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Paperbagfaze

28 Weeks Legend of the Dead

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Daughter

Daughter was debating kicking one of his new found acquaintances awake, when the Asian girl gave a shout. He jumped out of his skin, his nerves frazzled, but she just she laid there with her eyes open. A nightmare? Daughter wondered, half of his anger diminished by curiosity. She sat up and looked at her watch, then her eyes caught his. He looked away, mortified to be caught staring.

"Good morning." She said with a nod. "My apologies, I do not know your name." Annoyed, whether at himself or at the girl he wasn't sure, he started to reply.

"Dau--" He stopped. He had thought it over. All of the people who knew him were probably either dead or Infected. There wasn't a very high possibility that any of his past acquaintances would pop up. He had decided that he would come up with a new identity. A new name. A normal name. Something like Alex...or even Larry. One that didn't cause people to stare at him, or snicker behind his back. He had had enough of that through the years, ever since he was a child. But now...he'd almost blown his cover, just because he had been a little flustered.

Does it really matter now? A snide part of his mind asked, You might ditch them at a moments notice...you told yourself you would. Besides, we're in life and death situation, so why would they take the time to laugh at you? Daughter gave the Asian girl a hard stare, then sighed. I guess it doesn't matter. He finally convinced himself...or maybe brainwashed himself. Either way, the girl was waiting for an answer. He gulped, anxiety suddenly running through him again.

"Daughter." He finally choked out. "My name is Daughter Swift."

OT: Sorry it took me so long to post. NaNoWriMo is taking over my mind. D: I haven't committed Japanese suicide yet! XD

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Xiaomei:

Xiaomei tried to keep her face neutral when the young man said his name. The stammered start and the hard look had to be a thin crust over an underground ocean of pain. What kind of people would name their son 'Daughter?!' She could only imagine how she would have felt if her parents had named her 'Son.' For him to know every day as a child, as if it had been inscribed on his forehead, that he was not wanted, that his Mother and Father wished that someone else had been born... A tear broke free and ran down her cheek.

"Your parents...did not deserve a son to carry on their lineage. May they be forgotten as if they never were," she said, hoping that she was choosing the right words. "You should choose a new name, and a new family name also, so that their line will perish and your children will bear only yours. I hope you will be a loving parent like you should have had, and that thousands of years from now your descendants will read of you in the ancient books and recite your new name with pride."

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Tiffany

The night before, exhaustion had managed to overpower panic. With Snookie in her arms, Tiffany had forced herself to go to sleep. Luckily, no dreams sneaked in during the night. Rather than a nightmare, it was a slight movement at her foot that stirred her into wakefulness. She jumped a little at the sensation, startled. However, a glance confirmed that it was only the stupid boy. Annoyed, Tiffany leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to catch a few more moments of rest before everyone else woke up. Still, now that she was awake, there was no blocking out the quiet conversation between the boy and the astronaut lady. At first, she couldn't exactly say it was an interesting exchange. Then, the boy announced his name.

'Waaait. Did he say Daughter?'

Instantly, Tiffany was bolt-upright up, grinning wryly and struggling to come up with a taunt before bursting out laughing. However, a look at the astronaut lady's face told her to hold back any snide comment.

"Your parents...did not deserve a son to carry on their lineage. May they be forgotten as if they never were," she said, hoping that she was choosing the right words. "You should choose a new name, and a new family name also, so that their line will perish and your children will bear only yours. I hope you will be a loving parent like you should have had, and that thousands of years from now your descendants will read of you in the ancient books and recite your new name with pride."

'Holy crap, she's really taking this seriously.' Tiffany realized, deciding that perhaps now wasn't the right time to make fun of the boy for his name. Still, she figured she would be allowed one tiny crack on the subject.

"Yeah Daughter, a new name would be good for you." Stifling a grin, Tiffany threw on the most serious tone she could measure, "You'll have to think a lot about it though. I'd suggest something like... oh, I dunno... I. M. Nottagirl?"

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Xiaomei:

Don't...please don't... Xiaomei thought, as the girl started to talk. Then she did. Xiaomei had never wanted to hit someone so much in her entire life.

"Do you really think you are the first?" she said to Tiffany in a soft-spoken cold rage. "That he has not been ridiculed and brutalized for that name since before he could talk? That he did not have to grow up knowing that every time a bully's fist fell, every time a girl broke his heart with a laugh, every day without a single friend, that his own mother and father wanted it that way? They inflicted it on him when he was a helpless, innocent newborn baby! And now, he is perhaps one of the last five human beings on Earth, and still he must be made to suffer?" She turned back to Daughter.

"No wonder. No wonder you dart off into the darkness on the slightest whim. Compared to the leering demons who called themselves your fellow human beings, the Infected must seem like hardly monsters at all." Xiaomei rose to her feet. "I am...so very sorry," she said, then stepped over to Daughter and embraced him.

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Russ

Voices? Human voices? Russ thought for sure he was still dreaming, but when he opened his eyes and saw the small group, the night's events came rushing back to him. He tilted his head from side to side, working out the stiffness from sleeping while sitting against a wall. He rubbed the back of his neck and pushed himself into a more upright position.

Russ watched the exchange for a little bit while his body got the blood flowing normally. When the Chinese girl hugged the squirrelly boy, he decided it was time to intervene.

He stood up, straightened out his coat, and shouldered the rifle he'd been carrying the day before. He shot the group a semi-sarcastic warm grin, "As touching as this moment is, I think we have more important things to worry about than an angsty teenager's ego. In case you all forgot, our safe haven is probably crawling with zombies right now. We need to get out while the sun is still to the side of the building, coming directly in the windows."

He stepped toward the elevator doors and pressed his ear against it, motioning for the rest of them to be quiet. He wasn't sure how well he would be able to hear through the doors. He didn't hear anything, so he straightened up and checked his watch.

