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Kieran Adams

What kind of higher power would allow this to happen? Is this the end times?

0 · 367 views · located in Virginia

a character in “The Walking Dead: Survivor Chronicles”, as played by KJA

Description

Image

Name:
Kieran Adams

Nicknames:
Kay, Adams

Age:
30 approx.

Personality:
Before the outbreak Kieran was very outgoing and liked amongst his peers. Friendly, reliable and a good nature were traits commonly associated with him. This reflected well on his work both as a British paramedic and Virginian EMT, comforting and uplifting en route patients. For him the outbreak was a stark realisation that not everyone shared the same compassion for human life. Witnessing murder, hysteria and selfish acts of self preservation Kieran now focuses his trust with those closest to him, those that survived anyway.

Looks:
Average height (5’8) and once average build before the effects of malnutrition has made him seem slightly thinner. His copper hair shaggy and curled, a lighter toned layer of stubble covering his unkempt face. His general expression tired and without the spark it once had.

Clothing:
Name tagged ‘Adams’ EMT shirt (grime and blooded stained, typically open) over dark brown t-shirt, tattered jeans and work boots. Silver wedding band on his ring finger.

Sexual Orientation:
Straight

Weapons:
Glock 26 9mm Handgun (“Baby Glock”)
Light and easy to use, this 10 round firearm seemed ideal due to Kieran’s inexperience and general distaste for firearms. Found under a shop counter.

Crowbar
He prefers its intended use of prying open doors and vehicles for access but it has shattered skulls. Obtained from his own car.

Equipment:
(All within a backpack bar the Swiss army knife and lighter)

Improvised first aid box
Standard kit contents plus painkillers, antiseptic, needle and thread as well as a single syringe of morphine.

2 litre/70 oz bottle of water, two cans of hotdogs, pack of candles and a box of 9mm ammo.

Basic Swiss army knife: Dull blade, spork, scissors, tweezers, bottle/can opener.
Used to assist first aid and general survival, by no means a weapon.

Disposable clear blue lighter

Occupation:
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Hometown:
Nottingham, England.

History:
Born into a middle class family Kieran’s childhood was comfortable albeit uneventful, his father worked hard and his mother tended to the household. It wasn’t till his teenage years that Kieran showed an active interest in medicine or more importantly caring for people. Put off by the expense and years of study he opted to train as a paramedic as opposed to a fully fledged doctor.

By 21 years of age Kieran had started working as a paramedic within Nottingham tending to all walks of life from fallen elderly to drunken youths. Aged 25 he travelled with a group of friends visiting various states dotted across the “bible belt” of America. Kieran enjoyed the food, the sights, the southern hospitality but his greatest pleasure was meeting one person in particular, Chloe.

They were great together; they shared the same tastes for things like music and film, they even shared many opinions debating playfully when they didn’t. After his trip Kieran kept contact with Chloe regularly online, within a year he made the decision to immigrate. After three years living together in Virginia, his job now as a Richmond based EMT, Kieran proposed to Chloe.

Within a month of their honeymoon the storm brewed, violent attacks raised steeply day to day as the chaos erupted around him. Societies collapsed, military presence crowded what were once the charming streets of Richmond as people started to shoot and kill each other. Chloe died from infection early into the breakdown of humanity. Kieran sometimes considers that fact a cruel kindness as he continues his struggle to survive.

Family:
Wife (Deceased)
Parents in England (Contact lost. Likely Deceased)

Other:
We are The Walking Dead

Handgun - http://www.austrojagd.com/img/artikel/glock26_th.jpg

So begins...

Kieran Adams's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams
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#, as written by KJA
Standing over the gurney Kieran kept his gaze intent as he tore open the packaging for a cold compress in his latex gloved hands. His shoulders swayed with the slight shake of the ambulance setting off, the muted sound of the sirens firing up above him. ‘My.. My bones feel sore...’ rising his blue eyes Kieran would offer the sickly pale old woman a soft smile ‘Don’t worry Miss we’ll be there soon.’ Pressing the compress against her forehead he wiped away the dried blood from what seemed to be a fall wound ‘That’s a lovely accent... where are you from young man?’ Keeping his attention on the cut Kieran flashed another soft smile ‘England’ he replied preparing a bandage. ‘I.. I spent time... with an Englishman once.. during the war...’ the old woman trailed off panting. Narrowing his eyes Kieran noticed something in the woman’s hairline, pressing a hand down gently on her hair his eyes widen at the sight of a decayed tooth. This wasn't a fall wound; it was a bite of some sort. Darting his eyes down Kieran’s gaze was met with that of vibrant red and green angry eyes as the woman lurched forward to grab him.

Kieran muffled a yelp as he awoke from his nightmare.

Turning her head fully to him Becky kept a hand on the wheel ‘You alright Kay?’ Leaning forward in the passenger seat Kieran rubbed a hand flat over one of his tired eyes, looking down at his Glock on the dashboard ‘Yeah just another bad one’ he rasped nodding softly.

Travelling in Caleb’s 1972 Dodge pickup they had previously found all they would at Becky’s uncle’s home the day before. Retrieving her 700 rifle and knife she was mortified to see what was once her uncle dragging himself around aimlessly in the backyard, both eyes damaged beyond any sight even for a biter. Seeing that she couldn't bring herself to shoot him Kieran guided her away from the house suggesting they take his truck. By that time it was getting dark, finding a remote convenience store a few miles down the road they barricaded themselves in and held up for the night. It was there Kieran found his Glock.

Kieran failed to get much sleep at the store during the night, Becky gathered that by his nightmare. ‘Are they all in the back of an ambulance?’ she asked in a soft tone. ‘Most of the time, when it isn't Chloe’ he replied, his eyes drifting off out of the window at the trees passing by. Extending her free hand to rest on his shoulder Becky stroked her thumb against his shirt sleeve trying to offer some sense of comfort ‘Sorry Kieran.’ Turning his gaze back to her Kieran smiled softly, placing his hand over hers ‘We’ve all suffered Becky’ his brow knotting slightly with his own words. All Becky did was nod understandably in response, her gaze distracted as she looked out the windscreen ‘Shit’ she sighed.

