Whispers in the Wasteland

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Anasiel, Mar 24, 2015.

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  1. Caitlyn pressed her body further against the top of the grassy hill as she peered down at the encampment of men in the valley, not even 100 yards from her. There were five men, laughing harshly and making snide remarks to each other around a campfire. Soon, the sun would fully set and Caitlyn would have to make her move. For now though, she was grateful for the opportunity just to watch.

    It had been nearly 10 years since she had last seen a male and she was equally as frightened as she was curious. These men were filthy, and spoke unncessarily loudly compared to the women of the vault. If Caitlyn had her pick, these men would be the last people she would steal from. As it was though, her own cache of supplies was running low and her stomach was burning with hunger. It had been a full week since she left the vault, and these were the only people she had managed to see along the way. Caitlyn took a long, slow breath to steady her nerves.

    Half an hour later, darkness descended over the camp and one by one, the men laid down to sleep. Caitlyn waited a full other hour before she crept down the hill, moving as silently as she could. She held her breath as she approached the group, her eyes straining in the darkness to see her surroundings. Finally, they locked onto a crusted leather bag that sat next to one of the men. It was the only one not directly touching anyone and Caitlyn cautiously began to slink towards it. At least, only inches away from the sleeping man, Caitlyn slipped her fingers around the bag's harness and began to pull it towards her.

    A startled snort made Caitlyn freeze.

    "Who the fuck are you?"

    Uh oh. Caitlyn's grip on the bag tightened and she rose, about to make a run for it when a sturdy hand grabbed her by the wrist. The other men were waking now and stood in a hurry, all eyes narrowed at the girl in front of them.

    "I, um...I was hungry..." Caitlyn started, dropping the bag with a nervous smile. The men did not seem amused with her answer and her mind began to race. Well, it can't get any worse. Caitlyn let out a shriek. "HELP!!!"
  2. Heavy breathing was really the only sound that could be heard around the lone man right now. His own heavy breathing. He'd been running a lot the past few days, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder hadn't helped much. But he needed the supplies. They were stolen, of course, but who the hell cared? The vault he'd left behind wouldn't search forever for a simple man and a few thieved goods. Though that wasn't the only thing he'd managed to steal. A few guns would serve him well; a pistol in it's holster on his belt, as well as a rifle on his back. Though he also had a dagger in the duffel bag. Ammo would be a miracle in a wasteland like this.

    It was fairly hot. Sweat misted the twenty-five year old's forehead, and his rich brown hair stuck in different places. He had no idea where he was. He just had an idea, and a goal. Determined to accomplish what he'd set out for, one would say his aims were high. Perhaps they were. But what else could you aim for after nuclear warfare? There wasn't much else left in the world. Not for him, at least. No family. No lover. No nothing.

    The man wore simple attire. A white tank top covered by a dark green jacket and cargo pants as well as combat boots. Around his neck dogtags hung, the name William Cruso engraved in the metal. His journey had been long; he knew he'd have to set up camp soon. But he seemed to have been forced to halt in his tracks earlier than he'd wished as a sudden scream pierced the air and the atmosphere became tense. It'd been a while since he'd heard another human voice. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't ignore the blatant plea for help.

    Setting the bag down; he began his trek downhill. It wasn't too far, thankfully. As he arrived onto the scene, eyes narrowed, he discovered some men and a woman. Clearly the men were angry but seeing the female in distress he didn't agree with the situation.
    "So, boys. We're in a nuclear wasteland and you're really going to turn on another human? I figure she did something to piss you off, yeah? Be that as it may, I think you should be the bigger people and just let the girl go," Will said in his husky voice, tone gruff and serious.

    William took out his pistol, "Or we won't handle this so civilly if you refuse."
  3. The men weren't entirely sure how to react to the new threat; a couple raised their hands in a non-confrontational way, while others reached for their own weapons. The one that held onto Caitlyn eyed William warily, but did not let go of the girl's wrist.

    "She was trying to steal from us."

    Caitlyn, emboldened by the presence of the young man, puffed her chest a little. "Yeah, but I obviously wasn't very good. Do you think I'm actually dangerous?"

    The man glanced Caitlyn up and down and sighed. She certainly didn't seem like she would be any trouble. The girl was on the smaller side, dressed in a long sleeve brown shirt with the sleeves pulled up to her elbows, and a pair of blue jeans with boots. As if that wasn't enough, the black and white checkered scarf that adorned her neck made her seem even more woefully out of place. With a frustrated growl, the man let go of Caitlyn. "Just get out of here."