"Eight thirty...I'd say we have two hours max before the amount of sunlight in the building decreases." He reached into his pocket and pulled out what was left in it. Only a few more rounds. "We'll need to grab weapons. I have a small stash back on the first floor, but there is no way to tell how many are outside these doors right now."

He looked at the group, waiting for his words to sink in while the rest of them finished waking up.

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OT: full bio in OT

Name: Ben Walker

Age: 40

Appearance: Though overall Ben looks younger than the 40 that he is, his graying brown hair, sun-worn skin, and deep amber eyes give him the appearance of being worn down and a bit imposing at 6’3. He received an x shaped scar on his forehead while in the military (see Bio), but it often goes unnoticed beneath his Stetson hat and a dark pair of sunglasses. He wears blue jeans, boots, a leather jacket, and some form of firearm at all times.

Bio: Ben grew up in Northern California, marrying young after getting his highschool sweetheart (Sarah) pregnant. He joined the army when his son (David) was a year old, but was injured when a car bomb went off near him in 2003. His injury affected him physically (reducing vision and depth perception in one eye) and the war affected him psychologically. Ben would battle alcoholism for the next several years, often taking out his frustrations on his wife and David. When Emma was born in 2010 Ben vowed to turn his life around, working to repair the sever the relationship between him, his wife, and his three sons. However, when Emma fell ill and lost her voice at 18months, Sarah grew withdrawn from the family and committed suicide on Emma's third birthday.

Though the other boys would eventually forgive Ben, David never did, blaming his father for his mother's distress. David went on to study Neurology at UCLA and cut most contact with his father.

Ben was somewhat prepared for the zombies, but still tragically lost his two younger sons. Emma is all he has left. He has been traveling with a small band of survivors from around his hometown.

Personality: Quit and withdrawn, Ben doesn’t say more than what’s necessary. He often comes off as gruff and even cold too those he meets, but really he just doesn’t want to get close to them. His entire personality changes when he signs to Emma, trading his staunch realism with a kind of optimistic idealism. He secretly has a soft spot for kids, and feels like he needs to protect them.

Name: Emma Walker

Age: 9

Appearance: Of average height and delicate build, Emma is a beautiful little girl. She has long brown hair, stunning blue eyes and a constant smile. She has a somewhat whimsical sense of style and loves the color pink. She wears a pink jacket with cat ears and has a teddy bear back pack.

Bio: Even with her broken family, Emma group up a happy child with all the love and support she could ever hope for. She has nightmares about the infected, and fears what would happen if she turned into a zombie.

Personality: Intelligent, creative and extremely inquisitive its hard not to like Emma once you get to know her. She can be shy at first, but only because she has trouble communicating with people who don’t know sign language (Though she usually carries a white board). She loves making friends, and will listen all day to anyone’s problems or worries.

[8:15 AM Same Day as The Others]

Ben sat outside the rusty RV serving as the bands temporary hospital. Several people had been injured by falling debris the night before when their hideout (The gymnasium of a local high school) had been ambushed by zombies. Luckily however, the zombies had been nearly as surprised by the collapsing roof as the band had been and most of the camp was able to escape before the zombies could regain their senses. They were a motley crew of about twenty, two pickup trucks, a few tents, a few dozen guns and the RV between them. Even with the sun high above them, they moved tentatively. Fear had become a permanent state of being.

The 40year old man looked haggard and scared; eyes shut tightly, hands folded in prayer. Ben had never been much of a Christian, but since the apocalypse he’d been begging the Lord for a lot of things. “Please Lord,” He whispered under his breath, “You took my wife, both my sons, please don’t take my daughter. Please don’t let her fall to this demon’s disease, not my little girl.” A single tear rolled down his cheek. “She’s all I’ve got.”

“Ben?” The man’s voice was quiet. Ben’s heart sank, but he forced himself to his feet, taking up the rifle, an old military AK-47, that had been resting in his lap, but said nothing. The doctor sighed, “It’s definitely a zombie bite Ben, it’s not deep, and she’s not showing any symptoms yet, but it’s only a matter of time.”

Tears welled in the Ben’s eyes as memories flashed before them. Emma being born, her first steps, first sign, first pony ride. How could God do this too him? He knew better than to say he had always been a good Christian but did he really deserve all this? “How long, Matt?” He choked.

The doctor, Matt, looked sympathetic, yet his words were stone cold. “A couple days maybe, a week at best. Like I said, she’s asymptotic but we can’t risk her turning in the camp.” He seemed to hesitate, then continued, eerily business-like. “Look, I know this is rough, but we can make it real easy for her, she’ll just fall asleep.”

“You want to kill her!?” Been growled, working quickly to keep his voice in check. “She hasn’t even shown symptoms yet!”

“She’s a danger to the camp, Ben. We can’t allow her to turn. The well being of the group comes first.”

“This is my daughter were talking about! And you’d have her killed like an animal! What if it were Alex? Or even Ellen? Would you sit back and let them be killed?”

The man’s gaze stiffened, but he didn’t back down. “Please be rational Ben.”

Now Ben laughed, though a bit hysterically. “Rational?! It’s rational to blatantly disregard a human life for your own safety? That’s not rational Matt, that’s cowardice!” He pointed the rifle at Matt’s chest, “I swear I ought to…” Suddenly the RV door opened and Emma ran out, now sporting a thick bandage on her left arm. She looked scared, but for the moment dry eyed. She stared at the two men for several moments, ever silent. Ben lowered the gun, slightly. The little girl ran to him, pink jacket flailing behind her. She grabbed his coat and held him close; he lowered one hand and brushed his fingers through her hair, making a decision. He wouldn’t abandon her, he didn’t care if he died trying to save her life, he would protect her, human or not. “Get in the truck, Em.”

Matt looked incredulous “You’re not leaving!?”

“Watch me.” He raised his gun again, this time pointing at Matt’s head.

