truth ran free (closer to the edge)
Matt Murdock: "War changes people. Sometimes they see things they can't unsee. Come home to find home's not there anymore. It changed. Or maybe they did."
- "New York's Finest," Daredevil season 2, episode 3
The following morning had Clarke and Wells up at dawn, a steamy mist rolling across the forest floor with the sun barely edging over the horizon. They had packed some berries everyone decided was safe for consumption, and were going to split a canister between them when they found somewhere with clean, free-flowing water.
There was one, tiny obstacle in their way, though.
Bellamy wasn't exactly happy at Clarke's rebellious quips, as much as some amused him. He wanted everyone to know he was the leader, the one the 100 should turn to, but already there were some voices of dissidence amongst them thanks to Clarke's reputation making itself known and her acts of defiance.
He needed someone "in" with them, able to watch their every move and act against Clarke if necessary. That led to him and Clarke having a massive go at each other, waking the majority of the camp not yet up, and scattering some birds in nearby trees due to their loudness.
"I said yes," replied Bellamy evenly, crossing his arms and raising his eyebrows.
Clarke mimicked him, crossing her arms, eyes flashing in anger. "And I said no."
"He's going with you."
"No, he's not."
"Yes, he is."
"Uh, guys?" broke in Monty, glancing back and forth between the two arguing leaders of the delinquent teenagers on Earth.
"WHAT?" both practically snarled, turning and facing him in one, shared motion. Monty quailed back, stepping back physically and nearly bumping into Octavia who stood just behind him. The younger girl was scowling, her arms crossed as her eyes darted from Clarke to Bellamy and back.
"Are we leaving to get the seaweed to help Jasper or what?" braved Monty, eyes darting back and forth. His best friends' life was on the line, and he wasn't about to lose any ground.
Clarke sighed. "I wanted to leave with Wells earlier this morning, but someone"—here, she rolled her eyes in Bellamy's direction—"doesn't want me to go without Murphy. Seems to think poor, little me is going to get hurt."
"It's in your best interest," argued back Bellamy, frowning sternly at Clarke. "We've already seen that whoever else is here is willing to hurt us – permanently –, so you going with security is hardly an issue."
"I'm not complaining about the security," replied Clarke through gritted teeth, "I'm complaining about the choice of company."
Murphy, several paces behind Bellamy and with his right hand gently resting on the hand grip of the pistol he had tucked into his waistband, deadpanned, "thanks."
"Non-negotiable," argued back Bellamy. "I need to stay here this afternoon and search out more food with Atom, Mbege, and Diggs. You need someone watching your backs in case some more of those... things show up and try spearing you."
Clarke ground her teeth – hearing her mother's voice as she did so: you're going to grind those molars down to nothing, Clarke! – before finally giving a terse nod. "But he doesn't give lip. He gives lip and I shoot him myself. And I carry the gun."
There was a spark of amusement in Bellamy's dark eyes, lightening them slightly into a warm amber. "You know how to shoot a gun?"
Clarke shrugged. "Can't be that hard: point and shoot?"
She saw the twitch but was still unprepared for Bellamy to let out a loud, short guffaw that he immediately tried to muffle by schooling his features back into his customary scowl. He wasn't nearly as successful as he thought, because Clarke saw Octavia's beaming face behind her brother, as well as Murphy's stupefied look; even Monty, Finn and Wells, nearby, were a bit shocked at the stoic man's burst of humanity.
"Stick to scalpels," offered Bellamy finally, shaking his head. "Murphy won't be a problem." He turned to face the younger man. "Will he?"
Murphy quickly shook his head and moved forward to stand near Clarke, who sighed in submission. Although she had no love for Murphy, she couldn't deny that his cruelty could come in handy, if needed.
"Right," she said, turning to Wells. "Do you remember where the seaweed was?"
"I think so," nodded her best friend, a pensive look on his face.
Murphy snorted. "You think so? Do you know or not?"
Wells scowled at the other teen, a dark look crossing his face. "I have a good idea where it was, but given that we were on our way to find Jasper at the time, I was a bit preoccupied."
Murphy snorted and Clarke sighed, resisting the urge to pinch her nose as a headache began to bloom right behind her eyes.
"Let's just go," she muttered, pushing her way past Wells' shoulder, catching Monty's eyes as she did so. She clearly expressed a message to him: do you want to come?
Monty shook his head, much rather preferring to stay with his friend and Octavia.
