Infected Minds, Open Hearts

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  1. Gabriel wasn't quite sure where he was, but it was hot. He could feel the sweat that trickled down his temple and knew his blond hair was damp with it, sticking to the skin of his face. His clothes were not much better, the humidity creating an added layer of stickiness to the air, trapping the heat that wafted up from the black asphalt below his feet. The sun was a merciless master from its perch high above and he resisted the urge to look up, knowing it was an entirely human inclination and a stupid one at that.

    It sometimes - and now often, which probably should have been alarming - struck him how very different his thinking was after nearly four years living with the Dark Fever Virus. He had long ago started to see things as 'human thinking' and....well, not animal thinking, but certainly 'instinctual thinking'. The things that didn't make sense in his mind, didn't pertain to survival, didn't benefit him in any way, didn't keep him safe or provide an advantage in this brutal world - those things were deemed human logic and most often it wasn't logical at all. So it was ignored.

    Just as he ignored the strange impulse to look up at the sun right now. It wouldn't help him and it wouldn't stop the heat, so it was a useless endeavor.

    Stopping at the settlement just ahead was another matter.

    As a rule, an unspoken one, but followed nonetheless, Gabriel didn't often stop at places populated with a great deal of people, especially not small, rural settlements like this one. These kinds of places were not regulated between Infected and the Normals. Everyone fended for themselves and while trade flowed unhindered, so did death and the story was the same with every settlement of this kind; eventually everyone would find themselves Infected and the Normals would be obsolete. It was a savage system, but the DFV didn't ask for permission to change or kill its victims and the Virus was highly contagious. Normals risked being around Infected at their own peril. Still, trading posts like this continued to exist and right now it would benefit him.

    He needed water, medical supplies and a new shirt. Amber eyes glanced down at his attire with a bit of a grimace. He was covered in dirt, but that wasn't unexpected of anyone these days. Traveling by foot saw more wear and tear to clothing than the clothing itself was used to dealing with and that didn't take into account being jumped, mugged or having to fight. The tears in his shirt were from the very latter.....he thought.

    A frown flickered over the blond's features before he shook the thought away and focused back on the settlement. It had a wall built of chainlink fences, storage containers, semi-trucks and other things like boards and cement blocks all mashed together, but the gates were open and would likely remain so until twilight approached. Trade couldn't happen if no one was let in or out. It was a risk, but it was one that had to be taken for the survival of the community if they wanted to function as a trade post.

    Passing under the gates and the guards posted, Gabriel wasn't stopped, just another traveler coming through and upon coming under the netting of sheets and other coverings strung out above the marketplace to keep out the unforgiving sun, he took off the covering over his head and allowed himself to truly feel the relief of shade. It was then that his dark amber eyes started to truly study all around them, noting those who wore more coverings than most, gloves included that marked them as Normals - or those who had powers they couldn't control - and how people interacted. So far everything seemed semi-friendly, distrust and wariness expected in a world that had fallen apart around them, the death toll unimaginable and people separated into groups afterward. As far as cooperation went, though, it was on a good scale here and he allowed some of his tension to relax by a few notches. His senses never stopped working, though; ears taking in the sound of many voices, animals, metal striking metal, walking, running, pots and pans, yelling, cursing, laughing. It seemed impossible to sort through, but he'd had years of practice and such seemed like second-nature now. As did taking in every scent, every smell of food, unwashed bodies, the different aromas that Normals and Infected gave off, dirt and oil, water...

    It was the last that truly caught his attention, the most needed among what he'd come here for and the blond changed directions, following his nose to the source of the unique scent.
    #1 Kaisaan, Aug 21, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  2. The settlement that Olivia had stopped in was certainly not the best she had seen, but not the worst either. It was a shamble of trucks, fences and metal, thrown roughly together in make some sort of barrier against the ferals that ran throughout the land. the tarps kept out the hot sun, covering most places in a much more bearable shade, though still hot as hell. Thankfully, what it lacked in strong structure it made up for in heaps of trading. It seemed that anyone who could make the trip was coming here to trade and barter goods. Things were hard to come by in the lands of the infected. the government no longer had any control in these parts, which also meant capitalism was very...lacking. If you couldn't find it or make it, you just did without it. It was one of the reasons that she had stopped by.

    She was looking for another replacement to her hunting knife, as the old one had finally given in and broken clean off the handle. Unable to wield it without risk of cutting herself, she had to find a new weapon to keep herself safe. Wandering the wild without a weapon was a death sentence for most. If there was any chance of her getting a new weapon, it was going to be around this area. People in this settlement still did a bit of crafting, or as close as they could get. If she couldn't find a replacement, then maybe she could find someone to get her knife put back together. She could only hope that she had enough things of value to trade with. Her last pick through the ruins of society had not been very large. Some canned goods, which she intended to keep, and medical supplies had been what she found. Though she had some other things to trade, like animal furs, hemming ability and assorted wild foods she had picked. Before shopping though, she needed a drink.

    The burning sun was causing Olivia to sweat right through her clothing, or what she had left. A tattered pair of shorts and a baggy shirt that was several sizes too big for her short frame. If not for the knot she had put into it at her hip, it probably would have been more like a dress on her. With a large scarf wrapped around her head to keep the sun off her skin, she had parked herself near the watering whole in the center of the settlement. It was a well, recently dug in order to give value to actually staying in the settlement. The water was pulled up in buckets and was clean enough to drink as it was, though boiling it would make it a bit better. She was pulling up buckets of the stuff, filling any containers she had to spare as well as drinking as much as she could from that spot. Unlike those around her, she wasn't infected. It was odd to think, long term stay among those who were sick always lead to getting the illness yourself. In the end, for whatever reasons, Olivia never seemed to actually show the symptoms of it. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing was hard to say.

