The sound of rattling metal as the thrusters engaged is what roused Clark from her drug induced sleep. Her blond hair falling heavy across her face as she blinked rapidly to try and clear the fog from her vision. Her ice blue eyes tried to scan the room and come up with a conclusion of what was happening, the confusion written in heavy lines across her drowsy face.
The sound of her name being repeated from a familiar voice chased the haze further from her head. Her bright eyes coming further into focus with every repetition of her name.
“CLARKE!” Wells’ voice was tinged with anxiety. “Hey, look at me. Look at me, Clarke!”
Her weary eyes turned towards her best friend, the confusion clearing as a grateful flush came over her as her eyes locked on a familiar face in the crowd. One that she hadn’t seen in about a year.
“Hey, Clarke.” His tone noticeably less anxious than it had just been. His smile soft on his full lips at her hesitant smile in his direction.
The lazy smile stayed on her lips for a moment longer until the realization of why she hadn’t seen him or any one else for the better part of a year, broke through the fog. That fact pulled her sluggish brain from the last dredges of the sedative, wilting any kind feelings for the man beside her. Her former best friend.
“What are you doing here Wells?”
“I came here for you,” he shifted as far in her direction as his restraints would allow. “I got myself put in lock up so I could go with you. I couldn’t let you go to Earth on your own. Not with a bunch of criminals!”
“That’s rich.” She scoffed, leaning further away from him. The heat in her voice rising with every syllable that passed her lips, “I’m the worst criminal of them all. Don’t you remember? I mean after they floated my father that is, there was no one worse than me. That’s why I lost everything. I guess that’ll teach me for trusting anyone, ever again.”
“You’re not… I- I didn’t… It wasn’t me.” he whispered. The words pounded against her ears, despite the sound of pieces of metal being violently ripped away from the drop ship as they hurtled through the atmosphere.
“If it wasn’t you, then who could it have possibly have bee-” She cut herself off as the shame became deeper in the lines of his face and his body curled into itsself. “My mother?”
At his pained nod, her slight frame slumped backwards into the seat behind her. A bitter laugh tore its way out of her mouth. “Of freaking course it was her. How did I miss that? Can’t have anyone set one foot out of line.”
She shot forward in the restraining harness as her face paled, the sorrow and disbelief creased her forehead and pinched at her eyes. “Oh God, Wells. I was so awful to you! How can you ever forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive, Clarke. I let you blame me because you needed your mom. I couldn’t be the reason you lost both of your parents all in one go.”
“But I needed you..” She was cut off as they were slammed back to our seats. The parachute deploying rocked the drop ship back and forth and the kids that had been out of their seats were thrown around the cabin like nothing more than rag dolls. The screams of the other people finally filtered into Clarke’s brain as the spell was broken between them, the last effect of the sedative still holding firm into her brain. The lights in the cabin flickered off and on until finally cutting off one last time with the concussion of the landing on the ground.
The people - no kids- around her started unbuckling, she hurried to follow suit before someone did something stupid like open the doors without taking a moment to think. Rushing to the lower deck she saw someone about to do just that. His cocky attitude swelling around him as he brushed his long brown locks out of his angry eyes.
“Stop!” Clarke yelled as she tried to elbow her way toward the angry boy at the door. “The air could be toxic. Just take a second to -”
“We are dead if we don’t open the door, or did I miss the luxury apartments with a years worth of food in it?”
“No, but let’s be -”
“We don’t take orders from you… Princess” His face pinched up into a sneer as he growled out the last word. His hand pulled on the lever, his angry challenging eyes never leaving mine.
The hiss of the hydraulics was mirrored by the others as they held what might be their last breath. When no one dropped to the floor dead, the excitement became palpable as kids raced out into the most beautiful site her pale blue eyes had ever seen.
Wells’ hand dropping on her shoulder jolted her out of my revere. Sharing a hesitant smile he produced a map and compass with the other hand.