With another sigh, Clarke nodded in response and began the trek past the broken wing of the spaceship, with Murphy and Wells bickering behind her. She hated Bellamy Blake a little more than usual for fostering the two on her, but – but – at the same time, she was kind of glad she had them, and the gun, with them.
Just as the left, she heard Bellamy shout out, "Right then. Now, has anyone seen Trina and Pascal?"
It wasn't easy, theoretically living a double life, thought Jake Griffin, as he left the hanger and Raven with the finishing touches on their drop ship. He wanted to leave the schematics he drew up on the larger ships for those left behind to use, as well as the plans for turning the stations back into their original ships for re-entry. He couldn't just leave them in a lurch, especially when he was Chief Engineer.
Back in the Griffin living quarters, he moved directly to his shared bedroom with his wife, even if he hadn't been using it recently. Jake was under no illusions that he had the perfect marriage, or that things would be magically solved now that he was – rightly – running away from his wife and the Ark. However, Abby was still family, as was Clarke, and he had to choose where he could be best served for the good of the entire Ark and those on the ground.
What should I bring? He wondered, looking around the sparse bedroom. Materialistic items of value were few and far in-between, usually things passed down as heritage or heirloom pieces from the first families who boarded the original stations from their original countries. Jake himself owned a rather nice Rolex from his great-grandfather. It had long stopped working, the parts too rusty or dirty to continue the turning of the interior gears, but it was still a nice piece that he planned on giving Clarke when he next saw her.
Clarke's fascination with art made their living quarters unique though: she drew on almost anything when given the chance, and as such, above the bed nook, there was a large mural of an alien galaxy, swirls and whorls of stars dancing through asteroid belts and planetary rings. Still – it wasn't something he could bring to Earth.
In Clarke's room, he found a few near-nub pencils, one or two charcoal pieces, and three paint brushes in a case with dried, cracked water-based paint circles. Stuffed between the mattress of her narrow bed and the frame attached to the wall of the unit, Jake found a small, nearly empty art book; it was one of the things he managed to barter off from Nygel for Clarke's sixteenth birthday. She wanted to finish the last art book she had, and hadn't had a chance to begin this one before she was taken into solitary. He pocketed the book into a worn leather satchel at his side.
As he moved through the quarters, Jake felt a sudden sweeping sensation in his stomach, grimacing as he recognised the feeling. This was all he had ever known – and he was willing to leave it on a whim?
Not a whim, he told himself firmly. For the future. For Clarke.
Sadness weighed heavily, sitting low in his belly. But there was a coil of something else, something that stirred his nerves and made everything to the tips of his fingers tingle with anticipation.
It was excitement.
Jake knew people thought Abby was the brave, adventurous one; she did, after all, become a doctor, working hard to save people should the need arise on the Ark. But Chief Engineer? That required intelligence, innovation and creativity, and a helluva lot of stubbornness. Once you make something, build it, you won't know if it will work unless someone tries it – and being that first test subject on a stagnant and dying space station with a limited body count? It meant that someone had to bite the bullet, so to speak, and become the test subject. That required bravery.
Jake finished his perusal of the Griffin household, a lingering gaze on his work desk, tucked into a small corner of the living area. Clarke had stood there, just over a year ago, watching him finish recording his message to the people of the Ark, and had instead claimed she was the one who was going to let everyone know, not him. The tablet was lost, sliding behind the desk in the aftermath of the confusion, and Jake never retrieved it.
The desk itself was bolted directly into the linoleum siding, biting into steel posts in the walls. There was no way to move the desk, but it was possible he could slide underneath and reach around the back opening.
Jake slid the chair away, a metal, horribly uncomfortable thing, and then belly crawled under the desk.
I'm going on a diet when I get to earth, he thought sourly as the slight pouch of his stomach made the crawl awkward.
He inched forward, slowly looking left and right and trying not to sneeze with the dust, finally reaching as far towards the back as he could. Angling himself, he squinted in the dimness of the bottom side of the desk and through the opening at the back, and spotted a darker tint of black: the tablet.
Of course, it was at an awkward angle, and being a thin slice of technology from a time long ago, it was the perfect size to slide behind the desk and fit in the tiny gap between desk and wall. Getting it out would not be easy.
He stretched his fingertips towards the opening, briefly touching upon the tablet and shifting it, but it slid back into place. He moved forward, inching further into the cramped space, and tried again. This time, his fingertips caught the edge of the tablet, and shifted it briefly in his direction before sliding back into its original place.