The road ahead was blocked by cars, corpses littered around them. Dropping her hand from Kieran’s Becky would drop down a gear, slowing the truck to a halt on the side of the road. Killing the engine both of them would stare out at the carnage on the road obstructing their path ‘Do you think there’s any of them out there?’ Kieran asked pulling his Glock from the dashboard. ‘Maybe. I’ll go make a path while you cover me’ Becky replied as she opened the door ‘No wait, you've got that rifle. Why don’t you stay here and keep me covered while I do it?’ Kieran suggested. Looking out at the wreckage Becky nods ‘That works. Once you’re sure it’s clear let me know ‘cause I heard an engine noise some miles back I didn’t like, should probably pop the hood and check.’

Swinging both doors open they set about their tasks. Becky walked to the flat bed of the truck to pull out her Remington 700, checking chamber and snapping the bolt into place. Kieran with his Glock in one hand and crowbar in the other approached the wreckage cautiously, his eyes scanned for any possible movement. Leaning against the hood Becky also kept a watchful eye, narrowing her eyes at a large manor in the distance ahead. Having checked around the wrecked cars Kieran found no threat, deciding that two t-boned cars were the ones blocking the way. Looking to Becky he called out ‘No-one’s here’ to which she raised a thumb, slinging her rifle over her shoulders and leaning into the now open hood.

(( Same location as Tia some time after hunters left, agreed OOCly in PMs ))

Setting

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby
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Tia was drifting in and out of consciousness. She heard shots, yells and groans... then nothing... then silence bar the wind rustling the hedges next to the road... then nothing... then an engine idling. Tia blinked her eyes, shook her throbbing head. People. She heard two doors open and gently close, and the distinct sound of a rifle bolt action. She fought her instinct to stay hidden. She should at least try and get a look at this new threat.

She inched out of the drain and crouched, her head level with the blacktop. Despite her blurring vision, she saw a pair of workboots approaching the T-boned cars she'd hurdled earlier. She inched further into cover as a man with dark red hair crept into view, holding a handgun and an iron bar. That meant two men at least, this one and the one with the rifle. Could be trouble.

Just as Tia was about to slink back to her hiding places, the man turned and called back to his buddy 'No-one's here'. He had a blue and yellow patch on his back. Unable to focus properly, she couldn't make it out, but it looked like he was some kind of state responder. He moved back towards his vehicle and Tia, stomach lurching, dragged herself up onto the road for a better look. Crouching behind a sleek, shiny new Prius, its interior spattered with blood and gore, she saw the new arrivals' pick-up. A woman with long dark hair had her head under the open hood. She looked nearly as tall as her companion, and had her rifle slung on her back.

Tia made a quick calculation. There was a big house nearby which looked safe, but there was something wrong with her, probably exhaustion, and she didn't know if she'd make it alone. Besides, there might be freaks there too. This couple might be dangerous, there was no knowing, but a man and a woman together was a lot less dangerous than two men. She drew her gun and, knees buckling, lent on the Prius to pull herself into a stand. The heavy revolver dragged her right shoulder down; there was no way she could have lifted it to fire, so she dropped it with a clatter.

'Hey,' she called, parched throat muffling her voice. 'Hey, over here,' she tried again. Her vision blurred red, and then came back. Her pulse roared in her ears. 'Hey, I'm Tia. There's a house over there looks safe. I ain't been bit, don't shoot me.' With that, all the sound in the world went out, Tia slammed face first into the hood of the Prius and slid down into a tangle of thin limbs on the road.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby
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#, as written by KJA
The familiar smell of grease and gasoline was comforting in Becky nostrils as she glanced around the engine for any loose or damaged components, arching an eyebrow she noticed the cam belt was fraying and wasn't looking too great. This could be a problem, cam belts can be interchangeable and easy to find but if they break en-route that puts the vehicle out of action. Last thing she wanted if biters were around. Running her fingers along the damage Rebecca examined around the belt sighing softly to herself, it wouldn't last twenty miles.

Looking under the two cars Kieran checked for any biters that might have gotten wedged in between, he'd seen it before and it became a real pain in the arse when trying to move wrecks. Happy the underneath was clear he stepped over to the side of the hatchback, the car that had smashed into the side of a saloon. Pressing a shoulder against the framework Kieran grunted as he slowly moved the city car backwards, making room between them.

Becky had repositioned the belt slightly keeping the frayed edge a little clear from the cams, pondering for a moment she wasn’t convinced that would affect its durability much. It was then she heard a metallic clatter in the distance, Kieran couldn’t be ditching that gun already surely. Standing up from the hood Becky looked out watching Kieran move the city car, the young girl’s first word was lost of them but the second greeting rang loud and clear.

Looking over at the Prius Kieran raised his gun half way, slowing at the sight of the young and seemingly unarmed girl. Becky wasted no time in slinging her rifle into her hands and aiming intently down the iron sights ‘Watch her Kay!’ she barked out. Kieran could see the girl was in a bad state as she spoke, silently relieved that she wasn’t a biter. Before he had the chance to reply Tia’s head virtually bounced off the hood as she collapsed to the floor.

Moving swiftly over to Tia’s side Kieran scanned his eyes over her, pressing two fingers against her neck and checking his wristwatch ‘What the hell are you doing!?’ Becky called out, her rifle still up. ‘She’s dehydrated. She needs fluids.’ He replied. Noticing the large revolver on the floor near the girl Becky’s eyes widen as a walker rose from the blacktop behind the now cleared accident.

‘Stay down!’ Becky shouted as she steadied her rifle, standing upright the biter gargled blood at Kieran before the echoing thud of Becky’s rifle splattered half the man’s head sending him crashing hard to the ground. Based on her pulse, skin colour and temperature it didn’t take long for Kieran to double-check it was severe dehydration, just to be sure. The sound of Becky reloading her bolt action rang out high pitched as her spent cartridge bounced to the ground ‘We need to go!’ she called out dropping another biter on the road behind him.

