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Chaostica

Diane Thomas: US Marshal

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Chaostica    144

 

Chapter One: Aren't you dead yet?

 

The crunch of gravel on the ground outside gave Diane only a couple seconds warning before two shapes passed by the open door of the garage she stood within, her hand twitched towards the gun at her side but a quick glance at the strangers already informed her she was seriously outgunned. The one had a gun that could cut her in half if he opened fire. Cursing softly under her breath she quickly decided her only option is to brazen this one out. They sounded like male and female, their conversation seemed to be innocent enough in subject, her ears listening for keywords that would imply any kind of menace from the pair such as their talking about victims or torture techniques. She didn't want to listen into the conversation, long habit of letting folks have their privacy almost automatically blanking out the context of their conversation. Except for those things she was specifically listening for she could not tell you what the pair was talking about.

Taking a deep breath she stepped boldly out of the garage, a slight smile on her lips as she swung her bag harmlessly up over her shoulder, her guns remaining holstered, her body relaxed but ready. Her whole posture and demeanour designed to be non threatening.

"Hey there" she called out to the pair who had now moved over to the nearby well, both immediately whirled around, their bodies tensing for action. Diane held her breath as she waited for them to take in her presence and hoping they weren't a pair of shoot first ask questions later type.

"Uh hello" the male responded, his face concealed by a motorcycle helmet.

"Hey would you guys happen to be the people who were shooting up in that town earlier? I heard a lot of shots...." Diane decided to ask, hitching a thumb over her shoulder towards the town up the hill.

"Uh no that would be some others, they were clearing out infected...sounds like their still doing it..." the woman responded, her body relaxing as she turned to the well.

Letting out a small breath as she watched the couple relax she started moving out of the yard away from them as she continued to talk.

"Ah OK, well I'm headed up that way....hopefully they're done shooting...wouldn't do now to be mistaken for one of them now would it." with a slight self depreciating chuckle she continues to put distance between the couple and herself. "You two be safe and take care, sorry I can't stay..."

The couple watch her move away, each taking a turn to fill their containers at the well after taking a long drink, one watching the other's back while the other was vulnerable and exposed while their gun was laid aside. After a couple of more steps she turns, putting her back to the couple and continuing down the road in a calm manner that doesn't reveal that inside her heart is racing frantically, expecting to hear a voice from behind calling her to halt. She counts her steps as she draws further away, taking deep, slow breaths to try to calm herself and put as much distance between herself and them as she can. A few more steps and her heart finally begins to slow but her mind still races, wondering about those she may encounter ahead. Unconsciously she begins to gnaw on her lower lip, a bad habit her partner long ago lamented she would drive him crazy with. 

Diane smiled softly as, unbidden memories returned of her partner and their many times together on the job. Being a US Marshal wasn't something she had planned on doing when she was young and planning her future. She's gone to school and excelled in her classes determined to become a lawyer and fight for the underdog. Her face contorted slightly as she remembered how often the 'underdog' had turned out to be as guilty as they'd been accused of being, if not worse in some cases. A year of practice soon saw her disenchanted with her job and seeking another avenue to right injustice. It was only by chance she'd given up her practice and entered the US Marshal service, but she loved it and soon found herself stationed in Las Vegas and partnered with her fellow Marshal, John Waters. Oh sure he seemed to be a modern day version of John Wayne at times but that was part of his charm. 

A soft smiled played across her lips as she remembered her first encounter with John. She was fresh to Las Vegas and was checking in with the office to let them know she was there. As she drew nearer to the offices she could hear a man's voice raised in argument. She truly tried not to listen to the conversation going on behind closed doors but she soon realised the man was complaining about his office window and the neon lights that would reflect into it from the Vegas strip not far away. She couldn't make out the mumbled responses but soon enough two men finally came out from behind the closed door, both paused mid conversation as their eyes fell upon her standing there. After a few throat clearing noises and a bit of shuffling around they introduced themselves as Deputy Chief Marshal Alexander Burry and Marshal John Waters.  

Diane was roused from her trip down memory lane by the harsh sound of an animal growl nearby and the frustrated cry of a younger man's voice coming from somewhere directly ahead of her. Stopping mid stride she scanned the area quickly for the source, her eyes falling upon a young man trapped within an old building, a couple of wolves hanging around the outside trying to get in. First thing she noticed was that the building had two doors and the young man was desperately trying to figure out which way to go as the wolves drew closer. Without hesitation she drew the magnum from her hip, her eyes scanning the pack, her eyes falling upon a large white wolf that stood out from the others. Bringing the gun up and taking careful aim she pulled the trigger. The loud rapport of the gun filled the air startling wolves and man alike, the area almost seemed to freeze in time for a few moments before the wolves, almost like a single entity, turned and began to flee the area heading for the nearest treeline leaving the fallen body of the companion on the ground. Taking a slow, deep breath, Diane re-holstered her gun and began to move cautiously towards the building, calling out to the man within.

"Your alright now, wolves are notorious for not being able to act without their Alpha to lead them. They're gone for now while they establish a new pecking order." The young man soon joined her on the street outside the building where she stood by the corpse of the pack leader. 

The small town square they were located in seemed to suddenly fill up with people as men came from each direction as she continued to talk with the man who introduced himself as Logan. They made light conversation as she shifted from foot to foot, growing nervous and uneasy at the number of men surrounding her. Trying to remain calm she continued to talk as she felt her chest tighten, her anxiety rising as memories of her journey here began to crowd her mind. Another place and another group of men began to fill her head as her panic slowly began to rise. Her conversation with Logan growing slightly erratic as the memories began to burn out of the dark corner she kept them hidden in. Just as she was feeling the urge to flee another voice cut across the square, loud and clear shouting demands and issuing orders as most of the men seemed to suddenly form up into a group nearby. Diane's head snapped around and her gaze fell upon a tall man in a cowboy hat, her heart jumping to throat and a sharp prickling sensation in her eyes warning her of tears suddenly hit her. She had to remember to take a breath as she turned back to Logan, her voice low and urgent as she asked him the name of the man in the cowboy hat.

"Sure that's Marshal..." Logan replied.

Turning from Logan without saying anything more, Diane began to walk slowly towards the man in the cowboy hat. He turned from addressing the men grouped up nearby and began to head up the street, passing her with a brief glance before continuing on his way, his step brisk. As he began to put distance between them, Diane finally spurred herself into action and she took a couple of steps away from Logan in the direction the other man was going before placing her hands on her hips and calling out in a loud, crisp, slightly offended voice,

"John Waters, that's a fine way to greet someone whose walked across freaking Russia to come visit your supposed grave and pay her respects, don't you have anything to say to me? Lord know's we spent enough time together over the years that I would think I would receive a little more acknowledgement then a passing glance!" 

The man in the cowboy hat froze mid stride, he stood there for a moment before slowly turning around, his eyes wide and showing his astonishment and disbelief. He stood staring at her for a few heartbeats, his mouth opening and closing briefly before he moved slowly closer, his eyes roaming over her form taking her in. Diane stood with a smile on her lips as she continued to wait, hands on hips. Finally he spoke,

""D-Diane?" came the hesitant, shocked voice.

"Yeah John its me" she responded, still smiling.

"Marshal? Um...who is this?" Logan asked, his head turning back and fourth like the others now gathering in the area, moving from Diane to John and back again.

"Uh Logan.....this is US Marshal Diane Thomas.......my partner." John replied after a few moment, waving his hand somewhat weakly towards her as he continued to stare at Diane.

Diane turned her head and glanced at Logan whose eyes were wide with astonishment.

"You know I fully expected to be coming to visit your Grave John, but here I find you alive and well, what does it take to kill you if the end of the world doesn't seem to do it?" Diane joked as she turned back to John, her smile reflecting her joy at seeing him alive taking the bite from her words.

Somewhere behind them she could hear a couple of people talking, relaying to others what was going on with the scene now being staged on the street, she didn't catch much of it but one line carried over the voices now mumbling amongst themselves...

"OH GREAT, you mean we've got two of them now???"

 

To be continued......

Edited by Chaostica

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The Marshal    353

Happy to finally see this up!  I can't wait to see how this story develops further, both in game and out.

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Combat Logo    84

fucking perfect, enjoyed reading it

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Chaostica    144

Chapter Two: I prefer the term 'Fashionably Late'

 

"You know I fully expected to be coming to visit your Grave John, but here I find you alive and well, what does it take to kill you if the end of the world doesn't seem to do it?" Diane joked as she turned back to John, her smile reflecting her joy at seeing him alive taking the bite from her words.

Somewhere behind them she could hear a couple of people talking, relaying to others what was going on with the scene now being staged on the street, she didn't catch much of it but one line carried over the voices now mumbling amongst themselves...

"OH GREAT, you mean we've got two of them now???"

John seemed to snap out of the slight daze, his eyes narrowing slightly as he began to speak, his head tilting slightly in the well known habit of his Diane recognised as him preparing to tease her.

"Seems to me that if someone around here knows anything about dead things it would be you, I mean, last time I visited your place it was full of dead plants! What was the last count at? 21?" John crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back slightly, a minor twitch to his lips was all that gave away the mirth he was feeling.

"They weren't dead, they were dormant...." Diane replied, her tone sounding indignant but the merriment in her eyes showing that theirs was a long history of give and take.

"Yeah....dormant....interesting way to say 'dead'" John responded, taking a step closer. He paused for a moment, his posture more relaxed then before but his face turning serious as he leaned towards to her slightly, his eyes locking on hers as he demanded "Dammit Diane what the hell took you so long? You were suppose to be right behind me."

Diane shifted uncomfortably, breaking eye contact with John as she began to chew her bottom lip nervously drawing John's gaze to the action. The slight narrowing of his gaze was all she needed to remind herself of what she was doing and to stop the nervous habit almost instantly. She began to speak, hesitantly...

"About that John....well you see I ran into a little problem in St. Petersburg...." Diane began but a shout behind them drew Johns attention.

"Marshal, Emmrich wants to talk to you now but your not to over tire him Rose says, he may be doing better but hes still weak and Rose won't have you tiring her patient out." someone yelled from the open doorway of a nearby building.

"Be right there!" John called back, looking over at the speaker for a moment before pinning Diane once more with his gaze. "I'll be right back, don't you go anywhere." he ordered, his tone indicating he wanted no argument as he stepped past Diane and into the building where she assumed the patient was being kept.

Diane nodded agreement but she wasn't paying complete attention, her mind already drifting back to her time in St. Petersburg and the delay that caused her to be trapped there when the infection hit.

Their trip out to pick up their charge was pretty uneventful, but when they landed for a layover in London she'd received a text telling her of some complications that arisen in their proposed return travel plans that required immediate attention. It was decided that she would proceed into St. Petersburg and find out what the problem was and fix it while John continued on down to meet their charge and take him into custody. It was a plan they'd used before with great success, how was she to know that this time she'd run into the trouble she did. Diane grimaced slightly as she remembered that meeting, the greed and avarice in the man's small pig like eyes as she had entered the room should have been her first clue that this was not going to go well. When the announcement came that to transport their charge via any Russia airport would require a payment of 20,000 euros she lost her temper. 

Diane sighed to herself as she moved aimlessly around the buildings, finding comfort in John's raised voice as he questioned whomever this Emmrich person was, his voice carrying out the window and down to those below. People shifted uncomfortably as they listened to John berate the bed ridden patient, each giving her the sense that they were glad it wasn't them who had raised John's ire as much as this Emmrich person had. Diane's eyes locked for a moment with Logan who shifted uncomfortably as he mumbled 'boy his voice sure does carry', his cheeks flushing slightly in embarrassment. Smiling gently at Logan for a moment she whispered, 'yeah his voice is one my gran used to call a "GOOD bingo callers" voice.' she paused for a moment as Logan glanced at her curiously, waiting for an explanation, 'it's loud and clear enough to not only reach the back of the room but not require hearing aids being turned on' Diane returned the grin that flashed across Logan's face for a moment then continued on past him and began to head up the stairs to the floor John was located on.

Her thoughts again turned back to what had happened in St. Petersburg, trying to figure out how to explain to John how she managed to get herself tossed into Jail after losing her temper with the Russian who had demanded they pay 20,000 euros before they could move their charge through Russia. She never should have let her temper get the best of her, she never should have called him the things she had and issued the threats to expose him. She could see John's face now if she told him of what had happened, the roll of the eyes he'd give her along with the small shake of his head as once again she explained how her temper got the best of her. Sighing to herself she leaned up against the wall of the hall leading to the room John was in, waiting for him to come out. 

It was a long time before he was finished in the room, his exit was brisk and with a quick jerk of his chin indicating she should follow they left the hallway and headed outside. She studied the way he carried himself, seeing the tension in his shoulders, the barely contained fury almost rolling off him in waves as his long legs carried him quickly down a side street away from the building with the patient inside. Diane found herself almost running to keep up with him when he finally stopped abruptly in front of her causing her to side step quickly to avoid running into the back of him and prompted her to blurt out the thought uppermost in her mind,

"John Waters what the hell is wrong with you? I mean I can understand that during this time you may have experienced some things that have changed you a bit but hell man your acting like someone I don't even recognise!" she snapped, her tone sharp but concerned.

John ripped the hat from his head and let his fingers rake through his hair as he obviously tried to calm down and compose himself enough to answer. The pair talked quietly as his story began to come in bits and pieces. Diane patiently listened, offering a word of encouragement here and there when it seemed he wouldn't continue. Although she knew he wasn't telling her everything she began to realise that he was a man walking a fine line at the moment. Their conversation continue for awhile as Diane watched a calm begin to settle over John as the familiarity of sharing his problems with her began to bring him some comfort. There wasn't much they didn't know about each other, and being partners for so long they had often used the other as a sounding board to release their pent up frustrations on, voicing things to each other that they wouldn't talk to anyone else about.

It wasn't long before they started walking back towards the small town square again, the darkness settling in the area prompting Diane to yawn a few times as they returned to the others still in the area. She stood by quietly for a few minutes before she broke into the conversation John was having, trying to stifle another yawn

"Listen I saw a car down the road that's calling my name, think I'm gonna go lock myself in and crash for the night." she watched as John hesitated

"If you don't mind I think I'll join you, be like the old days when we were on stakeout." he replied, looking back at the man he had been talking to and giving a slight dismissive nod of his head before turning back towards her and beginning to walk at her side

"Fine John but your leaving your boots on this time!" Diane demanded as they began to head out of town

"Fine just so long as you aren't hiding any rabbit food you think would be 'good' for me somewhere." he quipped back, his lips twitching in amusement.

