How are we going to get out of this? We have an army of undead all around and god knows where we are! I know that there is little to no chance of us surviving, even if we make it through this challenge, there will just be another waiting for us. And while the enemy grows with each fallen survivor our numbers only grow smaller, and our resources dwindle more and more. What’s the point in fighting, if there’s no hope of victory?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Haven Chapter 20

Chapter 20

I don’t know what I was expecting, an old man I guess, aged and experienced, someone like Greg. Instead what I saw was a woman, barely older than me, and younger even than Brooke, physically she was comparable to Lauren, thin and tanned, most definitely not what I expected. Her expression however gave an impression of experience and knowledge, as well as distrust and confidence. I hadn’t planned much for the negotiations, but judging on her look I doubt I would have a large amount control over the way they go.

I gathered myself and snapped my jaw closed, I walked towards her as passively and friendly as I could manage and smiled, “hi, my name’s Todd it’s nice to meet you”
She raised one eyebrow in response, and turned looked back to her entourage appearing around the corner before responding, “Jacobs.” She only gave me her last name, but whether that was because she preferred it, or she wanted to keep things formal I didn’t know. But I guessed the later. As the truck pulled up she spoke again but not to me, “Greg what’s going on here?”
“I caught him trying to radio his group,” Greg paused and turned to Lindsey, “with her permission”
“Lindsey,” the first sign of emotion I heard in Jacobs’ voice was disappointment
“Their people deserve to know they’re alive,” Lindsey argued desperately, before becoming more serious, “you know what that’s like.” There was a pause before Jacobs spoke again, this time with a kind yet firm tone “I do, but you have to decide whose feelings come first, their group’s, or ours”
“I know,” Lindsey returned to her serious state, “it won’t happen again”
“It better not,” Jacobs replied, also become stern, I could see where Lindsey learnt it from.

“Now what are we going to do about you?” finally the resistance leader made eye contact with me, and I felt more nervous than I ever have. I didn’t know if I could stand up to her if I needed to, and I knew if I let her she could take everything we have worked for. “I heard everything he said ma’am,” Greg said, still pointed a gun to my head, “he didn’t say who we are or where we were”
“Good,” she replied, and I breathed a sigh of relief, “that means we don’t have to kill you and leave your bodies here as examples” a part of me didn’t know whether she was kidding or not
“So what do we do now?” I asked passively, letting her take control, for now
“We won’t talk her, not with so many people,” she thought for a moment, “I’ll talk with you alone”
“No,” both I and Brooke replied at the same time, she nodded at me and I continued, “How can I be sure you’re not going to torture me for information, or kill the others while I’m negotiating.” She raised her eyebrow again, I hope it was because I’d impressed her and not because she was amused. “Very well, we’ll be fair, you, me, and two people each, the rest stay out here,” she walked off to confer with the others, and finally Greg lowered his weapon and followed her.

The others had gathered around me, but we had to whisper not to be heard as Lindsey and Pete were still watching over us, fingers on triggers. “I should go with you,” Connor said immediately after walking over, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t trust Connor completely at first, but after everything that has happened I think I did, but I wasn’t sure whether he was the best person to bring into the negotiations, he was an intimidating guy, but that might be to advantage. Or to our disadvantage. I decided to leave that to the side for now, I had already decided on one person to bring, “Brooke?”
“I’m in,” she replied immediately, I’d come to rely on Brooke a lot these past weeks. I looked around the circle, and once again wished I’d brought Jade with me, but I hadn’t. Monica was solid, and stoic, but we needed to appear kind and friendly here, so she wouldn’t be best. Malcolm I still didn’t know too well, he was an introvert I guess. Which meant I only had one real option, no matter what my doubts were. “Connor you too,” I said, trying not to sound reluctant
“I know we’ve clashed in the past but I know I can help Todd,” he assured me, and I tried to listen.