    Not about to mess up this opportunity, Caitlyn nodded and hurried towards the hill again, but not before she turned and looked at William. She didn't say anything, but the way she looked at the man made it clear she wanted him to follow. Whether she was going to thank him, or turn around and try to steal from him as well, was unknown.
  4. William arched a brow as the girl stormed away. "Clearly," he said purposefully loudly, "she has no idea what she's doing out here. I apologize for her, whomever she is, men. Go back to your day as usual." Will gestured in a shoo sort of manner, "That's right. Carry on."

    Putting the pistol back in its holster, he shrugged, and then turned around. Why he was following the young woman- well, that was unclear. He had better things to be doing, like setting up camp and getting some food in his stomach. He'd have to leave out as soon as dawn broke the next morning.
    "Look, it seems as if you don't know what the hell you're doing. Stealing from a large group like that? You know, you should be thanking me. They could have harmed you in more ways than you could imagine. I don't think you've much room to be getting all confident like you did back there. It's a quick way to ensure your death," William told her seriously.

    "Either way, I won't be around to save your ass so watch out. I've got to go back and get my bag. I set it down and here soon I need to start up a campsite for tonight. So, I can't be bothered following around a little teenager. Best of luck and all that, but yeah," Will said, stopping and heading the direction of the supplies he'd left behind.
  5. A rush of indignation swept through Caitlyn and she blurted out, "I am NOT a teenager!" Suddenly, Caitlyn realized just how ungrateful and immature she sounded, and the indignation quickly turned to embarassment. "Um... w-wait up..."

    She started to follow William, though his strides were longer than hers and she struggled to keep up. "You're right. I didn't know what I was doing. I still don't. I need help though. I haven't eaten in 2 days. If you don't mind, maybe I could stay in camp with you....?" Her voice had started to trail off with uncertainty. Without any other direction or help, Caitlyn knew she wasn't going to last too much longer. William was her best bet, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that she was rubbing him the wrong way.

    Let's see, how can I turn this situation around? What do boys like...?

    "I um....like your guns. They look pretty cool. My brother taught me how to shoot a couple before the war."
  6. William felt a little sympathy for the girl. Dammit. Don't turn around. Don't turn around. And of course, he stops, and turns around to face her. "Well, I suppose you could stay a little while with me. Just until you can get yourself some supplies on your own. I could also teach you a couple things." Suddenly, a playful smirk came onto his powerful jaws, "No worries, by teaching you things I meant survival tactics. Not... other things."

    Will gave a laugh. What? Harmless flirting never hurt anyone. It'd been a while since he'd last talked to a woman and since she had clarified she was indeed a woman and not a teenager- trust me, he got that message loud and clear- he really couldn't help himself. "As for my guns, thanks. I had many more before the war. Kinda had 'em taken from me in those damned vaults," he responded to her last statement. It had been a curt response, though.

    "Well, come on then. We're not too far away; I've got plenty of food," William told her with a sigh, a hand raised to rub the back of his neck. Then, he motioned in the direction and started walking again, strides confident and fast-paced per usual for the man. When he was sure of his bearings and situation nothing stood in his way.

    "Mind telling me your name?" William asked, another appearance from his signature smirk beginning to show. He'd planned to annoy the hell out of her by not telling her his own name for a while. Usually, around a new person he would be rather quiet and wary. But in this case, he'd not seen anyone in some time and her youthfulness compared to him put him more at ease. He happened to be more comfortable around females, anyhow.
  7. It took Caitlyn a couple of seconds to understand Wiliam's off-handed flirt and when she did, a deep flush spread across her cheeks. She had only been 10 when she entered the vault - too young to be flirted with - so all of her romantic experience came from whatever movies or books were in the vault. If the remark had come from anyone else, it might have put Caitlyn on edge. Coming from William though...

    Caitlyn strained her eyes to see the man in the darkness. She could only really see his outline in the moonlight, but that was all she needed. He was so...foreign. Everything about him, from his height, to his broad shoulders and facial stubble, were so distinctly masculine and unlike what she had been surrounded with for so long.

