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Skaifaya

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Chapter 1

“Prisoner 299, face to the wall and hands behind your back!” came the harshly barked order as the door was ripped open to the small cell. Marie hastily scurried to obey the order of one of the guards. With only nine years she was a small scrawny girl with long wavy blonde hair and steel grey eyes. It did not happen too often that guards came into her cell and she immediately wondered what might be going on. The guard was not carrying any food or supplies as far as she could see, glancing over her shoulder. She obediently put her hands on the wall she stood facing and waited in silence, the guards never reacted too well to unnecessary questions.

Her hands were pulled from the wall roughly and were cuffed together behind her back in an uncomfortable position and Marie bit her lips, trying to contain a light whimper. A moment later, she was roughly led out of her cell by the guard. As she was brought onto the hallway, she quickly looked around and to her consternation, she could see similar things happen to the other teenage prisoners all around her. The hall was filled with the other prisoners, handcuffed as well and led along the hall by guards, some were struggling, while others went without any protest. They were all led out of the sky box quickly and the guard pulled her along relentless, Marie doubted it would make any difference if she tried to put up a fight. Marie’s heart started to beat faster in fright as she wondered why they were all being led away. Had the council finally decided to float them all, regardless of their age? But that could not be true, no one under the age of eighteen had ever been floated before as far as she knew.

“What is happening?” she asked the guard in a pleading tone, peering over her shoulder at the man who had cuffed her with a frightened look in her grey eyes. The man looked uncertain for a moment and Marie thought to spot a hint of compassion in his dark eyes, but he answered in a low tone “I am actually not allowed to tell you, but you all will find out soon enough.” With that the man fell silent again and looked straight ahead.

“We will all be floated, won’t we?” Marie whispered horrified, eyes widening as panic flooded her mind.

The guard just shook his head but remained silent and Marie did not know if he had shaken his head to deny her assessment or to placate her.

If they were not floating them, what was happening then? When Marie caught sight of an air lock in front of them, she panicked completely and finally started to struggle against the man’s grip. She had seen her father been floated. She had been too young to remember much, but she would forever remember the air lock and the look of pure horror on her fathers’ face as his body was sucked out into space. She could see him standing in the air lock again, as memories assaulted her mind and blind panic rushed through her thoughts.

Nevertheless, the guard had no problem to physically overpower her and now more or less carried her through the air lock against her will. Marie wondered if he even truly registered her attempted fight.

Her heartbeat decreased slightly, when they left the air lock behind them, but she wondered just how far they would still have to go, as she did not even recognize the part of the Ark they were in any longer now. They entered a strange looking room with what appeared to be rows of seats in it and she was put onto one of the seats and strapped into the seat belts by the guard. Before the guard stepped away, he took her cuffed hands and undid the cuffs but kept her right wrist in a firm grip. Marie was fairly certain she would have bruises of the shape of his fingers there later, her heart was still hammering inside her chest, afraid of just what exactly was going on. The guard took out some weird kind of wristband that Marie had never seen before and before she knew it, he fastened it around her wrist smugly with a loud click.

Marie clenched her teeth against the sharp pain suddenly shooting through her wrist and up into her arm when the wristband was snapped shut. It felt as if long sharp needles had been rammed through her wrist all of a sudden and the pain pulsed strongly. The guard looked at her with an apologetic glint in his eyes and finally stepped back, not saying another word, he left the room. Marie looked around the strange room nervously, still not recognizing what the purpose of the room might be or even where they were. She had lost track of all the twists and turns they had taken to come here. Marie watched as more and more teenage prisoners were forced into their seats everywhere around her and geared with the same wristband. Some looked as horrified as she felt, while others glared angrily at the guards. One was even screaming insults around, but the guards did not seem to pay him any mind.

The last prisoner to be brought in was an unconscious blonde teenager, who Marie knew was the daughter of the medical chef of the Ark. She had spent enough time in the medical bay to encounter the older girl there, although they had not spoken more than a few words.

Her fear mounted when Marie realised that all of the guards had now filed out of the room, leaving all of the prisoners alone and her eyes scanned the room frantically.

The door to the strange room was sealed from the outside without giving them any kind of information and Marie could see that they now all felt the same kind of uncertainty. She spotted another girl directly across from her, who did not seem much older than herself, or at least also much younger than the majority of the prisoners and she guessed that her own features would show the same amount of horror. 

Suddenly and without any kind of warning the screens scattered all around the walls came to life and a videoed message played where the chancellor Jaha was addressing them. Marie watched the message intently and her eyes widened further with every additional word that left the chancellor’s lips.

Marie could absolutely not believe her ears and what she had just heard. The chancellor had said that all of them were being sent down to earth. From the little regular lessons, she had attended, Marie knew that earth was not supposed to be survivable for another hundred years at least, if not even longer. She frowned, when her mind focused on something the chancellor had said, they were sent to the earth simply because they were expendable to the Ark. Anger shortly flashed through her mind, but was replaced with encompassing fear. They were surely going to die soon. As the fear consumed her mind, she felt tears mist her eyes.

The teenage boy sitting directly next to her addressed her suddenly, pulling Marie out of her thoughts and she jerked her head around to look at him.

“What can a little kid like you have done to get into the sky box?” he sneered at her assessing the girl with a judging glance.

Marie blinked at him and her brows creased, speechless for a moment. She did not like the way he addressed her, but she doubted that picking up a fight now was sensible, so she gathered her voice back and answered honestly “I tried to steal medicine from the med bay for my mother.”

The boy’s sneer lessened noticeably at her answer and he spoke in a much softer voice now “My father was floated for steeling medicine for me when I was sick as a child. I am Jonathan Murphy by the way.” His thoughts seemed to linger in the past shortly, before he blinked and looked back at her.

Marie took a closer look at the boy, without the sneer on his face he definitely looked nicer. The girl startled strongly, yelping in fear, when the dropship suddenly disconnected from the Ark with a sudden strong jar and they were on their way to earth now.

“I am Marie Matthews” she answered a little bit shyly. She hoped that continuing to speak would keep her fear at bay, so she would go with it. Besides, she did not know anyone of the other criminals and it could not hurt to know someone if they were to survive the crash to earth, although she internally was convinced that they would not and even if they did, radiation would surely kill them in a few hours at least.

“Nice to meet you, Marie. But call me John. And how old are you?” John asked with genuine interest in his tone.

Marie was surprised that John did not seem affected at all by what was just happening and the boy seemed utterly relaxed. “Thanks. I just turned nine a few weeks ago” Marie told the teenager and continued to listen to Jaha’s message from the screen as she did not want to see the pity in John’s eyes. She had stopped listening for some time, but who knew if the man might say something useful.

The doctor’s daughter had obviously woken up, Marie could hear her fighting heatedly with the dark-skinned boy sitting next to her. Then suddenly one boy loosened his seat belts and floated through the small space without the artificial gravity of the Ark.

Marie had to smile at the sight forgetting her fear for a short moment, the floating looked like fun. Two other boys undid their seat belts and joined the first boy in his floating, all of them were laughing and Marie saw others reaching for their seatbelts. The doctor’s daughter loudly lectured them about the dangers but they totally ignored her, goofing around instead.

