Thank you all so much for your love and support on this fic! I've been having a rough time so it really means a lot. Please enjoy this next chapter and leave a comment if you did!
(side note: would you guys rather see longer chapters with full episodes or do you like it being broken down?)
The sun was hot on her back, sweat seeping through the purple tank top she had been sent down in. Her jacket had been carelessly tossed aside when she reached the roof of the dropship, immediately setting to work on figuring out how the panels got fried and what she could do to fix them.
Most of them were damaged beyond repair, but Maria had already known that, so she began to salvage as much as she could. Her grandmother's book held some instructions on how to build a radio, but most of the components they simply didn't have access to or weren't around anymore. So instead, she took what she could, hoping she could convert it into something useful later.
"Need a hand?" Miller's voice rang up from the ground, his beanie making him stand out among the other delinquents. Maria leaned over the edge of the dropship, a wide smile making its way across her face as he began to climb up the ladder.
"Always," She replied back, placing the box cutter on the roof. She'd found a box of tools hidden away underneath one of the seats of the dropship. There wasn't much, but it was better than nothing.
She'd managed to put together some kind of a speaker from the system, but it was still raw and unpolished. She needed more equipment if they wanted to communicate with the Ark. The bracelets could only do so much.
Miller joined her on the roof, pausing at the top rung of the ladder, scanning the wires that were littered everywhere. "Well, you've certainly been busy."
Maria chuckled. That was an understatement. But she supposed someone had to be taking charge, seeing as Bellamy Blake only wanted to cause trouble. "I'm trying to get communications back up," She explained, hoping Miller wouldn't turn against her for trying. She watched his shoulders tense and she sat back on her feet, sending him an annoyed look. "Not you too. Please don't tell me you're falling for that guy's bullshit."
Miller's mouth flapped open and shut, but Maria already had her answer.
"Oh, no way!" She exclaimed, scrunching her face up, "Really?"
"Bellamy's not a bad guy, 'Ria" Nate continued, trying to explain himself. Maria shook her head. "He's just…"
"He's done nothing but antagonize everyone since we landed," Maria explained, throwing herself back into her work as she began to strip some more wires, this time with a little more gumption than she'd been using previously, "god forbid he actually care about someone other than himself for once."
She muttered that last part to herself, but Miller sighed when he heard it. Clearly neither of them wanted to discuss it any further. So Miller scooted closer, his arms wrapped around his knees as he asked, "How are you holding up?"
Maria couldn't stop the laugh that spilled from her mouth. How was she holding up? "Well, I'm on an unknown planet with criminals for company so…I'd say pretty good considering the circumstances,"
It was a lie. Like everything she said these days.
She wasn't good. Her brain felt like it was running a hundred miles a minute, trying to figure out what was safe and what was not. On top of that, she had no way of communicating with the people she loved. Kyle, Raven, Sinclair. They were all aboard that ship with no way of knowing if she was okay and all she could do was pray nobody was stupid enough to take their wristbands off.
"Ria…" Miller grabbed her hand, stopping her from continuing her work, "It's okay, no one's gonna judge you for telling the truth."
She met his warm gaze, trying to resist the urge to lower her walls again. They'd been built up like a steel fence when she was in lockup, knowing that she had to in order to face execution. Attachment was death, she'd heard her mother say. And love was weakness.
"Aren't they?" She whispered, choking back the emotion that was threatening to spill out. She sniffed and turned her gaze toward the sky, inhaling sharply as she did. "They were gonna float me for telling the truth Miller," She admitted, meeting his eyes once more, "What's to stop that from happening down here?"
For once in his life, Miller had no answer to her problem. Because there was none.
This was a new world, a new life, with new issues to face. And until it was safe, she couldn't let her guard down, not for one second, cause when she did, the vultures would gather and she'd become prey once again.
The sun was setting by the time she had finished stripping the first panel of parts, and sweat drenched her back as she pulled her jacket on again. The wind had picked up and with the sun gone, it had finally started to cool down.
Her black curls were still pulled up out of her face, the ponytail swinging as she dropped to the ground, a pile of parts in several different pockets and limbs.
She'd have to go back for the rest later, but for now, she was ready to relax. To enjoy her first birthday on Earth and sleep under the stars.