Kieran couldn’t leave Tia there; he knew that wasn’t what Becky would have wanted either, even if she was more concerned for their own skin in that very moment. Digging his Glock into his pocket Kieran slung Tia’s limp form over his shoulder in a firearm’s carry. Snatching up his crowbar and the revolver in his free hand he didn’t hesitate to move quickly towards the truck. Grunting under the strain of the young girl’s form as he dashed to the vehicle, he wasn’t exactly ripped after all.

Briefly darting her eyes to Kieran and the girl Becky stepped backwards to the driver’s door firing a shot as yet another biter came into view behind a wreck. Opening the flat bed Kieran dropped Tia into the back before stepping up into the bed and sitting beside her unconscious body ‘She said something about a house up ahead.’ Sitting down into the cab Becky replied ‘There’s a manor up the hill, we’ll head there’ slamming the door shut and firing up the engine.

Moving Becky’s duffel bag to act as a pillow for Tia Kieran pulled his first aid kit out of his backpack checking it for any supplements while Becky drove clear of the wrecks, no luck. Grunting disapprovingly Kieran opted for his water bottle, tilting small amounts into the girl’s open mouth. It wouldn’t revive her but it would keep her stable till they got to the manor, all Kieran needed was some typical sugar and salt to make an improvised electrolyte replacement mixture.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
Luckily the road was reasonably clear on the ascent to the mansion. After giving Tia some slow mouthfuls of water from his bottle Kieran slipped Tia’s revolver into his backpack along with his medical kit and water bottle before giving Becky a handful of .308s through the cab’s back window from her bag. ‘Remind me why we picked her up?’ Becky called back through the window, keeping her eyes on the road. ‘Because I wasn’t going to leave her for the biters Becky, you wouldn’t have either if I know you at all’ he replied with a firm tone. ‘Fair enough’ Becky replied. Looking over the cab Kieran spoke through the window again ‘It is far you think? Maybe she knows people there.’ Throwing the speedometer a glance Becky takes an educated guess ‘Couple of miles or so.’

Turning the ’72 Dodge truck off the road Becky slowed the truck to a crawl as they approached the mansion. Making sure all his kit was in the backpack Kieran threw it over his shoulders, double checking his Glock was still in his jeans’ pocket before lifting up Tia in both arms in front of him. Bringing the truck to a halt Becky was quick to open the door, kneeling down behind it she loaded her rifle back up to the full five rounds. Stepping down from the back of the flat bed Kieran walked around to stand near the outstretched door Becky was shielding herself with ‘What are you doing Kay?’ she whispered sharply. Tia limp in his arms in front of him Kieran rested her against his chest as he spoke ‘She might know someone in there.’ Kieran hoped. He was risking that if they were armed they wouldn’t quickly shoot at a man helping a child even if they didn’t know her.

Becky outstretched an arm pressing down on the horn ever slightly, hopefully just enough to catch attention of the house rather than the whole area. Keeping low behind the door Becky looked up at Kieran before eyeing the door just over the bottom of the door’s window, rifle in both hands ready.

Seeing the door begin to open Kieran took a step forward calling out

‘We need help, this girl is badly dehydrated. Do you know her? Her name is Tia.’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander put his hand to his face and sighed. He didn't need this many people bothering him. He looked up and said, "You get one night. Take a room up stairs. I don't want any trouble. I have a sister to protect." Xander looked out a window and saw the truck pulling up. "SHIT, what the hell. Are we having a party here? I'll crank some tunes, attract some walkers and make a real shindig. This had better be good." That's when the horn went off. "Somebody has a death wish." He spied on the truck. Xander turned to Katie and said, "Cover me from the window, and If I get hit by a bolt. I will kill you." His face was serious.

*Meanwhile*

"I guess you know my name, but It's Lyra." She smiled at the girl. That's when she saw the ferret, she wanted to pet the creature, but didn't want to upset Rena any further, so she ignored him. Lyra listened to her talk about how lucky she was to still have her brother. She agreed, without Xander, she would have died at the hands of her mothers. "I'm happy I have him. He's saved my life on more than one occasion." She lead her to the bathroom and grabbed a towel. "Now lets get the blood off of you." Lyra smiled and started wiping the blood off of her face. "I think your going to have to reapply your make up, but try to stay away from red. I'm personally sick of the color myself." Lyra tried to make a joke. A loud horn came from outside the house. "More visitors, maybe we can get a group going again..."

Xander opened the door and was greeted by shouting. He raised his gun and said, "Could you quiet down, your going to attract a huge crowd of walkers with your noisy car and your yelling." As a sign of peace he raised his hands and slowly put his gun away. However the safety was off. He slowly walked over there trying not to make the girl in the bed get jumpy. He took a quick look over the girl and said, "No, never saw her a day in my life. How do I know that she really is dehydrated. This could be a distraction to lure me out, but you took the great risk of HONKING the horn to get my attention. Take her in. My sisters on the second floor, tell her that I said it's ok to give her water. Use my name, infact. It's Xander by the way." He turned his back to the group and walked towards the front door stairs. He sat down watching the woods. He pulled out his gun and clicked the safety on. Either it's in his waist band with the safety off or in his hand with the safety on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
Kieran widened his eyes at the sight of the man’s pistol, flashing Becky a glance he shook his head slightly suggesting against any ideas she may have had with her own firearm. Extending two fingers from the hand he had wrapped around the Tia’s shoulder Kieran tries his best to sound calm ‘Sorry. We don’t mean you any harm.’ Noticing the man’s gaze Kieran tilted Tia slightly to give him a better look, his brow frowning at his response. ‘No distraction, I promise you that. I’m an EMT I can tell you its dehydration, she’s not bitten.’ During their exchange Becky had her rifle aimed up at the scope shimmering in the window, she wanted to take fewer chances.

Nodding at Xander’s invitation inside Kieran offers him a slight smile as he passes through the front door ‘Thank you. My name’s Kieran, my friend Becky. She’s a mechanic.’ By now Becky had lowered her rifle down to her side and raised a peaceful hand to the scope in the window. Placing the rifle into the flat bed Becky started up the truck again and parked over in front of the mansion’s garage, a small offset structure built away from the house itself. Glancing over at Xander Becky offered him a firm nod before entering the garage via its side door. Cam belt first, introductions second that was her priority.