    Pulling back from the bucket of water she had been drinking from, she heaved a heavy sigh. Blue eyes scanned the area around her, strands of brunette hair peaking out from under her scarf as she lazily stared off into the distance. It wasn't until something caught her eye did she actually sit up a bit more...or really someone. It was almost like a blast into her past, and she found it very hard to believe what she was seeing. So much so that she rubbed her eyes rather hard before slowly standing up. It was real...He was real. It was almost like a dream as she watched him march over towards her direction with what seemed to be determination. It was possible that he didn't remember her, or that she was just wrong, but certainly asking wasn't going to cause any harm.

    "Gabe?" Came the soft and slightly horse voice, standing there with the water bucket at her feet, her heavy looking travel back pack resting on the ground behind her with all her life inside of it.
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  3. He wasn't sure how long it had been since he'd heard his own name. Longer than a few days, certainly more than a few weeks. Months, perhaps? That seemed right....and yet wrong at the same time, but he couldn't put his finger on why and the blond ignored the thought as unimportant, his focus now on the woman standing not ten feet from him. He'd been following the scent of water, but now it was her that was flooding his nose.

    Dirt was first and foremost, but easily ignored. Everyone was dirty. Sweat was the same; cast aside, as was what she'd last eaten. Rabbit. Unimportant. No, it was the underlayer of scents that determined a person, the scents that reflected moods, scents that spoke to that innate sixth sense that all animals possessed and told them what they needed to know about a situation, a person without having to experience it first. Gabriel's head tilted, dark amber eyes intensely studying like a large cat or a wolf might as he took in the female.

    Normal. She was a Normal, the scent of Infected blood, the acrid aftertaste it left in the back of his throat missing. Her scent was...clean, but all Normals were. Something else, though, was grabbing his attention and Gabriel struggled to pinpoint it for a long moment, but it eventually came to him. Oranges. She smelled like....Oranges. It was impossible, sure, but it was true nonetheless and in an instant he recognized where he knew that scent.....that memory.

    No one had called him 'Gabe' in a long time.

    Her voice was hoarser than it should have been, but that wasn't its natural state, he could tell. No, her tone was like silk, smooth and soft. Soothing, just as it had always been, even as children. It was stronger now, though, mature in a way he remembered from their last parting, but had somehow forgotten. It was a welcome sound now, even if surprising and Gabriel took a step forward, a trace of amazement in his voice.


    What were the odds of finding her? The world had been turned on its head, people dying left and right and yet, here she was....just standing there before him. Gabriel found himself smiling for the first time in a long time, allowing a glimpse of his elongated canine's, the fangs the Virus had given him. He didn't think about it or how Olivia might react to it - to knowing he was Infected - far too happy to see her.
  4. The sound of her name rang in her eyes and a series of emotions shot across her face. Sadness, joy, disbelief. Fighting the tears that seemed to fill her eyes she shook her head, a rather large and stupid grin spreading across her face. First it was a breathless laugh, and then a heavier one. Louder it grew as she started to gather the attention of the other people wandering about in the settlement. There wasn't even a moment of hesitation as she approached him arms spreading out and they wrapped around his much larger torso. Olivia couldn't even get her hands to touch, the size difference was far too noticeable.

    "Oh Gabriel! I can't even- How is this even possible?" She asked him, still hugging him tightly for several moments longer before finally pulling back. Her hands darted up to her face quickly, catching the spilling tears as she tried to compose herself. Crying was the last thing she wanted to do around a long lost friend. Especially when the world around her seemed to be falling apart at the seams. Sniffing loudly, she gathered herself enough to relax, still smiling ear to ear as she looked him over.

    "Gosh, you've changed! You're huge now! I mean, you were tall back in high school but Jesus, Gabe! Now I feel like a midget! What are you doing here? I mean, so much has happened and the world isn't what it used to be....Gosh! I just can't believe it, that you are standing right in front of me!" There was another series of happy giggles as she seemed to bounce a bit. Though her voice was still harsh and dry, the joy was easy to hear. It was almost as if they were back in high school together, walking home down the same patch of sidewalk before parting ways on the corner. Reality settled in really quickly though, the hot humid air burning against their skin as sweat forced their cloths to twist uncomfortably. Settling down yet again, she seemed to calm a bit, the rush of her enthusiasm having tired her a bit while she waited for his answer.
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  5. He should have stopped her.

    Perhaps among everything he should have been thinking of, that wasn't the right response, but in a way, perhaps it was. He should have stopped her from touching him, from having such prolonged contact with his body, especially as they were both damp with sweat and she was crying. It would have been the wisest thing he could have done in that moment, it would have been protecting her, making sure he didn't accidentally infect her, but....but seeing her approach like that, so incredibly happy just to see him...

    Gabriel had let her hug him. He'd let her and damn him, but his arms had come around her too, conscious of where his bare skin might touch her own, taking care not to, but he couldn't help letting her draw close and reveling in the familiar contact. It had been nearly...eight years since they'd seen each other. She'd only been seventeen the last he'd seen her and he eighteen. A great deal had changed since that, but somehow she hadn't. He could hear it in the way she spoke, the questions she asked, the way she laughed.

    She was the same Olivia he remembered, albeit twenty-five now, but still incredibly the same and as she drew back, his amber eyes couldn't help but study her, amazed at just how similar she appeared to what he could recall from their years spent together. She was beautiful, always had been, but she'd certainly grown into her body and no doubt into herself. He wasn't sure he could say the same of himself. The last they'd known each other, he'd been a cancer patient and had alternated between remission and being sick as a dog. Of course....he'd not had cancer for six years now, but she'd never really seen him healthy.