"Better then those damn MRE things you always eat, those things were disgusting...." there was a short pause before John spoke again.

"You know, you never did explain where they hell you were..." his voice trailed back as she stopped walking for a moment, causing him to stop and turn back to look at her.

"I'm calling woman's prerogative on this one John, you know how it is, always fashionably late...." Diane replied airily, trying to brush the conversation off as she began to walk again.

John paused for only a few seonds before starting to walk again himself....

"So...?...........Who did you piss off this time......."

 

TO BE CONTINUED....

Edited by Chaostica

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Chaostica    144

Chapter 3: No one is safe anymore

 

The soft breathing coming from seat beside her was the only sound she heard as Diane quietly lay in her seat, the large body in the seat beside her radiating heat to keep the interior warm and comfortable, only the occasional gust of wind from the partially opened rear window reminded her of the frigid night that lay just beyond the closed car door. Turning her head slightly she looked over at her sleeping companion for a moment, still not fully comprehending that somehow this was John, she'd found him alive and whole against all the odds. After a couple of minutes gazing over at his hat covered face she turned away, chiding herself that she really shouldn't be surprised he'd managed to survive. If anyone was going to survive the hell that was now their world it would be John Waters, besides all the skills he possessed one basic fundamental fact should have told her long ago he was a survivor. He was just to damn stubborn to die. Smiling softly to herself as she burrowed a little deeper under the jacket she'd tossed over herself, to act as a blanket, she closed her eyes and sent up a quick prayer that her sleep would be empty of nightmares this night then turned her mind to trying to fall asleep.

Sleep had almost claimed her when a soft noise brought her to sudden alertness, she froze in place as she tried to located the sound that had awoken her, waiting patiently she was soon rewarded with a repeat of the sound, a soft mumbling coming from John's direction. Glancing over at his form she remained as quiet as possible trying to make out what he was saying but his hat covering his face kept the sounds muffled and unclear. Concern washed over her but she knew better then to try to wake him, he might act instinctively if startled awake and she might end up getting hurt if he struck out blindly, she wasn't sure he'd recognise her quickly enough to check his actions in time. After a few minutes John settled back into sleep and following his example she attempted to do the same.

Smells......she could smell it......the burning of flesh......

Pain......searing burning pain.........

Laughter...........mocking laughter filled her ears.......evil in the laugh........they found pleasure in inflicting pain.....

Crying now..........pleading.........'help me, please! They'll kill me!'.........the voices......always the voices crying for help.....

Running now..........heart pounding painfully as she ran...........she was so weak........they're going to catch her........punish her..........

Diane awoke with a jerk, her heart racing in panic and a scream in her throat as she bolted into a sitting position. Panic and the need to flee gripping her firmly as she scanned her surroundings. The inside of the car was lighter then before, it was almost dawn and she was alone. Cramming her arms back into her jacket she grabbed her gear and flung herself from the car, the sense of impending capture still driving her as she scanned the area wildly, her eyes trying to find an escape. She began to run for the nearest treeline, she could lose her pursuers in the tree's but she had to get there first. 

She ran as hard as she could, her lung's burning from the exertion as her feet pounded through the forest, how long she ran she didn't know, the fear and panic had complete control of her. Her desperate flight ended abruptly though as her foot caught on some debris on the forest floor and she found herself falling, sprawling into the undergrowth she slid through the dead leaves and pine needles to finally come to a stop. Diane lay there breathing hard for a few minutes, her cheek pressed to the forest floor as she slowly calmed her breathing, reality slowly coming back to her as she realised she was not in the danger she had believed she was in. Taking a few more calming breaths she rolled onto her back and gazed up at the forest canopy. As the sun rose she watched it play among the leaves, trying to sort through the panic induced fog to figure out what had happened. 

She'd been dreaming of her capture. The punishments she'd endured during her 'training' as a pet. Tears began to burn in her eyes prompting her to throw an arm across her eyes to block out the light but also to try to keep the tears from coming as she remembered her last night. Their captures weren't pleased with another slave, they'd come to punish him when a few others tried to defend him, a fight had broken out bringing the guards from outside the door to come in and help gain control. The woman beside her had been the first to notice that the door was ajar, that there was no one watching them and they might have a chance to get away. The two of them had managed to make it quite a distance before they were noticed missing and an alarm had gone up prompting them both to run. They had fled into the tree's and were weaving through them as their captures gave chase behind, their flashlights wildly scanning the tree's trying to locate them. 

They would have both gotten away if the accident hadn't happened. The woman with her had tripped on an exposed root twisting her ankle and giving a scream of pain. That scream had given the captures their location and as Diane had stopped and turned to help she had noticed that the were being gained upon. Diane had stood there frozen, hearing their captures getting closer as the woman began to cry, beg and plead with her to help her up, help her get away. She was torn, she wanted to help, wanted them both to get away but as the woman continued to make so much noise and give away their location she had begun to back away from the downed woman. The last thing she remembered before turning and running was the woman screaming at her 'If they catch me I'm dead don't leave me here! I don't want to die! Please! Help me!'. 

The guilt of leaving that woman behind was slowly consuming her. She should have done something. She was suppose to help people. All her life she'd wanted to help people but when it really mattered she'd run, she'd left the woman behind to suffer the consequences as she'd run to save her own hide. 

She lay on the forest floor sobbing quietly to herself as the birds sang their morning greetings all around her.  After awhile her sobs subsided and she slowly pushed herself to her feet. Her ankle was slightly tender but thankfully that was the extent of her injuries, with the status of things today something that would be considered minor before now could quickly become life threatening. After checking herself over one more time and brushing the dirt and leaves from her body she finally straightened and took in her surroundings. After looking around for a couple of minutes her shoulders slumped and she let out a few choice curses before muttering.

"OK now......where the hell am I?"

 

TO BE CONTINUED......

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Western    495

very enjoyable read. Would read again xD

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Chaostica    144

 

Chapter Four: On  the Road

 

Diane crested the small hill and stopped, pausing a moment to catch her breath as she scanned the small town ahead of her. It wasn't an overly large town, with a church located on the western side. In the distance she could see what could possibly be a castle located in the next forest over, she made a mental note to go check it out before she continued on south. She'd managed to make it back to the car she'd passed the night with John in but by then it'd been days since she'd last been there and the people there were long gone having stripped the town of supplies. She decided to head south from there, hoping to locate a large city or at least a radio to start trying to locate him via that method as well. If she found a radio in this town she'd try to transmit from the top of the castle and see what kind of range she could get.

Taking a quick drink and making sure her stuff was secure Diane took her rifle into her hands and approached the first house on the edge of town cautiously. She didn't see any infected moving around but that didn't mean they weren't there. She entered the first house and did a quick search finding nothing. She started to move towards the second house when she saw an infected coming around from the back of the house, deciding avoidance was best she side stepped and attempted to duck around a small utility building, only to come face to face with another infected hidden from her earlier view. Cursing loudly she raised her gun and fired without thought, as the loud rapport pierced the air she cursed vehemently again muttering 'great rang the damn dinner bell' as she heard the screeching and howls of the infected coming towards her drawn by the sound of the gun. She fired off two more quick shots of her Repeater before turning and running, a pack of five infected clearing the side of the barn inspiring her to try to lose them, or at least give herself more distance and possibly tired the infected out before she fired again.

The blood was pounding in her ears as she ran through the field and around the buildings stopping and turning occasionally to let loose a few rounds into the closely grouped infected, still pursuing and howling for her blood as the chased. At one point she paused on one of the roads and aimed her gun again, but before she could pull the trigger she watched the body fall, the sound of another gun finally registering in her tired mind. As she stood and listened she heard more shots and watched as the infected began pursuing others. She was about to seek cover in the nearest house to hide but already she could see a man approaching her, his gun drawn but lowered. As he approached he called out 'Are you ok Ma'am? They didn't manage to bite or scratch you did they?'.

Diane paused for a moment before answering, the voice was oddly familiar but she couldn't place where she'd heard it before.

"Yeah I'm fine, good thing you all came along when you did." she replied as she kept her gun loosely in her hands, hoping she wouldn't have to use it as she knew there were no rounds in it as she'd not had a chance to reload yet.

"Hey do I know you?" the guy asked, taking a step closer " You sound familiar...I think we've....wait a minute...YOU’RE THE OTHER ONE!!" he exclaimed as he stopped moving and turned and  yelled back over his shoulder "HEY MARSHAL.....found something you lost!!!"

"Yeah Jimmy, I heard her talking." John's voice called as came up the road towards them.

"Now I know where I heard your voice before to, your the one who said something about there being Two of them now...like it was a bad thing? Care to explain?" she asked her first visitor " never did catch your name by the way."

"It's Uh Jimmy, Listen I'll leave you two to talk." he said hurriedly, embarrassment in his posture as he turned to rush away.

Diane waited for John as made his way to her, setting his own pace but keeping his gaze on her. She was kind of glad he was wearing sunglasses as he approached as she wasn't quite sure what she would be seeing in his gaze at the moment. She had found in the brief conversations already that John seemed to have changed a lot. Sure she knew him pretty well, she trusted him with her life, but she was worried about how he was handling things as they stood now, considering his black and white view's. It was very hard at times to get him to see the Gray area's out there, and his deep seated rage at times made things very hard to deal with if he ever unleashed it.

John stopped a few feet away, causing her to tilt her head back slightly and shield her eyes against the sun to look up at him.  He paused for a moment as he looked at her then reached into a pocket and withdrew something, tossing it in her direction before he leaned forward and began to speak.

"You disappeared while I was out taking care of a few things...." his voice low and filled with accusation but also concern.

She looked at the item he'd tossed her and saw it was a ball cap, grateful for the head coverage, she slipped it on with a quick thanks, her thoughts however racing as to what to tell him. She didn't want to admit to the bad dream and the panic it had induced to cause her to flee. The questions would begin then and she wasn't sure she wanted to answer those. She was afraid to see the disappointment in his eyes if he knew how she'd left that woman to die. She was also afraid there would be disgust there as well, disgust for her for complying with her captors to keep herself alive.

Diane kept her expression neutral as she shifted for a moment, allowing herself to blush slightly as she finally replied.

"Well John I haven't been in this country very long, and when I woke I needed to make a call to nature. Since I planned to go locate you in town I took my things with me. I didn't plan on getting lost." it was in essence the truth. She concentrated hard on his face, willing herself not to do anything that might cause him to suspect she was lying. She could feel his gaze behind those sunglasses boring into her as she continued to try hard not to fidget. As he opened his mouth to say something, another gun shot went off behind him slightly, then a voice, deep and authoritative stated that he could see someone approaching who didn't look like they were one of their party. That snapped those around the area into immediate action. People she hadn't seen before grouped up around John and the other man, each taking a look at the new comer and then they decided on a plan of action which involved them moving over towards the newcomer and checking them out to see if they needed any assistance or were a threat.

Everyone began to move into the town, guns in hands as they headed towards the arrival. One man stopped to ask her if she needed anything as he was a travelling trader. She didn't catch his name at the time, distracted by trying to keep John's back in sight, his long legs swiftly taken him down the hill and into the town forcing her to jog slightly to catch up. When she did he was standing behind so me houses talking to someone, as she neared she could make out a gravelly, harsh voice talking. Startled and a little creeped out by the voice she moved closer to John's side, that's when she noticed the blood on the man's hands. John seemed to know the man and talked to him for a few minutes before another call came out that someone else was approaching the town, prompting an end to the conversation and once again they began to move through the remainder of the town. As the moved towards the southern side of the town she caught up to him and once they stopped leaned in and whispered to him 'Uh what is with the guy with the blood on his hands' she inquired as she watched the trader fellow greet the newcomer on the road. The others travelling with John had ranged out and were in a semicircle formation ready to respond.

"Who Ivan?" he responded, not taking his eyes off the scene down the road.

"Yeah, I mean, he had blood all over his hands....uh wasn't that long ago someone came to talk to you with something like that you'd been arresting and looking for a body." she lightly accused, her curiosity peaked.

"Ivan's OK, he's been through a lot and I don't question him." John turned and gave her a look that she could only take to mean she'd better let the subject drop.

Diane took the hint and remained quiet, watching as the trader turned and let everyone know that he knew the person, had in fact travelled with her before until they'd unfortunately gotten separated.  A palpable relief seemed to run through the crowd and they all turned back towards the town, as she began to move towards the town she felt John's presence close behind her. She threw a questioning look over her shoulder as he followed, his response was simply 'I am not about to let you out of my sight this time.' she grinned at him as she continued towards the houses, saying as she did so 'I'm not about to take off into the tree's again, but I do need to search for some supplies here, unless you all cleared the place out.' she didn't wait for his response but headed for the nearest house to begin her search. 

Diane cleared a couple of houses of anything she could use and was rounding another when she heard the now familiar hiss and growl of an infected, she just caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye charging her when she took off running. She dashed between a couple of houses cursing loudly as another infected came into view. Deciding her only hope was John and his accuracy with a gun she rounded another corner and hit the road running back towards the centre of town where she could hear him talking, giving a yell she watched him turn and curse loudly about her attracting trouble as he raised his gun and began to fire, multiple shots screamed by her as she continued running, she finally stopped at his side and turned to see the road behind her littered with infected bodies, she counted at least four. As she walked back down the road to inspect the bodies another shout was heard and again the rapport of John's gun was heard as he quickly took out more infected, it was as she returned to him that she realised he'd just saved a complete stranger from the infected.

It was as the new arrival was trying to give John something in return for saving his life that another arrived, from their similar accents, Irish from the sounds of it, they apparently were brothers who'd lost track of each other and had just reunited. As he continued to talk to the brothers she noticed that the people he travelled with appeared to grow anxious and began to look around as if expecting trouble to suddenly show up. Following their cue she moved slightly up the road away from John and kept a lookout watching the treeline and scanning the buildings looking for anyone sneaking around. She breathed a sigh of relief as John finished his conversation and moved up the road to where everyone was waiting. A quick look between him and the other man the other's referred to as Chief seemed to be a shared communication and everyone began to head out of the town heading back north. 

