from anything bad. I was very, uhh--fortunate, I guess." He scratched at his beard in contemplation. He certainly dodged a bullet, getting cleared of his charges. Every part of him hated the situation that he was put in... especially the fact that it was his own brother that put him in the sights. He took another sip of water. "Time to just bury my head in good music for a while I think," he said with a wide smile.

Stevie grinned at that, looking past his shoulder over at Dean, who had apparently decided to walk back into the restaurant to have his conversation -- leaning against a wall by the bathrooms talking animatedly with his hands. Deirdre came trotting past him, slightly stumbly in her unfortunate heels. Stevie had to quickly look away before she laughed too loudly. Silas noticed the expression on her face and picked up the cue instantly. He gripped the tablecloth playfully. "Doth she approacheth?" he growled frightfully. Stevie covered her mouth, nearly losing it as they both held back laughter. Deirdre wobbled over to them using Silas' shoulder to brace herself as she lowered back into her seat.

She fanned her face with one hand, dramatically. "The lines of women in this place, my God--it's like, like I need to use the restroom!" she complained, rolling her eyes. She reached across the table for a glass of water and took a huge sip. "Did you order yet?"

Silas shook his head. "We were waiting for you guys."

Deirdre set her bag down on the floor next to her adorned feet and lifted her hands up to drum her fingers on the table. "Shots!" she belted out as she leaned forward, "because it's NECESSARY!" Her own bag let out a little series of glittery-sounding noises. She bent over to grab her cell phone from her bag. The device was suddenly obscured by a flurry of fingers and shiny red fingernails, the enthusiasm suddenly transferred as she stared into the screen, her face frozen in concentration as it glowed in the light of the screen. Stevie nodded and shifted her eyes to Silas, who waved his hands.

"She'll be absorbed for a few minutes," he commented.

"What?" she responded distractedly, not lifting her eyes from her phone.

"See what I mean?" He shrugged at Stevie and then sighed deeply. He looked at his watch and scanned his eyes over the heads of other patrons in the restaurant. "Speaking of waiting... I'd better see that someone comes over to help us with that. You know what Dean wants?" Stevie nodded. He smiled and raised a hand, easily and charmingly obtaining the attention of a server who was all too willing to help.


# # #

One of the armed members of Silas' entourage nervously tensed, watching awkwardly while obviously preparing to raise weapons. "It's all right," Silas assured them as he raised a huge hand to calmly demonstrate his comfort level. "She's an old friend." He turned back to Stevie, then flicked his eyes up to quickly scan the small crowd of new faces. The one that would have been the most recognizable obviously wasn't there. He looked again at her, and she shrugged and averted her gaze to the floor. He felt his chest tug, and worked to try to cover his sudden sadness. Instead he patted her shoulder in a somewhat dry, consoling fashion. "We'll talk," he muttered to her under his breath. She nodded wordlessly and stepped back into the new group, not wanting to continue to risk being a distraction. She wondered what was going through his mind as she noticed a very cursory glint of sadness in his eyes.

Harper stepped ahead cautiously and nodded at the two. The armed companions this time raised their weapons at her. She jumped backwards, raising her hands and splaying her fingers. "Easy, easy!" she belted out grouchily. Stevie could see a strain in her expression that she hadn't seen the last time. Then again, maybe everyone's face now had something that was never there before... Harper looked to Carl and Niobe, then back at Silas. "There's no need for you to raise weapons if you're a friend."

"She's right," Silas continued, turning towards her. "Please. Put the guns down..."

Several of the Capitols slowly lowered their weapons, taking in the faces of the newcomers -- as equally worn down and frightened as they were, too. Silas pushed out from the crowd to shake Harper's hand. She reluctantly accepted, unsure of who this man was. His eyes broke off from hers to scan the rest of the group -- mostly unfamiliar, except for a couple more familiar faces.

"You might remember these two as well," Patrick mentioned, shrugging himself out of his vest.

Silas' eyes lit up again as he noticed Niobe and Carl. They stepped forwards from the group to greet him, nodding their thanks. "You made it," he said with relief. "I wondered about you guys after the bombs fell."

Niobe shook his hand. "Your people saved us," she began, "I've never seen so many walkers in one place."

Carl jumped in to shake his hand too. "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Eli and Patrick and the others," he admitted.

