WHO: Johny Murphy, Octavia Blake WHEN: August 16 or so. BACKDATED obvs. WHERE: Somewhere around Camp Jaha WHAT: Murphy's heading in this direction. Octavia manages to save his butt. It's a party! WARNINGS: Grounder murder. Sorry, werewolf bro.
There’d been a poem he’d been forced to read for class up on the Ark, ages ago, and he only remembered bits and pieces of it. John Murphy had never been one for poetry, or reading, or class, but sometimes snippets of phrases got stuck in his head and no amount of derision got rid of them. The author (name forgotten along the way) had written that “the woods are lovely, dark and deep” and them something about having “miles to go before I sleep”. Nice words. Great rhyming. Load of bull, if you asked him. The woods weren’t lovely, he guessed they were as not-dark as they were likely to get since it was the middle of the afternoon, but they sure as shit were deep. And that whole line about having miles to go? Screw that. He was stopping right here.
Murphy more-or-less collapsed into the brush, staring upward. When he’d set off for Camp Jaha nearly two months before, he hadn’t fooled himself into thinking he’d make it. Survival was never a given in this world, and he had the sense of direction of a goddamn lemming. His various adventures along the way had decimated his pack of supplies; now all he had was a pistol without bullets and a dry canteen of water. He’d eaten his last beef jerky four or five days before, and while the water he’d come across had looked drinkable, large, slithering things swimming just below the surface had forbade any sort of getting near it. Now, though, he’d welcome snake things, he was so thirsty. But that creek was a good two days back, and he heard no water now.
He heard footsteps.
Aw, shit, he thought to himself; footsteps were good about 30% of the time. He thought about hiding, but the rustling would almost certainly attract more attention than staying put. He had no weapons. Guess he could throw a rock. His fingers slowly wrapped around one that would do absolutely jack for him in a fight, and he silently willed the footsteps to go in the other direction, please. Thirsting to death was dignified. Being captured by a Grounder and stabbed in the throat, less so.
The Rescue Mission had brought back a girl about Octavia's age. After dispensing with the group, Octavia needed to unwind a little outside. The mountain was good for safety and community, but it felt like being cooped up on a spaceship, and Octavia Blake was done with being hidden away. She and Lincoln spent their time making trips into the woods, often for recon, but sometimes they just enjoyed one another and the feet of dirt between their toes. Today, she was faster on her own, and with the threat of werewolves out there, she could be quiet when need be.
Which she needed to be when she spotted a not-very-subtle Grounder in the process of stalking something. Animal? Octavia ducked down, quickly retrieving a large knife at her belt and then pressed forward. A few steps in the direction, she noticed that it wasn't an animal the Grounder was stalking, but a man lying on the ground. Too wrapped up in the hunt, she didn't get much of a look at the guy, but if a Grounder was after him, then Octavia would put a stop to it.
Her instincts kicked in, the ones that took time to cultivate when she was Indra's second, and she launched her attack. The Grounder's attention was too much on his prey, and not enough on what might be stalking him. Coming from behind him, she kicked at the back of his knees, sending him howling and dropping onto them. Before he could do much more than see a blur behind him, she dig her fingers into his hair and jerked his head back. The knife dragged across his neck, blood spurting, and Octavia let him drop to the ground at the figure's feet.
Murphy heard the commotion, abandoning his plan to lay low and instead getting to his feet - just in time for blood to shoot out from the unfortunate Grounder’s throat and spray him in the face. Sadly, it wasn’t even ranking in the Top Ten of gross things he had on his face at this point. Not knowing who was killing what at this point, he pulled out his (empty) pistol and cocked it at whoever was feeling stabby with their knife.
It only took a half-second for him to recognize her. Sure, a good percentage of her features was obliterated by the Grounder paint, but at this point, Octavia Blake looked more like herself when she was covered in black charcoal than she did clean-faced. “Octavia,” he said, not lowering his (empty, so empty) gun quite yet. It wasn’t as if they’d been buddies; she’d been shacking up with the Grounders. Same tribe who’d tortured him for days. And well, he’d tried to kill her brother, which was never a fantastic way to kick off a friendship.
