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Freddy Kaufmann (NPC)

A sadistic stockbroker turned murderer.

0 · 411 views · located in Season 3

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


Freddy Kaufmann


 Name: Friedrich “Freddy” Kaufmann
 Portrayed By: Jonathon Young
 Profession: Stockbroker / Escaped Convict
 Age: 40
 Gender: Male
 Height/Weight: 6’0 / 171 pounds
 Nationality/Ethnicity: German / American
 Tattoos/Scars: Scar from appendicitis surgery
 Clothing/Outfit: Wears a prison-issued grey coveralls and a blue denim jacket.


 3 Strengths: Charismatic, Brilliant With Numbers, Strong Willed
 3 Flaws: Opportunist, Two-faced, Sadistic


 Fears: Staying in prison for the rest of his life, No longer able to have sex, Cats
 Aspirations:
 Dominant Emotion: Calculating
 Demeanor: Freddy appears as a likeable and honest man, but the phrase “looks are deceiving” can be fully applied to him. Underneath his charismatic demeanour hides a bit of a sociopath (never been tested), gaining a perverted pleasure from seeing other people struggle and in pain. He’s out for himself and has no problem burning bridges or stepping over corpses to get there, whether it be figuratively or literally. He will help you out when he thinks it is in his best interest, but always be careful around him. He will stab you in the back in a heartbeat.
 Quirks/Oddities: Likes the pick his teeth with a toothpick. A lot.
 Skills/Proficiencies: Math, Finances, Fluent in German and Spanish, Handguns, Running, Climbing, Diplomacy (if he wants to), Womanizer (arguable whether that’s a skill or not)


 Two handguns
 A pack of cards
 A small case with toothpicks


 Born to a German father and an American mother in Portland
 Oldest of four brothers
 Gets girl pregnant at 16. Does not get involved with child.
 Studies economics and business administration. Graduates cum laud
 Becomes stockbroker and is quite successful
 Arrested at age 32 for insider trading and fraud
 Released at age 39 on probation
 Murders the man who had got him arrested
 Arrested at age 40 for the murder
 Meets Bronson and becomes part of his gang

So begins...

Freddy Kaufmann (NPC)'s Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC) Character Portrait:
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.: Calvin Hawke :.

Three men had been summoned into the walk-in freezer by Bronson. Two of them dragged Oliver out of the room by his legs, his jacket flaring up behind him as he slid across the metal floor. He was still out cold, and Bronson wanted to keep him that way so the kid would keep out of his hair. He'd hate to have to do something drastic. Bronson pulled the third man into the corner, slinging his arm around his shoulders as he brought him in close. Calvin watched them converse privately from his position on the floor, handcuffed to the metal rack of shelves behind him. Calvin had spit in Bronson's face earlier, forcing his other arm to be handcuffed to the rack -- completing the crucifix-like image, if that as even what the deranged lunatic was going for. The muted thuds of bombs dropping all across the city could be felt in his fingers and toes as the entire metal room shook with each boom. He squirmed on the floor, trying to adjust himself more comfortably, but the cuffs cut into his wrists every time he attempted to turn his body.

Bronson and his cohort broke from their huddle, and turned to him -- their eyes holding a suspicious quality. The revered "Warden" kneeled down at Calvin's side and smoothed out the beard around his lips with a couple careful strokes.

"So," Bronson began, "it has occurred to me that having ordered your sentence, it would be unfair of me to also be the one to carry it out... so I've brought in a man who's work I could not recommend anymore highly."

The man in the background grinned over his folded arms. "Shucks, Boss. That's awfully kind of you," he replied schmoozingly.

"You'll be in good hands," Bronson assured him, slapping Calvin on the face playfully. Calvin flinched away from his hands -- the dirty paws of an uncertain man. Bronson chuckled softly as he stood up to leave. "I gotta go deal with Oliver and find this new doctor of ours," he said to the other man. "I'll let her know to expect a patient soon," he added, helping himself out of the room.

The door closed behind him, clicking as it shut. A heavy silence fell across the room as the inmate shrugged off his jacket and slumped it on top of the rack behind him. He rolled up his sleeves, whistling a little dirty to himself as if he were about to start a day of work and the sun was shining. Neither of those seemed to be the case, and Calvin couldn't help but feel even more off-put about the man.

He suddenly turned to Calvin and slapped his hand to his heart. "Ah shit," he cursed loudly, "where are my manners?" He held out his hand to Calvin. "I'm Freddy," he said, smiling. Calvin stared daggers at him. "Oh right, the uhh--" Freddy pulled back his hand, nodding at Calvin's handcuffs.

"Freddy Kreuger? Man, you're even uglier in person," Calvin muttered, diggingly. Freddy's eyes beamed as he laughed and nodded, the corners of his mouth taut as he held his smile.

