It was a typical morning inside the walls of Camp Jaha. People were moving about their lives, albeit slowly. Moving into the open air via the main entrance of the downed Ark, Raven slowly limped towards the mess building. It had been two years since the mountain, but the building and the rest of Camp Jaha remained half finished. It wasn’t for lack of will, at least not for everyone, but the members of Skaikru, once so eager to explore and enjoy their newfound home on the ground, quickly discovered that things were more difficult than they could’ve imagined.
Raven reflected on the time that had passed, the things that had changed, and those that remained the same. Those that had survived the mountain had returned, bloody and broken, thankful just to be alive. Well, she admitted, some were thankful. She and a handful of others were able to recognize that the decisions, the sacrifices made by Clarke in order to save her people, Raven included, were both drastic and necessary. While many blamed Clarke, either for her decision to trust the Grounders and their Commander, or for the complete slaughter of the residents of Mt. Weather, Raven was not one of them. She knew, as surely as the pain that came from her injuries every day, that Clarke had only done what she’d had to do. Raven figured that it was a truly despicable person who relied on someone else to save them, then faulted them for how they accomplished it.
That isn’t to say that Raven had always sung Clarke’s praises, far from it. In the beginning, she’d been introduced to Clarke at the same time she saw Earth for the first time. She’d seen the determination and the beauty, and could see why the delinquents followed her. If she was being honest with herself, she trusted Clarke in that first moment to have her back, much more than she’d ever trusted Abby during the days leading up to her unauthorized trip to the ground. That’s what made it all the more devastating when she’d learned that Finn had slept with Clarke. Not even ten days on the ground, and he’d cheated. She wanted to blame Clarke, oh did she want to blame her. Raven had a lot of faults, but self delusion was rarely one of them. No, Clarke had no way of knowing that Finn was with Raven. The fault lay solely with him. That didn’t stop her from giving Clarke the cold shoulder for a while, but how long could you hold grudges on the ground? It turns out, not long at all, because a crazier situation is right around the corner.
There was always something about Finn, Raven came to realize earlier, that was just a touch too impulsive, a bit too obsessive about him when it came to certain things. Nothing could exemplify that for her that quite as well as his murder of the elderly and children of TonDC, under the guise of learning what’d happened to Clarke. In the end, she’d lost Finn, not to Clarke, but to justice. She’d been angry after Finn had died, angry and, somewhere deep inside her, perhaps the smallest bit relieved. Not because he’d cheated on her, she wasn’t that petty. No, she felt relief that the instability in him hadn’t cost more lives, relief that it wouldn’t be allowed to cost more in the future, and finally, relief that Clarke had done what she herself could not.
She considered herself a strong person, but she hadn’t been able to bring herself to give Finn the mercy that would still allow justice to be served, but without the cruelty. Clarke had done that for her. It wasn’t selfless; she knew Clarke considered him a friend, though nowhere near as close of a friend as he was before Raven re-entered the picture. But, while Clarke could take standing there watching the thousand cuts, Raven knew she couldn’t. Raven remained silent, but she knew that her eyes told Clarke everything, begged her to spare Raven the anguish of seeing her first true love suffer. And so Clarke had done what she always does, she did what had to be done so that no one else had to. Clarke carried the burden.
Raven would realize later, in the time that had passed since the mountain, that she’d had a case of hero worship for Clarke. Sure Clarke was beautiful, but this wasn’t a crush. Raven had admired her strength, her loyalty, and her determination to always do whatever she could for her people. And while Raven wasn’t one of the original one hundred, she knew Clarke considered her one of her people. She’d held Raven as she cried over the death of Finn. She’d kept Raven by her side during the fighting with the 300 at the dropship. She had listened to Raven’s ideas, about the hydrazine, about the bomb at the bridge, and dozens of other little things. She’d valued Raven’s knowledge, and input, but even moreso, she’d shown Raven that she valued her friendship. Coming out of her musing for a moment, Raven entered the dilapidated building and stood in line for what meager food was on offer.