Kieran made an effort to find sugar, salt and a glass before carrying Tia upstairs. Walking through the hallway Kieran kept his gaze between Tia’s unconscious face and through the doorways of any empty rooms, passing the others as he did so ‘Xander said I can use some water, I have my own too. Please excuse the brief introduction, my name is Kieran I’m a Richmond EMT. My friend’s Becky, she’s outside working on the truck. I need to see to Tia first, if anyone is injured come see me.’ Hopefully his British accent served to compliment his intentions. Shortly after Kieran settled on a bedroom and closed the door behind them.

Placing Tia on the bed Kieran set the glass down filling it with water from his backpack. Adding guessed measures of sugar and salt he stirred the mixture with a nearby pen before feeding it very slowly and carefully into Tia’s mouth. After what seemed like fifteen minutes Kieran was content with the amount Tia had in her system, about half the glass, setting it down on the bedside table. Dragging a chair from the wall Kieran sat down beside the bed, holding Tia’s wrist and checking his watch. The results wouldn’t be immediate but there was a difference already. Arching his head back with a tired sigh he pulled out his Glock and placed it on the windowsill the other side of him, rubbing his face deeply in both hands before resting his eyes.

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby
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Angry, jabbing pain crashed through Tia's head, each throb accompanied by a flash of picture: Craig's leering face, but rotted and vacant-eyed like one of the freaks; DeShaun grinning his good-natured smile as he drove a blue pick-up into a knot of vehicles blocking a blacktop highway; herself; standing in a concreted hole as blood poured onto her face and into her mouth; a giant hand lifting her up bodily, another giant hand knocking on a door.

The images stopped, replaced by an unfaltering bright light. The jabs of pain stopped, replaced by a steady, dull ache in her temples. She felt she was lying on something soft, far softer than the drain she last remembered being in. She kept her eyes closed, trying to keep her breathing as shallow as possible, and listened. She could hear voices downstairs, and people moving about. Then her pulse quickened as she heard the rustle of clothing, and light breathing. Someone must be right next to her! Tia quickly went through a mental checklist: If the freaks had got her, she wouldn't even be breathing. If Green Bandana and Craig had got her, she certainly wouldn't be lying on a soft bed. She tensed, ready for action, and snapped her eyes open.

In an instant she took in her surroundings. She lay in a spartan bedroom, with light streaming in a window. Between her and the window sat a red-haired man. Somehow, he looked familiar, but most importantly, he had his eyes closed. Stubble patched his cheeks, and he looked drawn. Tia slowly let out her breath and relaxed a little. The tension had amped up her headache again, and she winced as she raised her head off the pillow for a better look round. She was still wearing her giant hoodie, but there was no sign of her weapons. But there was a black, sleek handgun on the windowsill. It would be a real risk, trying to creep round someone this close. Besides, she wasn't sure she felt strong enough. She lifted an arm experimentally and waved it gently. The red-haired man didn't move. Tia propped herself up on her elbows, and immediately her vision blurred and pain lanced through her temples again. She lay back down and sighed. Well, she was in better shape here than she had been in days. There was nothing for it.

Hey, Carrot Top! Hey, wake up sleepyhead! Where the hell we at, man? And who are you and where's my Granddaddy's gun? They better not be freaks I hear downstairs, Carrot Top, I seen them go upstairs before.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Katie Halesworth

Though it wasn't funny or pleasant, Katie couldn't help but hide her smile as the boy spoke, and though she knew he was one hundred percent serious, it was the closest to a joke she had heard in a while. She too was surprised by the sudden numbers rising in the group that she had hoped was small. At his words, she sprang to the window, clicking her cross bow into place and calling a small, "come," to Nick. She saw through the window a group of people, one of which looked extremely sick. Shit, she thought, watching them enter. The man carried the nearly unconsious one, and his friend, the one with the rifle, waved a peaceful hand to her. She nodded back, a small sign of hello, but ample, and kept her cross bow ready, looking out the window as the girl parked the car. As she disappeared, she allowed herself to leave the window, her crossbow arm dropping to her side as she looked around, the two new-by's going upstairs. What a motley crew.

She glanced at the boy she had met earlier, Xander, and nodded in his direction. "These your friends?" She asked, moving slightly closer, but just enough so she could see out the door, into the woods. Remembering he had said she could get a room, small goosebumps rose on her back. She hadn't slept in a real room, never mind a bed, in a few weeks. Most of the time, she found some place flat, got in her sleeping back, and slept on Nick. It kept him warm, and gave her a pillow. It worked well enough.

Her attention flashed back to the woods, and she couldn't shake the feeling that there was someone there. But she ignored it, hoping she was wrong.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Minya Polack Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander noticed that the sun was starting to set. He was glad that this day was almost over, maybe he could get some sleep tonight. He often took night watch. He knew when to sleep. Xander didn't look up when Katie approached him, "No, but she showed severe dehydration symptoms. So I figure what the hell." Xander stood up and dusted himself off he was going to continue but, he was cut off by the gunshots. His eyes when straight upstairs. They sounded like it came from below the house than above the ground floor. He tried to remember if there was a basement. "Check inside the house for a door and I'll swing around back to see if there's an outside entrance." He clicked off the safety and ran around the back. He found the cellar door open with a boy trying to lift a big man. He was not having an easy time with it. He put away his gun and said, "I think a bed is a bit more comfortable than the cellar floor."

*Meanwhile*

Lyra was surprised at the sudden appearance of a man with a girl in his arms. She didn't even had enough time to speak before he disappeared in one of the bed rooms. She turned to Rena and said, "Well, I think the amount of excitement we've had today is more than enough to last us the rest of our lives." She smiled. When the gunshots went off she jumped a little bit. She grabbed her gun and rushed to the nearest window. Below was a boy dragging out a half of a walker. The next thing she knew Xander was on the scene. "I was worried something happened. It's just some boy who killed some walkers. Xander is dealing with him now. I just hope he didn't attract more of them. That's just what we need more of those these monsters." She sat back down and sighed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
Kieran drifted off to sleep without much trouble; the day’s events coupled with lack of sleep had run him ragged. No-one was sleeping soundly anymore and if they were it was a privilege. Kieran couldn’t seem to shake the nightmares which happened every time he got his head down; Becky had noticed it in his expressionless tired face when she first found him. Before any vivid images manifested into these dreams Kieran was abruptly woken up by Tia’s words.

