EarthAftermath

A nuclear war has brought the earth to near destruction, the year is 2215 you are now thrown into the cruel world of EASurvival. Mutants, raiders and all sorts of apocalyptic nasties wait to shred you to pieces. Can you survive in the new world?
 
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 brotherly love

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Garrity

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PostSubject: brotherly love   Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:00 pm

The car rolled a few more inches along the broken pavement then finally stopped. An extremely tall and painfully thin boy in his late teens stepped out, brushing an errant curl from bright blue eyes as he popped the hood, frowning.

"Can you fix it?" shouted a tiny little blond in his early teens from the passenger seat, his large brown eyes filled with worry.

The older boy shrugged, heading to the trunk for tools. He didn't know yet. He carried them back to the front of the vehicle and worked under the hood for several long moments, before stepping back with a sigh. Resignedly, he gathered the tools back up, headed back to the trunk, stuffed them into their packs and shouldered them quickly.

"Josh?" the boy asked again.

The older boy opened the car door for the youth, gesturing he should come.

"Dammit!" the boy exclaimed.

"Zack," Josh sighed, his soft tone full of reproach.

"Sorry...I mean, dangit," the younger boy corrected quickly, taking his pack from his brother. "I hate walking. "

A slight smirk touched the older boy's lips as he shifted his pack, kneeling, as the younger boy knew he would. Quickly, Zack climbed aboard. Josh stood and continued along the road, his brother upon his back, in search of someplace warm to sleep for the night.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:16 am

Sebastian sighs, and tosses the last trap's contents to Marta, his German Shepard. "Eat," he commands softly, his heart broken... At least one of them will eat tonight. And Marta is the more useful of them both.

Their shelter, their supplies, were done. Electricity had vanished a week ago. Food (except for rats and mice in the traps) had run out the day after that. The water began to taste of oil around the same time. Burning what they could had kept them alive this far, but now he was down to books, as the generator had been expected to fuel the heating system and no fuel was stored up. Venturing outside the bunker was dangerous--monsters roamed, and raiders threatened (but they had managed to evade those on those few excursions), but they found nothing of use nearby, and Sebastian could not hobble far even with the large dog's support... They had lasted as long as Sebastian could manage, being so very limited physically--blind to all but intense shadows and light, with nerve damage to his legs and corrosion to his throat and lungs. Marta, his intensely-trained guide and guard, deserved something for staying by his side, at least. Loyalty should receive some reward.

In this case, it was the last rat they could trap.

He had tried sending her away, but she refused to go far... then the mutants began to draw ever closer in on the lands around them, until she refused to leave the shelter at all. Sebastian knew that likely meant they are now surrounded. The growls the past couple nights, making Marta sit guard and himself shiver, only emphasized their situation.

Hopeless.

So now...

Now, Sebastian sits on a tilted chair, one foot extended across the bunker's narrow, rounded doorway and the other to his chest, listening to Marta eating their final dinner. Not much of a meal, even for her. She whines softly, and the young man reaches down to pat her soft head sympathetically, his own stomach rumbling softly. He can feel her bones beginning to show through that thick fur.

"Sorry, Marta. The irony's not lost on me, either... All that money could offer to help, and I end up being the only one to reach it--only to die useless still, so much later..." He had lost track of time in there, as technology began to fail with the generator. All is dark to him... "I just... hope it's kind of painless... I've had enough of pain."

Suddenly, under his hand, Marta starts, head and ears lifting, before she bounds to her feet with a low growl, taking a firm stance between him and the world beyond their bunker.

Sebastian sets the chair back down on all four legs with a sigh, ignoring the fear fluttering in his guts as he reaches in his overcoat to pull out the Glock and cock it. No point in facing the mutants with anything stronger, when he couldn't handle the kick and would likely get only one shot off.

"Steady, Marta," he commands, standing stiffly and bringing the weapon to bear, ready--though his hands are shaking. <I... really don't want to die... not like this, either, but... I probably should have died when they poisoned me... This is all borrowed time.>


Last edited by Seabay Florentine on Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:43 am; edited 2 times in total
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Garrity

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:44 pm

Josh set Zack down just before the driveway, nodding toward the house in front of them.

"Just the usual stuff?" Zack asked, the low growls in the distance prompting him to walk a little faster, desperate to keep up with his brother's long stride. Josh nodded, checking his waistband again for the guns he kept tucked there, though he did slow his pace slightly, silently reassuring his brother he wouldn't be left behind.

Only when they'd reached the house did they begin to part ways. Zack made for the door, making a mental checklist:

Food
water
blankets
clothes and shoes
grooming needs
first aid supplies

While Josh set off in search of tools, weapons, and anything else they might find useful along their journey.

"Please let there be a car," Zack whispered his usual mantra. "Please please let there be a car.

Usually they could find transportation, though often it needed a little work to get it running. Luckily, Josh was handier than most. As a rule, if it was broke, Josh could fix it, and if it had wheels, Josh could drive it. Gifted with an eidetic memory, infinite energy, and an almost inexhaustible reserve of patience, he rarely left any of their needs unmet for long. He'd always been that way.

It was Josh who spotted it, almost overrun with weeds and debris. It looked like one of those high tech bunkers they'd come across in what had once been really wealthy neighborhoods in Maine and New Hampshire. It had once been thought that those things would be indestructible, and that the people who had them could survive in them for decades. However, it seems most of them were understocked, door locks malfunctioned, and t generators often faulted shortly after lockdown, trapping the inhabitants inside without food, water, or a means to stay warm enough. Worse still, they sometimes find them overrun by raiders or mutants. Given the sounds they'd heard coming up the walk, that was a distinct possibility, too. Either way, they'd found way too many dead bodies in bunkers like these.

Still...they also sometimes found useful things in them, too. First aid supplies...blankets...sometimes even cool things to pass the time like books or hand held games.

"Take the house," Josh instructed quietly, stepping toward the bunker.

"but Josh, what if..." Zack began, only to be stopped by a slight shake of his brother's head. "Okay.." he said meekly. "Be careful!"

"Please be empty," Zack began whispering, this mantra more important to him than even the car. After all...he'd never survive if something happened to Josh. He wasn't sure he'd even want to.



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Lia Jensen

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:00 pm

Lia rubbed her feet, wincing at the growing blister on her heel. It seemed not all that long ago that she would have been fighting to break in her new ballet shoes, willingly suffering the sore for the sake of dancing. Now she was instead cursing the fact that she was stuck with these blistering feet due to too-big boots. The problem was that her own boots had already fallen apart completely, leaving her with few options when she had found the handy hiking boots on the dead man. She shook her head, clearing the thoughts away - this train of reverie lead back to the images of what she had had to do to get the things off the body to begin with, and she had too little food left to be throwing any of it back up. She'd had to use that trick her mother had taught her, the one about pretending she was someone else and that she was really only just watching a movie, to get through it.

All for a stinking, oversized, ugly pair of boots that were now leaving angry blisters and welts on her feet, making it harder and harder to walk. It was true, she was used to sore feet and blisters, but even during her most dedicated times of practice, she still gave her feet /some/ breaks.

She knew the mutants weren't far behind, but she'd finally given in and sought shelter in the charred bones of a house to give her feet a momentary respite from their agony. She could hear their growls, coming from a distance too short for comfort. Still, the present pain and her increasingly noticeable limp had reached a point where it was more compelling to stop and try to alleviate them than it was to keep going to avoid a few stray freaks.

As she rubbed the ache from her arches, she eyed the offending footwear, as though glaring at them might make them magically shrink to her foot size, or at least shame them into submission so that they would stop rubbing and aggravating her blisters.

Her mind started to wander again, as she mentally traced how in the world she had gotten here, to this place, after having lived such an ordinary life as a child... well, mostly. There were certain portions of that journey she made herself avoid entirely, the doors to those parts of her inner library locked and secured, keys thrown away and the entrance heavily barred so as not to be touched by anyone. Not even herself.

Especially not herself.

Another growl, this one closer, snapped the blonde teenager back to the here-and-now. She silently berated herself for letting her mind wander so far. What did it matter /how/ she got here? The point was that she was, they all were, and all that counted now was how long you managed to survive. Oh, they all died in the end, as would she, but she planned on making that fight one hell of a good one. This ravaged, foreboding land wouldn't have her /that/ easily, not if she could help it.

With a sigh and a grimace, Lia returned the boots to their proper feet. She stood, testing out how much good she did before adjusting her backpack and setting off again, hoping to find someplace safe to bunker up before nightfall. If not, it would just be another night spent walking, trying to avoid the Grim Reaper's scythe.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:13 pm

Sebastian frowns slightly when he feels Marta come back to sit against his leg. She only does that when she finds people, not mutants. But that doesn't make him feel any better. He'd overheard the slaughter of raiders wiping out a whole shelter, and the plea from a group in danger of slavers calling for help on the ham radio... Neither sound like a better fate than becoming mutant-food. In fact, the mutants might be the better end of the deal according to what he'd heard through the headphones during that slaughter, too horrified to rip himself away...

Taking a deep breath, he holds the gun as steady as he can in his hands, listening carefully for the sound of footsteps on the gravel, someone brushing against the weeds...

"Who's there?" he calls warily, feeling Marta shift slightly against his leg, uttering a single bark to announce the arrival of someone.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:57 am

Zack jumped at the sound of the voice eyes widening as the gun swung his way. Seeing the fear on the man's face, he answered, his voice still youthful, not yet changed, "We're not here to hurt you, sir. "

Josh noted the aim of the gun, just above and to the left of his brother's head.

he can't see us Josh thought, almost sighing in relief. He kicked the loose gravel beneath his feet, making as much noise as he could until the gun swung his direction. Even poorly aimed, it wasn't something he wanted pointed in his brother's vicinity.

Then he frowned, realizing what that meant. They couldn't just leave him here like that, with the sounds of the mutants getting closer all around them.

"Don't shoot him!" Zack said, panicking as the gun swung toward his brother. "Please...We were looking to see what was left behind. You know. Food. Coats. Blankets. Stuff like that." A little quieter, he admits. "It's just Josh and Me. We didn't think nobody was here."

Josh sighed audibly this time. Sometimes his brother just didn't understand. Again, he kicked the loose stones, making sure the man noted the noise a little closer to him. He didn't like the idea of scaring a blind man, but if that's what he had to do to keep that gun aimed away from his brother, he would. Whatever it took. He looked closer at the man and the dog beside him and, after a moment's hesitation, knelt down, fumbling around in his bag until he found a couple of cans of tinned beef. He opened one and set it down as far as his long arms would allow him to place it in front of him, toward the man and the dog. The dog looked hungry. Somehow that saddened him. After a moment, he moved forward slowly, offering his pack to the man. He obviously loved his dog. If she were that hungry, no doubt he was, too. He and Zack could make due with what Zack carried. And there would be more. If you really looked, there was always more.

