This RP is part of the Great Reformation arc.
Synopsis: After being tasked with finding a way to round up all of the Infected and securing them off, Ahab travels to the East to do exactly that. He runs into an unexpectedly resourceful stranger in the East who offers a practical way of doing things using his unique skillset. They form a skeleton of a plan and set out to do their parts in it.
Characters: Ahab and Milon
Location: East Train Station Ruins, East Ankou Ennis
East Train Station Ruins
The only sounds that ever permeate the area are the clicks of the mechanical guard and the hiss of the steam engine that rolls in every few days like clockwork. A one way ticket. That is all that is ever promised, and this half of the island gives the first hints as to why. The eastern train station seems to be falling apart. Bricks and debris lay strewn between the overgrown foliage that seeks to reclaim all of the land it had once lost. Only a single oiled railroad track remains, allowing the only apparent escape back to the more habitable side of the island. No oil lamps can be found here, or any hints of civilization except for what has already crumbled over the years. Clockwork and steam sentries, as well as more lethal cyborg creations stand watch at the train station; making sure that no living or undead thing from the eastern side boards the train to cross the perimeter.. whether friendly or not. It is rumored, however that the train's operator has been known to disembark and survive to make the trip home.
"Yeah, but why would you go and do that? Iddn't there a better way?" Milon muttered to himself, one eye squinted shut and the other peering through a spyglass. He wasn't that far from an infected, but they wouldn't hear him as he mumbled. "I just think there's a better way t'go about it, but if you know better..." How patronizing. "Yeah, well. Whatever," he said dismissively. He wasn't talking to anyone and he wasn't hearing voices in his head, but when a man spent his life in solitude, roaming the great, awful city that had become East Ankou Ennis, there wasn't much other company but himself. That's how he got to talking to himself for no other reason than to engage his mind. "Yeah, I could kill it, but it's not looking as bad as they usually do. I dunno what's going on with these fellas. One minute, they look terrible and the next, they're either rotting from the inside out and dropping like flies or looking well again." He shrugged in response to no one. "Wonder if this one'd try to bite me, but I kind of don't want to test it..." Milon laid there in prone position on the other side of a low wall that must have functioned as a seating place for folks waiting to board the train. "Maybe someone'll get off the train and it'll try to bite. That'll answer my question."
And Milon's prayer would be answered. As the train rolled into the station, only one passenger ended up getting off. He didn't even have to be escorted by the clockwork sentries. Garbed in what appeared to be something resembling a poncho and raggedy pants, with tight shoes that looked more like cloth sacks than anything to pad his feet, Ahab idly whistled a tune as he strolled off the train platform and right into the path of the oncoming infected. This was one of the older ones, for sure. Rotting, practically barely held together, it stumbled towards the warmth and heat of Ahab, groaning its displeasure at him as it went to claw at him mercilessly. His response was to plant a hand on its forehead and shove it off to the side, causing it to lose balance and stumble into the ground. "Ain't got time for ye, stumpy. Long gone." As it began to try and get to its feet, he continued on his merry way. Seemingly oblivious.
Milon's eyebrows came together in what might've been bafflement, but it was hard to tell. "Well then. I guess he's not much of a threat then, is he?" He was referring to the infected. "I wonder if they're all like that..." Pulling himself from his spyglass, he pushed it down into itself so it'd become compact and slid it into one of his pockets inside his tattered, old coat. It had once belonged to his father and his father before him and so on. Maybe. Throughout the generations, it was always too big or too small, but each man had held onto that coat to pass it on to his son. Or daughter, he supposed... It could've belonged to his grandma, now that he thought about it. He didn't know her, though. He barely knew his own parents, really. What did it matter if it belonged to some woman or man ancestor? Hell, it didn't matter if his dad had stolen it off a rotting corpse and passed it off as an heirloom. The point was it was now his, and it had been reinforced with an extra layer or so of tough fabric to keep it from tearing if one of those hungry bastards came at him and tried to bite him. The sleeves of his coat had saved him many times from getting the infection himself, and he didn't quite understand why the city folks ran out half-naked and unprotected. Milon shook his head as he rose to his feet in a low crouch, peeking over the low wall at the other fella. "Hmm," he hummed to himself. Leather gloved hands held onto the edge of the low wall to keep him balanced on the balls of his feet, and quietly, he rose enough to allow himself to stalk after the man while maintaining a sort of crouch. His ragged, dark brown hair had grown passed his eyebrows, but it was parted to allow him sight. A black kerchief was wrapped around his mouth, leaving his eyes exposed to the world and nothing more but the faint movement of his lips behind the cloth whenever he spoke to himself. The clothes he wore under his coat rose up to cover his neck, and an added accessory of what was likely leather was wrapped around his neck as well, providing him further protection from any bites that might miss his arm and go straight to his neck instead. Milon knew the environment beyond the safety of the city walls much too well.