Jack huffed in annoyance, stretching and wriggling his fingers some more.
A knock on the living quarters door startled him. His head shot up and he banged his head against the underside of the desk.
"Shit!" he cursed, turning to face the entryway.
"Jake? Mr. Griffin?" called a voice. Jake rolled his eyes, recognizing Abby's protégé, Jackson.
"One minute, Jackson!" he called back, hoping it would distract the young man enough. He stretched his fingers and caught the edge of the tablet, the stickiness on his fingers catching the smooth plastic edge and tipping the tablet slowly in the direction of the opening behind the desk.
"Mr. Griffin, really," began Jackson, nearly making Jake lose his concentration. "Your wife and Councilman Jaha need you at a council meeting immediately. May I please come in?"
Jake paused, frowning. Council meeting? What for?
"I'll be right there," he called back, muffled as he faced forward. He almost had the tablet out...
"Mr. Griffin?! Please open the door! I have Commander Shumway here, too. He'll break it down if you don't come out!"
"For crying out loud," muttered Jake, catching the tablet as it slipped out from behind the desk. He quickly shuffled backwards out from underneath, pocketing it into his satchel and straightened his clothes, just as Shumway overrode the household entry code and the door swooshed open.
Jake met Shumway's cold eyes with an equally cool look, arms folded. Jackson stood nervously behind the intimidating Asian man, eyes darting back and forth between the two.
"What took you so long?" questioned Shumway quietly, looking around the room, and then at Jake and the several large dust balls that collected on his dirty, white Henley.
Jake shrugged. "You caught me while I was looking under the desk for a pencil I dropped some time ago. It was the first free time I had to look for it."
Shumway hummed, noncommittally, and then stood aside, indicating Jake to precede him. "If you'd like, Mr. Griffin?"
Jake gave the man a tight smile in response and swept away from his home for several years, knowing it likely would be the last time he'd ever see it. He didn't linger.
Murphy refused to get into the water to obtain the seaweed, especially after hearing Octavia's story about the "huge eel" that bit her when they neared Mount Weather, so he left the task for Wells and Clarke, citing that someone needed to stand guard and watch over them.
"Prick," muttered Wells, a dark glare sent Murphy's way as he and Clarke stood knee-deep in the cool, refreshingly clear pond water, shucking up glob-fulls of the vibrant red seaweed in soaking wet arms.
Murphy, of course, didn't hear; instead, he was reclined on a flat rock, chewing on some grass he found and staring up at the puffy clouds above him with his hands behind his head and one leg crossed over his knee.
"At least he's not bothering us," replied Clarke, shaking her head before bending and yanking up some more seaweed. She wanted to get as much as possible. Wells held open a bag that they had found in the spaceship and Clarke dropped the sopping wet mess inside it, carefully tucking escaping tendrils in.
"We're almost done, anyway," she continued. "And since we haven't heard a single snide remark coming from him, that's a win/win scenario for me."
"You're not the one he threatened to kill," argued Wells.
"I'm pretty sure if he could figure out a way for me to 'disappear' without pissing Bellamy off, he would," replied Clarke dryly, looking up at Wells from a lock of blonde hair. "We're not besties."
Wells snorted. "No, once upon time that was me. Now I'm not even sure anymore."
Clarke glanced away, taking in the beautiful, serene shoreline of the large lake. The shallow end was where the seaweed fungus grew, so she and Wells didn't have to step far into the water, especially if there were more mutated and large sea creatures dwelling in the depths. But around them – around them were lush, tall trees with sweeping leaves and branches that touched the ground; bird calls and crickets, and the fresh scent of perfumed flowers and nuts from small nearby bushes. As far as Earth went in beauty, it won full points.
"How did you get arrested?" Clarke asked instead.
Wells took the next armful she had – one of the last, he thought – and placed it in the very heavy shoulder bag he had. He carefully considered how to answer her; did he owe her anything with how she was treating him?
He sighed. "I deliberately vandalized Shumway's office. It was the only thing I could think of to get into the Sky Box as quickly as possible without my father interfering."
Clarke's lips twitched. "I can't think of someone more deserving than Shumway."
"Yeah, me either," he snorted in agreement. "Anyway, I only did it once I overheard my dad and some of the council talking about the living situation on the Ark. I remembered what you told me about your dad's research, about the oxygen and how much time we had – and then realized my dad knew and wasn't doing anything."
