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Realistic or Modern 𝗙𝗜𝗥𝗦𝗧 𝗟𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧 — at the end of the world



the one and only
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Bullyboy Squad

pure of heart, dumb of ass

The forest was changing with the passing season. Entertaining the quiet dirt road with whispering leaves and chatty birds playing in the crowns. Preventing the abandoned, ramshackle school bus rolled in the ditch from rusting in silence. It was surrounded by the sand-caked, soulless remains of those who didn't make it. Time slowly ate away their flesh-stripped corpses, abusing with the wildlife, exposing to the elements.

"Slow down."

The massive pickup truck whooshed by the tree line leaving billows of dust in its wake. It sped towards the long forgotten massacre sprawled all across the path ahead. The cab was quiet, disturbed only by the rush of air cut by the vehicle and the rap of fingers against the steering wheel. Along with the grumbling from the back of the cab.

"Slow the fuck down, you know I hate it when you—" Man's words wobbled, distorted by the jerking rocking of the car that ran straight through the skeletons-strewn ground. Accompanied by the cackle of the driver. Followed by the curses from the back.

"Don't be mean, Sunshine." Cabrera warned the driver from the passenger seat, the only reason he paused chewing his gum. Deprived of the fresh, minty flavor it tasted like nothing but it helped him remain vigilant during the monotone ride. His dark gaze shielded by the military styled sunnies zeroed in on the distant letters painted in italics. Welcome to the town of…

"Northview." He rolled down the window and reached out. Twirling his palm in the air he gradually stopped the convoy and glancing to the side mirror he saw his marksmen hopping out from the car behind theirs, rushing towards the designated vantage point. Good. He spat the gum outside and patted the door. "Let's go." They moved again and Cabrera searched one of the men in the rear view mirror.

"Rez." He waited until their eyes met. "You're going out with me. Gonna play nice and easy unless they do stupid, got it?" Ignacio's tone carried the clear notes of an order. His men knew he always tried to avoid casualties.

"Angel 1 to Daddy." The static coated transmission filtered through the walkie talkie clipped to the leader's belt. "We're in position."

He pulled the device up to his mouth and clenched it. "You heard our Angels, boys and girls." Watching the built up area rise from the horizon his mouth stretched with a smirk. "It's show time."

The vehicles slowed down on approach, some flanking the front of the fenced compound, others parking in the vicinity of the chained gate. Cabrera swung the door open and his hiking boots hit the rutted blacktop. Leaving his rifle in the cab as a sign of faux trust he still had his tactical FN tucked to the drop-leg holster on right thigh covered in camo pants. Despite that and the Kevlar strapped over a plain, gray t-shirt he looked surprisingly casual thanks to the dark blue Dodgers cap turned backwards over his mussed hair.

Stopping between the rag-tag bandits-filled trucks and the front of the Northview community he tipped his head back, hollering. "HELLO NEIGHBOURS!"

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Bullyboy Squad

pure of heart, dumb of ass

Was it worth it?

The words sneered in his face by one of the enforcers still rung in his head. Split by the pounding headache at the back of his skull where they knocked him out. Andrew combed his grizzled hair with a trembling hand, feeling the wet, thin strands and the sticky touch of blood where it hurt the most. But he couldn't see red on his fingers in the pitch-black cell. Not a splinter of light braving through the thick, metal door.

The muffled roar broke the silence, ripped through the concrete somewhere from above. Another fallen man hit the battleground, stained by sweat, blood, and tears of those before him.

Andrew shuffled closer to the corner, his broken mind seeking shelter in the dark confinement. He shivered when his bare skin brushed the mold covered walls, all they offered was a cold cradle that his chilled body couldn't stand. He leaned away with a shaky breath filled with despair.

Was it worth it? The man licked his chapped lips and swallowed hard against sore throat, unable to answer. But he knew that no matter the consequences, what he did, was the right thing to do.

Rhythmic thuds from above picked up his heart rate. Like an army marching in one place, their hammering feet punching dust off the ceiling. Andrew drew his limbs closer, hands fisting, whole body braced. He knew that chanting. Demand heard in the hundreds of voices. The blood sport. And God, for what, for human entertainment. But they've been there already, for centuries. Societies feeding the population with gore and pain of their unlucky brothers and sisters. Didn't they evolve by now? Did the end of days so easily push mankind back to dark ages? Were they this hopeless.

The heavy mechanism of the solitary cell released the door with a clunk. Andrew dug his nails into curled palms, shutting his eyes tight for a few heartbeats. Bracing shattered soul for what was to come.

On your feet soldier. His own order reverberated in his head and the man sprung up despite the burn in his joints.

Gunnery Sergeant's dog tags clinked as his naked body, wrapped only in the fabric around his groin, erected with the last shards of dignity and pride. Chin up high even though his eyelids fluttered closed at the sting of the dim light flooding the tiny space. Rough hands grabbed him from both sides, and the nameless men dragged him out of the ward.

Andrew staggered, blinded when they pushed him into the brightly lit cage. Thunder in his ears chased the rabbiting heart, his gaze momentarily dropping to the stains of blood on the filthy ground. Vivid, still fresh. Then he lifted it and spun around in the search of a single kind face. Jeering of corrupt souls enveloping the bullpen with a tight cordon was deafening. The asymmetry of the organic body of the crowd breathed and waved in the murk, vibrating the foot-thick walls like low bass in the club. Their stinking heat pervaded the room up to the tall ceiling. He could smell the familiar blend of fear, anticipation, and lust. Lust for violence.

Andrew stopped but his pulse quivered when he watched another person in the shadows, escorted by two guards. His opponent. His fate… Because that night, only one of them would get out of the cage alive.

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN." The baritone voice flew freely from the speakers all around the prison. They knew that voice. Lieutenant Derek Boone who normally would be right by the cage. Keeping an eye on the fight. This time he was watching from the control room, speaking to the microphone.

"Tonight you are all in for a special treat. The man before you attempted to sabotage our weapons. The tools we use to keep men like him safe. He bit the hand that feeds him and he will suffer the consequences! Just like his opponent. By some of you called brother. Who pretended to be one of us while planning to stab us in the back!" There was a pause before the man spoke with cold conviction.

"The winner will get a second chance to prove his loyalty and worth. Begin."

Thirty minutes earlier…



Dandy Connoisseur

The future is upon us, men. By securing the helicopter we will soon possess the ability to reach new places, meet new people and create bigger relationships with communities outside of Ohio,” King announced, seasoning his speech with hopeful banter - though his intentions were malevolent in truth.

This will single handedly secure our survival, giving us the power to expand our interest. Our mission is simple; get this man to the hospital safely until the repairs are complete.” King turned to face their new comrade, the pilot Gunderson who was shackled to his knees next to him and at the danger of gunpoint. King stared at him from above, privileged and powerful.

We're going to own the world.”


It had been weeks since the helicopter’s repairs were underway. Gunderson had been transported daily from Lincoln to the hospital every morning and brought back every night. The man endured twelve hour working shifts, but all for the guaranteed survival of his military brothers - who were not on this mission and at the mercy of King. Samaritan enforcers oversaw Gunderson’s work, providing the necessary equipment to fix the chopper while others remained posted around the hospital overnight to secure the location from looters and the dead while repairs were made.

Today was the quoted final day of repairs however, a monumental day in King’s eyes. By dawn, the helicopter would be mobile and taken back to Lincoln walls for future expansion. King himself decided to join the convoy on this day - the taste of grandeur calling him outside of walls he rarely ever left. Gunderson was on the chopping block to pull this off - his men’s lives on the line, not to mention his own - so everything had to go perfectly.

Their convoy, a black Chevy Suburban driven by King’s bodyguard Lawerence, rushed through the downtown city streets towards the hospital. King sat in the back seat, the rest of the vehicle empty to his liking - a sophisticated power move; all of his decisions had purpose. Radio silence from the overnight crew worried King, an unsatisfied expression looming over his brow as he peeked through the back window to see the second vehicle trailing behind. He fixed his tie before trying the radio again; static.

Within the second vehicle was everyone else on the mission; Gunderson the pilot, Doctor Diana, their mechanic Rocky and a couple more of King’s enforcers. Their prize possession was Gunderson, a military pilot who became indebted to King the second he and his men stepped foot within Lincoln limits. Their unfortunate capture became King’s lottery ticket. He now had a clear pathway to the future.