    He wasn't sure his state now could be called healthy either, but at least he wasn't dying. Now he was just Infected and Olivia, somewhere past the excitement of seeing him again, had to know that. All cancer patients had been given the DFV at some point...and then in a cruel twist of fate, they'd spread the Virus to others, killing those not strong enough to mutate just as surely as the cancer would have killed those now cured.

    Just as the Virus in his body could very easily kill Olivia. He should have kept her from hugging him.

    She wasn't thinking about that, though. She was speaking, questioning, so incredibly happy and Gabriel had to smile back, almost unable to help it as he let her ramble and then tilted his head as she finally quieted. Just like when they were children. "It's good to see you, Olivia," was the far calmer response, but then that was the way Gabriel had always been - the quieter one of the two and the one with far fewer words, though, he always made them significant.

    Amber eyes flickered around then, noting that people weren't paying attention to them anymore, no one really caring about a reunion and he was fine with that, but alert anyway, constantly studying his surroundings. And then his gaze came back to the female, questioning. "How long are you planning on staying here?" He wouldn't presume that she'd want to travel with him - for all he knew, she had her own group and she might very well not want to risk going anywhere with an Infected, childhood friends or not - but Gabriel couldn't deny he'd love to talk to her.
    #5 Kaisaan, Aug 25, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  6. The smile on Olivia's face was from ear to ear, though slowly shrinking as the rush of seeing Gabe started to dissipate. A polite grin remained, as the reality of the situation returned to her and she started to realize what seeing him there meant. Gabe, more than likely, was infected. He had had cancer back in high school and no doubt been one of the many cancer patients to receive the early copies of the 'cure'. She could only be grateful that he had been watchful of their hug, her blinded by the excitement of seeing him after so many years. She simply a refugee, untainted by illness but still broken from the lack of government. People stuck in these places were assumed ill, even if they were healthy. The government just didn't want to risk it...Or so she told herself.

    "I'll be around for awhile. Gotta trade for some supplies, rest up before moving on. The wastes aren't easy to take on if you don't rest when you can. This is the safest settlement for miles, at least in terms of walls and population, so I planned on sticking around until I was more than prepared to head out. Lingering is a deadly thing these days..." Olivia rambled on slightly, taking a much calmer tone as the air of the situation completely dawned on her. "It is good to see you though, Gabriel...even if under these circumstances. I...I assumed that most people from before the first wave were dead. It's good to know that is not the case."

    Turning back to her bucket of water, she finished up with it quickly. Taking a last few sips and washing up the best she could she dumped the rest onto the ground, as the risk of infections was just too high for anyone to share, even water.The bucket was sent off to the side to be used by another before she turned back to her long time friend. Granted, she wasn't so sure if she was still considered a friend, even if he was being polite around her now. Maybe times had changed Gabe, they certainly changed her. As bubbly as she was, Olive didn't have the same optimism she had so long ago.

    Times had been hard, and many were lost. There was no going back to the old ways, not without a revolution...and that was impossible with people so spread out and nervous around each other. Leaning against the well, she crossed her arms over her chest, pulling at the scarf around her head for a moment before she spoke up. "What are you up to these days? I mean, besides surviving. I've taken to selling animal skins. People need them more and more to make up for the lack of cloth and manufactured goods. Go around hunting and skinning. Eat what I can and then usually burn the rest. Too risky to try and keep it now..." She mumbled near the end before going silent.
  7. She had put some distance between them and while Gabriel knew it was the best thing, he instantly didn't like it and curbed the soft growl of displeasure that tickled the back of his throat. It was an instinctive reaction, but the last thing he wanted was to startle Olivia right now. Knowing he was one of the Infected and understanding just exactly what the Virus had done to him, in detail, well those two things were vastly different topics altogether. He would try to maintain a sense of normalcy for as long as possible when in her presence.

    And that might not be long. He didn't know if she considered them friends still, if she'd be willing to risk her very health by being around him. It had a been a long time since they'd seen each other.

    How he knew that, could remember details of her and yet....and yet not know so much at the same time.... Olivia was speaking of the time before the Virus, before the collapse of the world, but Gabriel couldn't recall it. He knew it had existed, knew cars and TVs, ice cream, planes, electricity, he knew all these things that they no longer had, but somehow it was all abstract. He couldn't....remember his parents or siblings, if he'd had any. He couldn't remember where he'd lived or what he'd done. He didn't know if his family had been dead before the Virus or if they were dead at all. Was he adopted? Had he been a foster kid? Maybe no one was left to miss him at all or for him to miss. He didn't know. Hadn't known for...well, awhile he felt. In truth even the last....the last week of his life was....


    Admitting that, though....that was far scarier than trying to remember a distant past. But Olivia was asking what his life was like now and the blond didn't feel right not answering. In a bide for time, he moved toward the water bucket she'd just set down, utilizing it as he drew water up from the well, busying his hands with filling any container he could even as he tried to think about what he could say. Something truthful - he never lied to Olive and how he knew that eluded him - but not so revealing that she'd know immediately that something was wrong.

    Despite their time apart, he got the distinct impression that not a lot got past the spunky little brunette. Her eyes were too intelligent, too studying for anything less than an astute mind behind that sapphire gaze. She might not know everything about him - and likewise with him for her - but she knew enough. Olivia knew who he was underneath everything. She knew his soul, strange as it sounded, but it didn't make it less true. She'd know if something was truly wrong....and there was, but he didn't want to reveal it just yet, especially since he didn't understand what that 'wrongness' was yet. Not completely.

