A/N- Okay... so this is it. Back in July I started this story as a mere prediction of episode 5 ending with everyone's death and how Clementine could have changed that.
Nearly a month and a half later, 51 chapters published, 370 odd reviews, (making it the 5th most reviewed story on the site) over 50 favourites and follows, and over 20,000 views. I can safely say I'm proud of my first work. and once again I can't thank everyone enough for reading and reviewing this story, so I'll get onto my final authors note. (P.S Keep a lookout for my next work "The Spoils Of War" which will be a series of oneshots following this story, and if I manage to get around to it... bridge this story to a sequel)
Anyway and now time to give out honours to my reviewers...
Obsessed naruhina fangirl- On your latest point, that's pretty interesting I imagine Christa would have taught her at some point. But even then her knowledge would be low, and maybe something I could address in the one-shots. So thanks for that idea.
And I'll thank you for leaving your reviews and opinions and for sticking to this story from the start. The discussions I've had with you have been great, and made these author's note much more fun to write. It's been great to share opinions with you on the game, and you're the one to thank for helping me turn this story from a simple escape story. Into a takeover story, as your ideas on a takeover got me thinking... and BAM! It happened. So thanks for your advice and opinions I hope to hear more from you in the future.
AquaDestinysEmbrace- One of the trio of "originals" as I like to call you. (Along with Rebloxic and Obsessed naruhina fangirl) your reviews have been great throughout the story. And in return I've also got to enjoy your awesome story "Bad Things Will Always Happen" (and as for the song you wanted Anne to play, I'd say Lead Me Home, quite simply because throughout episode 5. The survivors are looking for a home, whether it be Wellington, the hardware store or simply looking for a destination to call "home" but then again it's your choice) all in all thanks for your reviews (and yeah I got "In The Pines" idea from your story, I just love that song!)
Rebloxic- You've stuck with this story from the start and always given your reviews and thoughts on each chapter, so I'll thank you as well. You've been great, and I'm sure your upcoming war story will be great!
apathy- You've given brilliant and detailed reviews for many chapters and I can't thank you enough for your interest in the story and your reviews. I'll want to hear more from you in the future as well.
Eggomypeggo, Maximo and Lockdown (I like to call you three guys the new trio) you've stuck by this story in it's later chapters and I've looked forward to your reviews, so thanks for giving them! And I hope this epilogue entertains!
and now, a shout out and a thanks to these other awesome authors and reviewers
Emily Carver, FunFX2012, Legionary prime, K. Lynn Perks, vampirefeem, heidipoo, ShadowCub, Alardem, Martial Arts Master, MizukiKitty123, TOkun92, compa16, skoorpiee, SuperIdinaMenzelObsessedFanboy, TheAlagoana, Kranon The Deathclaw- Human, bigblackduck, NN009, Killerbee77, Zub Zub, The Benevolent Scriber, XXXWOLFLOVERXXX, Night-Chan-DragonEyes, leafs nation, AvengedVeralin, I heart Lyoko, Clarah Convert, BlackGalaxyStars, devilshomie, some guy, Guest T, reader, rokon 900, Lee and Kenny, swiftlavignee, Bubbles2k100, Sventhecrusader, RetroApple and all of the guests!
Okay, time to finish this off. Enjoy!
1 Month Later.
Randy cleared his way through the never ending pine forest. Bits of twigs and broken, brittle brown leaves nestled in his tangled red mane. He wiped a sheen of sweat from his forehead, as he turned around to wife Patricia.
She was also sweating slightly, the rays of harsh sunlight lighting her short black hair, as she smiled up to her husband. As she did her stomach growled violently as Randy raised a bushy reddish black eyebrow to her.
"Okay, so I am hungry, don't worry we'll find somewhere" Patricia tried to encourage him. Randy didn't look convinced, as he muttered "Well, we better find somewhere quick. We won't last another night out here" he thought aloud. The nights only grew colder and food grew more sparse. He and his wife had been with a large group before, but one by one they had all slowly fallen, there numerous shelters were ripped apart from the dead or by bandits.
A year ago. Exactly twelve months ago, the last of their original group of 20 perished. Leaving Randy and Patricia to wander onwards aimlessly, trying to survive by themselves, walking and scavenging whenever they could. Randy had no idea where they were, but their last base had been Arziona. But they had been moving for a year now, trying to stay by themselves avoiding groups at all costs.