Be careful pulling up Lawrence, I can’t seem to reach anyone on the radio,” King instructed, eyes fixed through the front window at the stillness of the hospital entrance. The doors were closed but not a single Samaritan in sight. As the convoys came to a stop, King waited for his door to be opened before exiting the vehicle - fixing the sleeve of his expensive overcoat as his feet landed on the pavement below. He looked around at all the dead vehicles that blocked most of the streets and the empty buildings that surrounded the city - trying to find something to ease his wordiness but to no avail; everything was dead.

As the rest of the crew exited their vehicle, King instructed Toni to try and reach the overnight crew again; static came from his radio as well. King faced the hospital entrance once more, an eerie feeling in his gut but a determination to finish the mission once and for all.

Get Gunderson inside, let’s get this done.”



Mr. Heartbreaker


Scene One:
The Convoy

Xander squatted at the edge of the school's roof, peering out at the horizon. One of Nari's custom air rifles was propped against the brick AC unit behind him -- though in truth he wasn't even scheduled for a shift on sentry duty. Jose (the man who was on the current shift) at the opposite side of the roof, absolutely hated it when Font "hovered" like this, in fact... though he had long since given up on complaining.

How did Xander explain that it was nothing personal? That it was practically a compulsion which drove him to come up here day after day and stare out at that void, watching for something that never came? He was no fool. He knew well enough that several within the school had little if any confidence in his leadership. Admitting that he was paranoid to that degree might invite something worse than mere gossip.

Xander caught Jose starting at him out of the corner of his eye and he pretended not to notice, glancing at his watch. Damn. He was supposed to meet Mackenzie in a few minutes to go over the medicinal stocks. The past few weeks in the wake of the ambush on their scouts had been... taxing. Xander had been reluctant to send more scavengers out for a repeat performance, but their supplies were dwindling and everything within miles of the school had been absolutely picked clean, necessitating that their scouts travel farther and stay out longer. Larger packs of the undead had entered the region, none quite showing an interest in the school just yet beyond a few roamers which were easily dealt with... but it wasn't a prospective horde of ghouls that kept Font up at night.

With a deep sigh, he cast another glance out at the horizon before standing up on creaking knees to heading toward the roof access door, giving Jose the slightest of nods as he did. Xander made his way down the stairs at a measured pace, his broken body as always protesting the movement, before heading through the corridor to the "infirmary" (the nurse's office that Mackenzie and Pandora had expertly repurposed). He saw the former Corpsman inside, waiting for him. "Hey, Doc," he greeted the man. "What have you got for me?" Font asked, hoping against hope that the tally would surprise him in a good way.

He never got to find out. His radio crackled to life, Jose on the verge of a breakdown rambling about a convoy of vehicles approaching the school. Armed men. A dozen of them, more. Xander felt the pit in his stomach -- so wide he thought it might open up and swallow him whole. It was here: the looming cloud that had haunted his mind's eye for weeks. The thing Cox had tried to warn him about before slipping away. Font swallowed hard, steeling himself before making eye contact with Mackenzie and snatching the radio off his belt to begin transmitting. "You know the drill. We're going into lockdown. Arm yourselves and secure every entrance. All available sentries to the rooftop. Non-combatants barricade themselves in the classrooms," his tone sounded more resolute than he felt.

Xander turned, making to march out of the infirmary before pausing and looking over his shoulder at Mackenzie. "Doc... I hate to say this, but I've got a feeling we may be needing your services one way or another by the time this is all said and done," he remarked grimly. With that, he made his way back up to the roof, considerably faster than he'd gone down... knowing full well he'd pay for it later in the form of aches and pains. He approached the edge of the roof, glancing over it to see a man exit in camouflaged pants with a confident gait... a gait Font knew well. He'd seen it plenty over the years, in a different life. He pursed his lips as the man cupped his hands to his mouth, calling out to them. Font found his hand fingering the grip of the Colt at his hip... but his eyes flicked to either side, taking in the sight of the firepower flanking this visitor and he swallowed hard before responding with a shout of his own, "Hold your fire! I'm coming down to meet you!"

If these newcomers were interested in killing them all -- which, of course, still wasn't off the table -- chances are they'd have gotten right to it rather than giving up the element of surprise and violence of action. They were clearly after some manner of negotiation. If there was any hope of avoiding a bloody firefight that Xander wasn't positive his people would emerge from unscathed, he would take it. He turned, spotting the rope ladder nearby -- a feature they had implemented lately and used to help the rooftop sentries quickly and efficiently move to the ground from the roof and vice versa without opening up the school's ground floor entrances to danger. Seeing Mackenzie and Dutchess nearby he nodded to them. "Help me with this."

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Bullyboy Squad

pure of heart, dumb of ass

The Convoy

Greg's homeland accent twisted by Southern American twang ricocheted off the hallway walls. "I shook her up, I shook her down, Heave away, Haul away!" The knocking of the crutches and thumps of a single boot against the floor almost timed with the subsequent verses of the old shanty.

"I shook her up and down the town! Bound for South Austraaaliaaaa!" Buster swung his hefty body into the school kitchen, instantly dominating the space with his propped frame, cast covered leg, and impossible attitude.

"Oy." His gaze fixed on the two scavengers, Arthur and Brielle, picking up cans and other non-perishables that they miraculously found in a nice basement stash a few towns out, now stocking them on the shelves. "Got something good for me, Sexy Pants?" He asked and hobbled over, attempting to slap the older male's ass as if to jokingly indicate he was asking him instead of his beautiful companion that Greg just winked to.



The Fashionable Crab

The Helicopter

Jamie blinked his bleary eyes awake, squinting at the unfiltered sunlight as someone opened the car door next to him. He was halfway through saying something intelligent like 'What?' when a duffle bag loaded with tools and spare parts was thrown into his gut, driving the breath out of him. A second later, the enforcer grabbed him by the arm and tugged him out of the car seat he'd fallen asleep in. Jamie stumbled to his feet while clutching the bag to his chest. It was never gentle with these people.

Lima, a small Ohioan city of thirty-four thousand, was unusually quiet today. Even on their better visits to the city, you could still hear the distant groans of dozens of undead. They never wandered too close to the hospital or the one clear road leading to it, but they always stuck just inside of hearing range. Sometimes they'd go mostly quiet and stay in one area, and other times Jamie and his wardens would have to turn right back around and return to the prison because there was too much activity to safely make it to the hospital.

But never dead silent. You could always hear activity from the hordes in the city, even if you couldn't see it. It was...unnerving.

Especially considering they refused to give Jamie a weapon. A year on the road had instilled in him the fact that a firearm would always be his closest friend. They'd taken the MP5 he'd had ever since Seattle and refused to give him anything even remotely dangerous, so his nerves were understandably frayed every time he had to make the trip through the undead-filled streets of Lima without a weapon. The Samaritans were under the assumption he'd go on a suicidal rampage if he ever got his hands on anything too sharp, even though all that would accomplish would be getting him and his remaining friends lined up against a wall and read their rites.

Jamie was pushed along by one of his wardens toward King, with him muttering "Alright, alright, I'm moving" under his breath with each shove. It'd been three months, and being treated like a prisoner was no less degrading or frustrating than the first day. Before this, the closest he'd ever come to a prison cell was his college dorm.

He was exhausted. He'd slept maybe eleven hours in the last three days, and that had to have been the most he'd gotten in weeks. The air ambulance King had ordered him to fix, was, simply put, a piece of shit. It was a Bell 212 with an atrocious amount of problems stemming from a year of roughing the elements with the only form of maintenance to speak of being a new red livery. RE: Blood splatters. The control console had been fried, the rotor and main engine were fucked, and Jamie, honestly, vomited at the mere sight of the tail rotor. Someone had obviously picked a fight with the tail rotor mid-operation because it had been splattered with blood, viscera, and brain matter. He could only assume they lost.

