truth ran free (closer to the edge)
Can you imagine a time when the truth ran free?
The birth of a song, the death of a dream
Closer to the edge
– 30 Seconds to Mar, "Closer to the Edge"
They came for her father on a Tuesday afternoon.
Clarke was returning from her apprenticeship with her mother in the medical bay, eager to rest and relax by watching some more old football games on their projector screen. She hadn't expected to find her father recording a message to the people of the Ark, explaining that the air was running out.
She also didn't expect that she was able to convince him to put the data pad down and watch the game with her, in an effort to buy him some time to rethink things. (Not that she wanted him to rethink things; she believed that the people should know too, but she also heard her parents arguing well into the night about it. She wanted to give them at least one more day to come to a compromise.)
But in a strange twist of fate, as Clarke meandered from her small bedroom to the living area, past the small cubby her father was using as his desk, Clarke stopped. She stopped, looked at the data pad, and let her finger hover over the 'play' button. She could hear her father, not more than ten feet from her, arranging the living room and turning the projector on, as well as picking a game for them to watch.
Over the beginning fanfare of cheers from a long-ago crowd, so that he couldn't hear, Clarke pressed 'play.' She listened to her father's message. She felt it resonate within her.
And that's when they opened the Griffin's door, guards in black and their batons up as they dragged Jake to his feet.
"Dad, no!" Clarke cried out, scrambling from the desk where she inadvertently knocked over the data pad so that it slid behind the desk. "What are you doing? Leave him alone!"
Clarke darted towards, pushing ineffectively at the guards, one who shoved her violently back.
"Clarke! Stop, no!" Jake struggled against the guards, his blue eyes – the eyes he passed down to her – on his daughter. "Leave her alone."
He stopped struggling, throwing his hands up to show his cooperation as Clarke stood on shaky legs.
"What are you doing?" she demanded, turning her eyes from the guards who stood silent beside her father, to finally the two men who hovered in the doorway. The guards pulled Jake aside, revealing Thelonius Jaha and the newly-appointed Commander Shumway.
"Theo...?" asked a rather shell-shocked Jake, his eyes wide as he took in the form of his friend, who stood with bowed head and hands clasped behind his back.
"I'm sorry, Jake," the leader of the Ark said solemnly, his eyes raising once to meet his best friend's. "But this must be done for the greater good of our people."
"Greater good?" shrieked Clarke, hands flying to her waist as Thelonius's eyes turned to hers. She vaguely registered Shumway's hand hovering over his pistol at waist-height at her voice. "Since when is it for the greater good to hide the truth from the people?"
"Clarke," urged her father in a low tone, eyes fixed on her. "Stop it. Don't say anything."
Clarke's blue eyes bounced from her best friend's father, the man who ran the Ark, to her father, who looked at her imploringly. His own eyes – the same colour as hers – begged her to remain silent, to not speak and to let him continue through with his plan to the bitter end.
But Clarke was not willing to let her father go. Despite her stubbornness, despite her desire to help others which led her to take an apprenticeship with her renowned mother, Clarke was more her father's daughter than her mother's. And Clarke was not willing to let her father go. Not yet.
"I found his paperwork," she said evenly, turning back to face Jaha in her confession. "I saw and read what was happening in engineering and realised the truth. My dad caught me and we argued about how I wanted to let everyone know."
Clarke could feel the anger burning in her, slowly boiling as she continued, letting her righteousness take over. "I recorded a message on the data pad and was going to sneak into the Communications Tower to play it all over the station. The people of the Ark have a right to know!"
"Stop! Clarke, stop!" begged Jake, prompting the two guards next to him to grab him again and pull him back.
Jaha was looking thunderstruck at Clarke as she continued to speak, louder and louder. Shumway, however, was looking as though he just won the lottery.
"We're dying!" Clarke shouted over her father's voice. She shoved her hands into her trouser pockets to hide their trembling. "You're killing us and won't figure out a way to survive! The people of the Ark deserve to know what's happening to them! What will happen to them!"