"Dad, I'm getting hungry" Gill complained.
Of course they had their "son" Gill with them. Gill wasn't their biological son, but the couple found him hiding in his parent's basement, he was 10 then and clutching his small blue blanket, as Randy had to kill Gill's zombified parents. since that day, they had looked after Gill, teaching him how to survive in the apocalypse and to them he was now as good as their "son" despite the ethnic difference between them.
"We'll get some food son, don't worry" Randy tried to reassure him, as he tried to cool himself off by pinching his black t-shirt. They had been walking for days and gone without food for days. Randy's vision was starting to get dizzy... his stomach silently protested to his movements, his feet and legs seared with fatigue. But he would keep moving. They had kept moving for two years. They wouldn't stop moving now... they had survived for this long.
He looked ahead of him, the pine trees seemed to be clearing into some sort of opening... cautiously he pulled out his pistol from his holster. Gill and Patricia instantly ducked to the ground. Knowing the instant Randy pulled out his pistol, it meant trouble.
"What is it, hon?" Patricia asked cautiously as Randy adjusted the black rimmed glasses on his nose.
"I think there's a building ahead" Randy replied, as he crouched forwards and out into the opening.
It was a bizarre site, there was a mass trench filled with water, stretched around what looked like a hardware store. Several walkers lay floating in the murky water. Some alive walkers were snarling on the end of chains, and what was weirder is that a young woman sat on a wooden chair by the trench... humming softly... while strumming away on a guitar.
"This is not our home...
In the Water...
Randy stepped forward cautiously, this caused the leaves around him to rustle and the gravel beneath his feet to crunch. This noise altered the woman to his presence, her head shot up and she discarded her guitar instantly. Bolting upwards, she trained her own pistol own where Randy was crouched in the bushes.
"I can see you!" The woman yelled, Randy now had no choice, he slowly, but sadly stood up.
"I don't want no trouble!" He yelled over to her.
"Neither do we!" The young woman yelled back, still aiming the pistol at Randy's head as they store each other down. However Randy's train of concentration was broken when he heard a strong voiced southerner boom from the roof...
"STAY STILL! DON'T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVEMENTS! PUT THE GUN DOWN ON THE GROUND!"
He was speaking through a megaphone. Randy was aware of sweat building on his head as he glanced around wildly. Guns on him from all sides... he sighed and decided (it was his only option really) to drop the gun to the ground. It clanked on the floor, as the young woman seemed to relax slightly, as she lowered her gun.
"Is there anyone else with you?" she asked.
Randy gulped and opened his mouth... "Come on Gill, Patricia!" he instructed of them, as his wife and his son stepped forward cautiously.
"They don't have any weapons!" Randy quickly exclaimed to the raven haired woman, who glared at them through her bright aqua eyes.
"Hmm..." she muttered, her expression softening as she told Randy too "Pass the gun over to me"
He obeyed, he picked up the gun and threw it at the young woman. Stephanie picked it up and smiled as Randy (followed by his wife and son) raised his hands into the air, he muttered "See? We don't want trouble"
"I suppose you seem okay" The young woman told them.
"Can... you please take us in, we won't last another night out there!" Patricia suddenly requested, her brown orbs locked on the large hardware store.
"Patricia..." Randy snapped angrily.
"We need to find something to eat! Besides these people might be the answer were looking for!" Patricia argued back.
"We've survived this long without a group!" Randy reminded her.
"We won't for much longer, we need to find Gill something to eat! Look at him Randy!" she demanded, as Randy's chocolate brown eyes swept back to his droopy eyed adopted son, who was swaying slightly on the spot.
"Fine" Randy seemed to sigh, as he looked back at the young woman who was observing their argument.
"Well you seem genuine, it's wise not to trust strangers. So I think you might be genuine. I'll just have to clear things up with Luke" she informed them, as she pulled out a walkie talkie from her pocket and muttered into it "Hey Luke, we got people here."
The voice of a farmhand responded, as it said "People? Like bandits?"
"No, a family. Dad, Mum and a kid about Clem's age. They seem genuine enough and they've given up their weapons and they want to come in" Stephanie explained as the walkie talkie went silent. As the family of three practically lent over the trench, to listen to his answer.
