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Xander Coltman

"There is no God. God wouldn't let that monster that was my mother attack my sister."

0 · 207 views · located in Virginia

a character in “The Walking Dead: Survivor Chronicles”, as played by cheater0611

Description

Image

Name: Alexander Coltman

Nickname: Xander

Age: 29

Personality: Xander had grown up before any kid should have grown up. He's serious with his sister and was jokester with his friends. He was the type to have a smile on his face for everybody he would meet but would be depressed on the inside. After it started, he tried hard to keep that smile for his sister. He knew that the fact that he was smiling made her feel better. As weeks dredged by and events happened, Xander slowly stopped smiling while being looked at.

Looks: Xander stands roughly 5'9", he knows that's about average. As for his weight, he's a bit on the skinny side weighing in about 150. He used to weigh closer to 170, but he's been dropping weight fast. He's starting to look unhealthy. His face has started aging beyond his years. He's starting to get small wrinkles from all of his constant stress from protecting his sister. He also has his left pinky chopped off. It happened during the first day's of the plague.

Clothing: He wears what he can find. Right now he has found a black T-shirt, a pair of cargo pants, a pair of striped red and blue socks, a pair of steel toe boots with the one of the toes showing metal, and a black zip up sweatshirt. Before this would be what he would normally wear, except the boots. Xander hated wearing boots, he was more of a sneaker man.

Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual

Weapons: Xander's melee weapon is a baseball bat with nails pounded into the thickest part of the bat. His gun is a 1911M1 Colt, he found it in a police station along with his sister's gun.

Equipment: 5 cans of canned fruit, 2 cans of vegetables, 3 cans of beans, one can of bread, a can opener, 2 flashlights, a package of spare batteries, a half box of ammo for his gun, a box of ammo for his sisters' gun, and 3 clips for his gun (one is in the gun itself.)

Occupation: Xander was a Janitor during the nights and a machinist during the day.

Hometown: Danbury, Connecticut

History: Xander has had a mixed life. His childhood and his early teens were decent, but towards the end it started getting bad. His parents were always fighting and trying to get him to side with the other one. He always stayed neutral. When he was 16 he saw his fathers' dead body. His mother and Lyra were out shopping and Xander had gotten home from school. His father was in the garage hanging from the ceiling from his throat. A note by his feet said, "I'm sorry. I couldn't keep on living with the thought you hating me Em. I always have loved you even through the fights. Tell the kids I love them, so very much. They are my pride and joy, and tell Xander, I'm sorry for putting this burden on his shoulders."

Things got tough. His mother fell apart. She started to stay in her bed all day. Xander got two jobs, in the end it wasn't enough. They moved to a shitty apartment that he could afford. Xander always kept his little sister fed. There were times he went without food for days, but she never went hungry. After he graduated High school, he decided to stay in the apartment. He wanted to always watch over his sister. As the years went by, Xander became the law around the house. He tried to keep Lyra's freedom, but have a close eye on her. She didn't need to worry about what he was dealing with.

His mother died during the first days of the infection. Lyra never left their mother's side. Xander was in the kitchen when it happened. Lyra screamed and Xander was in the room in a flash. His mother was attacking her. Xander grabbed her in a head lock and started screaming for her to stop. That's when he tightend his grip and her neck snapped downward. Her spine was sticking out of her neck and her head was still moving. Xander jumped back and fell against the dresser, and his father's urn fell on his lap. He grabbed the urn and started bashing his mother's face in. After a few swings the thing stopped moving. Lyra was on Xander in a flash. She started sobbing and thanking God about how he saved her.

They left their apartment and headed South West. It wasn't safe in town anymore. They survived by finding canned goods. They wandered until they reached Virginia.

Family:
Mother (dead)
Father (dead)
Lyra: Sister (alive)

Other: We are the Walking Dead.

So begins...

Xander Coltman's Story

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Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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"Do you think we're safe here, Xander?" Lyra said as she looked out the second floor window. They had arrived in the manor last night. Their group was attacked by walkers. They only survived because they ran away. The door was open and they locked it behind them as they entered.