Diane paused to speak with the trader, finding out his name was Derek Graceland, specialising in clothing trade but he did carry some other things like ammo and such. She handed him a magazine for a 1911 hoping he would find it useful in his future trades and was rewarded by being given some .357 ammo in exchange. She continued to walk with the group of people, keeping half an ear on the conversations around her, her rifle in her hands, watching John's back as he walked ahead. He was in conversation with another man, someone he kept calling Thomas whom she hadn't met yet. As John continued to talk and the trader fell a little behind them as he spoke with his friend Diane felt a slight chill run down her spine as the breeze brushed against her cheek and with it the sound of a pained scream was carried on it. She immediately stopped and looked up the hill towards the tree's. Nothing else was heard but the birds were ominously quiet.

"Diane? What's wrong?" John asked as he approached her, his face also turned to look at the hill, scanning for whatever he thought she was seeing.

"Did you hear that?" she asked keeping her voice low and continuing to intently listen.

"No what did you hear?" he asked again, still scanning the tree's.

"I could swear I just heard someone scream, it sounded like it came from up there but with this semi valley we're in it could have come from anywhere." she warned, turning to look at him as he turned to her. Her eyes scanned those around her and her brow furrowed slightly as she asked "Wait a minute, we're short a person..." she stated as she tried to remember who was in their entire party. Finally a voice spoke up and asked..

"Uh guys? Where's Chief?"

 

TO BE CONTINUED......

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Chaostica    144

Chapter Five: Wreck and Ruin

 

"He's over there" someone shouted, waving their arm to get everyone's attention. As one the small party moved over to the edge of the road to look down and see the man they called Chief casually walking along a lower gravel road.

"Guess we're going this way." someone else muttered and everyone hurried to catch up to the walking man.

Once the party had gathered together again on the gravel road, Diane let out a slight puff of air in relief, glad that what she heard was probably her imagination and no one in their party had ended up hurt. She started to relax when John turned and looked at her for a moment, then announced,

"So Diane, you never did tell me what took you so long in St. Petersburg. I mean it should have been a simple thing to get the paperwork sorted and meet me down here."

Diane tensed and looked over at John, she knew he wouldn't let the subject go, there was nothing for it but to tell him what had happened.

"Well it seemed someone decided to get greedy. The official who I met with informed me that if we wanted to move our charge anywhere within Russia's boundaries it was going to cost us an additional 20,000 euros. I mean that's completely outrageous right? I knew the moment I looked into his piggy like eyes there was nothing but greed there. So when I objected and informed him in no uncertain terms what he could do with his extortion things kind of got.......a little out of hand." she ended the comment weakly, not really wanting to explain to him how the man had propositioned her to work down the cost. Of course she had gotten a little upset and rightly so, there was no cause for him to have circled her and patted her on her rear end.

"So you lost your temper..." he began as she jumped back into her explanation.

"Yes I did, I wasn't gonna let that greedy bastard think he could get away with it....I mean yeah.....I should never have hit him..."

"Wait you hit him?" 

"Uh didn't I mention that? Anyways, it wasn't like I meant to do him serious harm....and that's how I ended up tossed into a jail cell and pretty much hidden from any american inquiries...." she explained as they proceeded to walk up the hill, they began to argue back and fourth about her temper getting her into trouble. As they passed someone they tossed out a comment 'are you sure you two were never married?' they asked as everyone continued to walk. She paused for a moment and a slight smile came to her lips as she remembered the last time someone had mentioned them being married.

She and John had been in the office they shared arguing as usual about some details of a case when Deputy Chief Burry walked into the room. He paused for only a moment while the two continued to argue back and fourth until finally he raised his hands in surrender and shouted 

"That's it, every time I walk past or come into this office you two remind me more and more of an old married couple!" he looked between each, a slight smile on his face at his own joke.

She and John looked at each other for a moment, silent communication passing between them with the slight arch of a brow, the twitch of lips. It was John who spoke.

"Well it seems to be a popular opinion around here that we should be a married couple. What do you say Diane? We are in Vegas of all places, we could stroll on out to the strip and find any number of in and out marriage chapels within the next couple of blocks. Shall we make it official? Should only take fifteen minutes we can do it on our lunch break....speaking of...." he looked pointedly at the nearby clock and she picked up on his cue, reaching for her bag and standing as he did.

"Sounds good to me, although if they have theme weddings I'll pass, I can't picture you as an Elvis." she said as they made their way to the door and past a sputtering Burry.

"We'll be back after our lunch break is over." he said as he set his hat on his head and indicated she should proceed him down the hall. As the two of them walked to the exit door, they could hear Burry still sputtering then as they started to pass out of the office his shout of 'We have rules you know!' could barely be heard. Once outside and down the street they finally stopped and looked at each other, it took only that quick look to have them both laughing.

"I wonder how red his face is right now." she said as she reached for her phone which was buzzing an incoming text. John was doing the same thing with his phone and as they each looked again at one another she turned her phone to show him the message, it was from Burry. 'You can't do this! No fraternisation! You'd be breaking up a winning team!' John turned his phone to show her the similar message he'd gotten, causing them both to laugh again. 

They walked down the street a bit further until they came to a restaurant. 

"You'll like this place, it's got a lot of rabbit food options." John said as he held the door open to the steakhouse he'd lead them to.

"You know you can eat to much red meat John, some veggies and other 'rabbit' food as you call it are part of a balanced diet.." it was an old argument and one they had often.

Diane smiled to herself again as the fond memory faded as she became aware of John asking her more questions. She decided to turn the tables and started asking him some things about those they travelled with. First was the man with the blood on his gloves.

"That's Ivan, he's a good sort, I don't ask him to many questions simply because I don't want to know. He has his own issues and problems but seems to take care of them." he responded as they finally reached a paved road and started to head towards a small town in the distance. 

They continued to talk as they walked down the road, her mind was only half aware of the conversation as they walked for she suddenly caught the smell of someone smoking a cigarette. The aroma sent a sudden chill down her spine and caused an involuntary itch to develop up and down her arms. She wanted to rub her them but didn't want to draw attention to the action, all to aware of John watching her and he was way to observant not to notice the action.

Gunfire sounded from the town as they neared, those ahead clearing the place of any infected. It was as they were nearing the houses that they could hear the shouting and yelling going on. Picking up his pace John passed her on the gravel road and rounded the first fence calling out for someone to tell him what was going on. She tried to keep track of what everyone was saying but it was hard to do so. Eventually it became clear that as they were clearing someone came around a house and didn't see the infected that was being aimed at. She managed to get grazed by the gunfire but it could have been worse if the shooter hadn't managed to redirect their aim at the last second.

Taking a deep breath now that the drama was over and the wounded being taken care of, she began to wander around the small town, looking through buildings and seeing if she could find any supplies she could use. She paused for a moment as she realised she was already looking for things for John as well, she smiled slightly as she realised she was falling back into the old habit of trying to get him to take better care of himself.

She found herself soon beside a nearby well, and feeling slightly travel weary, she decided to take the opportunity to clean herself up a bit. Crouching beside the well, she pushed up the sleeves of her jacket and shirt, pulling a rag from the pocket of her backpack and soaking it under the cool water. She washed her face and neck, then started to do her hands when she realised she had exposed her arms and the small circular scars were showing. Glancing up under her lashes quickly she noticed John standing nearby, his head turned her way. Quickly she pulled her sleeves back down and wrung out the rag before putting it away, never once making eye contact with him. She didn't want him asking. As she stood she noticed him take a step towards her but was distracted by someone calling his name. Turning away from him she headed towards the edge of town.

She was wondering where she could hide for the next while when gunshots sounded in the distance, the people around her all checking to see if someone in the party had ventured away. Seeing as everyone was here, it was decided that someone should go check out the source of the gunfire and a scout headed off across the open field. Diane nearly jumped a foot when John spoke softly beside her, his arrival having been quiet and stealthy.

"I think I need your advice. I've been wondering about when a person would need to call protective services, I mean hypothetically of course." he said looking at her.

She felt a shiver of dread run down her spine, his sunglasses had been removed and his eyes bored directly into hers as he continued to speak.

"What signs would you say would prompt someone to have to call protective services. Usually it would be visible signs of abuse correct?"

Diane found herself beginning to walk away from the town and towards the distant location where the scout had gone. Muttering to John,

"I don't know what your getting at John, there is no protective services anymore. People are having to fend for themselves now. I'd try to concentrate on your men who went to the gunfire they should have reported something by now." 

They continued in silence for awhile, making their way across the field in the dark, watching as others passed them as they rushed ahead to find out what was going on. John lagged behind, forcing Diane to keep her pace with him even though she wanted to run and find the nearest hole to hide in. Finally he spoke again.

"I want to know what happened Diane, I saw the marks are your arms. Seems to look pretty man made to me...." he started

"Drop it John." she snapped

"Something happened and I want to know....we can either talk about it now or later."

"John there is nothing I want to talk about....I want to not bring it up and have to relive something I've spent the past months trying to forget....Just drop it OK?" she snapped at him, turning to glare at him in emphasis.

They stood in the field for a few minutes before more shots in the distance prompted them both to hurry in that direction. Reaching some burned our ruins they looked around to see the others were busy clearing out some infected. Most everyone was located by the largest building, a crumbled and burned down Church from the looks of things. They walked towards the building, relaxing as they heard the easy conversation coming from inside. It was as they reached the building where a portion of the wall had given away and were about to enter that John stopped her again by blocking the entrance.

"No matter how badly you want it to, this isn't going to go away Diane. By how strongly your reacting it's obvious it's still eating at you, tell me what happened, talking to me about it will help. We spent years as partners sharing every problem with each other. You know that if there's one person you can talk to about this it's me." he implored softly, looking directly into her eyes, his own speaking of the silent plea he was making for her to share her story, to ease her burden.

She grew suddenly angry with him as firelight flared to life behind him, casting him into shadow but shining directly onto her. She stared down at the gun in her hands and shifted it to her back, the anger inside prompting her to hold out her arms and push up her sleeves, revealing the circular burn scars along her inner arms, each the approximate size of an quarter.

"Is this what you wanted to see John? Do you know what they are?" she asked, not looking at him but feeling her anger continue to build and realising it's not him she's angry with, but what had been done to her.

"They.....it looks like burns...." he said quietly, keeping his hands on his gun but she could see them flex and tighten at his own display of anger.

"No they're more then just burns, they're punishment. You see, when I left St. Petersburg and started heading south to keep my last promise that I would be here, I ran into a group of people who were already exploiting the fact that it seemed humanity was being wiped out. They were taking captive men, women and children. They were slavers you see, preparing for those who might want to rebuild after the infection ran it's course and there was rebuilding to do. Money has become pretty useless now, it's product that can be bartered for that has value. Slaves they felt would be the way to go." she paused for a moment to look up at him then continued to speak 

"They had three classes of slaves they were looking for in women. You were either a Breeder, a Whore, or a Pet.  They also had a punishment system. First offence you got beaten, but not the face as that was the major seller. So you got a fist in the ribs or gut, beaten till you complied. If that didn't work then you got burned....cigars and cigarettes, all along the inner arms and in other extremely sensitive areas where the skin was soft. If that didn't work, you were whipped. A nasty cat'o'nine tails I believe they called it, your back when they were finished was shredded skin. Do you want to see the results John? My back is covered in the scars that thing left behind, crossing over each other. I soon learned to submit." her voice broke on her admission of giving in and she choked back a sob for a moment as her eyes filled with tears. Finally she continued 

"Do I have to tell you how many times I was raped John? How many times I was forced as they tried to find out if I was a breeder? Thank heavens none of those morons knew what an IUD is or how to identify one. They didn't keep a OBGYN with them who might have figured it out. They took turns John...." her voice finally gave way as tears began to spill down her cheeks, she could not look at him in the eyes as she felt her body tremble as she wrapped her arms around herself. She didn't want to see what he might be feeling. She was only half aware of it when he raised his arms out to her but made no move to force himself upon her. Staring at those arms she was overwhelmed with a desire to feel them around her at least once, so she took a step forward into them. As they wrapped around her she stiffened for a moment but then relaxed against his chest closing her eyes as she took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself. She only allowed herself the luxury of the embrace for a few seconds, already feelings the discomfort of being touched threatening to strangle her with the building panic. Reluctantly she stiffened again and pushed herself away, taking a step back from him and then stepping around him to start to go in to where it was warm from the fires.

She knew he was asking her questions and she was answering them without really paying any kind of attention, just wanting to get inside to where it was warm. Once inside she placed her back to a wall and slid down it until she was sitting amongst the rubble of the church, her knees to her chest and her arms wrapped around them as she buried her face and began to slowly rock in a soothing rhythm. She never noticed John sitting down beside her. It was only when he placed an arm around her and startling her causing her to flinch in panic that she became aware of him. She looked at him for a moment but buried her face again as the memories flooded her once more....

 

TO BE CONTINUED.....

 

Edited by Chaostica

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RogueSolace    453

Really good! I need to rp with you all!!!!?

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ItzThatcher    41

Just read through it all. So moving and inspiring Chaostica. Cannot wait for more to show up. 

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Simon    62

Just caught on the lore here! As always great writing!

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Chaostica    144

 

Chapter Six: The Beginning of the End.

 

Diane continued to rock herself back and fourth, finding comfort in the repetitive movement, as the heat from John's arm radiated over her shoulders she unconsciously leaned into him seeking more warmth, the memories of the ordeal she had survived playing over and over in her mind.

 

She had ended up locked in a cell when word first came of South Zangoria being cut off from the rest of the world. The official who had been demanding his bribe was playing dumb about his demands for extra money, his reasons for placing her in a cell had been due to her being a 'person of interest' to the government, meaning she was only placed in the cell due to them believing her to be a criminal. Once confirmation had come from the US embassy concerning her identity she'd been released with profuse apologies in regards to the mistaken identity. 

She contacted Burry back in Las Vegas in regards to what she was to do now as she told him that in no uncertain terms was she leaving Russia without finding out what happened to her partner, John. She was either going to leave with him or find out what had happened to him. Burry was reluctant to keep her there, considering she'd relayed to him what had happened. He didn't want more trouble and he knew without John acting as a sort of anchor for her Diane could very well find herself locked up again. She had no intention of being locked away again. She just wanted to know what had happened to John. She had made him a promise when they'd separated at the airport, that she'd be in Chernogorsk as soon as she could. She intended to keep that promise.