"If it's okay, Josh put some food down for your dog, sir. That's him there to your right. " Zack sounded surprised, but didn't argue. Instead, he just nodded as Josh put the pack down at the mans' feet. "there's a backpack next to you. It's got food and water in it."
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:46 am

At the sound of such a young voice, Sebastian almost jumps, surprised, nervous, his gun shifting uneasily between the boy's voice, and the heavier tread of his brother. But... it's just a kid, and his brother--desperate, hopeful, kind of friendly even. The fear ebbs from him, and with it, the adrenaline rush fades, leaving him just shaky, tired.

Let them have everything. Maybe they can even save Marta. God knows he's still doomed here. Even with her, he can't go far on foot--and even if he could keep up with them, just what good would he be? A burden. A weight where every little advantage could at least keep you alive a little longer, maybe let you reach one of the rumored colonies. God only knew what good those were, even--just isolated islands in a sea of danger, with mutants and raiders and slavers expanding their territories, or so it had sounded on the radio-waves...

<I'm tired of being a lead weight. I'd... rather go down fighting, even pitifully, if... if it means I can choose how to go. I'd like something with dignity to it, I guess. The other ways... don't look as fast or easy.>

"Didn't think... You just want that?" He wavers, then finally puts the safety back on the glock, and holsters it, sagging shakily as he commands Marta to stand down. "Heel, Marta... Go ahead. What does it matter, anyway? The food's all gone... As you said, nobody knows... anyone is here... The monsters are closing in soon, anyway."

Zack wrote:
"If it's okay, Josh put some food down for your dog, sir. That's him there to your right. " Zack sounded surprised, but didn't argue. Instead, he just nodded as Josh put the pack down at the mans' feet. "There's a backpack next to you. It's got food and water in it."

The dog whines, and Sebastian sniffs, smiling slightly as he recognizes the scent of beef... and his stomach makes a faintly protesting sound. But the smile takes a wistful, sad twist. "Go on, Marta. Eat up."

Marta doesn't need to be told twice--she scarfs it down eagerly, licking the can clean in a single swipe of her tongue.

Sebastian, meanwhile, decides to sit down on the chair he knows is by the entrance before his lousy legs might give out, shaking his head as he leaves the offered pack, waving a hand at its general direction dismissively. "Thanks, but... No point in you giving me your charity, really. It's wasted. You see... I'm going to die here. I'd rather go down fighting, anyway--even if it'll be a pitiful fight. I'm helpless out there..."

Slumping on the chair, he pats Marta when she comes back over to him, again sitting by his side. "Maybe you can take Marta, though. She's a good dog. She deserves better, really... and she might be helpful for you."

<I guess... Well, lots of other died alone. Henry did. I think I can try to be brave enough to do the same... I'll try to be.> But Sebastian blinks a bit heavily, holding back tears at the idea of losing his one and only remaining friend--Marta--even if it's for her own sake. He doesn't want the strangers to notice how much the idea of being alone, in darkness, hurts... or how dying actually still kind of scares him a bit. But... he'd do it, for her. She's all the family--even of his once extended "family"--that he has left.

(OOC--Seabay International was his "extended family", or so he was raised--being friendly with the employees he had physical contact with while growing up, and with a strong sense of responsibility for the rest and their own families.)
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:14 am

Josh shoots a meaningful look at his little brother, then nods slightly toward their new aquaintance. Zack nodded, a lopsided grin touching his lips. Yeah, he thinks. Expected that. Aloud, he suggests, "Why don't you come with us?"

Josh stands and steps away from them, looking around for a garage or carport. He didn't think he could carry them both, at least not for long. They needed a car.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:25 am

Sebastian shakes his head, long dark hair swinging against his shoulders. "I'm... not in the best shape. I wasn't before this. And out there--I heard a few of the calls, the warnings--the screams on the radio. Raiders. Slavers. Monsters. You got this far--maybe you can find a good place. I can't even avoid tripping on my own feet, in here. I'll be a burden, weighing you down, slowing you up--nothing else. I'm tired of being that..."

Behind him, the bunker heads deep into the ground, a well-constructed affair. But beside the main entryway is a garage-like entrance. It could be for delivering supplies inside when the place was built and stocked, but then again, perhaps it contains more...

"Is there anything in particular you're looking for? Other than food. Like I said, nothing left of that, not even rats now... and I hate to tell you, but the water tastes like oil lately," Sebastian offers wryly, trying to be useful at least.

If nothing else, he can be a good memory for his guests, a bit of friendly hospitality in this hellhole of a world.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:33 am

Josh continued in search of anything useful, leaving Zack to talk to the occupant of the house. He could hear the sound of the mutants growing closer still, and thought to set a few traps to slow them down in case they tried to get too close.

Zack sat there listening to the man. At the mention of the water, he reached into the pack to offer the man a water pouch. "Do you have a car. A tractor. Anything?" the boy asked, unwilling to be dissuaded.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:11 am

Marta growls slightly at the weeds, sniffing... Sebastian shivers--he, too, can hear the monsters closing in cautiously... Because his sight is limited to intense shadows and light, he relies heavily on his hearing, after all. What he does hear only makes him feel death approaching--and much as he thinks he can't escape it, he still doesn't want to die...

"Thanks..." But the boy's question brings a bark of a laugh from Sebastian's rough throat, even as he picks up the water packet to open it. A last drink is a nice gift, before the end. "A Ferrari Goliath--the SUV--if you'd believe it," he laughs, finding it ironic. "Full tank of gas and everything, for all the good it does."

Josh finds plenty of clothing, bedding and blankets, maps and books (though the latter have started to be piled up by a backup furnace), movies and a laptop, board games and video games. Seems this place was intended for far more than merely Sebastian. A gun-locker, but it's locked. A pantry that's hanging open, but utterly bare. Fishing gear leans against a wall in the pantry. Rat-traps are set in various corners, but bait-less and empty... There are bigger traps, even bear-traps Josh can use to leave trouble for the coming mutants.

Near the furnace, a mattress rests on the floor with a nest of blankets, an old novel and a thick journal resting on the floor beside it, along with a battery-charger and voice-recorder. Resting on a table by the other end of the bed are a leash, a carrying-harness, a leading harness for the blind, a large dog-coat, and boots for paws. Beneath it rests a foldable canvas water bowl and food bowl... both bare and dry. By that lies a duffel with changes of clothes in it. To one side of the room sits a ham radio with earphones... useless, with the power out.

Then, Josh finds it in the massive, empty garage... a beautiful black SUV with tinted windows to conceal passengers, moon-roof, power everything, state-of-the-art and the latest model before the world crashed into flames. Ferrari, limited edition Goliath SUV, a creation for the wealthy only and with such beautiful handling and intense power built into it as any car-fanatic can dream of. Mostly only heard of it by rumor, or pictures in magazines. But here it stands, flawless, untouched, ready to go with the keys inside and even extra tanks full of gas in the back... along with other, less-discernible items. The garage-door opener and a highway pass wait inside, too.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:19 pm

Josh began setting the traps right away, prioritizing those even above food and blankets given the proximity of the sounds. He breaks into the gun locker, gathering all the weapons and ammo he can carry and heading back toward Zack and the other man in time to hear him tell his brother about the car.

"No shit?" the child breathed. "A Ferrari?"

"Zack," Josh chastised as he handed his brother two loaded guns and a box of ammo to keep on his person. That simple, softly spoken word had a quick and immediate impact.

"Sorry," the youth said quickly. "I mean...no kidding? Then you won't trip over your foot," Zack laughed, checking out both guns and setting the safeties carefully. "Josh can drive us out of here! Come on!"

Josh grinned at his brother's enthusiasm and tried not to flinch at the absolute faith he had in him.

How am I supposed to live up to that? he wondered as he went in search of the car.

Then he found it.

He stood there in awe a moment, then approached, running his hand gently along her all-aluminum chassis. He'd heard whispers in shops and rumors in magazines that these existed, but never seen one close up. He couldn't help himself. He popped the hood, determined to take in every inch of her.

She was beautiful!

V12 engine, 612 horse power, 448 lobs of torque. 6 speed automated manual transmission with F1 Superfast steering column-mounted shift paddles. Manettino switch integrating suspension, traction control, stability and shifter systems. Magnetic fluid-filled shock absorbers, electronic suspension settings, even a modified exhaust system with chrome tailpipes. Everything was perfect right down to the Bose sound system, parking sensors and navigation systems. She was a dream come true. She even had extra fuel and fluids ready and waiting.

That settled it. Josh was in love. This was the car of his dreams.

Hurry, he had to remind himself, loading the car with everything he'd found, taking great care to make sure that everything would be reasonably accessible for man or beast as they needed it while still remaining very organized.

Josh couldn't do disorganized. As chaotic as this world had become, he still needed HIS world, the one in which his little brother was the center and all things revolved around him, to remain as organized and reasonable as possible.

He finished carefully loading everything in, then quickly set a few more booby traps for the monsters that approached, knowing they'd need to slow them down as much as they could to give their new "friend" time to decide what he wanted to do.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:34 pm

Zack's enthusiasm is almost contagious, and his hope is hard to resist. Sebastian can feel his heart rise a bit, but can't help but be hesitant at first, after so much disappointment in his life. It's hard to open yourself to hope when you've already given up on it.

"Are you... sure? I won't be just--a hassle to bring along? What about the roads?"

Sipping the water packet, Sebastian considers these two strangers. He hadn't realized Josh was older than Zack... but that makes that slim hope even more likely and tempting. Marta butts her head under his hand, whining softly...

Maybe she's agreeing--this chance is worth taking.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:03 am

"Don't worry about that. Josh has been loading everything into the car and getting things ready for us to go. All of us. And he's memorized the map and can figure out how to get us out of whatever mess is out there. Trust us, okay? Josh'll be able to get us all out of here easy in a Ferrari SUV," he laughed merrily at the thought."It'll get far enough, and when it won't go anymore Josh'll find something else. He always does." Zack said, his voice filled with obvious love and pride.

Zack opened his pack. "You should eat something before we go, though. And use the restroom. Josh's rules."


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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:16 am

Sebastian sighs, then ruefully shakes his head, barking a harsh laugh. "What the hell... May as well, I guess, but if it gets bad--just ditch me, okay, and take Marta? I was supposed to be dead... long before this, anyway." He tosses a key to Zack. "Raid the safe, too, if we're going. A couple more guns are there. And tell your brother to leave that long box in the back--that's a bazooka."