"I don't know, sis. I don't think anywhere is truly safe." Xander responded as he tried to open a can of fruit. In the back of his mind he was thinking about how they needed to find another group. The last one they had was held together by nothing more than common interest of surviving. They didn't care about each other. They didn't share food, and they sure as hell were not the nicest people on the earth. Xander killed a man in anger for trying to rape his sister. Nobody tried anything ever again.

"We need to find more people don't we?" Lyra walked over to her big brother. She took a seat next to him and laid her head on his shoulders. "I have told you lately that I'm glad your here with me. I wouldn't have made it this far with you."

"I wouldn't be sane right now, if you weren't here. I need you just as much as you need me. We're family, and I will never let anything bad happen to you." Xander finally got the damn can open. He handed the can to his sister and she started eating it.

"We don't have anymore peaches do we? I prefer peaches," She said in between bite of the canned fruit. After she was done, she and her brother sat in silence. After a few moments, Xander got up.

"I'm going to see if I can get to the roof from the attic. I want to make sure there's no walkers around. If you get in trouble fire a shot into the ground and I'll hear you. I won't be long." He made his way to the attic. There wasn't a way to the roof, but there was a bunch of windows in each direction.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Katie Halesworth

Moving at a pace more brisk than usual, for fear of the coming night, Katie trotted through the thinning woods, cross bow in hand. The dark may not be too close, but she still had to find some where to stay for the night. She didn't have to glance to her side to acknowledge the fact that Nick, her german shepherd, was right next to her. Along with hearing a pitter patter of his feet hitting the dead foliage, his presence had become something she could sense. As the brush thinned further, Katie slowed to a short-stepped walk, pausing next to a tree, her back against it, she reaching into her pocket and pulled out a map. It was of the Southeast. Tracing a path with her finger, she marked a segment about half a centimeter long, before tucking it back into her pocket, and glancing around. The coast seemed clear. "Good boy, she muttered, petting the top of Nick's head affectionately, before beginning to walk again, though on the edge of the woods, looking for signs of life... or undead life.

She had been on the move since when the outbreak began, walking during the day, hiding out and sleeping at night. So far, she'd only stayed in the same place more than once a few times, but after doing it, she regretted it. Hiding out in one place was so easy, and so comforting. Knowing that you'll see something approaching before it comes, and that you can just stay in place and they can't get you. But that's why she couldn't do it again. Katie didn't want to get used to something so sweet in a world that's so horrible. The only thing that kept her sane and okay had been Nick, but the fact that he was the only thing she could talk to might prove she wasn't sane. What's that? Her reminiscing was interrupted by a building coming into her vision, a large mansion, and though there weren't signs of life on the outside, there were chances there were some on the inside.

Katie couldn't help the excitement that sparked in her mind and eyes, the thought of being in the presence of another human too incredible to consider the wrongs that could happen, and were likely to happen. She started towards it, using the cover of the land to approach it before anyone inside could see her. Just before she was ready to start towards the building, to go to the door, she saw a figure dart forward, and knock on the door. Pulling up her crowbow, and looking through the scope, not planning on shooting the girl, but rather defending her if something bad was inside, slowly walking closer though, because if there were people inside, she would want in too. Pausing behind, but close enough that if the girl at the door turned around she would see her, Katie waited.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander was heard the comotion in the woods. As he got to the window he saw a girl running towards the manor. "Shit, she's a live one. They don't run." He started running down the stairs trying to catch her. Walkers were attracted by sound, everybody should know that. There were going to be here soon. As he passed his sister she looked at him from the window.

"We're going to help her right?" Lyra said grabbing her gun from waist band. Xander only nodded. He turned to her and motioned her to stay behind him. He heard the last of the knocks and rushed to the door. A million thoughts were running through his mind at once. They were mainly what ifs but, those didn't matter. Being a good person mattered. He opened the door and sternly said, "In the house, NOW." He watched her enter and looked around. He caught a shine in the distance. He gulped and jumped in the door so he wouldn't get hit.

*Meanwhile*

The girl was the first to enter, Lyra raised her gun with her finger on the side of the trigger guard. She hadn't taken a human life yet, and she wouldn't if Xander had anything to say about it. "D-don't move. We don't want any trouble." As she said that Xander entered. He didn't look happy.