Silas brow furrowed as he suddenly noticed. "Speaking of the others..." he began, trailing off as he turned to Patrick. The young man's gaze fell to the floor, answering Silas' unmentioned question. "How far back?" he asked, running his hand over his face.

Patrick scratched his head. "They were with us until the last few blocks..."

"So they made it out of the Capitol? You're positive?"

A different girl spoke up from deeper in the crowd. "We have to go back for them. They won't survive the night out there like this..." Others around her nodded in agreement, heavy murmurs rippling amongst the crowd as Silas held up his hands to quiet them.

Harper looked at James and Jack, their eyes all betraying the same thoughts to one another. Their own friends were still trapped underground back in the tunnels, likely starved for food and supplies. Either that or part of the horde of walking dead roaming the nuclear streets of Los Angeles. Neither circumstance held much hope, but they certainly couldn't just leave their friends behind. That's what had happened with Calvin... and each day that passed proved to be one day less likely to find him. They couldn't surrender the rest of their friends so easily -- not when they needed each other the most.

"Some of our people are trapped out there too," Carl offered. "There was a, uhh-- accident."

He exchanged a glance with Niobe as they both thought about George. Wondering if he even made it back to the tunnels in the state he was in. And the rest of them?

"If you're going back for them, we want in--" Jack demanded, straightening his jacket.

Silas shook his head. "Not right now. Not with things the way are out there. With all this fallout, we'd risk a slower and far more painful death than the walkers would have afforded us."

Stevie turned to the rest of her group. "He's right, you guys. We're pretty much stuck here until things clear up outside."

"It'll give us a chance to regroup and patch up," Silas continued. Chatter immediately broke out amongst the group of survivors as Silas rose his booming voice over them to settle them down. "PLEASE! Please, everyone... we'll talk more at tonight's meeting. For now, let's get to our stations. Tend to the wounded. Somebody help Eli gas up the bus. Let's get our newcomers situated in the bunks on the west end by the classical music... and Stevie," he said, turning to the woman in glasses next to him, "maybe we can talk in my office?"

She nodded as Patrick helped the crowd disperse to their different duties. Jack pushed past him with some of the other tunnel survivors towards their bunks as others crossed paths, clearing the room. Harper and Stevie exchanged glances as she passed, following the others. Carl had his satellite phone in his hand, talking to a small group of Capitols over near one of the record towers by the checkout kiosk. Niobe walked with Patrick towards the back of the shop where the bus was parked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Christopher Jones Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC) Character Portrait: Silas Quinn

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.: Calvin Hawke :.


Dax rolled the Jeep to a stop alongside a couple of the others, their occupants spilling out of their ashy vehicles simultaneously as various figures unloaded crates and weapons out onto the pavement of the parking garage. The heaviest loads were carried by two men, while others grabbed what they could and rushed towards the stairwell to the adjacent apartment building.

Calvin watched through the dirty tinted windows as bodies blurred past in motion. He gritted his teeth, sinking lower into his seat as Oliver stowed his weapon in his waistband and reached for his bag down between his legs. "This is as far as we go," he mumbled, pulling the bag onto his lap and ripping the zipper open. His hand plunged inside sporadically pulling out a few ammo clips, his knife, and a few other random things before zipping the bag shut and tossing it back to Calvin. "There's enough gas in this thing to get you as far as you need to go... so you wait until the garage is clear -- and you get the hell outta here. You understand?"

Calvin slid the bag off of himself onto the seat next to him and looked up, catching Dax' eyes in the rearview mirror. "You guys are seriously going back in there with that guy?" he asked. "After all that you know he's capable of..."

"That's exactly why we have to go in there," Dax insisted, shakily. "You don't understand this man. You didn't see him when we were all still locked away." His eyes looked towards Oliver's. "He doesn't let things go..."

Calvin's eyes narrowed as he tried to comprehend their sudden irrationalities. When suddenly his mind lingered on something even more complexing. He leaned forwards, grabbing onto the back of the front two seats. "Were either of you with Sarah when she left?"

Dax fidgeted in his seat. "W-Well-- we walked her to the stairs out in the--"

"No," Oliver offered, quite bluntly. The notion had started to dawn on him now to. It was just like Bronson to have kept an ace up his sleeve. Nothing was beneath this man.

Dax turned to stare at him, then craned his neck back at Calvin. "What are you saying?" Calvin leaned back in his seat, rubbing his hands over his face while Dax was still left wondering. Oliver slammed his foot against the dashboard, cursing aloud.