"Invite them in, have Bonnie show them around. She's just finished her round" The man said.
"Okay" Stephanie responded as the walkie talkie went dead. She turned back to the family of three "Okay you three, wait here for a second" as she disappeared back into the store. The family waited, fidgeting awkwardly, the four guards on the roof still had their guns trained on them, before the young woman emerged with a wooden plank and a kinder looking, redhead woman.
"Okay, careful crossing this thing. It's wonky as hell" The young woman told them, as she lowered the plank across the water filled trench (which was just about wide enough so people couldn't jump across) Randy, Patricia and Gill managed to quickly cross the thing. Before the black haired woman pulled it up again.
"That's our excuse for a drawbridge" The redhead woman laughed, Randy didn't know how to react, as he remained mute.
"Anyway, I'll get back to my post. Watch them Bonnie, everyone inside is dying to meet them. Since they are the first people we've seen in a month" The black haired woman told this "Bonnie" woman.
"Sure thing, see you later Stef"
The younger woman smiled and headed back to her wooden chair and guitar, as "Bonnie" lead them towards the hanger door.
"Um... if you don't mind me asking. Who was that?" Randy inquired Bonnie, as a smile played on her face.
"That's Stephanie. Pretty little thing she is, but she prefers her own company and guitar. She stays by the trench to look out for threats and watch over the watchdogs" Bonnie explained as Randy nodded, before his wife piped up "Watchdogs?".
"Those Walkers we have chained up, we use them as guards in case any bandits get past Stef and the trench. Even then we have the guys up on the roof on guard. So this place is pretty fortified" Bonnie told them proudly, as they approached the seemingly imposing store.
"It's like a castle with a moat" Gill said excitedly, as Bonnie beamed at the child.
"Yeah, it was my partner... I mean workmate's idea, to fill the trenches with water" Bonnie corrected herself quickly, her face red as a beet tomato, as she stuttered to an awkward finish. Luckily for her, they didn't know who she was on about and probably didn't care.
"Anyway, he thought that filling the trenches with water was good idea because walkers couldn't swim, and it is a good idea. Keeps the walkers out, but we have to fish em up and burn the bodies at a site not too far from here. Me and workmate Mike's job is to drive the truck outta here every so often. So the trench doesn't get clogged up with carcasses. Course we need our mini planks and drawbridges to get people and trucks in and out of this place.. but so far we're doing really well" Bonnie was giving them as a speech as Randy clung onto every word.
"What do you mean so far?" Patricia quizzed of her, as they entered the cool shade of the store.
"Well, bout a month ago me and the guys here overthrew the madman who ruled this place, we haven't lost anyone since then" Bonnie assured them, as they Gill looked up with wide eyes as the shelves stocked with food, to the right and left of him.
"Erm... look you don't mind us staying do you?" Randy asked awkwardly, as Bonnie smiled.
"Course not, we're welcome to everybody. Unless your a bandit, or a walker. All were trying to do here is build up a good community and as long as you folk are willing to pull your weight, we'll accept you with open arms" Bonnie mused, as they walked on.
"Yeah, we'd be fine with that" Patricia told her warmly.
"Glad to hear it, and if you folks don't mind me asking... where did you come from before you came here?" Bonnie asked, it was only then Randy realized how closed up he was being. When these people seemed very open and friendly, he felt like he should have returned the favour.
"Right well I'm Randy, this is my wife Patricia and our son Gill" Randy said introducing himself and his family.
"Nice to meet you Randy, it's nice to have a fellow ginger around here. I thought we'd gone extinct" Bonnie joked, as Randy let out a hacking laugh, finally starting to feel more comfortable around this woman and this store as a whole.
"Me too" He mused back.
"And how about you son? How old are you?" Bonnie asked Gill sweetly, he gave the sullen reply of "12" as Bonnie looked up confused at Randy.
"Um... I don't wanna sound rude but..." Bonnie began looking at Patricia and Randy and then back to Gill... Randy knew what she was getting at.
"We found him, his our son now" Randy said firmly as Bonnie nodded vigorously "Of course, I was just curious" she said quickly, before she swept forward. Hoping she hadn't hit a nerve with them.
"So I'll take you to the sickbay first, if anybody's wounded our three doctors can treat you there" Bonnie explained, as she opened a door leading into the sick bay.