Finishing the water packet has given him some energy back, so Sebastian pulls himself to his feet, Marta immediately under his hand and by his leg to guide him.

"Though I think I'll try the bathroom first. We can eat in the car. Had enough food poisoning here for a lifetime--and who knows when we'll next find clean enough running water to wash hands again."
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:54 am

Sebastian followed the boys back inside the bunker, and collected his things. A couple changes of clothes, toiletries, the ham radio (on the vague hope of trying elsewhere, though silence has reigned the last 5 months), blankets, what few medicines remain, camping cooking gear, his reader and two books... Marta's canvas water and food bowls, and dog-related medical care, some rags for if she gets hurt, her harnesses, leash, dog-coat and boots to protect her paws. And brings them to join the boys by the SUV. His gun he's wearing. The rest... well, he told Zack where to look. They could have them.

"Josh is loading up the last of it," Zack tells him, as much to direct him to them as to inform him. "He said to get you and Marta settled and offer you both more food if you're still hungry. Are you?"

--------

The wind blew desolately as Lia wandered down what should have been a busy road. Her limp was rather pronounced by now, even her years of training in ballet not preparing her for how much her feet /hurt/. She needed new boots, ones that fit. Or just a pair of well-worn ballet shoes. She grimaced and pondered ducking into a building she spotted ahead when her ears perked. Were those voices she was hearing, or just more mutant growls?

---------

Carrying the pack is enough to make Seabay’s feet ache in protest, however. Those nerves never healed... and did not like when he strained by lifting too much or walking too far. <We're going by car. I'll survive.> "Yeah. Starving, really, but she gets priority. She's... everything. Can even take out a mutant, if she's in good shape. I'll gladly give her my share."

"We've got enough for both of you." Zack assured him, hurrying to take the pack for him, noting his discomfort. "Go ahead and climb in and get settled. Both of you. I'll get you some food."

Josh pocketed a couple of knives, and reloaded his guns, putting the rest into his pack. He put the rest of the supplies they'd found in the back of the vehicle, then he approached the others, giving a nod to Zack.

-----------

Picking her way through some debris, Lia gingerly made her way toward the voices, trying to remain at least partially hidden from view for now. She needed to see exactly what it was she was coming across first. Even if these weren't mutants, it didn't mean these were people she wanted to cross, either.

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

"Alright. Thanks," Sebastian offers, smiling wearily for the first time in what feels like ages. He whistles... only to hear a bark answer by the edge of the garage. He frowns. "See anything out there? Marta senses something... Not likely a mutant, though, or she'd come to me." The huge German Shepard sits by the side of the garage entrance, and barks once, sharply, at Lia.

At the dog's bark, Josh turned, gesturing for Zack to get in the car as he moved to find out what she'd found.

"Josh'll check it out," Zack tells the blind man nervously. "He says to wait here."

Sebastian nods to Zack, and sits in the back of the SUV, leaving his door open, listening intently... Marta's ears flick towards Josh, but her gaze remains set. She doesn't bark again, in guard-mode right now. "If he needs help... I can ask her to attack...," the blind man offers.

"He'll be okay," Zack sighed, though his voice sounded distant. Nervous. He was clearly worried for his brother.

"Trust in Marta to help him. She's taken down men with guns before," Sebastian reassures Zack. "Better than having a cop next to you."

"So has he, but I still get worried for him," Zack admitted.

-----------

Startled by the dog, Lia yelped. She hadn't seen a dog in ages, but she wasn't sure she really wanted to meet this one either. As though she were a startled rabbit, she quickly made to move away, limping as she tried to scatter.

Josh spotted Lia, and frowned. She looked hurt and frightened. Kneeling next to the dog, he petted her. Thinking a moment, he pulled a water pouch from his pocket and tossed it to Lia, as she looked like she could use it.

Lia's frantic scrambling stopped as something hit the ground next to her. She looked down to see a water pouch... and it actually looked full. Defiance written in her face, she turned to face the direction in which the dog had barked, only to see a tall, dark-haired young man looking back at her from a crouching position. "What are you staring at?" she asked, after a few moments' assessment, before bending to pick up the water pouch, drinking from it greedily. The voice in her head said that maybe she shouldn't trust the water, but she was too thirsty not to give in.

Josh smiled, shaking his head. Of course she'd be tougher than she looks. She'd almost have to be to survive this long out here alone. He nodded when she took the water then stood, backing away slightly before turning to rejoin the others. He gave a whistle, inviting Marta to join him. The girl could come too, of course, if she wanted to. That was up to her.

Marta whined... She heeds only her master, especially as she’s not yet introduced right to this boy.

The girl was surprised to find that the man had moved away while she was drinking. Heading back for shelter it seemed. "What, are you too scared to talk to girls?" she asked, bounding after him, her swollen feet momentarily forgotten.

Josh rolled his eyes, shaking his head. Of course he wasn't scared to talk to her!

"You're mute, then," she said, stopping short of reaching him and planting a hand on her hip. The radiation had done worse things to people.

Josh shook his head, looking at her as if she'd said something truly stupid. No, he wasn't mute, either.

-----------

Zack's eyes went wide when he saw Josh returning with a girl in tow. Opening the car door, he stepped aside so Marta could come into the car. Where was she?

"Do you need Marta to help?" Sebastian calls, curious and confused.

"They're okay. But it doesn't look like Marta followed Josh. Should I go get her?" Zack answered.

"No. She'll come. She just wants the command to stop guarding." Then, louder, Sebastian calls, "Come, Marta!"

-----------

Lia raised an eyebrow, noting that the dog hadn't moved from its position yet. It /was/ a formidable sight, thought at least she wasn't moving in her direction menacingly. "Hi there," Lia tried, holding a hand out for the canine to smell. Maybe she could make friends with the dog, if the man wasn't about to be friendlier than that.

In an instant, the dog is climbing over Sebastian and Zack to scramble into the vehicle. Marta had ignored the offered hand as if it where a leaf in the wind...

"Wow. You guys sure are friendly," the blonde quipped wryly, watching as Marta ignored her completely.

Josh went back to the back of the car and withdrew a first aid kit and a pack with food and water, just in case. He takes them back to the girl, along with one of the pairs of shoes he'd found for when Zack needed them. They might still be a little big, but they would almost have to be better than what she was wearing.

"Sit, please," he said quietly, his voice deep and quiet.

"Oh, he speaks!" Lia exclaimed, as though this were some great feat, though she eyed the equipment he had a moment before complying, sitting on a nearby rock. "I haven't had a pedicure in ages," she informs him, before picking up more voices. "Oh, you're not alone."

-----------

Sebastian looks over at Zack, arching a brow. "You've another friend? A girl?"

"We didn't," Zack said, his voice sounding uncertain. "Your dog found her."

Marta fills the rest of the back seats, head resting on her master's lap. "Oh... I guess your brother's with her. He’s really kind of quiet..." Sebastian observes.

Zack actually laughed at that. "Yeah, he kind of is. I don't notice it so much. Used to bug the heck out of our last foster mom, though."

"It makes it kind of hard for me to figure out where he is, and what he's doing... I think she's noticed us, though."

"He's trying to make noises," Zack told him. "So you can track him. I'll keep you posted, though, too if you want. Or ask him to be noisier. Whichever."

-----------

Josh ignored her sarcasm, setting to work on dressing the blisters on her feet. He offers her a couple of ibuprofen with another pouch of water and a can of tinned beef and the shoes once he's done. Standing then, he cleans up the papers, turns and heads back to the car.

Zack watches Josh head back to them, wondering idly if she's coming too.

"Hey, wait," Lia called after him, realizing he seemed to mean to leave her there. She had to admit that he'd dressed her blisters almost like a pro (she was no stranger to blistered feet), and the shoes fit much better than her old ones. "You're just going to leave me here?" She quickly picked up the items he'd left her and chased after him into the darkness of the garage as though her feet didn't bother her at all anymore. "Who's the pipsqueak?" she asked, peering into the SUV.

"Hey, I heard that," Zack protested. "I'm his brother, Zack. And I'm NOT a pipsqueak."

"I'll take both options?" Sebastian tells Zack. He turns to look at the girl as she addresses Zack, and frowns a bit. Marta perks her ears...

"He needs you to be noisier," Zack tells Josh, who nods, putting the items into the back of the SUV, clanking things around a bit so Sebastian'd know he was there.

Lia smiled, then and extended a free hand to shake. "Well hello, 'his' brother Zack. I'm Lia. Well, Amelia, but Lia for short," she introduced herself. "And you?" she asked, addressing the other one sitting in the car.

Zack smiled in spite of himself, shaking her hand. "Hi Lia."

"Thanks, Josh!" Seabay calls, smiling. He glances back at the girl--tough his eyes stare through her without focusing. "Sebastian. Or you can try my middle name--Zen. I don't care... Nice to meet you."

Josh came around and climbed into the drivers seat. He zips the seatbelt noisily a second before clicking it into place and putting the key into the ignition.

"You need to buckle up," Zack tells Lia, recognizing Josh's prompt. He double checks his own again to make certain it was secure.

"You're blind?" Amelia observed, perhaps a bit rudely. "Oh, sorry. Nice to meet you too," she said belatedly, setting her hand on his arm briefly in greeting. "Well now... we have a mute, a blind person, and a pipsqueak. No doubt about it, you guys need me," she said, climbing into the car without really being asked.

"He's not a mute!" Zack protested on his brother's behalf. "He talks just fine. And I am NOT a pipsqueak," he continues. "And we don't need anyone. We do fine on our own, thank you very much!"

"Sorry dog," she said, maneuvering around the dog and trying to put her seatbelt on with a roll of her eyes and a sigh. "Uh huh," she responded absently, finally managing the task. "Where we headed?"

Josh rolled his eyes, and gives his brother the slightest shake of his head.

Sebastian follows Josh's example, buckling up. "Blind and useless," he agrees with a laugh. "Josh is just not one to say much, I think." A hand waves. "Anywhere. Wherever there is clear enough road to go. The mutants are about to move in here, and none of us want to stay and meet them."

"Nobody's useless," Josh corrected with quiet conviction, starting the SUV and backing out of the driveway.

"See." Zack said triumphantly. "Not mute."

Lia merely laughed good-naturedly with Sebastian. At least the man could make fun of himself. She liked him already. "Okay, selectively mute, then," she said sticking out her tongue at Zack. "Hey, if it makes you feel better, my set of skills really isn't helpful in these situations either. Unless you can lull a horde of mutants into submission by performing Swan Lake or the Nutcracker for them," she quipped.

"Not mute. Quiet. You should try it," Zack replied, sticking his tongue back at her.