"I have to know," Calvin muttered through strained breaths.

"I know you do," Oliver replied, defeatedly. Of course he understood. "I gotta know too," he admitted.

"I'd fucking love to know what the fuck you're fucking talking about..." Dax blathered, still eagerly wanting to know what was happening.

"If we're gonna do this, we're gonna play it out then--" Oliver ordered, straightening himself in his seat. "Open up the bag and grab those handcuffs and a shirt.

"What are we doing?" Dax asked again, becoming more annoyed by the second.

Oliver grabbed the shirt out of Calvin's hands as soon as he pulled it from the bag and began tearing a thick strip out of it using his knife. He looked up at Dax, knowingly.

"You remember Star Wars?"


* * *


Calvin marched front and center down the aisle, flanked on each shoulder by Dax and Oliver. Or at least that's who he assumed it was beside him. The makeshift blindfold had been fastened around his one good eye before they had left the Jeep, so he hadn't seen much. They had gone up at least 8 flights of stairs -- which had taken forever and was filled with countless stubbed toes, rolled ankles, and missed steps. More recently though, they had arrived on another flat surface. Carpeted. Hallways, based on the narrow lengthy turns.

"I think I hear him up here," Dax whispered over his shoulder. They continued along the corridor as the raucous shouts of the convicts rousting any squatters in the vicinity echoed throughout the halls. Vacant gunshots and loud thuds rattled off from the floors above. Calvin gingerly stepped across the cluttered floor towards where he hoped Bronson would be waiting. "This is it," Oliver said, motioning at the door to their right. "You still sure about this?"

Calvin swallowed. "I gotta see this through. If there's any chance she got out..."

"We'll find her." Oliver said, gripping Calvin's shoulder and nodding to Dax. "See you on the other side."

Dax pat him on the back as he ushered Calvin forward towards the door. Oliver grabbed the handle and the three of them passed through the threshold of the doorway. Calvin could already tell there were others inside, because whatever conversation they were having stopped as soon as he entered the room. Bronson's gravelly voice boomed out from the farthest corner.

"Well, I'll be damned..."

Oliver shoved Calvin to the center of the room, careful not to send him tumbling too hard. "Look what I found," he feigned. "Crawling around in the back of one of the Jeeps."

Bronson couldn't believe it. He walked over to Calvin, holding his hands in the air. "I do have to apologize, dear boy-- for having to leave you behind. I knew you'd be safe locked away in that room though. I wasn't gonna leave ya to no biters."

Calvin bit his tongue. "Gee... thanks."

"And now you're here..." Bronson said, pulling the blindfold up from Calvin's good eye. Light flooded back into his vision, even in the dingy and dimly lit apartment he discovered himself to be standing in. Several of Bronson's henchman, including Freddie-- the coward who had taken his eye, lingered around the edges of the room. They each rose to their feet as soon as the newcomers had crashed their party.

Calvin rubbed at his eye with his bound hands, readjusting his sight. "I am," he replied, maybe a bit too defiantly. "I could've left. I should have...."

"Then why'd you come back, Calvin...?"

His question hung in the air for awhile as the other shifted in the silence.

"Don't I have a debt to settle?" Calvin said, mockingly.

Bronson shrugged, rubbing the scruff of his greyed beard. "I thought an eye for my guy made us square?" He turned and walked towards the edge of the room, tearing down the sheet draped over the window as it fell to the ground to reveal distorted blinds. "Since you're here though, maybe there is something you can do for me..."

"Haven't I given you enough?" Calvin sneered, tapping his hidden eye.

Bronson grinned, looking past him at Dax and Oliver who both struggled to hold his gaze. Even he could sense the odd vibe in the room. Other convicts stood idly by behind him, weapons dangling loosely in their hands. "This is about the girl-- isn't it?" he continued, kicking the sheet aside.

Calvin's eye widened as his breath caught in his throat. How could he have known? Calvin turned quickly to look at Oliver-- immediately realizing the trap he'd fallen into. That was the giveaway Bronson was looking for -- his eyes lingering on their exchange as he motioned to his surrounding men. They sprung into action, grabbing Oliver and Dax and dragging them out into the hallway in a flurry of arms and legs.

"They didn't have anything to do with this!" Calvin pleaded, struggling against the men who had come to restrain him.