A gasp from the doorway drew Clarke's attention. Her mother stood, pale, with a hand pressed to her mouth in horror.
"Abby, stop her," demanded Jake loudly, grunting as one of the guards yanked him back tightly, struggling to hold him in place. But Abby Griffin was locked on the up-tilted face of her daughter, whose jaw and chin jutted out in stubbornness and anger.
She knew that look.
"Going to stop me too, mom?" asked Clarke without a waver in her voice, squaring her shoulders. "Going to tell me to not tell everyone how we're dying? Going to tell them that I don't know what I'm talking about?"
Clarke didn't know what she was talking about. She had overheard enough arguments to know that the Ark was dying and that the mechanical parts required for fixing the air supply were badly damaged, and they were running on borrowed time. But she also knew she was sixteen, nearly seventeen.
They wouldn't float her.
Not yet, anyway.
But maybe she bought her father enough time to fix it. To find another solution, to save as many people as possible because that's what the Griffins do: help people. And they couldn't do that if her father – the Senior Environmental Engineer in the Ark – was floated.
Jaha blinked, his own dark complexion drastically pale underneath a tired and stress-lined face. Dark circles under his eyes told her how much he struggled with his decisions to come for her father.
With a heaving breath, he turned to the guards holding Jake back, casting a quick, sorrowful glance at his best friend; then, his eyes turned to Shumway and Abby in the doorway. With a sigh, he quietly said, "Commander Shumway. Please arrest Clarke Griffin of Phoenix Station for treason."
Abby began crying, muttering "No, no, no, please Thelonius, no..." while Jake shouted above everyone: "Not Clarke! It's not Clarke! It's me, take me! I'm the one you want! Not my daughter!"
Raising his voice above them all, Thelonious Jaha continued, "Escort Ms. Griffin to the Sky Box, where she will be placed in solitary confinement until her eighteenth birthday when we will revisit this."
Shumway nodded and grasped Clarke by the upper arm as he led her from her living room and her parents. As they passed the door, Abby tried reaching for her, her hands plucking at Clarke's shirt as they passed by and instead causing her to collapse on the grating of the station.
"Clarke," her mother sobbed, "No."
Clarke pursed her lips together tightly, sucking in a deep breath of air as she blinked back tears. I know whatI'm was doing, she repeated to herself. I know what I'm was doing.
"Damn you, Thelonius!" she heard Jake thunder. "How could you? How could you?"
Behind her, the Griffin household's door hissed shut, and she and Shumway stood alone, cut off from the noise and chaos.
"This way, Ms. Griffin," Shumway said, gently pulling her in the direction of the Sky Box and away from Phoenix Station.
I know what I'm doing, Clarke repeated again, blinking back further tears as she passed people by, watching Shumway escort her with wide eyes.
She did not turn, or speak, when Wells Jaha shouted her name, mouth slack as Shumway pulled her by, nor did she stop or speak when her mother's friend and second-in-command of the Ark Marcus Kane tried stopping them by commanding Shumway to tell him what was happening.
She didn't speak when they stripped her of her clothing and gave her standard slacks and a top to wear for confinement, and she didn't speak when they told her the meal schedule or her rights as a prisoner in solitary.
She didn't speak when the closed the door of her cell, leaving her staring a tiny, barred window that overlooked the blue-and-green earth below. She didn't speak as she slunk to the ground, wrapping her arms around her knobby knees, clutching them tight to her body.
I know what I'm doing, she thought once more.
"I know what I'm doing," she said aloud, and then began sobbing.
She lost track of time in the cell, with the days eventually running into each other and only the circuit of the Ark's gravitational rotations telling her any time had passed as the earth came and went in her window.
She hoped her plan worked, that she saved her father from being floated. She received no word from the outside world; no word of her parents from the guards whose shifts constantly changed and soon each slick-haired, cold-eyed guard looked like the last.
And then, one day, her father came for her.