"Murphy?" There was more than a little surprise in her voice as she recognized the figure in front of her. She figured it'd be some straggler from Camp Jaha, but this… This was going to have to be explained. "We thought you were dead."
She couldn't imagine where he'd gotten bullets near here unless he'd snuck into Camp Jaha and stolen the round brought from Mount Weather. They kept them supplied, what with the munitions storage and the military facility's ability to create more. Murphy was a Grade A asshole, and Octavia wouldn't put it past him. She weighed whether or not that gun actually had bullets. Either way, she wasn't leaving Murphy as the only one with a weapon.
"Where the fuck have you been?"
His eyes flicked to her knife. Murphy was no fool; she outclassed him in literally every foreseeable fight sequence including the one where his gun was actually loaded, but hey, appearance was nine-tenths of the law, right? Something like that? He made a big show of slowly lowering his weapon, indicating with a jut of his chin that she follow suit. “Took a walk,” he answered shortly, and glanced behind her. “Jaha find his way back here?”
Octavia sheathed her longknife into a holster at her hip, keeping an eye on where Murphy's hands were the entire time. How many of the 100 had he tried to kill? Octavia lost count. Among them was her brother, and that was something she just couldn't forgive. It didn't matter if Murphy saved his life later. He was still trouble.
"A ten month walk?" They had to have found something. Jaha was babbling about destiny and shit before he left. The City of Light of something. Octavia figured that if Murphy was heading back here, it must have been the City of Crap. "If Jaha's here, he hasn't shown his face. How long have you been out in these woods?"
“Couple of months. Before that, desert. Had a bike. It was bitchin’.” That sarcasm accomplished, he finally holstered his gun, wincing. Dehydration and a sprained ankle that had yet to get enough rest to heal weren’t helping his case; there was a reason, after all, he’d laid down on the forest floor to… well. Sleep, die, it was all the same. “You gonna kill me or help me?”
It wasn’t an idle question. Not with her, not with anyone. At this point the warmest Murphy felt toward anyone at camp was “might blink a few times if you died terribly”, but he had no interest in staging a recreation of the events of last year that had won him all his unpopularity contests.
"That depends on whether or not you're a danger." Octavia eyed him, noting the way he favored one leg. That was going to be an issue on getting him back, and he was going to have to go through a period of people questioning the hell out of him. Last time around, he brought back a virus. This time, who knew what he might have with him. "You gonna let me search you?"
“I’ll save you the trouble. Two knives-” one he pulled out of his boot, the other from his coat pocket, both of which he turned over to her, “and one gun.” This he pulled out of his jeans and held pointed away from her, handing it over. She hadn’t killed him yet. He despised rolling over and showing his belly but whatever; you didn’t play head-games with Octavia Blake.
A deadpan smile. “Gun’s not loaded.”
Octavia had to huff a laugh between her teeth, taking the weapons and finding places on her own belt to stuff them. He could have them back later, after they figured out what to do with him. He looked like hell, though, and Octavia had supplies. He'd never make it back to Mount Weather if he was dying, so she held out her water skein, just a makeshift thing they'd had back when they first landed on Earth.
"Guess I'm helping you. They're gonna wanna know what happened to you."
He took her water and guzzled it. He could almost hear Clarke chiding him in his head not to drink too fast, but fuck it. Her skein was empty when he passed it back, Murphy giving her a half-nod in thanks.
“You wanna know?” he asked casually, figuring it was apt payment for her hauling his half-lame ass to wherever the hell she was headed. “Figure you’ve got storytime too. There’s always something goddamn whimsical happening with you people.”
"Sure, we got about a day's walk to Mount Weather. Plenty of time to regale you with stories of our winter." Octavia nodded to his feet. "Especially with that bum leg of yours."
That meant she wouldn't be able to double-time it back. She'd have to radio back so that Lincoln wouldn't worry. Octavia dropped to her haunches and began to sift through the Grounder's clothing, looking for weapons, food, water. All of which she found in various places. And then the kicker: his nails had been filed into points. Great, just like the werewolf they'd had in custody. She was going to have to be even more on her guard then.