"It doesn't matter," Bronson grunted. "They got too close to the girl, and now they're feeling sympathetic. That's when a person starts making the wrong types of decisions." Dax and Oliver's shouts echoed from further down the hall as Bronson's men began working them in.

"What did you do with her!?" Calvin growled. He wished he had dealt with this coward the second he got into the room. It was at the point now where the bastard was preemptively doing horrible things, just as collateral to protect his own ass.

"She's just fine," Bronson replied. "Or at least she was the last time I saw her..."

"If you've done anything to her, I swear to God--"

"Relax, cowboy. She'll be alright, so long as you continue to cooperate for just a little while longer. I'm gonna need one last favor from you, and then we're square." Bronson turned and ripped the last of the mangled plastic blinds off of the window next to him, revealing the distinct form of a charred building through the falling ashy haze -- its burnt facade only a silhouette in the blackening night. "It's amazing what people will do to protect what they love..." he said-- salivating at the thought as he gazed upon the Capitol, salaciously.


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


Niobe found herself embedded in a room full of smells and senses she'd long been missing. Accompanied of course with the unfortunate whirring grind of a number of running generators, powering portable electric stovetops, microwaves, lighting, and other such fixtures. Steam coated the ceiling as boiling pots and trays of food were shuffled around the makeshift kitchen in a hurry. All it really was though was a converted back office outside the commons. The tiled floor made it an excellent candidate for the chef and others to setup shop since they wouldn't be dealing with the carpeting.

She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder from behind. "Grab and go. Otherwise you might get trampled," Patrick said, handing her a plate from a shelf nearby as Niobe snapped from her food daze. She hadn't seen this much goodness in over a week. Not knowing where to start, she wandered over to the longer portion of the table where several trays of vegetables and meats were organized waiting to go out to the commons.

"Coming back to the kitchen like this-- isn't that kind've like cutting?" Niobe asked, dryly. She grabbed a large spoon from the table and dug into the buttery mashed potatoes in front of her, dropping a large dollop on her plate.

Eli fell in beside her, heading for the greens first. "We're staff. We were busting our asses gassing up that bus." He said, flashing a toothy grin as he piled a heap of vegetables onto his plate.

"Can you not talk about asses and gas, please. Seems a little pre-mature considering we haven't stuffed our faces full of all this food yet..." Patrick added, childishly.

A large pot of some kind of pasta was suddenly dropped right center on the table by a broad-shouldered man in a fedora. "Oodles of noodles, mates--" he chimed, tossing the lid off to the side and stuffing a pasta ladle in the pot. A half-burnt cigar tumbled around his mouth as he wiped his hands on his apron and held one out to Niobe stiffly. "And what's your name, love?"

Niobe rose one eyebrow, grasping his hand firmly. "Niobe."

The man spoke quickly, as if the greeting was something he had to get out of the way. But he held her gaze as firmly as their grip. "Gorgeous name-- beautiful. I love dark meat. Let me know how the potatoes turn out, eh?" And like that, he was off.

Niobe was slightly stunned. "Uhh-- who was that?"

Eli and Patrick both chuckled to themselves, apparently more used to the stranger's antics than she. "That's Lou," Patrick confessed. "He's the Cook."

"He always that strange?"

"Think of it as eccentric and be thankful he's a good cook," Patrick advised, giving her a hard pat on the back. She shook her head as she followed the two of them towards the back of office. The door swung open to reveal another hallway. Random stragglers filtered into the commons area where boxes and crates had been pushed together to create small clusters of tables around the floor. Others sat in small groups on the floor or ate on their cots. The heavy din of conversation washed over Niobe as she followed Eli and Patrick through the arched doorway. She figured there had to be somewhere upwards of 60 or so people all collected together-- but it seemed like so many more. The space, though convenient, was not necessarily built to accommodate so many people for such a long period of time.

A hand stuck out of the crowd, waving high and wide trying to get Niobe's attention-- which it had. The arm belonged to Carl, who sat in a circle of cots around a table with Harper, James, and Christopher. The two old men were engaged in conversation over some talking point, but Harper sat hunched over her barely-touched plate of food, resting her chin on one hand as she stirred at the food vacantly. Niobe split from Patrick and Eli to join her friends and crossed over towards them.

"There you are," Carl crowed as she neared their table. She leaned over to set her plate down and lunged over the cot to take the open seat. "We were wondering what happened to you."