Clarke's head jerked up in surprise. "You didn't tell him?"
Wells shot her a glance. "Tell my dad?"
"About my dad's plan."
"No!" Wells looked shocked, his mouth open and his face pale. "Not at all!"
Clarke looked at the water, stilling. "Oh."
"Oh?" then, Wells shook himself. "You thought I told on your dad?" A twist of his lips made his normally calm face turn into one of disgust. "Well. That explains some things."
Wells turned in the water, bringing his legs up high to trudge out of the shallows, towards Murphy who was now sitting upright. He was angry – it was in the very way his shoulders were tense, the purposeful, powerful, and long strides he took towards someone he hated and away from Clarke.
"Wells!" Clarke shouted after him, her smaller frame finding it harder to push the water away and make it towards the shore. "Wells, I'm sorry!"
Wells ignored her, and Murphy's face held a wide, beaming smile at their arguing. Instead, Clarke's best friend turned to Murphy and uttered a terse, "let's go."
Clarke, now taking up the rear as Wells pushed forward into the foliage and back to their camp, sighed in disappointment. Her father had told her that Wells wasn't the one to inform his father about her dad's plans, but... it had made sense. He was the only other person who knew what Jake Griffin was planning to do. Wasn't he?
"Trouble in paradise, Princess?" whistled Murphy joyfully with his hands in his trouser pockets, brushing past her to follow Wells. Clarke scowled and began stomping after them.
When they arrived back at camp, they were surprised by how much hustle and bustle there was. Teens were running around, back and forth, carrying large sticks or in small groups carrying larger tree trunks, and several other teens were sitting around in a circle attempting to make spears and lathing down some rocks into tools.
The three stopped short of the space ship wing, near the forest clearing, and watched with open mouths and wide eyes. Clarke spotted Monroe with John – the tall young adult who said would both support her – braiding together some long, dried leaves with a few of the younger delinquents.
"Monroe!" called out Clarke, as she began walking closer to the girl. Wells walked past her straight into the ship with the seaweed, and Murphy muttered something about finding Bellamy, leaving Clarke alone.
"Hey, Clarke," greeted the brunette. "Did you find what you needed?"
"Yes," she replied, blue eyes taking in the clearing. "But what's going on here?"
Monroe's face shuttered. "When you left, Bellamy was asking about two others – a couple – that went missing. We found them."
Horrified visions of mangled bodies strapped to trees, ripped apart limbs or spiked bodies from the booby-trap bait popped up in Clarke's mind, one flashing after another, each more horrifying than the last. "What happened?" she whispered.
Monroe shrugged. "Dunno, I didn't see them. But they were dead."
"Burnt," spoke John for the first time. His voice was low, and he was quiet, but everyone around them heard what he had to say. "They were burnt. But it didn't look like a fire got to them."
Before Clarke had time to wonder how John would know what burn victims would look like, Wells was shouting her name and she realized she had a patient to tend. Nodding at John and Monroe, Clarke turned on her heel and went straight into the ship, up to the second floor compartment. She saw Monty already mashing the seaweed with a mortar and pestle someone had found in one of the crates kindly left to them by the Ark; Octavia was tending to a fire and Wells had a bowl of water to the side, ready for her. Finn was hovering near the back.
"So how are we going to do this?" gruffly asked Wells, still avoiding looking directly at Clarke. Ignoring the tense, strained air between them would be difficult, but they had a job to do.
Clarke pushed her arm sleeves up past her elbows. "Boil the water. We'll need a lot more of it, because I need to disinfect my hands, and the cloth we're going to use. Monty, keep grinding that into as small pieces as you can – a dusting would be great. Then, we're going to add some water to it, and then more seaweed until it turns more into a paste. Once it's a paste, I'm going to clean out Jasper's wound as much as possible, clean any pus out from it, and then we're going to pack the paste into the cut. Afterwards, we're going to turn it into a tea for him to ingest."
Clarke looked at everyone in the small room – Octavia, Wells, Monty, Finn – and made sure she held their eyes. "I won't lie; Jasper's going to scream. Wells, you and Finn are going to have to hold him down when I do this. Octavia, you might have to run interference with your brother if it comes to it. Monty, keep working on that pestle and mortar, and then get a separate bowl ready for the tea."