"Hey, can we talk?" Wells' voice entered the dropship, and Maria froze. God, she really did not feel like addressing that whole situation right now.
She continued to face the wall as she placed the parts in the toolbox. "I'm really not in the mood, Wells."
"Please Maria," He began to plead, and she could almost picture his puppy dog eyes, "I just want to apologize. I didn't know he was going to arrest you, I promise."
She whirled around, eyes blazing.
"You didn't think that Marcus Kane, the man who would do anything to keep himself safe, would lock up his only daughter because she posed a security threat?" She asked rhetorically, guilt flashing over Wells' face.
It still didn't satisfy her. "You weren't thinking Wells. You never do."
The boy moved forward, his leg awkwardly dragging across the floor, "You're right and I'm sorry, I just—I don't want things to be like this anymore. I'm trying to do better."
Maria eyed him, trying to gauge how truthful he was being. Then she shook that thought away. This was Wells, he was always truthful, even if it hurt the people he loved.
This was the boy who had cheered her up her first day on Alpha, the day after her mother's floating. The boy who had played chess with her when she needed a distraction. The boy who used to sneak books out of the library when she had been locked in her room.
The boy who'd made her feel welcome when nobody else would.
"I can't just forgive you," She replied, recalling her fate early this morning. Jaha would have floated her. Wells would have gotten her killed. "I just…I need some time."
He nodded, hanging his head on his chest as he turned to leave her alone again. Something tugged at her heart, urging her to reach out and embrace him like they did when they were kids. But another part clawed at her gut, screaming out for her to attack him, to call him a traitor and refuse to forgive him at all. To let him wallow in his misery.
He deserved it, that part snarled, he almost got you killed.
I'm still here aren't I?
But you wouldn't be if it wasn't for this suicide mission. You wouldn't be if his father had his way.
Wells played with a small object before handing it to her, "I had this made for you a few days before I got myself arrested." He admitted, handing her a woven leather bracelet. It had a small black bead on it, and she already knew what it was. Her mother had worn a similar one around her neck. Tears sprung to her eyes as she caught sight of it, the worn leather feeling safe in her hands. "Happy birthday, Maria," Wells muttered, scratching the back of his head as he moved to turn around.
She called out, but her reply was cut off by a scream coming from outside. She placed the bracelet aside and followed Wells out into the clearing, a bonfire burning as the delinquents gathered around it. And of course, Bellamy was at the center of it all, a wide smirk on his face as another yell rang out.
Maria pressed forward, Wells trailing after her as she finally made it to the center of the bonfire, horrified at the sight that met her. Murphy was prying off a girl's wristband, the silver device joining countless others in the bonfire they had made.
No. She gulped, the knot in her stomach returning. That was their only way of contacting them. The only way to let her friends know that it was safe.
And they were throwing it away.
"What the hell are you doing?" She interrogated, recognizing the girl that was next in line. She had originally been a part of Jasper's group from earlier that morning. Murphy sneered and moved to confront her but Bellamy lifted his hand up, stopping him.
He stepped forward, his face illuminated by the golden flames he was standing by, a victorious smirk etched on his face, "Liberating ourselves!" He spoke as if it was the obvious choice, a cheer erupting at his words, surrounding Maria. She briefly scanned the crowd for Miller, and felt relief wash over her when she realized he was nowhere near the bonfire.
"You do realize that these wristbands are transmitting our vitals to the Ark right?" She took a deep breath, realizing that one of the secrets she'd almost been floated for was probably her best chance at convincing these kids to stay alive, "Every hour that passes, our people up there lose more and more oxygen."
Murphy scoffed, "Nice try, Sparky."
Maria repositioned herself, crossing her arms and tilting her head, "The Ark is dying."
The crowd fell silent at her news, and just for a moment, Maria didn't feel completely hopeless down here. She held up her hand, making sure everyone saw the silver band around her wrist, "I was there when they discovered the flaw," She called out, raising her voice, "with the communication system dead, these wristbands are our only chance of survival," She met Bellamy's gaze, "The Ark's final chance of survival. If you want your family and friends to survive then keep your bracelets on!"