"You have no idea how refreshing it is to see that you're just as entertaining in real life as you are in your movies," Freddy admitted, clapping his hands together. He noticed the change in Calvin's expression. "Oh, yeah. Don't think I didn't realize who you were when I came in here. A lot of the other guys are big fans of yours. They played a few of your flicks in the slammer. They'll be bummed out after they find out what we had to do to you...

Calvin gritted his teeth. "Glad to meet such a humbling fan," Calvin replied, gratingly.

"The honor's all mine," he teased. "Now that we've introduced ourselves, I'd like you to meet somebody else," Freddy said, digging into his pocket. He pulled out a small, seemingly hand-carved knife. The edges were crude and sloppy -- some sort of prison weapon no doubt. He held it up in the blue light of the freezer. "This... is Rosalind," he began, looking at the blade, inspecting it lovingly. "She's a cruel bitch once you get to know her. Stolen many hearts -- cause all the boys can't stay away from her." He inched a bit closer. "Rumor has it you have an eye for her..."

Calvin tensed up, the meaning behind those last few words gripping his heart like a metal vice. He had little time to react before Freddy lunged at his throat with his hand, grasping Calvin tightly around his jaw and forcing his head back against the rack. The skin of his neck pinched against the rail as Freddy forced the blade down into Calvin's right eye.

What followed was a mixture of blood-curdling screams, a sensation of burning metal piercing his cornea, a hot white flash and then darkness. First in the damaged eye, and then in both as Calvin slipped into unconsciousness. He heard the careful grunts of Freddy as he deftly maneuvered the knife, as if putting the final touch on a painting he had been working on for quite some time. Everything faded gently to black... and Calvin could have sworn that the last thing he heard as he drifted off was the hollow barking of a dog nearby...

* * *


.: 7 Days Later :.

Calvin's remaining eye snapped open as he jolted awake, beads of sweat resting effortlessly on his forehead. He had dreamt about that same horrific night several times over the passing week as he tossed and turned in his slumber. He rubbed the bad thoughts out of his good eye with the knuckle of his hand and gently felt for the edges of the bandage over his wound. Someone had already cleaned and wrapped it in a makeshift eyepatch with gauze, though a glance down at his shirt showed the bloody aftermath of what had been done to him. He didn't remember anything after he blacked out. They must have had some sort of doctor look at him. He felt around with his fingertips, admittedly still sore around his eye socket from earlier. Looking around, he gathered his bearings enough to sit up on the table -- realizing that he was in a totally different room from before. He could faintly hear some movement and chatter from outside in the hallway, and Calvin struggled to his feet to lean his ear to the door, but his wrist was yanked back by the handcuffs restraining him to the bed. He cursed under his breath, straining his ears to hear the muffled voices outside.

After a brief exchange that he couldn't hear the details of, the lock on the door clicked, and the handle began to turn. Calvin whisked himself back onto the bed, covering himself back up with the woolen blanket in an effort to appear asleep. A cringing creak of rusted metal signaled their entrance, and the door slammed behind them -- the lock clicking back into place. Calvin stayed as still as he could under the covers as he heard their footsteps circle the room. They something metal down on the table nearby, and then stayed silent. Calvin could feel their eyes on him.

"Calvin...?" His heart stopped at the sound of the voice. It belonged to a girl. A girl he knew... a girl he had feared was dead. He slowly rolled over, abandoning his charade of being asleep. His eye welled up with tears as he looked upon the last person he ever expected to see alive...

"How about that lunch you owed me?" Sarah said with a smile, gesturing at the tray of food she had brought in. Tears ran down her cheek as she stared at her long lost brother -- finally found, but not found whole.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC) Character Portrait:
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# Sarah Hawke #

Sarah slurped the last bit of noodle out of what was only luke-warm spaghetti after so many minutes of catching up with her brother. They had barely talked about what had happened since they'd seen each other, instead reminiscing about happier times together. Calvin took a long sip of water and placed his mug back down on the side table. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and flung his legs over the edge of his bed, wondering just how in the world it came to be that he was sitting underground across from his should-be-could-be-dead sister, eating cold pasta... a prisoner in a medical room.

A lot had changed in the last week.

Sarah sighed a deep sigh, full from all the food they had ate. It was the best she had felt since everything had turned to shit. Felt like they had never left each other's side. She always loved how no matter how long she went without seeing Calvin, they always fell right back in stride with one another. It was part of the reason they were closer than any of the other siblings. Calvin looked at his sister, adoringly. The muscles around his eye throbbed in pain as his tear ducts tried to work. It made his other eye water up enough for both of them.

"I don't know what to do anymore," he admitted softly to his sister. She put down her plate and came over to sit on the bed with him, licking her fingers clean as she sidled up next to him.