The four all nodded, grimly, and went to their tasks. Octavia also left the ship to speak with her brother and warn him, but also to get more water.
"This is going to be the equivalent to a saline pack," said Clarke quietly, as dusk fell. They were ready to apply the seaweed to Jasper, but wholly unsure if it would work. "The wound will clean itself with it, and then slowly heal and scar over."
"But he'll live?" asked Monty fearfully, his mouth a straight line except for the tiniest of quivers.
Clarke wet her lips. "If it works, yeah. He'll have a bitch of a scar, but he'll be alive."
"Then what are we waiting for?" asked Octavia, straight to the point.
Finn and Wells moved into place, with Finn at his feet and Wells holding Jasper's shoulders down. Octavia and Monty hovered behind Clarke to act as assistant.
Grimacing, Clarke plunged her hands into the scalding water of a prepared bowl, and then dropped the ripped cloth into another; she felt tears leak from the corners of her eyes and she bit her lip to keep from whimpering at the pain. Her hands might blister and the skin might peel from the water, but if she was quick enough to used the same seaweed as a salve and bandage her hands too...
Dipping the cloth into the bowl of paste, Clarke then generously scooped and swiped it onto Jasper's exposed wound, which Octavia had previously checked for pus. The skin around it was still inflamed, and his skin was burning hot to the touch around the wound, but it meant his body was fighting. Clarke applied the paste, ensuring it was evenly spread.
Jasper was moaning throughout, shifting restlessly on the floor, but Wells and Finn kept a tight hold on him. Finally, once the wound was covered, and Wells helped lift Jasper's upper body so Octavia could wrap a roll of cloth around his chest and wound; only then did Clarke turn to her hands, which were shaking from adrenaline and pain.
Octavia helped her, too, once the salve spread across the back of Clarke's hands and palms. With a grateful sigh, Clarke settled onto her haunches and quietly said, "Now we wait."
So they did.
Clarke was woken up by a loud, long, piercing noise. Around her, Octavia, Monty, and Wells all jerked awake too, silently looking around as they tried to pinpoint it. Finn had disappeared at some point.
"I'm going to see what that was," whispered Clarke in the quiet of the night. No one answered her, but she heard the others settling back down. In the quiet, Clarke listened briefly to Jasper's even breathing, and felt hope.
Upon exiting the ship, Clarke spotted Bellamy staring off at the forest. Around him, there were some torches stuck in the ground, and the eerie glow illuminated and shone off his shiny and dark hair, casting shadows to the sharp panes of his face.
"Hey," she said lowly, coming to stand next to him. "What was that?"
Bellamy didn't move his eyes from scanning the forest. "A horn. It was a call."
"A call for what?"
"Dunno, Princess," he replied, finally turning to her. His eyes dipped down from her face to where her hands were clutching her jacket tightly around her in the evening chill. He frowned. "What happened to your hands?"
"Hmm? Oh," Clarke looked down and then back at Bellamy. "I needed to disinfect my hands and the cloth we used on Jasper. So into boiling water they went."
A muscle ticked under Bellamy's eye. "You did what?"
Clarke met his eyes steadily. "There wasn't any other choice in the matter."
"There's always a choice," retorted Bellamy darkly. "You just didn't choose the right one."
"That's a matter of perspective," sniffed Clarke, squaring her jaw in defense by sticking it out.
Bellamy snorted and shook his head. "No. It's a matter between being who we want to be, and who we need to be down here to survive; you just want to help everyone. It clouds your judgment."
Clarke rubbed her forehead with a balled up hand, suddenly were exhausted. They had been on the ground less than a week and in uncharted territory in more ways than one.
"I'm not going to fight," muttered Clarke tiredly.
Bellamy sighed. "Get some sleep, Princess. Can't have you fainting on us in the morning."
"Ugh," Clarke made a face. "Enough with the nickname already." She turned to leave Bellamy standing sentinel but had only made it a few steps before she turned back to him. "Jasper's going to make it, I think. He's still in pain but I think he's through the worst of it."
Bellamy quirked a tiny smile in thanks, and then turned to face forward again, leaving Clarke to return to the drop ship.
Jake never liked Jackson; there was something dodgy about him that just didn't sit right - like the devoted look on his face when Abby spoke, or the way he eagerly leapt at her beck and call - whatever it was, Jake just didn't like it.