    "I've been traveling a lot. I don't think....I don't have a destination. I'm just seeing what's out there, what's changed." At least....that's what it felt like he was doing. If he'd had a goal, a concrete mission before....before his memory had been going dark, he wasn't sure what it was. Hell, Gabriel wasn't even sure WHEN he'd started losing chunks of time.

    He shook his head a bit as if to shake away the unsettling thought, forcing the sudden tension that had come to his body to ease out of his muscles and instead he looked back to Olivia with a small smile, his amber eyes flickering over her again, changing the subject. He was rather good at that - always had been, though, often enough she'd seen through it. "So are you traveling with others or on your own?"
  8. His words seemed hesitant, as if he was trying to find the right way to say what he wanted to. He seemed almost uncomfortable with speaking about himself. Then again, a small part of Olivia couldn't really blame him. Being sick with cancer, only for it to be cured of it and shift into something far worse. Granted, as one of the rare clean folk in the infected area, she had witnessed many people go feral, loosing what humanity still remained in them from when the virus had first taken over. It was a horrible fate, and knowing that Gabe was suffering it only hurt her heart. She wanted to comfort him, to tell him that it was alright, but she stayed silent. Words would mean very little at this point. No doubt he was constantly wondering when it would happen to himself, if at all. A threat that hovered over the heads of all the ill. When would they change from friend to foe? When would they loose what little of themselves remained?

    It didn't help that where they were wasn't the same either. No government, no control. Only chaos and death ruled these lands now. What remained of the government was clinging on to what control it still had on the states that had been spared from large amounts of infected. They shot on site and burned the bodies, not allowing the healthy folk to be at risk, but removing what humanity the ill had left. They were no longer people, they were just the infected. It was one of the reasons she risked the dangers of this world. At least beyond the tall concrete walls, people still acted like...people. She wasn't too sure anymore, as she had been in the sick zone for many years, but from what she could remember of it, it was a military state now. Only the men with guns had control...and there were a lot of them. Shaking her head finally at his question she just gave a light smile.

    "I travel alone...people attract attention sadly. I roamed with some people though on riskier roads. Making deals to cover each others back until we had to part. Numbers have their benefits from time to time. However, I don't have the skills most groups look to keep long term. They want gunners and runners...I'm more of a fixer. Most communes find me nice though, never have trouble making a trade around places like this with my skill sets. Unlike others who struggle to survive because they value their gun over food and water." Rambling a bit, she watched him fill hi own water containers, her eyes lazily wandering around the area a moment. "Anyway, I'm only here for some trading, got to get more supplies, lighten what I've collected and see if I can get my hands on a new weapon before I leave. When that's done, it's back to the road...I can't stand staying in one place these days. The risk of getting targeted by feral is just too big for me to take."

    With that said she looked back at him once more, his body language only giving his feelings away. it seemed that even now he didn't have a very good poker face. Smiling a little more at him she put a hand on her hip, leaning on one foot before crouching down to h is level as she was tired of standing. " I can safely assure you that everything's changed, nothings the same anymore. So, why checking out this settlement? It's a pretty hot area around here. Rather far south too. I mean, for me to too ages on foot, what about you? Anything you're looking for from around these parts?" She questioned a bit more, leaving them open ended for him to pick what he wanted to say.
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  9. Gunners and runners. Yes, those who were not infected did rely on such people to keep them safe from those that were changed by the Virus and Ferals...and even from other Normals. Gabriel couldn't say he was either a runner or a gunner. He was....something different, perhaps a hunter? He was certainly a fighter. The marks on his body, some healed over and others still healing, told the story plainly enough. Though...the other scarring that covered his body, it didn't strike him as injuries one obtained in fights, but he tried not to think about it because he had no idea, no memory of when such wounds had taken place or what had happened to him.

    He tried not to think about things that were obscured by shadows in his head, unseen and unobtainable. It just gave him a headache.

    Dark amber eyes flickered up to meet blue as Olivia came down to his level and the blond found himself glad in that moment that she wasn't a gunner or a runner. A fixer fit her far more and he smiled to himself, but listened to her renewed conversation, his head slightly tilted much as an animal's might be when trying to figure out what was being expressed toward it. And Olivia might notice that more and more; just how much Gabriel behaved in a less-than-human manner. She would surely notice it in the next few minutes.

    Her questions were not all that difficult even if he would have to be vague on some of them simply because he didn't know the answers himself, but Gabriel never got the chance.

    Now, gunshots were not uncommon in this new world they lived in, but while one shot or even two was normal, a signal of a deal gone wrong, a theft in action or even an outright murder - though, killing a Feral wasn't considered such - but more than that? Gabriel's head came up as a barrage of shots rang out, his pupils dilating and this time a growl did come to his throat even as people started to scream and panic. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

    The gunfire sounded again and Gabriel's head jerked toward the sound even as he stood, his senses extending, pinpointing where the noise was coming from and how close it was. Much too close. Crouching again, quickly, he gathered up the water and packed it all away again with deft hands before his attention snapped to Olivia. He couldn't leave her. The thought was without hesitation, without question or doubt and Gabriel stood again, but when he reached out it wasn't for her hand. His fingers grasped her shirt, a safer place considering he was Infected and she was not.

    "Come on."