Ahab could smell him. Wasn't human. But not a threat either, for the time being. Ahab continued to stroll. Any infected he saw in the distance, he peered at them for a moment before continuing onwards, not making an effort to go after any of them in particular. Right now he was more scoping them out than anything. Bastards, they were. When he herded them all into the theatre he'd have to kill the ones who were too old. "Ughhhh...that'll be the most fun...fuckin' hell." The infected he'd pushed down earlier was still trailing after him, albeit slowly. But he was making a conscious effort, at least. Ahab was aware of that, too. After a few minutes of walking and thinking to himself, Ahab stopped and turned to face the beast. "Aaaalright stumpy, end of the line." He approached it, cracking his knuckles before launching a swift right jab into its head that knocked it flat on its ass. Whereupon Ahab then proceeded to stomp on its head. Many...many times. The details will be spared, for it was not pretty.
Milon dropped to prone all of a sudden when the man turned around with a quiet, "Shit!" He held his breath and waited behind the low wall, listening to the awful, bloody sound of someone getting their head stomped in. He visibly cringed, teeth baring behind the kerchief. "Lotta anger that one's got, huh?" he whispered. "Wouldn't wanna fuck with him..." That's for sure. "You're telling me?" he answered himself, and then shook his head as he let out a hushed 'pshhhh...'. He'd only rise up on his hands carefully a beat after the stomping stopped to peek over the low wall at the man. "Whattaguy..." he whispered, shaking his head again.
Ahab's stomping ceased after a few more slow, haggard stomps. Taking a step back from the now very much dead infected, he breathed a happy sigh, pushing his hair back. "I can smell ye, moron. Yer sweat. 'n I can hear yer heart, beatin' like a drum. Why're y'followin' me, ehn...?" Ahab looked around, as if in an attempt to locate the man, before nudging the dead body a few more times. "Come on, I don't bite. Most I do is kick the shit outta these blighters..."
Milon mouthed a silent 'fuck!' and remained hidden for a moment longer before he realized it was really pointless and he rose onto his knees to peer from over the low wall. "How the hell can you smell me from all the way over there?" he demanded incredulously. "What are you, some kind of fuckin' animal?" He rose to his feet and brushed his knees before straightening to look at the man. Hooking a finger into his collar, he tugged on it to adjust it. Milon might've been a strange sight if the other man hadn't looked stranger. The survivor city had their style of dress, and Milon had his own. Most of his clothes were refashioned and enhanced by himself. It was largely minimalist but designed heavily to protect him, be durable, and weigh next to nothing. He wouldn't come out from behind that low wall just yet, but his arms would be at his sides in a confident, relaxed state as he studied the other man. "You're from here, aren't'cha." It wasn't a question. His brown, nearly reddish eyes were trained on the other guy, peering scrutinously from over his kerchief. For the amount of blase talking this guy did to himself, he did know how to wear an intimidating demeanor.
Ahab's eyes darted to the man and took him for a moment. Not food. Obviously. Survivor. Rare. Useful. Maybe...maybe. "Y'could say I'm a bit sensitive t'that sorta thing...as for bein' from here, born 'n raised. I just like t'pay the West a visit on occasion, seein' as I do business. Y'ever see them holes in the ground, all scattered about? Those're mine." He seemed proud at that, standing up a little straighter. "Dig 'em, hide in 'em fer a night, then go about my way." Ahab nudged the dead body again, before shrugging. "This one wasn't comin' back...y'got a name, stranger? Or would'ja prefer that title fer now?"
Milon shrugged. "Milon. Dad wanted to call me Milo, but I ended up with Milon instead for some reason." He shrugged again, and even so he maintained that hard demeanor, but as time passed, it'd become clear that demeanor wasn't intentional. The other man would recognize it as that need to survive in a harsh world: the posture of a man who knew nothing but slaughter, the eyes of someone who lived in nothing but death and destruction, and the mistrust that's beaten into a person's spine by the brutal reality that had become the East. "I'd ask what the fella did to you," he said, gesturing lazily with his hand toward the black-oozing infected, and continued, "but I can figure your prejudice." A joke, apparently. Milon has a sense of humor, then. "How do you get across?" he said, glancing toward the wall and then looking to the railway. He wouldn't bother stating the obvious: the train only goes one way.
Ahab tapped at his nose, offering the man a wily grin. "Trade secret, pal. Can't letcha know. Though...if yer lookin' t'get West..." He was thoughtful for a moment, folding his arms and looking him up and down. "...y'survived this long. Come on, walk with me." He turned and gestured for the man to follow, jamming his hands back into his pockets. "So, y'sick of the East yet?"