He liked following the man less, as Jackson and Shumway dropped him off at the Council chambers, citing something about an emergency session and the Council members needing his opinion on something or the other. Honestly, Jake was barely paying attention; his mind was a few hours ahead, of using the drop ship shortly and making his way to Clarke.
The barren council chamber reminded Jake of the stark, sterile look that much of the Ark shared; there were few areas of life and beauty on board the space station and less exhibited in the people.
Jaha was at his usual seat, lounging slightly sideways in a slouch with an elbow resting on the table and a finger at his temple. Jake couldn't remember the amount of times he had seen the man practice that position for a 'casual, but attentive' pose. Marcus Kane was at his usual seat too, but there was a nervous energy around the man, one visible in the tight corner of his eyes, the terseness of his mouth, or the pale, chalky white pallor to his face. Abby was across from Kane, staring ahead at the man with a furrowed brow and pursed lips in a sign Jake could easily read as annoyed. The rest at the circular table, men and women he didn't know by name but by sight alone, were all equally tense.
"Jake," greeted Jaha, turning his head and maintaining his position.
"Chancellor," replied Jake evenly, meeting his ex-best friends' eyes, before moving around the table to kiss his wife on the top of her head. "What's this about? What can I help you with?"
"Mr. Griffin," spoke up Kane quickly, "According to a report you filed some time ago, the Ark is running out of air. Is this correct?"
"It is," replied Jake slowly. They had known about his report for over a year, since Clarke took the fall for him just before her seventeenth birthday. What was going on?
"The beginning of oxygen deprivation have begun in the young and elderly, as well as a sick in the med bay," began Abby. "A father brought his daughter to me today, and she's gone blind in one eye because of it!"
Jake nodded, because he was following along but still unsure of why he was in that room. Marcus Kane helped him. "I am putting forth a motion to cut the air supply from Section 17 during a routine work schedule in order to buy us more time. It would mean the loss of one hundred people, but we would survive a bit longer to figure something out."
Ah, thought Jake.
"What was the result of the vote?" he asked.
Kane's mouth tightened. "Unresolved."
"Oh?" asked Jake in surprise.
"It's a split vote with the Chancellor to break it," an older man with a beard volunteered the information to Jake, who turned to look at Jaha curiously.
"You're sanctioning the murder of one hundred people," broke in Abby furiously, her brown eyes flashing at Kane.
"One hundred people who would sacrifice their lives so we have a bit more time!" argued back Kane, just as furiously.
"They would suffocate! Do you know what it's like? Your body straining to take in more air when it is incapable of doing so? The panic that would eat up what remaining air there is? Knowing you are going to die as spots flash in front of your eyes and you sink into unconsciousness?" Abby spat at the man.
"Jake," began Jaha, attempting to diffuse the situation, "Please, as the Chief Engineer, can you tell us where we stand with our life support system?"
"Nowhere good," replied Jake honestly. "Sending the kids to earth bought us a few days up here to make decisions, but another one hundred will really only buy us ten days, at most. The amount of people up here versus what the system is pumping out does not equate."
"Can the system be fixed?" another council member asked, this one a woman.
Jake shook his head. "I've been trying since I discovered the components slowly shutting themselves off a year ago. Things are just… old. It's breaking down. Everything is falling apart, and the life support system is included in that. I've patched it up numerous times, and so has my crew, with whatever we can find or take from somewhere else nonessential. But we're just about done with it's holding together with tape, spit, and a lot of hope."
"How long do we have? What viable options do we have then?" asked the same bearded man from earlier, folding his hands on the tabletop.
Jake glanced at Abby, who was watching his carefully. "Maybe four months if we're lucky," shrugged Jake. "But honestly? Earth or bust. Literally. We can't fix it anymore; we're out of options."
"The kids need more time!" argued Abby. "The Earth is habitable! I know it!"
"You might know it, Abby, but we don't," sighed Jaha. "Don't forget, my son is there too, and I don't know if he's alive or dead."
"We need to commence with the Population Reduction Plan," gritted Marcus Kane, heatedly. "Today it's two-hundred and nine people. In ten days, it's two-hundred and nineteen. Every day, it's another ten people."
All heads turned to Jaha.
The man sighed. "We never asked for this. We never asked for any of this."
The man waved a hand lazily, indicating the whole, encompassing Ark. He shifted his position, leaned forward, elbows on the table, and poised in front of him, in a steeple. "We were supposed to be the transitional generation - the generation that figured out how to get back to the Earth, back to the ground. Now we're either the ones who return or the ones who die out. And maybe… maybe after what we do, what we've done to survive up here… maybe we should die out."
