Author's note:

So...yeah. I'm sorry this next chapter took so long to come out. But I decided to spend the summer focusing mainly on my Total Drama stuff. Now that Danger Zones is done and I'm a good ways into City, I can finally jump back on this one.

So anyway, here's the next chapter. Enjoy!

T.J. waited in his office for Spinelli to arrive. As he waited, he adjusted the picture of him and his friends on his desk.

He had mixed feelings about his upcoming conversation with Spinelli. He knew exactly what Spinelli wanted to do now that she was a part of Fort Tender: go out with the scavenging crews. But he wasn't about to let that happen.

There was a knock on the door. T.J. looked up. "Come in," he called.

The door opened, and Spinelli walked in. "Nice office, Teej," she noted.

It was hard for T.J. to keep his jaw from dropping to the floor. Spinelli had cleaned off all the dirt and grime she had accumulated over eight years and even cut her pigtails off, leaving her dark hair short and scruffy.

"You okay?"

T.J. swallowed. "Uh, yeah. Just…your hair."

"Hey, if I'm going to help you guys out on scavenging missions, it's probably best that I don't have long, pullable hair for marauders and zombies to use against me," she said.

"Scavenging missions?" T.J. repeated.

"Yeah, scavenging missions. I aint sticking around here all day, every day. I can help out best out there."

T.J. paused, trying to think of the best words to say to her that wouldn't tick her off. "Yeah, uh, here's the thing, Spinelli. We're kind of short on guards here, and you're pretty good at fighting—"

"Are you out of your mind, T.J.?" Spinelli snapped, "I'm probably the best scavenger you got around here. I've been doing it for eight years on my own."

"I know, I know," T.J. quickly told her, thinking quickly to try to spin it the way he wanted to. "But, some of the guards have been a little lacking recently, and I need someone here that I can trust."

"I think it'd be better if someone you trust is out with your teams, getting them out of danger when they encounter zombies."

"Spinelli, you're missing the point."

"Is that what I'm doing?" she asked. "Because it actually sounds like you're trying to be overprotective of me, T.J."


"Don't 'Spinelli' me, Teej. You're trying to keep me out of the field because you're afraid that I'll get killed. I'm a little tired of saying this, but I can take care of myself! I know I can!"

"I know you can, Spinelli!" T.J. yelled, raising his voice.

"Then why don't you want me going out there?!"

"Because I can't lose you again!" T.J. yelled, slamming his fists on his desk. The picture frame on it tipped, and fell back, revealing the picture of the gang from years ago.

Spinelli stopped and glanced down at the picture. "Is that…?" she trailed off, picking up the picture frame.

"Yeah. Mikey had it with him the day it all began. He gave it to me for my office."

Spinelli traced the picture slowly, lingering on herself. "I miss those days," she said quietly. "The days that the only things we cared about were recess and avoiding Finster."

"Me too," T.J. agreed, getting up from his desk and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "And now that we're all together again, I have to—I need to keep us together, despite how apart the others have gotten. Vince is with his own team now, Mikey's busy with preaching sermons with Prickly, Gretchen hasn't left her lab in years, and Gus…" he stopped. "Well, you've seen Gus."

Spinelli stayed silent.

"I know you're all about the life of going out into the hell the world's become and kicking butt like you always do, but I—I'm just worried that if you go out there again, you won't be coming back. Everyone thought you were dead before. I don't want to make that a reality."

Spinelli took a deep breath. "Teej—"

Suddenly, Randall burst through the door. "T.J.!" he yelled. "We've got a situation!"

"What kind of situation?" T.J. asked. "I'm a little busy here."

"Our men at the gate just spotted a truck heading for the Fort," Randall explained quickly. "And they're being chased by another truck shooting at them."

T.J. thought quickly. "Get some men to the gate. Be ready to defend the fort. Tell the guards in the watchtower to try to give that truck some cover while they get to the gate. When the time comes, get that gate open and get them in here."

"Right, T.J." Randall hurried off.

T.J. turned back to Spinelli. "Now, Spinelli—" He stopped when he saw her running after Randall, pulling out her pistol.

"And, she's running out the door," he muttered. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"

He took off after her as they and several other guards in the base ran for outside. The moment that T.J. ran out of the garage, he could hear the distant gunfire.

"What's the situation?" he called up to a guard tower.

"Marauders chasing a group of survivors, heading our way," a guard called down. "They're almost in range! Permission to fire on the aggressors?"

"Only if you're sure you won't hit those survivors," T.J. ordered. "We're not killing innocents."

"Copy that."

T.J. then turned his attention to the people at the gate. "Burns, get ready on that gate! When they're close enough, get it open and get them in here!"

"You got it, Commander!" Burns called.

"The rest of you, get your guns ready," T.J. told the rest of the guards. "We don't know how friendly these survivors are. If they try anything, defend the fort."

All the guards raised their rifles and took aim at the gate. The sounds of gunfire got closer and closer. There were several loud retorts from the guard towers as the guards fired on the attacking vehicle.

With a grinding of gears, the gate began to slowly open just in time for a rusty truck to come skidding in, coming to a stop in front of all the guards. As the gate began to close, T.J. could see the chasing vehicle, now on its side and smoking. There were no signs of survivors.

Now he turned his attention to the truck, where a middle-aged man with several scars running over his face was slowly getting out, hands raised. He was dressed in the tattered remains of an army uniform.

"I come in peace!" he called. "Lower your weapons!"

T.J. held up a hand, silently ordering the guards to keep their weapons trained on the man. "Who are you?" he questioned.

"Who's in charge here?" the man responded.

"I am," T.J. told him. "Now who are you?"

The man looked at him strangely. "A kid? A kid is leading this entire group of survivors?"

"Sure he's leading us," Spinelli snapped, marching up to stand by T.J.'s side. "If you got a problem with that, we can always throw you back out there."

The man's eyes narrowed. "You!" he yelled. "I remember you!" He pulled out a pistol from his waist and aimed it as Spinelli. Instantly, all the guards went on alert, shouting at the man to put the gun down.

"Put it down!" T.J. ordered, drawing his own weapon. "Put it down, now!"

"You have no idea what she's done," the man growled. "Thanks to her, my unit's commander was murdered!"

Gus then pushed his way through the crowd of guards. "Who?" he demanded to know. "Who was your commanding officer?"

The man stared them all down. "Lieutenant Shawn Griswald."

Boom! Part two of this fanfiction is in full swing now! And what a cliffhanger ending here!

Fun fact: according to my research (and the Recess Wiki), we never learned the first name of Gus's dad. So I made one up for this case. But what does Lieutenant Griswald have to do with Spinelli? Could it be that she might've left something out in her tale to T.J.? What could've happened? And when will the zombies come back? To find out the answers to these and other questions, you'll have to come back next time. Don't forget to hit that favorite/follow button to stay informed on future updates, and drop a review to let me know how I'm doing. Until next time, this is Guest 1138, reminding you that apocalypses suck, especially when running zombies are involved. Ciao!