Suddenly, the ship gave another hard jolt and continued its course down to earth heavily jerking. Marie screamed when the first jolt happened and John sitting next to her took one of her hands and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Something had disconnected from one of the walls and crashed to the floor with a loud clattering sound.

Marie gave him a small thankful smile at the kind gesture, but she kept a firm hold on his hands while her other hand was clenched around the seat belt. She did not want to let go just yet, to her slight surprise John let her be without any protest.

The ship got an even harsher impact as it landed on the earth all of a sudden. Marie screamed again shrilly when the floating boys were shot onto the ground of the ship with the force of their impact. Her head smashed back into the seat and she looked on rather dazed. John pried her fingers of his hand a moment later and unfastened his own seat belt, others had already started to stand up. With shaking fingers, she also undid the straps of her seatbelt while the other teenagers were already scrambling to the exit. Marie stood up with weak legs and saw the doctor’s daughter lean over the two boys who had joined the first one to float, they were laying still on the floor. They did not seem to move at all and Marie wondered if they might be dead.

“Are they dead?” she asked uncertain with her voice pitched higher, stepping closer to them slowly and hesitantly.

The older blonde girl just nodded her head sadly, but she stood up suddenly when she noticed that others were already arguing about going outside. She was obviously trying to dissuade them from just opening the ship to the outside air. But what else were they supposed to do, Marie wondered silently. The chancellor had stressed that they needed to reach an old military base called Mount Weather to gather supplies. They had not been given any resources, so they would need to find water and food quickly, if they did not wish to starve.

Marie had always liked to read as soon as she was able to read that is. She had read that a healthy human could survive without food for around three weeks but only around three days without any water. They were all relatively thin as the rations in the sky box had been even smaller than the rations normal workers got. But water would be the most valuable thing for them in the weeks to come. If they survived the radiation that is left on earth that was. She internally hoped that they would not be too far from Mount Weather, as she doubted that anyone of them would know how to navigate around earth without help.

The blonde girl had obviously lost her argument with the boy on the hatch as he pressed a button next to the door and it blasted away. Marie was momentarily blinded by the bright light now suffusing the small space of the drop ship and she hesitantly stepped closer to the door.

The teenagers in front of the queue to the outside were already jumping outside looking around in wonder, some screaming in joy.

Marie remained at the back for a few moments trying to hold her breath, afraid to breathe in this polluted air. But the others seemed to be just fine outside, so she took some more shaky steps in the direction of the opened hatch.

Her mouth hung open in silent wonder at what she was seeing. She was frantically looking around trying to take in all the details at once. Everything seemed to be covered in green around them. But not just green everything looked so colourful and just alive. A bright contrast to the metallic and almost sterile atmosphere of the Ark they had grown up in. Marie had never before seen trees or grass and every surface seemed to be covered in some kind of plant, as far as she could look.

They had landed in what seemed to be a forest. It looked wild and untamed, untouched from civilization, or at least that was what Marie would have assumed it would look like. Marie wondered if the whole world now looked like that, after it had been wiped clean of the human race by the nukes. Marie wondered if there were any animals around. Looking behind her, she could see that the drop ship had destroyed some trees and set their trunks aflame. The others seemed to be unaware or simply did not care at all and were running wild around her like they were high on something, laughing and goofing around as if they did not have a single care in the world. In the other direction, she could see some big mountains on the horizon and started to hope this was not the Mount Weather Jaha had spoken of, it seemed to be pretty far away from them.

Marie’s heard dropped slightly, when she heard the doctor’s daughter trying to urge some of the others to start walking towards the mountain to reach it, before the sun would be gone for the night. The one who had opened the hatch wanted to send her off alone, clearly unwilling to follow the orders given to them by the chancellor. Marie wondered how one young woman should be able to carry the things needed for all of them, if she would even find Mount Weather on her own?

She offered to join the group who had gathered around the older blonde girl, but was rebuffed rather harshly as being too young and not much help anyway. Sulking, Marie left in the other direction into the woods. It was obvious that no one was paying her any mind any way. When she was barely able to hear the activity of the other 100 at the drop ship any longer, she slowed down and truly looked around.

Marie fell in love with the forest on first sight. Everything was so vibrant and so overwhelming. There was no constant humming anymore from the machines keeping the Ark going. The girl could hear a soft breeze jostling the leaves of the trees and what she thought might be sounds emitted from insects. She let her eyes roam over the trees around her in wonder. The forest was anything but silent, but it sounded so totally different from what she was used to.

Her eyes snapped back around, as she thought to have seen movement in the leaves of the trees in front of her. As she tried to focus better on the area, she thought she had seen the movement in, suddenly a bird busted from the tree on the left to her with a loud screech. Marie was startled by the sudden appearance of the bird and watched it as it flew off into the sky, awed at seeing a living animal. She dismissed the prior movements to that of another animal, registering in her mind that there obviously were still animals around. If they managed to catch animals, they would have a food resource already.

Marie jerked back around, when she heard the sounds of someone approaching her from the direction she came from. John suddenly stood behind her with a sloppy grin on his face “Might not be safe here outside on your own, Marie”.

“Because I am too young and too small?” Marie inquired moodily still sulking about having been rebuffed earlier. She had seen that she was by far the youngest of them, the other younger girl was around three years older. If no one of them felt responsible for her, she feared she would soon be forgotten entirely. So, it seemed she would have to fend for herself from now on if she wanted to survive. She guessed that the air was not toxic after all as she did not feel any kind of dizziness or something else.

John shrugged his shoulders and narrowed his eyes at her scrutinizing her once more “You seem tough enough to survive if needed. So, what are you searching for here?”

“Water” she replied immediately. She did not have to tell John, that she had forgotten about that in the meantime because of the distracting view.

John just nodded at her “Then let’s go. Together we have a higher chance anyway.”

Marie smiled at him slightly and started to move again further away from the drop ship. John followed her silently, although they did not speak, Marie did not feel oppressed by the silence. Her mind was still too focused on taking in all the new things around her and it felt companionable, walking together like that. 

“I have already seen a bird” Marie told John after a few moments, her grey eyes shown with the awe she felt and she felt rather proud for having seen an animal before him.

John looked around with wonder on his face after hearing that, obviously searching for another animal around them.

“Do you think it might be possible that some humans have survived as well?” Marie inquired thoughtfully after long moments.

John shrugged his shoulders “Don’t know, don’t think so, but recording to our earth lessons we should have died from the radiation already. So, who knows?” It did not seem as if the boy was too curious about finding out though, so Marie just inclined her head and kept silent.

Above them in the trees a lone warrior was silently following them from tree to tree, completely undetected by them and listening in on their conversation and observing the intruders to gather as much information as possible to report back to his general.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Marie and John kept on searching for water for a long time. Marie grew bored after some time, slight frustration creeped into her mind with not finding anything yet. Although she was still awed by the forest, the novelty of it had already worn off and she felt her feet beginning to ache slightly. She was not used to walking long distances and suddenly the silence which had settled between them, did start to feel oppressive, but Marie did not know what to say to the boy.