So over the next couple months she acted as a go between, seeking out information from the Russians and feeding it back to the interested parties at the embassy. People it seemed were more willing to talk to her then they were to their more well known agents and officials from the embassy. As the months went by, more and more people were getting out of the city, rumours of sickness were spreading and being in such close quarters to others was becoming a big concern as any sickness spread faster in highly populated areas. Surgical masks were a common thing as fear grew of this 'sickness'. When word came that apparently the dead were rising and walking full blown panic began to set in to the populace. The fear made it worse and that arrived accompanied by photos and video of these so called 'Zombies' and the rumour that followed of Russian military disposing of anyone showing signs of sickness, they were still hoping to quell it regardless of many of the Russian political powers having been already evacuated from any areas having sickness or in the path of it.

When February rolled up all American citizens were being evacuated from the country. When it was announced she would be leaving on the next available helicopter to England she began to protest, but all her protests fell on deaf ears and she was informed she had no choice in the matter. She was 'ordered' to be on the next flight. Deciding to play along she decided to act defeated and agreed to be at the embassy at 8pm that evening for the flight. Asking for permission to return to her hotel to retrieve some personal items the embassy reluctantly agreed. That would be the last they saw of her. Diane had been carefully acquiring the supplies she'd need to make it down to South Zangoria on her own, with the help of a family of tourists. With her help they were to be evacuated via the american embassy with other citizens, their flight was to be the 6pm ride out of there tonight, the one to leave just before hers. She'd fudged a bit of information but it was the least she could do for the invaluable help they'd been giving her. She knew that her insistence about not leaving without her partner had put up some warning flags in the embassy offices and sure enough she'd spotted more then one someone following her and taking note of everything she'd been doing or buying. While her shadows had been watching her, Mikail had been off purchasing the items she requested. 

When reaching the hotel she stopped by the family's room, smiling at the little girl who opened the door, her big grin in return then her yell for her father brought a laugh from Diane. For a moment she regretted that she hadn't taken the time yet to have children, but again she pushed it from her mind telling herself there was still plenty of time left for it. Mikail came to the door, his brow showing his worry at her appearance. She smiled at him reassuringly and reached into her pocket to pull out several badges.

"Show these to the guard at the gate, he'll see you to Roberta Grahams office and she'll see you on the 6pm flight herself. You shouldn't have any problems." she informed him as he reached out to take the badges from her hand, he was joined at the door by his wife who was carefully cradling an infant to her chest. Both parents smiled in gratitude, their faces expressing their relief. 

"Your package is waiting." Mikail whispered as he reached out to shake her hand.

"Thanks" she smiled down once again at the little girl and reached out to gently run her fingers over the sleeping babies downy hair, pausing to squeeze the mothers shoulder in reassurance "for everything." with that she turned and walked to the next door using her key to open and go in. On the bed was all the supplies she needed for outdoor living, now she just had to pack it all up and get out of the hotel without being spotted.

After preparing everything she patiently waited for nightfall, watching the family from next door leave the hotel and head off in the direction of the embassy. As it continued to get darker, she used the key for passage between the suites to carry her things and place them there, giving her former room a once over to make sure she was't forgetting anything. She soon found herself leaving and easily making it past anyone watching. It wasn't long before she was passing the municipal limits to St. Petersburg. She had decided to not acquire a vehicle to make her exit as it was to easy to follow, by foot she blended in with the crowds. 

She had been travelling a few days when she came across a man emerging from the bushes, a large stick in his hand as he cautiously approached her. He started speaking to her in Russian but she quickly let him know she did't understand. He started speaking again in broken English.

"Food....trade food?"he asked, watching her wearily

Keeping her hands where he could see him, she watched him as he shifted nervously, his eyes flickering back over to the bushes he'd come from. She followed his gaze at one point and saw a couple of preteen children along with what she assumed was their mother, trying to keep themselves concealed.

"Yes..I have food...I'm willing to trade it for any information about what I can expect to the south." she waited to see if he understood, he seemed to be thinking about it for a moment then nodded before speaking again

"Madmen.......near Moscow.........hunting human............killing...........dead walking....." he managed to convey as she carefully removed the bag from her back and began to pull out some food and water. She looked at the MRE's she was handling grimacing slightly at the thought of what John would say if he saw her actually carrying no less eating the long argued over item.

"Anything else?" she asked as she began to place the food and water on the ground, keeping a careful eye on the man, prepared to draw her firearm if he moved suddenly.

"Sickness....you no go..........bad things...........stick to tree's................no find." he supplied as he watched her step away from the food and water. When she'd moved far enough away he'd reached forward and snatched the items quickly, acting like he was afraid they'd be taken away before he could get to them.

"Well thank you for the information, but I have no choice, I have a promise I need to keep so I have to continue to Moscow." she found herself apologising to the man as she stepped clear and placed her bag back on her back. Waiting as he moved back towards the nearby tree's she slowly began to move away, casting a last glance over her shoulder to see the man carefully handing out pieces of an MRE to each waiting person who eagerly ate up the food. They were covered in filth and their clothing had seen better days, but she had a sudden eerie premonition that things were going to get much worse.

She was a day or two out of Moscow when that premonition came to pass. She had been walking with a young couple, they were headed to Moscow as well to locate the girls parents, worried for their safety, when they suddenly found themselves surrounded by a group of men, guns of various size and calibre pointed at them as demands began to be issued in Russian. The man translated for her and was soon under interrogation from what apparently appeared to be the leader. The two talked in Russian back and fourth for a few minutes before the leader turned towards her and began to speak in an accented English.

"Comrades, it appears we have acquired some exotic goods! American no less, should bring a good price at market once she's been trained!" he announced to the men around him and was rewarded with male laughter and some innuendo from those standing around.

Diane remained silent, watching those around her, knowing she was outnumbered and if she tried anything would most probably end up shot. She noticed her one companion moving closer to the other, her fear was palpable. 

"Now now none of that." the leader announced, motioning his gun towards the pair. "Say goodbye, your going to be taken with this other woman and brought to the testing houses, he's going straight to the labour pens. Take him!" he announced indicating her male companion. Two men immediately came forward and each grabbed an arm yanking the man away from the girl, as she tried to follow another man came forward and grabbed her from behind, twisting her arms behind her back to painfully remind her he was in charge. The girl began to sob helplessly, causing the man to fight his captures violently to try to reach her and comfort her, resulting in the butt of a rifle being smashed into his midsection. 

"Lesson One! You do not obey you will be physically reminded who is in charge, be it beating, burning or the whip!" the leader announced as once again a rifle butt was smashed into the man's mid section. "Now let me welcome you to your new lot in life, You are now product and property of New Moscow Slavers."

Diane watched as the man was again hit and finally had had enough.

"Great a group of bullies deciding to prey on the weak and try to cash in on the crisis at hand, man I can't wait till your asses end up in front of a judge. You'll not only have Russian authorities to answer to, you'll have American ones to, and the American's don't take kindly to having their people mistreated you asshole."

The leader looked at her and a small mean smile cut across his face. His eyes flickered to just over her shoulder, but before she could turn and look her head burst in pain as her vision was suddenly obscured by piercing light then grew dark. She fell to her knee's and slowly began to topple forward, her hands shooting out to break her fall. Malicious laughter was heard from the men around her as the leader came to crouch by her shoulder, he spoke again.

"Didn't you hear? The world is ending, the governments are falling apart, even the military's are crumbling and each is seeking to protect only themselves. You mean nothing to them, but your product to us." he laughed again as she felt hands grip each of her arms and drag her to her feet. 'Remember, not the face, and don't beat all the fight out of her. Some of the sicko's looking for a good pet like a little fight.' he announced, his voice growing faint as he moved away. The pain began then, as a fist connected with her stomach, knocking the air right out of her lungs. A few more hits and she was no longer aware of anything as she slipped into unconsciousness.

Diane lifted her face from her knee's with a slight start, finding herself pressed in close to John's side. Feeling slightly embarrassed as she looked around and heard people talking, she pushed away from him and slowly got to her feet.

"Uh if you'll all excuse me I'm going to find a place to bed down for the night." she announced as she brushed any debris from her jeans. She looked at John who had also pushed himself to his feet and gave him a small smile of thanks. "If you can show me a good place I'll be ok." she told him, the question in his eyes seemed to vanish as he realised the double meaning in what she said. Nodding he said goodnight to his friends and they exited the ruined church, he lead her a distance away and once making sure their sleeping area was safe he turned to her and said.

"Get some sleep, tomorrow I'll show  you a few places to avoid." he announced as he made himself comfortable.

"Alright John." she announced as she laid her head down and tried to close her eyes to sleep but before she did she whispered 'and John?' he grunted slightly in acknowledgement 'thank you' she whispered and turned away, wishing as usual for the nightmares to stay away as she drifted off to sleep.

 

TO BE CONTINUED....

Edited by Chaostica

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Chaostica    144
Posted (edited)

Chapter Seven: Those were the days...

 

Diane was awakened shortly after dawn by a slight touch on the shoulder, turning her head, her eyes heavy with sleep she looked up at the form of John crouched beside her, already geared up and ready to move on. 

"Good Lord John, the birds just barely began to sing....what the hell are you doing up already?" she grumbled as she raised herself to a sitting position, rubbing at her eyes and pushing her red hair from her face.

"We need to get an early start, I'd rather be out of here before the others are up and about. We've got a pretty good distance to cover before the sun get's to high and I'd rather avoid some of the people who roam the areas looking for easy targets, they seem to like to sleep in...." John's voice trailed off as he looked over at her, although in a sitting position her eyes were closed, her mouth partially open, head tilted back and apparently asleep once again. 'Diane....' he called reaching out again to gently shake her shoulder.

"I'm awake I'm awake, was just resting my eyes....ok gimme a couple of minutes to get freshened up." she announced, giving him a pointed look towards the nearby door.
John smiled slightly and got to his feet heading towards the door, he paused halfway out, a slight smile on his lips as he turned back, placing a hand on the door before speaking.

"I remember how hard you can be to get going, so I won't hesitate to use it you know." he announced as he looked back at her, only one of her eyes open as she glared at him.

"You wouldn't" she declared, closing the eye and giving a big sigh as she blindly reached out a  hand to locate her boots.

"Two minutes.........Beaula...." he announced, suddenly moving backwards and slamming closed the door just a moment before hearing something thud against it's surface on the other side.

It wasn't long before she was stepping out the door herself, giving John a dirty look as she secured her bag to her back.

"Sometimes I'm sorry I ever invited you home with me that one Christmas." she grumbled, continuing to give him a dirty look as she finished checking her straps and making sure her guns were secure but within easy reach.

They set out from their nighttime retreat at a fairly easy pace. John kept his stride in check in consideration of Diane's shorter one. She appreciated the gesture but her mind was already starting to wander backwards, remembering their time together in Colorado when she'd invited him home with her.

They'd been in the office working on the standard backlog of paperwork, each tackling it in their own way. Diane noticed long ago that John was methodical and precise when he sat down to do paperwork. When he finally did sit down to do it. Like her they shared the tendency to let other things distract them from that aspect of their job, the paper trail. With the holidays approaching it was very important to clear the backlog or no one was going anywhere.

Diane sighed as she shuffled the papers around on her desk, flipping through them trying to concentrate but kept finding herself wondering what John was going to do over the holidays. He'd mentioned that his sister would be taking the kids and his mother on an extended holiday to Disney world. He would normally join them but the amount of time planned did not fit in with his schedule. He would be alone during the holiday's and it gnawed at her relentlessly. She's talked to her mother last night checking to make sure her parents didn't need her to bring anything else with her when she came to visit when she'd mentioned to her mother that John would be spending the holidays by himself. Her mother had immediately insisted that she extend him an invitation to join them, she's argued about it with her until she'd finally relented and said she'd invite him but told her mother that if he refused she wasn't going to push him about it.

"Diane!" a sharply barked voice jolted her out of her thoughts as she jumped slightly in her seat and snapped her gaze over to where John was sitting. He was staring at her with an irritated expression on his face. She was about to ask him what was wrong when she realised that she was drumming her fingers on the desktop, a habit of hers that annoyed him to no end. She looked at the offending hand and very slowly laid the fingers flat on the desktop, glancing back up at him and mutterings 'Sorry didn't know I was doing that.'

This brought a long tired sigh from John as he lowered the papers in his hand down to the desk and leaned back in his chair, rolling his shoulders slightly to stretch them and finally looking at her quietly for a moment, his steady gaze causing her to squirm slightly in her seat. It irritated her when he did that, she felt like a child caught doing something naughty and was sent to the dad for punishment. She glowered at him for a moment then looked down at her desk trying to ignore him.

"Ok spit it out, something is on your mind and it's not going to go away until you confront it. Lay it on me." he said as he leaned forward again and grabbed his coffee mug.

She let out a large sigh herself, knowing he was absolutely right. She knew what the problem was but she just did not know how to go about approaching the matter. She started talking and hoped an opportunity would present itself.

"So did you make any plans for the holidays? Since your mom is going to be going with your sister there's not going to be much around here for you to do is there?" she inquired politely, hoping she would be able to bring up the subject.

"Well a lot of the hotels have these buffet holiday dinner specials going on, thought I might take in one of those. Several have some interesting live shows lined up. I think one has a new version of 'The Grinch' but instead of a grinch they've changed the character to a Vampire or some such...."

Diane gave an unladylike snort at the mention of the show and began to shake her head at the ridiculous notion of John actually being interested in such a thing. She looked at him again and was rewarded with a half smile.

"Well I mean....I was talking to my mom last night....she says 'hi' by the way....and we got to discussing what everyone is planning to do over the holidays." she started, then suddenly felt uncomfortable going any further. 'Did I mention we'd be up in Colorado this year?" she added lamely. She looked away from him and down at her desk again. She didn't want him to think that there was anything more personal in her asking him to join her for the holidays. After the incident at the bar when he'd escorted her out to her waiting cab, she's been overly aware of anything that he might construe as to personal. It was only a kiss, and although it had shaken her to her toes and back, she wasn't going to let him know it had affected her in any serious way. To become involved in a personal relationship with him wasn't something either of them would want, there was no fraternisation allowed on the job, if they took it any further one of them would have to quit or transfer and she was not prepared to do that nor was she prepared to lose him as a partner. She could not and would not make him sacrifice something he'd worked a long hard time on just for a relationship that could very well end up going nowhere in a few months.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Diane squirmed in her seat a bit more then chanced a glance up at him before blurting out the invitation to join her family for the holidays. It was a moment before she saw him purse his lips for a moment then shake his head, his response though was not what she expected.