"I took a chance. Now, time to see if it's paid off. Who's in the woods with the scope. Your friends? Were you going kill us and take our stuff?" Xander said angrily. He didn't want his sister getting hurt. Xander drew his gun preparing for the worst. He saw his sister gulp as she clicked off the safety. Her finger was still on the side of the trigger guard. So, she wouldn't fire the gun by mistake.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Rena stood at the door, tears still running down her cheeks as she glanced behind her and to each side. She didn't see any walkers, but her gun was still in hand. "Please, somebody...." she whispered as she moved her blue eyes onto the door. As if a God was answering her prayers, the door opened. The man gave her a stern look and commanded her to get inside. She quickly did so and nodded.

Inside the mansion, she stopped only a few steps inside and nearly burst into tears again, how ever she choked them back. She took a deep breath and stared up at the ceiling.
"D-don't move. We don't want any trouble."
She froze all movement except looking at the woman. She looked around the same age as the woman before her, who had the gun on her. "I-" she paused and looked at the ground. "I don't want any trouble. Just a place to stay." She mumbled before slowly setting down her gun, with one hand in the air to show she was surrendering. As she stood back up, with her arms raised in surrender still, she wiped under her eyes with one hand before moving it back. It did nothing but smear even more of her makeup that had started to slightly run from all her tears.

"I took a chance. Now, time to see if it's paid off. Who's in the woods with the scope. Your friends? Were you going kill us and take our stuff?"
Please, she whispered before trying to raise her voice just enough so she thought they could hear. "I came by helicopter from Texas. It was my brother and myself. However...." she choked up and tears slowly rolled down her cheeks. "We were attacked less than a mile from here and he didn't make it. We didn't know anyone was here." She finished in a sorrowful tone. "I don't know anyone else. I didn't know I was being fallowed. Its just me and Coon." She continued, moving her eyes back and forth from the pair. "If anything, let us stay for the night and we can leave in the morning if you wish. We wont take anything and we have food." She concluded before she finally stopped. She felt like she had been rambling. She was doing just that. Her nerves were shot and she needed a cigarette, more than ever. "One night...." she whispered, in almost a sob as her mind kept going back to her brother in the woods.

If on was to look at her, they would see blood on her neck and on her shoulder. It was a black with a simple red tint that hinted at what it was. Her hoodie once white, however now it was tainted with dirt and blood from killing walkers. In the center was a bright pink Hello Kitty head, which too was tainted. Her blue jeans were also dirty from her journey. She looked a mess. Her blue eyes were blood shot, her makeup was smeared, and her clothes were dirty. She looked like she had been through hell, but of coarse, thats because she had. Everyone was going through hell.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Katie Halesworth

Tension built up in her muscles as the door opened, a head poking out before the girl was pulled in. Shit she thought, realizing she may have just lost her opportunity by scaring away her only chance of survival. Katie glanced around, and though she saw no walkers she knew that the noise of movement in comparison to the dull buzz that usually filled the world was enough to attract zombies. Nick was looking up at her, his tongue out in a light pant. He was a rather large dog, probably bigger than the average german shep, but that was to her advantage. He made the perfect companion.

Using quick thinking, she tapped her leg to draw his attention, and sprinted to the door, half crouched so her body blended slightly with the land, but still moving fast. Nick was right next to her, the dogs constant devotion to protecting her pushing a small smile onto her face, as she paused at the door, trying the knob, before knocking loud enough for the inside to hear, but trying not to cause attention. Katie stood perpendicularly to the door, keeping a watch for any approaching walkers, and though she saw some movement in the thinning of the woods, she let it be. If it was a concern, it would come to her, but keeping watch was all she could do as she waited what seemed like endless seconds for the door to be opened so she could be moved to more of a safety place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander sighed as the girl talked. She just lost her brother, something he didn't want Lyra to go through. His head was screaming that he shouldn't trust her but, his heart was saying let her stay. He could overpower her if it came to it. He nodded his head and Lyra clicked on her safety and lowered her gun. There wasn't going to be any bloodshed if Xander had anything to do about it. "Alright you have your night. You can take one of the rooms upstairs." He sighed and continued, "I'm sorry that you lost your sibling. I don't want that for my sister. Lyra take her upstairs and make sure she's alright."

