Chapter 1: It's the End of the World (As We Know It)
When the world ended, Cass was deep underground. The spartan bunker she found herself in was sparse and bare. She was shaking and cold, and she adjusted her scarf to cover herself more. As she walked through the halls she felt the world above her falling apart. Her parents had died years ago, and for once she was thankful that she lived alone and didn't have too many friends. Mainly just work colleagues. The less people she knew, the less people she had to miss.
She came to an end in the hallway where there was a common room of sorts. She could hear other people following behind her and turned around. A group of four people entered the room; two women, a man, and an older woman. They were pale, shaking, and arguing among themselves. A pair of young people followed behind them, a blonde woman and a man with dark hair. They were desperately holding each other's hands and Cass thought she saw a pair of rings.
Cass sat on one of the chairs in the room and noticed a few other people in the room. A lovely black woman who she recognized as Dinah Stevens, her son, and another man.
Dinah came over to her and sat in front of her. "Hey. You okay? You look paler than a sheet."
Cass nodded and gestured to her throat.
"Your throat hurts?"
Cass shook her head and started signing.
"You can't speak?"
Cass nodded again and smiled shakily at Dinah, who returned the smile.
"Well I suppose it's lucky for you that I understand ASL huh?"
Cass felt a little relieved. At least she could still communicate somehow, even if it was with the help of an interpreter. She sat back and observed the people she would be with.
Two more women entered the room, one taller with a cane. She had a severe sort of beauty about her, but there was something about her that gave Cass the creeps. The other was older and shorter, and had a modern hair cut that Cass envied.
"Everyone please take a seat. I will explain what's going on here once you've all been seated." The taller one was speaking, and her tone had a finality to it that she dared not disobey.
Everyone else in the room took a seat. The tall woman took a breath. "My name is Miss Venable, and this is Miss Mead. Welcome to Outpost 3. We are in charge here on the behalf of the Cooperative, who will shepherd us into a new world that will be free of all the corruption and tyranny of the past world. I know you all must be very shaken and tired. I will be brief about our rules. One. Breakfast and dinner are served at one time and we all eat together. If you are late, you will miss that meal. Do not be late. Two. You will be divided into purples and greys. Greys are here to serve, and the purples are here to be served. Three. Do not touch the radio whatsoever. It is how the Cooperative will communicate with us. Four. Do not attempt to steal rations. Doing so will result in severe punishment. Five. Do not go outside. If you are discovered to be contaminated you will be punished. Six. No unauthorized copulation is allowed at any time for anyone. Am I understood?"
A man with white blonde hair raised his hand and Miss Venable nodded at him. "Yes?"
"Yeah, I got a question. I get it if a man and a chick copulated cause they could get pregnant, but what about if you're gay?"
"No copulation is allowed for anyone Mr. Gallant. That includes homosexuals. Anymore questions?"
Cass waited a moment before timidly raising her hand.
"Yes Miss Demos?
She started to sign and Dinah interpreted. "She's concerned about how long we'll be here Miss Venable."
Miss Venable nodded. "I understand the concern Miss Demos. We estimate we will be here for quite a long time. As of right now the radiation alone is enough to kill you, and if it doesn't kill you it will cause illness and mutation. We will stay here until the Cooperative gives us the all clear to come out of the shelter, however I was not given an estimate of how long that will be."
Cass nodded and signed "Thank you."
"You are welcome Miss Demos. Any more questions?"
No one else spoke up and Miss Venable clapped her hands together. "Good. Now we will give you your new wardrobe and make sure you all are decontaminated. The purples are as follows: Mr. Gallant. Miss Stevens. Mr. Stevens and his partner Stu. Miss Coco St. Pierre and Miss Evie Gallant. Mr. and Mrs. Ramos. Your wardrobes are all in your bedrooms, and we will show you where you will be staying after decontamination. Miss Mead, please escort them to the decontamination room."
Miss Mead nodded and the purples followed her out of the room. Miss Venable turned to Cass and the lone remaining woman. "You two are our greys. We have a few other greys here already, but your wardrobe's are also in your room. Your duties are to serve in any way the purples need." Miss Venable nodded at the other young woman. "I believe you were already employed by Miss St. Pierre?"
She nodded. "Yes. I'm her personal assistant, Mallory."
"Good. You will be assigned to her." Miss Venable turned to Cass. "You seem to have latched on to Miss Stevens."