"Took you long enough to ask, your mom was pretty convinced you wouldn't ask when she called me this morning and extended her invitation. I had to stretch the truth a little and tell her  you'd already asked and I'd already accepted." he said, amusement in his voice as he leaned further back in his chair.

"My mom called you?!" Diane exclaimed, half rising from her seat.

"Yep." he answered, lacing his fingers together and placing them behind his head. She glared at him a moment feeling his amusement at her expense and without thinking grabbed the closest thing on her desk and flung it towards him. Quicker then she could believe one of his hands snaked out and snatched the object from the air before it could make contact with his head where it was heading directly toward. He held the object between his fingers and slowly examined what was now revealed as a staple opener, his eyebrows raised in a bit of surprise.

"I'm sorry, I thought it was an eraser.....I..." she stammered as she watched him. His gaze lifted from the object in his hand to lock with hers for a moment before he spoke.

"Well at least your aim is improving." he commented drily as he tossed the staple remover to his desktop. The quiet in the room became extended until she finally asked,

"So are you coming or not?"

He remained silent for a few minutes, then finally leaned back in his chair again.

"I'm driving." he declared then picked up his nearest folder and began to peruse it again.

Diane let out a sign of relief and turned to her paperwork as well with renewed vigour and began to work studiously through the pile.

The drive to the ranch wasn't an overly long one, made much more pleasant by not having to do the driving. As they were on the last leg of their journey she turned in her seat and eyed John for a minute before speaking.

"Um I think there's something you should know, before we get to our destination."

"Sounds serious...." he commented, never taking his eyes off the road but his brow visibly furrowing.

"Well not really, you see you'll shortly find out why I'm explaining this to you now." she paused for a moment gathering her thoughts then continued talking. "When I became legal age one of the first things I went about doing was to change my last name. Thomas is my mothers maiden name. I changed it due to it causing unwanted attention from certain quarters and questions on the validity of my earning my grades and job position. Do you understand what I'm getting at?" she glanced over at him and noticed his brow still furrowed.

"Um I think so?" he replied and they made the final turn into the ranch driveway.

"You'll understand a bit better after you meet my parents." Diane supplied and started gathering her things and putting on her warm jacket in anticipation of the vehicle stopping.   

They pulled up to the front of the house where the door was already opening and her parents were stepping outside. The two of them exited the vehicle and approached the older couple standing on the front porch, John pausing only long enough to grab their bags from the back of the Yukon. He set them down on the top of the steps then straightened and smiled at the pair awaiting introductions. She watched him closely and she first introduced him to her mother, then turned and introduced him to her father.  She saw the flicker of recognition in his eyes followed by a light that she could only describe as admiration as he spoke.

"That wouldn't be Theodore Matthews, former Judge of...."

"Yessir that would be me, but I'm retired now and those days are long behind me." her father interrupted taking his hand and shaking it firmly.

Diane watched the smile come over his face, knowing immediately he was an admirer of her fathers career as a Judge. He was one of the reasons she had decided to have a career in law. She thought that was becoming a lawyer but when she found herself defending the same people over and over she felt that she wasn't doing as much as she could. That by the time they reached her they were already set in their ways and it was a rare case that didn't turn out to be a lost cause. So she researched the front line law enforcement careers and had decided on the U.S. Marshal service.

Of course the rest of her family had their objections to her placing herself in such a position. She was hoping that meeting John would ease their fears a little knowing he was her partner and  watching her back. 

"Hey Mom, Dad, are the others here yet?" she asked as they all moved into the interior of the house. It was her mother who replied as John and her father quickly stepped aside and began to talk quietly together.

"Your sister is laying down and your brother is in the family room with the kids keeping them busy. Seems your sister is expecting again." her mom announced with a quick glance at Diane, looking her in the eye then down at her waist, pursing her lips for a moment locking behind her lips something regarding her lack of providing grandchildren she was sure of it. She and her mother had had a few disagreements over the years about her settling down. Diane wasn't going to just settle for anyone and seeing as her sister was having problems in her own marriage currently it proved her point regarding that. 

After hanging their coats and putting their luggage away in their respective rooms they all headed into the family room where the noise coming from it indicated there was some sort of game in progress.

The rest of the visit consisted of her family making John feel welcome, although on more then one occasion her mother hinted at knowing 'just the right young man' to make her life complete. It was a running thing with her mother, wanting to see her married and having children. Diane did one day plan on doing just that but it had to be with the right man and the children would come naturally. When her mother began to ask questions regarding John she immediately put a stop to it, telling her mother not to even go there as they were partners and that's all they would be. Her sister seemed to be a little unreasonably jealous of him, and she couldn't figure out why until she realised that it seemed Gerry, her sisters husband, wasn't going to show up at the ranch and that seemed to prompt jealously from her sister as Diane had her work partner with her but Danelle didn't even have her husband with her.

Diane played with her nieces and nephew, joining in on the fun going on in the family room and spending time with them outdoors along with her younger brother Jackson. It was getting harder and harder to have the whole family together for the holidays and Diane counted this as probably one of the last times they all would be in the near future as her sister lived in New York with her husband Gerry and Jackson was a marine and usually posted somewhere out of reach during this time of year.

Gerry did eventually arrive and unfortunately Diane was the one who came across him.  It was around two in the morning when she'd headed down to the kitchen on Christmas eve to get a glass of milk to help her sleep when she came across him in the kitchen. He was leaning against the kitchen counter top a drink in hand when she entered, she was going to do an about face when he called out to her. 

"Ahhh if it isn't Diane, Miss hoity toity herself." he slurred, raising his glass slightly and giving her his version of a toast. Turning to face him squarely she slowly arched a brow and addressed him.

"Bout time you showed up Gerry, everyone has been wondering where you are." she moved slowly towards the cupboard and retrieved a glass, as she passed him she felt him reach out and make a grab for her hip. She deftly sidestepped him and proceeded to the fridge and filled her glass, drinking it down as quickly as she filled it. 

"Awww no welcome hug for your dear brother?" he slurred, giving her a leering grin.

"Your disgusting Gerry." Diane remarked as she placed her glass in the sink and started on her return journey past him. She didn't meet his gaze as it turned hostile, so she wasn't prepared as she tried to walk past him to what happened next. She just suddenly felt herself being pushed and in the next instant he had her pinned to the wall and was pressing her into it with his own body, grinding himself against her as he captured her wrists.

"I've seen you looking love, I know you want me." he again slurred, the reek of his breath brushing across her cheek causing her to gag.

"I've been looking at you in disgust Gerry, your a two timing ass. Hell I can smell the perfume of the last whore on you, I hope to god you shower before you go anywhere near my sister. Frankly I don't even know why she puts up with you." she growled back at him, trying to get enough distance between them to knee him in the groin. He didn't allow it. Gerry was well trained as a N.Y.P.D. officer and was frankly a little jealous of Diane's acceptance into the U.S. Marshal service when he himself had applied and been rejected.

As he leaned into her some more and his mouth began to lower towards her she closed her eyes and turned her face away as she tensed waiting for an opportunity to get away from him. She never got one for the next thing she knew the weight pressing into her body was gone, she quickly glanced back in his direction to see him stumbling and colliding with the kitchen island as a large figure placed itself between her and her assaulter, fist raised and ready to do some damage. Without thinking Diane leaped forward and grabbed the arm with the raised fist, speaking quickly as she did so.

"John don't! He's not worth it, he's drunk and being as ass! I'm fine!" she repeated this over and over as she pulled on the arm, getting a look from John that for a moment spoke of his concern but also showed her the rage he was feeling coming across her being assaulted. 'I'm fine John, truly. He's drunk. That's my brother in law.'

He looked from her face over to the now recovering Gerry who was struggling in Johns iron tight grip, trying to loosen the collar of his shirt and get away from the obviously furious wrecking machine he was now in the grip of, he managed to squeak out his own apologies as she squirmed under John's gaze. With a final look at Diane he pulled Gerry close, almost nose to nose as he said in a low threatening voice.

"You step out of line again at any time during our visit and I will make you regret it." and with his last word he suddenly released Gerry who stumbled for a  moment then rushed from the room. John finally turned and looked at Diane, his gaze travelling from her head slowly down her body pausing for a moment or two before clearing his throat and looking away from her for a few seconds. 'You might want to fix your robe."

She looked down and saw her robe gaping open revealing the silk nightgown clinging very closely to her body, she hurriedly wrapped her heavy robe around her body and tied the belt securely as she blushed slightly. She mumbled a quick thanks and began to hurry her way past him back to her room.

"Diane..." he called, causing her to pause but not turn back around."Why does your family put up with him?" he asked.

"Because Danelle loves him." was her quiet response as she hurried away.

The rest of the time spent with her parents remained uneventful. Gerry remained sufficiently chastised enough not to even glance in Diane's direction once during the remainder of the visit. Her brother sensed the change and instead of asking her about it he approached John and whatever was said between the men they both seemed to be unable to stop glaring at Gerry whenever he was in the room. Danelle's mood improved as Gerry seemed to be suddenly attentive to her and very concerned for her health as this pregnancy seemed to be very hard on her.

When they were leaving to make the return trip home Diane fought off the usual tears and after driving with John for about a half hour he finally broke the silence. 

"So I had an interesting conversation with your Mom...was asking her why you changed your name, I can understand now why you did, considering who you father was" he started, glancing over at her to watch her suddenly sit up and give him a suspicious look. "I was also telling her how difficult it was to get your attention at times..." the smile that twitched to his lips prompted Diane to say,

"She told you..."

"Yeah she did.....interesting.....Beaula"

Diane sank as low in the seat as she could, wishing she had an eraser to toss at him but not wanting to cause an accident. She straightened shortly then looked over at him.

"It's a good thing then that your sister gave me her cell number...got some things I could use her advice on..." she remarked innocently, a small smile starting to curve her lips.

"You wouldn't...." he stated, his face showing the suspicion he was beginning to feel as he glanced over at her. 

Diane just smiled sweetly back at him.

She was jolted from her memories as John called her attention to the town ahead of them. Telling her it was Kabanino, one of the more dangerous places to visit but if one was in need of information a good place to probably find it. He turned to her and finally said,

"I don't ever want to hear of you going here alone."

Diane just smiled at him sweetly. John just scowled at her menacingly.

 

TO BE CONTINUED.....

Edited by Chaostica

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Chaostica    144
Posted (edited)

 

Chapter Eight: What are the odds?

 

They were standing on the hill overlooking the ruins they'd been at before almost a week ago, watching someone move around the outside of the ruined church. John identified the person as the clothing trader she had met earlier. She was about to continue to step down towards the church when he halted her movement by whispering quietly 'someone is moving through those bushes looking to flank us',  his hands were tense on his gun as he monitored the flanking persons movement as Derek began to slowly make his way towards the pair of them, he called out to Derek, surprised there was still anyone hanging around the location after the amount of time that had passed.

Diane waited tensely but whomever was moving through the brush must have heard John's voice and recognised it because their quiet movements suddenly became audible and the location identified.

"Bout time you showed up Marshal, we were going to leave as soon as Thomas returned with Doctor Rosenfield. He went to meet up with him by the main road." Taz replied as he approached them from the direction of the brush, his gun in hand but held in a relaxed casual grip. 

"Took Diane around to give her a tour of the places she shouldn't be heading off to alone." he said, giving her a meaningful look she picked up easily even in the darkness.

"They others left to scout out some better camp locations." Derek supplied, finally joining them on the hill. They were only talking a few moments when a voice higher on the hill let them know Thomas and Doctor Rosenfield had arrived.

"Well we shouldn't spend the night here, we need to find a new location even if it's only for tonight." Taz supplied, his casual stance belied the wariness that seemed to emanated from him.

"Uh well if anyone is interested I believe there's a barn not to far from here, well I mean it's not so close that anyone looking would immediately go to it, but it is close enough for us to reach in a reasonable amount of time." Diane stated as she looked around a little nervously, not having been around this many men in a long while. A pain filled sigh came form the Doctor as they all agreed to the plan to spend some time at a nearby barn. She looked again at the Doctor and noticed his ginger movements, obviously someone who was in a great deal of pain.

Everyone agreed to journey to the barn and as they walked Diane noticed the tension in John's shoulders. There was an almost tangible expectation of trouble emanating from him that she began to feel the hairs on the back of the her neck start to stand on end. Consciously aware of her own tension building, she deliberately tried to relax and began to direct the conversation around her to mild and amusing subjects. As they walked and the men around bantered with each other the topic of desirability to woman came fourth and each had their own opinion but almost all agreed that John seemed to attract an inordinate amount of attention from the ladies. Diane smiled to herself as she drifted back to another time.

"John....did I mention already how grateful I am you could step in and accompany me here tonight?" she asked again as they handed the door-check girl their outer wear.

"Yes you did, but I don't mind hearing it again." he quipped and he turned and unconsciously lifted a hand to his head looking for his usual hat but not finding it instead ran his fingers through his hair in cover the action.

"It's a good charity and one hundred percent of the proceeds are going directly to it." she reminded him as they began to walk from the entrance into the main room where dozens of tables were set up around the room and a large stage with a walkway was located at the far end of the room.

"You mentioned that." he replied, his voice carrying a resigned tone to it that brought a quick glance from her. She really was grateful he stepped in tonight when her date had backed out on her at the last moment. Her gaze travelled over his well dressed form and noticed that he appeared quite natural in the suit. It was the set of his shoulders though that let her know he wasn't comfortable and was frankly ill at ease here.

"How about we head to the bar and get a drink, we'll make a few rounds, say 'Hello' to the right folks and then get out of here, how does that sound?" she asked, watching his face relax into one of his half smiles expressing his gratitude.

"Sounds good to me."

As they headed to the bar they were stopped a few times by some of Diane's acquaintances, mostly women she noted, who seemed to take an keen interest in John. When they were finally close enough to the bar he excused himself and went to order their drinks while she talked to one of the event organisers, Margret. As soon as he left Margret immediately began firing off questions about him, some seemed odd to her but she answered to the best of her ability. When he returned and handed her her glass of wine Margret gave him a big smile and before she left turned to Diane and said 'I'm sure he'll bring in a lot' then turned and headed towards the stage and a podium located off to the side near the closed curtains.