“My father’s message on the drop ship said something about making it to Mount Weather, for food and supplies. Its marked here on the map but I wanted you to double check, because I’m pretty sure we landed on the wrong peak.”
“Okay, well, if that is the case we need to get moving in that direction. Just give me a minute to double check the map. When they start to calm down round up a couple people who might want to come scout with us.”
Moving in separate directions, Clarke glanced back and forth between the map and compass, only to confirm that Wells was indeed correct. They had landed on the wrong mountain. The green around her starting to feel suffocating as she realized they had at least a 20 mile walk in front of them to get to what might be the only thing that kept them from starving to death. Her eyes wandering about hoping that she might see some wildlife now that she had walked away from the shouting children who were still dancing and rejoicing at being alive on the ground.
She was snapped out of her angry thoughts as The Space Walker sauntered in her direction with a lazy drawl of “Why so serious, Princess? It’s not like we died in a fiery explosion”
“Tell that to the two guys who were floating around the cabin with you.” Her icy gaze cut in his direction.
“You don’t like being called Princess. Do you, Princess?” His hand pushed his long hair away from his delighted grin.
“You see that peak over there?” the worry that lined her face deepened at every glance she made towards the mountain peak
“That’s Mount Weather. There is a radiation soaked forest between us and our next meal. We don’t have time to wait.” Turning on her heels, she headed back towards the drop ship to find Wells.
Searching for his tall, dark frame, she noted that there didn’t seem to be any lull in the excitement from the other delinquents still. As she pursued Wells she found the angry boy from the door working to take off his wrist band and she rushed over in his direction.
“What are you doing?” She grabbed the arm that was prying at the cuff.
“Whatever the Hell I want.” He snatched his hand back.
“You can’t do that, how else will the people on the ark know it’s safe to come down?” She reached for his arm again. Hoping to keep him from getting any further at getting the wristband off.
The grin that split his face was full of malice. Jumping on to the ramp he raised his arms and his voice, “Why would we want them to come down here? They sent us down here to die. We don’t need them! We don’t need their rules. I say we take off the damn cuffs and let them all go fuck themselves!”
The cheer of the others rose up as she jumped up behind the pacing boy in front of me. Wary of what he might do.
“We can’t do that!” her voice louder as the crowd quieted down to hear what she had to say. Most exchanging looks expecting her to make a fool of herself. To stand up for the same people she lived most of her life with, just like the princess they expected she was. “We have to leave the cuffs on. If we don’t all of your loved ones will die before the next 6 months are out, probably less!”
The look of shock on the delinquents faces was not surprising. The disquieted murmuring picked up as they stared at her in disbelief. They glanced back and forth at each other hoping someone else in the crowd might know what she was talking about and be able to confirm or deny what she was saying.
“How do we know you aren’t just saying this so you can get your precious council back? So your you can go running to the protection of your mommy!” The angry boy sneered, the look of indecision on most of the others propelled her forward again.
“I hate the council more than any of you.” She quieted, meeting Wells pained eyes. “They floated my father because he wanted to tell the people of the ark that it was dying. Life support is failing and there is not enough time left to make the repairs needed to stay afloat for more than I would guess another six months at this point.
“It's why I was put in solitary. So I couldn’t make friends. So I couldn’t tell any of you, so that you couldn’t tell any of your friends and family and let the message spread. So, you see, we can’t take the cuffs off. Because who do you think will be affected first? Who’s family and friends will be culled first? Not mine. It will be yours. Miller, do you want your dad to die? He’s a good man but ultimately, he’s more expendable then say Commander Shumway?”
At the long drag of his adam apple up and down his throat she watched him working out the math of his father’s position.
“And you Monty, your parents in farm station. They are just workers, they are skilled workers, sure but when it comes down to it. Are your parents not more expendable than Kara Cooper?
She swung her nervous face around staring out at the crowd who was hanging on her every word. Waiting to see who would be called out next.