“So, what did you like to do most?” John asked her out of the blue suddenly.

Marie startled slightly, but internally she was grateful that the boy had chosen to pick up a conversation again. Marie shrugged “Mostly reading” she answered honestly and after a moment she added “Mum would always try to exchange something for a new book for me every few weeks, after I had read the one before a few times.”

John laughed sceptically “I was never one for books. Never took a liking to it. My father always tried to encourage me, but he failed obviously.”

“What happened with your family?” Marie asked in open curiosity, remembering that John told her that their stories were similar.

“I already told you. My father stole medicine for me when I was sick as a child and was floated for it” he told her nonchalantly. Although Marie noticed that the boy did not seem to pleased with the subject of their conversation, her interest was sparked now.

“Do you remember him much?” Marie inquired further, before a slight frown settled on her own features as she tried to picture her own father. She was always sad that she forgot most of her father, she wasn’t able to remember the sound of his voice for instance. The only true clear memory of him she still had left, was his face contorted in horror before he was floated.

John shrugged again “Some details remain, while others are forgotten” he answered vaguely, when he noticed Marie’s expression, he added “I still remember him telling me to try to be better.”

“I still see him being floated in my dreams” Marie shuddered in a whisper, not being able to banish the image from her mind “But I wasn’t there when Mama was floated.”

Although Marie thought she saw some compassion on John’s face, the boy obviously did not know what to say and kept silent.

After a few more moments of silence, Marie continued to question him, trying to divert her own attention from her dark thoughts “What about your mother, John?”

John’s face showed an ugly sneer now “She was just a useless and pathetic drunk.”

Marie was startled slightly by his reaction and the sound of his voice made it quite clear, that the conversation was finished. Marie did not know, if she should try to apologize for asking or if it would be better to remain quiet. The latter won out after a few moments of contemplation and she again focused her attention on the wonderful nature around them.

Both of them noticed the sudden darkness around them almost at the same time. “We should head back, before all light is gone. We’ll never find the way back to the dropship then.” John announced, slight worry creeping into his tone and turned around abruptly. Marie followed him moodily, dragging her feet.

“We have not found any water” she complained deeply disappointed after a beat of silence. Her feet were truly aching now and she knew that they had some way to cover to get back to the others, she was already feeling slightly hungry and she felt tired.

“Obviously” was the one worded response as John urged her on faster, not feeling well in the darkening woods.

It took them quite some time to get near enough to the dropship to be able to hear the activity of the other 100 again.

When they finally made it back to the crashing site, the dark-skinned boy, who had fought with the doctor’s daughter was trying to tell the others to build shelter.

The other 100 seemed rather unimpressed by his words and most of them flat out ignored the boy. The one who had opened the hatch to the drop ship faced him then.

“We are not on the Ark anymore. Here the privileged will do the dirty work!” he announced loudly to the others and with an arrogant sneer on his face. His words made the others shout out in pleased agreement and Marie frowned, she immediately disliked the arrogant boy who looked to be older as all of them. She noticed, that he was wearing a guard uniform and she wondered why one adult had joined them at all and if one was chosen, why not a doctor or someone else useful.

Marie would have agreed to the dark-skinned boy, if someone had asked her, she could see the logic that they would soon be needing shelter and the longer they waited the weaker they would get without food and water. The drop ship was too small to house all of them and they had no idea yet about the weather conditions.

John on the other hand seemed to agree with the arrogant boy and jumped directly into the confrontation and he roughly shoved the dark-skinned boy out of the way.

“Your old Dad is not chancellor here” John’s voice had turned cold and mean. Now that Marie looked at the dark-skinned boy more closely, she faintly remembered him standing with Jaha somewhere at official gatherings. Even if his father was the chancellor, she really did not like the way John was treating this boy. They were all the same now, weren’t they? Send to the earth to die or rather to function as lab rats for the Ark.

John kept on antagonizing the other boy with taunts and sneers and suddenly they were facing each other with knives in their hands. Marie hold her breath in fright, she had not even been aware that the others carried any kind of weapons, as she had not been given one herself. She thought they were just fighting with words and not with weapons.

She had liked John so far, but she disliked this new side to her friend immediately. Now the softness in his face was replaced with hate and arrogance. His voice was cold and nasty. Marie hoped that he would not speak to her in such a fashion as well, it was hard to compare the kind boy in the woods and this nasty version here.

Marie was watching the boys circling each other with baited breath, the arrogant boy was just standing back with his arms crossed over his chest and silently waiting for them to finish their fight. It did not look like he was planning to interfere and no one else seemed inclined to do so as well, although all of them were watching the two boys circling each other with interest.

Suddenly the boy, who had opened his seat belts during the landing, fell from a tree and jumped in between them shoving John back hard in the shoulders and efficiently ending the fight before it had really begun. The boy was much bigger than John and seemed a bit older as well. John seemed to sense that he would not win against him and backed off after he threatened the life of the dark-skinned boy loudly.

John trailed behind the boy who had watched them fight and Marie did feel like joining them, so she ventured to the border of the crash site and silently sat against a tree looking up into the sky. She felt slightly disheartened by the obvious change in John’s behaviour, she had hoped that she could stick to him, but that had obviously been foolish of her.

She could feel her belly rumbling from hunger now. But hunger thankfully wasn’t a stranger to her. She had gone hungry many days before and she knew how to try to block out the nagging of her stomach. Marie knew from experience that she could block the nagging feeling out for some time, but it would not work forever either.

The others were still partying around in smaller groups and no one seemed to pay any attention to her, she was too young to be of any interest to them. When a boy and a girl laid down together only a few inches away from her, starting to make out immediately, she backed further into the treeline more than a bit put out by the couple as the boy started to remove the girl’s shirt and she saw her opening his trousers.

She was still near enough to the camp, close enough to hear the laughter and the ongoing party. Marie looked around the trees, wondering why no one was trying to do anything productive. Did the others think that food and water would just be falling from the sky to them? They had probably landed a few hours ago already and besides the small group which had left to search for Mount Weather, nothing had been done yet.

She had been lost in her thoughts for some time and was startled strongly when someone sat down next to her, making her jump in place slightly. Marie looked up and noticed that it was the dark-skinned boy John had fought with previously.

“I am Wells” he introduced himself with a kind smile on his face and offered a hand to her to shake.

“Marie” she responded with a slight frown, as she shook his hand shortly and turned her attention to him fully now. “I think you're right by the way, we should start to build shelters” she commented, her frown deepening.

Wells seemed to be perplexed for a moment, before he answered with a charming smile on his features “So, you’re a smart one obviously.”

Marie puffed out her chest proudly at the compliment for a moment.

“I am sorry John was mean to you” Marie continued in a compassionate tone, now assured that the other boy seemed to be nice enough.

Wells bestowed a sloppy side grin to her and shrugged his shoulders, waving off her apology “I had not really anticipated to be popular among the other criminals.”