Lyra nodded, she was glad that he decided not to kick her out, or worse kill her. She never killed a human, Xander was always there to take care of it. "Come on sweetie, lets go get you cleaned up," she picked up the gun and handed it to the girl. Then she put her arm around the girl and started to lead her upstairs. As they left Xander started pacing back and forth. He got a shiver down his spine. Something bad was going to happen. That's when he heard another knock on the door. He groaned, he hasn't met this many new people since the begining of the outbreak. He opened the door with his gun in his hand with the safety off. When he opened it he saw another female and this time instead of a ferret there was a 150 lb German Sheppard.

"I don't suppose you want to sell Girl Scout Cookies, huh? Now, I'm guessing by your crossbow, that your the person I spied who was in the woods. Get in here. I don't want any trouble, Xander's my name." He didn't want to mess with that dog. It could do some serious damage. No, olive branches tend to get you farther than a gun in the face.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Katie Halesworth

Her uncomfort grew with each passing second, Nick seeming to have the same thought on his mind. Katie whipped her head around as the door opened, not needing his invite in to enter. She pushed in quickly, her arm holding the cross bow dropping to her side as she patted her leg again, Nick trotting right to her. Smiling slightly at the boy, she kneeled next to the dog. It's not that she trusted him enough not to have her scope trained on hima t all times, but she could hear voices upstairs, and if he wanted to kill her, there was so stopping him. Katie placed her cross bow on the ground, her knee instinctively going to cover it, she pet Nick's head, scratching behind each ear as the dog panted, then stood up, grabbing her cross bow.

"I'm Katie." She replied, waving slightly, before glancing down at Nick as a low, nearly silent growl formed in his throat, before he even stood. A smirk formed on her lips, her fingers triggering down at the dog to signal him to stop, and he did, his tongue coming out as he panted again. "I uh need some shelter." She hoped he wouldn't turn her out, and she more hoped that she would find a group she could form up with here, but that seemed out of the picture. Katie's eyes fluttered back down to Nick, then the boys eyes. "That's Nick."

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Rena sniffed shamefully as she nodded to Xander and thanked him. "Thank you so much." She whispered while taking in a deep breath and trying to calm herself down. "My name is Rena." She added, trying to remember her manners in such an odd predicament. "We could have made it....." She thought, wishing Logan had lived to make it here with them. Her eyes were on the ground until Lyra grabbed Rena's gun and handed it to her. She sniffed and nodded.

As the two made their way up the stairs Rena sniffled. "I'm sorry for the trouble." She mumbled before feeling a slight nuzzling against her cheek. She gave a small smile and glanced to her right to see Coon, her pet ferret. "Its good you have your brother though!" She tried to say cheerfully but it sounded sad. She couldn't erase the memory that was fresh on her mind. Her brother had taught her and helped her so much. If it wasn't for him, there was no way she would have survived this long. And now that he was gone, she worried that she might not survive much longer.

Setting

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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.

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.

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Character Portrait: Minya Polack Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Minya froze when he heard Xander's voice, but relaxed when the words in question were a joke...he hoped. "In these times. You can't be picky with where you sleep." he said as he slumped the dead man's body against the wall. "You had a bit of a Valka problem in your cellar, but it's taken care of." He pulled down his hood and looked back into the cellar. "And a cellar muffles the noise of a gun shot, and as much as I would have liked to be a bit quieter, that will have to do for now."

He rolled his shoulder in slight pain. Nevermind the fact that he's been on the move for a few days and needed a place to sleep, but he'd rather not be in a place that was taken and with people that could be hostile. "I don't suppose you would lend me the cellar to rest for a day or two? I mean no trouble since you didn't shoot me on sight." He pulled his horned hood up over his head as he headed back down into the basement.

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Rena closed her eyes for a moment, trying to keep her nerves calm as much as one could. Opening her eyes she headed towards the window, which she cracked open about a foot. "I hope you don't mind." She said as she pulled out a pack of Kool cigarettes and a lighter. She lit it up, without thinking and took a deep drag while letting her body slide down the wall right next to the window. She exhaled the drag, out the window and moved her hand which held the cigarette to the window so that the smoke would go out. "It helps my nerves." She mumbled before taking another hard drag off of the smoke and savoring it for a moment.