Milon hesitated a beat, looking over his shoulder before stepping over the low wall and following at his own pace behind the man. He felt no need to rush and catch up. They were close enough that they could talk just fine to each other. "Don't care to go to the West," he admitted nonchalantly, and then added, "I'm about as sick of it as I am of being alive." Which was to say not at all. "This is all I know, and there're no two ways about it. If I really hated this place so much, I would've just killed myself by now. It's really not so bad as long as you know how to survive." Part of why he had chosen his life in the wilderness of the East rather than join the survivor city was because he was sick of the folks in there complaining about how victimized they were. Hell, they even called themselves survivors! As if being born in the East immediately made a person a victim! Victim of what? he wanted to know. To their own pathetic stupidity? Probably. Milon had serious issues with the popular victim mentality of the East.
Ahab chuckled. He already liked this one. "Yeah, I feel that." A moment. "Y'know the infected are droppin', right? Old ones first...they'll drop, won't get back up. The most recently turned...yeah, they'll keep goin'. Drop, 'n get back up a little confused, but themselves again. Shit's cured, pal. Don't mean I should go gettin' bit again, mind..." Again. "...but the cure is spreadin'. Slowly but surely. So tell y'what. Y'help me to do a job, 'n I help you find a better callin' in life than sittin' around countin' the days and the kills."
Milon didn't miss a beat before he said, "Yeah, I know." He didn't, really. He hadn't been able to tell the actual difference between the ones that stayed down and the ones that got back up except that the dead ones looked, well... dead. He had noticed some of them looking better with flushed cheeks, and some of them were even starting to grow hair on their head, but he had no way of knowing if it was the older-turned ones that were dying and the more recently-turned ones that were getting better. "What's the job you got in mind?" he asked, finally catching up to him and keeping in step along side him.
Ahab chuckled low. "Somethin' that could kill us both. Y'know the old theatre, yeah? Big ol' coliseum type thing? Well, we gotta lure as many of 'em there as possible 'n seal 'em in so we can start makin' sure people come back right, y'feel me?" He stopped and turned to face the man. "Which means a loooootta fuckin' infected. A FUCKTON of 'em. 'n then we gotta clear out the ones who ain't gonna ever come back. So...y'know. Chance of death. Big one. But we save a lotta people 'n get their lives back. We're rebuildin' the East, champ. One person at a time." All very noble, and a good speech, backed up by the sheer conviction in Ahab's voice. "I understand if yer hesitant."
Milon paused in his step to stare at the guy like he was insane. "How the fuck do you plan on getting every infected to the damn theatre? And how are you gonna keep the ones inside there as you bring more in? Why not just seal them in their hives and pick off the dying ones like that? I mean, sure you'll get the straggler here and there, alone, and out and about, but the lone ones aren't the ones you need to worry about. Especially if they're anything like that fella," he jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "And if sealing them in ain't enough, maybe build a bunch of trapping pits around the hives and take care of 'em like that. That theatre ain't big or practical enough."
Ahab smiled. "Well, fer starters, bein' loud. Secondly, I'm a lot, LOT stronger'an y'think. Could probably lift ya with one hand. No offense." He chuckled, folding his arms. "But the trappin' pits...I like that idea. Little'a both, then. Point is, I gotta round 'em up. Many of 'em as I can, bit by bit. Still in?"
Milon was skeptical. Was he supposed to take this joker seriously? "I can make trapping pits, but there's no way in hell I'm gonna try to lure those fellas out of their hives myself..." He thought for a minute. There was no way of being loud enough to get every infected throughout the East to that one place, and how long it'd take to migrate them all over there? The level of coordination was crazy and the distance impractical in some cases. It was just plain insane. But if they trapped them in bulks in different parts of the East, that could work... Milon sucked in his breath thoughtfully. "Tell you what. I can make you your noise makers to get their attention, and you can lure them in to a place worth trapping them, but there's no way in hell you'll get all of them to that theatre, let alone fit 'em all in there. Let's find a building we can trap them in around here and test out our idea. Better to start small. If it works out, then we can go bigger. If we don't take it in small strides, we'll get eaten by our own plan." As far as Milon was concerned, they had a pretty good working plan. He could make small enough explosives that would bring around any nearby infected and lead them to the trap and once they were there, he could detonate a larger explosive that would trap them indefinitely. It was a pretty solid, practical plan far as he could tell.
Ahab hadn't figured this man for an inventor sort. But he listened. It would be foolish to not listen to his advice, and after a thoughtful moment, Ahab extended his hand. "Y'got'cherself a deal, Milon. The name's Ahab. Y'help me do this, 'n I'll help in return. I know what it's like. T'survive, live...almost die, day t'day. I feel it in m'bones, m'heart. Like a breathin' fire, don't really go away. But I promise ye, there's more than survivin'. There's really livin'. 'n I'll help y'with it."
Milon shook Ahab's hand and internally faltered. Ahab was more philosophical than Milon was used to, and it made him feel momentarily uncomfortable, but he managed to shrug it off. Whatever the hell this guy was talking about, trapping the infected would be fun. And if it meant killing the already-dead fellas and saving the coming-to ones, he was up for that, too. They'd scout the area and test out their plan by nightfall. Milon was excited.