Marie scoffed, she did not like the way he labelled them all as criminals. Sure, in one way or another all of them were criminals, but most of them were held in prison for petty crimes, only a few had really done anything more serious than stealing or taking drugs.

Wells tried to explain himself, when he noticed that he had offender her, but Marie blocked his rambling out and laid down on the moss under the tree, turning his back to the boy, as she hugged her arms closely around her body. It was turning dark anyway, so she should try to sleep. The moss was much softer than she had expected, it felt much softer than the metal cot in her cell had, but she did not like the feeling of dampness creeping into her clothes after a few minutes.

Marie heard Wells sigh under his breath, probably annoyed that she had ignored him now, but he said that he would keep her company for now and that she should not be alone. She did not actually give him a verbal response. but he stayed with her silently keeping watch over their surroundings. 

After a few hours of sleep, Marie suffered from the same nightmare that plagued her every night. She saw the blurry shape of her father standing in the airlock and being sucked out into space. She saw her mother getting sick again, getting thinner and weaker in front of her, while the medicine failed her. She saw herself being caught in the medical bay. She was thrown into her cell again and she felt the same fear again. The fear of the uncertain future, the fear for her mother, the fear of the silence and of being alone. She saw herself standing in front of the door of the cell crying, kicking and screaming to be let out again. But no one ever came, no one ever answered her pleas.

“Hey, wake up” a voice was penetrating her consciousness and a hand was gently shaking her shoulder.

Marie bolted upright at the unexpected contact and looked around herself with wide frightened eyes. Wells was still sitting next to her and had a soothing expression on his face.

“It’s ok. It was only a dream” the boy tried to soothe the obviously shaken girl in a kind tone.

Marie shook her head vigorously, as she fought off her tears. She knew it was not a dream, only her worst memories packed together into one nightmare and she wondered if they would ever leave her alone.

“Try to even your breath” the boy tried to get her attention again, noticing that Marie was not calm at all yet “Breath in … and out”

After a few moments, she managed to match her breathing to his words and gave him a smile full of gratitude once she felt calm again.

Before she could really utter a thanks, they heard a commotion coming from the camp. Both of them stood up abruptly and followed the loud noises.

The blonde girl had returned from her quest to Mount Weather with her companions. The girl, who was the first to set foot on earth, was wounded and leaned heavily onto another boy. But they did not seem to carry any supplies, so Marie gathered that they had not reached their destination and she also noticed that one boy was missing who had accompanied them. Marie frowned slightly, worry creeping up in her mind, the others had probably relied on the fact that the group would bring supplies, but they had obviously failed and they still had no water or any food.

Marie blinked, when she listened to what happened to the group on the way to Mount Weather. They seemed to have been attacked by either humans or mutant monkeys. Marie internally thought that humans would probably be more likely. The blonde girl, whose name was Clarke, wanted to directly go back in search of the missing boy. John and the other guy more or less volunteered to accompany her. Marie did not even suggest to go with them, if they were facing a possible threat no one would be willing to take on a kid.

So, Marie went through the crash site again and passed a fire where some of the teenagers had gathered into a line and were smashing their wristbands with stones to get them off. She just shook her head and shrugged of one guy who wanted her to join them. Judging from the pained grimaces on the faces of those who had gotten rid of their wristband, it was painful to have it smashed off. Marie retreated back to the border of the camp. She had heard the others speaking of a river and a lake they had encountered, so there must be water somewhere in the other direction. Silently debating in her head whether she should venture out in search of the river on her own or not, she fell asleep again, propped up against a tree trunk. She only woke up, when the group who had departed to hunt returned rather loudly. Marie watched how one of them carried the boy into the ship, he seemed unconscious and was probably wounded severely.

They had brought a dead animal, although Marie had no idea how they had managed to actually kill it and it did not take long until the meat was distributed to the ones willing to have their wristbands removed.

Marie actually had nothing against losing her wristband, it was still aching and no one on the Ark would care if she lived or died anyway. So, her hunger won out and she joined the others in the queue, although she was still afraid to only add to the pain still aching in her arm.

Having a stone smashed onto it turned out to truly hurt pretty much and she rubbed her tender wrist gently before she finally received her ration of the panther. Marie inspected the meat in her fingers with a slight frown, she had never before eaten any kind of real meat. There had been no farming animals on the Ark, so, beside the little organic food produced on Farm Station, all their food had been synthetic. The meat looked weird and the texture seemed weird as well, but her hunger gnawed at her insides and she gingerly took her first bite and felt like moaning out loud at the taste. It felt so much better than anything she had ever tasted before. The synthetic food on the Ark could absolutely not compare to this in any way.  

When it started to rain only some time later, they were also able to quell their thirst and Marie felt as if they were in heaven. She had envisioned rain to be somewhat different. It turned out to be just wet and pretty cold, but at least it was water.

But once she was soaked through, she started to shiver and got into the drop ship with the others to seek some shelter. The space was soon crowded, but at least they were protected from the rain and it was warmer than outside. Marie tried to find a comfortable spot to lie down, which was not that easy, the space was small and there were no kind of beds. So, she just sat down in a corner and leaned against one of the cold metal walls.  

Starting to drift off again, she tried to envision how their lives would continue now on earth. She tried to envision a peaceful future for them, although it was hard to make out how their daily life could look like. What a childish and impossible fantasy that was, as she later had to learn.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

On the next morning Bellamy made them all work together to erupt a wall around the crash site of the drop ship for security with the possible threat of other humans and wild animals in the woods. Marie could not really help with that, so she tried to make herself useful in other ways.

John seemed to have climbed in his grace during the trip the day prior and was not really doing work himself, but was instead shouting orders around for the others to follow. Marie watched him disbelievingly, the boy seemed to be enjoying himself and it was obvious how superior he felt. He had told her; his father’s mantra was to try to be better. She didn’t know for sure, what being better really entailed, but she was sure running around giving orders and bullying everyone would not fulfil the criteria. She frowned, she thought that they might get friends, but she did not wish to be friends with someone so mean.

As she was viewed as being too weak to physically do much by the others, she was told to help to ration some nuts a group of the others had gathered yesterday. The work was boring and monotone, so that she could still watch what the others were doing at the same time. She would have liked to do something more interesting, but she doubted that her complaining would do anything.

Bellamy seemed to have taken a liking to the other younger girl named Charlotte in the group of delinquents. She was still a few years older than Marie herself and had not shown any interest to socialize with her. Marie had tried to get closer to her in the morning, but the girl had outright ignored her, sticking to Bellamy as if she had become his shadow.

Not many had heeded Wells’ advice from the evening before to set up things to collect the rain water, so that they were falling short on water again only a few hours later. Marie had not found anything useful to collect water in, but she regretted not having looked harder now that she was beginning to feel thirsty again.

