They didn't travel long until they approached a small camp nestled along the canyon wall. The sun had already set by the time they got to the camp; a small campfire was seen in the distance surrounded by a dozen people. Slowing down the speeder the woman stopped in front of the group of people huddled around the small fire.
Luke peered over at them he noticed most of them were adults, but could see two little girls as well. The group hearing the speeder approach stared over at the new arrivals.
"Mommy!" the two little girls squealed as they ran over to the speeder, noticing Luke they suddenly stopped clearly shy.
The woman who they had referred to as mother came over to them and whispered to them. Luke couldn't hear what they were saying, but figured she was telling them to go sit down at the fire, because that's what they did.
The woman then went over and talked to a couple of the men who nodded and walked over to Luke.
Luke didn't know what to expect he tensed as they neared him though. Without saying a word the two men grabbed him out of the speeder roughly making Luke cry out in protest. His arm was still sore from being dislocated earlier. They held onto both of his arms and pushed him toward the fire. Pushing him down on his knees, he stood in front of the group, fear kept his gaze to the ground.
He could hear the people murmuring and whispering around him, but he couldn't make out what they were saying, getting irritated the fear left him quickly and he stared over at the woman who had captured him.
"This is how you treat people who save you?" he asked through clenched teeth.
The woman just smiled down at him.
"I could have handled it myself" she sneered
"Right, that's why you were screaming for help?" Luke replied back a look of amusement on his face.
The woman stormed over to Luke and smacked him hard across the face. The impact made Luke flinch to his left, his cheek stinging. Looking back up at the woman Luke glared at her.
"What do you want?" he asked shaking with anger.
The woman was about to reply when she was interrupted by one of the guys that was around the fire.
"Luke? Is that you?" asked a familiar voice.
Luke looked up to see his friend Fixer standing off to his right near the fire. He wondered why he hadn't seen him until now, shaking his head to get back to the present Luke looked Fixer over.
The man smiled at him
"Luke it is you!" he beamed as he ran over to Luke before he was rudely pushed back by one of the guys that kept him on his knees.
"Hey! I know this guy!" Fixer said pushing the guys arm out of his way.
"Yeah well we don't know him" the other guy sneered. The woman who had captured him nodded her head in reply.
Fixer looked over at her.
"I know Luke he's a good guy, the nicest guy I know, and he saved you!"
The woman looked over at Fixer than down at Luke.
"He did but there's something else you need to know" Looking down at Luke she sighed.
"He was scratched by one of those things"
The group gasped in shock, Luke bowed his head in shame.
Fixer looked down at Luke.
"Is that true?"
Luke nodded yes in reply.
"Kill him!" someone blurted out
Some of the group agreed with him, while others didn't say anything.
"Why did you bring him here then?" one of the only other females besides the two little girls asked.
The woman took a deep breath and told them what Luke had told her earlier, to show them that what she was saying was the truth she slammed Luke facedown into the sand and moved his sleeve up to show the group the healed scratch. Luke gritted his teeth and struggled for a moment before calming down realizing that he was not going to be hurt.
"See" the woman replied
The group had now surrounded Luke looking at his healed wound, gasps of disbelief surrounded him. Tired of being on the ground Luke tried to get up but was pushed back down hard by one of the guys who were holding him.
"Get off!" Luke almost yelled. He was angry and confused, why was he here anyway? He was on his way to the spaceport. Now he bitterly thought that he shouldn't have saved the woman after all. He was then grabbed back up and into a standing position. He had tuned out his captors so he had no idea what they were talking about. All he knew was that he was being pushed forward toward a tent.
He could see Fixer on the side of him.
"Fix what's going to happen to me?" he asked quietly.
"Shut up kid" one of the guys said as they opened up the tent and moved him into the center where a large metal pole was seen, they pushed him down and tied him to the pole.
"What's going on?" Luke looked back at Fixer who only shook his head, before walking out of the tent he turned back to Luke.