Kane scoffed and leaned back in his seat.
"How does the Chancellor vote?" demanded the bearded man.
"I don't know if my son is dead, or if he's alive," continued Jaha, ignoring the councilmember. "But… I have hope."
"But how does the Chancellor vote?" the man demanded again.
Jaha focused his attention on the man. "I don't."
"You can't not vote," argued Kane. "You need to break the tie."
"I abstain for voting," replied Jaha simply.
"You can't!" snapped Kane.
"Chancellor," the bearded man said with thinly held patience, "If you abstain, the council will automatically meet again in ten days to take up this proposal."
"That's over three hundred dead!" argued Kane loudly.
"How does the Chancellor vote?" the man tried one last time.
"I don't," repeated Jaha, calmly, and Kane slammed his hands on the table in anger, pushing back his chair in a solid movement that had it toppling behind him to the floor. The man stalked out of the room.
Jaha looked at Abby carefully, and as the other council members were standing and rising or talking amongst themselves, he said so lowly on Abby and Jake heard him: "You have ten days to prove that I made the right decision, or those three hundred lives are on you."
Abby swallowed, but nodded, and with a peck on the cheek to her husband, she disappeared from the room with Jackson on her heels, leaving the two old friends.
"What are we going to do, Jake?" asked Jaha tiredly.
Jake eyed him shrewdly. "You knew what I wanted to do, ages ago. But you and Abby stopped it and now look where we are."
Jaha closed his eyes. "It was a mistake. I thought, and still believe, that the citizens will riot."
Jake scoffed. "Funny, for a man who says he believes in hope, you don't have a lot of belief in others." Jake shook his head and turned to leave the chamber, with a final parting shot.
"It didn't have to be this way, Thelonius," said Jake, his voice carrying in the empty room. "We could've figured out a way to save a lot more people. And now three hundred are going to die. Can you live with that?"
"I think I'll have to," replied Jaha quietly, and Jake left him.
Jasper was moaning, quietly writhing as his fever spiked, but Clarke was hopeful. A fever and a sweat, as well as a vocal response, meant he was fighting. If Jasper were lying quietly, she would've been more worried.
As it was, she, along with Monty, Octavia, Wells and Finn when he would be in the top layer of the drop ship, were taking turns staying up and watching Jasper carefully for any adverse changes to his condition. So far, there was none.
"How much longer is he going to be like this?" asked Monty, staring at his best friend.
"Awhile," said Clarke with a sigh. "We need to get him drinking something soon or else he's going to be too dehydrated for anything. Let's sit him up and try to get the tea in him."
With some manoeuvring Wells held Jasper up with Monty's help and Clarke helped Jasper drink the drink by massaging his neck gently to encourage the muscles. They continue doing this every half hour or so, encouraging Jasper to sip a little at a time.
It was when they were doing this that they heard the loud commotion below, the coughs, and the raised voices.
"I'll go see what's going on," said Clarke, scrambling down the ladder two flights and to the ground of the drop ship, which was becoming overrun with the other teenagers.
She spotted Murphy hacking as he darted inside, while two other teens shut the door of the drop ship and Monroe began stuffing parachutes into the cracks of the walls.
"What's going on?" Clarke asked, turning to Murphy, whom Bellamy had left in charge while he and a few others went out hunting for meat.
Murphy rasped, "Dunno, some weird fog. We heard that horn again, from last night, and then all of a sudden, this thick yellow fog descended on the camp. It burned anyone who came into contact with it."
"Is everyone okay?" asked Clarke, turning to look at the group with a medically oriented eye. "How many are here? Is that everyone? Was anyway still outside?"
Murphy shook his head. "Just Bellamy and his group. Everyone else is here."
"Okay," sighed Clarke. "Anyone with visible, physical burns on their body should come up and see me if they can. If not, I'll bring a salve down to them. Let's stay in here for awhile and try to monitor the fog from the control panel room at the very top of the drop ship. I'll ask Monty to take a look."
Murphy coughed and nodded.
"Are you okay?" Clarke asked, briefly touching his shoulder before yanking her hand back.
"I'll live," wryly replied Murphy, stalking off to commandeer a hammock.
Clarke shook her head, and went back upstairs, eager to remain with the saner group of the delinquents. They would wait the fog out with patience, and determination.