Clarke was lying on the ground of the cell when the door slid open, but this happened often enough that she assumed it was a food drop. Until the feet hesitantly shuffled in and a voice tentatively asked, "Clarke?"
Clarke shot to her feet and whirled in surprise, staring with greedy eyes at her father. Jake Griffin looked tired, bags under his eyes and an off-colour to her face that told Clarke just how long it had been. His clothes were rumpled and stained, and his pale blond hair was messily sticking up, like he had run his hands through it enough times.
"Dad?" murmured Clarke, before darting towards him and clutching him tightly around the middle. His arms came up and held his daughter tight to him as well, resting his cheek on his daughter's head.
"Hey, kiddo," he smiled against her. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too," whispered back Clarke. She then pulled away, but not fully, to look up at him. "But what's happening? Why are you here? Is everything ok? Mom?—"
Jake shushed her. "I don't have much time. I called in a favour to see you to begin with. I'm still working on it, Clarke, but it's slow going. I don't think anything I do anymore is going to change the situation."
"We need to tell people! We have to," said Clarke, frowning. "But if you say anything, they'll kill you."
Clarke's eyes met her father's. "No. I didn't get myself put in her so you could die. You're not going to do it. So, don't."
"Stop it!" she said, tearing herself from his arms and wrapping them around her as she took several steps back. "You're going to fix it or find another way. I'm not – I won't... you can't."
Jake turned his eyes to the ceiling and sighed. "Clarke, kiddo... I've been trying to convince Jaha to look things over and he says he might be willing. To believe the best in the people of the Ark."
"Why should he when it was Wells who told him? They're both the same!" retorted Clarke hotly. "I told Wells in secret because I couldn't keep it in, and look what happened! I'm in solitary and they almost floated you! You can't trust them."
Jake frowned. "You think Wells told his father?"
"Didn't he?" countered Clarke, sniffing.
"No, Clarke, he didn't," sighed Jake, running a hand through his hair. "It's not – that's not important, kiddo. What's important is that I'm working on a way to let everyone know. It's slow but... if it works, it gets you out of solitary soon."
Clarke blinked, her chest tightening in hope. "Soon? How long has it been?"
"You've been here six months, Clarke," replied her father, a pained expression on his face. "I'm worry I didn't come sooner."
"I'm glad you came at all," she replied, moving forward and hugging him again. "I haven't seen anyone else."
She felt his body tense. "No one?"
"Not even your mother?"
Clarke frowned against the roughly-spun patch-worked shirt her father wore. "No, mom hasn't come by, either."
Jake sighed and let go of Clarke, digging through his pocket as she stepped back. He brought his hand out, fist tightly closed around something.
A quick succession of knocks on the door and a rough, "one minute, Griffin," caused Jake to blink rapidly and Clarke to mash her lips together in an effort not to cry.
"I'm going to do my best, Clarke," he said lowly, a tight smile on his face. "I'm going to find a way to get you out and save everyone."
"Save everyone first. Then worry about me," declared Clarke, a smile on her face, although a different one to his. "They're more important."
Jake forced a chuckle, looking at his daughter as he replied. "They're not my daughter, but I'll see what I can do. And for now, kid?" he held out his fist, opening it to reveal a tiny piece of black charcoal chalk. "Keep dreaming. Keep believing. Keep hoping. I'll see you soon, okay?"
Clarke took the chalk and nodded. "Okay."
"Okay. Love you, kiddo," he said.
"Love you, too, dad," whispered Clarke and then Jake slipped out of her cell and the door was slammed shut, and she was alone again.
I know what I'm doing, she thought, and this time, it wasn't tinged with the desperation she previously felt. This time, it tasted like the future.
By the time Clarke had completely covered the walls, floor and partially the ceiling, of her cell, she knew that several months had passed and she was nearing her eighteenth birthday. Her father had not managed to visit her again, nor had anyone else tried to come by for a visit. Her stay in solitary was entirely that: solitary.