Jamie would have called it a lost cause then and there if he weren't under threat of death to fix it. King could've thrown a 4x4 plank of wood at his face, asked 'Can you fly it?', and Jamie's exact words would've been 'Abso-fucking-lutely'. As it was, he got to work. After nearly three months of work, the console was finally functional again, the engine wasn't threatening to blow out every time he fired it up for longer than fifteen minutes, and the main rotor wasn't threatening to detach from the helicopter and fly off on its own. It wasn't perfect of course, since the main and secondary radios were still completely wrecked and Jamie was worried the tail rotor would give under sustained flight. The tail rotor was the last thing he had to make sure he fixed before they could be on their way back to Lincoln, and Jamie was positive it would be a simple enough fix.

If it wasn't, King might just have him killed for wasting their time. A part of him knew he likely wouldn't-they'd spent too much time and effort to just throw away their chance at a functioning helicopter now-but it was a harrowing thought. He felt like he'd been staring down the barrel of his own mortality for three months straight, just waiting for someone to pull the trigger.

That sobering thought aside, Jamie continued trudging forward toward the hospital entrance. It was a squalid building, four stories tall with floor-to-ceiling windows stained green from mold and mud where there wasn't crumbling brick. There was a small sky bridge with cracked windows spanning over a small car park to a nearly identical Eastern building. They always shied away from the Eastern building, afraid of what might pop out since they thought it had been too dangerous to clear it. They'd barricaded every exit of the building, but it never eased their concerns. The parking lot had long since been cleared, but it didn't soften the uneasy sight of burnt-out and abandoned ambulances coated in dried blood and rotten viscera. In a few ambulances, there were even a few rotting corpses still strapped into the back on stretchers.

Jamie was at the head of the group as they entered the hospital, mostly because no one was bothering to walk faster than him. Him, King, Rocky, Diana, Denise, Toni, and Lawrence entered with four other enforcers, two of which had been his armed guards for the past three months.

The interior was no better. They'd never bothered restarting the power in the building and natural light quickly faded in the hallways, so it was almost pitch black where the light of their flashlights didn't hit. The night guards didn't stay on the first floor, only the upper floors. They'd barricade the stairwells and try not to draw too much attention when Jamie and his wardens weren't around to fix the helicopter. There was copious amounts of water damage and mold growing on the floor, and at some parts, the water pooled so much that it almost reached above Jamie's shoes. The ceiling tiles were hanging down where they hadn't already fallen from the ceiling and at more than a few sections he'd had to duck under tangles of electrical wires where fluorescent lights had fallen down.

It was an ominous setting, sure, but Jamie wasn't overly concerned. The night guard always cleared the first floor of any wandering undead every morning and evening.

The exact moment he thought that, the distant squeak of a door swinging a few halls down caught his attention. Evidently, the rest of the group had heard it too, since nobody was keen on moving or making too much noise.

It was probably...a rat. Yeah.

The sound of something large and metallic banging against the wall sounded from where the door had swung open, and suddenly Jamie wasn't so sure that was a rat anymore.

It could've just been one of the night guards searching the first floor for any stragglers. The thought eased his worries. They might have just wandered in on the guards doing the routine checks of the building. Jamie changed course to investigate, because if it was a night guard he'd need them to unlock the stairwell for them, he had an escort of armed guards protecting him in case it was a zombie, and if it was the third alternative then Jamie was fairly confident he could take a rat in a fight.

He passed by a door missing its doorknob swinging listlessly on its hinges and an overturned stretcher before stopping at an office with its door knocked onto the floor. Jamie erred on the side of caution and stuck back from the doorway, waiting for the rest of the group to follow behind him before leaning into the room. The light he shone in was dim-because his wardens only gave him a flashlight that barely worked-but he could a figure walking across the back of the room before bending to the floor, most of their lower body concealed by a desk. Jamie could barely make out their movements or who they were, but he recognized their dirty red leather jacket as the one always worn by one of the night guards. Vinny, he thinks their name was.

"Vinny? Wha-"

Jamie's cut off by the squeal of a rat as Vinny grabbed it off the floor and stood up, sinking its teeth into it with a disgusting squelch of tearing fur and rending flesh. The rat gave one last death before falling silent. Vinny whipped their head to face Jamie in the doorway a moment later, mouth matted in blood, fresh and dry alike.

Oh. He thought, almost comically. That's not Vinny.

With a display of speed only shown by the freshly turned, not-Vinny lunged across the room towards Jamie. Jamie barely had enough time to get his hands up before he was tackled to the floor at the rest of the group's feet, his flashlight skidding out of his hands. The force of the zombie ramming into him drove the breath out of him and the crack of his body against the dirty tiled floor reverberated down the hall. His head slammed against the tiles, dazing him momentarily as the zombie above him adjusted itself to go in for the kill.
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Baron of Bad Boys


Thirty minutes earlier…

Standing in front of the mirror above his dresser, Weston pulled on one of his favorite t-shirts - black, with a simple Metallica logo on it. One of the scavengers brought it back for him on special request from one of their runs. He probably could have just taken it and nobody would complain, given his station, but that wouldn’t be fair. He was afforded a lot, being second in command, but he was careful not to ever take too much or go too far over the line. Being greedy just made you a target, especially with the people that didn't have anything. Instead, he came to a… private arrangement with that particular scavenger, for the shirt and a few other things. He didn’t mind. The scavenger was good looking, so it would make for a good, and fair, standing agreement. Just how he liked it - mutually beneficial, and quiet.

Freshly showered, combed, and now dressed, Weston almost looked like the world hadn’t gone to Hell in a handbasket. He’d even trimmed his beard that day - not by much, just enough to keep it looking tidy. Putting on his leather jacket and lacing up a fairly new (by their standards) pair of combat boots, he was ready to make an appearance before the residents of Lincoln.

Today was going to be a special event. A cage fight - but not any cage fight - one that was intended to reassert the intended way things were supposed to work around here. Regardless of what the general populace wanted to think or dream for this place - or whatever line of bullshit King fed them during his speeches - this wasn’t a shining utopia of freedom and kindness. This was a dictatorship, and Weston had it good, being this close to the top. Trying to stir up a rebellion was not going to fly around here, and he was going to make damn sure of that. And, as much as Weston felt obligated to make sure the general populace wasn’t completely run over by King’s whims, he wasn’t about to let them start getting ideas in their empty damn heads.

After doing one last check of the handgun he had holstered to his side, under his jacket, he lit up a cigarette to puff on as he headed across the main building. He had a date for this event to go find.

It was almost entirely for show at this point - showing up to the fight with their most exclusive hooker on his arm. Truthfully it made him a little nervous. He had other things tonight he should be focusing on, and small-talk with some woman he slept with merely because he could (and sometimes needed to get things out of his system) was not something he knew how to do. It was going to be just as awkward as their pillow talk, only this time he couldn’t escape, or shoo her away. He'd much rather be watching the fight, and the crowd's reactions.

“Knock knock, ladies.” Weston announced himself as he entered the bar area where the whores usually hung around, neither knocking nor stopping at the doorway. He stepped up to the nearest table, putting out his cigarette in a freshly-cleaned ash tray. It was a nervous smoke and he finished that cigarette in record time.

Glancing around the room, he first nodded to the other hooker he visited on the sly - Tigran, a handsome Armenian man in his 20s with a disarming grin who was busy washing some glasses - before spotting Valentine. He ambled over to her, thumbs looped around his belt casually, ignoring the way Tigran looked like he was about to bust out laughing from the way Weston obviously avoided looking at him too much.

“You ready? We got front row tickets for watching some dumbasses beat the shit out of each other. Should be fun.” He actually sounded like he thought it’d be fun, for some reason.



The Fashionable Crab


The Convoy

Mackenzie slowly fed the paste into Harry's feeding tube, careful not to pour to quickly and possibly choke the man. Mackenzie had to give Harry food and water by hand two times a day via an improvised feeding tube he'd made himself. Harry couldn't eat solid food, given how he didn't have the mental faculties to chew, so Mackenzie had to make a homemade health food paste from fruits and vegetables for the man to eat.

It had been days since Harry first fell unconscious, and Mackenzie had long since declared him comatose. He didn't think it was likely he'd ever wake up, but he couldn't find it in him to call the man a lost cause. He'd saved his life once already and he didn't want that effort to go to waste. He wanted the man to wake up, though he'd never say he was rooting for him. He might not know when or if the man would wake up, but he knew for a fact that Harry was going to name his firstborn child after Mack after all the shit he went through to keep the man alive.

