10K hadn't spoken a word since they left Mercy Labs.
Doc watched him out of the corner of his eye. They were walking, had been since they had left behind the lab. The entire team wanted to leave behind the failure and tragedy they had been unable to stop. But, Doc knew it had hit their youngest member hardest.
10K had always been quiet, but he had opened up so much since they had first met. It was strange to see him revert back, suddenly no longer speaking and only responding with the occasional small nod or shake of his head. Not that Doc could blame the poor kid; loosing Red and 5K right in front of him... well, it was tough, no doubt. He just wished there was something he could do for the kid. Maybe the next time they stopped he could-
The distinct crack of a bullet hitting the tree near his head killed his musings. "Oh, shit!" he shouted, ducking low and pulling out the hammers he had tucked in his belt.
He looked around. 10K already had his rifle at the ready, surveying the area. Doc knew the kid only had two rounds, however-- hopefully that would be enough. Warren had her pistol drawn-- only one bullet for her. Addy was poised with her trusted bat, and Cassandra scanned the area wildly, snarling as she guarded Murphy.
A group of five armed men stalked into view. Three of them carried their own guns, another with a crossbow, the last brandishing a mallet. When one pointed a shotgun Murphy's way, he tightened his arms protectively around Lucy, who he cradled in his arms.
"Excuse me," Murphy started, sounding offended, "There's a baby on board!"
Warren glanced towards him then back at the strangers. "We don't want any trouble," she assured, voice held as levelly as her pistol.
"Yeah, friends, we're just passing through," Doc added, trying to keep his tone amiable.
One of the men offered a grin, but it was hardly comforting. "We aren't looking for any trouble, either," he said. "You cooperate, we'll be on our way, no one has to get hurt."
"We don't have anything," Warren said with a frown.
The man motioned to the supplies hanging at her hip. "You've got food and water," he said, "and something tells me grandpa over there might have some Z weed and drugs we could use."
Doc glanced down at the bag slung over his shoulder, swallowing nervously and tightening his grip on his hammers.
Another man spoke up, the one with the mallet. "Your weapons, too. Wouldn't mind getting my hand on that nice bat of yours. And the kid's got a nice rifle."
Addy scoffed and 10K angled his aim back towards Mallet Guy.
Warren kept her composure. "We've got a long way ahead of us, we can't spare anything," she said pointedly, shifting slightly. Everyone could see where this standoff was going.
The first man offered another smile, this one colder than the last. "It wasn't a request. Hand over your supplies and no one gets hurt," he repeated.
Warren tilted her head, letting an unsteady silence grip the clearing. Doc could feel his heart pounding hard against his ribs and glanced towards 10K for a moment. The kid's jaw was set, face expressionless. Of course Doc knew he was ready-- 10K was always ready-- but that didn't stop a familiar pang of worry.
"No," Warren finally said.
"That's too bad then," the man replied, voice flat.
Everything seemed to drop into slow motion. Doc watched the man start to pull back his trigger, but he collapsed to the ground after a loud bang from 10K's rifle. Another shot rang out, but by then Doc had lost track where it came from-- Warren? 10K? One of their attackers?
Cassandra jumped on the back of Mallet Guy, clamping her jaws around his neck. The man with the crossbow hit her in the shoulder with an arrow. Addy ran at him as he was reloading, and he drew a knife that he threw skillfully in her direction. She barely managed to dodge the weapon and jump forward, plunging one of their bat's spikes into his head.
Another shot rang out and Doc whipped around, feeling useless. "10K!" he shouted, seeing blood sprouting from a graze on the young man's arm. However, 10K barely flinched. He just slung his rifle across his back, out of bullets, and drew a dagger. He hesitated a second, waiting as the man who had fired on him pulled the trigger again, only to have his gun jam. 10K lunged forward.
10K only managed a slash across the man's chest before he cracked the butt of his gun across his head. The dagger tumbled from 10K's hand and he went down hard. Doc sprinted towards him as the man unholstered a smaller pistol, aiming it between the kid's eyes.
Doc came up behind him and brought the claw of the hammer down on the top of the attacker's head. He crumbled instantly, taking the hammer with him. Yanking the disoriented 10K to his feet, Doc checked him over worriedly. "You okay, kid?" he asked.
10K nodded slightly, leaning a bit heavily on Doc's arm for support. He looked around and Doc did the same. The fight had ended as quickly as it began, leaving the bodies of their attackers sprawled unceremoniously on the ground. When 10K looked back up at him, there was just a bit of surprise in his eyes.
"Doc, you totally just murdered that guy," he commented, just a hint of a grin on his lips. And what was that in his voice, admiration? Whatever it was, it was nice to hear the kid speak again. Though, he kind of wished it were under less macabre circumstances. But it's the apocalypse, what are you gunna do?
Doc offered him a grin in return, giving 10K's shoulder a light shake. "No, I didn’t murder them. I accidentally knocked them unconscious forever, that’s all.”
"Everyone alright?" Warren questioned before 10K could reply. She holstered her empty gun and quickly surveyed the team.
"I'm all good!" Doc informed. He felt 10K sway slightly and helped steady him, adding, "Though the kid here took a pretty good hit on the head. Might be a concussion, I'll keep an eye on that."
Warren nodded curtly and got similar reports from the rest of the team. They began to head off again, and 10K silently declined Doc's offer to help him keep steady on his feet.
They passed a few minutes walking in silence before it was broken by Lucy starting to fuss. "Y'know," Murphy mumbled, bouncing his daughter slightly in his arms, "I'm starting to think this apocalypse isn't good for children."
Doc glanced at 10K out of the corner of his eye. "Tell me about it."