    For once, Caitlyn was speechless and she lamely let the flirt go without acknowledgement. When William spoke next, Caitlyn was more than eager to reply, if anything to forget about her brain fizzle. "My name is Caitlyn, but everyone just calls me Cat." She looked at William expenctantly then, waiting for him to share his name as well.
  8. William slowed his pace in order to look back at the blonde from over his shoulder. "Cute name," was all he said, smiling genuinely but also a bit teasingly as he wouldn't share his own. He would eventually, but he wanted to see exactly what she would do in response. Then, he faced forward once more and continued to walk. It was only another minute or so before they reached the spot he'd been previously.

    The brown-haired male knelt down next to his bag and began taking out some supplies, his dogtags dangled from his neck. It was a direct sign he'd been in the army or an army of sorts before. The man mumbled to himself as he discovered he was short on some things. Whatever, she probably needed some of this more than he did. William stood, and averted his eyes from the bag and back to Caitlyn. "Think fast," he said, before tossing her a water bottle.

    "There's also some food in there, take what you need, not what you want. I've got to eat myself," Will told her, displaying his knowledge on the situation at hand. The whole situation. He was survivor, so he knew what would work and what wouldn't.
    "We can eat and then we're going to walk into the forest," William gestured to the forest-line behind them, "And gather some wood for a fire."

    It was nice to see some of the trees and undergrowth had grown back. But things still looked pretty dead, even ten years after the war. It was still a wasteland. But perhaps it still provided.
  9. Caitlyn didn't answer William's first remark, still waiting for his name. When it became apparent that he wasn't going to share that information, a slight pout crossed her face. Maybe he just forgot to tell me his name... maybe... or is he messing with me again? Caitlyn was startled out of her thoughts when the water bottle was flung toward her. She squeaked involuntarily in surprise, but managed to grab ahold of the bottle before it fell to the ground. "HEY-"

    But William was offering his food to her now and Caitlyn's complaint died in her throat. No matter how the man was acting, he WAS helping her, and Caitlyn reminded herself again to behave. She rifled through the bag, her mouth watering at the sight of the food. She did her best to curb her hunger though, and only took what was necessary. As she opened the packets and began to eat, she looked back over at William. Well, there is more than one way to find out his name.

    "Those dog tags... you were in the war, weren't you? Do you mind if I see them?"
  10. William nodded, and settled down on the ground with his food. Setting it down at his side, he grabbed the dogtags and yanked them from his neck before tossing them over to Caitlyn. "I was called to battle when I was fifteen. I was in it for a year or so and then talk of nukes came out so I was sent to Vault 203," Will explained, but dare not go into too much detail. Especially not of his family or their whereabouts.

    As the blonde examined his necklace, he began to hungrily chow down on his food. Eating was considered a lucky activity nowadays. Anything that was in the norm for people was considered lucky if they were used to it back in the day, mostly out here without any civilization.
    Smart girl, Will thought with a curt smile as he knew the real reason behind her wanting to see his dogtags.
  11. Caitlyn grinned as she caught the dogtags, glad that William had surrendered them without a fight like she had anticipated. William Cruso... Satisfied with what she learned, she handed the dogtags bag to him. "Thanks, William." She smiled good naturedly at him before a thought crossed her mind and her expression turned more serious.

    "You were in the war... did you ever hear about a Chris? Chris Greenfield? The last I heard, he had been sent to the east coast..."

    Caitlyn had a million questions for her new companion, but this was on the forefront of her mind. It was highly unlikely William knew of her brother, especially since nearly every single male was recruited for the war, but some part of her just needed to ask.
  12. William chuckled when she showed off the fact that she knew his name now. It had been a throaty and deep chuckle, a genuine one. But as she asked her next question several ideas came to his head. What had this Chris been to her? A father? Brother? Lover? The last idea unexpectedly had him full of envy. Why, he didn't know. It's not like he knew this girl well enough to have any feelings toward her, I mean, they'd just met than less an hour ago. She was quite beautiful, though. There was no doubt the man would be casting glances her way; he already had, really.

    Perhaps it was more so the fact Will didn't have anyone he loved. He never had. There had never really been much of an opportunity. Most of the people in Vault 203 had been men- men he'd served with and fought alongside of. The few women in there were far to old for him. It had always been a wonder. What love was like. That kind of love, anyhow. But back onto the topic of who Chris was- he decided not ask and respect her. She would tell him when she was ready. And he would tell her about his family when he was ready, if he ever was.