Life at Camp Jaha had only gotten worse after the mountain. While Raven understood that the Commander must have made the only decision she could for her people, almost no one else saw it that way. Indeed, even Raven herself came out of the ordeal with a hatred that was as powerful as it was misdirected. To learn how many of her the Arkers had died, and what Clarke had to do to rescue those she could, had served to make her angry at Lexa and the Grounders on Clarke’s behalf. It was only after Kane had sought her out, talking with her over the next several months that Raven came to understand not just the logic behind the Commander’s decision, but what it must’ve cost both Lexa and Clarke. While Kane wasn’t privy to everything that had happened, he knew enough to watch any time Lexa and Clarke interacted. It was when he relayed the look of absolute betrayal and heartbreak on Clarke’s face as Lexa had ordered her people’s retreat from the mountain that Raven truly began to understand. Raven was nothing if not intelligent, and adding two and two together was child’s play.
She refocused her thoughts as she collected her half scoop of the slop that they seemed to eat more and more often lately. One of the former food workers from the Ark had said it was like Cream of Wheat, whatever the Hell that was. As she limped away, her squeaking leg brace reminded her once again of how completely screwed her life had become. Rather than get the physical therapy she knew she needed, she’d let Abby convince her to settle for painkillers. Abby and Jackson were simply too busy, Abby had said, to devote that much time to a single patient. Two years later, they’d done her no favors. She sat at an empty table and took the two pills, wishing again that she could stop taking them. While their drug supply was extremely limited, it seemed that she at least rated high enough on Abby’s list to keep receiving them. Snorting to herself, she knew that the reality was that without the pills, she’d be useless to Abby, and that wouldn’t be allowed.
After the mountain, and with no help coming from the grounders, they’d turned to trying to hunt the surrounding area for themselves, and despite all of Wick’s bluster and self-promotion, they’d turned to her to piece together what little tech they had left. Whether it was repairing the heat and air circulation within the downed Ark station itself, ensuring the walkie-talkies worked, or fixing the rifles and pistols they relied on to hunt and defend themselves, her work never really stopped. There were times that she’d wanted to let Wick or any of the other technically inclined people start pulling their weight, but it’d quickly been made clear that her value was in her job, and without doing Abby and the council’s bidding, in their eyes, she’d have no need for the painkillers. Oh, hell yes she’d called their bluff. After six days of unbearable pain, sweats, shivering, and vomiting, she’d given in and taken the pills. Six hours later, she’d been kicked awake and told to get to work.
She wasn’t the only one living a miserable existence. It seemed that only the council and Abby herself were spared the hardships enjoyed by the masses. As she looked up from her bowl of lumpy snot, she spotted a familiar swagger entering the building. She quickly corrected her previous thought, the council got the best, and so did their lackeys. As Bellamy moved to the servers, ignoring the line, he was given food from the previously covered container. It seems that brown-nosing bastards rated high enough on the food chain to get eggs and what appeared to be ham.
As Raven scowled and her stomach protested the sight of real food that wasn’t entering her mouth, she recalled what a piece of shit he’d turned out to be. After a revenge fuck back when they were all still at the dropship, she’d seen how Bellamy began to act like less of a douche as long as Clarke was around. It seemed like the leash that he’d been kept on had allowed him to shed, or in reality suppress, his worst tendencies. After returning from the mountain with an intense but pretty girl named Echo, all that had changed. It seemed like almost overnight that he’d gone back to being the selfish prick that he used to be. He’d been with Echo for a month, but it seemed that once the honeymoon phase was over, and her gratitude for being rescued from being bled dry had worn off, there was trouble in paradise. It was only weeks later when Echo had turned up missing, though Raven knew from the lazy and worthless guards that Echo had snuck out of camp and returned to her people. Bellamy was like a piece of garbage floating in space, whatever was the strongest influence on him, that’s where he gravitated.