Almost on cue with Tia’s words Kieran winced his tired eyes open, swallowing dryly he raised a hand as she spoke ‘It’s okay I have your gun, in my backpack. We’re at the house you told me about before you passed out, you’re safe’ he replied. Leaning down Kieran retrieved the weighty revolver, placing it on the bed beside her. ‘You need to drink some water. What I gave you only meant to kick start your hydration levels.’ Sliding the glass from the bedside table he offered it out watching her raise it to her lips he adds ‘It tastes bad but trust me, you’ll get your strength back.’

Going back into his backpack Kieran continued to speak as he did so ‘I’ve got your hatchet and purse too, you must have been out there for days given the state you were in.’ Looking over to Tia Kieran offered her a tired smile ‘Just do me a favour and don’t call me Carrot t-‘ *Thud Thud* the sound of the muffled gunshots snapped Kieran’s eyes wide open, darting his gaze to the door. Snatching his Glock up from the windowsill he kept it low as his side, stepping over to the bedroom door and opening it ajar looking down the hallway.

Listening out intently for what seemed like a long drawn out moment of silence Kieran relaxed as he heard the voice of a young woman, Xander’s sister he assumed, speaking of the gunshots’ source. Pulling the door closed again Kieran walked back over to the chair, placing his Glock back on the window. Looking through the glass he focused on the garage, not seeing Becky outside he assumed she must have been too busy looking for a cam belt to hear the distant gunfire. Rubbing a hand against his forehead Kieran huffed out a tired sigh before looking over at Tia.

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby
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Tia grinned as the red-haired man snapped awake, raising a hand slowly, almost to ward off her rapid-fire questioning. It’s okay I have your gun, in my backpack,' he said. She maintained her glare. 'We’re at the house you told me about before you passed out, you’re safe.' The man leant over and put her revolver next to her, giving her a closer look at the patch she vaguely recalled seeing on his back that afternoon. He was an emergency medical technician, and he seemed to know what he was talking about as he explained what was wrong with her. She still felt weak and dizzy, but she felt a hell of a lot better than she had in the afternoon, and she only hesitated for a second before sipping from the glass he held out to her.

'Aw, Carrot Top, what are you giving me?' Tia grimaced as the bitter liquid slid down her throat. It seemed to ease some of the tightness in her chest, though. ‘It tastes bad but trust me, you’ll get your strength back,’ he replied. Tia half sat, and sipped at the glass as they chatted. She caught glimpses of his name tag as he moved. Adams was the red-haired man's surname; she didn't see all of his first name.

*Thud, Thud* The man grabbed his gun and looked out the bedroom door. Tia dropped her glass scrambling to lift her revolver. 'K, don't leave me, what the hell?' she blurted out. A long silence followed. The man had gone from tired, worn and caring, to tense, upright and alert. But at the sound of a woman's voice he relaxed again, peering out the window. Apparantly satisfied at what he'd seen, he seemed to deflate with a long, drawn-out sigh, and sat beside her again, rolling his eyes at her.

Tia put her gun down again, shaking as the tension left her body. Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes, and she rubbed at them hurridly with a cuff of her hoodie. 'Where are we, K?' she whispered? 'Are we safe here? We gotta be safe, your friends are here, right, K? Right?'

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
‘Not far from Richmond, I’m not sure where exactly.’ Kieran replied to the start of Tia’s new and pleasantly quieter questioning. He hadn’t noticed before but she was wearing a rather recognisable hoodie, which team was it again? He wondered silently, he followed British soccer rather than the local teams. He also managed to notice her scabbed and damaged earlobe too, before he had a chance to consider treating it Kieran turned his gaze back to Tia’s as she asked him more questions. 'Are we safe here', she asked. Offering a small reassuring nod he replied ‘Should be. These people let us in when they saw the state of you.’ Pointing a thumb to the window he continued ‘My friend Becky is out in the garage, probably trying to find some bits and bobs for the pickup no less. That’s what she’s good at.’ A warmer but none the less a thin and tired smile creased his cheeks ‘I fixed people, she fixed cars.’

Stuffing his glock back into a jean pocket Kieran pulled his water bottle from his backpack. Standing up, he dropped the bottle next to Tia on the bed as he walked over to the door. ‘I’m going to go find out what’s happening. Drink some more water.’ 'You, drink the Kool-Aid,' Tia shot back. Listening to her response he would nod instead of smile this time ‘My name’s Kieran but you can call me Kay still, I don’t mind.’ 'alright Kay. You can call me Tee,' she smiled at him. 'Tee?' he queried. 'Yeah, my brother calls me that. Where you from anyway, that's a funny accent?' 'England.' he replied as he closed the door and headed downstairs 'Watch your ass, Kay,' Tia called. Kieran opted to speak to who he assumed was in charge first, the young man named Xander. Stepping out of the front door Kieran looked around ‘Xander?’ walked down the stairs he looked around the side of the manor to see the back of the man ‘Everything okay back there?’

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Minya Polack Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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'Watch your ass, Kay,' Tia called out as the Englishman shut the door. His footsteps were muffled on the stairs, and she heard him call out 'Xander?'

He was right, she thought. She had been out in the wild for days, longer even. The flight from the hunters had worn her down as much as running from the freaks ever had. More possibly. It was the first time humans had been the enemy, instead of just dangers because of their reckless actions. And yet another human had apparently picked her up off the side of the road and brought her to safety, when she could just as easily have made a convenient meal for a passing freak. It seemed trusting humans could get you killed in this new world, but at the same time, they were the only thing that was going to keep you alive. She glanced at her useless gun, and smiled at the thought of Kay placing it by her side. For all the good it would do her. Poor Kay, exhausted but still on the move, still checking on people's safety.