Cass paled and signed frantically, scared she was in trouble before Miss Venable held up a palm. "It makes sense for you to be assigned to her service. She can understand ASL, so it's fitting for you to be with her."
Cass let out a relieved breath as Miss Mead returned. "The purples are undergoing decontamination. Would you like me to escort these two?"
Miss Venable nodded. "Yes, please." She turned on her heel to leave and then stopped and said over her shoulder. "One more thing. Enjoy your stay at Outpost 3." She then left the room, leaving Cass and Mallory alone with Miss Mead, who just smiled.
"Come on. Let's get to it."
Chapter 2: Langdon
Michael Langdon arrives at Outpost 3 and seems to have a soft spot for Cass.
When Michael Langdon got out of his carriage at Outpost 3, he did everything he could to keep the sly smirk off his face. He thought of the warlocks of the Hawthorne Academy who had betrayed him, and of their fate at his hands. He was proud of this new world that he had created. He strode by Miss Mead, stopping only to tell her to take care of his horses. He descended the stair case into the outpost and breathed in the stale air. He could feel the weak beings, and then thought he sensed a few stronger humans among them. He shook the thought and met Miss Venable in her office.
She walked in with her cane as Michael stood observing the spartan settings. "Wilhemina Venable. I'm in charge here."
Michael turned and smirked. "Of course you are."
Miss Venable stiffened. "You sound like you don't believe me."
Michael's grin widened. "Why wouldn't I? It seems like you've done a wonderful job. Your people are alive and healthy. Which is quite a feat, considering."
Miss Venable raised an eyebrow and asked in a flat tone. "Considering?"
"Considering that three more outposts have been overrun and the remaining three won't last through the year."
"Why are you here?"
Michael paced over to her. "Because it's only a matter of time before the same thing happens to you. The good news is there's another facility, a sanctuary. This one is completely impregnable and stocked with enough supplies to last us a decade."
Miss Venable smiled with understanding. "You're here to take us there."
Michael hummed with amusement. "I've been assigned to evaluate the people here and select the ones most worthy of survival. I could take all of you or none of you. Those who make it live. Those who don't end up like my horses."
The next day Michael arrived in the dining room while the citizens of Outpost 3 were panicking over the snakes he had sent. He smirked at their stupid panicked reactions. He cleared his throat and immediately all attention in the room shifted to him.
Dinah saw him and tried to keep her smile to herself. He nodded at all of them.
"My name is Langdon, and I represent the Cooperative. I won't sugarcoat the situation. Humanity is on the brink of failure. My arrival here is crucial to the survival of civilized life on Earth. The three other outposts in Syracuse, New York; Beckley, West Virginia, and San Angelo, Texas have been overrun and destroyed. We have received no contact from the six international outposts, but but we are assuming that they too have been eliminated."
"What happened to the people inside?
Michael nonchalantly shrugged. "Massacred. The same fate that will befall almost all of you."
Michael smirked as he explained his purpose here and the Sanctuary. His grin widened when Gallant raised his hand and volunteered to go first. He decided to grant his request. He quickly excused himself and turned to leave.
As he walked away, he felt a pressure hit him in the chest. Snarling he looked down and said "Watch where you're goin-" before what he saw stopped him cold.
Cass panicked and began to sign her apologies. Michael took her hand in his, somewhat shocked to see her. "No, my apologies. I should have been paying more attention. My name is Langdon. What's yours?"
Cass looked up at him suspiciously and signed her name.
"Cassandra. A beautiful name for a lovely girl. I look forward to our next meeting Cassandra." Michael kissed the back of her hand and released her, walking to his quarters.
Cass looked after him incredibly confused. Who was this man, and why did he seem so familiar? Why did he treat her so kindly when another purple (Andre namely) would have slapped her to the ground for her clumsiness? She went into the dining room with a glass of water for Dinah and stood behind her, pondering what had just happened.
Michael, meanwhile, was pacing his quarters. Cassandra, his Cassandra had survived. She had lived. He was a mixture of torn and relieved. Those damn witches had taken her voice, and her memory it seemed. He hadn't seen even an ounce of recognition in her eyes. He threw a book against the wall, furious about his loss. He had already gotten his vengeance on the witches at least. It shouldn't take long to help Cassandra remember who he was to her.