"Oh ha," she responded, kicking the back of Zack's seat. "Lady and gentlemen, we have a comedian on our hands."

"Who was joking?" Zack asked, rolling his eyes. "And kick my seat again you'll be back to walking."

Sebastian shrugs. "We'll see," he answers Josh. He arches a brow at the girl... Lia. "Swan Lake? Were you good? If you're fast, too, you can lure them off... though they'd likely eat you then, real swan or no."

Josh nods at Seabay's reply, essentially ignoring the girl altogether. He reaches out a hand and places it on his brother's arm as if to calm him. Feeling Zack's gaze, he shook his head, again reminding him not to let her bait him. "Sorry," Zack whispered. Josh gave a small smile, nodding slightly. It was okay.

"According to my instructors, I was a natural," she responded, ignoring Zack though she kicked his seat again. "I'm built for dancing... all muscle, no fat. I doubt they'd get much of a good meal out of me," she responded dryly.

Josh pulled over when she kicked his brother's seat again. "Stop," he said, his tone leaving little room for argument. For all he'd told Zack to ignore her, he wouldn't let her or anyone else mess with his little brother. She'd put that urge in check or he really would help her back out of the car.

Lia looked at Josh a moment, incredulous. "Wow. Fine. Sorry," she said in a tone that said she really wasn't. "Sheesh," she said, rolling her eyes and grimacing only for the dog to see, since Sebastian obviously wouldn't.

He waited a moment, making certain she understood before starting the vehicle again. He didn't care if she was "sorry" or not, as long as she stopped messing with him. Zack wasn't anyone's target. Once he was sure they were all on the same page, he restarted the SUV and began driving again.

"They eat anything but metal," Sebastian murmurs grimly. "Don't put it past them to try that, either." Marta perks an ear at the girl again, then sighs in Sebastian's lap, relaxing when he murmurs, "At ease, Marta."

"Marta... well, I'm glad there's a /little/ more estrogen in this testosterone-mobile," she said, patting the dog's rump affectionately. "Us girls have to stick together," she told the canine conspiratorially. "Have you three been together long?" she asked, resting her head against the window.

Marta perks an ear at Lia again, then looks to her owner to see if he's going to give the friend-command. But he doesn't... yet. "Not long," Sebastian admits quietly. "Sorry--Marta's trained not to interact much with anyone but me... at least, not until we both know you better."

"We just met Zen and Marta," Zack answered her question. "That was their place we just left."

The blonde snorted defensively. "You're the ones with a huge dog... not to mention that you're three guys travelling together. I'm the poor helpless girl that got suckered into getting in the car with you, and you think /I'm/ the one who's trouble?" She was starting to feel somewhat surly about this whole thing. She barely knew these guys and already she'd been accused of being untrustworthy and been yelled at. If it wasn't for the mutants not too far behind, she might have bolted. "Well, then, I guess we should sing kumbaya and get to know each other better."

"As you can guess, Marta and I weren't much for getting out before this. Don't get your nose out of joint, Lia--Marta doesn't interact with them, either. That's what guar--guide-dogs do. Focus on their owners." Sebastian gives a rough chuckle. "You go ahead and sing. I can't."

"So what's your story, then?" she asked Sebastian. "Were you born this way?"

"Nobody suckered you into the car and nobody's making you stay," Zack growled. "Heck, we're not even really sure we want you with us yet. We only let you in because if we didn't the mutants would eat you then Josh'd feel bad for not at least making sure you were safe first."

Josh gave Zack a warning look. "Zack," his soft voice admonished.

"Sorry," Zack said, though his tone wasn't remorseful in the least.

"Nah," Sebastian answers wryly. "Kind of... an accident just before everything went to hell. I just fell into hell first. I don't mind talking about it, some. I know people get edgy about asking me."

"Oh," Lia answered inelegantly, resting her forehead on the window and watching the 'scenery' go by as she fell into an uncomfortable silence, having no quick retort either for Sebastian story or Zack's admonishments. Her sleeve wiped at her cheek a moment.

"What brought you out by my little hole, any of you? I mean... it's been months since the radio last had a voice..." Sebastian asks.

Josh frowned, noting her in the mirror. Reaching to the box of tempo hand towels on the dash, he handed one back to her in lieu of a handkerchief.

"The last car we had died," Zack answered. "We needed to keep moving, so we headed out on foot. We try to keep moving. It's safer that way. We saw your house and thought there might be blankets and stuff there, so we went to look," he concluded.

Startled by the simple gesture, Lia gingerly took the hand towel, and set it in her lap, though she wasn't about to admit that she actually had a use for it. "Nothing in particular," she answered Sebastian instead. "I've just been walking... Trying to move, like Pipsqueak said. Though I haven't found a usable car in a couple of weeks, so..."

"Stop. Calling. Me. That," Zack demanded.

"You might want to drop the steady attack before you get on Josh's nerves," Sebastian warns Lia quietly. "I don't mind you bristling at me--I can take it--but they're nice enough to help us out, so they deserve a little politeness, I'd think."

"You guys are such tight as....." Lia responded, exasperatedly before her attention was drawn to something on the horizon. "What's that?" she asked, her previous statement forgotten.

Josh sighed. He'd already had enough of the childish behavior. He wondered idly if she could drive. Maybe they'd be okay for him and Zack to head back out on foot if she could drive him and Zen somewhere safely. He looked out to the horizon, eyes narrowing.

Up ahead lay what appeared to be a roadblock of some sort... though no mutants were obvious around it, it almost seemed deliberate, consisting of several remnants of cars, as well as one large farm tractor.

"What's what?" Marta lifts her head at the concern in Sebastian's voice.

Josh looked for an alternate route, not about to risk the rest of them in a potential ambush.

"Road block," Zack answered, noting Josh already slowing, "Josh is gonna try to find another way around."

"Don't stop," Lia pled, now sitting up and leaning forward in her seat as she peered into the horizon, her face placed squarely between Josh and Zack's. What Lia didn't say was that she feared whoever had done this /wasn't/ a mutant. At least with mutants, the end was relatively quick.

Seabay thinks had on the maps he was taught regarding Boston's major roads--and shipping routes. "What road are we on, and which way are we headed?"

"Could be an ambush," Josh answered, throwing the SUV into reverse.

"North on Newton," Zack answered, spotting the dilapidated street sign.

"Look for Route 25. There has to be signs for it--it's a big one, east-west," Seabay advised.

A clanging sound suddenly rang through the SUV as the window next to Sebastian’s head cracked. Whatever had been thrown at the car hadn't actually broken the window, but it left a large enough crack to be of concern. Lia screamed and ducked, covering her head with her hands.

Josh paused, calling to memory the Boston street map he'd read when they'd got there. After a moment he nodded, turning the car around and hitting the gas.

"Hang on," Zack suggested unnecessarily.

"Go, go go go go!" she yelled, also unnecessarily urging Josh to step on the pedal and get them out of there. Whatever was waiting for them, it wasn't something she wanted to meet.

Sebastian jumps slightly, grimacing, but doesn't flinch. "Can you see what's after us? Or who? Lia, try to get that long thing from the bottom of the back... Looks like a fishing-pole carrier, maybe four feet long... Don't drop it, but get it up here."

Josh already had the gas floored, dodging projectile...car parts? Really?..."Get down," he told Zack, trusting Zen knew what he was doing.

"I can't see anything," she informed Sebastian. Everything was pitching and moving too quickly. She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned in her seat, trying to locate what he was talking about. Visually, she saw it, but she wouldn't be able to reach it without climbing over the back seat.

"How tall's the blockade?" Sebastian asks, even as he tries taking Lia's side of the SUV. He needs a window he can get down... "And turn off the safety-block for the windows. Keep trying, Lia--it's there, and we kind of need the damn thing!"

"Oh great," she said ruefully as she started to move over the seat toward the back, crying out as the car hit a bump and sent her flying. She hit her head on the ceiling and the wind was knocked out of her in the process. At least her short flight through the air had landed her on top of the supplies in the back, the requested object now within reach.

"Do you remember the streets?" Zack asked. He knew Josh remembered. Josh always remembers. Yet he still always had to ask. He sighed, relieved, when his brother gave the expected nod, reassured.

Still coughing, the girl wrestled with the weight of whatever was inside the carrier, struggling to bring it out from under other supplies while cursing wildly.

"Did you find it yet?" Sebastian demands of Lia. He winces at the sound of something hitting the roof. "Idiots, whoever they are--no appreciation for a rare car!"

"I'm /working/ on it," she responded before letting out a happy "whoop," as she managed to free the container. Now the task was to scramble back and hand the thing over. "Can you try not swerving so much?" she asked as she tossed from one side of the other trying to turn around and hand off the package.

"Sure he can, if you don't mind death by projectile CAR PARTS," Zack replied, though Josh did try to hold the car steadier.

"Is that what those are?" she asked breathlessly as she finally managed the maneuver. Reaching for Sebastian, she slid it over the seat. "To your right," she informed him.

Sebastian takes the long thing, and shucks off its cloth case--to reveal a beautiful bazooka, ready to go. "I'll let you aim, Josh!" he calls, as he opens the window and leans out, using the side of the car to line the weapon up, aiming ahead of them. "Say when!"

Josh watches closely, finally calling out a quiet, "Now."

Lia covered her ears and head, hiding her face in what she assumed were sleeping bags, waiting for the sound of the explosion and ensuing shockwave.

Seabay pulls the trigger, and one rocket shoots off with deadly accuracy in a rush of smoke, bumping him heavily into the back of the seat with the back-kick. "Gun it, Josh!!!"

Josh pushed the pedal to the floor, determined to get them all safely away.

Still loose in the back area of the SUV, Lia slid around helplessly, trying to grab to something to steady herself unsuccessfully. She desperately hoped they wouldn't crash or roll the car. "I think I just crushed a bag of chips," she called up apologetically. Oh well, they'd just have to settle for chip crumbs, then.

The SUV roars with energy--as only something Ferrari-made can.

The blockade exploded in a sea of debris, leaving a clear, though somewhat charred path large enough for the car to pass through.

Bracing himself against Zack's seat, Sebastian winces, hanging tightly to the weapon as he pulls it--and himself--within the shelter of the car in the last minute. He smirks at the sound of the explosion. "How's it look?"

Josh shifted gears to forward again, and hit the gas--and maneuvered them through it without slowing.

"We're through," Zack called out triumphantly.

Josh shot a worried glance in Zack's direction, then nodded back toward the others. "You guys okay?" Zack asked for him.

"Uh, I think so," a voice called from all the way in the back dazedly as Lia struggled to sit up.