"What was all that about?" he asked as he took a drink from his own glass, the amber liquid letting her know it was his usual whiskey. She shrugged and mumbled something along the lines of 'I dunno' as she took a sip of her own wine. As they turned to look for a table to make themselves comfortable another organiser approached them and smiled at John.

"We're about to begin, if you'll come with me now...." she waved her hand towards the side entrance to the stage and was rewarded with a look from John that stated clearly that he thought she was muddled in the head.

"Uh excuse me?" he asked, looking at her in total bewilderment.

"The Auction, it's about to begin, Margret told me to come fetch you so you can join the others until it's your turn."

Diane's eyes widened as she suddenly realised why Margret had been asking all the questions. She cautiously took a step away from him as the woman continued to smile at him then began to speak very slowly as if talking to someone who was a little challenged.

"The Bachelor Auction is about to begin. All bachelors must get backstage until they're called on stage to be auctioned off for the charity." she tilted her head slightly and blinked at him with the same smile on her face.

Diane had managed to take a few more steps away but wasn't quite far enough to get out of his reach as he turned, his eyes wide and his face showing his shock and indignation. 

"Diane!" he barked, eyes narrowing and a slight rumble that could only be called a growl entered his voice."What did you do?!"

"Um well....it seems....." she paused for a moment then upended her glass of wine, gulping down the glasses contents in a bid to stall for time."Well it looks like I may have.....completely by accident mind you....volunteered you for the auction...." she mumbled, looking anywhere but directly into his now furious gaze.

"Oh really....completely by accident..." he grumbled as the organiser placed her hand under his elbow and began to lead him away.

"It's all going to Charity John....remember that...I mean...I didn't do it on purpose...." she called after him.

"I'm only going to allow this because it's for the charity but YOU have a lot to answer for...." he called to her as he disappeared into the crowd.

Diane looked down into her empty glass, desperately wanting another drink but as she turned to head to the bar the lights began to lower and a spotlight hit the podium where Margret stood smiling at the crowd. There was only one thing she could do. Setting her glass down on the nearest table she headed back towards the entrance and registered herself as a bidder, grabbing her number and heading to a point where she couldn't be missed she began to wait as man after man began to come out and be bid on.

"And now Ladies...and those few interested gentlemen....our last bachelor of the evening is a bit of a surprise." Margret began and waved her hand towards the curtains which opened to reveal John, his face set in determination, his eyes staring straight ahead not making eye contact with anyone as he slowly walked out onto the platform. Diane was pretty sure that from the lights being directed towards him he couldn't see the crowd.

"Let me introduce U.S. Marshal John Waters. A cowboy to the core Marshal Waters doesn't like large crowds, the better to be alone with you, long walks, and plenty of physical activities....now I'll let you all just ponder what kind of activities those are. Shall we start the bidding at five?" as the bidding opened up John finished his walk and stepped back behind the curtain. Diane was a little surprised at the sudden furious bidding going on as woman started waving their numbers in the air and some even calling out bids to drive the price up higher. As it began to slow down some she entered the bidding, earning a few stares of resentment from some of the others still bidding. It was down to her and another bidder when she finally hit a sum she believed the other could not match and with a going, going, gone she felt a wave of relief wash over her as her number was called out as being the winning bidder.

As all the bachelors returned from behind the stage, she met John as he marched towards her, his face showing his displeasure at the whole ordeal.

"Are you ready to go?" she asked him as he took her elbow and began to steer her towards the door.

"I can't go yet...." he said as a pained expression came over his face. "I'm suppose to meet the winning bidder and exchange information with her so we can set up a 'date'" he grumbled, his head already beginning to swing back and fourth as his eyes scanned the room.

"John I didn't mean to get you caught up in all of this, truly I am, and if it makes you feel any better you don't have to worry about going on a date with the winner." she started as his head swung around and his eyes locked on hers.

"I keep my word Diane, I promised I'd do this..." he began, looking slightly confused.

"I'm not saying you need to break your word....that came out wrong....what I'm saying is that apparently I got you into this so I got you out of it." she muttered as they handed the coat check girl their tags.

"Run that by me again?" he was looking even more confused as he helped her into her coat.

"I said I got you out of it, I registered to be a bidder and I was the winner of your auction. Your not obligated to do the whole date thing, not with me anyways." 

She hesitated a few seconds then chanced a glance at John's face to gauge his reaction. A look of astonishment was on his face but he quickly masked it when he caught her looking at him, his expression finally settled into one of wry amusement as he leaned closer and announced in a low voice. 

"I owe you a dinner at least."

Diane looked away as the two of them left the event.

They reached the barn and settled in for awhile, conversation was light and relaxed as they sat within. It was only when the Doctor began to light up a cigar that she began to feel slightly uncomfortable, the old scars on her arms seeming to ache at the remembrance of the occasions when her captures had needed to 'punish' her. She got to her feet and stood in the barn entrance, her eyes really not focusing on anything as she tried to shove the memory aside, rubbing her arms unconsciously as they continued to ache.

A sudden flash in the distant woods immediately drew her attention, another soon followed coming from some distance away. She knew what those flashes were and called back over her shoulder to John.

"Do you know if anyone your acquainted with might be in those woods over there?"

"No no one I would know would be over there." he replied, getting to his feet and coming to stand at her shoulder. "Why do you ask?"

"Muzzle flashes, more then one, seems someone was exchanging fire with someone in those woods." she gestured to the tree's with her chin as she pulled her rifle off her back. "I think we might want to move."

The rest of their company had joined them at the door, tension beginning to build as most looked in Johns direction.

"Hmm didn't hear any shots..." John muttered his gun now back in his hands and his gaze actively searching the far treeline.

"We wouldn't if they had silencers." she replied as they finally left the barn and began to head from the area. Each keeping alert and tense, expecting something to come at them from the dark.

Edited by Chaostica

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Saunders    82

Cracking read this is mate, keep up the good work :)

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Chaostica    144
Posted (edited)

Chapter Nine: Safety or Independance

 

The others had wandered off to do some investigating in the far treeline while Diane and John continued on through the nearest town looking for somewhere else to hold up for the night. They were wandering along the town limits, the back country road quiet, the tree's along each side almost overgrown to the point of forming a canopy overhead and giving the road the effect of walking down a tunnel. She began to feel slightly overwhelmed and unconsciously moved closer to John as they walked. She'd begun to notice that a lot lately, her sudden dependence on his presence. It was unnerving to realise that due to what had happened to her she was no longer the person she had been.   

She stifled a sigh as she quickly glanced over at his form, a dark shadow among other shadows, as they did not travel with a light. It was when she almost ran into him, having fallen behind, did she realise he'd stopped in the middle of the road and was listening to something. Voices, coming from ahead. She tried to peak around his body but found it still to dark. She could barely make out the large shape of another barn not to far ahead and see some darker shadow's moving around that she realised there were men here. Tensing slightly she waited, but she soon heard the tones of a familiar voice coming from those ahead, it was the Doctor if she remembered right. She felt more then saw John move from a fighting stance to one of preparedness as another man approached them, when he spoke his voice was probably the deepest, smoothest voice she'd ever heard. 'He was probably a D.J. before all this shit happened.' she amused herself thinking as the two men spoke. They obviously knew each other and it wasn't long before they all headed towards the barn. 

They were teased about taking so long to arrive to which John immediately stated that you couldn't pay him to go directly through the woods with all the wolves around looking for dinner. That sent a small shudder down her spine at the thought of being hunted by a pack of wolves. Seeing a nearby pile of hay she gestured to it and told the other men around she was going to go rest for a few minutes after their long round about walk to their destination. She received several nods and dragged her tired feet over to the pile. Once she'd gotten comfortable she immediately looked through the door and felt a momentary rise in panic when she couldn't see John's form standing there. Resisting the urge to go to the door and seek him out she closed her eyes and evened out her breathing, telling herself she was safe and didn't need his presence to continue to be so. As she kept reminding herself she could take care of herself, his deep voice seemed to cut through the night and she was embarrassed to feel herself respond by relaxing almost instantaneously simply through the awareness of his presence. Letting out a sigh of frustration she lay back on the hay pile, starting to berate herself for becoming so dependant on him and wondering when she had started to feel that way. As the thought formed in her head a memory rose to the surface to accompany it.

She and John had been out to dinner, celebrating a few things as friends. They'd been commended for their quick actions resulting in zero loss of life during a robbery they had literally stumbled upon, and Diane told John the good news that her sister, Danelle, had finally called it quits with her jerk of a husband, Gerry, and had filed for divorce earlier that week. Diane didn't reveal to him however that good old Gerry had called her a couple of times screaming and ranting at her that it was her fault, and since Danelle had decided to go into hiding out of fear at his reaction, Gerry was demanding Diane give up her location. She was glad she'd insisted Danelle not tell her. She couldn't tel the jerk something she didn't know.

They passed through the security gates, John giving a slight nod to the guard on duty which was returned with a long familiarity born of having been done many times. They quickly arrived at her condo complex and with the customary good nights she departed and headed for the door to her condo, keys in hand. She didn't have to worry though, John was his usual cautious self and waited in his truck until she had unlocked her door and entered. She'd swear he did a quick countdown to ensure she'd had enough time to mess around with her security before she'd finally hear his truck pull away from the curb.

She moved off to her bedroom to remove her service weapon and lock it away after dropping her keys and purse on the table beside the door. After kicking off her shoes and removing her jacket she was reaching for the buttons on her blouse when there was a knock on her door. Smiling wryly to herself she headed for the door, as she opened it she began to speak before checking who was on the other side.

"John, two more minutes and you'd have been catching me in my robe, what couldn't wait..." she was cut off mid sentence when her eyes locked with the brown ones of the last man she expected to see at her door. He greeted her with his usual leering smile as he place a hand on her door.

"Always knew you were fucking him, you high and mighty bitch." 

Diane felt her skin begin to crawl as she immediately tried to shove the door closed but he was prepared and used his weigh to shove the door wide again and step inside, forcing her backwards and stumbling into the nearby couch. She regained her footing and immediately tried to make for the hall and bedroom beyond where her service weapon was but Gerry was to quick, grabbing her by the hair on the back of her head and dragging her towards him.

"Now now, can't let you wander away you need to answer my question before we can head to the bedroom, where is my wife you bitch!" he viciously pulled her backwards towards his body and wrapped his free arm around her waist, holding her against his own form as he began to grope at her, laughing softly in her ear as she struggled against him. "Diane, your rubbing in all the right places, but that won't distract me from wanting an answer, I know your the one who talked her into this divorce shit and that your hiding her, now where the FUCK IS SHE!!" he shoved her brutally away from his body, sending her stumbling forward only to crash into the low sitting coffee table and land in a sprawl on the floor. She rolled off her stomach and onto her back trying to regain her feet when he was on her again, straddling her hips and literally sitting on top of her, grabbing her chin and forcing her gaze to meet his.

"Guess we're going to do this the hard way then huh?"

Diane's only response was to glare up at him and then lash out, bringing the heel of her right hand up in a swift movement hitting him in the nose hard, his howl of pain was satisfying and she curled her fingers into claws and tried to rake his eyes with them but he jerked his head back, and grabbed at her wrists, holding them tightly before she could sink her nails in and drag them down his face leaving satisfying gouges in his cheeks and chin.

"Your an ass Gerry. Danelle finally realised this. I don't know where she is, I made sure she didn't tell me. From what I heard from her she finally realised what we've all known for some time." Diane spat out, feeling helpless and wanting to strike out at him "Your disgusting habits have finally caught up to you and Danelle got caught in the crossfire you fucking prick. You gave her an STD, and the only person she could have gotten it from is you. She's put two and two together and now has the proof of your cheating ass to get a divorce. I was not surprised Gerry, you of all people with an STD was only a matter of time, frankly I was under the impression from what I've found out that you can't get it up anymore. You need to beat the shit out of a whore to get hard anymore Gerry, sure does..." she was interrupted by the blow to her face as Gerry backhanded her across it. The next thing she felt was his hands closing around her throat and beginning to squeeze as he began to mumble threats and derogatory comments, spittle flying from his mouth in his rage. As she felt her airway constrict and her oxygen being cut off she began to struggle again, she chided herself on taking things to far, of letting her anger and need to lash out at him cause her own death. A rushing noise began to fill her hearing as lights flashed across her vision even as it dimmed, her lungs were burning with the need for oxygen, she knew she was only moments away from passing out.

When she finally managed to gasp in her first breath she should have realised something had changed, but the rushing noise in her ears and the dimness of her vision effectively made her deaf and blind to what was going on around her, as she rolled onto her stomach and fought the urge to gag as she sucked in breath after sweet breath, she slowly become conscious of the noise around her. Pushing herself up from the floor and using the nearby couch as support to get to her knee's she began to look around, but by then the commotion had moved to the area of the door and outside.

It was only later when she reviewed the security tapes knowing they were going to be needed that she sat transfixed by what was happening on screen before her. John had explained that when they'd arrived he'd noticed a vehicle parked in the shadows, behind the wheel was the shadow cloaked figure of a man. As he'd been pulling away his lights confirmed the person there and after driving past he'd turned around and parked nearby, watching the figure exit the car and head towards her condo, knocking then forcing his way inside. He'd rushed to her door finding it locked and forced his way inside. The video showed in detail what had happened next.

He'd come through that door like a half mad bull, scanning the room quickly then dashed across the living room with teeth bared as he reached out and grabbed Gerry by the neck of his shirt collar, ripping him off her semi conscious form and tossing him easily into a nearby bookcase behind them. He moved in quickly and with fist raised beyond the shoulder he began to pummel Gerry in the face repeatedly, Gerry struggled trying to push John away but John was a man possessed and continued to savagely beat Gerry. Gerry did manage to get a kick in on John's legs, making him step back in response but as Gerry tried to slither away at this opportunity John grabbed the front of his shirt and drove him backwards into the nearby end table by the sofa, taking a blow to the head and the two of them ended up stumbling towards the kitchen and fell against a counter. John was the first to recover and yanked Gerry relentlessly up, grabbing him by the neck and then slamming his head down on the corner of the granite counter top not once, but twice. He took a moment to recover then gritted his teeth as Gerry managed to surprise him with a right hook, loosening his grip enough to wriggle out of it. Diane gasped as she watched the video seeing John hit the floor but he managed to scramble backwards and lash out with his foot sending it squarely into Gerry's knee dropping the man who screamed out in pain. John grabbed a hold of him, slamming him to the floor using him to get to his feet and proceeded to drag him along the floor and finally getting him back to his feet before pulling the dazed man out the front door.