"We could just use some food to be honest" Randy told her, as he followed her into the sickbay.
"Well, it's best you get to meet everyone anyway" she informed them, she stepped into the sickbay and called "Okay everyone, the new guys are here! So be nice!" as the family of three slowly crept into the room, which was covered in comfortable looking make shift beds. A dozen photos were stuck on the grey walls, but before Randy could come and inspect them, he noticed four figures approaching him.
"Hey dude, name's Wyatt" A man with long dirty blonde hair, a beard and glasses said to him, Randy was dimly aware of shaking the man's hand. As he repeated his name "I'm Randy... Randy..." as he and his wife and son were also introduced to the kindly Indian woman "Sarita". Whose one arm ended with a stump "A walker just got me on the wrist, Luke had to cut it off..." she explained to Patricia who inquired about her injury. A teenager who had to be about 15 or 16, introduced herself as "Sarah!" and buzzed around them like an overexcited fly.
"Ah cool! You're new people! Where'd you come from!? You know it's great to meet new, nice, people!" she exclaimed at them, at a million miles an hour. As Sarah went on, a curly haired woman in her mid thirties approached them and introduced herself as Rebecca and the bundle she was carrying in her arms as "AJ", Patricia asked about the father in which Rebecca replied (somewhat bitterly) "dead now". But the whole thing seemed like a blur to Randy... meeting so many nice people in such a short space of time. After months of isolation with his family and nothing but bandits all around them...
They eventually left the sick-bay and proceeded on through the store, Bonnie looked back at Randy "You looked a bit overwhelmed there Randy" she told him.
"Sorry, it's been months since I last spoke to decent people" Randy explained to her.
"Aw, that's fine. We've all been through bad stuff, you'll adjust don't sweat about it" Bonnie kindly told him, before two more (dust coated) figures walked up to them.
"So... this is Lilly and Mike. They help me with construction and clearin' the bodies from the trench" Bonnie introduced them. Randy tried to give a warmer welcome this time. But the woman (Lilly) still seemed fairly cold and shot out questions at them suspiciously. However the man, (Mike) was much more laid back and friendly. as he made a few jokes with Randy before Bonnie moved them forwards once again.
"Well they seemed nice" Randy informed Bonnie and his family.
"They are, Lilly's a bit snappy and cold. But don't worry, once you're on her good side. She'll fight tooth and nail for you" Bonnie explained, as if she could sense the family's instant dislike for Lilly, Still Patricia decided to try and move conversation forwards by asking Bonnie about the baby that Rebecca had.
"Yeah, his called Alvin Junior after his papa. But we started calling him AJ and it stuck..."
While she did that, Randy looked down at his son, "So what do you make of this place son?" he asked of him. As the young black boy looked up at him and mumbled "I think it's cool. Everyone seems nice, but not too nice you know? So it seems real enough" Gill said giving his insight on the store and it's survivors, as Randy nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, maybe we've finally found the home we've been looking for" Randy said, as they were led out onto the roof.
The four guards with guns instantly approached the newcomers like moths drawn to a bright light. Randy tensed up, these four had guns and that scared him slightly, he tried to maintain a light posture however as he greeted them with an airy "Hey, I'm Randy, nice to meet you all"
As a response, he got "What's with the black kid?" from the man who had spoken into the microphone earlier. Randy turned to face him, he had a grey-ish black hair and beard and one of his eyes was covered with a brand new white bandage, when he said these words Bonnie gasped.
"Kenny, honestly!" she scalded him.
"What?" Kenny asked, unaware of his blunt rudeness.
"Way to break the ice dude" A younger man with a black beard said from next to him, as he rolled his eyes.
More names and more faces. The young man with good sense of humour was Eddie, an Asian man and woman were Vince and Kelly and the redneck who had called out Randy's son for being black was Kenny. He seemed an alright guy, but Randy still didn't get a very good impression of him, from his first words.
They walked into the greenhouses as Bonnie almost seemed to sense the dislike Randy now harboured towards Kenny that floated in the nearby air, as she sighed and muttered "Don't hold it against Kenny. It's just the way he is" as Randy remained mute. Knowing that it would take some time for him to get to like this "Kenny" guy. As Bonnie cleared her throat and dived into her next speech.
"Now I'm gathering y'all all hungry. Well we get the food from here, these greenhouses, give us fresh harvests. We also have solar panels on the roof to give us power..."