The truth burned in her chest, evaporating into smoke and ash as it left her mouth. Murmurs began to erupt around her, and she felt a sense of pride at her actions. People were questioning Bellamy's methods. People were starting to wonder.
She locked eyes with the guard, a smirk crossing her face as she relished the victory.
Bellamy was fuming. His plan had been completely on track before this girl before him had shown up and ruined it all. Claiming the Ark was dying and sweeping the ground out from under him.
He knew she looked familiar but he couldn't place it. Not that it mattered anymore.
She was in his way, and now she needed to be dealt with.
He'd have Murphy handle that later, but now he needed his position in camp back. "She's lying!" He called out to the group of delinquents, trying to come up with a way to undermine her, "If the Ark was dying why wouldn't they tell us? Why send us down here except to get rid of us?"
"Because they need the extra air," The dark-haired girl spoke up again, ice in her gaze as she stepped forward. Her expression was eerily calm, unsettling Bellamy's stomach. "That's why they locked me up, that's why they sent us down here. They didn't want to cause a panic."
Jaha Jr stepped up next, "You heard my father on the way down," He began, supporting his friend. "We were expendable, so they took a chance on earth instead of floating a hundred people."
Bellamy shook his head, thankful that Jaha Jr had undone his friend's own argument for him. "Well there you have it," He muttered, turning back toward the group, "They sent us down here to die." He yelled, trying to gain everyone's attention back, "They thought that we wouldn't be able to survive without them, but we're not just surviving! We're finally living." He directed that last comment at the girl who had called him out. Her dark eyes narrowed and Bellamy smirked. He didn't know what it was, but it was satisfying. Seeing the privileged finally struggle for the power they've been given their entire lives. He'd taken it freely instead, he had to. His sister, his responsibility.
"He's lying!" The girl spoke up again, scanning the crowd as her shoulders relaxed, the tension disappearing as a cool look passed over her face, near emotionless, "Do you really think this is living? It's not." Her gaze locked on Bellamy's again, something clouding over her eyes, "Until we can get to Mount Weather, the Ark is our only chance for survival, and we theirs."
Jesus christ, this girl was gonna be a pain in his ass. But damn if he didn't like a challenge.
He'd done a lot worse for Octavia, dealing with one engineer from Alpha Station would be nothing. His jaw clenched, feeling his influence on the crowd waning.
She turned back to the crowd, lifting her eyebrows patronizingly, "It's simple math," She began, gesticulating with one hand, "The human body can last three days without water before they begin to die of dehydration, and two weeks, if you're lucky, before malnutrition sets in."
The delinquents began to fidget at her words and Bellamy knew he needed to do something quickly. This girl was a siren and Bellamy was Odysseus, the only one free from her spell.
She turned back to face him, "That's assuming there's anything of nutritional value left from a nuclear apocalypse. If you take off your bracelets, you're not only killing your family, but you're killing yourselves."
Bellamy scoffed and shook his head, fists clenched at her words. "We can take care of ourselves," He spoke pathetically, already feeling smaller in her presence. He was back on the Ark, Jaha standing over him with a pitiful look on his face, chastising him for getting his mother killed.
"Oh I'm sure you think you can," The girl smirked, the first expression out of her since she'd yelled at them earlier, "The Ark is filled with horrible people and some of them…probably deserve to die," She pressed closer, the gap between them shrinking, "But that doesn't change the fact that without supplies, without reinforcements, we will die in less than two weeks."
Bellamy gulped, the crowd murmuring at her words. She was already smiling in victory, and he was close to giving it to her. Nothing was stronger than fear. And she'd just preyed on their most instinctual one.
The one that had been implanted in them since their early days on the ground, forcing them to run to space to survive.
The fear of death.
So there was nothing stronger than fear, but Bellamy had grown up alongside Octavia and if he'd learned anything from her, it was that teenagers had a very unique mindset. One that, if approached correctly, could even trump fear.
And as soon as Jaha Jr opened his mouth, Bellamy saw his chance.
"We need rules," Wells added on.
"You mean the same rules that got my mother floated?" He challenged, seizing back his power, "The same rules that your father enforced over and over again?"
Wells moved to speak but Bellamy cut him off, "They don't know what it's like for us! They don't know how it feels to watch someone they love float!"