She'd heard the noise coming from outside and got shakily to her feet, moving with determination towards the busted door and looking out it to see John drag Gerry down the stairs, taking them two at a time then headed towards a vehicle in which he shoved him against, slamming his head into the window hard but not hard enough to break the glass. She pushed herself away from the door sill after smacking her hand against the security alert button on her control panel, and tried to call out to him, but she found it she couldn't get any sound out due to the abuse her throat had undergone, only a hoarse rattling sound to low to be heard from the distance between them. As she saw John pin Gerry to the car and begin to reach for his concealed weapon she nearly threw herself down the stairs, her heart pounding in panic as he raised the weapon and shoved it into Gerry's ribs.

"Give me one reason, ON-" she heard him growl low in his throat, his teeth bared again, his eyes shining unnaturally bright, inches away from Gerry's face. "Why I shouldn't put two in you for the attempted murder of a federal agent right now." he emphasised the point by shoving the gun into Gerry's ribs even harder.

She saw he was on the edge, looking for any reason to rid the world of one more piece of filth, but that wasn't what they were here for. She couldn't let him be ruled by his rage so taking the chance she reached out and laid a hand on John's arm just as the lights of approaching security vehicles began to light up the nearby buildings. 

"John..." she managed to croak out. "Don't let him in.....your better then he is......he'll be punished.....there's no need for you to do it." perhaps the hoarse rasping of her voice was what penetrated his rage or perhaps it was the sight of her now colouring cheek and throat as the bruises formed that jolted him back to himself, she wasn't sure what it was but the next thing she knew he was taking a deep calming breath as security personal slowly approached them. 

"You had better take this garbage to a holding cell before he does something stupid again to get himself shot." John called to the approaching security as he re-holstered his weapon. "We also need an ambulance for Marshal Thomas here, she's pretty banged up from the encounter." he added, looking at her again then taking a firm grip on her elbow began to escort her back towards her condo. 

Diane admitted to herself that John made her feel safe. The nightmares that had plagued her every night since her escape had stopped coming. Since she'd told him what had happened the constant feeling of being unclean had slipped away. She was feeling more her old self then she had felt in a long time. So what was bothering her? The cost of it seemed to be that she was losing her independence, she frowned as she pushed herself back to her feet, dusting any clinging hay from her clothing in doing so. Would she become so reliant on him that without him she'd be unable to function? The world they lived in now was beyond harsh, it was cruel and played no favourites, he could be taken at anytime either by the infected or someone who let their gun speak for them. 

Diane stiffened as she caught the scent of a cigarette, tensing automatically as the scent caused the phantom prickling along her arms that wanted her to desperately scratch at them. Launching herself through the door of the barn she noticed them all standing on the road talking to each other. What caught her eye however was the continued preparedness of John's stance. Almost as if he anticipated those he called 'friends' to turn on him at any moment. She frowned in the darkness as she moved towards them. Something about him had changed in his time here. She had to learn what that was before she decided on a course of action for herself. She owed him to much not to try.

"So what's up?" she asked as she joined him.

"We're going to do some night scavenging." someone else stated. "Infected find it harder to see us at night, saves on ammo."

"Sounds good to me." she replied, looking towards John.

After a few moments hesitation he gave a curt nod, and turning the two of them trailed the others down the road to some nearby towns.

 

TO BE CONTINUED....

Edited by Chaostica

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Simon    62
13 hours ago, Chaostica said:

"When he spoke his voice was probably the deepest, smoothest voice she'd ever heard. 'He was probably a D.J. before all this shit happened."

Must have been Logan!xD

Enjoyed the update!

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ItzThatcher    41

Finally caught up in this lore and stories. Absolutely wonderful Chaostica and I cannot wait to see more. The in depth past between characters is quite admirable.

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RogueSolace    453

lol yep! See, I'm not the only one who likes your voice lol. Great chapter as always @Chaostica! :D

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Chaostica    144

Chapter Ten: Fitting it together.

 

Diane lay upon the makeshift bed, the sunlight coming through the windows brilliantly as she waited for John to return. Her thoughts the only thing to occupy her as she looked up at the ceiling, unable to concentrate enough to try to amuse herself reading a book. So much had happened since they'd met up with his companions. She'd been eager to get to know them having had listened to John tell her of them all. They sounded like good people who took care of each other, each admirable in their own right for skills they possessed and actions they'd done in the past.

Tired of staring at the roof she rolled  onto her left side, trying to ignore the twinge of pain in her right leg as her gaze moved around trying to fix onto something, eventually settling on the tree outside through the broken window's glass. She took a deep slow breath of the fresh air, listening to the birds outside, straining to hear if John was still circling the building. A slight smile came to her lips as she heard the distinctive sound of a deep cough coming from somewhere nearby, at least it was sounding better now that he was taking something for it. She'd hated putting him on the spot like that, telling him she wouldn't take the medication Solace had wanted her to if he didn't take what she offered him for his cough.

Letting out a weary sigh, she turned her head and looked at the books nearby, debating if she should give it another try but quickly decided against it, she'd just end up staring at the words and not taking them in again. It was no use, all she could think about was everything that had happened since the night they'd gone to search towns for supplies. Sure it had been an OK night, everyone gathering some well needed food and other things, when she and John had returned to the camp the next day, she'd begun to feel very out of place. As they'd approached John, as usual, had headed into the tree's to check the surrounding area before letting the others know he was there, as she'd stepped closer to where they'd been camped she'd heard someone step out of the tree's behind her. She'd turned half expecting John to be standing there but instead she had been confronted by the silent form of the guy John had called Axel....Axel Rike, or Chief as many seemed to call him, Brother as John has mentioned more then once. She'd greeted him a little hesitantly but still he said nothing to her. Finally shrugging she'd watched him move away and stepped away herself to go greet the others located around the small camp. She followed the sound of a familiar voice, Logan, the young man she'd saved from a pack of wolves. She'd found him being treated for injuries in the tent that had been erected since the last time she'd been there. A quick glance at him showed he was in a lot of pain so she quickly had adopted a smile, cracked a few jokes with him then left him in the Doctors care.

Once she'd cleared the tent she'd rounded the barn again, hearing others speaking on the other side, John had finally emerged from the tree's and was giving one of them standing there some shit about how easily he could have taken him out. Diane had to conceal a smile at that, simply because if he'd set his mind to it he could have taken the whole camp. She was glad he was on their side and hadn't gone 'Darkside' as some of the slang she'd used to hear described someone going bad. The lecture finally broke up and she nodded to him in greeting, he'd heard about what happened to Logan and was making his way to see him. Standing on the sloping grass on the road beside the barn she'd come across the deep voiced man she'd nicknamed 'The D.J.' to herself and had learned his name was Simon. They'd chit chatted for a couple of minutes when he'd turned to her and announced that if she tried to harm any of his friends he'd shoot her. She had to hold back a laugh at the audacity of the man but she understood where he was coming from and in return pretty much told him the same thing.

It was the day after that they'd started to head north, just the pair of them. Apparently John had gotten a message that was pretty damned urgent. His help was needed and as he'd explained it on the way, he was going to go help recover someone who'd been missing for some time. When he'd told her who it was she'd almost turned around and headed back south. It seems that the wife of his best friend and so called brother, Axel, had been missing. Now she could understand wanting to do what he could to make his friend happy but after hearing some tales of the woman she'd found herself wondering why they were bothering. She'd overheard both John and Simon talking of her, and she'd heard them both admit that she scared them. It was decided that Diane would remain behind not far away so the woman wasn't made to feel overwhelmed making her even more unpredictable.

When she'd gotten the call and had met up with John a day later he'd seemed exhausted and defeated, the radio was already alive with people arguing and bickering as they had listened. She was going to insist he turn it off when 'she' had come through. She'd mentioned John specifically and had roused a bit of anger in Diane, thinking the woman was picking him out in an accusatory fashion, but as she'd listened she'd felt sorry for her, at the pain and loneliness that was coming across. When the shot carried over the frequency her gaze flew to his, she watched him shrink into himself and become overwhelmed. All she could do was comfort him and tell him it wasn't his fault.

Stirring herself from that unpleasant memory Diane once again rolled on the makeshift bed, heaving an sigh of annoyance as she found herself once more gazing at the stained ceiling. She recalled it was after that point that she’d started venturing off on her own, trying to see if people were more willing to talk and provide her with more information as she slowly pieced together the events around John’s life that had played factors into the changes she could see and sense in him. When she’d found some of them in a small town scavenging she’d asked if she could travel with them for a bit, as they looked for supplies, using the excuse as an opportunity to gently start probing more into his relationships with the others. This request had immediately gotten a nasty comment from Chief as he’d imperiously told her if she fell behind they’d leave her to fend for herself. The comment had drawn a surprised look from one or two of the others with him, but she’d shrugged and stated she had no intention of falling behind.

They’d continued on down the road and she took the opportunity to talk to Logan, he out of all of them seemed to be the most friendly and open. They started talking of a few things then she’d mentioned John, using him by the same name she always had when Chief had stopped in the road ahead of them and had glared back at her, starting to give her shit about using John’s real name. He’d begun to spout off some things about how everyone called him by Marshal and continued on in a blustering manner how she wasn’t to use his name. She couldn’t remember everything that was said, simply due to after the first couple of sentences and the man truly not making any sense she’d tuned him out thinking to herself that if he was called Marshal by all then it was more of a risk to address him by such in public seeing as it was his more widely known name but this guy seemed to think it provided John with some anonymity. Once he’d done his little rant and had turned away she’d been unable to help herself with the mocking salute she’d given his back. Her patience with him growing increasingly thin as a few minutes later she heard him use John’s name himself in talking about him. The rant had had an effect though, with his displeasure with her she’d felt the others draw away and were reluctant to engage her in any conversation.

The days after that had started to blur together somewhat. She’d try to engage people into talking, he’d come around and make his displeasure with her very evident and she’d find herself back at square one. The man was systematically alienating her from everyone and she was beginning to resent it. She’d given him no reason to hate her with the passion he seemed to….

Diane suddenly sat up on her bed, her eyes growing wide as she struggled to piece together the connection she felt forming there. It took her a few moments but slowly, it seemed, the puzzle was starting to take shape. Could it be that he was jealous of her? Of her close connection to John? At first she dismissed it, it seemed ridiculous, but she started to examine things a little more closely. This man was doing everything in his power to keep her at a distance from those John thought highly of. In truth very few wanted to be caught even talking to her when he was around. Of all those she’d met so far one of the few who didn’t seem to care what he thought was Solace. Then again, Solace was special in the fact that she was such a genuinely caring person.

Heaving a sigh of resignation Diane shelved the idea for now, but she couldn’t help the overwhelming feeling that there was something more to this. She’d seen this man be more friendly to complete strangers then to her, maybe he had an issue with women. That would make sense in a way considering he’d never done anything to save his own wife. The man was wrong in the head, she told herself for what seemed like the millionth time. She’d tried to show him she could lend a hand, taking on some patrol duties in the camp and keeping it clear of the infected that seemed to be all over the place in this god forsaken country.

She’d known a huge measure of relief when he’d gone off on a supply run, taking most with him and leaving her and Solace in camp. She truly enjoyed Solace’s company and it brought her a measure of balance as she seemed to be finding herself closer and closer to that edge when it came to her temper. It was to bad that their ‘ladies’ night alone in camp had been ruined by them being stalked.

She’d felt like they were being watched for awhile, and after awhile she’d had Solace conceal herself further up the hill in a bunch of tree’s while she went and investigated a little further out. What she’d found were three men who’d guided her away to have a little talk. As they’d escorted her Diane had cast a glance back in the darkness and hoped Solace had seen what direction they were leading her. The four of them had stopped in a heavy grouping of trees when they’d started asking her about a man in a cowboy hat and dark jacket. She’d shrugged and explained she didn’t know anyone matching that description but internally she’d felt her heart begin a thunderous pounding, wondering if they were looking for John.  The tale’s she’d been hearing from the other’s on some of his exploits had done a number on her.  

As they’d been questioning her, once again moving, but downhill this time, they’d heard some shots going off back towards the direction of the camp. This had set her captors into a more urgent demeanour, two of them had begun to argue about if she was telling the truth or not. She had taken the moment of their being so distracted to try to take note of anything she could that made them distinctive and easily identifiable. The only thing she’d noted was that one of the men who was the loudest of the two arguing had some sort of contraption on the end of his gun. She’d found out soon enough what it was when he’d lifted the gun in his hands and aimed it at her and proceeded to shoot  her in the leg that it was some sort of improvised suppressor. The reason for the shot? He had believed pain would get the truth. She'd cursed him several times over and he had gained the displeasure of his companions for his actions. Luckily the noise hadn't garnered the notice of a few infected nearby and after a tense battle of wills the three headed off away from her, making a comment that they'd be around. Her plan had been to sling her gun off her back the moment they'd shown their backs to her but it wasn't to be. As if smelling the blood in the air the infected had started moving towards her. Trying to stop the bleeding she's yanked an old rag from her pocket and tried to tie it the best she could keeping pressure on the wound. She'd had a choice then, either shoot the infected who would soon be upon her or try to shoot one of the rapidly disappearing captors. 

Grabbing her radio that they hadn't bothered to remove she'd issued a short message, relaying the best she could of her position, knowing she was going to need help in getting back to the others, then proceeded to lift her gun and begin taking out the infected advancing on her. When a noise had issued behind her, she'd whipped around with her gun raised ready to shoot when a high pitched and almost frightened voice started yelling at her. It took her a moment to register is was Thomas. He'd come to help her and she'd almost shot him, only her training as a Marshal had kept her from immediately pulling the trigger. Rule Number One: NEVER point your gun at something unless you intend to kill it. This rule had always made her conscious of what she was aiming any firearm at, but her hand still trembled slightly as she was very aware of relaxing her finger off the trigger and moving it from the trigger guard completely.