Seabay closes the window, puffing a breath of relief, and puts the safety back on the bazooka, before trying to get it back in the cloth case. "I'm okay," he returns. He's not about to report his usual aches and pains.

"See? You're not useless, Sebastian," she said triumphantly. "And you guys /do/ need me."

"Yes we do," Sebastian laughs, passing the weapon back to her. "Can you put this back?" He grins triumphantly at their "luggage-handler".

Zack started to say something, only to be stopped by a warning glance from his brother. Whatever comment he might have made was quickly replaced with, "Sure. Okay."

Lia grabbed the case, looking for a good secure place to put it in before giving up and just setting it on top of the rest of the supplies. Josh's carefully placed items had all shifted during the attack, not to mention had been crushed by her weight.

One he was certain they were well and truly safe, Josh pulled over, leaping out and moving to the back of the SUV. Quickly, he arranged things back into their place, as if keeping it neat and orderly was desperately important.

Lia took advantage of the short intermission to step out of the back of the car, stretching with an easy grace into positions unnatural for most people as she watched Josh work. "You must be great at Tetris," she observed as she bent her leg back and brought it over her head.

Zack just took a moment to breathe. He'd expected the stop as part of their regular ritual.

Marta begins to snore, taking up a large portion of the back seat. Sebastian leans against her with a sigh. She's nice and warm, if a bit thin... They don't venture out of the car.

Josh actually smiled at that. "He's good at most video games, but he gets bored with them too quick. Once he figures out the algorithms used to program them they're just not fun anymore," Zack says.

Lia's leg settled back onto the ground as she watched the eldest brother appraisingly a few moments. "Ah, so that's it. He's a closet genius," she observed, smiling at him. "And a stunt car driver. I've got you all figured out, now."

Zack laughs. "I'm his brother and I haven't managed that yet," he admitted.

Josh just finished up, letting them chat. At least they weren't irritating one another. For the moment.

"Well, he just saved our butts, so I think that gives him an automatic license to be whatever he wants," Sebastian calls from inside.

Josh nodded toward the car, casting a questioning glance at Zack.

"Agreed," Zack grinned, proud of his brother. Catching his gaze, he asked for him, "Anyone need anything before we start again?"

Josh shook his head at the assertion he'd saved anyone. It was a team effort. All he did was drive.

"Hey, you and I helped," Lia answered laughing as she used the open door for balance and did a few plies. "Ah, better," she sighed, glad to have worked some kinks out before climbing back in.

"No," Seabay answers Zack, even as Marta's snore gets louder.

"Josh figures it was a team effort," Zack admitted.

"Nope, I'm all set. Unless you plan on dumping me off here, now that we're out of danger," she said wryly to Zack with a raised eyebrow.

"Not unless you plan in picking on me some more, in which case all bets are off," Zack smiled.

Once he had everything back in it's place, upon hearing their answers, Josh closed the back of the SUV and got in, zipping the seatbelt loudly a moment before latching it. "Okay, okay," Zack sighed, clasping his own. "Buckle up, everyone."

"I wasn't picking on you," she corrected, buckling her seatbelt. "I was just teasing. Learn the difference, Pipsqueak."

"Whatever you say, Gumby," Zack retorts, deciding to try a different tactic.

"Fine, fine..." Sebastian drags himself up from that comfortable position to click his belt in place. He sighs at Lia's nickname for Zack then smirks at Zack's name for Lia. "Gumby... That sounds about right..."

Lia laughed riotously at that. "Nice one," she said, extending her hand in a request for a high-five.

Josh smiled, shaking his head as he started the car again.

Zack high fived her with a grin then settled in to sleep, trusting Josh to get them safely somewhere...

Josh focused on the road, trying to keep the vehicle steady and the ride smooth so the others could rest if they wanted to.

Seabay starts to doze as well...

"I've just placed it," Lia commented to Sebastian quietly. "You're that kid.... your parents owned that company..."

Josh's brows disappear behind dark curls at that, listening closely.

Sebastian starts awake and rubs at his eyes, then grimaces. "Yeah... well..."

"Brutal," she said a bit sadly and patted his arm. "People can be awful," she said, knowing all too well the truth of that.

His tone sounded guarded, Josh thought. He doesn't want to be recognized. He glanced toward his brother, then smiled at the realization that Zack was already asleep. He made a mental note, though to find a library at some point. Old newspapers. He wouldn't mention it if the man didn't want them to, but he needed to know who he'd allowed around his little brother.

"Most aren't, though..." Sebastian tells Lia. "Just... the wrong ones decided I was worth aiming for. More good people saved me... I just hope more of those survived."

Lia shrugged, a shadow passing over her features briefly. She didn't want to dash his spirits by saying she didn't think so. "Sleep tight," she said, settling a little closer to Marta for a bit of added warmth.

"Thanks... You too, I guess..." Sebastian wedges himself between Marta and the door. The dog doesn't seem to mind Lia using her for a pillow, too, though.

Josh drove for several hours, until his eyes began to droop, then found a safe place to park, hiding the SUV carefully so that they wouldn't be found. Only then, when he was sure they'd remain unseen and unmolested, did he allow himself to rest too.
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Lia Jensen

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Posts : 44
Join date : 2011-03-15

PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:48 am

Parked under the curve of a damaged airplane hangar behind the ruins of an old but large house, the SUV is well hidden. The occupants are comfortably (as possible) sleeping... Until... Marta shifts, slowly getting to her feet, then nudging her master, whining.

Josh was awake immediately, gun in hand, peering into the darkness.

Sebastian peeks open a sleepy eye, then sighs, stretching a bit before unbuckling himself. "All right, all right," he murmurs quietly, fumbling for the door handle. The door finally pops open and he almost tumbles out with the dog, catching himself in the last moment. Marta's out in a flash...

"Ouch, could you move your paw?" Lia groaned, shifting out from under the dog. Her mouth was dry and like cotton as she woke from her less than stellar sleep. "Hey, when you gotta go," she observed wryly, watching the dog dash out.

Josh sighed, shaking his head. Who knew what might be out there with her, he thought as he reached for the handle. He wasn't about to let Sebastian lose his dog out here in the middle of nowhere.

Sebastian can't help but smile, hearing movement--and Lia's voice. He's been alone so long... "Yeah, well... Guess we all should, if we can."

"I have to pee," Zack yawned.

Josh almost laughed, nodding. Might as well.

"That makes four of us, then," Lia said, sighing as she opened her own door. "No peeking, now," she warned as she dashed for a more secluded spot.

"Darn, there goes my plan," Zack said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

The dog didn't go far. Marta decided the remains of a bush by the house is good enough for business.

"I... take it, no bathrooms..." Sebastian sighs.

Josh hurried into what was left of the ruined old house, checking to see if there was a standing toilet somewhere. He came back out quickly, shaking his head. "Nope," Zack replied. "The bush'll have to do."

Pathetically enough, one of Lia's most common daydreams regarding times past was being able to use an actual /bathroom/. She hated this whole standing out in the middle of nature in a rather exposed position to relieve herself.

Marta kicks dirt in her wake, then returns to Sebastian, who shrugs and grabs her scruff in one hand. "Tree," he commands. The two walk off slowly, the young man limping stiffly and slowly where his dog led.

Josh stood guard, keeping an eye on the darkness around them.

Zack glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one was looking then relieved himself quickly there beside the house.

"Hey!" Lia protested, before realizing it was, at least, Sebastian. "Oh, well, at least /you/ can't see anything. Though Marta and I are going to have to have a discussion about privacy," she said, pulling her pants up.

"Sorry." Sebastian folds his arms, looking away anyway, and waits.

"I'm done," she informed him, her tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. "Have at it," she said, before grumbling as she walked back toward the car grumbling about coffee.

"Thanks," Sebastian chuckles roughly, moving to take care of business...

Zack tucked in and zipped up, then moved to take one of the guns. "Your turn?" he asked his brother.

After a bit, Marta's leading Sebastian back to the others. His limp is a bit better now that he had a chance to move around. "Your turn? Why are you waiting, Josh? Marta doesn't smell anything here..."

Josh nodded toward the car. He'd wait until they were all safely inside again first. Not that he didn't trust Marta, mind you. He'd just feel more comfortable with everything and everyone safely in their place first.

“He'd rather we all got back in the car first, " Zack answered aloud for him.

"Bit of a mother hen, aren't you?" Lia commented in a surly tone. She wasn't really a morning person. "I don't plan on getting back into the car until I /have/ to, so you might as well just take care of business now."

Josh sighed, but didn't move. He wasn't turning his back and leaving them out here in the open. He just wasn't.

"Sorry, but I really agree with Lia. Maybe we can find some water, meanwhile?" Sebastian tries.

Noting Josh's refusal to move, Lia grinned widely. "I wonder what'll win. My need for movement or your bladder." Her bets were that the bladder would give in first.

Josh moved to the back of the car and opened it up, withdrawing a water pouch for each of them, then looking at them pleadingly.

"Ooh, water, good idea. I'm parched," she then said, putting a hand on Sebastian's shoulder, as though to help guide him in whatever direction they chose to venture.

"You don't understand," Zack sighed. "We're not staying here. We need to get moving."

"We're staying here as long as Josh hasn't peed, it seems," Lia quipped.

"We don't stop and sight see. Josh was already in the house. He'd have grabbed whatever there was if there was anything useful. We need to get into the car. Once we're there and safe, he'll do ...whatever he needs to do... then he'll get in and drive," Zack insisted.

"Thanks," Seabay murmurs, for the water. "I know we need to get moving. But you can get sick if you don't move yourself around a bit now and then, too. I learned that when I was recovering... In any case, we're right here. We can get in even as he walks back."

Josh glanced at Zack, shaking his head. They didn't do this. They didn't change their routine. This wasn't where you did that, out in the open like this. You just didn't.

Sebastian glances in Lia's direction, and suggests, "Well, in the time it takes even to argue this, I guess we've stood enough." He can guess Josh isn't budging, as he's still there...

Zack nodded, frowning. He knew. He understood his brother's needs in this. He glanced up at him and shrugged. What did he want to do?

"In the time it takes to even argue this, he could have taken care of business three times over and we could be on our way," Lia corrected, watching Josh with somewhat narrowed eyes.

"I'm getting in," Zack said resolutely, then did.

"Come on, Marta," Seabay sighs, "Back in." The dog pauses long enough for Sebastian to use her ruff to guide him to the car again, then bounds in. Seabay follows suit, sighing.

Josh spotted movement in the distance. His eyes narrowed as he aimed the gun in the direction of the movement.

Lia felt like the final solider, standing outside defiantly as she stared down Josh.

"Come on, Lia. We've tortured him enough..." Sebastian tries diplomatically.