She sniffed. A faint smell had crept into the room when Kay had opened the door, a smell she hadn't experienced since before the outbreak. It took her a moment to identify it, and then she swung her legs off her bed and gingerly sat up. He hadn't even taken her shoes off. 'Always ready to go, girl,' she thought. Her vision swam as she stood, and suddenly the distance to the door, which Kay had covered in a few strides, looked like miles. Closing one eye, she wobbled towards the door, her knees weak. Surprisingly out of breath and her head thumping, she grappled with the door handle. The door to the next room stood open, and inside sat two girls, around her own age or slightly older, she guessed. One had long, dark hair, the other, whose eyes looked red from crying, had a slash of red in her hair, and was just stubbing out a cigarette. A long, slender animal lay curled up in her lap.

'Hey,' said Tia abruptly from the doorway. 'What's that thing?' nodding to the animal.

"He's a ferret. His name is Coon," the girl replied in a tired slur. Tia eyed the ferret nervously. It was calm now, but it looked like it could move like lightning. 'You friends of Kieran?' Tia asked.

'Kieran?' asked the second girl. 'The English guy,' Tia said. 'The doctor guy. Just went downstairs.' Met with blank stares, Tia forged on. 'This your house?'

'I just got here,' the girl with the ferret said, looking up at her roommate. 'I... I was with my brother... but...he didn't make it.' She tailed off. The second girl filled the awkward silence that followed. 'I came here this morning, with my big brother, Xander. My name is Lyra, and this is Rena,' she said, putting a comforting hand on the other girl's shoulder. 'Who are you?'

'Tia,' she said, having to swallow to wet her dry throat so she could speak. 'You got a drink? I really...' Her vision blurred again, and she lurched to one side, clinging onto the doorpost. She could see Lyra step towards her, and reached out her hand to the dark-haired girl as she slid down to her knees, mumbling: 'I don't feel so good.'

Rena nudged Coon, making him jump from her lap, and quickly moved over to brace Tia. She placed one hand on her shoulder, ready to try and grab hold of her if Lyra gave her any indication.

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
It was pitch black inside the garage. Finding a light switch near the door frame Becky knocked it into action, florescent tubes began to click and blink into life as they flooded the room with harsh artificial light. Becky pondered if either the mansion’s power grid was still connected or the place was running off its own generator before her lips creased a smirk at the vehicles inside.

Whoever lived here before wasn’t the type to spend a year’s salary on one particular luxury saloon; they had vehicles for different uses.

Closest to her, a bright red 2006 Dodge Charger sat facing the closed garage door. While tame against a muscle car, the standard models not even two-hundred horsepower, its bulky body and sharp styling held a presence. Becky figured the charger would be best suited for parts and gas rather than transport, too loud and impractical.

Next to the Dodge sat a bright blue 2-door Jeep Wrangler with its hood still open. These little things were good off-road, it can seat four people and two of them in an open back, this vehicle seemed much more practical in her mind. Leaning under the open hood Becky examined the state of the engine bay, wires and piping had been disconnected for some reason. Looking over at the other side of the Jeep there was an empty bay, Becky arched an eyebrow; Did the owners leave in a hurry? What did they take? Another SUV perhaps, something for the whole family. On closer inspection Becky kneeled down and pressed a hand against the concrete nodding at the marks left by the wheel span.

‘Hummer... Smart.’ she muttered.

The rest of the garage looked the part, a long workbench at the back flanked by two almost cliché red tool cabinets, an assortment of clean tools hanging from the wall above the bench. Someone was trying harder to impress guests than actually repair their own vehicles, Becky mused. But none the less all the more loot for her own improvised tool kit and a couple of weapons for the others maybe.

After a moment Kieran listened to Xander’s answer raising a hand he spoke softly ‘It’s fine’ arching an eyebrow at the mention of the boy in the cellar. Kieran decided against questioning that, since Becky had pretty much hidden herself away as well. Looking around as Xander mentioned the area being too quiet Kieran nodded ‘Well if you need someone to help with the night watch I volunteer, it’s the least I can do.’ Shortly after Kieran’s words the third garage door opened surprisingly quietly for an electronic shutter, walking over to the men Becky wiped her greasy fingers with a cloth she must have found inside.

‘Becky this is Xander’ Becky nodded to Xander in lieu of a handshake ‘Becky I was just saying to Xander that I’ll help the night watch while you fix the truck’ shaking her head with Kieran’s words Becky retorted ‘Not happening Kay. You’ve barely slept in two days, plus you’re a shit shot anyway.’ Burrowing his brow Kieran replied ‘Becky now is not the time for showing off, you need to fix the truck and I ne-‘ ‘What you need is a night’s sleep Kay. I’m not fighting you on this one.’

Sighing deeply Kieran rubbed a hand over his increasingly exhausted features and nodded in a defeated manner ‘Okay fine.’ Looking to Xander Kieran pointed a thumb to Becky as he spoke ‘Becky served in the 249th Engineer Corp. She’s got a rifle, she’s a pretty good shot with it, saved my arse more then once.’ ‘Better believe it’ she agreed with a faintly smug expression. ‘I’m going to go get my head down then. Call me if you need me.’ ‘We don’t, go’on now.’ Becky smiled, squeezing Kieran’s shoulder softly before he walked into the house.

Looking to Xander Becky jerked her head pointing to the garage ‘There’s a Charger and a Wrangler in there, I wouldn’t suggest using the Charger, as pretty as she may be that noisy bitch will get the biters on us in no time. The Wrangler needs some work doing but I can do that till you want me to take over watch. Sound good to you chief?’

After Xander’s response Becky turned back towards the garage, stopping midway she looked over her shoulder and asked ‘One more thing, did you happen to start a genny up when you got there Xander? The lights in the garage are working.’

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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#, as written by KJA
Kieran was fast asleep. He managed to find a couch in a sitting room near the front door; he wanted to be within shouting distance of Becky in case anything happened.

After both men went inside Becky turned back into the house to retrieve car keys for the garage as well as Kieran’s backpack from upstairs, these people seemed okay so far but she didn’t want their medical supplies to suddenly disappear. As she walked back over to the garage Becky thought it was strange that Xander hadn’t found a generator yet, where was the power coming from? Setting Kieran’s pack down in the truck’s flat bed Becky grabbed her duffel bag in tow before walking through the open shutter door. Before she started working on the vehicles Becky turned off the lights bar the middle one, trying to flood the room in dim light or at least enough for her to work in. If this power was short lived she wanted to erk as much as possible, last thing she wanted was darkness half way through her auto repairs.