A sharp breath was heard behind him and he whirled around, victory dancing on his face as he tossed a smirk at the girl. He lifted his eyebrows, the silent expression communicating his intentions. Her turn.
Her hands were shaking, eyes glaring, her tone dead as she spoke, "Those are your people up there too."
Bellamy shook his head. She was wrong. All he needed was down here. His mom was dead, his dad a ghost from his memories. Octavia was the only person he was staying alive for. The only person he truly cared about. And she was down here. Free.
"You're wrong," He shot back, "My people are down here. And here, there are no laws. Here, we do WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT!" He shouted from the top of his lungs, making sure anyone who was in the clearing heard his message loud and clear.
"Whatever the hell we want!" Murphy echoed.
Bellamy felt like a king. Like Caesar returning through the arches of Rome, he was ushering them into a new era. And Octavia would be right there with him, where he could always make sure she was safe.
A hand thrust itself into his chest, pushing him backward and soon the girl's face was in his vision, jaw clenched and teeth grinding as her lips twisted into something ferocious. "You're going to get us killed," She snarled, her words almost drowned out by the chanting erupting around him, "You're angry at Kane, fine, but don't act like you know me Blake, cause you don't." Anger coated every word. It was hot and dark and a far cry from the emotionless mask she had been wearing earlier. He'd never seen anything like it before. "you know nothing about my life, you hear me? Nothing."
God knows how many times he'd whispered those exact same words. A lump formed in the back of his throat and he gulped, trying to hide the curling sensation in his gut as he felt himself shrink under her gaze.
He hated it. He hated the feeling of shame and guilt that clawed at his insides when she looked at him. Like he was being chastised by his mother again.
Silence was all that stood between the two, their bodies inches away from each other, eyes never leaving the other's gaze.
Bellamy wasn't afraid of her. Not when he'd risked his own neck to get down here. Not when he'd committed a crime no one would pardon him for. He was a goner and that meant there was nothing left to scare him.
The world went silent alongside the two of them.
Thunder cracked open the clouds, and the heavens poured down. If Bellamy believed in anything, he probably would have counted it as a sign. A way for the gods to intercede and stop what was happening. Bellamy had lit a fire and the gods were trying to drench it.
But Bellamy was not a believer. He was only a man.
A man who found himself smiling at the sensation of rain upon his skin, staring down at the ground as the humidity curled his hair, the droplets hitting the ground with a pleasant smell that erupted all around them.
A loud laugh brought him out of his reverie and he faced it, catching sight of Maria Franco once again. The angry scowl was gone, replaced with an open-mouthed smile as she craned her neck back, her eyes shut while she turned her face toward the sky, relishing in the free water.
It soaked her to the bone, her dark curls plastered flat against her back as it poured, olive skin almost glowing by the dimming firelight.
"What are we gonna do about them?" Murphy whispered in his ear, flopping his wet hair over to one side. Bellamy shook his previous thoughts away. She was still a threat. One display of positive emotion didn't change that.
Jaha Jr had begun to collect the rain, and soon Miller and Maria were joining him, using the old buckets that had been sent down with them. Murphy already knew the plan for Jaha Jr. It was going down tonight after all.
"Wells will be taken care of soon enough," Bellamy spoke, his tone turning serious again. Somehow he couldn't tear his eyes away from the girl. "She needs to be dealt with carefully though." He cautioned, remembering how Murphy had already antagonized her once, "She's too smart for her own good."
The arsonist bobbed his head in agreement, a wicked smile crossing his face, "What did you have in mind?"
Bellamy's eyes scanned her figure until he caught a glimpse of silver, an idea already forming in his head. "Her wristband" he turned to face Murphy, "We get that and she won't be a problem anymore."
Murphy scoffed, shaking his head, "You're kidding, right? She'll never take the thing off, not even if her life depended on it."
Bellamy grasped Murphy's collar, pulling the kid toward him in a bout of annoyance. If this was the level of competence on the ground then he was screwed. "So make her life depend on it"
He tossed the criminal aside, hoping that soon this would all be over and he and Octavia could leave to make camp somewhere else. He turned back toward the bonfire, Maria's drenched figure still in his sights.
He was getting that wristband. One way or another.