She began polishing a design of galaxy swirls on the floor, at the perfect angle to see out of her tiny window to the galaxies and earth beyond her reach. She wasn't expecting anything from that day – her entire sleep cycle and habits were messed up due to the irregular times of her meals and the lack of artificial light control for day/night scenarios, leaving Clarke disoriented and fuzzy most of the time.
As such, she was startled when her cell door opened and two burly guards entered.
"Face the wall, 319," the first through the door instructed tightly, clutching something in his hand while the one behind flexed his hand on his baton.
"What? No," argued Clarke, rising to her feet quickly, a quick pass of fear on her face as she did so. "It's not my birthday yet! I'm not eighteen yet!"
"Face the wall," the guard demanded again, this time reaching forward and grabbing her by the shoulder to turn her while the second reached for her wrist.
"No! No!" cried Clarke, yanking her shoulder forward and out of the first guards' grasp, and elbowing the second in the gut. She took their surprise and sprinted past them and out the cell door, knowing that whatever decision she made, it would ultimately lead to her death. Where could someone hide on a spaceship without any means of escape?
"Stop her! Stop prisoner 319!" one of the guards shouted as he pushed himself out of the cell, holding an arm against his stomach.
Clarke's eyes moved back and forth, looking below at the cells in the Sky Box as other prisoners – all around her age – were escorted out by guards. Some were peacefully following the instructions – those on the bottom levels, while those further and further up, closer to where Clarke was, were unruly.
Her breathing increased into pants, and Clarke glanced back to see the first guard exit the cell and prop the second up as he made to move towards her. Clarke began backing away slowly, keeping her eyes on the slowly advancing guard.
The guard stopped, so she stopped and turned her body enough to see who spoke while keeping the guard in her sight.
Jake stood behind her, and Clarke felt herself crumble.
"Dad," she sobbed, "Dad, I can't do this – I'm not eighteen yet, they can't float me. It's too early, it's too soon."
"Ssssh," Jake said, clutching his daughter to him tightly and stroking her back. "You're not being floated, kid. I promise."
"I'm not?" she asked, tear-stained.
Behind her, the guard moved forward slowly, eyes on the girl.
"No," said Jake quietly. "No, Clarke. You're going to the Earth while I finish things up here. I promise it'll be okay."
"The Earth?" gapped Clarke. "But dad – no one – how? What am I supposed to do?"
Jake smiled tightly at his daughter, smoothing her hair down once more as the guard knelt behind her, quietly, and gently stuck a syringe into her neck. Immediately, Clarke began to sag and flutter.
"You'll survive Clarke," said Jake, his voice fading away. "You'll take care of everyone and lead them and save them. I love you. You'll be okay, Clarke. I promise. I promise."
Then, everything faded to black.
When she came to, Clarke was tightly strapped into a bucket seat, next to a younger boy quivering beside her. She moved her head side to side, taking in the view: four rows of seats, two on either side of the metal ship she was in, facing each other. Each row, holding at least six teenagers each, were filled to the brim. All were in their original clothing, not the standard Sky Box uniforms of those imprisoned. Some were crying, like the boy beside her, while others were glaring at nothing and everyone as they sat quietly in anger.
"What's going on?" asked Clarke, clearing her throat. "What's happening?"
"Don't know?" asked a skinny girl from across Clarke with a bored look on her face. Her dark blond hair was braided back and tightly pulled away from her face, and her eyes were weary as she glanced at Clarke.
"I was..." Clarke shook her head. "I don't remember. I tried to escape my cell, but they... they drugged me?"
The girl looked at Clarke with a little more interest, but it was veiled. She raised her eyebrows. "Well, welcome to Hell, then. They're sticking up on a spaceship and sending us to Earth to die. Guess they needed more room."
"Sending us to Earth?" Clarke repeated, blinking, and slowly the memory of her father returned to her, his whispered words and promises. She closed her eyes and rested her head on the seat, tilting it up.
The girl across from her looked Clarke up and down. "What were you in for, anyway?" she asked, tilting her head to the side. "I was in for stealing."