If Becky was third on watch that gave her maybe another five or six hours to work with; plenty of time to strip the Charger, fix her cam belt and get the Wrangler up and running. Thankfully she had a decent sleep the night before plus Becky was used to working to a deadline before the outbreak, on tour the hadjis didn’t wait for hummer repairs and neither did the brass.

After searching the tool cabinets Becky managed to find a garden hose and an empty gas can, it didn’t take her long to siphon the gas from the Charger’s thirsty tank filling the can to the top. Once Xander was finished in the house or with his watch if he decided to come over to the garage he would find Becky leaning under the Jeep’s open hood, deep into her work using both tools from her own bag and off the bench as she worked on reconnecting the engine. However if Xander had decided against coming over to the garage Becky would have assumed that he would help her move the truck in the morning allowing her to continue her work till someone wanted her on watch.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Minya Polack Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander stepped outside and looked towards the moon. It wasn't even halfway overhead and it rose a bit after the sun went down. If he had to guess, "It's roughly 7. That's what I can tell. I used to be able to tell the time of day from looking at the sun. I got really good at it." He took a look at the things she said could be used as weapons. Not much, the wrenches could be useful. However, they had certain flaws to them. "If you think they could be good, you can take them. As for watch, keep an ear open for walkers or bandits. So, keep doing what your doing but, be vigilant."

He finished his smoke and tossed it on the ground. He grounded it and headed inside the house. He saw Kieran on the couch and smirked. He headed up the stairs and checked one of the hall closets. He found a pile of blankets. He grabbed them and put a few of them on the ground in front of the room where his sister was. He knocked on the door like he used to when he left her dinner infront of the door. It was the old 'Shave and a Haircut,' knock. He left before Lyra could open the door. He took the rest and headed downstairs. He was going to check to see if that guy in the basement wanted a blanket. It couldn't hurt to ask. As he made his way to the basement he decided to put a blanket on the sleeping EMT. Xander took a quick look at the designs of the blankets and decided to drape the pink floral one on the man. He needed a good laugh. Xander wanted to take a picture. He chuckled as he headed down stairs, "I'm coming down, It's just me." He said as he started down the stairs. He was surprised about how dark it was.

"I brought some blankets. Man, how can you see down here? It's really dark." Xander said as his eyes adjusted to the almost dark. He look around and didn't see the boy. He shrugged and put a blanket on a work bench. He went back up the stairs and decided to look for the boy. He searched the house finding the boy talking to Katie. "I found some extra blankets, I put one in the basement for you. I'm curious on why you have animal bones... Well everywhere?"

Elsewhere...

Lyra grabbed a can of pineapples. She looked at the can and sighed, it was her and her brother's favorite fruit. He would have told her to eat it. Her plan was to give it to him for his dinner. She decided to do what her brother would have told her to do. It was for the best. "Xander... hasn't had the easiest life in the world. I know, by the looks of it... None of us has had an easy life. His life has been harder than mine by a long shot." Lyra said. She started to open the can when Tia cut her finger. She started up but, Lyra realized that she had it under control. "Don't worry sweetie I've seen worse. You just need sleep." Lyra was happy to see her go to her room. She shut the door behind Tia. She finished off her pineapple.

She leaned against the wall and started dozing. She came to her senses when she saw Rena start to get up. She chuckled as she saw her fail. A bit after Rena fell asleep she heard the knock on the door. Lyra smiled as she remembered the times before. She got up and opened the door. There was a stack of three blankets on the floor. She picked one up and threw one over the girl. Lyra thought about the times when Xander would through the holiest of blankets on her when she fell asleep on the couch. She smiled at the memory. She wanted more of the good ones. She took the rest with her as she went to Tia's room. She threw one blanket on the ground and draped the other one around the sleeping girl. She smiled and watched Tia for a few minutes. Lyra turned and left. She was getting tired. It had been a long day. She decided to go back to Rena's room. She laid down and used Xander's pack as a pillow. She got under the blanket and fell asleep.

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman
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Tia was woken by the throbbing in her finger, then gasped drily at how thirsty she was. There was a dull ache between her temples. It was only once her physical discomforts had registered with her that she realised she was lying in a bed, for the first time since she'd fled Baltimore. She stretched out her arms and legs, waving them like she was making a snow angel. Damn, it was a big bed too, not like the narrow camper in the room she'd shared with her sister in her grandparents' cramped home. She rolled over, just because she'd never been able to roll over in a bed before without falling out, then rolled back again. Her eyes fell on an open can of peaches on the bedside locker. Tia grabbed it and drank down the juice, the segments of fruit falling against her nose as she upended the can for every last drop of sweet, sticky refreshment. Satisfied, she nestled back into the bed - she didn't even remember getting into it last night - and nibbled on a couple of pieces of peach. Though she was ravenous, she was used to conserving food - she hadn't felt full for weeks - and besides, who knew if her stay in this house would last any longer than her night's sleep.

Putting the three-quarters full can to one side, Tia dared a peek at her finger. The cut wasn't deep, and had scabbed during the night, but it was in an awkward spot; every time she made a fist or fully opened her hand, the cut threatened to open again. Kieran, she recalled with a start. Kay, the medic. He might have a bandage, if he was still in the house, that was. And who else was in the house? Tia could hear voices elsewhere in the house, and recalled exhausted and upset Rena, angry Xander and his push-over sister Lyra. Had Kay been with someone too? Tia couldn't remember much between finally escaping Green Bandana and Craig, snatches of conversation with Kay and her confrontation with Xander.

She helped herself to another slice of peach - You gonna get fat, girl, she joked to herself - then rolled herself out of bed. Damn, she hadn't even got undressed last night. She hadn't even taken off her sneakers. The sheets she'd lain in were grimy and her bandana, sticking out from under her pillow, was bloodied. Tia held a hand up to her head, checking for other injuries, then stuffed the bandana in her pocket, shrugging. She grabbed her hatchet, but left her revolver on the locker.