“Can any of you say that your families have people in positions that are high enough to be saved if the council has their way? I know you all think that I don’t care enough to know who you are but you would be wrong. I know every family on the ark. I was present for the last baby to be born before I was sent to lock up for knowing too much. I would like to see that baby get the chance to grow up here. Free.
“My father gave his life trying to do the right thing and had he been able to before the council found out maybe there would have been enough time with enough minds to fix it. But the what ifs can’t save us now. We have to get to mount weather. They dropped us on the wrong peak. Our next meals depend on it.”
Clarke looked at the angry boy in front of her, daring him to fight her further. Though he had stopped pacing she could see the fight still in his eyes. Walking up to him and she placed her hand on his tense arm; lowering her voice to talk directly to him, even though she knew that the rest of the crowd was still listening with rapt attention.
“I know that you don’t want to believe me and I’m not expecting you to take orders from me on faith, but I can promise you if we do whatever the hell we want then we will not survive here. Can you at least agree with me on that?”
He pulled away from her light touch and jumped off the ramp before stomping over to lean against the drop ship. The shadow of the ship swallowing the heat of his anger.
“What do we do then?” came from a small voice in the crowd.
“I am not your leader here, but logically what we need to do is get a small group together and make our way towards Mount Weather to scout out the land and see if there is even anything there worth marching towards. We know it was a military base but we don’t know if it was capable of housing civilians. That should take us about 8-10 hours to make the trek.
And then the rest of the people here need to inventory what we were sent down with, medicines, food supplies and whatnot. We need people to look for water, to figure out how to make a fire so we can boil out the impurities. We need to be smart or we won’t make it long enough for our farmers and engineers to get here and set up what we need.”
“For someone who says they aren’t a leader, you seem to be issuing a lot of orders, princess.” Came from the angry set mouth of the boy in the back, but the lack of tension in the rest of his form screamed defeat.
“I am not your leader. I’m just pointing out the logical steps we need to take to survive. If anyone has any better ideas I’d like to hear them.”
Her searching face was met with silence. When she looked back at Wells, there was pride shining in his eyes.
“Okay then, the sooner we get going, the sooner we can get back to the group and make a decision. If you want to go come find me. I’m leaving in 15 minutes. No more than 5 of us should go.”
Jumping off the ramp she was immediately met by Wells who threw his arms around her in a hug that made Clarke feel more pulled together than she had felt in a long time. Her arms came up to lightly rest against his back.
“I’m so proud of you, Clarke.” He whispered against the crown of her head. “I’m ready to head out when you are.”
She leaned away from him to look up in his eyes. “I need you to stay here.”
“Why?” His brows pinched together confusion.
“Because, they need one of us here to help them. You were the top of the class in earth skills. If anyone can find water and build a fire it will be you. And if I’m right about what season I think this is, then the nights will get cold and they will be miserable and less cooperative tomorrow without either of those things. We need them to be ready to move if that’s what it comes down to.”
He nodded and let her go. “Okay, you were good at Earth Skills too. You stay here and I’ll go.” His hand moved up to brush the wild golden silk away from her face.
“No, I can’t ask you to do that. This was my plan. I’ll go and I’ll be back tomorrow.” Shaking her head she pulled away from him to pace; the green of the forest around her swaying back and forth in time with her.
“Please Wells? I need you to stay safe. I can’t lose anyone else.” He pulled her back to another firm hug.
“Okay. I’ll stay this time. Please be safe. May we meet again.” touching his head briefly to hers.
“May we meet again.” Her eyes bright with emotion. “We will meet again Wells. I have so much to make up for.”
From high in the trees, a beautiful, young brunette peeled away from the tree and moved away from the group of people, some no more than children. Looking over to spot the tan skin of her chosen who was masked against the forest the same as she was. Meeting his eyes, she knew that he was not seeing the same threat that she saw. In his gentle heart she knew he was hoping to avoid confrontation.