The weeds ahead of them shifted softly as whatever it was came closer.

"I'm not torturing anyone." She grimaced, though she turned to face the direction in which Josh was pointing the gun.

Marta's fur bristles a bit, and she growls low... "Come ON!" her master calls to the stubborn pair. He knows what that growl means.

"Or not," she said, moving faster than someone as small as she was should be able to, almost leaping into the car and shutting the door behind her.

Josh pointed toward the car quickly, then began taking slow silent steps toward the movement.

"He's not seriously going to /stay/ out there, is he?" Amelia asked Zack, visibly shaken.

"It knows we're here. In the time it would take to uncover the SUV, get in and start the engine, it'd be on us, and we don't know if it's alone," Zack answered. "He has to make sure it's alone. He can't let it get us," Zack added, his voice soft and frightened even as he explained it.

Josh seemed to vanish within the weeds for a moment, then several gunshots rang through the air.

"Oh hell," Lia sighed, reaching for her own backpack and pulling out her own gun before leaving the security of the car again to stand a few steps behind Josh. She'd found the weapon on yet another body, with only 3 bullets left. She had no real idea how to aim or shoot it, but she couldn't just eleave it either, and she was sure she could at least work out the basics on how to use it to defend herself.

"So he's going to be bait for it? How will that help, if he gets hurt?" Sebastian asks, aghast. He opens his door, pulling Marta to him by her collar... ready to sic her.

Josh gestured for her to get down, his eyes on something just ahead of him. When nothing moved for several long moments, he started moving again, gesturing for her to stay right behind him. He frowned, though, at her presence. Why wasn't she safe in the car?

In the next instant, something sprang at them both, eyes glowing, teeth bared and bloody.

"He'll be okay," Zack said, as much to himself as to Sebastian. "He's always okay."

Lia at least humored Josh enough to heed his gesturing as she settled the weight of the gun in her palm in what she /thought/ was proper stance.

"Well, if someone yells, I'm sending Marta after them." Sebastian's firm on that.

Josh shot once... twice... three times directly into its body. It was propelled backwards, lay still a moment, then rose and charged again.

Reflexively, Lia lifted the gun and pulled the trigger, her eyes closing as she did so. The recoil caught her off-guard and sent her flailing backwards.

Again it was hit, this time in the chest. Josh tried not to laugh as he helped her up and scooted back toward the SUV, trying to get her back there before it rose again, as it no doubt would. "Eyes open," he suggested quietly, as he aimed his gun and shot the rising creature again.

"I'll remember that next time," she grumbled, allowing Josh to lift her into standing position and move her back toward the car. "Wow, that thing's almost as stubborn as you are," she quipped.

When it began to rise again, Josh shoved her slightly backwards. "Run," he said, withdrawing another gun from his waistband and aiming for the thing’s head as it charged.

Not needing to be told twice, Lia made quickly for the other side of the car and jumped back in, this time deciding it might be best if she stayed put. "Local wildlife... It's not really friendly," she informed the two still in the vehicle.

The creature sprang, mouth open, claws out. Josh forced himself to wait until it was almost on him, then emptied the entire clip point blank into the thing's brain. He scrambled back, drawing the final gun from his waistband, and watched. And watched. And watched.

At last, the thing was dead.

Sebastian grimaces at hearing Josh empty his gun, then the silence, and hauls Marta's head in fully before slamming the door.

Sighing, Josh walked back toward the SUV. Noting all were securely inside, he moved to a place behind the nearest bush and took care of what he needed to do at last.

"Cheater!" Lia called out the window at Josh.

Zack couldn't help it. He laughed.

Sebastian smiles. Beats being attacked by the creature /while/ doing business...

Josh grinned as he quickly uncovered the SUV and climbed back into the driver's seat. Glancing back he zipped the seatbelt noisily a couple of times before clicking it securely into it's latch.

"I know, I know," Zack sighed, fastening his seatbelt quickly. Josh quirked a brow at the two in the rearview mirror, waiting patiently for them to do the same.

A chuckle, and Sebastian's belting in, too, Marta trying to get comfortable beside him. "So... where are we headed?"

"I've heard of the strong silent type, but this is ridiculous," Lia grumbled. Silently, she decided her new mission was going to be getting Josh to talk more often. After all, his voice was rather pleasant. With a sigh, she buckled her own seatbelt, though as she did so she stuck her tongue out at Josh, noting he was watching her in the mirror.

"It's no big deal," Zack protested on behalf of his brother. "He just likes it quiet."

Josh laughed softly at Lia as he turned the key and took them back onto the road.

Lia laughed. "Guess it's your bad luck you found /me/, then," she said, tousling his hair over the back of the seat. "So like Seb asked, Pipsqueak... where are we headed?"

"I guess so. We've heard that there's a human colony started here in Boston," Zack answered Seabay. "We're gonna check it out." Before they could get their hopes up too high, he added quickly, "They're usually just rumors."

Josh gave the slightest of nods, focusing a moment to remember the directions he'd seen scrawled on the tiny scrap of paper before turning onto another street.

"How'd you find out about it?" Sebastian asks, curious.

"There's talks of human colonies in nearly every state." Zack shrugged. "Somebody hears from someone else, or gets a map to someplace safe from who knows where. Usually the places are picked clean and abandoned, or a ruse by slavers to get new stock."

Lia nodded thoughtfully. Colony. Civilization. The idea was obviously welcomed and yet... she feared what getting there would mean. She was completely alone in the world, and getting somewhere with people likely meant that this little group she'd joined would disband as well. Josh and Zack, at least, had each other, and Sebastian had Marta... She'd be left out in the dust again. Shivering, lightly at the thought, she hugged herself and pulled her hood on, listening to them talk about their destination. "How many states have you tried?" she managed to ask, swallowing any betrayal her voice could make of her emotional state.

"We started in Nebraska," Zack answered. "We came across as far as the Great Lakes, then went north into Canada. Then back down through Maine."

Sebastian shivers, remembering the screams on the ham radio... "Guess we have to be careful when we arrive then? What's the plan?"

"We usually check it out from a distance first. If it looks okay, then Josh goes in for a closer look. If it's safe enough and there's anything usable left there, he has me join him and we gather what we need. Maybe sleep stretched out inside for a change," Zack said.
"We've never found an actual colony," he went on. "Found a few people here and there along the way. They usually get tired of how we do things... we kind of have routines and not everyone's okay with that... and they go on their own way."

"What if you meet someone, Josh?" Sebastian asks. "We don't want them catching you."

Josh shrugged. "They won't," Zack answered for him, though something in his voice said he shared that worry. "He'd rather not give them more than one target, though, and he's better at self defense than me."

"Ever the practical brothers," Lia commented, taking off her boots with a pleased sigh and sticking her feet up on Zack's headrest, above his head.

"Ugh... what's that smell?" Sebastian frowns, sniffing.

Zack cringed. Josh looked like he might gag. "Come on, Gumby, no deal. Shoes on or out and walk," Zack said.

"They need to breathe," she complained. She took her feet down, though she kept the boots off. "I don’t want to get toe fungus like the rest of you lot probably have. Besides, they're not /that/ bad."

Sebastian buries his face in his sleeve. "Maybe to you. Breathe them at the next pit stop, before we suffocate in here."

"That's just wrong," Zack groaned. "Next stop you got to wash them things. They smell like rotting meat."

Josh frowned at that, abruptly concerned. He pulled over and went for the first aid kid quickly before moving to open her car door.

"Gee, Pipsqueak, you sure know how to woo a girl," Lia griped. "Just when I was starting to like you, too." "What's he doing?" she asked of Josh, ignoring Sebastian's comment.

Josh pulled the door open and knelt, gesturing for her to give him her feet.

"Probably going to treat your fungus... or vomit. Not sure which I'd do," Sebastian returns, voice muffled. "Thank God we didn't have anything to eat..."

"He's fixing them," Zack sighed, cringing at the thought of touching anything that smelled that bad. "Maybe both," Zack agreed, going a bit green.

"I don't /have/ fungus, I'm trying to avoid it. Jeez," she said, feeling rather indignant and ganged up on, before sighing and obliging Josh.

"The smell's not convincing," Sebastian mutters. "God, Josh, you're a saint to deal with that up close."

Josh rolled his eyes, frowning at his brother before removing the dressings he'd applied the day before to her blisters, cleaning them and redressing them quickly but carefully. That done, he washed his hands quickly and put the first aid kit back away, grabbing one of the packs with food and water in it and shifting it to where they could all reach it before getting back into the car again.

Amelia winced and whimpered a bit as Josh tended her feet, though she forced herself to remain still. "My mom used to do that for me," she observed with a hint of sadness in her voice, before realizing what she was saying and pulling her socks back on.

Josh reached into his jacket pocket, withdrawing a bottle of ibuprofen and handing it to her. He held up two fingers, then reached across, stopping her from pulling back on the socks and shaking his head. He got back out and went to the back of the SUV again, rummaging through another pack.

"Great, you expect me to sit here with my feet out with Groucho and Pipsqueak complaining the whole way?” Lia asked. She couldn’t win.

"He's gonna find you clean dry socks," Zack told her. "You should probably just toss those."

"That's better now..." The antiseptic smell helped deal with the previous odor in the car, at least in Sebastian's opinion. "Hey, at least now you smell like alcohol wipes."

"I don't get what the big freakout was. You two would never have made it as dancers," she grimaced, taking the two capsules and washing them down with water.

Josh handed her a pair of long white tube socks and got in again. Quickly, he buckled and started the engine again.

"Dancers? Who'd want to! Guy dancers are GAY," Zack blurted.

"Zack," Josh admonished quietly.

"Sorry," Zack sighed.

Lia chortled. "Are you kidding? Guy dancers get /all/ the play. They're surrounded by /girls!/ Pretty ones at that," she corrected him.

Sebastian takes a pull on his water, careful to conserve it... and drink in small amounts. "Ballroom was plenty, thanks. And that's not gay, Zack."

"Sure, they're pretty, if you like them half starved and half drowned in makeup, " Zack grumbled.

Her toes remained exposed, the socks on the seat next to her as she used her hands to massage her feet and stretch the muscles. "You saying I look half-starved?" she asked, tightness in her voice.

Zack shrugged. "Who doesn't anymore," he conceded.

"Say, Lia, can you pass me the grey long pack? I need Marta's water-bowl." Sebastian wriggles to loosen his seatbelt.

"Besides, I'll have you know that dancers are some of the most powerful athletes out there. You can't do the stuff we do if you don't have the power and flexibility to back it up," she informed them, taking off her seat belt and reaching back toward the pack Sebastian had described. "Here you go," she said, nudging him lightly with it. "It's more than you deserve, after that display."