When she stood up, she handing the water and food to Murphy and pocketed the weapons for herself. "We're going to need to be quieter. Stay close to me."
Unwilling to be complete dead weight, he filed away the food and water and attempted to put some weight on his ankle. It protested, but held. “Dude looks weirder than usual,” he observed quietly, as his eyes strayed over the dead man. Murphy was used to what Grounders looked like by now, but there was something way off about this guy. And not solely because it looked like Octavia was her version of ‘disquieted’.
But he did as she said, sticking close and muffling his steps as best as he could. They’d gone a small distance through the forest when he next spoke. “You ever hear of the City of Light?”
"I heard Jaha asking if anyone else had heard of it." As far as she could tell it was just a story. Murphy's survival though, if he was claiming City of Light as his whereabouts for months, might make that anything but. "Why?"
She brought her knife out, intending to use it to clear any heavy brush in their way as they walked. She directed Murphy in the direction they'd be going. She'd broach the subject of werewolves later. "You gonna tell me that you guys found it?"
“Eh,” was his non-committal answer. Truth be told, even after all this time, Murphy wasn’t sure what he’d found. His bunker sure as shit wasn’t a city, but it was an awfully conveniently-placed miracle. And Jaha had had a way of making everything a magical test that only a select few were able to pass.
“I mean, everyone died,” he finally elaborated, and before her eyes could slide over him added: “...wasn’t me. Just… Grounders, land-mines. More of those sea-snake things. We lost everyone. Got hurt, passed out. When I woke up, Jaha had booked it. But I found a bunker. All this old shit in it from way before. Plenty of food, water. Holed up there for a long while.”
He wasn’t sure he was ready to talk about that strange feeling of destiny or magic he’d felt while out in the wilds with the ex-chancellor. Sounded stupid just to think about it. “There was other shit, but..” He shrugged. “Gonna need liquor for that.”
Sounded like Jaha. Working people up, getting their hopes up, and then just abandoning them when the going got tough or things didn't go his way. Oh yeah, sure, she'd heard about what he'd done on the Ark, his great sacrifice, but guess what? Octavia could give two shits about the man who murdered his mom just for having her. Or Clarke's dad for telling the truth about the Ark's failing systems. Or locked her up for being born.
"Didn't bring any liquor, so you're gonna have to wait till we get to Mount Weather." She was on alert as they walked, including watching Murphy to make sure he didn't try anything funny. "A few things have changed since you've gone."
“Clarke got the stick removed?” he asked back smartly, aware that she wasn’t exactly at ease in his presence and not particularly caring. He was hardly ready for a group hug, himself. The water she’d given him had made him feel better, but having hope for his survival restored had made him keenly aware of just how goddamn tired he was. And he had to be careful; something about the woods had Octavia on edge and every time he stumbled over a branch she gave him a glare that would’ve heralded a second nuclear war.
"Please. That's lodged very firmly. I'm not sure it's ever coming out." The truth was that Octavia didn't know how she felt about Clarke, even after all these months. Letting the Mountain Men bomb Tondc while everyone was in it without warning them had really shaken Octavia's faith in her. She thought if there was one constant, it would be that Clarke wasn't completely devoid of morality, not like the rest of them. It was a shame to be proven so wrong.
"More like, we don't all live at Jaha anymore and people keep arriving in pods. Just randomly dropping from the sky. Some of them are — It's crazy is what it is, okay?"
Pretty much everything she had just said made only a fraction of sense. Except the stick thing. That made all the sense in the world. Murphy mulled over the rest of it. If they didn’t live in Jaha, that meant they’d found a safer place. Mount Weather? They must have won that war, or made peace, or something. He doubted it was the latter. Diplomacy was never the Sky People’s thing.
But the pod bit? That he couldn’t figure. “Survivors from the Ark?” he hazarded, even though he knew she was going to tell him no. That wouldn’t have her sounding so astounded. Octavia rolled with crazy. This was something else.