Mackenzie was halfway through cleaning Harry's feeding tube when Font waltzed in with a "Hey, Doc. What have you got for me?"

"We're low on antibiotics," Mackenzie began immediately, still scrubbing at the feeding tube, "And disinfectant. And, pretty much everything, actually. I wrote up a list on the stock here, and it's-" Mackenzie grabbed a notepad off his desk, skimmed it, and threw it back, "-Bad. The stocks are bad, Font. If someone steps on a rusty nail, I'm cutting off the foot. That's how low we are. Christ, we're down to kisses and bandaids here, we need more medical supplies or the next person in here is leaving in a body bag. Oh, and we need a bedpan for Harry. Stat. If I have to clean his bed after he pisses himself one more goddamn time-You're not listening to me. Alright." Mackenzie threw his hands in there, finally noticing Font stuck in conversation on the radio.

It was then he heard keywords like 'lockdown' and 'arm yourselves' that Mackenzie suddenly became a lot less interested in cleaning Harry's tube. He patted his right hip, feeling the holster of his old service pistol. He slept with the thing strapped on, only ever taking it off to shower.

"Same page, Font" Mackenzie agreed with the man, hopping from his seat to follow after them out of the infirmary and up to the roof, matching him step for step. As ordered, he grabbed the rope ladder and began lugging it across to the edge of the roof. His injured muscles strained under the weight of the bundled ladder-more than they reasonably should have, really-but he accomplished it nonetheless.

Mackenzie set a hand on Font and Dutchess' shoulders before continuing. "Alright, both of you remember. Get shot, you're losing a limb," Mackenzie said before deciding he should at least add something encouraging into the mix, "Go team?"

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New Member

2 The Helicopter

There was something quite liberating about driving. Lawrence found the experience something akin to what life was once like. The freedom of movement. The joys of the open road. It was all coming back to him. Despite the nearly total silence that Lawrence experienced as he speedily drove the black Chevy Suburban down the ominous city streets, Lawrence felt like he was on cloud nine. King was not too chatty. But that seemed normal. He was far too engrained in the thoughts of the mission at hand. In contrast, Lawrence found it easy to combine the moment’s seriousness and enjoy the experience. Still, the boss was the boss, and if he took something seriously, then Lawrence would too. That was just the way of it.

Driving the city streets was like navigating through a maze. It was not as if the world ended, and everyone parked their cars in nice, tightly knit positions. The number of tickets one could hand out for being illegally parked was immense, and Lawrence turned the steering wheel back and forth to weave around more than he held the wheel straight. However, the route was somewhat known and easy to follow. After all, there was a steady stream from point A to point B over the last little while. The damn work was taking so damn long. However, Lawrence was not overly bothered with the speed of the work. He appreciated that the work could get done. But the need for speed? No. Lawrence was in no hurry. He had plenty of things that he could be doing. Still, he felt he could sense King’s anxiety. It was he who wanted the damn thing done. Therefore, Lawrence wanted it done, too, in some strange sort of osmosis-like fashion.

Slowly arriving, Lawrence gave out an almost inaudible hum as he slowed the vehicle to a stop, tossed it in park, and killed the engine. He was quick on his feet. King would not wait forever, and Lawrence had to open his door. The man was big enough to do it himself. But that was not his job. That was someone else’s. And Lawrence was delighted to oblige. Bursting forth and walking to the rear side of the vehicle, Lawrence opened King’s door. He looked around patiently as the man exited the vehicle. Lawrence remained silent. It was natural for him. He said things when they needed to be said and nothing more. Despite being heavily armed and well supported, Lawrence had zero desire to aggravate any unnecessary attention. Get in, get out. That was the way of it. The city was dead, and it was best to let it remain. The city would not take long to rise, and then they would be fucked. No. There was no sense in risking anything unnecessarily.

Lawrence silently closed the door to the vehicle and rested his eyes on King, listening to instructions. The man had a commanding voice that one could easily follow. He knew what he was doing, and Lawrence respected that. People craved direction. Yes, people said they loved freedom, and the old do not tell me what to do sort of thing. Yes. They said that when what they craved was direction. And when the world went to hell, they wanted it even more. Everything seemed clear to Lawrence. Get in, get out, and done. Was it that fucking hard? In Lawrence’s mind, King’s presence was not a ceremonial act to cut the ribbon and usher in a new phase of their new life, but a sort of catalyst that would spark this damn project to get a fucking move on. When was it ever good when the boss came to see how things were going?

If hell existed outside, then the inside of the hospital was indeed the next circle of it. Lawrence narrowed his eyes as he entered the hospital, not because of the dimly lit area but the smell. *Joseph, Jesus, and Mary! You would think that with all this time, they could have at least sprayed some Febreze!* Lawrence felt that given all the time the seemingly constant stream of people coming and going to the hospital, they would at least make the place more presentable. He did not necessarily think they should have rolled out the red carpet, but fucking hell, it was a disaster! Lawrence had a simple philosophy, cleanliness was next to godliness, and just because they never intended to use the place again did not mean they would never use it again. How fucking hard was it to move shit out of the way? Still, Lawrence could appreciate that the work occurred on the upper floors. Still, did they think the dead would spring onto the second before getting to the first? The situation looked bleak, and Lawrence felt somewhat embarrassed for King. He had to think that the situation was far worse than he believed true. Yet Lawrence accepted that he might have been projecting.

The problem for Lawrence was that he did not know where they were going. He was grateful that he could follow, but why was it so damn hard to navigate the damn place that they had been going to for so long? The sound in the distance caught Lawrence’s attention and further reminded him why the first floor should have been cleared completely. *And therefore, we clean things … this is why!* He could not shrug off the feeling of being a parent. Even in a new world, he could not shake the habits of being a parent. There was no difference between telling Skyler to clean up her damn things and expecting the damn first floor to be cleared of anything untoward. *And therefore, we clean our rooms, folks. This is why!* The sound gave Lawrence pause, and he pointed his flashlight toward it. However, he could see nothing. In Lawrence’s mind, out of sight, out of mind. Why investigate now? The policy of cleaning did not seem to matter, so why bother? But their escort decided to wander down the hall to investigate, nonetheless. Lawrence sighed in a somewhat disappointing manner. *Oh, good. The blind lead the blind.*

It did not take much to frustrate dear Lawrence. He seemed to constantly live on the edge as if things would go wrong at any moment. It was likely a safe way to live. Shit did go wrong and quickly. But as the only unarmed person moved forward to investigate, Lawrence felt there was likely only one way this would end. *Good! The one person we NEED is UNARMED and moving forward. Good. Tally the IQ of the room, and we will hit double digits. Fantastic!* Lawrence moved forward, unaware he was breaking any order protocol. If the man were going to be in danger, it would not be on Lawrence’s watch. Lawrence had no firm opinion on Jamie. The man was necessary for his task, but that was about all. Lawrence had no personal stake in seeing the man do well beyond the mission. Therefore, there was nothing personal about Lawrence’s actions. Instead, Jamie was important because King said he was. That was enough for Lawrence to go off.

Thus, as Jamie walked, Lawrence followed relatively closely behind. If things went south, he would be there. Lawrence was a little confused as to why Jamie needed to do anything other than ascending the stairs, which Lawrence suspected was not in a room. *Are stairs not in hallways? What the fuck is this guy doing? It was a noise! Ignore the fucking thing!* But Lawrence was less interested in potentially correcting Jamie’s trajectory and more interested in keeping silent. He had not been in the hospital and therefore did not know the protocol. Then again, who the hell did? Even when the world was not a shit hole, did anyone know what they were to do or where to go in a hospital?

As Jamie moved and shone his dinky tiny light, Lawrence narrowed his gaze to see what he could see. It was very dark and challenging for Lawrence’s eyes to penetrate much. However, he did spot a flash of red somewhat hovering on the ground. Lawrence could not be sure what it was. Then, as Jamie called out a name, Lawrence felt a sudden urge to smack the guy and tell him to shut the fuck up. Surely, if there were anyone worthy of talking to on the first floor, they would have made themselves known when the motorcade approached. This seemed suspect at best. Then, to confirm Lawrence’s suspicion, the worst happened. Lawrence’s eyes went wide as he saw the figure in the room turn and look toward the light and sound from Jamie’s voice. It was hideous. All of them were. The thing was swift and managed to get Jamie to the ground. Lawrence was slightly ashamed of himself that he was not quicker. Though, the others were not quick either. *Again. This is why we clean our room, hun. This is why we clean the fucking room!* The dead were quick. They had more stamina than a meth head. And the thing had utterly overtaken poor Jamie casting him to the ground.