    "No, sorry. There were a lot of forts and districts for all of us. We were also moved around a lot- even if I did meet a Chris Greenfield I wouldn't remember him. Besides, that was a long time ago. I was around fifteen, sixteen. Back then life passed me by quick. I still don't think it was right for them to recruit such young people. I see why they did but that part of the war only lasted a couple years. The kids were picked off quick. I'm surprised I wasn't, but I had men looking out for me in the heat of battle. I still blame myself for some of their deaths, especially my-..." Will trailed off and looked at his food dully. His face went from a pained look of despair and then collapsed into purely emotionless.

    A moment passed and then William silently finished off the rest of his meal.
  13. Caitlyn realized she had hit a sore spot with William on this last topic, and so she refrained herself from asking about whatever it was he had stopped himself from saying. The curiosity nagged at her though, and Caitlyn was growing frustrated with herself; she had been outspoken for so long that it was difficult to hold her tongue now, especially when so many questions brewed in her head.

    At the very least though, she wanted to dispel the awkwardness and change topics, so she decided to fill the silence herself.

    "Vault 203, huh? I was raised in a vault not too far from here. Every single inhabitant was female though. My mom thought it would be safer that way. I guess it was, but it would have been nice to have some variety. Growing up without men... it kind of messes with your head whenever you actually see one again," Caitlyn rambled with a nervous laugh. "To be honest, I have only been out of the vault for a week. I'm still kind of learning what the world is like now. The other day I drank irradiated water and got sick, haha...."

    Oh my god, shut up. You're embarassing yourself.

    Caitlyn suddenly stopped talking. She hurried to finish her meal and then stood up. "So uh... let's go get that firewood."
  14. William's sour mood was quickly replaced with that of humor as she spoke. Man, she was cute. Standing up as to her wishes, he spoke once more as they began their trek into the forest. "I know what you mean. I never saw females much. Actually you're the first girl around my age that I've met since... since the war started. You are around my age? I'm twenty-five. I think. I stopped caring about birthdays a while back. Let's see, fifteen when I joined the war. Add ten, you get twenty-five. Yup. But yeah. Girls were a foreign subject to me, really. I was socially awkward as a kid, I didn't really have crushes or anything like that. All I knew back then was that they were pretty to look at and when I hit the age of twelve I started getting curious as most boys do."

    At that last statement, Will laughed softly. "My confidence was at a lack, though. I wasn't the flirt I am now- thank the men of Vault 203 for that," the brown-haired male grinned playfully. "Anyway, did you really drink that? The water I have now was stolen from the Vault; any water we find I'll have to boil over a fire. To make sure I don't get us sick. But I can't blame you- you were used to the more comfortable life of the vault and didn't know more about this world. I've only been out of my vault for about two days, but I left it many times before. Without anyone knowing, of course."

    Finally, they reached the forest, and Will search through undergrowth and dead trees to find suitable wood.
  15. Caitlyn listened to William with piqued interest, both confused and amazed at some of the things he had said. How could he not know how old he was? Even though no resources could be spared for them, everybody celebrated their birthday in Vault 17 in one way or another. And the fact that William wasn't close to any girls... Caitlyn couldn't help but smile faintly at that. At least she wasn't alone in her unfamiliarity with the opposite gender.

    Is that the only reason why you're happy about it...?

    Caitlyn kept trying to convince herself that the reason why it was hard to look away from the man was simply because of his foreignness. It was difficult not to admit though, that William was a noteably more attractive man - at least compared to the group of men in the valley. In fact, William seemed like he was straight out of one of the vault's romantic movies.

    No. Stop. Focus.

    Caitlyn forced her attention on the forest and began to rummage through the woods as well, glancing at William occasionally to learn what branches and wood pieces he was picking up, so that she knew how to do the same. One thing did bother her though - mainly that William had stolen from his vault. She didn't want to anger the man though, so she withheld a direct accusation.

    "...It sounds like you were close to the men in your vault. What made you decide to leave?"
  16. "There wasn't much left for me," William answered, "Besides, most of the men I'd grown close to was over the course of my teen years. By the time I was around eighteen, a sickness spread and took a lot of people. Including many of the men I'd fought with and grew to like. Not even that; you should know- the government was becoming twisted and corrupt. The main reason I left was because of the rumors."

    Will's tone suddenly had an edge of seriousness and graveness in it, "There was word going around that we were being lied to. See, that's correct. Because up until a year ago they were lying to us when they said it wasn't safe to venture out of the vaults. That the toxic air couldn't be breathed. We're both fine, aren't we? But there's a new lie we're onto. People were saying that there actually is civilization left out there. That not everything is still a wasteland- that they told us what they wanted us to hear so we'd stay in those underground tunnels. Easier to rule around. That's the main reason I left. I'm in search to see if the rumors are true. And if they are..."