    They'd not taken three hurried steps before more gunfire erupted, closer now and Gabriel heard the bullets hit the ground, the stands...and flesh. The screaming had redoubled, people running everywhere, the panic of the crowd nearly contagious. The community was under attack. By who was something the blond did not know, but their goal didn't seem to be gaining supplies or even the town itself; it was just to kill.
  10. The first shot was barely noticed, gun fire was very common these days. Olivia didn't even think much of it. How many times had a person fire a gun at a greedy rodent or a vicious attacker? They weren't in a very nice place either. Though it was safer in the trading post, it wasn't uncommon for travelers to get sticky fingers. No doubt someone had their hands where they shouldn't have been. granted, outrider murder was frowned upon, people were allowed to defend themselves if they felt threatened. However, it was around the second or third shot that she actually started to realize that it wasn't just some simple confrontation. Looking away from Gabe she slowly stood as well, seeing that there were others who were as confused as they were. This wasn't a normal, something was very very wrong.

    It as when the people started screaming that Olivia realized that this wasn't a safe place anymore. Reaching for her bag she threw it over her shoulders quickly. Before she could even think of where to run, she felt herself get yanked towards Gabriel. Looking up at him, she blinked in shock as he seemed to take charge of the situation. She wasn't ungrateful, but it certainly surprised her that he was thinking to bring her along. Usually it was everyone for themselves. The fact that Gabe was taking the time to pull her along and help her was enough to show that maybe old bonds could still last after all these years.

    As they made their way through the panicked crowds, Olivia found herself watching the other people running in their panic. Gabe's focus kept them on track, slipping through the crowds with ease as he dragged her by the back of her shirt sleeve. Thankfully, while he focused on moving, she could keep her eyes open for this still unknown threat. It wasn't until she saw a rather heavy looking weapon peak around a stall did she realize what was happening. The uniform was familiar, if not old and wore. Face covered in a heavy oxygen mask a thick set goggles. The mounted machine gun gleamed in the light...and was pointed in their direction.

    "GET DOWN!" She screamed, using her full weight to drag Gabe down behind an old shack, just outside of the shooting range as the faceless gunner took fire. Those that had not seen him were slaughtered, blood pouring into the open areas of the market. The panic reached its peak, people scrambling to take cover as the gun continued to shoot. "What the fuck is the military doing out hear? We're days from the nearest boarder!" Olivia snapped as they sat their i hiding. Moving now would be deadly.
  11. Gabriel had felt he hairs on the back of his neck rise only a split second before Olivia was pulling him off balance and down, a warning that wouldn't have saved him from death - or at least injury - in time. She had saved his life and the blond knew it the moment the shots started to pepper the surrounding area. He pressed back against the wall of the metal shack, teeth grit as the screaming of several people cut off abruptly and still more shrieks and wails followed as the panic rose to a dangerous level.

    Panicked people created more panic which resulted a mob-like mentality and in such a state of flight or fight, anything was permissible. People would do anything to survive and yet in that desire they would get brutal, only adding to the death toll and still more they wouldn't be thinking about the consequences of being so close to each other. They would forget the far more unpredictable and deadly threat of the very present and active Virus. In this frenzy to escape or fight back, those who lived would likely find themselves dying soon after or being changed forever.

    He couldn't let that happen to Olivia. He had to get her out of here safe.

    With that in mind, Gabriel risked a glance around the shack wall as the gunfire slowed - though, it hadn't stopped - and found himself looking at a sight that felt all too...familiar. How, why, he didn't know but the blond felt the breath still in his lungs as he stared at the men in masks, something stirring within his mind, painful and yet necessary, causing white to flash across his vision.

    He knew them.

    And they knew him.

    Gabriel was sure of that in the very moment one of those masked faces swung in his direction. He couldn't see the eyes behind the goggles, but he felt the chill of them observing him anyway and Gabriel jerked back behind the shed, his heart in his throat and his body moving almost immediately.

    "We have to go. Come on." His tone was calm. He didn't know how he was doing that when he could feel the tremors wracking through his body, but the blond was managing it as he took hold of Olivia's sleeve again in a firm grasp. He wasn't going to lose her. Not now.

    Dilated, dark amber eyes looked down into wide blue and Gabriel resisted the urge to bring his hands up to Olivia's face, the urge to comfort her a strong one, but not nearly as strong as his desire to keep her safe - from himself and everything else. "Stay close. No matter what happens, you stay by me, all right?" He was already starting to move, trusting she'd follow. Time was all they had now and they had to use it wisely. There were no guarantees that they'd get out of this alive or unhurt. They could only try to beat the clock of death rolling in behind them as the gunman worked their way through the town.
  12. Olivia found herself plastered to the wall. The idea of moving from their spot seemed impossible to her. There was only one way in and out of the settlement, and the gunmen had it over run. She wasn't fast enough to escape by charging, and she doubted she'd be able to sneak by when they had gunned down most of the good hiding places. There was also Gabriel to think about. How was he going to get out. He was a foot or so taller than her, if not more. He was a towering tree and stuck out like a sore thumb. Honestly, she was surprised she had been able to throw enough weight into him to get him to fall down before the machine gun fired. She must have caught him by surprise.

    Closing her eyes she tried to think of something, anything to get them out. In the end it was Gabe who made the first move, speaking and getting her eyes to lock onto him. She was scared, more so than she had been since this hell had begun. This wasn't a came. She had no trouble avoiding the infected, and those who had gone feral were more interested in larger numbers, she herself was always on her own. However, this was military, and they were out to slaughter. There would be no escape if they were caught, only death. As his hand firmly grabbed her sleeve she started to get up, looking into his bright amber eyes. They were filled with alertness and concern, maybe for her, or maybe for himself. But the feeling was mutual.

    They had to go...Now.