She wrapped her arms around him tightly and he hugged her back, closing his eye. "None of us do," she said, trying to reassure him. "Everybody's just trying to do their best. Unfortunately for some people that means doing their worst," she said, hinting at Bronson. Sarah's gaze dropped to the ground as she shook her head at the thought.

"I think about all of the things that have happened... that will happen." His thoughts were disconcerting. He had had enough time for reflection during his week of entrapment, drifting in and out of consciousness as they kept him sedated during the early stages of recovery. He had come to the conclusion that he may not be fit for this new world. Whatever that was supposed to mean for him in the moment... maybe it was the drugs talking.

But then he saw his sister -- and if he wasn't so sure he was lucid, he'd have thought her a hallucination. And he remembered what was worth surviving for... that feeling. That catharsis from knowing that there is somebody you'd fight for in this world who would also fight for you.

"Were you already down here when they brought me in?" Calvin asked, shaking his spiraling sentimentality from his thoughts. Sarah nodded, slowly. She sat up, looking him in the eyes as the memory of that night played again in her mind...

* * *

...7 Days Prior...

Sarah rubbed her hands back and forth together as she tried to get the gravel off of her palms. She had stumbled more than a few times in their rush for cover and her palms were worn and bloodied. She wiped them on the front of her pants, trying to brush the pain off as well. Dax sat on an egg crate nearby, dumping the rocks from his shoes. Dust and debris was showering down upon them during their escape, leeching onto their clothes and hair.

"Thank you," Sarah managed, as soon as the silence set in, "for helping me. I saw Oliver go into that room with--"

"Don't you worry about Oliver. He's a tough guy. There's a reason he's made it this far," Dax assured her. He scratched at his beard as he broke eye contact with her as she smiled at him, thankful for his comforting words. It wouldn't have been so hard if he didn't find her to be so darned pretty. He opened his mouth to say something else, but the heavy sound of footsteps stormed towards them in the hallway outside. The door to their room was yanked open, and a tall skinny man, riddled with tattoos stepped through the frame to face them.

"There you are," he growled at Sarah, taking a few steps towards her. Dax jumped to his feet, curling his fist into a ball.

"The hell do you want, Raphael?" Dax barked back at him, stepping in front of Sarah. The two flared their chests at one another like a couple of proud birds. Sarah couldn't help but be slightly amused as she covered her mouth, curious as to whether or not she was about to see a fist fight.

Raphael flipped Dax the bird, playfully. "Warden wants to see the girl. She's... needed," he finished, creepily looking her up and down. Sarah averted her eyes and covered herself up more -- shuddering at the feel of his eyes on her. Her mind raced as she wondered what Bronson wanted with her. Only bad news seemed to come from a man like him.

Dax frowned. "Fine, but I'm coming with her.

Raphael shook his head, clicking his tongue. "The girl only. Them's my orders."

Dax ignored him, looking at Sarah instead and taking her by the hand. "I'm walking you," he said loud enough for Raphael to hear. He turned back to the man with a 'fuck you' look. "Where is he?"

* * *

Charlie's barks echoed through the hallway as he stood planted, facing the freezer door. His tail waved bag and forth in a kinetic frenzy as he howled at the door. Sarah pulled on Dax's arm, as he noticed the dog too. For the last couple minutes they had been relying on each other equally for support as they dragged their wearied bodies down the halls following Raphael to the Warden's summoning.

"Do you hear that?" Sarah asked, referring to the muffled shouts behind the freezer door. Whoever was inside sounded like they were in tremendous pain, and Sarah's heartbeat quickened as the sudden thought hit her that it might be Oliver. Dax tugged Sarah along, continuing around the corner after Raphael.

"Bronson won't want to wait... c'mon," Dax insisted, quietly. Sarah took one last glance over her shoulder at the dog, wondering whether he knew something she didn't. That small thought disappeared along with the dog as Sarah slipped out of view around the corner. After a few more twists and turns, they finally arrived at something that resembled a medical bay. There were three beds, neatly laid out with fresh sidetables on a white tiled floor. On the center bed, Bronson sat in his torn denim vest and matted blue prisoner's coveralls. The last third of a cigarette lingered restlessly in his fingers and he drummed his other hand against his shin in an improvised rhythmic pattern.

"You shouldn't smoke in here," Sarah remarked, icily. The mere thought that this man had hurt Oliver made her blood boil. Whoever he thought he was, he was majorly suffering from some sort of God complex -- what with all the "Warden" garbage and everything. Bronson turned to her, an amused expression widening across his face. He loved a girl with some spirit in her. The cigarette fell to the ground beneath his loosened fingers and he stamped it out with the heel of his leather boot as he stood up to greet her. He spit in his hand and slicked back his wild hair before offering the very same hand to Sarah. She looked him dead in the eye and spit into her own hand, grasping his with as much strength as she could muster. His grip was admittedly tighter as their handshake lingered a moment longer than Sarah wished. She doubted the bones in her hand were all still in their proper places.