Niobe brushed her hands off on her pant legs. "I was helping Eli and Patrick work on the bus," she replied, not really feeling like she had to explain.

"Those the two that picked us up?" James cut in, switching conversations.

Niobe nodded, grabbing her fork and digging into her food with one huge bite.

"You sure warmed up to these folks quickly..." he finished, his voice ripe with judgement.

Niobe gulped down her first bite with some water and wiped her mouth. "They saved our lives, James... have some respect."

"This seems like a good place to stay if we have to," Carl reasoned, pushing his already empty plate aside. "They're good people."

"What do you mean stay?" James barked from across the table. "As soon as this dust clears, we gotta get out of here. This city is going to shit, frankly-- and I don't want to be inside it any longer than I have to."

Harper sat up, rubbing her temples. "Don't you think that's a decision we should be making as a group?" she said, voicing her concerns aloud.

James scoffed. "I'd think we would all have the common sense to see that everything bad that has happened to us has happened because we're still in this giant goddamned city. The bombings, the nuke, all these walkers... we need to distance ourselves from this place fast. We'll have a better shot out there."

"Out where exactly?" Niobe asked, challengingly.

James shook his head, slumping back into his chair with his arms folded. "Anywhere but here..."

"We still have friends out there..." Carl said, mindfully. "We can't leave now-- even if we could."

"And why not?" James argued.

Harper turned to look at him incredulously. "Are you seriously this selfish?"

"Now c'mon you two--" Christopher interjected from the sidelines.

"It's a completely legitimate question. We don't owe anybody anything. Not even El Capital and his Capitols, or whatever the hell they wanna call themselves. All we owe is to ourselves-- to get out of this city while we still can. Do we really have time to waste sitting around waiting to find all these missing people when we don't know where they are or whether they're even alive?"

"We have to make the time," Harper said, resolutely. "We're all we have, James. Can't you see that? This is what it takes. This is humanity. What else is worth saving if we can't save our friends?"

Jack's bulky frame suddenly plopped down next to Carl as he vault onto the cot between him and Harper, unaware of the conversation he had just interrupted. He turned to Harper, handing her the coffee mug he had borrowed earlier. "Looked everywhere. Couldn't find any coffee."

Niobe laughed at the thought. "That would be heaven. You should go ask Lou in the kitchen. Nice guy..."

Jack's eyebrows peaked in interest. "Oh yeah?"

"Forget to grab yourself a plate?" James chided from his side of the table.

Jack looked around at the plates in front of everyone else. "Oh, I-- uhhh..." he began to bumble, gesturing over his shoulder.

***TING TING TING TING TING TING TING***

Silas rapped on his glass with the butt of his fork, silencing the grounds effortlessly as everyone settled into their seats and turned their attention towards the staircase where he stood alone. The soft sound of the generators poured out of the kitchen office behind him as he cleared his throat to speak.

"I, uhh-- never know how to start these kinds of speeches," he began, scratching his head. "This time last night there were many more of us... and we were thankful that we had been able to endure a week without a night like tonight." Others around the room nodded in silent agreement, lamenting the nights events together. "I want to welcome our newcomers. Strangers to our home, but brothers and sisters in loss." There was a collective murmur of welcome from scattered individuals. Carl gave a half-wave as the others at the table awkwardly looked around at one another. "For those of you haven't heard, the surviving bus stumbled across these individuals during their escape. Some of which we've met before..." Stevie suddenly came into view through the back hallway with her plate of food. She snuck along the back aisle as Silas continued, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. "We all know somebody who is lost out there... somewhere. And we all want to do something about that. I think we can all agree we feel the same way." Harper glanced over at James, who fiddled with his toothpick between his lips as he listened to Silas drone on about salvation. "But we have to do it in a way where nobody else gets hurt. We have to wait for the streets and skies to clear before we can search for the bus... there's no point making any needless risks."

The crowd broke out into hushed whispers as disagreements bubbled up from various corners of the room. "How do we know they'll last the night?" somebody shouted out from the back.

Silas shook his head. "We don't. But there's nothing we can do about it right now. If they're still alive now, then they will be in a few days when it's safe to go look for them."

"And what are we supposed to go after them with?" another voice cried out. "We fled the Capitol so quickly, most of our stuff was left behind..."