Her bag, which was still on the floor near Lyra started to move before Coon made his way out of it. He looked around the room for a moment before scurrying over to Rena. He nuzzled her free hand a little before curling up in her lap. She gave a small smile to the creature before petting its head with her free hand.

At the sound of the gunshots, Rena and Coon both jumped, however when Lyra confirmed Xander was already on the scene, she relaxed a little and decided to finish her cigarette.

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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: Katie Halesworth Character Portrait: Minya Polack Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Katie Halesworth

After Xander had come back, confirming the suspicion that there was someone in the cellar, though that it was okay, she muttered a soft, "that's good," before reaching into her back pack and looking around. It didn't take Xander to tell her that he thought it was unusually quiet, she was already thinking that. Katie was looking in her backpack for her other form of defense, and as Xander sat down on the stairs, then stood up, she simply nodded. "Yeah, okay, I'll still be here," she said, finding what she was looking for, though keeping it in her bag, at the top, before pulling it closed and walking to the stairs, sitting down at a place where she had a clear view through the window. Nick walked over to her, sitting at her feet, then laying down, looking up at her. A sloppy and light grin fell on her face as she looked at him, though she then remembered she would have to find something to feed him later. She had planned on getting some small animal on her walk around during the day, though she hadn't, and it was getting dark.

Her head whipped around at the sound of movement, recognizing the foot steps to be of someone a bit bigger than her. She sat in her place, assuming it was one of the many other occupants of the house, and watched as she saw their figure in the room over, moving. Katie sat in her place, just observing, knowing that the boy would next wander into the room she was in, thinking of whether or not she wanted to introduce herself. Try to make friends, these are probably the only people you will ever encounter for the next how ever long you are able to survive, she thought, looking down and scratching Nick's head, waiting for the boy to enter this room.

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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"A genny..." Xander was confused until she mentioned the fact that power was on in the garage, "Oh, a generator. No, we didn't turn one on. Too much noise couldn't risk it. I didn't find one either. However I didn't a good chance to look around yet. Hence the fact there was a bunch of walkers in the basement that I had no idea about." He was clueless about why the power was on. "There could have been a back up that's still running, but I highly doubt it." He still needed to figure out watch. He would take the first shift, maybe let Katie have second, "You can have the third and final shift. That way you can have ample time to work on your truck and the jeep. I'll help you push your truck in the garage when I get back from checking on my sister." He rubbed his eyes and headed back to the main part of the house. He wanted to check up on his sister and to see how the two girls were doing. Xander started up the stairs.

Meanwhile...

Lyra shot up and headed towards to where their stuff was. She dug through her bag and pulled out a water bottle. She tossed it up in the air and caught it with a little smile on her face. She went back to where the others were and unscrewed the bottle and handed it to the girl, "Here drink this very slowly. In fact, take a sip and swish around in your mouth. Then swallow." She heard footsteps coming up the stairs. "Rena, stay here with Tia. I'll be back," She left the room and closed the door behind her. She looked down the stairs and saw her brother's face. He flashed her a quick smile and was soon reached the top of the stairs.

"How's our patients?" Xander asked leaning up against the wall. He tried to keep his voice low so that they wouldn't hear him.

"Honestly, Tia doesn't look great. She's still severely dehydrated. Rena on the other hand is just shaken up." Lyra said leaning on the same wall and put her head on his side.

"So, I'm guessing Rena was the one smoking, Tia doesn't look the type." Xander said as his fingers was rapping on the wall.

"Yeah, I didn't see what type they were. All I know is they aren't your brand." Lyra sighed. When he ran out of cigarettes, for the first week he had gotten snappy and often flipped out on the others in their group.

"So, what do you think about joining up with these people? I know it's a bit of a stretch but, I think you will be safer in a group than with just me." Xander sighed, he really wanted to keep her safe. Even if he died tonight, he could die happy knowing that she was safe for the time being.

"I wouldn't be opposed to it, but even it was just you and me it would be just fine too." Lyra looked up and smiled at her big brother.

