This was posted over on Tribe Universe when i first wrote it. But this is a slightly edited version, from when i more recently uploaded it to AO3. it’s mainly grammar/spelling I changed though, so if you read it on TU there’s no major changes. I had up to chapter 11 posted before, and a couple days ago added chapter 12 on AO3, so you can go straight there and read it if you want, it might take me a few days to get everything up here.
SUMMARY: The Technos have just flown into the city, and chaos erupts. The Mallrats are split up and some are taken. Now they have a long struggle ahead to find out how to handle the invading tribe as well as the tangles of friendships, romances and loyalties.
An alternate s4. Starts about where s3 ended. Some mature themes, and might be more in future. Since I’m juggling a lot of characters here, there will be some character deaths. Most characters are in this, including some that on the show turned up later and in different ways. You’ll see. Java and Siva don’t exist in this universe (though I won’t rule it out 100% but I doubt I’ll bring them into it). Everything up to the end of s3 is as canon though.
Pairings: Amber/Bray, Lex/Tai-San, Ellie/Luke, Ryan/Salene
(no guarantees though, I’m still seeing where things go)
The Chosen work camp had once been a construction site before the virus. A large apartment complex was supposed to be built there, a brand new part of the city. The large billboard with the image of what it was supposed to end up like still stood there. You could still see the trees, the playground and the idyllic vision of a neighbourhood under all the grime and graffiti and dirt and dust it had been covered with in the time since. To Jay it appeared like a symbol of the world now, the brown spots and tears covering up a long forgotten dream. The wire fences that surrounded the site had been strengthened and guarded by the Chosen, their prisoners milling about on the inside of the fence, in and out of the old workers’ barracks. The foundation and half-built walls had also been strengthened, a large gate had been placed to keep most of the prisoners in the outer courtyard and keeping a select few prisoners in. At first Jay and his men had trouble figuring out exactly what the inner walls kept inside, but the capture of a few escaped prisoners gave them more answers. It was where the high-risk prisoners were kept. The prisoners were only happy to be caught again the moment they were given food and water better and cleaner than anything they had tasted in months. Not to mention clean clothes and and a bath. They were even grateful, so grateful that Jay’s orders from Ram to recruit a few new strong people was one of the easiest tasks he’d had since he and his brother first joined. Jay grimaced. Don’t go there now, don’t think about Ved. Some of them were easy to convince, the rest had something to go home to and opted to leave. They let them, as there were more than enough volunteers for what they needed at that point.
The slaves left behind now wouldn’t get such an offer, at least not yet. Jay regretted that, but a work camp already equipped with slaves was the perfect starting point for the Technos own work camp. It was only temporary, he told himself. Soon enough they would get to go home as well, back to wherever they came from. It was starting to be a rush project though, every day more Chosen guards took off and those left behind had no choice but to let prisoners go to. Now the area inside the outer fence was completely deserted. Those guards left behind had closed themselves in with the high-risk prisoners inside the inner walls, and the Technos could no longer keep track of what was happening. It was time, Jay knew they couldn’t wait any longer.
“Squad ready to move, operation Work Camp about to begin,” he announced. The voice on the other end simply confirmed that the message had been received. The guards were half starved, half-crazed and weak. Easy targets. A few of them unfortunately put up too much of a fight and had to be stunned, in one case one of Jay’s men miscalculated the setting on his stun gun and killed the man. The rest were all taken, no one escaped. All in all there were just twelve members of the Chosen left to guard the large work camp. Jay sent a few of the men inside the make-shift barracks, while he remained outside the outer fence. He was overseeing the organisation of the overtaken guards as his men chained them up together, those unconscious dragged to the side to not get in the way while the other were loaded onto the vans. The deceased one had been placed out of sight under a black sheet. Suddenly a sound came in his ear piece, the voice on the other end strained.
“Colonel Jay, you should probably come see this.”
“What’s going on, lieutenant?” He asked, slightly annoyed that he had to do everything.
“Just come and see, Colonel. It’s…you just have to come and see.”
The tone of the other man’s voice told Jay this was bad. As Jay walked through the hole in the fence, through the gate of the inner walls and towards the rickety building, he saw a few of his men rushing outside, throwing up on the ground. He steeled himself before going in. The sight that met him was dreadful. He had expected fatigue, injuries, disease and starvation to have left a few prisoners behind dead, but he hadn’t expected such a large number of dead prisoners, nor the state of them. There was blood everywhere on the floor and walls, most of the bodies seemed to have been stabbed. Some of the bodies had already started to rot. The smell was overwhelming, a mix of old blood, rotting bodies, urine and defecation. Jay found himself wishing to join his men outside, ridding himself of his stomach contents. He spotted his lieutenant, Gale.