    "I-I will." She murmured to him, fearful of being too loud and drawing attention to themselves. As much as she hated to think like that, she knew very well that it would be those that screamed that died first. Their silence would be their one saving grace. Thankfully, the large guns didn't have the mobility for the smaller allies, so they stayed there, doing their best to avoid being seen and making close range contact. More than once they had to stop, seeing a person desperately running for the alley only to be shredded apart with bullets. Blood was everywhere and the body count was growing steadily. She was careful as she stepped, doing her best not to touch anything besides clothing and dry ground. By some miracle she had stayed uninfected for this long, she wasn't about to break that streak.

    "Gabe, Look!" Olivia said in a harsh whisper, holding herself firm to stop the man from dragging her. There was hole in the metal walls. just large enough to fit through. Blocked off for water flow only, as there was a grate in front of it. "We could fit through I think..." She pointed out, looking back as the sound of marching approached them.
  13. Amber eyes studied the opening Olivia was gesturing to with a critical mind, but he could see where her logic made sense and the blond released her sleeve to step toward the grate, his fingers curling around the metal. Gabriel gave a jerk, finding that it gave a high-pitched screech of metal when he did. He froze, heart leaping into his throat as he looked back at the alleyway, his sharp ears picking up the quickening pace of steps.


    Throwing caution to the wind, he pulled again, gritting his teeth as the metal screeched again, but moved, prying away from the hole. When it was wide enough, Gabriel looked to Olivia. "Come on, you first." Dark amber eyes went back to the opening in the alley then, seeing the first appearance of a soldier. Olivia was firmly in the tunnel when the masked face swung his way and Gabriel knew, once more, that he was seen.

    The masked soldier didn't raise his gun, though. The two looked at each other, one armed to the teeth with clear intent to kill everyone who crossed his path and the other standing before a hole in a wall, terrified of being shot, hoping Olivia at least got away.

    But there was no gunfire, only the rapid drumming of Gabriel's heart as he watched more soldiers come into the alley and the first raised his hand, a clear signal for them to hold their fire before another signal was given and the rest of the masked men left. And then the first one did, too, leaving Gabriel in confusion and a cold sweat. Something tried to rise within his mind from the murky depths, but it caused pain, the image nowhere near clear and the blond resisted the urge to cry out at the sharp spike between his temples.

    The brief flare of agony oriented him, though, and Gabriel gave one last look to where the soldiers had been before he ducked into the tunnel and hurried after Olivia. The outside wasn't likely to be any safer than the inside of the town had been.....for everyone but him....because for some reason he couldn't fathom, a reason that chilled him down to his bones in a way he didn't understand, these men didn't want him dead.

    Somehow that sounded more ominous than beneficial.
  14. Doing as she was told, Olivia didn't hesitate to slip into the opening. It was a bit of a crawl, the way it was formed forcing her to crouch a bit and crawl on her hands and knees. She could only be grateful that there was no water on the ground, or worse. Otherwise she might as well consider herself part of the sick. Not stopping until she was out on the other side, she let out a small breath of relief to find that the military hadn't parked on that side of the settlement. It was nothing but open field and beyond. Sucking for trying to stay hidden but great for letting them just bolt to freedom.

    Turning back to the tunnel, she watched and waited for Gabriel. She couldn't see the other end very well, the shadows consuming the where she had come from. A small part of her started to get nervous. Had the footsteps that had been approaching caught up to him? Had then shot him on sight? Certainly she would have heard a nearby gunshot if that had been the case? If not that, then what was keeping him. Worry started to bubble in her chest, her bright blue eyes glazing with tears as the thought of having lost her best friend after only just getting him back started to grab her.

    "Gabe? Gabe!" She called into the tunnel, hoping for some kind of response. Something, anything! She just had to know that he was alive.

    She looked over her shoulder, checking her surroundings for any hostiles before looking back to the tunnel. If she lingered too long she could be found and shot, but running off could get her just as easily killed if she was spotted dashing off by any lingering patrol. it was as if she was trapped, unable to stay but unable to flee either. Finally, after what had seemed like a lifetime, Gabriel appeared. A sigh of relief left her chest as she stepped back, giving him room to come out and join her. "God, you scared me! I thought they got you!" She snapped at him a bit, keeping her voice low enough so that they wouldn't gather too much attention.

    "Come on, we need to get out of here."
    • Love Love x 1
  15. Somehow seeing Olivia at the end of the tunnel eased the pain still radiating through his skull, but only a little. There was still an astounding ache pounding its way between his temples, but Gabriel studiously ignored it, instead focusing his attention on his companion and their escape route. She was irritated with him, but she had right to be considering how scared she was, how much fear he could scent on her. The prospect of being the lone person to escape a massacre would unease anyone and they were friends. It was nice to know she didn't want to lose him.

    There was a hint of a smile, just the slightest curling of his lips at the thought before the blond was looking toward the field they had to cross once more. It wasn't ideal. Too open, too long until the cover of the nearby canyons would conceal them, but it was the only chance they had and with a look back over his shoulder at the tunnel, knowing what lay on the other side of it, Gabriel gave a nod to the female.

    "All right. Let's go."

    They started out slow, constantly looking back to see if they'd been followed, seen, but there was no one. No sound of alarm, no pursuit, but soon enough there were the telltale black, billowing clouds of smoke that signaled the town being set on fire. It was then that he and Olivia picked up their pace into almost a run. The fire would spread across the dry grass with ease and they needed to be out of it before the flames or the soldiers decided to leave the town in search of new prey.

    Twenty minutes later saw them reaching their first rocks of the canyon and while under any normal circumstance this would have been a place to avoid - thieves and gangs often dwelled in such places, ready to rob travelers and even kill them - it was their refuge now and the two raced into the sheltering rocks without hesitation.

    Looking back once more before the canyon swallowed up the sight, they could see that the town was completely on fire and it was indeed spreading across the field they'd just escaped. The army's vehicles were leaving, but heading in a different direction than their own. For now....they were safe.