Marie was hesitant to ask for water, the mood in the camp was weird and she was slightly wary of John now, but she was positively surprised when John gave her some sips without questions asked and even gave her a friendly smile in greeting. So, Marie was completely baffled when another guy asked for water some time later and seemed to be denied instead. John shouted at him to continue working with a nasty sneer, shoving the boy away. But the other boy shoved right back and when John seemed to relent, he actually peed on the boy. Marie was absolutely horrified by such behaviour. What horrified her even more, were the laughing faces she saw around her as a reaction from the other 100. Not even one of the others seemed to contemplate to come to aid the boy and Marie felt disgusted at how proud John seemed to be of himself.

The boy did not get the chance to retaliate to John, as the doctors’ daughter and her group made their re-entrance to camp, with an unconscious boy. So, they had finally found the missing guy, who had been attacked the day prior.

As the girl shouted for someone to bring them clean water, Marie immediately jumped into action. She wasn’t of much help anyway, as all the nuts had been evenly distributed into small rations and stored away. She had just stood around for the last minutes without anything useful to do any way.

After bringing water into the drop ship, Marie lingered there, hoping that she could offer some more assistance. Clarke had thanked her shortly, but did not pay her any mind any longer.

The boy honestly looked horrible. He was pale and sweaty and had a huge hole in his chest. The doctors’ daughter tried to clean the wound as best as she could and made the boy drink some water. She had heard the others say that he had been speared in the chest and Marie could not even begin to imagine just how much this wound must be hurting him.

Marie watched her working on the wounded boy carefully, she had watched Clarke’s mother before when she her own mother had been treated by her. The guy’s best friend was also sitting there and pleading her to save his life.

“Clarke, please, safe Jasper” the boy kept on repeating desperately, dark eyes shining and holing one of Jasper’s hands. It was obvious that the two must be sharing a pretty deep friendship.

The blonde girl nodded, trying to placate Monty “I am doing all I can, Monty. Jasper is strong, he’ll survive. I don’t know what they put onto his wound, it has to have some antibiotic properties.”

The girl, who had been hurt yesterday also came into the drop ship and sat down next to Monty trying to calm him down as well.

All calm was forgotten a moment later, as Jasper woke up suddenly and started to scream at the top of his lungs. Marie startled and jumped slightly in place when his screaming began, he must be in horrible pain from the huge wound to cause such a sound. Goosebumps raised on her arms, she had never heard someone scream like that before.

“Don’t we have some pain killer?” she asked timidly. Marie did not like to watch someone suffer like that, it reminded her of the times her mother had been so sick, lying in bed and trying to reign in her moans of pain.

Clarke shook her head, frustration etched deep into her features “They did not really pack any medical equipment. So, there are no painkillers.” Regret was clear in her tone and she seemed to think frantically, probably trying to come up with something else to ease his pain.

A few moments later Jasper lost his consciousness again and the silence that followed was heavenly for their ears.

Marie left the drop ship again only moments later, wanting to flee outside and looked around the crash site. The fence the others were trying to erupt had made great progress. But Marie doubted it would be of any use if they were to be attacked. No one of them had any idea just what they were facing. But if those that could attack them, were able to throw a spear across a broad river and hit Jasper directly in the chest like that, she doubted that any fence would keep them out.

The next hours were difficult around the camp, Jasper woke up every few minutes and screamed non-stop. Some were already asking for him to be killed, they believed he could not survive anyway.

Marie could not listen to them complaining about Jasper’s suffering anymore and left the camp on her own, unnoticed in search of the river. They needed more water and the others had found it yesterday, so, she was positive she could find it also.

She wandered around the woods on her own peacefully. Marie did not want to believe that the inhabitants of the earth were really out to kill them and she had walked around the day before as well without encountering anyone. She was wondering why only Jasper had been attacked and not the others as well, but she had not shared her thoughts with anyone yet.

The woods were really beautiful and the air was so fresh, without the smell of disinfectants clinging to it like on the Ark. Her focus stayed on her new surroundings and it seemed as if every place she looked, held something new to see. 

After some time, Marie heard rustlings behind her and tried to hide behind some trees, fearing that it was either an animal or even another survivor. The sounds got louder with every second and Marie barely could duck out of the way of a blade that all of sudden came flying her way. Her eyes were trained on the blade now sticking in the tree trunk directly behind her and her breathing was erratic, her head had been in exact that spot only a moment ago.

“Damn! I could have killed you! No one was supposed to leave the camp on their own!” a guy she did not know reprimanded her sharply, stalking up to her and ripping the knife from the tree forcefully. Behind him, Bellamy and others of his group appeared, they were obliviously trying to hunt.

“Sorry” she answered weakly, still shaking a bit from the shock of nearly being killed.

“You okay?” Bellamy asked her kindly, stepping closer to her and offering a hand to steady her for a moment.

Marie nodded her head and stood up again, brushing of her clothes quickly as she stood.

Somewhere in the distance a horn was blown, the sound resonating loudly through the woods.

“What was that?” Marie asked confused, her brows creased. 

Everyone looked clueless, looking around and trying to make out the source of the sound, as suddenly yellow smoke came their way.

Bellamy immediately urged all of them to run and seek shelter. Bellamy grabbed her arm and tugged her along, when Marie had not started to move a moment later.

Fortunately, they had found a bunker around here before and could seek shelter there now. One boy did not reach the door in time and Marie could hear him screaming a long time before he finally quitted. She tried to fight against the urge of covering her ears against his screams the whole time.

“What was that?” Marie repeated her question with a horrified expression edged on her face.

“I would say it was acid fog” Bellamy suggested with a grime expression.

Marie swallowed, while her thoughts raced wildly in her mind. How did spears and acid fog go together? Were there different people out there?

But she did not voice her thoughts aloud. The others were arguing about Jasper. Bellamy seemed to be sure that Clarke would not be able to save his life and assured the others that he would put an end to his misery the next day himself, if he had not died already. Marie dearly hoped he would be wrong and that Jasper could recover completely.

The waiting until the fog cleared seemed endless. The mood in the bunker was glum and dark and Marie sat huddled into a dark corner trying to be invisible and blocking all of them out. She had slept a few hours on the hard and clammy floor only to be woken by Charlotte screaming from a nightmare. Bellamy spoke to her in a hushed tone, too low for Marie to catch even a single word and they all settled down again afterwards.

When the fog had finally cleared a few hours later, they were able to leave the bunker again. Most of them now wanted to directly return to the drop ship without any pray.

Bellamy and two others wanted to continue their hunt and Marie left all of them on her own. She knew the general direction of the crash site and would find it on her own.

On the way she suddenly heard someone moaning in pain and the sounds of ragged breathing. Following the sound Marie found the boy, who had not reached the bunker in time, lying on the ground of the forest. She let out a loud scream when she truly looked at him.

He looked to have been burned nearly completely. His eyes were unseeing and opalescent and he was obviously in grave pain, bloody blistered seemed to cover every inch of his skin.

Bellamy, Charlotte and two others had followed her screams and appeared only moments later. Charlotte looked as horrified as she felt when she saw the dying boy lying on the ground.

“Get back to camp” Bellamy demanded harshly, addressing both of them equally, his eyes not leaving the face of the boy on the ground.

Marie turned around and hurried away, while Charlotte lingered behind.

Marie had no intention of watching the boy die. She knew Bellamy would kill him, not even Clarke could do anything for him.