Once back at camp and after Solace had taken care of her wound, removing the embedded .22 round from her thigh she'd urgently whispered to her not to tell John of what had happened. She knew he'd be returning there hopefully soon, as he'd gone off to investigate a rumour, the details he hadn't provided her with. The last thing she needed was to send him off hunting those men. She needed him there as she was finding herself growing increasingly short tempered and already noticed her extreme irritability due largely in part to their leader and his animosity towards her. Sure enough when John had arrived that afternoon, he was relayed the information by Thomas, whom she hadn't managed to warn to not tell John, and sure enough, he was ready to storm the hillside looking for those men. In fact it was his outraged yell that had awoken her from the doze she'd fallen into with the painkillers Solace had given her. She sighed in resignation as she'd called out to him.

Diane slipped her legs off the bed she was laying on, carefully pushing herself to her feet and slowly allowing some weight onto her injured leg. They planned to move westward soon, John had told her, and she couldn't help feeling a huge weight of responsibility. The guilt was almost overwhelming her as she realised that due to her they had been forced to take shelter away from the others. Once again her temper was her undoing. She should have just ignored it when Chief had been asking people to go on a supply run with him, then when he'd had more volunteers then he'd needed, he'd told the others that they had to remain, to take care of her so that she could get healed up and they could be rid of her. She'd lost it. It was the final piece that had tipped her over the edge and into a blind fury. She'd been sitting there outside enjoying the sun, then the next thing she knew she'd struggled to her feet and started yelling at him that she'd save them all the trouble, that she was leaving. Of course this had had to happen when John was making a water run for the both of them. There had been numerous objections as she'd started to move out of the camp, the loudest being that of the other Doctor, Ian Cobb. She'd hesitated by the fence wavering on if she should listen or not when she looked up to see the end of a barrel pointed in her direction and the scowling face of Axel staring at her as he demanded she remain where she was. Now she wasn't exactly sure if she had a death wish, but at that point in time she'd gotten so furious she'd scared herself by doing the stupid thing and telling him off then proceeding to walk away. With every difficult step she'd taken she'd expected at any moment to feel the pain of the bullet entering her body and the rapport of the Magnum as it was fired. Adrenaline had carried her down the road, Logan and Jimmy following trying to explain to her their leaders reasoning....she had just wanted to get away.

So here she was now, recovering in this small house, John her only company and finding herself full of regrets over her temper and her over reacting. Sighing again she looked down at herself, noticing for maybe the first time the sorry condition of the shirt she was wearing, glancing over at the bag she carried she knew she didn't have another clean one on hand and there wasn't a chance of finding one here, they'd already looked through the place. Giving another puff of frustration her eyes eventually landed on John's bag. She was sure he'd have a clean shirt, she'd just borrow it she reasoned, and replace it after she'd cleaned up her own then cleaned the one she'd borrowed. Sure enough she found a clean white checked flannel shirt within the bag, but as she held it up she realised it would be huge on her. Only taking a moment to think about it she started to undo her own shirt, turning her back towards the door as she did so. As she tossed it on the bed she heard the sounds of someone approaching....

 

TO BE CONTINUED......

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Chaostica    144
Posted (edited)

 

Chapter Eleven: Unbidden

 

Diane took another look around, scanning the nearby tree's and listening intently, only seeing and hearing the tree's as the ocean breeze stirred them once and awhile, causing them to gently sway and shift. The birds on the island calling out to each other and being their usual joyous selves. 'wish I was a bird....just fly away from the damn infected.....could fly away from everything' she thought to herself as with once last look over her shoulder she slipped between a large, old growth pine and part of the castle wall. She pushed her way through, using the wall to steady herself. After a few seconds she pushed past the tree and found herself in a little alcove, a small area hidden by the tree and made a little larger due to the castle wall squaring off and turning inwards instead of following the ridge-line as it did out front.

Breathing a sigh of relief now that she was hidden away in this little area she'd discovered, she leaned her M4 against the castle wall and eased her bag from her shoulders, settling on the ground nearby. Lowering herself to a sitting position with a sigh, she rubbed her hip and leg unconsciously, the gunshot wound was pretty much healed but the ache from the 'dog tag' removal she and John had done on her hip still felt somewhat raw. She hoped to god she'd done the right thing there. If she was ever discovered by the slavers to have altered it she was screwed a million times over. Those that altered their tags were punished severely, and those having helped her would also suffer. She felt a bit of a twinge on her right butt cheek, another reminder, that of the wolf that had nearly dragged her down as it had lunged, if she hadn't changed direction at the last second and taken hold of the door to the building she'd been rushing to for safety it would have had her. She shuddered slightly at that thought.

After a few more moments of contemplation she finally reached into her right pocket and slowly withdrew a small bundle of cloth. Cradling it in her hands she carefully unwrapped it, then stared down at the precious item inside. It was all she had left, to remind her of who she had been. Looking down at the piece of metal in her hand she let her eyes take in the familiar shape, the weight of it in her hand she found reassuring, and the words stamped into the surface resonated in her stirring memories. It had kept her sane during her forced captivity, how she had managed to keep it hidden she couldn't really recall, there had been several close calls but she'd still managed it. She ran her thumb across the surface, feeling each imperfection on it but also feeling each letter across the top and bottom of the circular object, the centre a raised imprint of an eagle with wings spread. UNITED STATES MARSHAL it said, her badge.

She smiled down at the object in her hand, her gaze not really seeing it anymore as she thought of John and the badge he still wore. She frowned for a moment, wondering why he advertised his former profession. The last thing she had wanted any of her captors to know was that she was from any branch of law enforcement. It was a good thing to as she saw what they did to those who were. Her eyes stung for a moment as she remembered the Moscow police officer they’d captured. She wasn’t sure what his exact title was, all she knew was that because of his former job, several of their captors wanted to exact a little revenge. Since many had been on the wrong side of the law before the outbreak of the infection they’d had several run in’s with the law before, but now all the power was in their hands. They’d beat the man to death in front of his wife and children. Not before they’d made him witness them all being raped, even the little girl of six.

Bile rose as she remembered, sitting in a heap in the corner, being told she had to watch because if she didn’t they’d punish her. She’d just been punished once again, her back ragged from the whip. She’d watched...and she’d never felt such a desire to murder anyone before. It frightened her now, the violence she wanted to inflict, the suffering she’d wanted them to endure. The pain from her fingers drew her back from the memories, her hand wrapped so tightly around the badge that it had actually been biting in. It took several moments to calm herself and relax her fingers enough so they’d stop hurting.

She sighed to herself and began to wrap the item up again. She wasn’t going to risk losing it now, even if she felt safe, things could change so fast that she may not have the time to conceal it later. Moving towards the wall she found a good spot, one she’d recognize easily when she needed to, and dug a small depression into the soil, laying the small bundle inside and carefully burying it making sure it looked natural and undisturbed. Again she chided herself that no one was ever going to notice it, but she just had to make sure.

She moved back over to where her bag and the M4 sat, leaning back against the wall this time in an effort to try and relax. She’d found her mind drifting more often than not, going back to her captivity. Why? She didn’t know, she just wanted to forget it all. She was actually pretty surprised she was recalling so much, lord knew she’d spent a large portion of that time trying to disengage from everything going on.

She learned very quickly to suppress, ignore, block out, and retreat from basically….life. She’d spent her days in a robotic state of automatic compliance and submission. She’d wake in the morning, usually finding one of the men crawling on top of her. She used to fight them, kicking and biting, but that was always met with punishment, growing more severe each time. So she’d lay there, not really allowing it but doing nothing to stop it. Going away in her mind until the weight was gone. Sometimes it was quickly replaced, other times she’d mechanically get to her feet and wash in the cold water left. She was trotted out on occasion to a potential buyer, but the dead look in her eyes didn’t seem to inspire a purchase. Those wanting a pet usually wanted to buy something that would react, not just exist. More than once she’d be slapped around by the man who found her detachment a detriment to his personal satisfaction.

A tremor ran through her body as she felt herself drifting back, more memories coming from seemingly nowhere. The memory wasn’t the only thing, her heart began to pound, her hand began to shake and a sense of being trapped began to press down upon her. Finding herself growing panic’d she quickly climbed to her feet, grabbing bag and rifle, slinging both to her shoulders, but before she could take a step the skies suddenly opened and the rain began to fall. Looking up into the falling droplets she stared, a little confused, she’d never even seen the clouds come up. Had she been up here for so long? Dropping her bag and rifle again she rummaged around for the warm raincoat within, pulling the jacket she was wearing off her shoulders, already slightly damp and clinging to her arms. It was then that something in the tree’s beyond caused a branch to snap loudly and her head to come up, alarmed, arms struggling with the jacket, her heart going to her throat as the memory grabbed hold.

She’d been on her own for about a week now, the rag’s she’d wrapped around her feet to protect them when she ran ragged and stuck to her feet. The few clothes she’d been permitted to wear were thin and torn in several places, doing nothing to prevent the elements from doing their worst. She’d managed to find an old cabin but inside there’d been a threadbare blanket no bigger than child size that she could use and from the hair all over it she believed it had been a pet blanket. It was better than nothing but when it rained as it was now it didn’t offer much for warmth. She was huddled beneath a large tree, trying to remain out of the cold rain, the small blanket wrapped around her shoulders as she shivered, feeling herself already growing drowsy when she’d suddenly come alert to the cracking of a branch nearby. She’d tried to move, to get into some nearby bushes but her body was moving so slow. She was cold, hungry, tired and feeling beaten to her core. She wanted to cry when she looked up and saw the man standing there with his gun in his hands.

A few sobs had escaped her as she huddled shivering, not knowing what to do. At first there was a look of surprise on his face, then one of concern. He began to speak to her but of course it was in Russian. She saw the moment he looked at her tag on her exposed hip and knew what it was. The concern in his eyes turning into one of greed and avarice. A sickening smile was on his face now as he continued to talk, looking around at the tree’s as if trying to see if there was anyone else with her. If she’d wanted any confirmation he knew what she was, it was when he used a word in Russian she was all too familiar with ‘...сукa…’ or better known as bitch. That’s what the women were called by the slavers, bitch, female dog, and a number tagged on denoting her place in the capture ranks….daily she’d hear ‘bitch 134’ . She didn’t move as he got a little closer, calmly setting his bag and rifle up against the nearby tree within his easy reach but to far for her to make a lunge for, even if her body would have cooperated. She looked up at him again as he got closer, calling her that hated name again, taking in the lack of clothing. He looked around again at the tree’s then down at her, his expression changing once more to one she never wanted to see again...lust.

She closed her eyes and turned her head towards the tree, defeat overwhelming her as the last thing she saw was his hand reaching for the fastening of his jeans. She’d already started to retreat into her own private little world, waited to feel his hands come upon her, when she was nearly deafened by an ungodly roar. She’d never heard anything like it before, her eyes flew open and up as she heard the man give a startled scream, his hands coming up in a protective gesture, something large and brown blocked some of her vision but as it rose up higher she saw something strike out, catch the man on the side of the head and tearing into the face and throat with a sickening sound, it was a combination of a gurgle, something wet, and something cracking. She thought she’d be sick as she saw the remains of the body crumple to the ground. The large brown mass stood over it for a few moments, then a massive head turned her way. She whimpered in fright as she turned her face away again, in towards the tree. She swore she felt the ground move as it got closer, a huffing breathing coming from it and steadily getting louder as it neared. She felt something brush against her hair, then her shoulder and a light touch to her leg, all accompanied by the sound of a large inhale of breath. Then the sound moved away, and soon it was silent again. After a few more moments she opened her eyes and all that remained was the body still where it was. The bag and gun still propped against the tree, the bear, as she was sure it had to have been a bear, was long gone. She waited a few more moments before slowly uncurling herself from her ball, then moving towards the bag and gun. A quick look inside revealed food, water, ammo, an extra shirt and jeans. She used all of it, and then cautiously approached the body, not wanting to disturb the bears kill in case it was nearby, but it seemed more interested in protecting it's territory then harming her, she was covered in the odours of the forest, whereas this man probably smelled of gun powder, oil, metal and all those other things it would view as a threat, but she needed the raincoat still upon it, and the shoes still on his feet.

After claiming those items with much gagging and shaking she put them on as well and started making her way through the tree’s. The defeat was still clinging to her, telling her she should give up, go back, the sacrifice was worth the food, warmth and relative safety. On her own she’d encounter more like that man, there was infected as well to worry about. Not to mention the wild animals. She had nothing, no reason to continue. If she wasn’t going to go back, she should take what was given and make an end to it. How much could one person endure, she asked herself. She looked, again, at the rifle in her hands. Then in her mind's eye a man’s smile appeared. It was one of the rare ones, full of good humour and light of heart. ‘You do make things interesting Diane.’ an amused voice said with that smile. The voice came again, but this time sounding a little annoyed ‘When your done with the red tape, get your long lashes down there so you can bat them at the officials there and get us home faster, I’ll be waiting.’ her lips lifted into a small smile, it felt unfamiliar on her face as she couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled. She’d keep her promise. She’d promised him. Then…...then she’d find an end.

Diane was jolted back from the memory by a loud crack of thunder, her body already shivering uncontrollably. Her head feeling foggy, her thoughts coming slow. She finished exchanging jackets, the process seeming almost surreal as if she was not within her own body but looking at it from another angle. Grabbing her bag and rifle, she stood there, staring at nothing, trying to make sense of what she was feeling when a familiar mans voice could be heard from a distance ‘Diane!’ it was filled with annoyance, but perhaps tinged with a little fear? As she finally came to herself again, a small, secretive smile appearing on her lips as she heard his voice. Securing her bag she went to look for him, following the direction of the sound.

 

TO BE CONTINUED.....

 

*Authors Note: Please keep in mind that the bear in this story was reacting to several things. It roared a challenge at a very obvious (at least to the bear) stranger in it's territory. The man would have, to the bear, been carrying the smells of things like metal, gun oil, even the bullets the man would have handled. When it roared it's challenge the man remained upright in what the bear would view as a threatening posture, and made eye contact with the bear, thus the bear saw it as a challenge given and met so it disposed of it's challenger. When it turned to Diane, she would have at that time carried more familiar smells such as the forest, mud, grass and things as she'd been living in the forest for awhile, not even having been near a fire recently. The bear would also pick up the smell of the animal upon her blanket thus masking her scent even more. More importantly her posture and not making any eye contact would have had the bear seeing her as a non threat as it was all submissive.

Edited by Chaostica

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