On her way to the stairs, Tia peeked in the door next to hers. Lyra lay on the floor next to Xander's back. Tia remembered where her can of peaches came from, and snuck into the room and dragged a blanket back over the girl's sleeping form. Rena's stuff was still in the room; the fresh smell of cigarette smoke told Tia Rena had risen already.

Still making only the faintest of sounds, Tia crept down the wide staircase. She thought she smelled coffee brewing from somewhere and was about to go find the kitchen, when she saw through an open door beside her a familiar red head sticking out from under a pink blanket on a couch. She slipped in and sat on the floor opposite the sleeping Kay. His face, though still lined with worry, looked far less worn than it had as he sat by her bed yesterday. A line of sun lanced through a crack in the curtains. In a couple of minutes, Tia guessed, it would traverse Kay's face. She settled down to wait.

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby
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#, as written by KJA
'I'm home!' Kieran called out as he dropped his keys into a bowl near the front door of the house. Slipping his arms out of the EMT jacket he continued as he settled in from the day's grind 'Had the strangest call today. Some old vagrant attacked a young woman in the park, she's okay through. The old bloke seemed to run off before we got there.' Kieran knotted his brow at the lack of response, walking through to the kitchen he called out 'Chloe? You asleep again?' pouring a glass of cold water from the facet before stepping into the living room. Standing in the doorway Kieran smirked taking a small sip of the glass 'C'mon sweetheart wake up. Some of us have been busy today' he spoke to the back of his wife's head as it sat heavily against the back of the sofa facing the television. 'Chloe?' Kieran rasped with concern and a wet throat as he approached the sofa.

Seeping over his closed lids the sun acted as his saving grace from one of his least favourite slumber topics. Wincing his eyes Kieran's blood shot vision looked square into the source before he shielded the light with a raised hand. Blinking heavily he cleared his throat with a few unpleasant noises behind his closed lips.

Shit. I'm still alive and she's still dead.

Coming to his senses mentally with that thought and physically with adjusting vision Kieran looked over at Tia offering her a thin smile 'You're looking a lot better.'

Meanwhile...

Becky had been busy throughout the night on the vehicles. The truck fixed. The Jeep now up and running, to the point she spent a few hours dismantling the block to make sure there wasn't a single issue. Just in case anyone wanted her on guard anyway. Eventually the physical work drained her, sat upright she fell asleep against one of the Jeep's tires. Rifle cradled over her lap.

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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As the sun rose Xander decided that he would head to the kitchen to see if there was anything left. He walked down the stairs thinking about what was going to happen when everybody woke up. He opened the cabinet above the sink and found the china. It was pretty fine but, it would break easily and weigh a ton. Xander opened a cabinet above the counter it was bare. However, he couldn't see into the deepest parts. He reached in and his fingers brushed up against something plastic. He grabbed it and saw it was a half a bottle of instant coffee. "Dear God, I thought I would never have coffee again." He opened the top and the room was filled with the sweet aroma of coffee. He inhaled deeply and exhaled. He heard somebody come down the stairs. He smiled when he saw Rena.

"You may not believe this... But, yes we have coffee. Instant, but it's coffee. So... we need water, and a lot of it. I'll look for a way to boil the water, you just get the water. Can't be that hard." Xander said putting the bottle on the counter and spied a kettle on the stove. "If fact fill this. It should be enough for all of us." He said to her before she left. Xander opened the stove and saw the trays. He grabbed one and headed outside. He passed Tia and Kieran, "Morning, I found Instant Coffee. I'll let you know when it's ready." He tossed the tray on the ground and started to look around for some rocks.

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Character Portrait: Kieran Adams Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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He frowned as the ray of light settled on his face, and craned his neck to remove his sleeping eyes from its glare. To no avail, the light soon crept up on Kieran again, and he frowned and winced as he awoke. A fleeting look of desperation hollowed his face, giving him a drawn, skeletal appearance, before he snapped fulling awake and returned to normal, smiling at her. 'Nice blanket, Kay,' Tia smirked. 'You're looking a lot better,' he mumbled, clearing his throat. 'Yeah,' she replied, looking round her, not meeting his gaze. 'Thanks for picking me up yesterday, I - ' She broke off. She didn't want to admit, to herself more than to Kieran, that she'd been just about done in. To have come this far, to have been this close to DeShaun's campus, to have survived so much, and not to have made it...

'Morning,' Xander said in passing. He didn't seem any less gruff than he had last night. 'I found instant coffee. I'll let you know when it's ready.' And he was gone again. 'Ugh, Mister Grumpypants,' Tia whispered to Kieran, grinning. Then she sprang to her feet in a flurry of thin arms and legs. 'Stay here, sleepy head, I'll get you some breakfast.'

She dashed lightly up the stairs to her room - her room? would they be staying long enough to claim rooms? - and got her open can of peaches. Passing the next room, she peeked inside at Lyra, still sleeping under the blanket she'd repositioned over her. Then her eyes fell on Rena's packet of cigarettes. Tia slid inside the half-open door and stepped lightly around the sleeping figure. Holding her breath, she slid one of the smokes from the packet, put it in her deep hoodie pocket, and tiptoed out again.

'Here, peaches,' she said, putting the can down next to Kieran's couch. 'They're Xander's and Lyra's really, but they don't mind sharing.' She thought for a minute, her head on one side. 'They're pretty cool really, letting us stay here, don't ya think?' She fished another slice of peach from the tin, held it lengthways in her teeth and gave Kieran a peachy grin and a wink, then turned on her heel and left.

Tia stood in the front door, swallowing her peach and watching the sun on Xandar's broad back as he wandered, his eyes cast down. As she started towards him, he bent down, picked up a rock and hefted it in his hand. Tia paused momentarily, wondering whether he was safe after all. Still, she'd slept safely, his sister had fed her. Those weren't the actions of someone who wished her harm. Nonetheless, she kept back about six feet when she came up and said: 'What ya doing? Collecting stones, huh?' She looked at the surrounding countryside as it came into focus as the rising sun burnt off the dawn haze. 'You and Lyra got a nice place. Pretty safe, huh?' She looked back at Xander. 'Sorry bout last night, all the shouting. I was pretty messed up. I got ya this.' She held out the cigarette, then started scanning the ground for stones similar to that Xander had picked up.