“Any survivors?” He asked, concentrating on keeping his voice steady, swallowing to keep the queasy feeling at bay. Gale was clearly shaken, his eyes glancing around.
“I don’t see how there could be, Colonel. Even if anyone survived this massacre, the blood looks several days old, they would have bled out by now.”
Jay ignored the voice in his head saying they should have gone in sooner, they shouldn’t have taken those extra days of observing. He motioned towards the exit, moving as far away from the sight as he could with Gale following him, not stopping until they were outside the outer fence again, watching the chained Chosen guards looking back at them with half-crazed eyes, some of them chanting that infamous name; Zoot.
“What do we do with them, Colonel?” Gale’s eyes were still haunted by what they had seen inside, shining with hatred as he looked towards the people responsible. But Jay didn’t take notice of Gale’s expression, he was too busy feeling the same things himself.
“Let’s make them our first workers. They can be the labour force turning their own camp into ours.”
As Gale moved away from him, Jay’s earpiece came to life again. HQ asking for updates. He could barely hear them under the noise his men were making, so he stepped away from them towards the end of the clearing, stopping where the large bushes climbed over the hillside. Finally he was getting what HQ was asking for. He quickly reported back.
“Guards under control, one killed in self defence. All prisoners inside the barracks are deceased. Operation Work Camp successful.”
Two people sat hidden in the bushes near the camp, one man and one woman. Jay’s words had been loud and clear enough for them to hear. The man slumped forward, letting out a strangled cry. Luckily for them the sound wasn’t overheard, as Jay had just then turned around and started shouting orders at his men. The woman was shaking as she tried to control the sobs wanting to overtake her. Looking at her companion she knew she had to be the strong one now, had to keep her head clear. She placed a hand on his shoulder as she moved to her feet, keeping her head down to stay hidden.
“We need to get away from here. Now. It’s not safe.”
He nodded, his eyes shining with tears. A look of pain etched on his face that she thought she would never manage to forget. They moved as quickly as they could, away from the camp.
Had they stayed longer, their despair might have turned to hope. Jay’s ear-piece crackled again.
“Colonel, we found one! She’s alive, barely, but she’s alive!”
Jay rushed back inside, followed by Patch, the newly recruited Medic in his team. They were lead right to the back of the barrack for the injured girl, hidden away under a now upturned sleeping cot. Jay stayed back as Patch knelt down by the girl. Her face and hair was covered in dried blood, most of it seemed to have come from a large gash on the side of her face. Her left arm was lying in an impossible position; Jay couldn’t bear to look at it longer than to simply observe that it was definitely broken. Her clothes were also covered in blood, Jay hoped it wasn’t all hers because there was no way she could survive that much blood loss. As Patch lifted up her torn shirt, Jay saw several stab wounds in her stomach. He looked away, instead kneeling down by her head, gently stroking her hair away from her face. She stirred feebly, a whimpering noise escaping her.
“It’s gonna be okay, you’ll be fine.”
He tried hard not to let his mind wander back to the last time he found himself in this situation, tried to see dark hair rather than blonde, eyes shut close rather than staring pleadingly at him. He had lost his brother just like this, but he refused to lose this girl. Once was enough.
CHAPTER 1: When they came for us
(title from Shiny Toy Guns’ song with the same title)
Everything seemed to have erupted back into chaos. Trucks and tanks were moving through the city, large T’s painted on the sides. Smoke bombs and firecrackers were thrown from the tanks. The trucks would stop at regular intervals for several uniformed men and women, most of them wearing silver masks, to jump out and quickly force people into the trucks. Once the shock of it all wore off, people tried to escape, but the uniforms caught up with them as new trucks cut them off at each end of every road. The smoke made sight difficult, but as kid after kid was taken away, some of them could swear the masked invaders were barely human.
The sound of airplanes had lured people into the streets and towards the airport. The hope of there being adults in the world still made even the most cynical person dream of someone to swoop in and make the world safer again. Quite a few prisoners were taken by the airport, rushing along the old highway, a mix of hope and fear in their hearts. Tally and Andy found themselves out there, Andy clutching Ellie’s good camera in his hands. He knew he had been bad when taking it, but he hoped to prove his own worth by getting some good pictures for her. Being small they had easily managed to hide once the first trucks had started taking people, and now that the trucks were driving away, they decided to come out from their hiding place behind an old burned out car. Immediately they ran into one of the uniformed men. The two children screamed and turned the other way, only to run into another.