"I've heard a lot about you," he began, scratching at his head. "I really do appreciate you fixin' up my boys. He gestured at Dax and his stitched leg. Bronson beamed his million dollar smile. "As promised, you can take whatever you'd like back with you as per your and Oliver's agreement."

Sarah's eyes narrowed slightly, waiting for the catch. A man like this had to have at least a few. "Good," she muttered, resistant to give the man an ounce of gratitude. She had done far more for him than he had for her.

Bronson grinned again, seeing all of this play out in her eyes. Her emotions weren't necessarily buried deep. "Before you go though, there is one more patient I'm gonna need you to take a look at. If it were anything less serious, I'd have us take care of it ourselves... but this one's gonna be a doozy," he said with disturbing excitement bubbling up in his voice.

Sarah's cheeks flushed as she thought again of Oliver. "What did you do to him?"

Bronson cocked his head slightly. "Who?"


"Oh, that kid? Big Blue's fine. I only gave him a couple knocks. I needed his attention," Bronson said, his tone suggesting that his actions were entirely reasonable. "And guess what? I got it."

Raphael and Dax shifted uncomfortably near their spots by the door. Either one of them knew it could just as easily been one of them in that same situation. Treading lightly seemed to be the only course of action under this roof. Some commotion broke off from outside down the hallway as another bomb hit the surface above with a loud --


"As for the other guy..." Bronson's eyes lit up, suddenly remembering what was coming. "Well... what I need you to do now, darlin', is go gather your tools and get ready to receive your patient. Time's gonna be of the essence on this one, OK? Can't have this one dyin' on me." Sarah felt Dax's hand on her shoulder, pulling her back towards the door. She started to back up as Bronson fished another cigarette out of his jacket pocket and popped it into his mouth. He met Sarah's eyes as she was ushered out of the room. "I'll light up outside and let this place air out," he offered, as if he was doing her a favor. Sarah could still hear Charlie's distant barks as she was whisked out of the room.

* * *

Dax had offered to carry the tray of medical tools so that Sarah could carry some of the more fragile equipment herself. They rounded the corner and found themselves face-to-face with Raphael and another man, standing guard outside the medical room. He reached behind him with his hand and rapped his knuckles against the door a couple times.

Bronson's muffled voice sounded from within. "Send her in," he ordered. Dax looked to Sarah, and she nodded her consent, placing her tools on the tray and taking the whole thing from Dax's hands.

"I'll stay close," he said, kindly. She smiled at him and turned towards the door, ready to enter. Raphael rolled his eyes as he opened the door and let her in.

Bronson was in an office chair near the bed with the patient. Another man with heavy stubble on his face loomed in the corner behind the bed, biting his nails with calculated precision. Without saying a word, Bronson waved for Sarah to come closer. She inched forward a few steps, trying to keep the try steady as she felt her hands begin to shake. An injured man laid motionlessly across the table in some state of unconsciousness. A blood-soaked towel had been hastily applied to his face to stem the bleeding, but it hadn't stopped the blood from getting all over his clothes... not to mention all over the man in the corner's clothes too. She figured he fancied himself some kind of surgeon from what she feared lied beneath the bloodied towel. Sarah had been so preoccupied with taking in her surroundings that she hadn't noticed that the patient was practically within arms reach... and each step closer to the bed moved her one step closer to a massive revelation...

Her jaw, along with her tools, fell to the floor -- some of the latter shattering as the metal tray clanged loudly against the tile. Bronson jumped back in his seat, slapping his leg with laughter. "And I thought I overreacted when I realized who it was!" he shouted out.

She was looking at her brother--

Or at least what was left of him...

The setting changes from Season 2 to Season 3


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Freddy Kaufmann (NPC)
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The Warden

A pair of brown snakeskin boots rested lazily propped up atop a pile of old books-- thrown to the floor days prior no doubt to free the bookcase up to use as a barricade elsewhere. A thick wisp of smoke curled above Bronson’s head towards the ceiling-- his eyes fixated on a dormant ceiling fan. The room might has well have been spinning though. Nothing ever seemed to go as planned these days. A plan set in motion would derail, deroute, or detour. But that was his job. To keep things on track. In motion.

The door was thrown open shortly after as Kaufman barged in, slamming the door shut behind him. Bronson closed his eyes, averted to the sudden but inevitable disturbance. The gunshots had fired minutes ago, and then ceased as quickly as they began. He knew the situation had been handled, one way or another. Things like that didn’t become important until they became important. This was why he kept people like Freddy around.

The shifty man stopped a few steps short of Bronson and folded his arms, bowing his head in thought. ”It’s nothing we weren’t expecting,” he prefaced, rubbing at the stubble on his face.