Clarke rolled her head to look at the girl, her eyes moving away when the ship began to shudder. A loud click signalled the magnets holding the ship in place was disconnected and they were slowly floating in space away from the Ark.
Clarke's eyes returned to the girl across from her, who met her eyes after looking around the ship in fright.
"Treason," she finally replied quietly. "I committed treason."
The girl's eyebrows shot up and she opened her mouth to speak but the thrusters turned on and the ship began to shudder violently as they hurled towards the Earth.
A tiny screen in the corner of the ship turned on and crackled with static. Then, Councilman Jaha appeared on screen, beginning a message to the hundred delinquents chosen to test the Earth for sustainability.
Clarke turned her head away from watching, while someone, somewhere in the ship jeeringly laughed, "Your dad's a dick, Wells!" She swallowed heavily, wondering if that meant her best friend was on the ship with her – and why.
The boy beside Clarke was reciting the prayers of the Tree and the dominant religion on the Ark. She turned her head away to look at the boy on her other side, who grit his teeth and kept his eyes tightly closed.
"I'm Monroe, by the way. Monroe Humphrey," the girl said loudly to Clarke over the noise of the engines and thrusters. "Who're you?"
If they were going to survive the Earth, thought Clarke, I might need some friends. She forced a smile on her lips and called back, "Clarke Griffin."
Monroe's eyes widened, and the boy on Clarke's side who had his eyes tightly shut popped them open to opening appraise her.
"From Phoenix?" gapped Monroe, wrapping her hand tightly around her seat strap until her knuckles went white. "And you're dying with us for committing treason?" She laughed bitterly. "Guess no one is really safe on the Ark."
"Tell me about it," muttered Clarke.
From below, Clarke could hear someone scream as the ship shuddered worse and hit something – something that wasn't truly there but enough of a barrier that the ship tilted and tried to right itself.
"What was that?" the teen next to Clarke asked.
"The atmosphere," she replied in monotone. "It's going to heat up, and if we don't break apart in the next minute, and we survive the implosion of landing, then we'll make it to Earth."
"Oh, is that all?" snarked Monroe, bringing her other hand up to grasp at the belt. A glint of silver caught Clarke's eyes, and she frowned.
"What's that?" she asked, nodding towards Monroe's wrist.
"That's our wristband," the teen next to her answered instead. "You have one too. Didn't you feel it?"
Clarke hadn't, mainly because she wasn't feeling anything. But now that he had mentioned it, she glanced at her right wrist and spotted the chunky silver wristband, tightly secured to her. A dull pain pulsed from her wrist, and as Clarke turned it over, she realised that six sensors were embedded into the wristband, pushed through her skin and muscle to attach deeply into her wrist to monitor her vitals.
Oh, mom, she thought, recognising the wristband as data communicators. Is this what you meant, dad? Working on a way to save everyone by using us first?
A commotion from below – which made Clarke assume there were numerous levels – turned into shouts and then screams as the ship jerked back and forth and then slammed into something very hard and unyielding.
Clarke immediately unbuckled her seat, while the teen beside her copied her. The crying and praying boy remained in his seat, pale and frightened. Clarke didn't spare him a glance as she moved across the grated floor to the circular airlock, which remained opened during landing and tied off with a strong sliver of fiber.
Monroe was behind Clarke as she dropped down the ladder to the next landing, her eyes moving swiftly over the cluster of teenagers near the front of the drop ship. A tall man, in a guard's uniform, had his hand on the latch.
"You can't go out there! It's toxic!"
Clarke startled; Wells was onboard, and shouting at the tall man.
"We don't take orders from you, Jaha Junior," he replied back with a very lazy and smug grin, his hand reaching for the lever again.
"Bellamy!" a girl cried, pushing through the crowd and launching herself at the guard, who grabbed her tightly and hugged her close. Clarke swallowed heavily, glancing away from the scene as it reminded her too much of her father.
"Who's that?" Monroe asked from beside her, while the teen from Clarke's other side, a tall, broad-shouldered male with dark skin, dark brown eyes and a close haircut, snorted.