The noise from outside made Cloe terrified. In her mind flashed memories of the early days of the virus, the chaos that surrounded every move she made. She had gone outside with KC and the twins. But when they disappeared off down the road with Ellie’s camera, and KC told her to go back inside while he got them, she didn’t have to be asked twice. She hid under her bed, clutching the teddy bear she’d had since she was a baby, once again feeling like a little girl. All those moments of demanding to be treated like a grown-up were far from her mind, right now she only wanted someone to hold her like a mother would her child.
When Pride left with Trudy and her daughter to go find Amber and Bray, he had no intention of going back to the city. It was cowardly to leave her like this, but he had a feeling May already knew the moment he told her he was going with Trudy. Lex had only just left them, as soon as the noise had started behind them he had rushed off to find Tai-San. Pride found himself turning back, staring at the city.
“I should go back to, May is back there,” he said when Trudy had stopped next to him, fixing him with a questioning look.
“It’s your choice,” she said, “but May can take care of herself, Bray and Amber need us more right now.”
Trudy herself wanted to get as far away as possible, holding her daughter just a little bit closer as she looked back, another blast from the city making her cringe. Until she knew what was going on, she wasn’t bringing her daughter back there. Pride watched them for a short second and then nodded, finally turning away.
“You’re right. They need us now.”
Without another word the two of them kept walking, right until they heard Amber’s screams coming from a barn. They looked at each other alarmed, before both rushed towards the barn. Pride reached it first, the extra weight of carrying her daughter slowing Trudy down.
Alice and Tai-San headed in another direction. Tai-San and Ellie had tried to watch over Alice after the mysterious disappearance of the Guardian, when Alice had suddenly decided to go to the farm once the planes sounded above them. Ellie had been torn between investigating and following her sister, until Tai-San promised to go with Alice. So far she had succeeded in keeping Alice from being seen by these newcomers in uniforms, keeping her off the roads where the trucks drove and the uniformed men who had landed in their parachutes marched towards the city. When the blasts started behind them, Tai-San wanted to rush back to find Lex. But she knew he was capable of taking care of himself, and the blasts sounded small, meant to scare more than to injure. Tai-San had no explanation as to why, but she felt right now that her path was wherever Alice led her; to the farm.
Luke had left the Guardian and the rest of the small group left of the Chosen to leave on the boats. He assumed they were going back to where the Chosen had once had their headquarters, where Trudy had been taken back then and turned over to their side. Luke had no intention of joining them. A part of him felt he should have gone, just to keep the Guardian in check. But he still feared the man, he had so easily gotten into his head before. Luke didn’t fool himself into thinking he was too strong to let it happen again. He had tried to walk away, but found himself constantly looking back towards the city. He didn’t know what the planes were about, and the noises coming from the city told of a scarier invasion than what he had first hoped. No friendly new tribe would appear parachuting from planes and setting off bombs. What if Ellie was in danger? What if she needed him? He had gotten quite a bit away from the city now, it would be so easy to turn around and walk away. But her face was so clear in his mind. He couldn’t just walk away, not without making sure she was safe. He took a deep breath, another glance at what lay before him, before he turned back around, heading for the city.
Jack followed Ellie, running from hiding place to hiding place as they moved through the city.
“Where are we going?” He whispered annoyed.
“To find out what’s going on. Tally and Andy stole my good camera, they better get something good from the airport. I’m going to figure out what’s going on with all these blasts.”
“It could be dangerous!”
“I didn’t ask you to follow me, Jack! Just go back if you’re scared.”
He wasn’t just scared for himself, but he didn’t say that out loud. Instead he went for a different tactic.
“Shouldn’t you go after Alice? She could be in danger.”
“She’s fine, she’ll be a good while out of the city by now,” Ellie said quickly, trying to quell her own nagging fear as much as convince him. “Tai-San’s with her, they’ll be safe.”
Jack had no more arguments, and resigned himself to simply follow her.