Bronson grinned. He was expecting some kind of attempt like this. Not nearly so soon though. ”Which one was it?” he asked, mumbling out of the corner of his mouth as he held the cigar tightly with the other half. Bits of ashed dusted down across his jacket as it rolled around his lips.

”It was Dax. Took Wallace down with him too-- poor bastard,” Freddy began. ”Idiot went down to take a piss alone and caught the bastard sneaking a peek at the transfer. He was, uhh-- shot… so he came back after awhile-- before our guys got there. Santos.... Chance… they went down too.”

Bronson sighed, brushing his long grayed hair back with a stroke of his hand. More men lost. Between accidental deaths and turncoats, his numbers were dwindling-- and fast. He straightened himself in his chair as more books toppled onto the floor beneath his shifting feet. ”And we’re certain he saw the girl?” he asked, warily. The question itself was rhetorical. He knew there was no way to prove it, and besides-- what Dax saw didn’t matter. Parading the girl across the blacktop so blatantly like that wasn’t for him.

”It’s too much of a coincidence. He had to have seen her…” Freddy replied, assuredly. His fingers twitched at his sides, erratically. Bronson always sensed a controlled nervousness coursing through the man whenever they were in situations alone like this. He always found it funny. Another reason he kept him as close as he did.

”And you idiots killed him before he could report what he saw back to Mr. Hawke.” It wasn’t a question. It was the situation as it stood now. A wasted effort. And soon… a forgotten memory. ”There’s no time to fix this, we need to get him ready… now. Find out what he saw, and get him prepped.”

Freddy nodded and shuffled away towards the door without another word. Bronson stood and turned to face the window, stretching the morning aches and pains out of his joints as he reached towards the ceiling-- the trail of smoke following close behind him. ”And have someone clean Wally up for Christ’s sake…” he added as an afterthought.

# # #

# Sarah Hawke #

Sarah twiddled the fingers on her left hand idly, noticing a lack of sensation in them after having her limp wrist dangling above her at the angle it had for so long. She grabbed the railing with her other hand, pulling herself up to her feet to invert her circulation and get some blood flowing. The dizzyness set upon her almost immediately, causing her to waver a bit and clutch the railing even tighter. She felt her heartbeat in her white knuckles, one after the other-- somehow still stable… constant. That was all considering that she felt like the rest of her was falling apart.

The door swung open across the room, silhouetting Brooke’s frame as light poured in from outside and she entered. A bundle of drinks and snacks lined the nook of her arm as she closed the door behind her and crossed over to Sarah, setting the food before her. She stooped slowly, placing the items down gently. Sarah reacted, reaching out with both hands to help Brooke back up-- but her wrist was snapped back violently as the cuffs reached their limit and grew taut. Sarah rubbed at it sorely, wishing this part of the day could be over with already. She and Calvin were more alike than she had previously thought… both marred by their mutual incarcerations.

”I’m sorry I took so long…” Brooke began, brushing her fallen locks back behind her face. Her rosy cheeks heaved in and out with each calculated breath as Brooke kept everything calm and controlled. How she managed to keep it all together, considering, was a real mystery. But she was much more prone to exhaustion these days with her extra passenger. She stood back up, rubbing her stomach gently with her palm. ”We’ve had some… arrivals-- from outside,” she confessed with a bit of hesitation. There was the possibility that maybe Sarah knew these two kids… they were all about the same age, after all. Maybe they were the missing links as to what happened. But why come back if they had anything to do with what happened to the girl? Or the preacher, for that matter…

Brooke thought better than to ask any of these questions aloud while the poor girl was still recovering from her shock. She unscrewed the cap to one of the bottles of water and offered it to her. Sarah took it from her, thanking her with her eyes before guzzling down the first few sips, thirstily. She stooped her head as she gasped heavily, wiping the spare drips from her mouth with the back of her hand. Brooke stood a few paces back from her, playing with her hands-- unsure of how to proceed.

Sarah looked up with her baggy, bloodshot eyes and blinked at her-- aimlessly. ”Do you wanna talk…?” she asked, dryily.

Brooke’s gaze dropped to the ground, uncomfortably. ”Uhh, no-- I mean. Not unless-- do you?

Sarah brought the bottle back to her lips. ”I’m just fucking with you.”

Brooke stood, dumbfounded. This girl was hard to place. Without having known her before her accident, there was no way of telling whether her behavior was a result of the injury or if she was typically this odd. Whatever the case, she didn’t deserve to be held against her will any longer. How long could they possibly keep this up for?

”When’s your boss coming back?” Sarah posited, taking another swig from the bottle. She tipped her head back, gulping it down as she closed her eyes. It was the closest thing to bliss she was able to get, considering her circumstances. Every drop mattered.