"You must've been in lockup when she arrived," he said.
Monroe scowled, and a girl from somewhere shouted loudly, "That's Octavia Blake! The girl hidden in the floor!"
"Hidden in the floor?" asked Clarke quietly.
The teen nodded. "She's a second child."
Clarke and Monroe nodded, as that answered everything they could possibly ask. The girl, however, leapt from her brother's embrace and faced the crowd with an angry look on her face.
He reached forward and touched her shoulder, saying something that was too low for Clarke to hear from the back of the crowd. She watched as Octavia Blake nodded, and her brother, Bellamy, yanked the lever down, opening the drop ship door.
"No!" Wells shouted.
Light crept through the cracks as the door first hissed opened, then burst into the compartment, blinding everyone. When Clarke opened her eyes against the glare, Octavia had already stepped on the ramp.
"We're back, bitches!" she shouted – and then, it was a stream of laughing, hollering, hooting teens bursting from the ship and stepping onto the ground for the first time.
The teen beside her laughed and ran forward. Even Monroe smiled, stepping forward.
"Aren't you coming?" she asked, when she saw Clarke hadn't moved.
Instead, Clarke turned to face the shorter girl, shaking her head. "I'm going to look for a map, I think. Figure out where we've landed first. I doubt the Ark was kind enough to give us food and water, so we're going to need to get some if we want to live."
"If we can live," Monroe retorted. "Don't know if the radiation out there won't kill us dead in five minutes."
Clarke nodded. "True," she said slowly, "But if we do survive past tonight, then I think I'm going to want to know where I am and where I can find something to eat."
Monroe shrugged. "Suit yourself, Griffin!" the blonde eyed Clarke, shaking her head. "I still can't believe it – treason huh? Guess there's more to you than you look." She began backing away and as she jumped out of the ship, shouted, "See you around!"
Clarke turned and went back to the level she was on, rooting through boxes and containers that came loose from their netting during the landing, until she found a collection of faded, yellowed, and dated maps. All were for the same area, assuming they landed correctly.
She was tentative as she stepped out of the drop ship, the light blinding, and the air fresher and cleaner than she ever experienced. She was almost dizzy by the amount of oxygen her lungs were taking in, her breaths deep as she took them in through the nose and long in her exhalations.
They were in a large crater that the ship made upon its crash, several trees burning behind him but otherwise leaving no trail or debris train, meaning the ship landed straight without streaking.
Birds called to one another, and somewhere she could hear a strange whirring and chirping noise that wasn't birdlike at all. The leaves on the trees rustled as a gentle breeze parted them, and the air was slightly hazy. Already Clarke could feel her straight hair frizzing in the humidity; a glance up towards the sky told her that there were gentle, white, puffy clouds rolling over them without a hint of grey.
She stepped forward, looking left and right until she found a part of the drop ship that can come off during landing: a large piece of wing.
I know what I'm doing, thought Clarke, unfolding the map and smoothing it out. She glanced up between the burning trees, at the jagged mountains beyond them, with a frown. They weren't snow-capped, but the distinct peak on one had Clarke frowning at the map angrily.
"What's with the face, Princess?" asked a teen with an easy grin.
"Don't call me that," she snapped back, looking away from the map to him.
He threw his hands up in reply. "Whoa, sorry. Okay then." He paused. "So, what's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" asked Clarke, clearly fed up. First Monroe looked at her like she was different, then that kid next to her, and now this guy was bugging her. She took a deep breath and reminded herself, I can do this. I know what I'm doing.
"They landed us on the wrong freaking mountain, that's what!" Clarke finally exhaled, pursing her lips.
"How do you know that?" the teen asked.
"She learned from her dad," a familiar voice answered for her, making Clarke turn around to see Wells.
She nearly groaned. "What are you doing here, Wells?"
He blinked. "Answering his question."