"Nope. Not from the Ark." For the most part, Octavia disliked the podkru. They were a loud bunch who complained about not having certain foods or clothes or being able to go shopping. The ones she liked were the ones who rolled with it, who contributed in more than just the ways of doing the job they signed up for. Who interacted with people.
Octavia cast a side-glance at Murphy. He was going to think she was nuts. "...from other dimensions."
Murphy briefly considered his odds of survival if he ran away from the clearly crazy version of Octavia Blake. Those odds were pitiful enough that he humored her. “Wow, other dimensions,” he said, the grin on his face looking slightly panicked as he considered the fact that they were completely alone in the middle of the goddamn woods with no witnesses. “That’s great, Blake. Sounds like you kids have made a pretty good home for yourselves.”
Other dimensions, holy balls. He’d gotten the Ark science class, of course; he knew about black holes and wormholes in theory, but that was theory; this was now.
Octavia paused walking, hearing every ounce of fear and sarcasm in his voice. For a second, she thought about unloading and telling him how ridiculous the whole thing was. Being honest. But this was John Murphy, and he tried to kill her brother once upon a time.
She was going to fuck with him. (Even if a lot of the stuff was true.)
"Yeah, we've got a new Counselor. She's about eight foot tall and has horns. Recently lost her arm in a werewolf attack, and some of the magic people gave her a new one."
There were about five things wrong with all that, but Murphy didn’t have the motivation to go over each one individually. There were two possibilities here: one, that Octavia was fucking with him, and two, that she was crazy. Or, he supposed, three: she was crazy and fucking with him. None of these possibilities meant much other than she was a lot better off physically than he was and he was dependant on her regardless of whether or not she was crazy or asshole.
“Good for her,” he answered mildly, making a point to walk a little faster despite the persistent pain in his ankle. “Knew those magic people would come in handy.”
"Asala's good people though." Octavia smirked. "Which means you'll probably hate her."
They should have taken the podkru in, of course. They shouldn't have been left out there to get captured by Grounders or eaten by mutated animals. Octavia didn't dispute that. They brought a lot to the table, but they also decided that they were in charge of morality and what they did in their own world. She didn't like that bit. They hadn't suffered the way the people on the Ark or the Grounders did, and they wanted to impose things like laws they had no right to change. It was a crap shoot, really, on who you would get.
"You ever hear about Star Wars?"
The blank expression he shot her spoke enough on that; Murphy’s family had watched old baseball games, but science fiction wasn’t something he’d been introduced to. And his mother hated the television being on, after his father was gone, so as a result his grasp of old popular culture was underdeveloped at best. “Who’s warring?”
"Werewolves." Even sheltered Octavia had heard of it, even if she'd never seen it. She rolled her eyes, shaking her head and muttering never mind under her breath. Even if Murphy did know, he probably would have been contrary just to be contrary. He wasn't very fond of Blakes. The feeling was mutual.
"Stop slacking. Pick up the pace. I can't protect you if a whole pack of werewolf Grounders attack us."
“Men that turn into wolves at the full moon.” That bit of Earth superstition he’d heard of. It was hard to imagine people actually being frightened of such a notion; Murphy had seen the moon from space. It was always a full moon, there. “C’mon. Octavia.” The expression he shot her was bordering on the annoyed. “I know you’re a headcase, but werewolves?”
Octavia got it. She'd think she was crazy too.
"You saw that guy back there. The weird scratches that don't heal. Filing his nails to points. One of the pod people went out on a full moon, and it turns out he's a werewolf from Harry Potter. He infected some Grounder who is now building a damn army of them." She'd have mentioned the bit about Emerson, but he wasn't around for all of that. Best to steer clear of that awkward conversation.
Harry Potter. Something stirred across Murphy’s face. Now that was a name he hadn’t heard in a long time. His dad had read him the first book, and the third. They’d never been able to track down the second book from the Ark lending library, and Murphy had never bothered to go back to find it. “Lupin. Something Lupin,” he said, because he remembered that much, but that didn’t mean that Octavia was spewing bullshit. “Yeah, I saw that guy’s manicure. Doesn’t mean creature of the night.”