After moving some distance away as not to be overheard, she laid her hand on his cheek. “Heda will want to hear of this. And I must speak with Indra before Anya charges us into a battle half cocked.”
“I know. I will trail their leader.” He micked her pose before pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead.
“Do not let them get close to the mountain, we can not let them join forces against us. We don’t know what kind of intentions they have. The sky people may prove to be more dangerous than the Mountain Men.”
“They are just kids, Octavia. They look more scared than anything.”
“You heard her, there are more of them in the sky. And it doesn’t sound like they want to preserve life where she comes from.”
His gentle eyes caressed her face. “She also said she wasn’t their leader and look how they follow her.”
“Exactly, they follow a liar!”
“Octavia,” he kissed her gently. “She is young, can you say you did better the first time Indra gave you a group to look after? Were you any more a leader than she? Did you have any more right to call yourself their leader at that point?”
“Yes, yes. You are right, of course you are.” Her exasperated smile lit up her face in a teasing glow of happiness. “You’re always right.”
“Let’s not start anything without telling Heda. He will want to know. And he will be mad that you came here, before coming to him or sending someone else to scout.”
“Oh, don’t remind me. But I can handle my brother, you go watch them. I will hurry to Indra and then on to Polis to inform Heda. I will see you soon, my love.”
Another gentle kiss before they pulled away and moved through the woods like wraiths in the night unknown to the sky kids he was now responsible for following.
The lush green forest slowed the route march that she had attempted to keep to minimize the amount of time that it took them to get to the mountain. They needed to get there and get back before our people started to feel the effects of the lack of nutrition. They could only live on excitement for so long before people started to collapse or turn on each other again.
She seemed to be the only one feeling the pressure of responsibility. The others with her slowing their pace even further as they turned to watch the weird displays of nature that had not been what our textbooks had shown.
The best friend set, Monty and Jasper, had tagged along as soon as The Space Walker - Finn his name had turned out to be- had showed up with the intention of following her into the wood. The surprise had been Murphy. He stepped up to her with the sneer still firmly in place telling Clarke that he was going to go so he could keep an eye on her and make sure she wasn’t trying to set up my people before remembering the other groups, no matter how much she tried to explain they were all her people.
Reaching the sound of a river drew the grew up short. Finn told us all to be careful before the excited grin stole over his face.Her answering grin stretched across her face before she could stop it in response to him.
Moving forward to the edge of the river, her grin fell. Seeing saw no visible way to cross the river.She began to walk the river bed hoping to find an area that was shallow enough for us to wade across as she consulted the map and compass again.. The sound of something being torn away snapped her head back towards the group. Finn had pulled a thick vine off the large tree behind him and was testing it for strength.
“What are you thinking, Finn?” she marched back over to try and catch the conversation the boys were having.
“Well, none of us know how to swim, but some of us know how to walk through space”
His infectious smile pulled across this face as Jasper and Monty rubbed their palms together in anticipation.
Leaning back and bracing against the vine Finn prepared to launch himself out across the river before Jasper cried out for Finn to wait; that he wanted to try his first space walk.
Handing the vine to Jasper’s nervous hand. “Well, looks like I’m not going to be the only one able to claim the title anymore.”
Laughing a little Jasper mimicked the position Finn had just held before launching himself across the river. His dismount a little less than graceful. Jasper stood up and wiped his hands against his jacket. His smile wide and bright as he laughed in astonishment.
“Jasper, are you okay?” Clarke leaned forward hoping he heard her over the sound of the water in front of her.
Dusting himself off again; he leaned back down picking up a sign and holding it over his head.
“We found Mount Weather!”
A cheer went up from the group on the opposite side of the river and Jasper’s excited dancing continued until sharp creak of wood sounded. Dropping the sign Jasper eyes traced the area looking for the source of the noise.The cheers subdued. Another thump sounded, tearing a tortured cry from Jasper, who staggered before falling back against an outcropping of rocks a spear protruding from his abdomen.