    "I'm taking down that fucking government," Will said, a spark of rebellion in his voice, "I'm no hero but I'm not made of stone."

    The twenty-five year old stared at Caitlyn for a moment and his facial expression softened. Then he went back to gathering wood, a grunt leaving him as he picked up a particularly heavy piece.
  17. Caitlyn felt a twinge of sadness at mention of the sickness that passed through Vault 203. It was no surprise that close quarters would facilitate mass illness, but she was still a little surprised that it had happened to both her vault and William's. How many other vaults suffered the same thing? The more William continued, the more engrossed Caitlyn became. If what he was saying was true, then all those years she and others had spent in the vault were for nothing. Her mother had gotten ill and died for nothing...

    After William was done speaking, Caitlyn remained silent for a few moments, entrenched in her own thoughts. The women in her vault had always been cautious and trusting; as long as the government had told them that the air was toxic, they didn't dare go out, even when there were signs of life outside. Caitlyn used to hear people banging on the vault doors, shouting muffled, inarticulate things. She had always assumed they had been poisoned by the air. If that wasn't true, then had the women been turning down healthy people who only wanted food and water? Or maybe the people were trying to help by telling them to come outside? The thought made Caitlyn sick.

    "...Do you believe the rumors? Do you really think the goverment could be doing that to us?" Caitlyn asked, with sad hazel eyes directed towards William. "If there really is civilization, everyone in my vault wouldn't have to go without anymore. There would be so much food and water and space to move around in. How could the government keep that from us?"
  18. "Because the government's twisted. It always has been. Every person high up in rank wants nothing but power, when they don't have the right hands to hold it correctly. So yeah, I believe the rumors. Because since before the war the assholes up there have lied to us," William told her. After a few more minutes he noticed the two of them had been able to collect enough firewood.

    "Right then. We can head back now. It gets really cold at nights right now so we'll need the fire," Will explained. Actually, the nukes had caused quite the awkward weather pattern. It could get really hot during the day but by night it could drop below zero. With a grunt, William realized he didn't have extra blankets or anything. For some reason he was entirely too concerned about her well-being.

    The man began to wonder about all the ways he could possibly keep her warm. Give him all his blankets and his jacket, perhaps. But then he'd be left to the unforgiving cold. A blush suddenly came to his face as he thought about sharing his body-heat with her and... well, cuddling. No... No. Why did he... Will gripped the firewood tighter. None of that.
  19. Caitlyn listened to William silently, simply taking in everything he said. Vault 17 had been somewhat of an echo chamber of thoughts; everybody seemed to more or less agree on most issues. This was the first time Caitlyn was really hearing a radically different opinion and it was forcing her to reflect on a lot of the things she had previously accepted as truth.

    She walked back to the campsite and began to set the firewood down. Already, the air was becoming cooler and Caitlyn felt the onset of a shiver. She didn't want to say anything, but the nights had been a horror for her. Vault 17 was always temperature regulated to a pleasant 70 degrees at all times. Caitlyn did have a small blanket in her bag, but it was meager compared to the cold. Before tonight, she had taken refuge in abandoned buildings to escape from the wind. There was no building now, but at least there would be a fire. Speaking of...

    Caitlyn looked up at William and flashed an embarassed smile. "Could you teach me how to start a fire?"
  20. "I would but allow me to take the lazy route," William grinned, pulling out a lighter. "I'll teach you soon. I'm just tired and it takes a bit to get a fire started without aid like this. Besides it's too late for that. But the fuel in this lighter won't last forever. Already used up half of it on cigarettes."
    Will just revealed that he smoked- or, rather, that he did. He started smoking when he was sixteen and did so often until the cancer sticks became scarce. He had to give them up when they were no longer available. He only used them because they calmed his nerves and kept him sane sometimes.

    Starting the fire and working with it, he had warmth provided for them at last. William gave a content sigh before sitting down in front of the fire and zipping up his jacket. It was getting colder by the minute. "Fucking weather sucks," Will mumbled, before letting his torso lay on the ground too. The man peered up at the stars and thought of a simpler time when he was a kid and seeing the night sky on a more normal situation.

    "Don't you miss it?" Will asked. "What it was like before all this?"
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