But, Clarke thought, they were going to need to learn things awfully quick; they were at a disadvantage being newcomers to the ground, but in order to survive, they had to adapt. And adapt quickly.
And maybe not all of them were going to do it quickly enough to survive.
It was early morning when Murphy, Clarke, Wells, and Finn opened the drop ship door to see if the fog was gone. They were greeted by a dewy morning, thick with humidity and a few chirps here or there. The sky was just beginning to lighten, tinged a dreamy blue with yellow and orange streaks. The forest itself was quiet, everything still mostly asleep.
But Bellamy's group had been gone all night, and although no one voiced it, they were all worried and on edge.
With Wells and Finn leading the way and using their old Earth Skills class training, Clarke and Murphy quietly followed, eyes peeled on the ground, under bushes and in trees, wondering if they were going to find dead bodies, or their friends, alive.
It was a scream that burst through the quiet of the forest, making all of them jump in surprise and then with wide-eyes, stare at each other. Finally, Wells snapped, "I think it came from this direction!" and the four were off, racing towards the scream.
Clarke skidded through the loose dirt and under a branch, Murphy just behind her as she came to a sudden stop. In the clearing before her, Bellamy was leaning over Atom, his hand uselessly hovering over the teenager, who was gasping and opening his mouth, trying to formulate words.
A young girl, no more than ten or twelve, stood on a landing overlooking Bellamy and Atom; Finn made his way to her and turned her to face the opposite direction.
Murphy, Clarke, and Wells slowly eased their way towards Bellamy.
"What happened?" asked Wells, his eyes darting up and down the teen's frame.
Clarke took a mental catalogue: cataracts on his eyes, pocket blisters that were oozing pus and scarring on his cheeks, the faint stench of sulfur; Atom had burned alive like Trina and Pascal, but only he was still alive hours later.
He must be in agony, thought Clarke sympathetically. Murphy's mouth was twisted in disgust.
"Spacewalker," snapped Bellamy, turning to face Finn, "Take Charlotte back to camp. Take Murphy with you."
"Bell-Bell-a-my," gapped out the teen.
Finn stared at Bellamy.
Bellamy ignored Atom and growled, "Now."
Finn rolled his eyes, but he and Murphy - who seemed pleased to be leaving - disappeared in the foliage.
"Bellamy," wheezed Atom. "Ki-Kill me."
A torn look overcame Bellamy's face, one-half twisted with anguish and the other disgust.
Clarke shook her head. It was so obvious to her now; everything since he landed with them began to come together.
Clarke knelt beside Atom, and when her eyes caught Bellamy's, she shook her head. Atom was not going to recover like Jasper was.
"I-" began Bellamy, frustrated by the lack of words. "I- Atom, I-"
He looked down at his hand, where his makeshift knife with a blue handle gently rested in his palm. Killing an animal was easy, but one of his own?
Clarke gently reached out across Atom, and folded her hand around his with the knife, Bellamy's slack grasp allowing her to pull the knife from his hand into hers. She changed the grip and then began smoothing Atom's hair from his forehead. Underneath the cataracts, she saw Atom's eyes shift and move towards her.
She wet her lips and began humming. "Shh," she said quietly, and with a practiced hand, slid the knife into the side of Atom's neck where his jugular was, and then slid the knife back out. Immediately, blood gushed out in hot spurts, pooling around Atom's neck, shoulder and his head, spreading out through the leaves, twigs, and rocks.
Bellamy was staring at Clarke, but she didn't notice; her eyes were on Atom's figure, and smoothing his hair as she watched the life quickly drain from him, his gasping body shuddering and lying still.
"I…" gapped Bellamy as Clarke slowly rose to stand above Atom's body. He mimicked her, and looked down at the bloody knife but her not-bloody hands.
Clarke met his eyes. "I know."
Bellamy nodded, eyes cut sideways as he realized what he couldn't say.
Wells, who remained silent, stepped forward and pulled out a blanket he had tucked in his messenger bag, the same one used to gather the seaweed for Jasper. The three silently wrapped Atom in it, and once the corners were tucked, Wells lifted his feet and Bellamy took his shoulders, and the three made the long walk back to the drop ship.
Sebastien: "You're strong, there's no doubt in that. But neither of you fight with a killer instinct. Let me show you how to go for the throat."
- "Apotheosis," Teen Wolf season 5, episode 20