"I meant on Earth," replied Clarke between her teeth, turning back to her map, as she ran a finger from there they were supposed to land, Mount Weather, to where they were, several miles away and on a range across from where they were supposed a land. An entire valley lay between them.
"When I heard what was happening, I knew I had to get on the ship," Wells was explaining, with the teen beside her watching avidly despite her ignoring him. "I knew I had to be there for you. So I got arrested."
Clarke felt her back muscles tense. She didn't ask for him to come. She didn't ask for anything, other than to save her father's life so he could save everyone else's on the Ark.
I know what I'm doing.
"Fine. Whatever," Clarke sighed, folding the map back up incorrectly so that their position and half the valley was visible. She turned, thinking of going back into the ship when the other teen stopped her.
"Whoa, what are you doing?" he asked.
"Getting some stuff together before heading out," replied Clarke. "We need food and water to survive."
"No we don't," another voice interrupted, and Clarke nearly groaned in annoyance. Was everyone listening in to her conversations now?
The tall guard with the slicked back hair – Octavia Blake's brother – was watching Clarke with carefully narrowed eyes. His uniform was pristine, and Clarke could tell with the way he held himself in it that he was, at some point at least, a guardsman on the Ark.
He continued, "This isn't the Ark! We don't have to do anything! There are no privileged," and he said that with a pointed look at her and Wells, "and there is no class system! We can do whatever the hell we want!"
"Okay," Clarke nodded. "You do whatever the hell you want, while I get whatever the hell I want in terms of stuff because I'm getting the hell out of here. I'm going to find something to eat and drink. And when you're done doing whatever the hell you want," Clarke thought that she should lay off the sarcasm and mimicry if she wanted to make friends, "you can come and find me and then maybe I'll decide to tell you what the hell I found."
Behind the elder Blake sibling, several mean-looking teens scowled and made to move forward. The boy who had been speaking to Clarke before Wells shifted beside her, and Wells shifted as well.
The Blake, however, turned the corner of his lips up in a slight smile. He inclined his head, and Clarke read his eyes and body language easily.
Touché, he was saying.
"If you're going exploring, I'm coming with you!" the girl, Octavia, piped up.
"Absolutely not," responded her brother just as quickly.
"Oh, shut up Bell, you're not the boss of me," the girl retorted with a flip of her straight black hair, eyes turning to Clarke. "I'm going."
"Not alone with her," he growled.
"She's not going alone," the boy beside her spoke, confidently. "I'm going too." He glanced to his right and clasped the shoulders of two other boys watching the group. "And they're going, too."
"See?" Octavia beamed at Bellamy.
Clarke wanted to roll her eyes. This was not how she imagined Earth to be like, and it was shaping up to be a headache. "Fine. We're all going. Happy, now?" she turned her back on the group and began moving towards the tree line. Forget a bag or anything, she wanted this over with. "We're leaving now and should be back in a bit."
With a scowl on his face, Bellamy Blake watched as Clarke began leading a group of four into the forest, a petulant look on her face as her plans were derailed from under her thanks to Octavia.
"Where are we going, Princess?" the floppy-haired teen asked loudly, pushing aside a branch for Octavia while the other two boys he commandeered into coming got hit in the face.
I know what I'm doing, she thought again, blinking at the sky. But I sure wish that I was doing it alone.
Onboard the Ark, Jake Griffin was sitting in his desk chair, back to the living room and his wife as Abigail Griffin pled with him to listen to her.
His shoulders were angrily set, and his hands were shaking slightly as he went over another roll of schematics his technicians unearthed for him from a dusty cabinet in one of the out-of-bounds B-station.
"Jake, please! There was no other way. This buys you more time," Abby cried, wringing her hands in front of her.
Squaring his shoulders, Jake glanced over one dispassionately. Ever since his discovery of the life support system, his wife was a strong advocate against telling the Council. Despite their caution, Clarke learned of the engineering flaw and took it upon herself, being under eighteen, to confess and to buy Jake time to fix the system.