As Bonnie spoke on, Randy's eyes were drawn to a tall figure, lurking at the back of the greenhouses, Gill followed his gaze and called out a distant "Hi!" to the figure who seemed to freeze on the spot, as he slowly approached them.
"Hey" the figure replied. He was a tall man, with short black hair and strong blue eyes.
"Ah, this here is Nick! He works on getting us our food" Bonnie explained, as the man looked down somewhat shyly.
"Well then you're my favourite person here already" Randy told him lightly, as Nick let out a small chuckle.
"Well, that's good to know" He responded lightly, yet he didn't say anything else. As an awkward silence overcame the room.
"Well, nice seeing you Nick, let's get to the office so Luke, our leader can meet ya" Bonnie said as she opened the greenhouse door. Gill waved at Nick, who silently waved back. Passing the four guards again, the family and Bonnie descended from the roof.
"What's with that man? He seemed quieter than the rest" Patricia asked of Bonnie, who opened her mouth to explain.
"Nick's a great guy, his just wary of strangers that's all. Trust me once you get to know him, you'll like him" as they proceeded towards the office that overlooked the store. Bonnie opened the door with gusto, as Randy peered cautiously at this "leader".
He was a young man with bright brown hair, and soft maple coloured eyes. He seemed well built, but there was something Randy instantly knew about him. He was stressed. His thin smile to them and the sadness lurking behind his maple coloured eyes was evident, as he asked Bonnie (almost wearily) "So, these are the new people?"
"Yep, Gill, Patricia and Randy, this our leader, Luke" Bonnie told them, as Luke took a bow to them. "It's a honour to have you here, I hope y'all honest people who want to help out this community" he told them sternly.
"Man, we are. We're just looking for food and water and a roof over our heads. We've been moving for a whole year now, we came from Arizona" Randy explained quickly as Luke's eyes widened.
"Damn, you're a long way from home then, however here in Tennessee, we'll give you some great southern hospitality" Luke told them, as the family's jaws hit the floor. Upon learning that they had travelled this damn far across America in the space of a year.
"Well, were just happy to be here" was all Patricia could say.
"And were happy to have you" Luke mused. Despite what Randy had picked up about him. Luke generally seemed like a nice guy.
A small cough from the corner of the room caught everyone's attention as a small voice said "Bonnie, Luke are you forgetting about me?"
"Oh sorry Clem!" Bonnie exclaimed as she turned back to the family "Gill, Patricia, Randy meet our co-leader, Clementine".
Now Randy was shocked, as a girl about Gill's age stepped out from the shadows, with a quirky cap on her hand, this girl had piercing yellow, almond shaped eyes, and strands of curly black laid over her forehead as she inspected the newcomers with semi- interested eyes.
"Whoa, hang on a second, this little girl is your co-leader!?" Randy exclaimed, bewildered.
"Hey, this isn't just any little girl. She's special to all of us here" Luke said, as he looked back at Clementine, as if urging her to introduce herself.
"Hey, I'm Clementine. I know you're confused, but don't worry, you'll learn a lot more from the others, the longer you stay here" Clementine explained to them, as the family of three store at her in wonder.
"Well... it's nice to meet you Clementine" Patricia said.
Clementine simply nodded at this, as Gill approached the girl his age.
"Cool hat" he told her.
"Thanks" Clementine responded.
Ever since Randy's family arrived at that store, there was No Going Back for them. They settled into the store easily and enjoyed a better life there. Food was plentiful, they made friends quickly and the jobs they assigned gave them a purpose, and kept the community going.
And as for little Clementine, what could she say now? There was never any solid happy endings. She knew this place may have fallen eventually, but so far it had lasted a month and seemed like it would continue to do so.
So, for now. She guessed this was a happy ending. Or the happiest ending she could have achieved.
She sometimes wondered what would have happened if she went through the escape again. If Shel, Russell, Jane, Becca, Reggie, the guards at the store... she wondered if more of them could have lived. But she wiped away such thoughts, what happened, simply happened. She did her very best and had succeeded in many ways.
At first, everyone died and she shot herself in the fields of snow.
Second time around, the majority were alive and residing in Carver's hardware store.
She knew which one she preferred. Her choice had been made. Her mind was set.
And ultimately, this time...
No Going Back.