I turned around and saw Jacobs walking towards me, she had chosen Greg and a man covered in defensive gear, along with a helmet with the visor closed and enhanced with metal bars. “What about your weapons?” I asked, each man had a rifle, and Jacobs had her hand gun unclipped in its holster
“You’re gonna have to convince me to trust you a bit more first sorry,” she said smugly, and I had no choice but to agree, and the six of us walked into the station.

            It had been a good half hour of us negotiating inside, and things outside had gone from tense to boring. Lindsey was trying to get Monica to talk about apocalypse fashion, and failing. Pete and the rest of the resistance members were sorting out their various loot. This left Malcolm to sit and nap, his back against the van. At least he was trying to nap, it was starting to get warm now and he didn’t care that much for summer, and the cool bumpy metal of the van did little for his comfort. Not to mention the fact that every so often the resistance members would burst out in laughter, and several times he caught Pete point towards him or Monica before they starting laughing again.

            But just as he finally was started to forget the stress of the situation he heard someone sneeze, loudly. He started awake, and glanced around, but no one was actually close enough to make that noise, nor was anyone acting like they heard it too. There was a second, quieter sneeze, and that was when Malcolm realised it had come from the van. He glanced inside but there was no one there, trying to act inconspicuous he glanced under the van but he couldn’t see anyone’s feet, he realised there was only one place it could’ve come from: the boot. It had been locked by a padlock and we hadn’t found a key, nor had we found it worth breaking off. But when Malcolm, carefully choosing a time when no one was looking, looked there was no padlock there. He knew who was inside, but still he opened it, and found Emma lying inside.

            “So that’s how you survived?” Jacobs asked, her feet up on the desk between us
            “That’s what I said,” I replied, starting to get more hostile, she had spent the first half hour of the negotiations quizzing us about our encounters so far, the marauders, how we all met, how we lost Caleb. It was starting to grate on me, and not once did she show any emotion or sympathy. “No doubt you’ve had a similar experience,” Brooke said coolly, and I thanked her for it silently
            “More or less,” Jacobs answered still calm, “there was a group who tried to ambush a large raiding party a few months back, we lost a few people”
            “I’m sorry to hear that,” I tried to sound sympathetic. There was a few moments silence, this was when the real negotiating would start.
            “So its obvious how joining us would benefit you,” so started smugly, “we have more numbers and a more defensible base”
            “You don’t know that,” I disagreed, although I agreed with her, “our base might be stronger than yours, and numbers aren’t necessarily advantages”
            “True,” she conceded, “but I can assure the majority of our resistance has raiding and fighting experience, we aren’t a herd of sheep to be slaughtered” it was odd to hear my own words spoken to me “and if your base really is stronger than you can bring those skills back with you.” I smiled, she was starting to think about letting us join her, or so I thought. “But what if it isn’t?” she turned the tables on me, “what if you arrive to find something far greater than your home, and what if your group is far less experienced than you pretend”
            “What are you asking?” I wanted to try and stop her flow
            “If your people join us what can you give us that you can promise will be a boon, and not a curse,” she was getting more aggressive as she spoke.

            I was silent for a while, I turned to Brooke, then to Connor, we all knew what we had, but it was a risk letting them know we have it. I had to make this count, it was the biggest bargaining chip we had. “We have something, something you want,” I placed my hands folded on the table, “even if you already have one you’d still want another, but before I tell you I need to trust you”
            “What do you want?” Greg asked but he knew

            “Drop your weapons,” Connor answered, then nodded at the helmeted man, “and take off your helmet.” Jacobs was quiet for a while, considering our request, for a long while she stared into my eyes, and I stared resolutely back. “Ok,” was all she said, and she opened a desk drawer and dropped her handgun inside, Greg did the same, and taking the other man’s rifle he placed them both between our two groups. The other man unfastened the clip and began to remove his helmet. I breathed I sigh of relief, this was all going to turn out ok, “we have a portable generator,” I said proudly, and Jacobs and Greg looked pleased. But we weren’t we were mortified, as the third man turned around and we recognised him: Anthony, the leader and all that remained of the marauders.

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