"I'm sorry Luke" then he walked out of the tent.
Luke looked after him confused. Why was he sorry? Were they going to kill him?
Luke looked up to see the woman he had saved earlier squatting down next to him. Luke glared at her and she just smiled at him.
"Why are you doing this?"
The woman shrugged
"We have to be sure"
Luke looked at her curiously
"That you are not infected"
"But I'm not! I already told yo…" Luke was cut off the woman had signaled one of the guys to gag Luke. After he was gagged he just glared at the woman in front of him.
The woman gave him a small smile, she reached out and brushed Luke's hair from his eyes, Luke flinched away from her. She lowered her hand and stood up from her kneeling position.
"I'm sorry kid, but we have to make sure that you are really not infected….you see sometimes it takes more than a day to turn" she paused a moment a tear sliding down her cheek "my husband he..he was scratched a week ago..just a small scratch on his hand….took him two days to tu..turn" she finally finished.
Luke looked up at her, wanting to still hate her but now things were different she had lost loved ones as well. Thinking of loved ones, he started to think about his Aunt and Uncle Tears welled up in his eyes. Blinking the tears rolled down his cheeks, feeling embarrassed at his sudden tearful state Luke tried to brush his cheeks against his shoulders, but because of his awkward position he had only managed the bottom of his chin to dry.
The woman had noticed the tears and immediately knelt back down to brush them off of Luke's cheeks. Luke didn't flinch this time, he just stared at her.
She smiled at him wiping her own tears away.
"I am truly sorry, that we have to do this" she continued standing back up she stared down at Luke.
"I hope that we are wrong about this and that you are ok" she said before motioning for the others to follow her out of the tent.
They took the only light that was in the tent leaving him in utter darkness. Luke tried to get in a comfortable position but found that they had tied him tightly to the pole, he stopped struggling leaning back against the pole, Luke exhausted closed his eyes and drifted off to a restless sleep.
Throughout the night the survivors slept in their own tents wondering if their prisoner would in fact turn into a stench.
Luke awoke to whispers outside of the tent, opening his eyes he noticed that it was daylight, now he could see clearly. Looking around his surroundings Luke noticed boxes full of food and other supplies to his right on his left a small cot.
The tent door was pushed open and the woman from yesterday stepped in followed by the other two guys that had held him down last night. Luke looked up at them, hoping that they could tell that he hadn't changed at least he didn't feel any different.
Just as though they had heard his thoughts one of the guys spoke.
"He didn't turn?" he said questioningly
The other guy just stared at Luke with a dumb founded look on his face.
The woman looked down at Luke staring at him hard she moved closer making Luke flinch.
She didn't care though she took the gag out of Luke's mouth. Relieved Luke licked his dry lips then looked back up at the woman.
"I didn't turn, can you please cut me loose?"
"I don't know" the guy who had been gaping at him finally voiced
"How do we know that he won't tell others about us?"
"I won't" Luke pleaded "I don't even know if anyone else is alive!"
The woman turned to the other two.
"He doesn't know about the outside, he was on a farm the entire time this incident happened" turning back to face Luke she added "he lost his Aunt and Uncle, he…lost someone like we all have" turning back to the two "We can trust him, he may be our only hope" she trailed off. The one who had first voiced his opinions nodded while the other stared down at Luke unsurely not saying another word.
Taking that as a yes the woman took out a knife and undid the rope that kept Luke tied to the pole going around him she also cut off the rope that had bound his hands together. Luke stood up and rubbed his aching wrists. He was stiff and sore probably from the awkward position he had slept in the entire night stretching his arms above his head he sighed in relief it had felt good, even the slight pain in his shoulder felt good to stretch. Looking back at the three who just stared at him Luke awkwardly extended his hand out to them.
"Well um…My name's Luke" the one who had spoken first grabbed his hand with his firmly shaking it a broad smile appearing on his face.