“It’s not loaded.” The man croaked.

“You sure Matty?” He laughed, backing up. “You wanna bet your life on it?”

“You can’t leave!” The man cried, now sounding desperate. “You can’t just abandon us!”

“Why? Because I owe you something? Or because I’m the only one here with any combat experience? Yea Matt, threatening to kill the daughter of the only military man in your group was really ‘best for everyone’. I don’t owe you anything.” Emma was next to the truck now, a black F-150 with spotlights on top. Two men moved towards Emma. “Don’t touch her!”

“But the truck….”

“Is my truck, and you’ve got another one. Don’t try to follow us.” Taking his hand off the shot gun, he got into the truck, Emma crawled into the passenger seat. Gun still fixed out the open door, he drew the key from his pocket and a moment later the truck roared to life. Matt just stood there, staring at him, but the others were running, fetching their guns. Slamming the door shut, Ben turned the truck around and headed towards the highway, the gas tank was full and he wanted to put as much distance between him and the others as possible.

He looked to his right; Emma had taken her whiteboard out of her backpack and set it on the dashboard. Where are we going?

Where were they going? Ben hadn’t the slightest idea. Then a thought burst into his head, undeniable as if by divine revelation. “To Los Angeles, UCLA, were going to find David.” The little girl looked shocked, probably Ben hadn’t even spoken David’s name in months, but she nodded accepting their sudden change of plans.

They traveled in silence for about twenty minutes, Ben checking his rearview mirror periodically. It appeared the others weren’t following them. He slowed the truck to a stop by the side of the road. With Emma watching he reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a box of bullets. He loaded the gun and tucked the rest of the ammo into his coat, cursing himself for not having more and making a note to never go without a loaded gun again. He mentally went through the gear in the truck, a rope, a flashlight, first aid kit, two gallons of water, jumper cables, a car jack, ammo for the AK-47 (Though not as much as he had hoped) as well as for his handgun still back at the camp, a half empty box of cigarettes, some matches, a Bowie knife under the seat, two searchlights on the roof and a crowbar in the bed. It wasn’t much but it would do. He guessed it would take them a few hours to reach the city, hopefully arriving before ten with plenty of time to make camp somewhere. The gas in the truck would get him to the city enough, but without the reserves Matt’s tribe had had he doubted he would be able to make it much further. He tried not to think too much about Emma, though the idea of sweet beautiful little girl turning into a thoughtless zombie hung in his mind like a brick.

David, they were going to find David, providing he hadn’t already been killed. Surely UCLA would have come up with some sort of a cure? At least something to stop the spread of the disease! David was a neurologist, zombies disease was in the brain like rabies, so surely he must know. He must be alive, he must have a cure. Ben started the truck and headed down the highway, glancing occasionally at Emma who stared endlessly out the window. He would find a cure. There was no other option. He would protect his little girl, his everything. Still Matt’s words echoed in his head.

A few days maybe, a week at best.

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Daughter

Apprehensively, Daughter watched the girl's face, trying to read her emotions. He blinked in astonishment as tears began to run down her face.

"Your parents...did not deserve a son to carry on their lineage. May they be forgotten as if they never were," she said, "You should choose a new name, and a new family name also, so that their line will perish and your children will bear only yours. I hope you will be a loving parent like you should have had, and that thousands of years from now your descendants will read of you in the ancient books and recite your new name with pride."

Daughter gaped at her, thrown off by her reaction. He'd never had anyone react to his name with such...empathy. Relief shot through him and his face almost relaxed into a smile.

Then the old familiar fury came back as the cheerleader began to speak. He hadn't realized she was awake.

"Yeah Daughter, a new name would be good for you." Stifling a grin, the cheerleader threw on the most serious tone she could measure, "You'll have to think a lot about it though. I'd suggest something like... oh, I dunno... I. M. Nottagirl?"

Daughter opened his mouth to retaliate, but the Asian girl beat him to it, snapping at the cheerleader. Daughter stared at her, his fury nearly disappearing in surprise as she defended him. She turned back to him.

"No wonder. No wonder you dart off into the darkness on the slightest whim. Compared to the leering demons who called themselves your fellow human beings, the Infected must seem like hardly monsters at all." Xiaomei rose to her feet and Daughter felt apprehension fill him. "I am...so very sorry," she said, then stepped over to Daughter and embraced him.

Daughter froze. GEH. He thought, his cheeks burning in embarrassment, How did I get into this situation? He hadn't been this bodily close to another human being for years...unless the fights counted. Awkwardly, he patted the girl on the back, and mentally hoped that the ordeal would be over soon.

"As touching as this moment is, I think we have more important things to worry about than an angsty teenager's ego. In case you all forgot, our safe haven is probably crawling with zombies right now. We need to get out while the sun is still to the side of the building, coming directly in the windows."

Oh thank goodness, Daughter thought, barely acknowledging the 'angsty teenager's ego' part of the dude's sentence. He forgot to frown as he stepped away from the girl, and gave her a nod of appreciation. It was all he could muster at the moment. I'd rather take on a horde of zombies than get into a situation like that again, he thought fervently.

"We'll need to grab weapons. I have a small stash back on the first floor, but there is no way to tell how many are outside these doors right now."

Daughter groaned. "So the plan is to run back down stairs, wait long enough for you to get your weapons, and then run outside? All while dodging the Infected?" Great. He was beginning to feel more like his old, crabby self again...it was safer this way. "It's just a minor detail," He said, sarcasm threading his words, "But does anyone have any idea where we're going to sleep tonight now that our only haven has been over-run with zombies?"

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"As touching as this moment is, I think we have more important things to worry about than an angsty teenager's ego. In case you all forgot, our safe haven is probably crawling with zombies right now. We need to get out while the sun is still to the side of the building, coming directly in the windows."