Having finished her slop long before, she was abruptly brought out of her thoughts by Bellamy kicking the leg of her chair.
“The fuck?” Raven spat, shooting a hand forward to keep her cup of murky water from spilling.
“You’re done eating. Get to work Crip” he spat, the sneer on his face clear. Raven considered whether he’d keep his breakfast down after her fist slammed into his balls, but she decided against it. It wouldn’t gain her anything except a moment of satisfaction, and she didn’t need the trouble it would bring from on high.
Flipping him off as she struggled to her feet, she deposited her empty bowl in the pile by the door, finished her murky water, and moved outside. Just another day in paradise. Maybe she could find Lincoln and Octavia. Other than O’s acting like a spoiled child who’d had her shiny toy taken away, she was usually alright to talk to. Raven knew she had a good thirty minutes before anyone would notice that she wasn’t in her workshop.
Walking back through the camp, she tried not to let the looks of pity and disgust get to her. She couldn’t believe that the people that she’d called friend, Jasper, Monty, Octavia, Lincoln, Bellamy, Harper, Monroe, even Kane, had let things get this bad. Sure, she was crippled, but that didn’t mean she was worthless damnit! Other than Abby (and she had her doubts sometimes), she was the smartest person in this shithole. Wick would argue otherwise, but after he turned into a controlling dick she’d stopped listening to him. Misogynist dick or not, he couldn’t have been that smart, thinking he knew how to rewire high voltage without cutting the power first. Sure she’d been sad, but after so many deaths, it was more upsetting that the smell of boot wrapped in burnt, leathery bacon and deepfried asshole took two weeks to leave the confines of the Ark.
As she spotted Octavia climbing up into the guard tower by the gate for morning watch, she couldn’t help but think about how much Octavia had changed. Sure, she was the same brash, outspoken warrior in training that she always was, but it seemed that being cut off from the Grounders had gotten to her. She still had Lincoln, but without Indra’s influence, the negative aspects of her personality had flourished. Petulant was too soft a word for it. Over the last two years, it seemed like Octavia’s views had evolved. At first, she’d begrudgingly admired Clarke’s strength at the mountain, despite still being angry about the missile that hit TonDC. She’d let the little secret slip about six months later, during another of her brooding sessions.
Yes, Octavia admired Clarke’s strength, but slowly that turned until finally, every hardship visited on the Arkers, and Lincoln and Octavia specifically, was now Clarke’s fault. When hunting parties failed to return, and no trace was found, well, it must’ve been Clarke selling them out to the grounders. As the Ark’s systems continued to degrade, and the weather turned more harsh, well, it was Clarke’s fault for insisting that the mountain be sealed and keeping the keycard as they left. Come to think of it, Raven was a bit miffed about that herself. Surely they’d have some canned food, and blankets! She’d lick a reaper armpit for a nice, fluffy warm blanket. Okay, maybe two blankets and a steak.
Even Lincoln’s choice to ignore the order to retreat, leading to his banishment from his people, became Clarke’s fault in Octavia’s mind. As Octavia had explained it one night, surely if Heda valued Clarke enough to listen to her strategies against the mountain, Clarke could get the Commander to reconsider. Hell, Clarke had saved the Commander from the missile, that had to earn Clarke brownie points.
Raven paused and considered how many years it’d been since she had a brownie before moving on with a frown. On and on Octavia went, and Raven knew it was bullshit. Octavia couldn’t face the fact that, while Clarke was their leader, and a damned good one, she wasn’t God. Sometimes you just got dealt shitty cards. As she limped towards the guard tower, feeling her leg brace creak again, on the verge of coming apart, again, she knew all about getting a shitty hand in life. Well, at least they were alive.