"Alright, that's two votes to joining a group. We'll talk about it in the morning with the others, right now I need a cigarette. Go back to Tia and Rena, and I'll be in shortly." Xander said getting away from the wall. He headed to the same room that Lyra got the water bottle and grabbed his entire pack. He followed his sister back into the room. "Rena, I really would like a pack of cigarettes, I'll trade you for one. Take anything you want from my backpack," He said as he dropped his pack on the ground. He turned to Tia, "You get to bed as soon as possible. You need your rest. That's not a request that's an order, and don't try to fight me on this one." He didn't care if he sounded harsh it was how the world worked. If you weren't up to snuff, then you aren't going to make it.

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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.

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Tia shifted from the doorway, lent her head against the wall and took the bottle Lyra offered with two hands. A little water dribbled over her chin as she took a mouthful, swallowed, and drank again. This one she swished around in her mouth as Lyra had instructed, then swallowed again. Then she patted the hand Rena had laid on her shoulder and offered her the bottle of water. 'Thanks, Rena. Hey, what a mess.' She looked up under the girl's bangs into her red-rimmed blue eyes. 'Sorry 'bout your brother, Rena. They got my little sister too.' Tia shuddered, recalling the blood squirting from Emeli's neck, and closed her eyes, forcing that awful memory back down. 'Nobody didn't lose no-one, I 'spose.' Her voice tailed off to a near-whisper as she looked back at Rena. 'I shot my own Grammy...'

She heard footsteps, most likely a man's, coming up the stairs, then a male voice low in discussion with Lyra. 'My brother's still out there though,' she said. 'Nothing's gonna stop DeShaun. He's at the university near here.' The last time Tia had shared her hope to be reunited with her giant brother had been with the hunters, before their attack. Green Bandana had stifled a grin; his scepticism about DeShaun's prospects had chilled her to the bone. There was no such look in Rena's eyes.

The door swung open and Tia scooted her legs up as a heavy-duty pair of boots stomped in. She glanced upwards into the harassed-looking face of a man who bore a passing resemblance to Lyra. He abruptly bargained with Rena over cigarettes, then barked down at Tia: 'Get to bed as soon as possible. You need your rest. That's not a request, that's an order, and don't try to fight me on this one.'

She slid back from him along the wall, and dragged herself upright by leaning on the bed for support. She locked her knees to stop them wobbling and threw her hood over her head. 'Hey, fuck you, man,' she yelled. 'You can't tell me what to do, the doc said I'm fine.' Her vision blurred again, and she sat down on the bed. 'Just cos this is your house, no-one made you the boss. I got a million cigarettes, and I ain't givin' you none of them!'

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Rena's blue eyes focused on Lyra as she tossed the bottle of water in the air. She gave a small smile as she caught the bottle then looked to Tia. She wanted to ask if she was ok, but she decided not to. She watched Lyra hand Tia the bottle and give her instructions. She nodded, taking in the instructions she gave Tia.

As Lyra went out the door, Rena nodded and stood. She was in a daze and she could barely even function. She was so tired that everything was starting to spin. She moved back to her spot by the window and looked at her pack of smokes that laid on the ground. Coon was sitting next to them, gazing at her. "You hungry baby?" She asked, her words a slur. Coon ran over to her bag, which was still across the room closer to Tia, and climbed inside. Everyone could hear the rustling in the bag of Coon munching on his snacks.

As she sat there, she listened to Tia talking. She never replied, however she listened to every word. When Tia spoke of her own brother, Rena gave a small smile. Silently she prayed to whichever god would listen that DeShuan was alright. She had never met him, and she doubted she ever would. However, she knew the pain all to well of losing a sibling.

A loud grumble echoed from Rena's stomach right as Xander walked in. She gazed up at him and watched as he plopped his bag in front of her. She nodded and gave a small whistle, which took a few times to get it right. Coon stuck his head out of her bag and she showed him her pack of smokes. The little creature moved back into the bag for a second before pushing a pack out of the bag, climbing out himself, and sliding the pack of smokes over to her, using his nose. "Good boy." She said then handed the back of smokes to Xander. "You got any food?" She asked hopefully. "Nothing big, just a sandwich or something?" She asked doubtfully. Whenever Tia replied to Xander, Rena shook her head and laughed a little. "I'm sure he means no harm." She mumbled, hoping she heard her.