KC felt a bit stupid now, hiding behind a dumpster while contemplating whether to go back or keep looking for Tally and Andy. What was he doing caring about those two rugrats anyway? The road towards the highway, where he knew they would have gone, was closed off by trucks, and those few people he had run into coming from that direction, said a lot of people had been taken into the trucks and driven away. He had looked for them up and down the streets around the mall, just in case, but found nothing. The noise from the firecrackers was coming closer, and the streets were filling up with smoke from the smoke bombs he had seen being set off down the street. Those kids were stupid enough to take off on their own, it wasn’t his problem, he told himself. Still there was a bad feeling settling in his gut as he turned around to run back to the mall. He just hoped Cloe had managed to get back inside safely.
When the mall emptied, May felt scared. She hated to admit it, but being a Mallrat had made her feel safer most of the time. Now suddenly it seemed to be everyone for themselves or for their closest, and she found herself alone. Bray and Amber had been sent away, Lex had taken Pride and Trudy with the kid to find them, and the others all seemed to have rushed outside as the sound or airplanes had come from above. Pride hadn’t said it straight out, but she had a feeling nothing would get him to go back to the city once he had left. When the noise outside got worse she decided not to stay put, like a rat trapped in a cage. If there was anywhere to get help, it was the hotel and Ebony. Not that she thought Ebony would care to keep her safe, but she would do anything to keep herself safe. That was something May could understand, and a motivation she could trust. When she reached the hotel, she found it surrounded. It was too late once she realised, and a uniformed man quickly grabbed her. She fought back, almost getting the upper hand when another man came out of nowhere, pointing some device on his arm at her. Something shot out of it, she felt a jolt go through her, before everything went black.
Once the blasts started in the city, and she could see the trucks and tanks through the windows of the hotel, Ebony got her militia to put the hotel on lock-down. But the newcomers were too strong, her militia was taken down quickly and without much fuss. Pretty soon the door to her room was broken down, two men and a woman entering. The woman lifted her arm, and then just like May had only moments before, Ebony felt a jolt go through her before it all went dark.
Jack and Ellie were crouched down behind a bin, watching as May was shot down by the uniforms. Ellie had first tried to rush to her aid, but Jack held her back. She quickly relented, knowing it was futile to rush in there, two unarmed people against so many armed soldiers. That was what Ellie quickly named them in her mind, even if their uniforms were black rather than camouflage, they were most definitely a military tribe or force of some kind.
Suddenly another army marched into the scene in front of them, another army dressed in black. Moz’s hips swayed as they always did when she walked, all of her girls following her, armed with bats or sticks. She raised her arm as she stopped in front of the group situated outside the hotel, her girls immediately stopping in their tracks. Jack and Ellie could hear angry voices, but couldn’t make out the words. Suddenly Moz raised her arm again, one swift movement towards the new enemy and her tribe all stormed towards them. The man who had stepped in front of the soldiers, most likely the highest ranking one, raised his arm and whatever his weapon was, he shot Moz with it and she instantly fell to the ground. Her girls were only caught by surprise for a few seconds before most of them were rushing at the soldiers, while a few tried to run off in the opposite direction. Those who charged were shot down immediately, as all the soldiers raised their arms the way their leader had, and those who tried to run away were shot down from behind. Ellie saw the same fear in Jack’s eyes as she knew was evident in her own as the two of them looked at each other.
“Let’s go! Now!” Jack said quickly, grabbing her arm and dragging her away. This time Ellie didn’t object.
At the airport General Jay stood straight as a needle outside the jet, waiting for the final messages to tick in before he could order the transport of their leader to the new headquarters. The larger planes that had caused so much havoc now stood still all around him. His new title of General had been given to him after the successful takeover of the prisoner camp. He was quite pleased with it, he had to admit. Partly for shallow reasons, he couldn’t deny it gave him a little thrill every time he was addressed as “General”. But mainly he enjoyed it because it gave him more power, taking him one step closer to his dream of building a high-tech hospital. He couldn’t be denied it now, once the Technos had settled into this new city. Finally his earpiece came to life.
“General! Hotel taken, City Leader and guards have been secured and disarmed. Over.”
Jay took comfort in that message meaning the City Leader had been taken alive. As far as he knew, no one had yet been killed in the operation. Taking prisoners weighed on his conscience, but in the end they would thank the Technos for making everyone’s lives better. He cleared his mind, he needed to focus on the task at hand. Quickly he started calling up all lieutenants and majors, needing confirmation that all units had taken their quota of prisoners, and that all areas were secured.
Lex rain straight to the mall, only by luck more than skill did he get safely there. He kept running once he reached the mall, from room to room shouting his wife’s name. Cloe heard him, finally daring to crawl out from under her bed.