Panic fell into Lawrence’s heart as he thought of the incredible loss Jamie would be if he were to be hurt or killed. He would never hear the end of it. King would be livid. So, springing into action, Lawrence did what he did best. He elected for stealth as he launched forward, springing off his left leg and into action. He reached for his belt to bring out his knife with his right hand. Jamie’s fall caused enough noise to cause alarm, certainly. However, adding to the noise by using a gun was not in Lawrence’s mind. So far, there was only one such creature, and Lawrence was not going to be the cause of bringing more of them in. Silence. The silence was not only golden but fucking necessary. Lawrence had a mind to find some hot glue and affix Jamie’s mouth shut. He needed to work, not talk. But there were more pressing concerns now than criticizing Jamie for causing a scene.

Lawrence lunged for the creature and used his strength to hurl it away from Jamie’s prone body. Tumbling with the creature off Jamie and onto the floor, Lawrence caught it in a slight daze as its efforts to eat Jamie were put on hold. It was sent across the room in a different direction. However, the creature quickly found a new foe to tackle and ultimately feast upon. It tried to spin around to grapple Lawrence. Still, Lawrence had the advantage of momentum and strength, pinning the creature to the ground a few inches from Jamie’s prone body. Taking his knife, Lawrence plunged the steel into the creature’s temple and twisted. The bone was nearly like mush, and coagulated blood soon began to pour out as the creature screamed out the last of its unlife. Taking no precautions, Lawrence heaved on his knife, pulling it out of the creature’s skull and slitting it across the thing’s throat. The soft skin on the neck tore open like an envelope from a sharp letter opener, revealing more blood that seemed to ooze out more thickly than flowing lively blood. Lawrence sighed. His heart beat relentlessly. *Where there is one, there is fucking more!* Lawrence’s thoughts went instantly to Jamie. His life was all that mattered now. So, he turned to the man and regarded him.

“The fuck you doing? Leading us down here.” Lawrence propped himself into a standing position while still glaring at Jamie. The man had every feature of a model but the brains of one too. Lawrence was less than thrilled but felt he had no right to give the man that much grief, just a gentle reminder to get moving. Lawrence said in an incredibly soft tone, extending his hand to Jamie, “any more little tours you want to take us on, or are you ready to get to fucking work?” Lawrence was ready to go. He had no desire to stick around. The longer they waited, the more chance there was that the noises they had caused would be heard. And that was not at all something that Lawrence wanted to stick around to find out. But then, there was a noise. Lawrence could not be sure what. But he thought he heard more metallic scrapping far in the distance. He sighed. *Oh, good. I love my job!*

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Bad job, Superstar!


The Convoy
Haewon had been shadowing a variety of the members of Northview. Arthur was teaching her self-defense, Xander was teaching her leadership skills, Gene was teaching her how to farm produce... and Nari was teaching her engineering. Haewon wasn't exactly a mathematician, Minnie did most of her maths homework... but Nari made the practical stuff make sense. It was less mind-numbing sums and adding letters to maths for no goddamn reason... and more actually fixing things! She was still a little nervous about touching these electronics... what if she broke it? They couldn't exactly go buy another one... If she broke it, it was broken for good.

Though Nari let her do a little work on the more essential stuff, it was under her close supervision... but she was allowed to use her basic training to tinker with some of the more... replaceable and easily fixable tech. Taking it apart, putting it back together, fixing them when they were broken... fixing them when she broke them.

Her tongue was peeking out between her lips as she concentrated on reassembling a walkie-talkie. She had an old stopwatch from the PE department face down on the desk. She was getting faster and faster. She just had to beat her best time, then she could move onto the next--

Her thoughts were interrupted by the crackling of Nari's radio. A dozen of armed men... vehicles approaching the school...
"What?" She muttered, putting her screwdriver down. She felt a pit in her stomach. This place was meant to be safe. This had to be the crap Cox was on about... She trusted these people, how the hell could they let her do-- Where was Minnie? Goddamnit, she'd trusted these people too much she'd let her sister out of her sight... She should've known this would happen. She couldn't get too comfortable...
"We have to find Minnie," She told Nari with a sternness in her voice that she had never used with her before.


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If you can make a man feel good, you can make him do just about anything.

Standing in wait by the bar, the creed permeated through Valentine's internal stream of conscious thought in effortless repetition. Her pupils were dilated with her gaze fixed ahead, apparent that she had zoned out by the unwavering empty expression on her face. The featherlight tip of her finger absentmindedly drew around the rim of her glass of gin-and-something that Chloe had poured her earlier.

Valentine seldom drank before meeting a client, though she'd occasionally imbibe with them if invited to do so before they went to bed together. It was one of her self-declared rules, thoroughly considered and negotiated expectations and conditions that provided marginal comfort to Valentine in her role beyond her distinction as exclusive to high ranking Samaritans only: she needed consistent protection from and medical testing for STDs; rough sex was admissable but she wouldn't indulge kinks or sexual deviance; she only saw women as part of a couple; she didn't work under inebriation.

Tonight, she might make an exception for the latter. Valentine was set to accompany the second in command to a retributory pit fight to the death, a frequent exhibition made mandatory to attend that she had never quite developed a taste for in her time at Lincoln. While she was repulsed by the concept, she knew there would be just as many residents exhilarated by the spectacle; they all lived in quiet desperation for a distraction from the banalities of mere survival, for something-anything-that might make them feel human again amidst the dead that presided over the earth outside the safety of the former prison complex. Now more than ever, people wanted to feel good.

If you can make a man feel good, you can make him do just about anything.

Valentine's role didn't have to be an arduous one. All that really had to be done to fulfill her duty was to lie back and think of England. Of course, she was more clever than that. Even as a prostitute lacking other corporeal belabourous responsibliites, her resourcefulness and enterprise was not wasted. She knew that if she could appease her powerful clients' desires, even if just those of the flesh, she could leverage their influence for the things she wanted. It required meticulous cultivation-an understanding of the perfect placement of her hands, a well-timed hitch of her breath, a roll of her tongue, the rhythm of her hips-individual to each man. Valentine could be the coveted girl-next-door or the their wildest fantasies, a therapeutic presence or an outlet for more carnal energy. She would do what had to be done to make these men feel good.
If you can make a man feel good, you can make him do just about anything.

On paper, it was a disproportionately high personal premium to exchange for the favours and material gifts that her dedication to the performance of her role afforded Valentine. She found solace in her possession of the once expensive and finer things that she often received now, relics of the life she once had and the person she used to be. But more than that, a sentiment that Valentine knew was not made easily relatable, her sense of triumph was the most compelling. She relished in the sheer adroitness in her attainment of these things.

It made her feel good.

And at the end of it all, she would do just about anything to feel good.

Valentine was still distant in her daze when Weston's distinguishable voice cut through the soft noise in the bar and forced her attention back to the present. A single beat of hesitation passed as she delicately drummed her fingers against the glass that sat before her, lifting it quickly to her mouth. Swallowing the remaining liquor in one swift pull, Valentine pursed her lips for a fleeting moment as it burned her throat, quickly rearranging her features into a dazzling smile just as her date's focus fell on her from across the room. She met Weston halfway in several graceful strides, nodding once with feigned enthusiasm for their plans. "Let's go." She replied airily, decidedly saying nothing about looking forward to the fight in the manner that he did.

Grateful for the buzz from the gin, Valentine anticipated conversation being stiff with her company. In their occasional trysts, Weston had always been respectful and pleasant enough, even if dialogue ran dry after the fact. It was evident that he did not seek her services for the merging of wits or romantic persuasion, an inclination that did not bother Valentine in the slightest. As a client, Weston was simple. She could do simple.

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the one and only
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Nari watched over Haewon as the younger woman was focused on her self-led skill challenge, her hands working dexterously at replacing the previously removed electronics back into the walkie-talkie she had deemed non-vital. She smiled at Haewon's fierce look of concentration, her dedication to slipping each delicate node back into where it belonged.