Zaogao! Xiaomei thought, hearing the man's voice. Of all the people she wished could have slept through all this for the boy's sake, she wished most that it could have been him. She released Daughter and backed away. To her surprise, he looked relieved, rather than humiliated in front of the only other male in the group. He gave her a brief nod, she gave him a brief smile. Then, to business.

Golden-Eye stepped toward the elevator doors and pressed his ear against it, motioning for the rest of them to be quiet. He wasn't sure how well he would be able to hear through the doors. He didn't hear anything, so he straightened up and checked his watch.

"Eight thirty...I'd say we have two hours max before the amount of sunlight in the building decreases." He reached into his pocket and pulled out what was left in it. Only a few more rounds. "We'll need to grab weapons. I have a small stash back on the first floor, but there is no way to tell how many are outside these doors right now."

"So the plan is to run back down stairs, wait long enough for you to get your weapons, and then run outside? All while dodging the Infected?"

Xiaomei thought for a moment, unable to come up with a better plan. "I think it is either that or we try to find a way to scale down the outside of the building." She shoved her spray bottle partially into a pocket and hoped it would stay, then drew her pistol and made sure the safety was off. "If there are Infected outside, the three of us will have to clear them using our guns, at least until we get out of the elevator. We do not want to be forced to breathe our own chemicals if we use those before we can be mobile. Do you have a bayonet for your rifle? Perhaps we could pry the doors open partially, enough to see if there are Infected outside, and be able to shoot through at them. The dog is not barking though," she said, looking down at the fluffy little creature.

"Oh!" she said, digging into a leg pocket of her coveralls and producing what looked like a mostly-empty oversized toothpaste tube. "I have shark repellent. I do not know if it will work on the Infected or not, but we may want to consider putting some of it on ourselves before we open the doors."

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Xiaomei:

Xiaomei had never been so glad to see the Sun. It had been a harrowing journey down through the gloom of the Library to Russ' arms cache, but now she had a twelve-round pump-action shotgun. The others were also better armed, though Daughter and Tiffany looked less than comfortable with their new weapons. Finally though, they emerged from the Library and into the blazing sun.

She got down and checked under Naomi's truck with the flashlight mounted on her gun's barrel. No zombies waiting underneath, so either the shark repellent had worked, or no zombies had thought of trying to hide underneath it and grab the legs of anyone who came close. "I think we should try to go to the harbor. If we can find a large boat or yacht there, or at a place that sells boats, we can make it our shelter. Before it gets dark, we sail out over the horizon so no zombies can get to us. Then we can sail back each day and build up a cache of non-edible supplies in an open place, maybe under a greenhouse canopy to protect them from rain. Food and bottled water, we store on the boat.

"There will be places here that sold solar panels and batteries, yes? If we can get access to solar panel systems, we can use them to power growing lights for a hydroponic garden, and to ward off zombies. In time, if we can find enough, we can build a place the zombies cannot approach, even at night. There we can plant our gardens and begin to build a permanent base. I still think the Library would be perfect, if we can flush the zombies out and fortify the building. It will take time and much work, but the Library holds the knowledge we will need to--do you hear that?" she said, cocking her head to listen. "It is an engine!" she said, hearing the echoes of the gurgling sound getting closer. It sounded like another big American truck. "We should try to signal them!"

Some of the others looked less than enthusiastic about the idea, and a nagging, suspicious voice in the back of her mind thought they could be right. The other person or persons could have chosen to survive by being savage raiders. Her normal, optimistic disposition shouted it down. All humans had to make common cause against the zombies! Anyone who tried to prey on their fellow humans pit themselves against both species, and surely that could not be a workable, long-term survival strategy! Looking toward the sound, she saw a big black vehicle rumble past on a cross-street. At the sight of it, she started jumping up and down and waving.

"Hellooooo!"

There was a dusty crunch as the vehicle stopped, then backed slowly into the cross-street and turned toward them. The truck did look...rather intimidating, with big lights mounted over the cab, an improvised, welded-together spiked bumper, and heavy metal grates welded over the windows and windshield. But it was also appropriate for this new, savage world she had landed in, and Xiaomei did not doubt that the man--the broad-shouldered figure behind the wheel could only be a man--who owned it was quite competent at survival. Even her optimistic side couldn't help feeling trepidation as the truck rolled slowly toward them, growling like some gigantic metal panther.

OT: Jael, I hope you don't mind me making modifications to Ben's truck, I just figured it would be kinda cool if it was a bit tricked-out, Mad Max style. :D

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Ben

Emma had fallen asleep early in the trip, exhausted from the previous nights events, and Ben hadn't wanted to wake her. Yet as he had traveled along empty stretches of highway, stopping only to move debris off the road, he realized that being alone with his own thoughts was a dangerous thing. Repeatedly images of Mitch and Ryan in their last moments came to him, with a pain so blinding it nearly drove him off the road. He couldn't stand the thought of his little girl turning into a monster, and even though he hated himself for even thinking of it, he couldn't deny the thought that maybe it would be better to just end it all now, while she slept, a bullet for her and one for him... Or the knife, he didn't deserve a painless death.

No, he couldn't think like that, not like Matt, not like the rest of the world.

Instead he forced himself to plan. How would they find David? How would they find a cure or even survive past another week? It would be best if they could set up a permanent hideout, set up a garden and start life anew. Its not like they could go back.

The discovery of his CD case, which had been untouched since the zombies, also helped take his mind off of things as he let the gravely drawls of various old country artists take him away, even singing a tune occasionally along with the voices of Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw or Garth Brooks. As he drove the city streets he wondered, for a moment if one day people would sing about the Zombies as they sung about war, or pain.

Then he saw the girl.

Ben slammed on the breaks and turned the truck twoards the girl, who he now saw was with a group of teenagers or college students. Honestly, Ben was a bit wary of meeting with another group, but just even just their ages urged him to stop. He stopped several yards away from the group and stepped down, gun in hand (though pointed at the ground), stetson pulled over his eyes. He spoke to Emma, "Stay in the truck," and then as a second thought, "And put your jacket on."