“Lex?” she called for him, as soon as she stood on the balcony and saw him on the other side. He stopped in his tracks, unable to hide the disappointment on his face when he saw who it was.
“Where is she? Where’s Tai-San?” He demanded.
“I don’t know. After you guys left, she went to help Ellie with Alice, and then when the bombs or whatever it was went off outside, I couldn’t find anyone!”
Tears were running down her face, she was unable to stop them. But Lex wasn’t the right person when she most needed someone to comfort her. He ignored her and kept calling for Tai-San. KC could hear Lex shouting a long way away. He stopped running by the fountain, bending over to catch his breath for a moment before looking up to see Cloe and Lex up there.
“KC!” Cloe’s face lit up, and she hurried down the stairs towards him. KC focused on Lex, who had barely stopped shouting to register KC was there.
“Lex! They’re coming closer! Stop shouting or they’ll hear you!”
As soon as he said it, he was trapped in a hug from Cloe. But his words did seem to get through, and Lex fell quiet. He placed his hands on the railing, leaning heavily against it.
“They’ve taken Tai-San.” His voice was suddenly weak, but Cloe and KC heard it. Cloe let go of KC, the two of them looking at each other with a new sense of fear evident in their eyes; that even Lex could be broken.
Three people walked through the woods, silently sneaking forward through the bushy underground. They were close to the city now, having taken many extra hours of travel to make sure to travel safely. Salene led the way, as her male companion supported her female companion on the uneven ground, a distinct limp coming with every move the other woman made. Salene tried to not get annoyed at how the injury had slowed them down since the other woman had tripped the day before. It’s not as if they would have been able to do anything about the invasion anyway, but she knew she would feel uneasy until she was back at the mall to check that everyone was okay.
The black limo moved slowly through the streets from the airport to the old stadium. Jay was listening intently to what was being said in his ear piece, occasionally confirming or denying something. Ram had discarded his, thrown it onto the seat next to him. He was tired of the constant noise, it hurt his head when he had it on too long. Finally the general finished his conversation and turned to Ram.
“Stadium is cleared. It has been cleaned, computer lab set up, and video cameras outside are in order. Your room is also ready.”
Jay looked quite pleased, Ram noted. As far as he could tell what his stony-faced general was thinking. Ram let his eyes drift over at the brown-haired girl who had joined them in the limo, she was staring straight out the window at the buildings passing them by. He didn’t like her. He just couldn’t figure her out, nor what Jay found so enthralling about her and why he constantly kept her around. He was annoyed that Jay had convinced him to take her on as his personal companion for the travel to the new city and during the early days of the invasion. She was every bit as incomprehensible as Jay, but Jay was fairly simple to figure out anyway. Ram had promised Jay his cherished hospital, something Jay was more than willing to make sacrifices for, even if that included taking prisoners. Ram simply had to convince him that it would benefit the people in the end, and Jay was on board. Where Jay managed to keep his face a mask, the girl’s face was constantly changing. It was her facial expressions he could never figure out, and that she always looked like she was about to cry or just had been crying, her smile never reaching her eyes. Then there was that scar on the side of her face, it had made what was once probably a pretty face into something that made him uncomfortable to look at. She was nearly a woman, with all the right curves, but Jay didn’t seem to have that kind of interest in her at all. Ram knew that, because he had kept cameras in both their rooms. Suddenly she looked over at him, her eyes narrowing slightly before her face turned into a smile. A smile as fake as any he had ever seen. He really did not trust her.
Mega stood, perfectly still, in the surveillance room, his eyes fixed on the screens showing a dark limousine pulling up in front of the stadium. He had to hand it to Jay, the stadium was the perfect starting location. Although they would be moving most of the computer systems and technical operations to the hotel as soon as it was secured, the stadium was the perfect place for the military operation. Mega had been the one to suggest keeping the most important systems there to, just in case of sabotage it was safer to keep those apart from the rest of their technical staff. The satellite outside the stadium would also be a big help. He watched Ram being carried out of the limo and into his wheelchair. Jay’s little favourite stayed by Ram’s side as she had been instructed to, while Jay stood a few steps away, communicating through his earpiece as usual, the mouthpiece pulled down in front of his lips. Ram didn’t know it yet, but the moment he had promoted Mega to be in charge of technical operations, he had signed his own death warrant. From the moment he had joined, Mega had known he was smarter than their glorious lord Ram, and soon enough he would prove it. The side of Mega’s mouth curled up in something that resembled a smile. If this city knew what he had in store for them, they would all be running for the hills.