When she arrived back at the camp, night was falling around them. She could already hear Jasper screaming in the drop ship. So, he had survived so far, but Marie was unsure if that was truly a good thing.

She went into the drop ship. John was hammering loudly onto the hatch to the upper level, demanding to be let in, while Jasper continued to scream in pain from above.

John stopped his hammering, when he saw Marie appearing in the drop ship.

Before she could say something to John, Clarke appeared behind her completely breathless.

She climbed the ladder to the upper floor and demanded to be let up. She had found something to help him with the pain.

The girl who had been hurt let her in and a few minutes later the screaming from Jasper finally relented.

Marie listened on, praying that Jasper had survived and not died the moment Clarke tried to ease his pain.

She left the drop ship again and sat down in front of it. The drop ship was too crowded and she wanted to watch the stars in the sky. Marie fell asleep under the stars and managed a few hours of sleep before she was woken up by the sunlight on her face. She had never thought that she would ever be seeing the stars or the sun from under it. No one of them had ever thought to reach the earth and here they all were. Their generation had never been supposed to come down to earth after all.

The peaceful quietness did not remain for long. Wells had been killed in the night and his body had been found by a group who was supposed to head out to hunt. Wells had obviously been killed outside of the fence and it looked as if he had been killed by a grounder.

Marie felt truly sad to hear that he had died. The boy had been nice to her and had been one of the only ones to actually show her any kindness here. But he was gone now and she had already learned not to dwell on the people who were gone.

Clarke had been a close friend of his and she seemed to grieve him most. Some even seemed glad that he was dead. Maria thought it unfair to label him as chancellor just because his father was that.

A grave had been dug for Wells and he was buried together with the two boys, who had not survived the landing and the boy who had been killed by the acid fog.

Marie sat around the camp silently, feeling her mood plummet even more. They had only been here for a short time and already four of them were dead. How were they supposed to survive? Most of them were trying to craft weapons out of metal of the drop ship and others were trying to make the fence stronger. Everyone was working on improving their defences, clearly unified in their fear of the survivors.

But Marie highly doubted it would be enough. They still did not even really know what they were facing. She kept close to the edge of the camp, keeping out of side and simply watching the clouds move across the sky.

Sometime later Clarke stormed to John angrily shouting that he should be punished for killing Wells.

Marie did not want to believe what she had just heard. John had been cruel to the others, she would agree on that, but she hoped that he was incapable of actual murder.

Obviously, his dagger had been found where Wells had been killed and Marie could only watch on horrified as some of the delinquents started to gang up on Murphy together, overpowering the single boy easily.

“You are killing him” Marie tried to stop them desperately, running over to the group, but she was rebuffed directly.

Bellamy and Clarke were arguing with each other about what to do. Marie had thought with leaving the Ark they had left behind a world where you were directly killed for your crimes.

It was as if they were wild beasts, demanding each other’s blood loudly.

It ended quickly when Bellamy tried to hang John and Charlotte screamed that she was the guilty one, surprising every one.

Marie looked at her with her mouth hanging open as her mind could not wrap itself around the fact that Charlotte could have just killed Wells like that. She wondered just why the girl might have done that and she could not come up with a sensible reason at all.

The boy who had survived unfastening his seat belts in the drop ship finally cut John from the ropes in the very last moment, before John could truly choke and he landed on the ground with a heavy thud. Coughing hard to get air back into his lungs. His face was bloody and swollen where they had hit him repeatedly.

Clarke and the boy who had cut John free had taken Charlotte into a tent, in the moment of chaos and were arguing loudly now.

“Are you okay?” Marie asked as she hesitantly approached John. She knew her question was stupid, it sounded lame even to her own ears, but she nevertheless wanted to show support to John, when no one else had before.

But John just looked at her as if she had lost her mind and shoved her away and charged behind Clarke and Charlotte, loudly demanding justice.

Most of the others did not seem to agree that Charlotte should be sentenced to death, as they had only moment ago demanded for John. Marie did not know with who to agree, she was torn. It was unfair to execute John, but let Charlotte off simply because she was younger and a girl.

But some supported his claim and when they saw that Charlotte was gone, they went into the woods in search of her.

Marie remained behind at the camp absolutely horrified by the events of the day. Marie did not know what exactly to do now, she did not feel like sleeping, so she went back into the drop ship to check on the wounded Jasper.

He was conscious again and fortunately looked to be in a much better condition now. So, whatever Clarke had done, had obviously helped him greatly.

“You’re looking better” Marie just wanted to talk to someone in order to forget everything at least for a few moments.

“I will survive. Thanks kid” Jasper smiled at her with a goofy smile.

“My name is Marie” she supplied annoyed and grey eyes narrowed at the boy. She did not like being reminded that she was the youngest by far.

“Sorry Marie” Jasper relented with a slight smile.

“What happened outside? I heard a commotion” Jasper asked her, changing the topic.

Marie’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled what had happened.

Jasper’s expression mirrored her feelings. “We are spiralling down very fast” was Jasper’s last comment, before he fell asleep again, probably still worn out.

Marie could only nod in agreement and hoped silently that their situation would improve in the next days.

Hours later the others returned. Charlotte had killed herself by jumping off a cliff and the others had decided that John was to be exiled now. All of Marie’s protests fell on deaf ears when she tried to change their minds and John was literally shoved out of the camp in the dead of the night, without any supplies or any weapons.

Marie stood behind unsure of what to do. She thought his sentence unfair. Charlotte had killed herself, even Clarke had backed up that fact. So, she finally made her decision and followed John into the woods unnoticed by the other delinquents hoping to be fast enough to catch up to him. Later she would recognize this decision as the one, which had changed her life completely. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Marie stumbled through the darkness of the woods, feeling her heartrate increase as she frantically tried to search for signs where John might have vanished. But without any kind of light source available, she could only pray to be walking in the right direction. It was hard enough not to stumble and fall, as she could barely make out the foliage on the ground beneath her feet. No one of the others had tried to hold her back. Marie wasn’t even truly sure if anyone had seen her disappear at all. But she was fairly certain that no one would miss her back at the camp anyway, so she did not give leaving further thoughts.

Marie did not exactly have any exact plan on what to do now. She had hoped to catch up with John, but she could not make him out anywhere in her vicinity. So, her only real plan was trying to find John somehow. The problem was, that she had absolutely no idea where John might have gone.

Marie continued on with her search for a long time, but when she started to feel the coldness of the night seep into her clothes, she frantically started to call out for John, hoping in vain that the boy might still be close enough to hear her shouts. She tried to continue her way without changing directions too often, fearing she would start to go in circles otherwise. But honestly, she had no idea if that might not have happened already a few times. In the darkness, she could not make out any differences between the trees surrounding her and the sounds, which had sounded so peaceful and alive in the light of day, now made her jump in fright and let goose bumps raise on her arms.

“John!” Marie shouted for what felt like the thousands time, her voice had already gotten slightly hoarse and she felt tears of frustration pricking at her eyes. She stopped again to listen if he responded, but she was greeted with silence again and her shoulders slumped in defeat.