Speaking of shitty cards and being alive, it came as quite a shock, about a year after the mountain, when survivors arrived outside their gate. It seems that Farm Station had landed one hell of a ways north, in Azgeda territory. Since Echo was no longer there, they didn’t have a lot of information. From what the survivors said, the queen, someone named Nia, had made a deal with the Commander. While none of them knew what the deal was, it meant that the survivors would be marched south, to Camp Jaha. You’d think that this would make the Arkers like the Commander and at least the local grounders more, right? Right?! Wrong. If the grounders could negotiate and get the survivors back, feeding them on the way, why weren’t they helping with the Arkers already there? Raven couldn’t believe the short-sightedness, but she’d heard the non-stop whining and entitlement. The grounders could hunt a hell of a lot better, could make clothes and weapons, had horses. Why did the Arkers have to suffer when the grounders could provide? She’d heard it more and more over the months after the survivors showed up.
Raven knew the truth, that they were dying. It was only a matter of time until the heating system gave up entirely, until they stopped being able to make even the little food they could manage. She knew why too. You can’t cling to the Arker, the Skaikru, way of life when you’re on the ground. You have to adapt to your environment, and other than Kane, Octavia, Lincoln, and Raven herself, she didn’t think that any of them actually understood that. No, she decided, it wasn’t that they didn’t understand it, it was that none of them wanted to put forth the fucking effort it would take to chop down trees and build real homes. They didn’t want to learn how to hunt the right way, despite Lincoln offering to teach them. They didn’t want to become grounders, and that pride, that arrogance, was killing them. Some of them tried, but Lincoln and Octavia could only hunt so much, and their spoils always went to the council and the kiss-asses.
As Raven reached the base of the guard tower, she heard Octavia whining about metal walls and the lack of freedom in the camp. The only time anyone was allowed outside the gate was to hunt, fish, gather food and wood, or to bury another unlucky body. Then again, in death they were free of this nightmare, weren’t they?
“Hey O, quit your bitching. At least your room is warm” Raven half shouted from the foot of the ladder, referencing the fact once again that she was living in a room with a gaping hole in the hull.
Sticking her head out of the guard post to respond, Octavia huffed “Yeah well, I’m tired of feeling like a sardine!”
Raven laughed “You’ve never even seen a sardine. The closest you ever came was that river eel that took a bite while you were trying to flirt on your first day on Earth”.
Hearing Lincoln chuckle, Octavia whipped her head around and gave him a dirty look. Seeing this, Lincoln raised his hands in surrender and went back to sketching in his journal.
Sticking her head back out, she was about to lay into Raven when she saw Bellamy stomping his way in their direction. Sighing, she knew what was going to happen once he got there. Lowering her voice, she whispered “Bell’s coming. Take off to your left and I’ll distract him, hurry.”
Raven decided that it’d be better not to look, and only waited long enough for O to start talking in a loud voice again, before dashing off (as quick as she could dash with this piece of shit brace) in the direction O had suggested.
“BELL! What are you doing out here with the little people? Come to see your favorite sister, or just to lord your position as chief kiss-ass over us again? Oh I know, you’ve gone through all the women and you’re looking for a big bear of a man to give you what you really need!”
As Bellamy approached, sighing at his sister’s constant undermining of his authority, and the unwanted but oddly intriguing picture her words gave him, he prepared himself for another round in their never-ending argument about being allowed to set up a tent outside the gates.
Just as he was about to respond, Lincoln looked up from his journal, peering out and away from the camp, towards the treeline in the distance. As he continued to watch, he saw it again, the brief but distinct movement of the underbrush at the base of the trees.
Turning to Octavia, Lincoln nudged her shoulder and pointed towards the motion, still subtle but definitely something.
Leaning forward to get a better view, Octavia holds up a hand to Bellamy to forestall whatever he was about to say, as if it’d be something important. As the underbrush moves even more distinctly than before, Octavia reaches to her belt for the small radio that Raven had constructed for the guards to use.