The first girl seemed the oldest, and looked vaguely familiar, perhaps a news reporter or a politician. For a moment they stood looking at each other, each one trying to sum up the other. Then Ben said, "I feel like I know ya from some where, but I can't put my finger on it."

He'd never been much good at small talk or introductions.

OT: I'm taking that Ben would have 'known' Xiaomi from seeing her on the news or something similar.

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Russ

"It is an engine!" she said, hearing the echoes of the gurgling sound getting closer. It sounded like another big American truck. "We should try to signal them!"

Russ heard it too, but he was a little more apprehensive about waving them down. As much as this group had grown in just a day and a half, he was beginning to get wary about the size. Sure, there was no way he would turn anyone away. Being alone and afraid was probably the worst feeling in this situation. Still... he was starting to wonder if a group this size wouldn't attract more of the monsters. He shrugged the duffel bag he was carrying to relieve his shoulder a bit. It was stocked full of weapons, ammunition, and whatever tools they felt were absolutely necessary. To be honest, he had grabbed a can of cleaner himself after seeing what Xiaomei had done with it.

He watched the truck pull up and his eyes narrowed. He was impressed with the modifications done to it, as crude as they looked. Obviously they were efficient. These people had made it here alive. He watched as a large, middle aged man stepped out of the truck. It looked like he had been talking to someone in the passenger seat, but whoever it was didn't get out with him.

"I feel like I know ya from some where, but I can't put my finger on it."

The man began by talking to Xiaomei, and Russ eyed him, then turned his attention to the truck. With a couple of vehicles, Xiaomei's plan just might work. He was honestly a little skeptical of how grand her notions were, but he let her have her dreams. The idea of a permanent shelter was beyond him at this point. Those monsters were everywhere... but he supposed that having a goal to work toward would at least give them something to keep them occupied.

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Xiaomei:

Watching the man in the truck, Xiaomei could have sworn she saw him talking, as if to someone beside him. She could not see anyone, unless the other person was ducked down for some reason. I hope he is not crazy, she thought. Being alone could do that...

"I am Xiaomei Wei. I am yuhangyuan--astronaut from China. There were news interviews during my last mission before...I also made broadcasts...before I had to land," she said, a note of sadness in her voice. "It is an honor to meet you sir," she said, giving him a formal bow. "You are like a real American cowboy gunslinger," she said with a smile. "These are my friends. This is Russ, and Naomi, and Tiffany, and D--" Xiaomei tried to think of a suitably masculine American name. With the cowboy image before her, only one could spring to mind. "John," she said glancing back at the slender boy. He was about as far from the archetypal swaggering two-fisted cowboy-actor as one could get, and Xiaomei seriously doubted he could drawl out a decent "pilllllgrimm" to save his life. But...it was better than humiliating him again in front of this new man. I hope he does not mind.

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Ben

"I am Xiaomei Wei. I am yuhangyuan--astronaut from China. There were news interviews during my last mission before...I also made broadcasts...before I had to land," she said, a note of sadness in her voice. "It is an honor to meet you sir," she said, giving him a formal bow. "You are like a real American cowboy gunslinger," she said with a smile. "These are my friends. This is Russ, and Naomi, and Tiffany, and D--" Xiaomei hesitated, "John," she said glancing back at the slender boy.

Ben raised an eyebrow at Xiaomiei's hesitation with the last boys name, but decided to let it go. "I'm impressed, not every day you meet an astronaut, and I'm no 'cowboy' really, just an old military man trying to find his son." He held out his hand, "Name's been Ben Walker." Ben took a moment to survey the rag-tag crew, with the exception of Xiaomei they really were just kids and only the first boy 'Russ' looked anywhere near threatening. "Gotta admit, I didn't expect to find a band so close to the 'epicenter' so to speak." He hesitated, then "Ya'll need a lift or anything? I'm kinda busy but I--"

Emma

Emma obediently put on her jacket then watched the approaching group with interest. They were younger, and not scary looking at all. In fact, other than the first woman, none looked older than David. Part of her wanted to venture out and greet the group, but fear held her back. She knew she was infected, and it was bad enough she was endangering her father. Did she really want to risk hurting these new kids? She really did want to meet them though, at the old camp she'd been the youngest by several years, and though these people Werner much younger they somehow looked less friendly.

Suddenly a flash of white fluff caught her attention. Emma leaned over the dash and looked closely. A dog! One of the girls had a dog! Without thinking of the consequences Emma was left the truck, running towards the little animal.

Ben

"Ya'll need a lift or anything? I'm kinda busy but I-- Dangit Em I told you to stay in the truck!"

The little girl had rushed from nowhere towards what Ben now realized was some sort of useless little dog. The creature growled and moved away from Emma, but the girl knew dogs well and knelt close to it with an unthreatening posture, inviting it forward.

Ben sighed, he should have expected this. After all, even with Zombies running around like crazy, a kid was still a kid. And besides, he doubted any of these teens would do anything to her, not until they knew about the bite at least. "This is my youngest, Emma."

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Russ

Russ's eyes widened with shock when he saw a young girl, no older than 10 years old, come flying out of the car. Oh, God no... His stomach sank and his mind automatically jumped to the implications of having a child in their little ragtag party. Really, there were no benefits. She would only slow them down and she was an extra mouth to feed. A liability.

But it wasn't like he could just tell this man to leave or to abandon his child. Russ himself certainly wouldn't, and he knew that arguing about it would probably just be pointless. She was coming with them, and there wasn't anything anybody could do about it and maintain their humanity. Still...it put an extra burden on all of them. It would have been nice if she was a few years older, but crisis didn't exactly cater to the needs of mankind.