Marie pulled her jacket even closer around her thin frame, starting to regret leaving the camp in the night on her own. She chided herself a fool in her mind, she should have thought this through better, but there was no turning back now, she would never find her way back in the darkness. With every passing moment, her hopes of catching up with John were decreasing rapidly and Marie tried to control her breathing, aware that giving up and crying now, would not change a thing. Doubt about the direction she had initially left the camp in, was creeping into her mind and Marie bit her lip, convinced she would never find John now.

On the other hand, Marie had absolutely no idea how far away the crash site was right now. She had long since lost all sense of time and distance. Her feet were aching, she had stumbled quite a lot of times already, so that scratches littered her hands and face and with every passing moment, the coldness seemed to increase.

Her eyes filled with tears of frustration at realizing just how foolish she had been to leave camp in the night. Maybe she would have had higher chances of finding John, if she had just waited for first light. She could barely see few meters ahead as it was a nearly moonless night and the shadows seemed to play tricks with her mind, moving as if she was followed by frightening creatures, ready to pounce on her any moment.

Disappointed in herself for not being able to locate John, Marie huffed and finally let herself sink down against a tree trunk hopelessly, as the first tears ran down her cheeks. She did not even bother to wipe them away, there was no one to see them anyway. 

The night was turning colder and without moving around, Marie started to shiver strongly, only moments later. She had not even thought for a moment to bring a blanket or anything else, which she now realised had been a great error from her side.

The utter exhaustion of the day finally caught up with her and despite being cold, Marie started to dose of huddled against the tree, when she was jolted awake suddenly by a scream from somewhere in the woods around her. Her eyes scanned her surroundings frantically, trying to make out if John might have been the source. She pushed all thoughts about the survivors from her mind and she followed the noise, now also hearing a commotion. Someone was obviously struggling and Marie increased her tempo hoping it was John fighting of an animal, needing help. It did not even occur to her, that she would probably not to be able to offer any real help.

But Marie was utterly unprepared for the sight that met her eyes. She sucked in a sharp breath and eyes widened in bewilderment.

John was surrounded by two large humans or Marie assumed them to be humans. She could not make out their faces as they seemed to be covered with a sort of a mask. They did not seem to have noticed her arrival yet and the attention was solely focused on John. Marie spotted both of them carrying what appeared to be swords and she remained rooted on the spot. 

John stood absolutely no chance against his attackers and was overpowered immediately, as if he had not even tried to fight them. Marie took one step in their direction and a branch under her foot snapped rather loudly. One of the men had hoisted the now unconscious John over his shoulder, obviously intent on taking the boy with him. The other had whirled around in her direction at the sound of the snapping branch and immediately begun to run towards her now, sword raised in his hand.

Marie was frozen in shock, eyes widened in absolute horror. She knew that she would never be able to fight against someone as big as her opponent and trying to run in the darkness would not help much as well. She had stumbled around the darkness without trying to flee for her dear life before after all.

As he got nearer to her, her survival instincts suddenly kicked in and she tried in vain to run anyway, hearing her heart hammer in her ears loudly.

Unfortunately, Marie did not get away very far. She stumbled and fell down, hitting her head against a rock on the ground, before her attacker had even reached her. She was still lying dazed on the ground, when her attacker caught up with her and roughly grabbed her from the ground without a word. The guy carried her over his shoulder as if she weighed nothing. Marie tried to put up a struggle against his hold, but he only strengthened his hold over her thin body and she doubted that the man had even recognized her struggle.

As she hung over the shoulder of the guy, her only thought was, that she had obviously found John in the end and the inhabitants of the earth in addition. The man who was carrying her, wore weird kind of clothes. In the dim light, Marie could occasionally see small flashes of metal reflecting the moon light.

The unknown people started to converse in a hushed tone. Marie tried frantically to listen to them, but to her utter horror, she did not catch any words she could recognize. Maybe the survivors on the ground were speaking another language, Marie wondered silently.

Marie tried to see how John was doing, hoping that he had not been injured too severely when he had been knocked unconscious, but from her position it was impossible for her to get a clear view of him.

She had absolutely no idea, how far they were carried. But she did feel how fast they were moving. The grounders obviously had no problem to navigate through the darkness of the woods in comparison to her. It almost felt as if the trees were flying around them, blending together in the darkness.

It could have been several hours later or just an hour, when they finally reached some sort of village and pulled to a sudden stop. Marie could hear some people moving around, but it was mostly silent. It was still dark, so the night had obviously not passed completely yet. 

They were brought into some sort of cell and dumped onto the floor without any words. 

Murphy scrambled to his knees immediately, he had obviously regained consciousness some time ago and he tried to follow one of the men, who had brought them into the cell, before the cell’s door was closed in his face. He was just pushed back roughly from another man standing guard in front of the door landing on his but on the hard floor with a resonating thud.

He let out a grunt of pain and tried to open the cell’s door with force after getting up again, glaring angrily at the guard.

Marie stayed on the floor instead and looked around the cell. The cell was underground and she could see the dark sky through the cell’s bars. The floor seemed to have been tiled and was dirty, littered with dry leaves and dirt. The bars, on which John was still searching for a way out looked, old but they proved to be solid still. On the other side of the bars a guard was standing watch. Marie was unable to see the guard’s face, as he was wearing a terrifying looking mask and she was not entirely sure that there might not be more guards obscured by the shadows.

As the minutes ticked by and John was still trying to break the bars open and the guard did not seem the littlest bit fazed by his tries, Marie tried to discourage his attempts to escape. It was obviously wasted energy any way.

“John, I don’t think you’ll be able to break them open” Marie tried to get John’s attention in a hesitant tone and she stood up to get nearer to the other boy.

John whirled around and glared at her with a murderous expression. Startled by the hatred on his face, Marie took a sudden step back immediately and let herself slide down the wall and sat down again, pulling her arms tight around her midriff to get warm and pulling her knees up to her chest.

“Just shut the fuck up!!!” John shouted loudly at her, clearly angry. When Marie jerked at his raised voice John, calmed down again slightly.

“Sorry, Marie” John pulled his fingers through his hair in agitation, trying to calm down further. He knew that placing blame with Marie was unfair of him.

Marie just nodded silently, not looking up at the other boy. They were both scared to death, so she would not take his shouting personally for now.

John sat down across from her, finally abandoning the bars for now. “What were you doing alone in the woods anyway?” he inquired with a raised brow and what seemed like honest confusion.

Marie shrugged, unwilling to admit to having tried to locate him now, that he had been so harsh towards her. She had realized already, that following him on her own, had been a mistake.

After a few minutes of silence, which felt utterly oppressing to her, she finally admitted, that she had wanted to follow him, so that he would not be completely alone either.

“Oh damn. I had no idea” John said as an apology for his behaviour earlier. His expression seemed honest and Marie thought to spot genuine surprise flit through his dark eyes.

Marie just gave him a little smile and looked back to the guard, she was sure he would be listening in on to their conversation, if they were speaking the same language that is. But she could not see any reaction from him at all, he just stood there stock still, not moving an inch.