”Val isn’t anyone’s boss,” Brooke shot back with perhaps a bit too much edge. Sarah rose her eyebrows. There seemed to be a story there somewhere. The dynamic was unfolding. Whoever this shotcaller was, she’d apparently lost a litte love amongst the others somehow. She then realized that the truth in that didn’t bode well for her situation. It was possible that Brooke could be the only hope in helping champion her escape. Maybe instead of antagonizing her, she should appeal to her senses instead.

Sarah set the bottle down beside her and licked at her lips. ”Sorry,” she began, ”I didn’t mean anything--”

”Right,” Brooke replied, brushing her hands off on her pants. She adjusted her ponytail, cinching her red locks back from her face into a tighter bunch. ”Look, I’m sorry we did this to you. A few of us-- out there-- we tried to stop it… but considering your situation--” she continued, gesturing at Sarah’s bite, ”we didn’t want to take any chances.”

Sarah nodded. ”I don’t hold it against you…” she admitted, settling back into herself.

Brooke regarded the girl with quiet pity. There was only one way she could help her, but not without knowing something first. She braced her hands on her hips, looking at her feet as she cleared her throat-- then she looked Sarah straight in the eyes, a bit disconcertingly. ”What’s happening to you?”

”I wish I knew…” Sarah droned, sourly. ”I haven’t had a chance to really look at it. I have medical training, you know? I’m a nurse… and if I had my stuff--” she emphasized, raising her voice. Brooke glanced back in the corner of the room at Sarah’s duffle bag, draped half-way in a colorful palette made by the light beaming through the stained glass window high above.

”We already took the weapons out, just in case…” Brooke admitted, walking towards it slowly. ”I suppose there isn’t anything in there you shouldn’t have. I can’t uncuff you though,” she finished, her voice remaining firm. ”The key isn’t here...” She must have felt Sarah’s eyes rolling in the dark. ”Not my choice,” she added. Brooke crouched down, carefully grabbing the straps of the bag and beginning to drag it over to where Sarah was shackled. Her movements were graceful, even in her current state. There was some kind of unexplainable easiness to her movements, almost like she knew what she was going to do before she did it. A very calculated grace. It was the first thing Sarah had noticed about her.

”All I need’s my supplies and I can do it myself. I can do it properly… please--” Sarah peeled her tattered shirt away from her clavicle-- still sticky with bloody residue. It was looking worse every hour now. She grimaced as she leaned back, shaking her head. ”Who can I thank for the hackjob on my shoulder?”

”That was me,” Brooke replied, firmly-- her voice lilting just barely. She let the bag slump to the ground and blew her red locks away from her eyes, wondering if there was any use in saying anything else. Decided, she turned to leave. ”And you’re welcome… I guess.”

Sarah slouched deeper against the brick wall, heaving a deep sigh.

So much for appealing to her senses...

# # #

Brooke closed the door from the other side and leaned her arm and forehead against the wood. Her energy was fading by the second. It didn’t help that she was one of the very few competent ones left behind with the balls to do something about their situation. Somehow it always ended up falling on her to square things up. The pregnancy sure did come with some perks… certainly greater leverage, if anything. She looked over her shoulder at the sound of overlapping hushed whispers and saw Ari and Ezrael engaged in a very intense conversation over by the stairs to the cellar. Charlie licked at his chops on one of the benches near Sarah’s door, his ears perked up from the moment Brooke set foot outside the door. They thought it best to keep the two separated until they knew what Sarah’s true condition was.

Brooke used the backsides of the pews to steady herself as she walked towards the lot of them. Harry had joined the group from the other side of the door, closing it behind him as he rose his hands in front of him trying to settle the two neurotic bickering men.

”Gentleman, please--” he begged, trying to quiet them.

”What the hell are you two on about now?” Brooke bellowed, exasperated by just about…. well, everything.

Ari ruffled his jacket, trying to straighten it out-- his chest puffed out like some aggro’d rooster. ”This Saint over here thought it wise to let in a couple of strays.” he spat out, verbally accosting Harry.

”They’re just kids…” Harry reasoned, looking to Brooke. Surely she could understand that. ”And besides, they were here before us… with the Preacher. Before us. Before the girl…” He gestured behind all of them at the door, and Sarah.

Ezrael ran his hands through his hair. ”When they find out it was her that did it--” He shook his head at the possibility. ”How are we going to explain this?”

”Easy,” Brooke replied. ”We don’t. We don’t know what happened. We weren’t there. She’s the only one left who knows the whole story. Her and the dog…”

# # #

.: Fort Fallback :.

"Amoeba Music & Records"

’Mobile in ten minutes, everyone. Ten minutes. Scout teams meet in the garage in five to be delegated into your teams and briefed on your tasks. Everybody else… you know what your jobs are. Quinn out.’