Josh nodded his agreement about the athletic ability of dancers, then sighed. Pulling over as she unbuckled her belt.

"Thanks... What display?" he blind teen asks, as he rummages within it for the collapsible water-bowl. He takes advantage of their stop to pour the rest of his water into it for the dog to lap up. Marta's quick about it, at least. What few drops Marta leave, Sebastian pours into his own mouth. He's not about to waste it. "Done here," he tells Josh.

"I bet Josh is more athletic than you are," Zack challenged.

Josh glanced at Zack and shook his head as if to say, Don't do that. "What? You're athletic," Zack protested. Again Josh shook his head.

"What?" Lia asked, fixing Josh's gaze with the use of the rearview mirror. "I was doing it to help Sebastian," she sighed, pulling her seatbelt back on before answering Sebastian. "Your stuffing your nose in your sleeve claiming my feet smelled, blah blah," she said. "And let's see if Josh can stand on-point for more than a few seconds at a time, then we can talk. No offense, Josh. Or if he could hold me in a lift," she added, grinning as she pulled out a protein bar of some sort from the food sac. "Anyone else?" she offered. "Seb?"

"Apparently he agrees with you," Zack agreed. "But I don't. Let's see you carry three overloaded packs and me on your back for four hours in a stretch. He could do that," Zack replied to her second suggestion.

"I'll pass," Sebastian mutters, leaning against the door as if to look out.

Josh reached back at the offer of the protein bar and nodded toward Zack as well, indicating she should pass him one as well.

"I don't want..." Zack argued before catching the look his brother gave him. Sighing, he accepted it and said a quiet, "Thank you."

Obligingly, she passed two protein bars forward. "You okay?" she asked Zen. "You can't even keep a protein bar down?"

"Huh? Oh. Sorry. Yeah, I'll have one," Sebastian answers, turning. "Think it's okay for dogs?"

"Tinned beef," Josh suggested quietly.

"There's some in the very bottom of the pack," Zack told Lia. "It's a pull top can. Probably better for her."

"We've gotten almost a dozen words out of him this morning," Lia commented in a stage-whisper to Sebastian as she passed him first the protein bar, then the tinned beef. "I think we're making progress."

"Yeah, that'd be better, though maybe it should wait until our next stop. She had somethig yesterday before we left..." Sebastian answered.

"But she's hungry now," Zack protested, shooting Lia a curious look. "I told you he talks."

"Sort of," she countered.

Josh shook his head. Really? This was a topic worth discussing?

Sebastian tucks the tin into the grey bag for later, then begins unwrapping his bar. "Yeah, Marta's hungry, but it'd be hard for her to eat in here, and a couple hours will be ok."

Zack frowned. "Do we need to stop for her?" he asked, glancing at his brother.

"At this rate, we'll never get there," Lia quipped. "I do think we've made it a whole 3 miles since our last stop."

"Almost seven," Zack corrected after glancing at the odometer. "We're going faster than you think we are."

"It's called sarcasm, Pipsqueak," Lia sighed.

"No shit, Gumby," Zack replied, then quickly added a sarcastic sounding, "Sorry," pre-empting his brother's scolding.

Josh sighed. This was gonna be a long trip at this rate.

"Let's keep going. I can share some of my bar with Marta for now," Sebastian offers quietly. He smiles at the banter and ribbing between the girl and Zack.

"You sure?" she asked Sebastian. "I wouldn't want my odiferous ways to suffocate you," she teased him in turn.

Josh nodded, clearly relieved as he turned left onto a long, empty road.

"Yeah, well, neither do we, so bathe next shot, would you?" Zack replied before Sebastian could.

Sebastian snorts. "I can handle the hospital smell... just not raw foot with mushrooms. You'll make Marta want to roll on you. She likes smelly things that way, sometimes," he teases Lia.

"Find me a bath and I will," she challenged, making her toes crack before pulling her socks on, finally. "So how far until we hit this colony?"

"I've smelled rotting corpses that weren't as bad as your feet were," Zack agreed. "I'll take antiseptic over that any day." Zack laughed. "No wonder she likes you, Gumby!"

"Nah, she likes me because she and I are the only women stuck in a truck full of men. You could never understand the severity of our plight," she retorted, reaching to scratch behind Marta's ear.

"If the rumors are true, and this place exists, we should be there before the hour's out," Zack replied to her question, ignoring her retort.

Marta merely holds still, ear flicking slightly. "That reminds me... when we next stop, I need to establish you guys as friends for Marta,” Sebastian says.

Lia's scratching continued a moment, as her green eyes lifted to regard Sebastian. "How do you do that?"

"That's cool," Zack grinned.

"A couple special commands and she sniffs your hand so she knows you. After that, I can have her find you if you get lost, or go to you specifically for any reason." Sebastian smiles. "She can even help you next time, Josh."

Josh nods. That'd be good. He stifled a yawn as he turned onto another street.

"He'd like that," Zack tells Sebastian. More quietly, he admits. “So would I."

"Me, too. I don't like risking friends, but at east I know Marta'd be more useful than I would be," he answers Zack softly. "She's better help than you think--trust me."

Lia smiled, patting the dog's rump lightly in affection. "You guys would be so lost without us girls," she observed, knowing that was truer of Marta than of herself.

"I don't like risking people I care about either," Zack admitted, shooting a meaningful glance in his brother's direction.

"Besides, Josh'll have her back, too--which makes /me/ feel better, too," the blind teen adds.

Josh smiled at Sebastian's comment.

"Yeah... he's good like that." Zack smiled.

"So you know how to use a gun, too, Lia? You only mentioned dance... but you /did/ run after Josh earlier." Sebastian leans against the door, breaking his bar into pieces. One for the dog, one for himself. Clearly he gives Marta priority.

"Uh," Lia answered, glancing at Josh in the rearview mirror again. /He'd/ seen the extent of her knowledge on how to use the weapon, and could likely tell it was minimal.

Marta takes her piece gently from Sebastian's fingers, and swallows it whole.

"Not... really..." Amelia admitted. "I found it." On a dead man, already several, quite smelly weeks gone. "I figured it couldn't be /that/ hard to use."

Josh just nodded. She'd been there. It was enough.

"Thanks for having his back," Zack said to her quietly.

Startled green eyes widened a moment, unsure of exactly how to respond to a comment that wasn’t a jab. "No problem," Lia answered finally with a shrug. "He was out there risking his own butt for us, after all."

"Maybe Josh can teach you, then? If we stop for any length of time somewhere?" Sebastian suggests, giving another piece to Marta. Seabay's not about to mention that he knows how, too, as he can't help her learn to aim... Josh is the best possible tutor among them.

Josh smiled. This was better.

"He'd have to actually talk for that," she teased, once again looking to meet his eyes in the rearview mirror with a smile.

"We can all practice," Zack suggested. "And he DOES talk."

Josh's smile widened. He rolled his eyes, shaking his head. She was way too fixated on his verbal skills.

"He doesn't have to, for that," Sebastian laughs mischievously. "He just needs to position you and guide your hands."

"Exactly," Zack agreed.

"Sounds cozy," the girl quipped before realizing just what she'd suggested about their physical proximity. "Er... you know what I mean."

Josh quirked a brow at that.

"Ooh... check it out. Gumby likes JOSH," Zack crooned.

Josh shot Zack a reproachful look and shook his head.

Sebastian just shakes his head, and turns his head toward the window, chewing his last piece of the bar slowly... to make it last, but also because he hasn't eaten much in days, and knew better than to load himself now.

"What?" Zack asked. "She likes the idea of you positioning her," he laughed harder, "and... you know... guiding her hands, hahaha..."

It was Lia's turn to roll her eyes, though her face reddened a bit. "Your brother has a dirty mind, Josh. Too bad he'll never actually get /near/ a woman with an attitude like his," she said, throwing her protein bar wrapper at Zack.

"If they all have big mouths and smelly feet, I'm better off, thanks," Zack replied, throwing his back at her.

“You say that now. Just wait 'till you meet a pretty young thing who bats her eyelashes at you," she laughed. "How about you, Seb? Who was /your/ last girlfriend?"

"Kaylee Johnston," Sebastian states quietly, making a face at the window, then glancing at Lia. "But, well... things changed and she never visited after..." He trails and shrugs. "Doesn't matter, I guess." Johnston was a rising model, if anyone read the celebrity mags before things went to hell...

"Oh, hey. Really? The model, Kaylee?" Zack asked. "I LOVED her."

Josh nudged him then, frowning and shaking his head.

"What?" Zack asked before it hit him. All at once, he grew quiet. "Sorry," he said to Sebastian, this time sounding as if he meant it.

"Sounds like she didn't deserve you to begin with," Lia said gently. "If it makes you feel better, my last boyfriend broke up with me in a stupid Post-It stuck to my locker."

"She's really--was, really, I guess--a nice girl. Liked scuba-diving..." Sebastian shakes his head. "I hope she made it, somewhere. Last I heard, she was in Australia. At least he left you a note. I kind of... simply fell off the radar, when I lost my sight. But I can't blame her, really..." With another shrug, he looks back at the window. "What about you, Josh?"

"Anabelle liked Josh," Zack blurted. "A lot. She left him notes and sat next to him and everything."

"Who's Anabelle?" the dancer asked, curiosity obviously piqued.

"She was a girl in his math and science classes. Her dad owned the shop by where we lived. Josh used to go over there and help fix the cars and stuff for extra food money," Zack answered.

"Aw, a girl-next-door romance," Lia teased gently. "How sweet."

"What happened to her?" Sebastian asks.

"She died when the bombs fell," Zack answered, swallowing hard. "They all did..."

Sebastian hangs his head. "Sorry to hear that..."

Amelia nodded grimly. "I'm sorry to hear that," she said, genuinely.

"Not much of a romance, I guess. Josh didn't pay any attention to her. Too much to do taking care of us. Keeping ahead of..." Zack stopped then. "He was too busy," he finished quickly.

Josh, though, blinked away suspicious tears, clearing his throat quietly. This wasn't a topic he was comfortable with at all.

Zack's unfinished sentence wasn't lost on Lia, though she knew what it was to keep demons at bay, and chose to change the topic. "There used to be an apple orchard not far from here." She vaguely recognized the scenery, thinking it was rather ironic that she had spent all this time moving /away/ from Boston, only to find herself retracing her steps and coming right back to the area.

Sebastian pets Marta absently, and smiles wryly, but content with a change of topics. "Yeah, but how likely is anything left?"

"Not very," she admitted. "My Mom used to take me there, though," she said. "It used to be beautiful, and they sold the best apple pies."

