"You can't tell me you've never run from danger."
"What the hell do you even want with her?"
Daryl was well aware of how his tone would convey his aggression. But he didn't want any more surprises. Especially not considering where they were and what they were running from. The military man's small group was traveling close to the road, giving him some idea of how they knew to come looking when the gunfire started. But other than that, the rest was still a mystery.
Nick was sitting next to him, a wool military issue blanket wrapped around her shoulders as she sipped from the cup of watery soup she was given by the female in the soldier's group. Daryl wanted to keep her as close as possible and away from these military types. They had been efficient while setting up a camp, but Daryl was still wary.
"We were sent, a group of us, to find her," Rodgers said. "You lot didn't make it easy." He nodded at the two younger soldiers and both stood, weapons in hand, to make rounds. "We weren't the only group sent either."
"How many?" Alex asked as he crouched over his sister, checking that her blanket was in place. Daryl couldn't fault the boy for his protective instincts.
"Our group had six-"
Rodgers ignored Maggie's interruption and continued. "Until I sent three ahead. One Army sergeant, a marksman, and a scientist. We figured you would be kinder to them if they didn't show up with us." Rodgers gave a shrug, making it clear that it wasn't his idea. "But with you separated from your main group, we should probably meet up again and get the hell out of here."
Daryl, who had let his eyes travel down to see how Nichole was holding up, looked sharply at the Marine. "Why?"
"Because her uncle wants her dead," Rodgers said, nodding his head towards Nichole while meeting Daryl's gaze. "He says all he needs is her blood, not her. But if she cooperates, bring her back. He wants the immunity, not the complications."
His crossbow was already up and Daryl had it pointed right at Rodgers. "Was that your plan then? Kill us to get to her?"
Weapons were drawn all the way around the camp, everyone but Nichole, who looked on in worry, was pointing a weapon at someone. Everyone except Rodgers, who merely held up his hands at his two soldiers, who lowered their weapons.
"Look son, I think you fully misunderstand why I'm here." he stood so that Daryl's bolt was pointed right at his heart. "I don't want her captured and I don't want her dead. I want her free to recreate this...cure." He glanced at Nichole and frowned. "One of my men, the six with me, the scientist, he knows what caused this thing. But I'll let him tell you. Our goal is to get him to Washington. But without a cure his information is useless." Rodgers looked back at Daryl with another frown as the man started lowering his weapon. "The only reason I joined up with the general was to get Eugene where he needed to be. But now I have a new mission."
"What's that?" came Daryl's response.
"Getting her to where she needs to be as well."
It took a while to get everyone calmed down, and Daryl found himself lounging against a tree, his crossbow in his lap, watching as the Marine doctor saw to Nick's leg. With her fever gone, she would be able to travel better, but Daryl didn't like the idea of going back to the group now. Especially not with the military men in tow.
A rustling in the woods gained his attention, and Daryl looked up to see one of the soldiers entering the camp again. He could tell from the boy's face that he had news.
"What is it?" Rodgers asked, finishing the bandaging before standing and looking at his man.
"I made it to their camp," the boy said, sitting down and taking some water from Glenn. "It's not good. Three dead, the rest holed up near the cars. Herd came through."
"Who?" Maggie asked instantly, her face going pale. This wasn't going good, and Daryl saw the shit storm before it ever hit.
"Sergeant Ford said it was the pregnant woman, she didn't run fast enough, the big guy, went down protecting some of the girls, and the old vet."
The sharp keening from Maggie made Daryl wince away from the sound. The girl's legs gave out and Glenn had to catch her to keep her from hitting the ground. Sounded like Lori, T-Dog, and Hershel were gone now. Daryl had to shake his head and moved closer to the group.
"How far?" he asked, looking at the soldier.
"Two hours for me," he responded, taking another drink of water. "Less if we take vehicles."
Daryl nodded once and turned, putting hand down to lift Nichole from the dirt. He scooped her up, eliciting a small sound from her as she looked at him. "What are we doing?" she asked quietly, ignoring the others.
"Going back," Daryl answered her, starting towards the road where the cars were. "We may not need them, by they need us." He saw her expression change from confusion to comprehension and she nodded.
"You think it'll be different then?"
"He lost his wife, of course it'll be different."
They were the first to leave the treeline and get to the cars. Daryl already had her sitting in the backseat, her bow sitting next to her as he moved over to get his bike and roll it over to the car. The rest were emerging now, making their way to the car.
"Alex, you ride with me," Daryl said, handing over his crossbow. "The rest of you, make room in there."
It was a squeeze, but once everyone was inside, Maggie sitting on Glenn's lap in the front seat and everyone else seated accordingly, they were off again, heading back towards the group they had left not so long ago.
A/N: Sorry about how long it took for this short chapter. Lots going on and I finally made time for writing.