"Blake, nice to meet you, no hard feelings right?" he said
Luke raised an eyebrow but gave him a smile "right" he replied
The other man still looked at him coldly, not bothering to shake Luke's hand he folded his arms across his chest.
"The names Griff"
"Nice to meet you" Luke murmured not feeling very comfortable around Griff.
Turning toward the woman who had captured him yesterday Luke nervously extended his hand to her. The woman gently grabbed his hand and shook it smiling at him.
"Joan" she said "It's nice to actually meet you, well formally anyway, sorry about earlier, just a precaution I have daughters to care for"
Luke gave her a genuine smile.
She smiled again at him before letting go of his hand.
"Well come on you have to meet the rest of the gang" she said motioning him to follow her out of the tents door.
He followed her out into the sunlight. The Tatooine suns were already starting to heat up the morning, it was going to be an extremely hot day. Luke almost bumped into Joan who had stopped abruptly in front of him.
"Hey, attention!" Joan yelled over the murmuring crowd before her. Now all eyes were on Luke. Luke felt himself flush the sudden attention making him nervous. Joan had moved to the side of Luke, now he had a better look at the people in his group. He noticed the two little girls from earlier and a couple of different humans, he also noticed a couple of humanoids in the group as well one a twi'lek and the other he didn't know what kind of species it was but it was blue with red eyes. Luke felt someone nudge him in the shoulder noticing it was Joan. Luke remembered he was supposed to introduce himself.
"Hi I'm Luke" he said
There was more whispers making Luke blush again at being the center of attention finally Joan's two little girls walked up to him both had grins on their faces.
"I'm Ramie and this is Liz" the older one said motioning to her little sister
"How old are you?" the little one asked blushing
Luke was about to answer when Joan cut him off
"You don't have to answer that Luke" she said shuffling her girls away, before they were gone Luke heard one of them say that he was cute. Luke smiled at that then turned to the rest of the group who introduced themselves to him.
Fixer walked out of a tent to Luke's right a giant smile on his face.
Luke turned toward Fixer and smiled at him as Fixer clapped him on the back.
"Who would think" Fixer said shaking his head "You're the cure!"
Luke confused looked up at Fixer "the cure?"
"Yeah the cure, you were scratched by a stench and you didn't turn" Fixer said clapping Luke on the back again.
"Um...I guess" Luke was confused surely he wasn't the only one who was immune?
"Whatever, come on let me show you the camp" Fixer led Luke around the camp showing him there supplies and told him all that had happened since the outbreak.
Luke sat next to Fixer in silence he had learned that Camie, Tank and Deak had been killed the first day it had happened and that Fixer had survived by hiding on the roof for the first day before gunning it to Windy's farm where he found no Windy and ran into Joan and her two children, who had lived at a neighboring farm. They had met the others a day later when they had reentered Anchorhead for supplies.
Looking at Fixer Luke frowned.
"I saw Windy and his family, he was a stench, they were all stenches" he said quietly
Fixer looked down at the ground
"I figured as much"
He missed Biggs terribly but he was truly glad that he wasn't here. He sighed it was weird having a nice conversation with Fixer, not that they didn't get along well not all the time anyway. They had a lot of disagreements, they had even fought before. Biggs had been the one to introduce him to Fixer, Tank, and Deak. They were all three years older than him and he was much smaller, they often called him Wormie a name he detested, except for Biggs. He was relieved when Fixer hadn't called him by his nickname and was curious as to why, but didn't want to ask afraid that it would be an invitation so instead he brought up Biggs.
"I'm glad Biggs is at the academy" Luke said
"Yeah" Fixer agreed
"What of his family?" Luke asked looking at Fixer
"Don't know didn't have time to check, everything happened so fast"
Luke nodded in understanding
"You think it's happening everywhere?" Luke asked
Fixer shook his head "I don't know Luke, I don't know"