At first, he did; he tried to fix the system. However, six months into his attempts, he and his crew realised that they couldn't do anything. At that time, he called in a favour Nygel owed to get him to see his daughter. She obliged, and Jake saw Clarke for the first time in months. All she wanted, however, was to know that he was doing anything and everything he could to save the people on the Ark.
And he was failing.
Immediately after seeing Clarke, he went to his once-best friend (he couldn't look at Thelonious again after he knowingly sentenced Clarke to solitary, knowing that it was Jake and Jake's work alone and that she was taking the fall for him), and asked for time. A way for him to look over his calculations, his schematics, his ideas to buy them time.
Despite that, despite Jaha listening, the Council – one his wife was on – went ahead with a way to save them a month or two by removing the juvenile delinquents from the Sky Box prison by sending them to Earth instead. One hundred teenagers from the ages of twelve to seventeen would be sent to Earth – to die – to save the two and a half thousand lives.
It made Jake sick. Regardless of his daughter being one of those hundred, the thought of sending their children, their future, to die, made him physically ill.
And his wife was at the center of it.
"They'll live! I know they will, Jake!" she cried. "The Earth is habitable! They can survive and live and thrive! I'm monitoring them and they're doing fine! Clarke's fine!"
"That's not the point, Abby!" snapped back Jake, frustrated with his wife and the situation.
Anything else she was going to say remained unfinished as Councilman Kane entered the Griffin quarters unannounced.
"Sorry to interrupt," he said, his dark eyes darting between Jake's stiff shoulders and Abby's bowed form. "But Thelonious has been shot. We need your help, Abby."
Abby's eyes widened and she nodded, leaving the room with Kane without speaking to her husband. Instead, Jake sighed in relief in the silence of the Griffin residence – with one less resident – and quickly left, heading towards the same B-block his technician found the old schematics in – as they weren't the only old thing gathering dust.
He entered his passcode at B-block, entering the sparsely lit, two-tier room. Below, a young girl was welding a piece of metal to a large, oddly-shaped item.
"Hello, Raven," he said, ambling down the stairs and running a critical eye over the large, bulbous shape.
The girl lifted the welder's helmet mask from her face, revealing a grin. "Hey, Mr. Griffin."
"How does our pod look?" he asked, turning to face the orange and yellow pod.
"Okay," she answered, turning the welder's flame off.
Jake ran a hand over the side of the pod, where the door was closed. "Will she be up and running, soon?"
Raven nodded. "Hopefully. A week at most. I think."
"You still planning on going down?" she asked, watching the man who specifically sought her out for her engineering and G-space skills.
Jake nodded. "I need to make sure Clarke is alright and that the Earth is habitable. That's what Abby wants, but I'm going down to see if we can even survive a launch."
"There aren't any other pods," said Raven unnecessarily.
"There's two other drop ships," replied Jake, coming back to the front where Raven stood, covered in greasy overalls and smudge marks. "And worse case, the Ark itself, when it was in its twelve pieces, were spaceships designed to bring people to space. It can bring people back to Earth."
"I guess," Raven responded dubiously, ready to get back to work.
"I can finish the calculations on ground after my trajectory and entry. I can ensure it's possible to survive once I know what things are like there," argued Jake, sensing Raven's skepticism.
The young woman shrugged. "Fair enough, Mr. Griffin."
As he turned to make his way to his desk and several spare parts he was working on while Raven did the welding, she called to him, "Just remember! We're going together!"
Jake grinned. "Wouldn't even try to stop you."
At his desk, he glanced to a tiny port window, where the earth was softly glowing, a white blob against the vast darkness of space.
I'll see you soon, kiddo, Jake Griffin thought. He knew it would take some time for him and Raven to finish the pod ship, but they would and then they would leave the Ark and find the one hundred teens on the ground. He wasn't too worried about them surviving; they were all talented and capable.
And wherever Clarke was, he knew that she knew what she was doing. She was, after all, his daughter.
[...] the truth is always better than not knowing.
– Agent McCall, "More Bad Than Good," 3x14, Teen Wolf