He pushed the thoughts out of his mind for the time being and stepped up the new man. He held his hand out in greeting and sort of growled out an introduction, "I'm Russ." He shook the man's hand and nodded toward his truck, "Forgive me for skipping pleasantries, but what kind of supplies do you have loaded up in that beast?" The extra truck might come in handy, but they would have to find a way to keep fuel in all of their vehicles.

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Ben

"I'm Russ." He shook the man's hand and nodded toward his truck, "Forgive me for skipping pleasantries, but what kind of supplies do you have loaded up in that beast?"

Ben surveyed the boy skeptically, trying to read his strange colored eyes. If he hadn't been with Emma, he would have joined the group but the boy was talking as if this was a sure fire thing, and Ben didn't like the way he was eying Emma, cool, calculating and hard. Ben had seen it all before, like Matt this man was beginning to look at people in terms of how easily he could keep them alive, weather they would be an asset or a hindrance.

"Not as much as I'd hoped when we left," Ben said slowly. "The band we were traveling with was ambushed by Zombies last night, and we were forced to separate. I've got some ammo, and fresh water if you need it, but I ain't runnin a peddlers wagon."

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Tiffany

The morning's dose of hope seemed to have come in the form of a new weapon for Tiffany and Xiaomei's optimistic plan for the future. That was its extent. In the end, Tiffany still didn't know to shoot, and all the careful planning in the world wouldn't make up for the fact that everything could go wrong in just one attack from the infected. By nature, she did seek out the best in situations, and sought out others who did the same. After all, that had been why Xiaomei's radio broadcasts had so inspired her in the beginning. Of course, that had been before Tiffany had lost count of the days of scavenging and nights of hiding in silence...

Then, there was the arrival of the truck. The arrival of people. That, in and of itself (frightening appearance aside) was hope. And flying out of the car at a blurry speed was perhaps the most profound hope of all. When was the last time she or any of the others had seen a child? The thought seemed so strange. Before Solanum, before the infected, she'd never particularly liked children. Dirty things with runny noses and grimy fingers, she'd thought. Now, she had to wonder if the girl was perhaps the last of her age left. For some reason, the thought made a stinging lump well up in Tiffany's throat. The girl obviously wanted to see the dog, although Snookie seemed less keen on meeting her.

"Here." Reaching into her pocket, Tiffany pulled out a scrap of beef jerky and handed it to the child, "If you hold it out, he'll come up to eat it and you'll be able to pet him. He's not very friendly otherwise. His name's Snookie. He's greedy as they come, but he won't bite you."

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Daughter

John?

Daughter's face twitched convulsively, but he wasn't sure whether it was because Xiaomei had almost introduced him to a total stranger as 'Daughter' or because she had suddenly opted to give him a totally new alias...something that he had never had the courage to do.

When he had seen the man drive up in the truck, Daughter had been less than enthusiastic, but the man seemed pretty work hardened and capable. More able bodied fighters is good right? Daughter thought, suddenly warming to the idea. More chances for survival.

Then the kid jumped out of the car and all good thoughts fled. Ah crap. Daughter hated kids almost as much as he hated his own name. Also, the kid seemed to be cozying up to the blond cheerleader and her mutt...another good reason to be less than friendly. Unfortunately, no one else seemed too concerned about her. He barely noticed that Russ and the newcomer seemed to have rising hackles as they spoke with each other.

"Great." Daughter muttered, settling back into his familiar surly attitude. "A snot nosed brat. Just what we need."

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Xiaomei:

Xiaomei took the man's hand. The way he spoke made it sound as if finding bands of survivors was not altogether unheard of, which raised her hopes. Suddenly, the door of his truck popped open, and Xiaomei briefly worried that it might be some kind of ambush--Ben coming forward to get everyone off their guard, then a partner jumps out with a gun. At the sight of the small form in the pink teddy bear jacket, Xiaomei's eyes went wide with surprise, then delight spread over her features. Her eyes followed the little girl, drinking in the miracle of a child's happy innocence. In that instant, Xiaomei knew this man could be trusted completely. That he would, and could care for a child in these monstrous times said everything she needed to know about him. He, more than any of the others, would understand the need to fight not merely for day-to-day survival, but for the future.

She was snapped out of her thoughts by Russ' growled introduction, and his turning of the conversation to logistics.

"You know of more survivors? Which way? Perhaps we can find them. But first we must find a large boat so that we can be safe at sea when it is dark. Then food and water and petrol, and a place in the open to cache non-perishables. Naomi and I have some supplies in her truck," she said, pointing. When our day's work is done I will be happy to show your daughter my spacesuit."

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Name: Logan Dakota

Age: 18

Appearance:

normal_sonstiges54.jpg

Superimpose pale green eyes and darker hair.

Bio: Logan grew up in america with her single mother and older brother. Her mother was an ace of all trades, every job she was hired for she excelled at after working at them for a few months. Of course, these jobs were strictly lower class, earning minimum wage at best and rarely involved working at a desk. She preferred working outdoors, or as close to outdoors as she could get.

As a result of such a lifestyle, her children are subtly introverted. They make the best of their current situation and don't sweat the small stuff like aesthetics. They are close emotionally. They live like modern day gypsies, never staying in one place for too long.

When reports of the virus Solanum first started being broadcast, Logan's mother packed her kids up and drove as far from the reported areas as possible. They drove across the country, hearing the same thing at every town. Along the route they took, they saw the same tragedy everywhere. Eventually they ran out of road. Logan woke up one morning, rose from the backseat of the van and stared out at the north pacific ocean.

They'd been driven from one side of the country all the way to the other.

Personality: Logan is quiet, she's not shy but she isn't good at talking to strangers, so she usually kept quiet and let her brother do the talking for her.

She's very empathetic, she's good at listening. Her emotions rarely show on her face. She knows what she likes however, she is not a push over. If she doesn't want to do something or is uncomfortable with it she will say something, on the off hand however, she is hesitant to vocalize her own desires and wants.