Silas rose his hand in the air trying to settle the crowd so everyone could talk at once. "One at a time, please-- I understand that a lot was left behind. That is what we are going to spend our idle time preparing for. One of our newcomers, Stevie, has been kind enough to offer up a couple vehicles worth of supplies in exchange for our assistance in providing them with their own search party to recover their losses. We welcome them... and their help... in these dire times. We have a lot of ground to cover, and more bodies now to get it all done. Detailed plans will be made in the following days so that we understand what our priorities are going into this, but for now-- rest, recover, and remember: we are survivors. We've made it this far. We'll make it further yet, OK?" Silas rose his plate into the air. "Now let's eat! Thank you for the dinner, Lou." The broad-shouldered man waved from his post near the hallway's arch, his never-ending cigar still cradled in his mouth. The crowd applauded his contribution as everyone returned to their place and dug in.

Stevie had just finally reached Carl and the others at the table as Silas spilled the unsettled news of their private conversation. James glared at her from his seat as she set her plate of food down on the table. "Sneakin' around makin' promises in the dark, are we?" he growled.

"James, cut it out--" Harper wheezed.

Stevie stammered slightly, adjusting her glasses with one hand. "I didn't mean to speak for anyone... I even told Silas th--"

"We just heard all about what you told Silas. What? It doesn't bother any of you that we've been here barely a couple hours and she's already making deals... deals involving us with this so-called leader? We don't know these people..." James balked.

Stevie sighed. "I know him better than I know any of you..." she remarked, scathingly. "And those vehicles? They weren't yours to bargain with anyways. They belonged to my people. The one's your people shot at. I wouldn't forget that..." she scooped her food back off of the table and marched off towards Silas and the others.

Carl tapped his foot nervously. "What the hell man? What's gotten into you?"

"Nobody seems to have their head on straight around here," James fumed, striking out from the table as well. Christopher watched him go as he took a big fat bite of corn, chewing complacently.

Harper buried her head in her hands, trying to rub away the pain mounting in her forehead. Jack pat her on the back and leaned in to her ear. "I managed to swipe a mostly full bottle in that coffee mug for when you need it..." he began. "But you really need to figure out a more long-term solution for this, Harper-- it's getting worse." She nodded quickly, waving him away. That was the last thing on her mind with these new problems at hand.

"I'll be right back," she muttered, forcing herself up out of her seat. She pulled her blanket down over her shoulders as she headed towards where Stevie stormed off to.

Niobe mopped up the last few bites of her food and stood as well, having had enough drama for one day. "Done there, hotshot?" she asked Carl in his haze.

His attention snapped back. "Huh? What? Oh-- yeah..." He got up to join her, grabbing his empty plate and following her back towards the kitchen, leaving Jack alone with Christopher.

"One big happy family..." Jack said, mockingly. Christopher simply smiled and nodded, taking another bite of green beans, genuinely unbothered by the goings on of the group around him. Their problems went far over his head-- too far to care about.

Jack sighed, watching his so-called friends disappear into the crowd in separate directions-- and he wondered for a moment if there was such a thing as true happiness left in this world anymore, or if everyday would be a different version of the same struggle. How could they ever be content again? The rest of the Capitols stuffed their faces and corralled in conversatjon and laughter as they ate -- seemingly oblivious to the nightmarish landscape just on the other side of those walls. Feigned normalcy. A true escape. It didn't seem to be enough anymore, Jack thought to himself.

Not while their friends were still out there.

In the distance, Carl jogged a few strides-- catching up with Niobe. "Things are getting really bad around here--" he said, solemnly-- glancing at some of the Capitols as the two of them weaved between tables towards the kitchen.

Niobe pressed on, not even looking over her shoulder at him. "We're all handling this shit in different ways, Carl. Some of us better than others." That was the truth of it after all.

Carl furrowed his brow. "And how are you handling it?" he asked, sincerely.

That stopped Niobe in his tracks. Nobody had asked her that yet. Hell-- she hadn't even asked it of herself. But she thought about it for only the slightest second, and she didn't like what she found. "We've got to tell them... y'know-- about what Silas told us about the infection," she whispered, drawing breath.

Carl adjusted his glasses, evasively. "I-I know, we just h-have to--"

"They have every right to know. It doesn't feel right keeping that from them. Silas and everyone else in this room knows the truth about infection... they'll find out eventually," Niobe reasoned.

Carl scoffed. "Were you sitting at the same table I was? That could be the end of us. Just one little secret could undo everything. As far as they're concerned-- what is there to know?"