Making sure that it was on the right channel, she held it up and pressed the button “This is Octavia at the front gate. We see movement in the trees at two o’clock. Hunting party, get up here now. Lunch just volunteered!” she finished with a smirk.
Turning back to look at Bellamy, she saw that he was climbing up the tower now as well, so she eased closer to Lincoln to make room for her brother. As he reached the top and began looking for the motion in the distance, they each froze for the moment as a horse and rider moved into view.
While everyone knew that the grounders were out there, they hadn’t seen any since the mountain. Even when the Farm Station survivors appeared, the grounders leading them to Camp Jaha had left them an hour before reaching the camp. As the three continued to stare at the new development, a second rider appeared.
Coming out of his shock, Bellamy reached for Octavia’s radio, having left his inside the Ark. Taking it from her limp fingers, he ordered for the hunting party to stand down and for security to report to the front gate. Switching channels, he reported to Abby and any of the councilors listening that there was a grounder approaching. If anyone noticed his voice shaking and the trembling of his hands, no one mentioned it.
Finally, after both riders had cleared the foliage, the trio could clearly see that they were warriors, and they were big. They carried swords, wore armor, and both appeared comfortable in the saddle.
To Lincoln’s experienced eye, they were riding war horses, reserved for the most experienced of gona. By their bearing, they were not surprised to see the camp, so they’d come here on purpose. After having paused for about fifteen seconds, the warriors moved ahead slowly. Finally, a third figure on horseback appeared. That figure, cloaked and wearing a hood, was riding a horse even larger than the other gona. It moved easily over the ground, and the three traversed the thousand or so feet from the edge of the treeline to the gates in an unhurried manner, the cloaked figure riding behind the other two.
As the guards summoned by Bellamy finally bothered to show up, clothes askew, rifles held haphazardly, Bellamy ordered “Spread out, form a defensive line. We’ve got grounders headed our way”.
The guards, such as they were, started to move and ready their weapons, half left the safeties on, and most put their fingers on the triggers despite the clear training not to do so by Kane. From what Raven could see having snuck back into view of the gate, all of the guards looked scared shitless. No one had seen a grounder in years, and any who’d fought them knew they’d hand you your ass if you were lucky.
Having formed some kind of defensive line, Bellamy turned his attention back to the grounders.
The group approached the gate, not slowing a bit as the rifles were pointed in their direction, and their features became more clear. Both bearded men, both muscled enough to put Lincoln to shame, and both wearing war paint. Lincoln knew that this could mean that they’d come for a fight, but likely it was meant as a sign of the important nature of their visit.
This close, Lincoln could also make out by their hair and tattoos that the gona were Trikru. Working to suppress the emotion from showing on his face, he again felt the keen bite of isolation from his people. He loved Octavia with his entire heart, but the call of the trees and the only life he had known still weighed on him.
After the riders reached about fifteen feet from the gate, they stopped in unison. Murmurs from the crowd drew Bellamy’s attention. Onlookers behind the guards, roused by the commotion and eager for some new development in their boring lives, continued to gather. Through the crowd, first Abby, then Kane and the rest of the new council pushed their way through. Upon seeing Kane, the sloppy guards seem to try to pull themselves into some kind of order and formation, their respect for him clear.
As Abby made it to the front, the look of anger and something else shining in her eyes, one of the grounders calmly and smoothly dismounts. The guards nervously raised their weapons until a clear order holds them back.
Kane, having watched the poor showing of malnourished and undertrained guards, orders “Easy. They have no weapons drawn. Stay alert but we won’t make the first move”.
Having heard Marcus’ order, Abby scowled at him, obviously not sharing his hope for a peaceful chat and hoping a false move will end whatever this is before it starts. Clearing her throat, Abby venomously spits “Who are you and what are you doing at our camp?” As she finishes speaking, the crowd shifts nervously on their feet.