"Suit yourself, but we're going to have to sleep in trees tonight to make sure we don't get caught in the middle of the night." Finding a suitable few trees was going to be the trick. She wished she'd prepared for an evening trek. They could held to Camp Jaha for the night, get some supplies, but that'd still put them a two days walk between Jaha and Mount Weather. There was only a day and a half this way. Maybe they could find a cave along the way.
She kept walking, trudging through the mud and brush, before she piped up again. "So Jaha just left you?"
Hearing it out loud almost stung. He was going to have to get used to that. Murphy hadn’t been around people for so long; he needed to relearn how to not care. “Guess so,” he answered shortly. “Was mostly passed out for it.”
Sleep in a tree? How the hell was he going to get up a tree with one leg that wasn’t too thrilled with him? He supposed he could pull himself up, albeit ungracefully. At least Octavia would give him shit and then let it go. She wasn’t the type to be passive aggressive. All aggressive, sure.
"That what happened to your arm? Looks like shit." It wasn't a fresh wound, but she could see the traces of scars there. She noticed a lot more than she let on. Clarke had learned that the hard way, and Octavia had been so disappointed. She'd counted on Clarke to do the right thing, the hard thing even if no one else could. That was nothing but some weird moral fantasy that just didn't exist on Earth.
He glanced at the pale white scars still-visible on his arm from where the sea snake had taken a chunk out of it. “Big hungry dick worm thing,” he answered succinctly. “In the sea. Same thing that ate Richards and Craig.” A glance at her from the corner of his eye; everyone remembered how enthusiastic Octavia had been when she’d first arrived on Earth. “Same thing that nearly ate you, actually, but it’d eaten its veggies. It was huge.”
Octavia still had her own scars from that encounter, though they weren't nearly as pronounced as Murphy's. Everyone had scars, though. Octavia's features had been smooth and clean when she'd come down to Earth, but it wasn't long before the environment and the Grounders had changed that. Octavia liked her scars, though; it meant she'd lived a life. Not cower under some damn floorboard or hidden away in a tower.
"Some guy got his finger bitten off by one of those things. Trying to save someone else. The other guy didn't make it." It was a nice try, though, and Octavia thought he was lucky he didn't lose more than a finger. "How'd you?"
“That bunker I mentioned? Fully stocked. Whiskey, food, bandages, whatever you could need.” He missed it a little, now, but even Murphy couldn’t live for long with no interaction other than music and a suicide tape. He supposed it was too far away for them to send a group to raid it. Murphy had grabbed a lot of stuff to take with him on the trip back, but had lost most of it, save the trusty sponge wearing pants in his backpack.
Murphy thought about leaving the conversation there, about retiring to mutually disgruntled silence, but that suicide tape… “Think whoever owned it was responsible for the war,” he said. “There was a tape, dude was all guilt-ridden. Shot himself. Message for posterity.”
As far as she could tell, a lot was lost between the destruction of Earth and the Ark. Some of it was just information lost through the years, like the country the thirteenth space station was from, the one that got blasted by the others that would make way for Unity Day. Octavia couldn't remember anything about how the war started. Just that it had, and everything was wiped out. They were clearly wrong about everything and everyone being wiped out, though. The Grounders and what was left of the Mountain Men were proof of that.
"Are you bullshitting me?"
Murphy shrugged, not missing the relevancy of her questions but not really caring what the tape might mean. The whole place was fried, and the man who claimed responsibility was dead. Who cared?
“Saw it enough. I’ll act it out for you, sometime.” He paused, considered. “The guy who shot himself, said that some lady had gotten the launch codes from him. I mean, he wasn’t making a lot of sense. Crazy, and all.” Murphy had seen a lot of that kind of crazy in the last year. “But yeah, he seemed legit.”
Octavia sat on the information. She didn't know if she should question more, if Murphy would even give her more information. Who was the guy on the tape? Or the woman he was referring to? Did he even have more? Why wouldn't you bring the tape back to show everyone else? She found herself ready to smack the crap out of Murphy.
"Great. Well, whoever she is, she'd be dead now, a hundred years later." It sure would have been nice to know that information though, even if it was just so they could pinpoint a cause for the whole wasted planet.