"I wouldn't trust the apples if there were any." Zack sighed. "Fruit's never any good anymore."

"Do you think they might have some stuff in jars, like applesauce? That might be good," Sebastian tries. It's a hope.

"That could be good. Or if they canned anything," Zack agreed hopefully.

Josh nodded, pulling around to where the fruit stand and bake shop stood. Gesturing for them to wait in the car, he stepped out, taking the gun from his waistband. Stepping around to the back of the car, he grabbed a couple more, tucking them into his waistband as well, then moved silently toward the little shop.

The moment Josh stopped the car, Lia regretted saying anything. The sight of the now dilapidated shop brought tears stinging to her eyes, as a wave of memories assaulted her. Even if Josh hadn't gestured to stay in the car, she likely wouldn't have moved, choosing instead to pull her hood back on as she shrunk into her seat.

Zack frowned. "Are you okay?" he asked her quietly.

"Fine," she said a bit too curtly.

Zack nodded, choosing not to challenge her right now.

Sebastian takes this chance to open the door for some air, and dig about for the tin of beef for Marta. "Not exactly how you remember the place," Sebastian murmurs gently, sympathetically, to Lia. "I'm sorry."

"Is anywhere exactly how we remember?" she asked, sighing and closing her eyes. "I hope Josh is fast."

Josh stepped into the shop, ready to fight or flee, whichever was more prudent. Seeing no one within, he stepped further in, examining the shelves. He grabbed a few small touristy packs, from a tall rack and began filling them quickly with cans and jars, clearing the shelves rapidly. Moving toward the SUV with them, he gestures for Zack to join him. "I'm gonna help him," he said simply, suspecting Lia might prefer to remain where she was.

Josh set the new packs in with the old, then went back in for more.

Marta begins licking the tin spotless...

Three trips later, and everything within the little shop they could possibly use was loaded, including some toiletry gift sets and several touristy t-shirts.

"Zack's helping him... Guess they did find stuff. Well, I've an idea. Come over here, Lia... Out, Marta." Sebastian slides to his feet, looking tired. Marta obediently bounds out of the SUV to sit beside Sebastian's leg.

Lia looked at Zack a moment as though trying to work up the strength to move, before finally complying, though she sidled over the seat to get out of the door furthest from the shop. "Is this the friend thing?"

"Yeah. Just stick out a fist for her to sniff," Sebastian suggests. "I can do it with them when they're done."

Lia wiped her eyes with her sleeve quickly and stuck out her fist as instructed. "Easy enough," she said, though her voice had the quality of someone who was either cursed with a cold or fighting tears.

Zack and Josh finished up and headed back. Seeing Lia and Sebastian talking, Lia clearly upset, they hung back at the back of the SUV, fussing over the contents, checking and rechecking packs, so as not to interrupt them.

"Scent, Marta, scent--Lia," Sebastian commands firmly. The dog moves towards Lia's hand, and sniffs it, intent on learning it well... Then, "Seabay's friend, Marta. Seabay's friend." Sebastian's smile is wry as he gives that command... But the dog's ears perk, and Marta visibly relaxes, grinning, tongue rolling from the side of her mouth, tail starting to wag. Marta then licks Lia's hand happily.

Lia laughed despite herself. "I take it I'll actually get a reaction when I pet her now?" she said, scratching Marta behind the ear as she had done earlier to test the theory

Marta sits and her tail slaps the ground happily. "Yeah," Sebastian confirms. "It's kind of like telllng a soldier 'at ease' and teaching her who you are at the same time. But... well... we couldn't always take chances, the two of us. She's saved me before. Zack, Josh? You guys done so I can introduce you, too?" he calls.

"NOW we can really have our girl bonding time," Lia commented, scratching Marta's head a few more moments before stepping back to allow Josh and Zack their turns.

Zack hurried over, followed by his brother at a calmer pace. "Sure," Zack said with a smile.

Sebastian repeats the commands with Zack first, then Josh. Both times, Marta finally accepts any offered scratchings, licking at the hands she sniffed, now as friendly as any household pet.

Lia climbed back into the SUV and settled herself in her spot again, deciding it was best to try to get a bit more sleep before they actually arrived at their destination. After all, who knew what awaited them there.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:47 am

With everyone settling back into the SUV, Sebastian also resumes his previous position, leaning partly against the door with Marta's huge furry head in his lap. This time, however, her tail's wagging on the floor.

The blind teen listens to the others shifting around the vehicle, also snapping their seatbelts on, and smiles a bit sadly, glancing towards the cracked window beside him as if he could see beyond it...

"I used to go by Seabay," he admits quietly, reminiscing. "My parents used to laugh that I was named for the company, so I'd better live up to making its name good... Not that it matters much anymore..."

His parents were gone. His whole family. Including the extended family--servants, employees... If any employees still survived, they were scattered and silent, either unreachable by the ham radio... or too busy with their own survival to care. For all practical purposes, Marta remained his only family.

A sigh, and the blind teen turns towards Zack's seat. "So, what did you find in there? Do we feast on applesauce tonight?"

At least now, however, he may have a few friends, too.


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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:46 am

"Heck yeah," Zack enthused. "Applesauce, and canned fruit, and all kinds of soups. There was all kinds of stuff in there. We even found dog food. Cans and cans of it. The good stuff, too, not the cheap crap. Marta'll love it."

Josh rolled his eyes, smiling softly. Only his little brother could get this excited over dog food.

"Seabay, huh?" Zack went on. "Like in Seabay Foods?"
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Lia Jensen

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:39 pm

Lia's head remained resting against the window. Her eyed drooped as Zack and Seabay talked. She'd heard enough on tv pre-war to know a bit about Sebastian's backstory. She vaguely wondered that Zack and Josh apparently hadn't followed the news that closely, even back then. She yawned and pulled her hoodie more tightly against her, found the most comfortable position she could, and settled in, listening with the half-alert mind of someone slowly nodding off. Having been alone for so long, she hadn't exactly had the best sleep lately. Normally, with a car full of men she wouldn't have risked falling asleep for fear of what they would try, but for some reason, she didn't think it likely of this lot.

Only that comfort allowed her to doze lightly.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:57 pm

Sebastian shrugged slightly against his seatbelt. "Well, that, yes, though primarily we're... well, we were... a shipping company. Transported anything and everything around the world. Only that last five years before the war we turned to our own line of foodstuffs--it made it easier to get around the governments when we made food drops into war zones."

The blind young man smiled slowly, almost vindictively. "We enjoyed wrapping them up in their own red tape on that one... I don't care why people are fighting--that's no reason to let everyone starve."

Those food drops had led to his poisoning. And in the end, they didn't matter--none of it did, because the world became toast, and those lives he and his parents had tried to save perished in flames instead, only the lucky ones escaping into bunkers and hiding places.

So the smile fell, and he sighed, reaching up to rub tired, if useless eyes. It was so easy to get tired lately... but then, he hadn't had much food or decent water for several days before this escape. Seabay was looking forward to the applesauce--it felt like he hadn't had anything made from fruit in forever.

"I'm all for breaking into some applesauce when we next stop... Any other votes?" he chuckled. If they didn't care to try it so soon, well, Sebastian wasn't about to argue. He could wait...
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Garrity

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:46 am

"Sure, you can have applesauce. We've got mixed berries, strawberries, cherries, canned pumpkin. All kinds of good stuff. I can open up whichever you want." Zack said quickly, hoping to distract Seabay from memories that seemed to be taking their toll on him. "Anyone else want some?"



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Lia Jensen

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:16 pm

Lia had effectively nodded off, though she startled awake in a sudden jolt. She sat bolt upright in her seat a few moments before sitting back into her seat, glancing briefly at the others to see if anyone had even noticed her nightmare. It seemed that even when things were relatively safe, sleep was hard to come by these days. She doubted anyone in the car could ever really sleep without having their own nightmares.

She shook her head briefly, trying to clear the lingering voices in her head, latching on to Sebastian's suggestion and Zack's enthusiastic agreement to bring her back to the here and now.

"Cherries," the young woman agreed. "I've been craving those for ages. They were always my favorites, before..." she said, trying to sound cheerful.

Her weight shifted uncomfortably then. "Are we there yet?" she asked, peering out of the windshield again between Josh and Zack's heads, scanning the horizon for some suggestion of a colony.
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Seabay Florentine

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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:37 am

Sebastian can't help frowning slightly, a bit nervous about meeting strangers--a whole colony even--when he just met these three... especially after being alone with just Marta for months on end. On the one hand, it would be nice to have people to talk to, to help and be helped by, some security and solace in this damaged world, just social contact at all. On the other hand...

Seabay knew a few things that were dangerous... and still are. Warehouse locations, and goods stored in them waiting for delivery. Supply depots for clients and their own company. Their own shipping bases' locations, and all the resources there. The bunkers made and set for employees to use when the end came. Maps of various cities are still memorized. Codes to get in. Lists of what may be found within.

He learned the maps and locations while growing up, and his parents kept him appraised of changes in their holdings, even once his eyesight was ruined. The supply lists and knowledge about large deliveries awaiting transport, he learned even up to the end.

Odds are, all those resources are still there.

Seabay's no fool. He knows this information can be dangerous, and so says nothing of it. If need be, he will volunteer some information, to help his friends... but to say too much might get him in trouble. If raiders or slavers hear what he knows, he won't be safe short of outer space...

"So do we know anything about this place other than it's there? And how do you want to approach it? I can send Marta with you, Josh, if you like, now that you're introduced." Yeah, much as he'll feel naked without her furry presence, but if Zack's staying behind, he sees it as an even trade. Zack'd help him, being a good kid, and Marta can help protect Josh in return, better than either of them likely.
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PostSubject: Re: brotherly love   Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:08 am

Zack opened a can of cherries and passed it to Lia with a plastic spoon. He opened and passed a can of applesauce along with a plastic spoon to Sebastian, then opened a third can and frowned.

"Crap,' he hissed, looking at the mixed fruit in the can. No way Josh was eating that. Glancing at his brother, he sighed. "Um...I'll eat this one. Do you want apples or cherries?"

Josh shook his head. He was fine for now.

"We shouldn't be too far now," Zack answered Lia around a mouthful of fruit. "We don't know too much about the place beyond the standard rumors. You know, the whole 'safe haven human colony with plenty of food and water and no mutants' that they always claim to be. Usually they're empty and abandoned or overtaken by slavers. Gotta check it out though. Who knows. Maybe someday it'll be true..."Swallowing hard, he added. "It'd be good if Marta could go with Josh, but she has to be able to be fast and super quiet, though, and to hide easily, in case it's slavers or overrun by mutants. Don't want her to get hurt or eaten."
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