    Dark amber eyes looked to bright blue as they were allowed to slow and then stop to catch their breath and Gabriel shook his head just a little, blond hair falling into his eyes and clinging to his face and neck with sweat. "I think I would have liked to have come across you in better circumstances." Perhaps a poor attempt at humor and the male didn't linger on it, studying her again more seriously.

    "Are you all right?"
    #15 Kaisaan, Oct 4, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  16. The trek across the field had been slow and cautious, not wanting to bring attention to themselves. It was bad enough they had barely made it out of there alive, they didn't need to risk being shot at while out in the barren open. However, they were forced to pick up their pace as the settlement was set on fire, the winds blowing the flames into the fields they were passing through. Running now, they made their way into the canyon, a place that Olivia had made a very large point of avoiding. Sadly, it was the only place the fire could not follow them, and they were stuck there until it died out of its own accord.

    Jumping behind the sheltering rocks just before the flames had reached them, the pair at in shock and awe as they were forced to watch the final moments of one of the few oasis' in this barren land. Another one lost to battle, and this time it wasn't even the ferals...Panting, she was breathless for a long moment as she turned away, taking a moment to try and process everything that had just happened. Almost dead at the hands of a military attack. Why where they even this far out? What crazed individual thought it was a good idea to do that!? Certainly the government had better things to do than waste resources on killing off random people. Out here, the ill could cause no trouble to anyone but themselves...what threat did they place upon those that lived behind the walls?

    A hallow laugh left her at his words, a weak smile resting on her lips as she glanced at him. She could only mentally agree, shaking her head a bit at him before she waved off his question. "I'm alive aren't I? Can't get much better than that...Jesus, what the fuck man..." The words were mumbled near the end, as if to be directed to herself. "Well, I'll admit, that wasn't what I was expecting to happen today...It's worrying that they are out this far. They never come out this far. What about you? Are you okay? You were taking a bit to get through I...I though they got you for a minute." She asked slowly, her eyes lingering on him before turning away and looking at the rocks.
  17. They never come out this far.

    Why did those words send a chill up his spine and fear racing through his blood? He didn't know these people.....or he didn't think he did. Gabriel had no memory of them, but that didn't mean anything these days and perhaps it hadn't for a long while, he didn't know. He couldn't remember that far back. Not clearly. Maybe he did know these soldiers. But if that was true...and it had to be, didn't it, because they had known him....why hadn't they come after him?

    Was he.....on their side? A spy of some kind?

    Had he led them to the town without knowing it?

    The thought was a sickening one, causing bile to rise into his throat and the blond carefully swallowed it back down, taking a slightly shaky breath that he was more than sure Olivia wouldn't notice. Human really didn't catch those kinds of things. It was something he'd come to find out the longer he had to deal with this own heightened senses. It was like he'd been blind and deaf and oblivious before the mutation, but now practically nothing escaped his notice. Not if he could hear, taste, smell or see it. Sometimes even when he could do none of those things, a sixth sense warning him just as often as his other five did of danger, of something going on just beyond his ability to understand.

    It was that sense now that nagged at him and Gabriel gave a slight shiver, trying to shake it off his skin even as he spoke. He hadn't done so much talking in a long while....he thought. It certainly felt like it, but then, who did he have to talk to?

    "I'm all right." There was a pause in which he watched his childhood friend and her studying gaze, continuing to look at her even when she looked away. She was still worried about what had kept him and something about that, about being cared for sent a comfort through him that Gabriel had long given up on feeling again. It was a heady sensation, curling through his chest like fiery heat and the blond resisted the urge to reach out to Olivia and pull her into a hug.

    He couldn't.

    "There were soldiers. I had to....wait for them to pass before I could move." It was.....mostly true. He hadn't moved until they'd gone, wasn't the full story. Somehow trying to explain that he'd been seen and let go just seemed impossible in that moment, especially when he couldn't say why, couldn't explain that he didn't FEEL as if he was a traitor, but also that he didn't know.

    He'd just gotten his friend back. He didn't want to lose the only person he knew in this world....or at least the only person he remembered.

    Gabriel stood then, ignoring the twinge of pain in his side that told him a bullet had nicked through his skin. It wasn't anything bad, that he could tell without even looking, and it wouldn't do any good to let Olivia know it was there. She couldn't touch him anyway, and certainly not his blood. He'd have to treat it himself when they stopped for the night. It wouldn't hinder him too much until then. No, right now his focus was on the canyons, his head tilting, ears listening to anything that might be within the rocks. He detected nothing, not yet, and his nose gave the same message so that when he looked back at Olivia, it was with confidence.

    "Come on, Olive. We're alone...for now." Best they take advantage of it and start moving. They certainly couldn't go back the way they'd come.
  18. "I see..." She said slowly as he explained what had taken him so long. Olivia was quick to believe it as well, the settlement had bene crawling with them. It had been pretty damn lucky that they hadn't run into more of them sooner. After all the shooting and running they had done, she wasn't about to try and pry much more into it anyway. There were bigger problems to be facing where the hell to go from there. It was in this moment that she was grateful that she had taken all the water she could get her hands on before that happened, they were going to need it in the canyon.

    At the mention of moving on, she silently followed. No point in wasting a good opportunity. The canyon was not a place to linger after all. All sorts of nasty people hung around here, waiting for innocents to come by for them to either steal from or kill...or both. Standing around would only bring attention to them. The fast they moved along, the better off they would be. Keeping pace with Gabriel as best she could, she felt her steps long and fast. After all, she was far shorter than he was, keeping is pace took some effort. It was at this point she had wished that she had at least grown since she had last seen him. He seemed to be giant in comparison to her now. As her roughed up boots stomped along the ground, she found her eyes wandering over him for a second.