His booming voice squawked out of all of the surrounding intercoms simultaneously, resounding throughout the massive floor of the record store.. Various Capitols bustled about on their tasks, many of them hauling crates of equipment towards the garage to help setup the vehicles. Others simply loitered around, but the tension in the air was palpable. They had all spent so much time trying to push the outside world away and keep things as normal as possible… but that was surely a lie. The truth was-- everyone and everything was in danger. No matter where you were. The ones lost out in the city had it worse, but they all had it bad. Niobe rubbed at her temples as she leaned against the hood of the bus-- it had been a long three days, considering everything they had been through. There had been countless hours of planning and coordination-- spearheaded by various camps in conjunction with Silas, Harper, Stevie, and others who had stepped up to help. She was beginning to get a sense of who really had a voice in a place like this. There were way more Capitols than she had originally alotted upon her first visit to the tower. For a moment, she wondered how many they had lost.

And how many they would find…

Niobe had managed to go wherever she was needed. Most of it involved working with Patrick and Eli and some of the others to rig up the buses and retrofit them to suit the purposes of their trip. The main bus had basically been converted into a mobile command center-- someplace Silas could direct the rescue from as well as a mutual fallback point for all parties. They reinforced the metal siding with aluminum plates, barred the windows-- setup with escape hatches on the top and floor of the bus. Built a table centerpiece with a map of the surrounding areas for his team to coordinate from. It actually felt nice to hold some familiar tools in her hands, she had thought. She couldn’t even remember the last time she got to use a welder. A second bus had also been procured in the days prior, to accomodate the amount of people should the best case scenario play out and everyone be rescued. At least then they’d be able to shuttle people back as needed. It was a pretty airtight plan-- the best they could hope for given the circumstances. Who knew what they'd find out there?

She suddenly realized then and there that she hadn't spent much time thinking about the departed-- aside from George on occasion. Sure, it was possible they managed to escape the walker herd-- perhaps back in the tunnels somewhere? Jessica knew the layout pretty well, and she had Rafiq with her to help look after the others. There were just so many of those things... it was a miracle anyone got out alive at all. Everything had just escalated so quickly.

Niobe noticed a black scuff mark on the hood of the bus and rubbed at it with the butt of her hand in a wide circular motion. The smear dissipated after a few passes and she quick wiped the residue off on her pant leg.

”I wouldn’t bother,” a strained voice called out from around the side of the bus. Patrick came struggling into view, lugging a large plastic crate towards the back. ”It’s just going to get dirty again…”

Niobe blinked slowly. ”Need a hand with that?” she offered, dryly. She had more muscle on the kid by a mile. He did look surprisingly spry though, considering.

Patrick scoffed. ”I can carry a crate,” he chided, using his knee to help prop the box up as he adjusted his grip on it.

”What’s in there?”

”Uhh--” his eyes shot down to the crate, nervously. ”It’s-- it’s just gear. Equipment and stuff for the lead bus. We’re trying to prepare for every situation, you know?”

Niobe shrugged. ”Whatever you say…” A pair of Capitols wandered between them with a larger crate of their own towards the rear of the bus, nodding as they passed. Niobe saw them heave it into the a pair of waiting hands inside the back of the spare bus. Niobe turned back to Patrick, drumming her fingers on the yellow exterior of the vehicle. ”What’s this I hear about you not coming with us?”

Patrick’s eyes bulged a bit. Clearly that news wasn’t supposed to be in the public domain yet, but Niobe was persistent and Carl had a very, very weak constitution. He set the crate down at his feet, carefully-- and stood straight, shoving his hands into his pockets as he wandered closer. ”Yeah, about that--” he swallowed, looking over his shoulder to make sure they were alone. ”Silas asked me and a few others to look into something for him. We’re going to uhh-- go with you guys and take off from the same point.”

Niobe furrowed her brow. What was with the sudden audible? The plan had changed enough over the last few days. What they needed was a firm plan. Unwavering. ”So there’s three teams now?”

Patrick nodded. ”Seems so…”

”Is it really smart for us to all split up again? That’s what started this in the first place...”

”Believe me, if you knew what I knew--”

She crossed her arms suddenly. ”And when will I know what you know?”

Patrick looked around, hurriedly moving in closer in an effort to try to keep her from talking any louder. ”Look-- things are tense around here, OK. I wish I could tell you everything, but there’s a lot at stake. That’s as much as I can tell you… I’m sorry…”

Niobe squared up, pointing a finger in his chest. ”Whatever it was you were trying to tell me earlier, it sounds like you guys are gearing up to go to war. And I’m not convinced that’s something we want to throw ourselves in front of.”

”We just want to go home…” Patrick sighed, wearily. ”None of this has anything to do with us… it’s all bigger than that. We’re just the pawns. All we can do is just keep moving forward until we can’t anymore.”