The first grounder, now dismounted, turns to Abby and speaks clearly “I am Ryder kom Trikru. This is Rivo kom Trikru.” he said, indicating the other warrior still mounted beside him. “We protect Wanheda, who has come to speak to your leader and council”.
As Ryder spoke the name Wanheda, Lincoln let out a gasp from his position in the guard tower. Quickly descending the ladder and approaching Kane and Abby, he whispered “The third figure, in the hood and cloak, that must be Wanheda”. Abby and Kane could hear the reverence and awe with which he spoke, usually only reserved for his Heda.
Abby turned to Lincoln, “Who or what is Wanheda, and why exactly should I care?”
Hearing her rant, Kane sighed, Lincoln wished he could do the same.
“Wanheda is not a what Abby kom Skaikru. In our legends, Wanheda is one of our greatest warriors. Throughout the years, the Spirit of Death has chosen a vessel that embodies it’s will. The vessel chosen is always powerful, fierce in combat, possessing uncompromising will. By surviving, by killing, and by this fierce will, Death takes notice and once chosen, Wanheda dispenses death to all those that oppose them.”
He continued, “When I was banished by my people, the spirit of Wanheda had not chosen a vessel in some time. I’m unsure who would have been chosen by the spirit of Death to become, literally, The Commander of Death.”
Marcus tried to get Abby’s attention, but once Lincoln had finished, Abby turned with an even more fierce expression back to the grounders.
“Whoever this Commander of Death is, we don’t want or need them here. We’re not at war, but that can certainly change if you’re looking for one.” Abby seethed.
Seeing things starting to unravel, as they often did where Abby was concerned these days, Kane murmured “I don’t think that’s a wise decision Abby, refusing to meet with the only grounders we’ve seen in years. It’s not like we don’t need help, desperately” he reminded her, again taking in the sight of his people, falling apart and slowly starving.
The prolonged discussion between Kane, Abby, and Lincoln had the guards shifting nervously, but Ryder and the other Trikru remained stoic in the face of so many Mountain weapons pointing at them.
“I highly suggest letting them in and hearing their words if you do not want a fight.” Lincoln urgently whispered to Abby.
“Fine. I’ll let you enter, but your weapons stay outside of my camp” Abby snapped.
Wanheda sat on the giant horse, quietly pleased at how scared all the Sky people looked. Perhaps that fear would motivate them to listen. Knowing that was too much to ask for, at least in the beginning, perhaps it’d keep them from doing anything stupid for the moment.
Careful to talk quietly enough to not be overheard by Lincoln, Octavia, or Kane, the three people amongst the Skaikru that had a chance of understanding, Wanheda murmured in Trig “ Shed only your weapons that are in plain sight ”, dismounting immediately after.
“ Sha Wanheda ” The guards replied respectfully.
Wanheda and the guards placed their weapons into their corresponding sheaths attached to the saddles and approached the gates of Camp Jaha.
As this was happening, Abby ordered the gates opened then led the grounders through the camp and into the Ark. The members of the council followed in after the three grounders who were looking around, not in curiosity, but scanning for threats. Once they reached the council room, Abby sat at the head of the table with Kane and Bellamy to her right and Octavia, Lincoln and Raven to her left. There were also eight Ark guards spread throughout the room. Wanheda was seated at the other end of the table with Ryder and Rivo standing on either side.
Just before the final guard closed the council room door, a final figure stepped into the room, Charles Pike. Taking a seat at the council table, Abby gave him a withering look mixed with something none of them recognized.
Having had enough of waiting, Abby got straight to the point; “Who the hell are you and why are you here?” Abby directed at the cloaked figure. As no answer came, her temper reached new heights with her gaze locked on the hooded figure yet to be revealed.
After making the Skaikru in the room sweat for a few more moments, Wanheda stood and reached for the hood. The group collectively held their breath, growing tense and quiet until Wanheda finally spoke.
“Ai laik Wanheda, Klark kom Trikru”.