----------------------------------------

Logan

Logan woke up alone in her 'room', i.e. The farthest seat back in the van. The first images she perceives upon awakening are pictures taped to the back of the vinyl seat, frozen moments, faces, alternating smiles and scowls being pulled by her or her brother, Leon. Her hand reaches out and traces the faces, then the chipped lime green fingernail polish adorning her nails catches her eyes, she studies the inconsistent color for a few minutes til she's fully awake.

And conscious of the fact that it is very bright outside.

Why hadn't anyone woken her up?

Logan sits up in her seat and glances around.

"Where are we?" she mumbles, half expecting an answer.

She pulls down the dark sheet tacked to the roof of the van after a few moments of expectant silence and is met with the sight of a completely deserted van.

Well, all of mom's and Leon's stuff is here... she thinks as she crawls over the seat back in front of her.

Where are they?

She slid the side door open slowly, warily, and pokes her head out. The air is salty, there's a breeze, and she can hear the ocean's steady waves.

She steps from the van and takes a cursory glance around.

They'd parked in a deserted beach parking lot. There's a boardwalk leading down to the beach, way off in the distance she can see a city, to her eyes, skyscrapers and large glass buildings reflect the sun ominously.

Logan does not have a very good handle on her current situation, but she knows without a doubt that venturing into what was once a heavily populated area like aforementioned city, is a bad idea. She tugs the large black t-shirt she wore as a night shirt lower over her thighs and frowns.

"Mooo-m?" she yells, certain that wherever her mother and Leon have gone to they won't be far.

After waiting for a few minutes, straining her ears for a reply, Logan cups her hands over her mouth and yells again.

"LEEEOON?!"

Fifteen minutes later, Logan is crouched against the van, her arms wrapped around her legs and her face buried in her knees.

She breathes steadily, face blank. Her hands are shaking, she notes.

She sniffs once, then turns and crawls back into the van.

She gets dressed, pulling on loose clothes that don't restrain movement. The weapons are still stashed in the box in the back.

All of them.

"Leon, you idiot..." Logan growls between clenched teeth. Her blunt nails dig into her palms as gruesome scenarios play out unbidden in her head. she closes her eyes and slams her hands against the seat she's sitting on.

"ENOUGH!" she yells at herself. She blindly gropes for a weapon and lugs a chainsaw from the box of pseudo weapons.

She stares single-minded at the buildings littering the beach ahead of her.

"They've got to be around here... maybe, they're barricaded in somewhere, or they got trapped or something..." She bites her lip while she steps out of the van again. Her eyes squint at the beach, she thought she saw movement down there...

Seagulls. huh. Logan warily watches the birds as she walks along the beach, looking for any indications of aggression. She's near the first building, she realizes it's a house. A building on the beach... a beach house. Duh. Logan presses her lips together firmly. It's dark in there. She steps up on the porch and inches towards the door. It's boarded up. She stares at the water stained boards over the windows and the door. The nails are rusted and stain the wood around them. Was this house deserted before the epidemic? She sighs and sags against the door. Her eyes scan the beach further down absently.

She's trying to keep herself busy, so she won't think about why she woke up alone. It's not working very well.

She pushes away from the door and lugs the chainsaw up to rest on her shoulder. She walks determined to the next house. She feels safe in the sunlight surrounding her. She flounders through the sand in the knee high laced up boots she's wearing, not one of her smarter wardrobe choices... She pauses at the porch of the her destination and without looking up in frustration tugs her boots off.

A small moan echoes from in front of her.

She looks up and freezes.

It's dying.

There's too much blood for it not to be dying. Deep disgusting maroon color stains the wood around the pitiful form, droplets dried on the walls. It moans again.

Is that it's mouth? Where's it's teeth, ohmygoshohmygosh, where is it's lower jaw?

Logan chokes and stumbles back. She hears it moan again, an arm, she can only tell it's an arm because of the three fingered hand reaching desperately in her direction, digging nails scrape into the wood, it's dragging itself from the shadows of the house.

"Nonononono-" Logan scrambles away, tossing up sand as she digs her hands into the earth for leverage.

She leaves her boots at the porch, sprinting even with the cumbersome chain saw banging against her right thigh. She runs til she's back at the van, where she collapses against the side, her limbs shake and she feels sick.

She doesn't move again for a long time.

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Emma

"If you hold it out, he'll come up to eat it and you'll be able to pet him. He's not very friendly otherwise. His name's Snookie. He's greedy as they come, but he won't bite you."

Emma smiled and signed Thank You, then took the meat and held it out to the fat little dog. The creature sniffed and waddled towards her.

Ben

"You know of more survivors? Which way? Perhaps we can find them. But first we must find a large boat so that we can be safe at sea when it is dark. Then food and water and petrol, and a place in the open to cache non-perishables. Naomi and I have some supplies in her truck," she said, pointing. "When our day's work is done I will be happy to show your daughter my spacesuit."

Ben backed away slightly, "I know of a couple bands north of here, from the rural areas where radio broadcasts hit before the virus, most only 10 or 15 people but... I don't know if I'd be too quick to join them. People are growing desperate, hard to tell who you can trust really." He paused and thought about what Xiaomi was saying about a boat. It was smart, the idea of having a permanent settlement, but at the moment, with only a week to spare, it didn't seem like that much of an option, at least not for him. "Look, I really don't mean to sound rude or anything, but I'm not staying.... I have to find my son David... He was a student at UCLA, thats why I'm here, looking for him.... The idea of a boat, a permanent shelter sounds great but... Its just not an option right now." He looked at their faces, realizing that, to some at least, he'd been a beacon of hope. "I'm sorry."

OT: If your character has a reason for understanding ASL then it'd be fine having them be able to understand Emma's italics but... I think having most of the group unable to truly communicate with her (ie if Ben takes her White Board) could be interesting.