Niobe toyed with one of her molars with the tip of her tongue. ”Or until you get your ass captured.”

Patrick hung his head, scratching it lackadaisically. He turned back around, crouching to hoist the crate back up and moving to pass around Niobe. Maybe she had been a bit too hard on him. She already had a difficult enough time warming up to any of the other Capitols without purposefully alienating anyone. Patrick and Eli had been two of the only ones who had made an effort to reach out and include her in things. Maybe she owed them more than that.

”So in this analogy,” she called out over her shoulder, turning to face him. ”Shouldn’t we be going for the King?”

Patrick halted in his tracks and knowingly met her gaze. She understood more than he believed.

# # #

"What the hell are you doing?" James coughed out, a half-spent cigar dangling out of the corner of his mouth.

Carl looked up from his seat on the bus, his hands clasped around his satellite phone. Other Capitols hustled about around the bus, loading the side holds with cargo, weapons and gear. A handful of people worked under the hood in the front while the driver responded to commands, testing the shift stick and other components of the vehicle. These people were covering their bases, checking everything, taking all of the precautionary measures they could...

So why did he feel like he was going to throw up?

"I'm, uhh--" he swallowed a heavy gulp-- to maybe help the room stop spinning. Nope. Next idea?

"What's wrong with you? Why are ya just sittin' on yer ass in here?"

Carl closed his eyes, rubbing at his temples. "Can you just please? Can you not... He sighed, burying his face in his palms. "I just-- we were out there... we saw what it was like. How could any of them have survived that...?"

"We did," James grumbled. He dabbed the cigar on the leather of one of the seats, ashing onto the floor. "We've all survived worse things. What else is there to be scared of?"

"That's just who I am!" Carl rasped, throwing his hands up in the air. "I'm that guy! The fucking guy in all those platoon war movies who's hiding behind all the real soldier son his radio while they're actually putting their lives in danger and fighting on the front! I'm not a rescue guy... I don't go do rescues. I mean look at what we're up against!"

James grimaced. "We've got buses. They don't. You wanna be on the side with the buses... trust me." He clapped Carl a little too hard on the shoulder, spilling a little bit of ash from his cigar onto his sweatshirt. He walked past him, climbing out the back door of the bus. Carl brushed his shirt clean and turned towards the old man. "Hey, man-- why the church?"

"Cause I heard bells a ringin'..." James crooned.

"Are you fucking stoned?" Carl berated. "Why are you so calm about all of this?"

James flashed a smile of pearly whites. "Cause this is the world now, kid. Buck up." He took one long soothing drag of his cigar and gritted his teeth as he exhaled a thick curling cloud of white smoke. "Now get out here and make yourself useful." He turned, wandering off in a wispy hazy trail.

Carl could only shake his head, exhausted by it all. He scooped up his phone as he stood up from his seat and shuffled out the front down the few steps towards the pavement. He plopped down hard onto his feet causing his glasses to slide down his nose which he quickly remedied with his index finger.

"Easy there, Cowboy..." Jack's catty voice drawled from next to the folded door. Carl felt his heavy hand pat him hard against the back. What was with all the hitting anyways? "You alright?"

Carl shrugged, rolling his eyes. "I'm great..." he droned, sourly.

Jack squinted his eyes. "Well, listen-- I just wanted to say, before we left-- I know you and James are going on your little secret mission thing or whatever, but I wanted to ask if you'd keep an eye out for our friend, Calvin. He's out there too... we don't really know where..."


"Yeah, that movie star guy... Calvin Hawke. We were with him before all this and... well, things got dicey. But he took a bullet for me... and I owe it to him to find him."

Carl's eyes nearly burst out his head as he suddenly had an epiphany. C-Calvin! Hawke?! You mean Sarah's brother?"

Jack scrunched his forehead. "How do you know his sister?" Then his tone changed as his brow furrowed even further. "How do you know his sister...?"

Carl waved his hands in front of him. "No, no-- it's nothing like that. I mean, I suppose I would... she's pretty hot-- but, ew! No, I'd never-- Jeez... oh man, when she finds out he's alive, she's gonna freak!"

"We have to find them. Both of them. Pass it on to James when you see him," Jack insisted, clasping his hand on Carl's shoulder. He looked him straight in the eyes. "We're gonna find them..."

"FIVE MINUTES!! OUT IN FIVE!! Grab the last of your things, say your goodbyes-- this is it, ladies and gentleman! Meet on the floor in FIVE!!!" Silas' bombastic voice echoed out across the garage-- no longer with the same gravelly tin as from the loudspeakers, but rather in person-- as his large frame came bumbling past in haste. The last flurry of activity commenced as everyone made their last rites and prepared for sendoff. Carl, in all the chaos of the moment looked across the sea of faces for anyone he knew and saw no one-- suddenly feeling very alone...