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Character Portrait: Rebecca Clarke Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Xander kept a neutral face while Tia snapped at him. The only thing gave away how angry he was, was his right hand curled itself into a fist. Lyra was a bit taken back. She hadn't figured that she would react like that. However, she used to do the same thing when she was younger. Now, she did what her brother told her to do. "Objection noted. I'm the boss here because, I know what it takes to survive in this hell. Now, Lyra will give you something to eat, finish that water bottle and off to bed. I'm done hearing about this." His voice was level the entire time, he then took a deep breath and turned to Rena. His fist released and his attitude changed.

"No sandwich, sorry. Got a can of bread if you want that, if not. Just go through my pack and look for something. You want it, it's yours. Now, I'm going to leave my bag here and take that pack," as he finished talking he lightly grabbed the pack of cigarettes and headed out. He slammed the pack against his hand and opened it. He stuffed the trash in his pocket and grabbed a smoke. He checked his pocket for his lighter and sighed. It died last week. He hadn't gotten the chance to find another one. He decided to search the kitchen. He opened a drawer and found a book of matches. He opened it and saw that there was only 3 left, "Guess, if she has cigarettes then I could bum a light every now and again." He light a match and light his cigarette. As he inhaled the smoke he felt his nerves to calm down. He headed out to the garage.

"Hey Becky. I'm here to help you push that truck. I said I would." Xander said after letting a breath of smoke out.

Meanwhile...

After Xander left Lyra turned to Tia, "I'm sorry about that. He's under a lot of stress, everybody is a lot of stress I guess." Lyra didn't know what to say. She was used to being told what to do. Xander usually knew best. That doesn't mean she didn't have an opinion about the things he choose to do. He didn't have to bark orders, but that's how the world works. Lyra sighed and said, "Alright, we have some of everything here, peaches, pineapples, pears, beans, and bread." Lyra said taking the cans out of Xanders' pack.

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Character Portrait: Mirena Prevex Character Portrait: Tia Kirby Character Portrait: Lyra Coltman Character Portrait: Xander Coltman
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Her Grandaddy used to curl his fist and speak levelly like that too, Tia recalled. Usually it was when DeShaun, as a youngster, had had a brush with the law, committed some petty crime or other. His reasoning, DeShaun had explained to Tia not long before he left for university, was that, at their lowly station in life, any misstep could spell disaster - jail, drug addiction, even crippling injury or death. The stakes were the same now, Tia realised, and this man was fighting for his family's life as hard, harder even, than her Grandaddy had fought for her, DeShaun and Emeli. She pulled down her hood as she lowered her gaze from his. 'Sorry,' she mumbled as he turned away, and sat meekly until he stomped downstairs again.

She supped at the water bottle as Lyra made excuses for her brother. She sounded hesitant, surprised by the outburst, and busied herself with his pack. Tia glanced up at Rena for her reaction to the shouting match. 'Guess I shoulda kept it shut up,' Tia ventured. 'I didn't mean to upset anyone. Thanks for taking me in.' But as Lyra listed the cans in her brother's pack, Tia felt a spark of rebellion rise from deep within. 'Still, I made it here on my own. He ain't the only one still living.'

However, her weakness returned with a vengance as she tried to open a can of peaches. Her shaking hands could barely grasp the ring pull, and it spun from her grasp half open, the jagged metal cutting her index finger deeply. Tia cried out as blood quickly welled up in the cut and spilled down her wrist. The half-opened can lay on the bed next to her, spilling its juice.

Tia felt the tears prick the back of her eyes, and slapped her hands to her face to hide them. She'd already fallen twice and been shouted down in front of Rena and Lyra; she didn't want to humiliate herself further. She took a deep breath to calm herself again, and scooped up the can, drinking off the rest of the juice and swallowing loudly. She licked the last drops from her lips, and tasted the sharp rich salt of her own blood where her finger had bled on her cheek. She rolled her eyes at Lyra. 'Oh my days, what kind of a mess am I?'

She undid the bandana from round her neck, poured the last drops of the water onto it, and wrapped it round her cut finger. Pulling open the can, she tentatively got to her feet and walked slowly back to the room Kieran had put her in first. She climbed into bed, fished one of the slippery pieces of fruit out of the can, and promptly fell asleep.