The girls had become the greatest unexpected change to her life in the After. Days after their arrival she moved out of her supply closet bedroom and converted one of the classrooms at the back of the school into a small three-bedroom apartment. Using bookshelves as pseudo walls and sheets as doors, each of them had their own private place to sleep but were close enough to hear one another in the night. To her surprise this had been key in the early days when both girls would wake up, forgetting where they were and needing the quiet reassurance they were safe.

They quickly fell into a family-styled routine, morning breakfast was simple at home, and Nari found herself making her mother's Congee for breakfast for herself, the girls, and Xander. They ate quietly in the apartment before heading out for their days. Minnie had taken to the gardens like a true farmer, Gene declaring she had a natural green thumb and Nari could hardly argue. She was certain Minnie's interest in the garden was due to the friendly atmosphere, ease of knowledge, and the daily rewards of the sweet fruits of her labor. Their evenings after dinner with the community were quiet, sitting around and reading or playing board games and on the few occasions, they had a surplus of sunlight that day, movies on the school's old VHS, and tube tv on a rolling cart.

Haewon took longer to adapt to the new lifestyle, at first wishing to stick near her sister until finally venturing out to learn other roles. This had delighted Nari; thrilled her even, when Haewon asked if she could start following Nari on her day-to-day around the high school. Of course, she'd accepted and since then Haewon had been her apprentice. She asked questions when she didn't quite understand how something worked and showed genuine talent.

Nari was pulled from her reverie when her radio went off, frowning as Jose rambled into the static that there were vehicles approaching and armed men getting out at the gates. She met Haewon's eyes and nodded. "Let's go." She did her best to remain calm outwardly, she didn't want to worry Haewon more than she was already. She grabbed her radio and slipped it over the loop of her overalls and headed out into the hallway. Nari led Haewon down the hall at a light jog. They soon arrived at the infirmary to find Pandora and Minnie already coming out, a worried look on the little girl's face.

"It's okay." Nari immediately wrapped an arm over her shoulder and squeezed her. "You're going to be fine."

Miaow Miaow
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Bad job, Superstar!


The Convoy

Pandora drew the curtain shut to give she and Minnie some privacy. Though she was sure Minnie wouldn't mind her pseudo-father, Xander, being present for her examination, Mackenzie could be an unwelcome guest.

Minnie was used to these checkups by now, she'd had to visit Pandora once every few days to make sure her knee was okay. Pandora pulled a pair of latex gloves over her hands as Minnie rolled up the trouser leg of her denim dungarees, her feet swinging slightly from the cot she was perched on.

"Have you been cleaning it like I told you to?"
"And cleaning your hands after you've been in the garden?"
"And doing the stretches I showed you?"
In fact, she'd made Nari do some of the stretches with her. Not because she needed help... just because it was more fun.

Pandora smiled, and Minnie smiled, too. She'd been working hard to be a good patient after it'd gotten infected again... She'd gotten a little too involved in the garden and hadn't been washing the wound correctly, or at least that was what Pandora said.

Pandora pulled up a stool to take a look at her knee, rolling the wheels across the linoleum floor to remove the bandage.
"It's looking good," She smiled as she grabbed her kit, beginning to gently clean the area.
"Is it gonna scar?" Minnie asked, a small frown on her face. She felt Pandora pause, as if trying to decide on the best thing to say.
"Probably... but don't you think scars are cool?"
"I guess..."
"It's like... a badge of honour, it shows everyone how cool you are,"
Pandora smiled, and Minnie couldn't help but laugh.

As Pandora began to reapply the bandage, Xander's walkie-talkie echoed throughout the infirmary. Minnie met Pandora's gaze, as if they were both concentrating on interpreting what the crackling voice was saying.
"There's people coming?" Minnie asked, worry in her eyes.
"Don't worry, Xander's got it covered," Pandora tried to reassure her, but she could see her begin to fidget, "Once I've got this bandage on we'll go find Nari, okay?"

Minnie watched anxiously as Pandora tied off her bandage, internally praying she'd hurry up, even if it was obvious Pandora had picked up the pace. As soon as she was finished, she hopped down from the cot a little too enthusiastically.
"Careful!" Pandora warned, pushing her used kit aside in an attempt to keep up with her, but Minnie was on a mission.

She opened the door, almost walking directly into Nari. She felt relief wash over her, pressing her body into Nari.
"What's happening?" She asked, but it seemed they didn't want to tell her.

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Bullyboy Squad

pure of heart, dumb of ass

The Helicopter

His ink-marked fingers curled over the collar of Gunderson's jacket and he yanked on it with tenacity. "Wakey wakey, snowflake." Flinging the man off his seat and into the dirt if Jamie didn't catch his footing in time. "Ye heard the King, cabron. Move yo pale ass."

The enforcer followed and shoved the sluggardly male, treating Jamie like a lower class citizen. The white punk had it coming after he chipped Toni's reputation three months back.

As they entered he let the others keep an eye on the pilot and walked at the very back, right behind the medic Diana and the mechanic- What was his face… Ricky? Rocky? Something. Crept out by the eerie interior Toni focused on the two more than the surroundings.

"Ey, doctor Regina." He directed his words at Diana, using the name of a female protagonist from a popular Spanish hospital TV show. "I'm gettin this persistent pressure, it's almost painful." He spoke with the personal brand of broken English and ruffian charm as he grabbed his crotch. "Think you gotta remedy for that?" He smirked.

But his smile was wiped right off the tattooed mug when they heard some commotion up ahead where part of the group, including the pilot, turned corner. "Que mierda?" That was all he managed to say, suddenly attacked from behind by another reanimated Samaritan guard that was tasked to keep the building secured.

Stumbling at Diana, Toni turned and whipped out his pistol, trying to shake the undead off. "Get it off of me!"

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The Affectionate, Yet Stubborn One
𝚂𝙲𝙴𝙽𝙴 𝟷 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘃𝗼𝘆

The old man’s skin was chilled from the cool, crisp air around him as he walked into the safety of the school building. Arthur and a small group had gone out to get more supplies in a nearby town and it hadn’t been a disappointment. They’d managed to fill the truck with plenty of comestibles, just enough that would last them through the winter. Despite that, he figured he’d still go out to hunt every once and a while because canned goods could get boring after a while. Then again, in the new world they lived in, they couldn’t exactly be picky eaters and needed to take what they could get. Arthur had found that out the hard way by living on berries and fish for two months and he was positive everyone else knew about that as well. Maybe if they had a garden, they could grow some. Arthur would have to ask about that later, or if the group even had one on the grounds.

A grunt left him as he set a box down on the counter and he exited the room, making sure to give a quick nod of greeting to someone who’d left to grab a snack, and came back in moments later to get one of the last of the boxes. It was full of chips and a couple more canned goods. Opening one of the boxes, Arthur began to slide them into place, making sure each one was in the same food group. If he had still been on the road, he wouldn’t have cared as much, but now that he was in a place where he didn’t have to look over his shoulder every two seconds, well… He felt like he was allowed to make things a little tidy. Even if it was just canned food. Loud singing echoed into the otherwise empty room and Arthur glanced behind him to see Greg walking in, happy as a horse.

Picking up another three cans, Arthur stuffed them between his chest and arm and grabbed one more just as the other man spoke up, making him raise a bushy brow. He saw the attempted smack incoming and held up the hand with the can, aiming a finger at him, cool, blue hues twinkling with amusement. Shaking his head, Arthur moved back to the shelf, chilling under his breath. “You better not be talkin’ about me. I lost all my good looks years ago,” he joked, putting the cans up. As he pulled out more from the box, he set them on the counter and broke down the empty box, sliding it into place with the other flattened boxes on the very bottom of the shelf. “Anyway, we managed to grab a lot this time. Mostly canned uhm…” He blinked and read one of the cans that was on the counter. “peaches and…” He picked up and read another. “corn.” He placed them on the shelf behind him and started to finish up the rest.

