A Different Path
Chapter 1
Old Friends

So this was where he was going to die, the middle of some little hick town ran by a zombie obsessed mayor, smack down in nowhere Mississippi. Away from his group - the people he had come to think of his family during the past few months and away from anyone he actually cared about. It wasn't supposed to be like this, 10K was so sure he drifted down river the way Doc had, but he had made a mistake somewhere along the way and not wanting to be alone again, he had opted out for joining two con artists rather than doing the logical thing and venturing out on his own. But Sketchy and Skeezy had to be alright to some degree, right? Doc had trusted them, so couldn't he? But, several mistakes, some pissed off hillbillies and a total of sixteen and a half lies later, the trio found themselves here - ready to be hanged surrounded by a bunch of strangers.

The youngest of the three had actually imagined his death multiple times, in some fantasies he was the one turned that dreadful night instead of his dad, others it was him being murdered instead of Cassandra, sometimes he was the one shot instead of Charles, but more often than not, he was taken out by his ten thousandth Z and finally able to be at peace with his father. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he wished it, there was no way to right the past with the first three and he had a long way to go before the fourth could happen. He had to reach ten thousand.

He had to for his father.

But, that goal seemed further away than it ever had when the man behind him loosely pulled a noose around his neck. The teen had never feared death, he expected it even, but now that it was coming straight at him, it seemed more terrifying than ever. He would never get to speak with Doc again, never see Addy, shoot with Vasquez or make strategies with Warren, hell, even never arguing with Murphy one last time almost bugged him. That misfit ragtag group of strangers adopted along the way had grown to be so much more than friends, they were all family and would do anything for each other. God, he'd miss them.

Daring to risk a glance at his side, he saw the two men who dragged him into this in a similar predicament - all noosed up and ready to die, the only difference being, 10K would not show fear to his captors. He was nearly immune to the world for almost a flat second before a voice broke him from his thoughts. Deciding to test it once more, he shifted his arms around and was met with failure, he actually felt helpless for once. Tied up, guilty, his only hope being two near strangers, and closer to death than he'd been in a while.

"Do you have any last words?" Escorpion questioned in a tone that practically pleaded that he didn't want to hear anything. Sketchy was about to speak but was gave that choice a second guess when their future murderer stopped in his tracks, eyes locked on 10K who looked almost as uneasy as the others did nervous. "Actually, hold on," a pause and his fingers shot out with a vice-like grip under 10K's chin, "I know this one."

The sniper could feel his stomach drop in that moment.

Frack.

Still silent, the teen just let his gaze drift elsewhere, refusing to make contact.

"You are part of the westbound group going to California."

Still silence.

"I do not know why."

A jerk of his head and the teen pulled back only making the other quirk his lips into the faintest of smiles.

"I'll offer you a deal, a child with such a talent should not go to waste over some petty events, so I will spare you and..." a small sneer and Escorpion simply gestured to the con artists behind him, "...your friends here."

Black locks bounced as his vision met upwards towards the other, that sounded too good to be true. There had to be some catch.

"Upon the agreement that you come and work for me."

A pause.

"Never."

"Then you choose to die?"

"Hey! Kid!" Sketchy shouted a little too loudly for comfort. "Don't be stupid - you ain't gonna let us die, ya here me!"

Upon that, the leader of the Zeroes simply pulled out his gun, turning around with a hard shove as he pressed the barrel to the man's temple. "It would be in your best interest to stop speaking."

That had him silenced in less than a second.

Still focused on the criminal held by the tip of his gun, he asked once more, "what do you choose?"

Memories passed him, he had done all he could to survive this long, all he could to still see Doc and help him, all he could do to talk to Addy and mess around together, all he could do to assist Warren and Vasquez with their mission, and all he could do to help keep their mission alive. They had accepted him to their group without question, they never suspected him of anything bad. Doc had immediately saw it as his job to be there for him, Addy had wanted to be his friend right away, Warren protected him and Vasquez even would help him out with shooting practice when the occasion arose. They were his will to live now. They were his family. And he would survive a little bit longer if it meant having the chance to see them again.

"I'm in."

Unsurprised, Escorpion snapped his fingers and his men cut the ropes from their necks, gesturing at 10K to follow him to their van leaving the other two behind without even a glance back, but he didn't need to look to know the two convicts had taken off running when they first got the chance. The teen let a shiver go down his spine when a man in a skull masked opened the back seat of the car, he knew there was no way out of this one. He could only hope his crew would come and find him as skull face (newly dubbed) nudged him with the butt of his weapon, urging the boy to get inside and shaking any thoughts of escape out of him.

"I had a feeling you would choose to join us," the leader stated flatly. "Welcome to the family." And with that, Escorpion climbed into the front seat, the rumbling of the car engine over shadowing the overwhelming silence that followed.


And thus the start of my second fanfiction, this starts near the end of the episode "Down the Mississippi" but with a different course of events, sorry it's a bit short, I'll try to make the next chapter longer. I don't know how many chapters I'm going to drag this out and getting some feedback might give me some idea of how long I should go, so thank you for reading!