    A lot had changed about him, from the way he acted to the way he moved. It was as if there was purpose in his step. She had no interest in prying, a lot of people changed after the illness started to really catch on. More and more people lost the ability to hold on to old morals and beliefs. She herself didn't have as much mercy as she once did. Back before the sickness she couldn't imagine killing any small animal...Now she never hesitated to grab something to eat, be it rabbit or squirrel. Looking back forward, she found herself starting to hate the silence between them.

    "Gabe...Where have you been this whole time?" She asked softly at first. "I mean...I know a lot of us just got tossed around in the fray of things but...Gosh, you and I lost track of each other a long time before this all started. I tried to do college but...gosh, I lost so much when the sickness started, that it was just easier to pack up and bolt before it hit my school." She started out, filling the void with noise as they hurried on their way through the high sided canyon.
  19. It was strange, traveling with someone.

    Gabriel couldn't remember the last person he'd been around, whether he'd ever been in a group or had companions, but from what little he could recall on a day to day basis - and it varied each day - he wasn't used to company. Whether that was by necessity, circumstance or preference, he wasn't sure. He certainly didn't mind Olivia's sudden appearance into his life, but that could have been a biased conclusion on his part. She was a friend.

    Or had been.

    Could she still be considered that now? They didn't even know each other.....and he knew far less than she did, a point of fact that grew with the evidence of her speech. She was talking, retelling just a fragment of their past and he....he was drawing a blank and subsequently feeling that first curl of panic in his gut that came with trying to reach into the dark void always present within his mind. He didn't want to do that. He didn't want the pain that came with the effort, but somehow even knowing what would happen and knowing he didn't want it, Gabriel couldn't stop his thoughts from reaching, from venturing into that void in search of something to pull back out.

    The first spike of discomfort was easy enough to ignore, a throb like a low grade headache and he kept walking, his movement as lithe as a cat and just as quiet. Every step was carefully placed without thought, not hindering his speed in the slightest, but no rocks were disturbed when he passed and there was hardly evidence of a shoe print as Gabriel seemed to avoid most dust-patches. He didn't think about it, didn't even focus on it - no more than an animal would and it was only when he realized that he was starting to draw ahead of Olivia that he checked himself and slowed down, dropping back to her side, his dark amber eyes looking down at her contemplatively.

    He hadn't answered her yet, that he knew, but the truth was that he didn't know what to answer, not without revealing how utterly screwed up his head was....and that just didn't seem like something to just....blurt out. Especially to someone he didn't want leaving. And who would stay, knowing that tomorrow he might not even remember who she was at all? The world was hard enough without that kind of crap to deal with, too.

    In the end, though, he couldn't lie. Not to her.

    "I don't know, Olive." Coming from anyone else, it might have sounded like a common cop-out, a way to just shrug the conversation off and leave it, but Gabriel's tone was different. Sincere....regretful and he sighed, but stopped walking, trusting that Olivia would do the same as his gaze met her own, his own calm, so incredibly steady.....but for the sliver of fear, the uncertainty that lurked just beneath, perhaps visible to someone who knew him - or had known him - well enough to recognize it for what it was.

    "I want to tell you, but I....I can't. I don't know where I've been or....what I've done. There's just bits and pieces, enough for me to understand who I am, most of the time, and...." He wasn't doing a good job of this. Gabriel took a breath, the ends of his blond hair stirring with the exhale as he looked away, around at the canyons and then down at the rocks between their feet. His palms rubbed reflexively against the top of his thighs and against his jeans - a sure sign of nervousness. Finally the explanation came, clearly.

    "I don't remember much, Olive. I don't know when it started happening or why, but....I don't remember most of my life or...or even most of last week. It...comes and goes."

    There. Now she could leave. She would know he was unstable, dangerous even and she could leave, conscience clear. She would be safer at least. He could feel better about that. It had been the right thing to do.

    So why did he feel so sick?
    #19 Kaisaan, Oct 18, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  20. His words shocked her, enough to even stop her walking as he came clean with the truth. She just stood there, looking her old friend up and down like he was a whole other person...And yet at the same time himself. Olivia found it almost impossible to believe that he actually couldn't remember anything, what he had done between the time they parted and whenever he started to retain memories again. To think that all of that time had been lost to history was very unnerving. It made her wonder what else he remembered or forgot. Obviously he knew her, as he knew her name, but how much of her did he actually remember about their past together?

    "But...You remembered me." She said slowly at first, looking him over as the shock of the news started to pass. "You remembered me, and that is what counts...But...What do you actually remember then? Do...Do you remember being sick?" It was hard to speak now, mostly because there were just so many questions to ask. She had a million running in her mind alone, and probably a million more waiting to pop out as she learned more. Even if Gabe barely remembered her, even if the kindness was nothing more than muscle memory, a part of her couldn't stand the idea of parting now, after just seeing him again. In a world as dark as their's, this was no time to be turning down friend for silly reasons like memory loss.

    Besides, the illness affected everyone differently.

    Because it had happened so fast and so quickly, the range of recorded symptoms was so massive and wild that it was literally impossible to tell at the time if it was the illness or a small cold. In the end, most people were left undiagnosed too long, eventually suffering the full extent of the illness before they even realized they had it. Walking over to him slowly, she gently reached for his shirt as skin contact was dangerous. The gesture was meant to be kind though, showing that she was going to stick it out, they had little choice anyway considering the obstacles that now faced them. "You must remember...something about your past. you remember going to school together?"
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