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Xiaomei:

"UCLA? You think your son is still there?" Xiaomei asked. Could there be more students there? Scientifically-educated minds who could help rebuild... "Respectfully sir, I think it would be tactically unsound for you and your daughter to go there alone. You would be taking your daughter into an urban combat zone without anyone else who can fire while you are reloading. Just last night I would have died if I had not been with Russ," she said, giving a nod to the young man. "We are stronger together. When you find your son I think you will wish to have a safe place to bring him. And a safe place where your daughter can be protected while you search, and at least one other person to watch your back while you search for him.

"If we stay together and find a boat first, then if you are willing, one or more of us can take care of your daughter there, and some of us can go with you to UCLA. I am willing to perform either role as you prefer. The physics department at UCLA would have ultraviolet lasers and other light sources that could be powerful weapons against the zombies. The medical department might still have useful first aid supplies, and antibiotics, and iodine for purifying water. We will need things like that, so I think it would be worth it for us to go with you."

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Russ

Russ tossed the duffel bag into the back seat of Naomi's truck, and as he was closing the door, he caught just a little bit of Xiamoei's conversation with Ben. UCLA? He hadn't even stepped foot on that campus since the accident...the one that kept him from protecting the love of his life. The same one that had kept him in the dark when all this was happening.

Then again, he was willing to bet that the science department would have all kinds of useful equipment for them. Not to mention antibiotics and pain killers, just in case. He was sure they would be able to find a good amount of supplies that they would have a hard time finding anywhere else.

And who better to help find those supplies than someone who had spent the last few years on that campus?

He stepped forward, "UCLA? I know exactly where the physics department is there. In fact, I spent a lot of time over the last few years wandering around through the science buildings. I was studying virology there when... when this happened." He gestured vaguely toward the city, not needing to explain himself.

He looked at Ben, realizing that this man would probably be a useful addition to their team if they could get him to stay. "Getting through the campus won't be easy, I guarantee it. It was a highly concentrated population of young college students. Most of which were only sober half the time... what I'm trying to say is, there are probably going to be a helluva lot zombies there. You're going to need to know the best, quickest routes." He paused for a moment, not entirely sure of his offer himself. "I'd be willing to show you around if you'd be willing to lend us your truck." He nodded at the vehicle, "and we're going to need any weapons you have if we're gonna get through the campus relatively safely."

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Ben

"Well, I don't know if he'll still be there... but I figure its a start." He knew what Xiaomei was saying about the mission was true, it had the potential to be a disaster if steps wern't taken. Still, he didn't know how much time he had, and he didn't want to put these kids in danger.

"UCLA? I know exactly where the physics department is there. In fact, I spent a lot of time over the last few years wandering around through the science buildings. I was studying virology there when... when this happened."

The idea of having a guide of sorts made the offer much more appealing. He nodded gruffly, "Alright then, I'll help ya'll make camp tonight, and in the morning we'll figure out what to do about UCLA." He looked at Russ, "David was studying neuroscience, and had an apartment near campus but I've never been there myself..." He realized that it probably sounded strange, that he had never even been to his oldest son's university but Ben wasn't going to explain. "It'll be good to have a guide." Ben looked up at the sky, they had time but they also had a lot to do.

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Xiaomei:

"You studied virology?" Xiaomei said to Russ, eyes bright with interest. "Did you study Solanum at all?" Maybe he will know something about its origins! Or have information about it that could indicate whether the Screwfly Hypothesis is true or not... Of all the hypotheses about Solanum she had relayed between isolated groups of scientists on Earth as the virus spread, the Screwfly Hypothesis frightened her the most. If it was true, the zombies were only a prelude...

"May I ride with you? I would very much like to get to know you and your daughter. It is a great joy to see a child in these times. I very much hope we will be able to build a future for her."

OT: If Russ or Ben would have followed the scientific discussion about Solanum closely enough to have heard of the sort of thing most governments would have wanted to keep quiet (but might not necessarily have always succeeded), let me know and I'll PM you to explain the Screwfly Hypothesis. There would have been too much chaos to really enforce Top Secrecy or anything like that, but I'm thinking it would have been kept off the nightly news, most of the time. Same goes for Tiffany and Daughter, but they don't seem to me to be the type to have been that interested in the science of Solanum and where it came from.

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Ben/Xiaomei:

Ben hesitated a moment, weighing his options. He didn't want these people getting too close, especially to Emma. And the young Chinese woman was clearly taking an interest in his little girl. A benevolent interest, to be sure; but would it stay that way if she found out? On the other hand, it wasn't exactly every day he had a chance to let Emma meet a real, live astronaut, even before the world died. Under any other circumstances he'd have been delighted to introduce her to such a positive role model. If not for that bandage on Emma's hand, and the accursed wound it concealed...

"...Sure. We'd better get crackin'." I hope I won't regret this... "Come on, Emma," he said, waving his daughter over to his truck. The young astronaut's eyes followed her, lit with bittersweet joy. Under any other circumstances Ben would have bet she'd become almost as protective of Emma as he was. Under any other circumstances... Maybe David and that kid with the cat eyes can find a cure if they team up, he thought, knowing full well that he was clinging to the slenderest possible thread of hope.

A throbbing sound, faint at first, gradually growing louder drew Xiaomei's attention. She turned to see a CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter rising from behind buildings in the distance. It was trailing cables strung taut in a triangular configuration, and escorted by a pair of black Apache helicopters. Getting her bearings, she realized with a jolt that it was not rising above some random location. As it lifted high enough for her to see its cargo, her suspicions were confirmed.

"My capsule! They're taking my capsule!" she said, eyes wide with horror. "Why?" The bulky two-bladed helicopter made a stately turn, then started to haul the irreplaceable craft away, to an unknown fate.

OT: These are not our villains. A potential plot twist for the future... *cryptic smile* Also, Marley, I hope you don't mind me piloting Ben a little.

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