Fingers tapping lightly on the edge of the box, he nodded his head to the side, “Also got bags of chips and some candy, but I don’t know how good they’re gonna be.” He spotted a chocolate bar and fiddled with it, mumbling under his breath, “Bet the kids would like some of these…” Stuffing three of the bars in his bag, he slung it over his shoulders, lifted the box and started to move it when he spotted something strange happening out the window. He did a double take and his jaw clenched, eyes narrowing as he hurriedly set the box back down to instead focus his attention on the trucks that had parked themselves outside of the fence. That couldn’t be a good sign. Not in the slightest. “That don’t look good,” he muttered, quickly moving across the room to gaze out another window, just in time to see more vehicles disappearing across the side. “You two seein’ what I’m seein’?” Arthur demanded, having lost all mirth from moments prior.

He unclipped the walkie talkie from his waist when he heard the announcement that the school was being put on lockdown. This was most definitely not a good sign. If the place was on lockdown that could be means would go south and then they’d probably have to fight. Arthur wasn’t against fighting other survivors in the slightest, but when things went bad, survivors reacted differently. Some came to the rescue, while others would hide or attack fellow survivors. His eyes flicked towards the others and he pressed his lips together. Hopefully those two wouldn’t do that. Hopefully. Slipping the radio back into place, Arthur walked back towards the window and placed his hand on the window seal. “Better get ready for a fight in case one starts.”

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Aravis Kandosii

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The Helicopter

Who would’ve thought life inside the prison was going to be better, safer even, than life outside of it? Shoved into a small cell a few years ago, wondering if he’d ever see the other side of these bars as a free man again, the world had flipped on its head while he waited for any sign things would get better. Things had changed for sure, but the constant fear hadn’t left.

And the regrets kept piling on.

Heaviness swirled in the pit of his stomach every time he watched one of the Samaritans abuse Jamie. Flashbacks to when they’d first found him and his crew. A helpless feeling he hated with all he had, but the looming knowledge that sticking his neck out would just get it lopped off. There were the games after all, for a more extreme example. Though they didn’t have to go that far. Any of the enforcers could kick his ass just as easily and have him toeing the line again.

The sky was as bleak as his mood, weather reflecting the oppressive nature everyone else seemingly wore. Rocky’s mind was preoccupied with engine schematics, running over the things recently cobbled back together with the hopes they hadn’t missed anything. Really the only way to tell would’ve been a test run, but that wasn’t considered an option. King’s paranoia? Or desire for grandeur, as though being there when the helicopter was hopefully operational meant…he’d somehow caused it? Whatever the case was, he was praying it did work. More than anything, he didn’t want anything happening to Jamie and his friends. The man had lost enough. How Rocky hadn’t lost himself by being a kind hearted fool…was another matter.

The hospital was its usual dreary self, none of it bothering him more than usual. Sure he picked up on some of the unease surrounding him, but that was easily chalked up to this being the day. It wasn’t until the clamor ahead of them that he even looked up from the tracks their shoes made on the tile that the danger they were in began to filter through.

…Perhaps unfortunately for all, he reached for his wrench first, not his gun, though he did swing it with all the might nervous workouts had offered him, yelling or begging Toni to not shoot. “Hold still!” If he accidentally beaned the enforcer over the head with the hefty tool…just would have to hope it would be worth it for not getting eaten.



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Kenny appeared sullen and wind-burnt from the day's cold, rattling defeatedly behind his restraints. He was a young man with more hair than brains. Stupid people typically felt brave in spite of everything, but not ol' Kenny here. James saw that look from numerous pit "fighters" before and it was far from good. Kenny was a lamb in a lion's den about to get eaten. An itsy bitsy spider that fell down the water spout and broke its' back. What could he possibly say to such a creature?

Woe to you, O destroyer,
While you were not destroyed;
And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him.
As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed;
As soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you.

Isaiah 33:1

James read these words as an incantation for a man about to wrestle with darkness. He knew traditionally it was a passage set aside for betrayers and traitors, but something struck differently here. "As soon as you finish destroying...you will be destroyed" he repeated before closing his bible. With weathered hands, he straightened the man's shoulders. "So don't you quit yet. That fella over there'll tear ya ta pieces if you even give him half the chance. You hear me?" He wanted to cry. He wanted to hug the poor boy and shield him from all that would befall him.

There are some lessons he wished he could have given. Lessons that kept people alive in this dog eat dog world. Was it morally bankrupt to motivate violence in another, or did he potentially save one more helpless soul left out for Satan?



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Learn Your Lesson

Temma sauntered from her and Derek’s shared cell through the corridors and halls of the prison, smiling and greeting people as she passed, her silver sequin dress shimmering in the fluorescent lights. She’d spent the better part of the afternoon fixing her hair and makeup before deciding it was time to make her presence known. She didn’t enjoy fight nights like this - where one of the combatants was not a skilled fighter but someone fighting for their lives, but she acknowledged their necessity. Without a public execution, for lack of a better word, the prison would return to the former chaos of what it had been before King had implemented his control. Those were dark days she did not want to revisit, not because she did live a life of luxury - Derek gave her everything and anything she could ever want for. It would be living a life of fear once again, uncertain of so many things she couldn’t will herself to consider it.

Thankfully, those days were long gone…

Temma meandered into the doorway of the control room, quickly spotting Derek seated at a console where he was overlooking several monitors, not of the fight itself but the growing crowds. Not a normal fight night. Normally she would have visited him down by the cage before finding her seat in the bar. She wondered for a moment if she should move on and leave Derek to his work but that thought was quickly brushed aside when he looked up and made eye contact with her. The slow smile on his stubbled chin followed by his leaning back in his chair and giving her a single nod of come hither was enough to make any girl swoon.

She swished her way through to his side and unceremoniously dropped into his lap, wrapping an arm over his shoulder. “I came to wish you good luck like I always do.” She drawled softly, leaning in to plant a gentle kiss on his cheek. As she drew back she wiped away the red color left behind by her lipstick. “I won’t distract you for long,” She murmured quietly, “Just know that no matter what happens, you’ve done everything you could.” She gently ran the pad of her thumb across her husband's lower lip, lovingly smiling into his eyes. “When this is all done and over, you know where I’ll be.”

With a satisfied sigh, Temma stood, smoothing her dress over her curvy hips before sauntering back out the way she had come.

Within a few minutes more she found herself stepping into the bar just behind Weston arriving to pick up Val for the night. “You two kids have a good time.” She teased but leaned in close to Weston as she passed by. “But don’t you keep her out too late, else I’ll have to send my husband after you, and no one wants that.”

Temma laughed softly, though it would be hard to tell if it were a joke or not, she knew Weston well enough to be certain he’d do Val no harm but bore her to death and she couldn’t justify refusing his request because of that. She took up her seat at the bar, crossing one long leg over the other and fixing the slit of her dress just so, enough to show a bit of leg but not nearly enough to warrant enticing anyone. Chole was quick to drop off her drink, a dirty martini with extra olives, the girl knew everyone’s order to perfection and the only disappointment Temma had was that she hadn’t been able to recruit her into her House fast enough. King had a need for a bartender and tattoo artist on the side and Chole fit that role perfectly. A shame, she would have been one of the best…


Bad job, Superstar!


The Convoy
Although Miyu couldn't really go out scavenging, she made sure to make herself useful to the scavenging team. She gave herself the self-appointed role of organizing the supplies the scavengers brought back, setting up her own sorting system. Whether it made sense to the others, she wasn't sure, but she was proud of it nonetheless.

As Brielle and Arthur had returned with a new stash of stuff, Miyu was busy at work building boxes to put the cans in. The school had quite a store of cardboard but none of it was fully intact, so Miyu would use packing tape from the design and technology department to make them whole again. She was blessed with not knowing how loud the tape was when she ripped it from the roll and snipped the ends with children's craft scissors, blissfully working away in a world of her own.

She looked up from her project as the scavenging team returned with boxes and boxes of new supplies, smiling and giving him a polite wave. She set her box down, following Arthur into the store room to help organize. She appreciated that Arthur liked to keep things tidy, too, though sometimes when he wasn't looking, she'd move some of the items he'd put away... they just weren't fitting with her system!

As Arthur stared absent-mindedly out of the window, Miyu attempted to sneakily move some of the cans of peaches he'd put away.
These should be with the rest of the sweet stuff, not with the cans... She thought to herself as she tucked it safely into the correct spot. She glanced over to make sure she hadn't been spotted, frowning a little. Everyone was looking out of the window... She couldn't read Arthur's lips, she couldn't get a good look at his face. She hesitantly headed to the window, peeking outside.