“Jasper!” Clarke screamed as she was drug backwards into the woods no matter how she tried to turn back to see what had become of their friend. “No! We have to go back!”
“We can’t! That spear was thrown with pinpoint accuracy.” Finn sounded frantic. His tone breathless as he pulled at her jacket forcing her to keep moving away.
“But he’s hurt, we can’t leave him.”
“We are not alone down here.” Murphy sounded as breathless as everyone else when they stopped after several minutes of running through the lush forest. Their bodies tiring quickly as they moved across the unfamiliar terrain.
That statement seemed to shake them to their core.
“Okay, we go back, warn the others and regroup. Then we go out and find him.”
Everyone nodded before collecting themselves and starting the trek back to the dropship.
A large tan man shoved the smaller man before him, grabbing a fist full of his dark camouflage jacket.
“What were you thinking? Huh! What were you thinking?” Shaking the smaller man who only sneered up at the taller man.
“I’m thinking I’m following Anya’s orders to keep the Sky people away from the Mountain Men. That the two of them together could mean the end of trikru.”
“Heda, won’t be happy with you.”
They found Jasper some hours later strung up to a tree, heart struggling to keep beating. After hauling him back camp, no one got any sleep; from fear and the low groans that came from Jasper’s throat at regular intervals.
By the morning everyone was set on edge. Murphy drove the other delinquents fiercy, using their nervous energy into making the camp more secure. By the end of the following week the camp was looking more and more safe.
Though Murphy and Clarke fought, endlessly, they eventually came to an uneasy alliance. Though it was antagonist at the best of times, the two of them came up with rules and boundaries for their people to try and help most of our people survive through repeated attacks from the grounders.
The trees being felled by a small group of boys who were brave enough to volunteer to move away from camp into the surrounding area. Wells joining that group saying that he could help them get them to avoid taking too much coverage from one place or another.
They younger kids at camp shaped the downed trees into points at the top. Then they were set into trenches that had been dug by quickly forged shovels made of pieces of scrap metal that had fallen off the dropship.
After just two weeks with failed attempt after failed attempt to contact the ark, we knew they would be losing hope with every wrist band sacrificed to the vain attempt to reach them, and every member of the hundred that fell to the grounders and an Earth that seemed desperate to kill them.
Despite the losses and lost hope of ever reaching the ark with reports of the relative safety of their people, joy seemed to radiate off everyone but Murphy and Clarke when they saw the small pod streaking across the sky.
“We leave as soon as its light enough to safely navigate the woods.” Murphy shouted for the rest of the camp to hear, “so get some rest while you can.”
“Murphy, everyone in a hundred miles will have seen that pod.”
“Maybe so, Princess, but I won’t risk our people over what may be nothing. Now, go back to your little boyfriend and get some rest. We leave at dawn.”
“He’s not my -”
“Save it, Clarke, we all see how he follows you around like a lost puppy. And don’t think I didn’t notice how you guys disappear for hours at a time.” His wicked grin showing just how much he had assumed of their relationship.
“We were just scouting!” Clarke shouted at his retreating back.
“Is that what they are calling it these days?” He called without turning around towards her; a careless wave thrown over his shoulder.
The hand that touched Clarke’s back made her jump as Finn’s warm voice tickled her ear.
“Come on, Princess. Let’s go to bed.” The whispered words, warming the blood that rushed through her body. A shy smile played across his lips as they slipped through the shadows of camp towards Clarke’s tent. His hand drifting lower on her spine.
“Let’s go scouting.” The humor in his voice was obvious as his voice lowered. A warmth spread through her.
Wells’ eyes followed her in disapproval. He knew that Finn was bad news for her. The normally serious girl, a giggling mess when he made tasteless jokes. He’d seen her like this before and knew that this would not last and before long she would be back at his side. He just had to wait her infatuation out.