Her eyes widened and she looked to Arthur for reassurance. She couldn't fight, she'd just be in the way, but she didn't want to be on her own, either. She fidgeted with her hands, watching as a strange man stepped out into view.
"Where do I go?" She quickly signed to Arthur, though she was unsure he even understood sign language.

Bullyboy Squad

pure of heart, dumb of ass

The Convoy

He enjoyed the contrast of warm sun and cool breeze on his cheeks as he kept his head tilted back. His dark lenses-shielded eyes scanned the roof, stopping on Xander. There you are… Cabrera watched the man by the ledge looking back at him and his little army. It was too far to read Northview Leader's intentions so Ignacio let out a deep breath after getting the well anticipated answer.

"No one's shooting, we're just here to talk!" He hollered back.

Cabrera tugged the walkie talkie off his belt with his offhand and tossed a glance back at the convoy when putting the mouthpiece to his lips. "Price. Bring our special guest here. Let's make a good first impression." He said with a smirk pulling his cheek up.



I just want to sell out my funeral
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The Scene Title

Jack's ears rang and his vision swam as the IED went off, flipping the humvee upside-down in the hot sand. He fought to recover his rifle, kicking the mangled door open to take cover behind the vehicle. His eyes glanced down at the blood mixing with the dirt as bullets flew past, impacting the ground with dull thuds. An ambush, nothing he could do. "Price! Pull your head out of your ass and fight!" He heard from the other side of the vehicle. True to his training, he dug in. Ready for anything.

He snapped back to the present and shook his head slightly, looking away from the window and to the target. This was one of the easiest escort jobs he'd had. No violence, no ambushes. In and out he thought. In. And. Out. Not that he'd expect much resistance other than the undead, but he didn't even see many of them on the trip.

Soon enough, they arrived to the high school and some members exited the truck, leaving him with the target. Jack rested his sidearm on his leg just in case anything went sideways, but from what he'd heard about the people who inhabit said high school, it would be unlikely. Besides, if they wanted to start shooting they would have started shooting by now, he reckoned.

After a few minutes, he heard Cabrera come over the radio asking him to bring the target. "Rog." He replied, turning to the bagged captive. "Just don't try anything, couillon. Don't want to use this iron."

WIth a bit of effort due to the tight constraints of the truck's backseat, he muscled the target out and picked them up off of the ground when they fell to their knees before walking them over to Cabrera. "Here ya go."



the one and only
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The Convy

Dutchess had rolled out of bed at the sign of first light this morning with a pep in her step. This was the first time in the weeks she'd been at the Highschool that she was actually excited to be up at this time. On a typical morning, she would rise with the sun and head out to the fenceline, clearing the dead that latched on overnight, cleaned the solar panels and made sure the wire connections were secure and still buried. She'd taken this same route for five days straight after the school had started to trust her, following behind their tiny Asian engineer having to listen to her repeat herself daily until Nari felt she understood what was necessary for the task.

Dutchess chalked it up to the educated woman counting her for being stupid simply because of her appearance. It was a-typical for most people: heavily tattooed, 'bleached' blonde hair, and a slow rate of speech made most think she was dumb. Dutchess didn't think she was the smartest, certainly not when it came to book learning, but in the world that presently existed, she was a genius. She could read people, a talent that she'd had since childhood. She could identify violence in a person, she could hear a lie when spoken and she knew when someone was hiding a secret. At no time did Dutchess share these with anyone - her tools were her own and for her benefit only.

This morning's route went off without a hitch, four dead cleared from the fence, and all solar panels cleared off, however, the final line of wires somehow came loose! What a shame that the power for the main gate was disconnected! Thankfully, the dead were very poor at finding gates.

Dutchess pointedly stayed on her daily routine, checking in with Gene in the garden and offering thanks for a fantastic meal the night before made from the slim pickings they had. Spending time on the roof with some of the scouts until she heard one of them call in a warning and she stilled her face to the seriousness that was required for this situation. She took up her position on the roof, waiting. It wouldn't be long now.

She was surprised to hear Font call her out for backup as he lowered the rope ladder down the front of the school. Dutchess was not about to pass up on this opportunity - she'd missed out at the Ranch, Denise had spoken with Cabrera alone but this could be fun. She holstered her pistol and waited for Font to start down the ladder.

She swung her leg over the edge of the roof of the school and soon followed his descent, but paused long enough to wink at Mackenzie. "You got it, Doc. No bullet holes."

As Dutchess reached the bottom of the ladder she took up a position slightly behind Font on his right-hand side, looking over his shoulder at Cabrera beyond the fence, a slow smirk crossing her lips.



Baron of Bad Boys


The Helicopter

If you asked Denise, the idea of taking over a helicopter - and with it, the world - was ridiculous. But, thankfully, nobody asked the scout such things, because it wasn’t up to her. Good thing too, as she might even speak her mind if her input was asked for honestly. King got what King wanted though, so now here she was, stuffed into the back seat of a crowded SUV, on the way to once more watch some beleaguered guy monkey around with it in the hope of getting it working again.

She didn’t actually think it would ever fly again, and if the helicopter did somehow get airborne, it wouldn’t last long. She was damn glad she wasn’t a pilot or a mechanic right now. Also damn glad she wasn’t Gunderson, the man who actually was saddled with this task. Not only was he responsible for the project’s success, but he was working at gunpoint too. She cringed as she imagined how they’ll force him to fly it, too. Poor, dead schmuck.

Denise couldn’t blame their group - her group now - for holding him hostage. As silly as the plan was, he was vital to something this big, and he had every reason to not want to cooperate. She’d hold the gun to his head herself if needed. Better him than her.

Seated in the back of the SUV, behind Gunderson and next to Diana the doctor, Denise was lucky enough to get a window seat on this flight. It gave her something to look at, even if the only thing out there was death and crumbling destruction. She’d been on a few of these runs before, along as an extra set of eyes to help out the group. Most trips were quiet, with minimal chatter - most of it coming from the enforcers responding to King on their radio. Her fingers idly tapped against the scoped rifle that rested between her knees. A handgun was holstered at her side as well, just in case. She always felt better with her firearms in hand, and was still trying to get used to handing them over when returning to the prison.

Climbing out of the SUV and stretching her legs once they arrived, she shot Jamie an unimpressed look as he was hauled out of the vehicle with his tools. She really did try, at one point, to be empathetic to him. She cut that off immediately when the first inkling of feeling bad for the guy started. There wasn’t room for that here, not anymore. Not with the way things were.

Affixing a coldly distant look on her face, she slung the rifle over her back and unholstered her handgun, flicking the safety off. She followed the group inside, sticking close to the doctor - she was a valuable asset too, so no sense in putting her in much danger. Once the darkness inside the hospital started to creep around them, she pulled out her flashlight and turned it on, holding it at the ready in her other hand - and thankful that everyone else had flashlights too. The place creeped her out significantly, but she kept that to herself. She watched Jamie move on ahead but let the enforcers deal with babysitting him, instead hanging back closer to Diana, Toni, and Rocky. At least two out of the three were tolerable people.

Overhearing Toni’s lewd question to Diana, she was just about ready to tell him to pipe down when he started yelling. In an instant, she had spun around and aimed at the source of the noise - a dead one, throwing itself at Toni and trying its damndest to eat his face off. Not that it would be any great loss to humanity if Toni bit the dust, but losing people was not part of the plan here. She couldn’t take a shot though - the pair were flailing around too much, and she risked hitting Toni instead. Even Rocky, who was trying to bludgeon the undead with a wrench, was perilously close to cracking Toni’s skull instead.

Grabbing Toni by the back of the shirt, she tried to yank him away from the fray, hoping Rocky could then grab the dead and beat it. Kind of a shame though - she wouldn’t be too broken up to be pulling Rocky away, and throwing Toni at the dead instead.

“Move!” She ordered, and as soon as she was able to create enough space between the living and the dead, she took her shot - right between the undead’s empty eyes. Rocky might get sprayed, but not hit as the bullet exited out the other side of the mushy skull.

Hopefully, anyway.


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