John had also seen the guard and was now again glaring daggers at him, as he pulled to his feet again. “Let us out! We haven’t done anything!” John demanded loudly in the direction of the guard, stepping closer to the bars again.

His shouting was only met by silence as the only reaction. Marie was starting to doubt, that the people here could speak English at all. It would at least explain, why the guard was not reacting in any form.

“I don’t know if they understand our language. I didn’t understand a thing when they spoke with each other” Marie voice her assumption to John, as her grey eyes stayed on the guard.

John just kept on glaring at the guard. There was nothing in the cell they could use to break the bars and he had felt how solid they were. Even without the guard on post, he would probably not be able to break free by physical force alone.

They fell silent again as they waited for something to happen and the minutes seemed to tick by ever so slowly. Marie started to shiver again in the cell. The night was still cold and none of them had more than a thin shirt and a light jacket and some long trousers. John took of his jacket and offered it to Marie to keep her warmer.

Marie gratefully took the offered jacket although she was surprised by the kind gesture yet again. It was big enough to be used as blanket for her and she stopped shivering soon after.

“Please tell me, if you’re cold and want the jacket back” Marie said, after she had thanked John with a grateful smile.

John just shook his head, waving her off “Keep it for now. You’re younger and will get sick sooner.”

Suddenly, there were footsteps loudly approaching from the other side of the bars. The guard turned around and nodded in greeting to the arrivals.

Marie was unable to see how many people had arrived no matter how much she squinted her eyes, as they were still standing in the shadows, obscured from their view. She could hear them conversing in hushed whispers in the unknown language before the door was opened with a loud creak which made the hairs on her arms stand up.

Five people entered together, in a closed front. It were two women and three men. The men were also wearing some kind of masks as the two men had already worn who had brought them here and were walking directly to John and yanking him up from the floor without saying anything. John tried to struggle against them, but he was dragged away as if he were nothing more than a little doll in their strong hands.

Marie looked at the scene with frightened eyes. It was obvious that they stood no chance at escape or to fight back. These people were obviously physically stronger and trained to fight, she could also spot various weapons strapped to their persons.

The women were eying here both with different expressions. The dark-skinned woman looked at her as if she was looking at dirt which had personally offended her. The blonde woman looked rather neutral and Marie thought to spot a glint of interest in her brown eyes, as if she was looking at an unsolved puzzle.

Marie just silently stared back at them, not sure what would be the best thing to do or to say.

The dark-skinned woman said something to the other after a beat of silence and Marie just now saw they were both armed with swords, she had only noticed the men carrying weapons before. The dark-skinned woman took her sword out of its sheath in one fluid motion and took a threatening step in Marie’s direction. Marie sucked in a sharp breath and tried to scoot away from her in reaction.

The other woman spoke some harsh barked words and after staring at each in silence for a moment, the dark-skinned woman reluctantly put her sword away again, turned on her heels and stormed out of the cell without saying anything further.

Marie was still focused on the spot the other woman had just stood in, when the blonde woman started to speak in a harsh tone.

Marie did not understand any of the words and just shook her head with a helpless expression.

The strangers’ expression turned from interested to suspicious in the blink of an eye.

“Where are you from, girl?” she demanded to know in a harsh voice that demanded answers immediately and her brown eyes were narrowed dangerously.

Marie looked at her with a slightly open mouth, surprised by the fact that the woman fluently spoke English. She thought to spot some hard kind of accent on some syllables, but it was perfectly understandable to her ears. The survivors must have developed their own language since the old world had been destroyed.

As the woman’s suspicion turned into a threatening glare at her continued silence, Marie hurried to respond “From the Ark”

“From the Ark?” the woman questioned back, her features hardening even more, clearly unfamiliar with the term “Mountain?!” she added with a snarl.

Marie shook her head with a frown, wondering if the woman meant a particular mountain. The Ark was surely not a mountain after all.

“The Ark is a space ship” Marie tried to explain desperately. It seemed as if the woman was losing patience with her and her lips were pressed into an angry line.

“Space?” the woman’s confusion seemed to grow and Marie noticed her hand tightening around the hilt of her sword.

“In the sky?” Marie tried to explain frantically. It wasn’t accurately correct, but the explanation would have to do.

The woman’s expression was a mix of disbelief and suspicion now, her brown eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the girl in front of her. “You mean to tell me, you fell from the sky?” she asked in a confused tone.

Marie just nodded her head helplessly, after all they kind of did fall from the sky in the drop ship.

“The strange star that fell from the sky?” came the next question, delivered with a raised brow.

“It wasn’t a star. It was the drop ship. We were sent down in the drop ship from the Ark” Marie tried to explain better, sensing that the woman seemed inclined to believe her words.

The woman’s eyes minutely turned to the still dark sky above them and then she returned her gaze to Marie’s face. “How many of you are there?” her voice had turned sharper again and there seemed to be dangerous glint in her eyes.

“Here? On earth?” Marie questioned back, stuttering slightly.

The woman just nodded sharply in agreement and waited for her to elaborate.

“100 of us were sent down” Marie answered truthfully. She had the feeling that lying would not help her now.  “But four are dead already” she added, slightly subdued.

In the distance, she could suddenly hear a pained scream and goose bumps formed on her arms. She had the pressing suspicion, that John was emitting those screams. Before she had the chance to plead for her friend the questions continued coming.

“Why were you sent down?” the woman asked, stance still threatening.

“We were sent down to see if earth was survivable” Marie answered easily.

The woman’s expression had now turned alarmed all of a sudden. “How many of you are left in the sky and will they follow you?”

Marie shrugged with an uncertain expression “I don’t know how many people are living on the ark but I guess more than 2,000 people”

The stranger’s expression had turned even more alarmed with this new information. “What do you want on earth?” the question was pressed through clenched teeth.

Marie just looked at her helplessly “To live. The Ark is dying.” She would not be able to answer specific questions about the Ark. She had no real idea about any of those things, she was just repeating things she had heard others say.

“What is your name and how many summers have you seen?” the stranger continued her questioning a moment later, changing the course of the questions slightly.

“I am Marie” the girl answered quickly, grey eyes looking up at the woman. “I haven’t seen any summer, there are no seasons on the Ark” she explained with a slight frown on her brows.

“How old are you then?” the woman rephrased her question, impatience seeping back into her tone.

“I have just turned nine years old” Marie answered truthfully, now able to understand what was asked of her. She doubted that anyone would have believed her if she lied about her age, she was not particular tall for her age, she had always been on the shorter side and the smaller rations in the sky box had surely not helped her growth.

“Still a goufa then” came the thoughtful response and it looked as if the woman’s brown eyes had softened, if only for a fraction. Marie gathered with a slight frown of concentration that “goufa” must be a term for a child.

In the distance, the screams were growing louder and more intense. Marie tightened her arms around her frame, feeling sick all of a sudden. She looked at the stranger with a pleading expression “Please don’t hurt him!”

The stranger seemed unimpressed of her pleading and just flatly ignored her, continuing to scrutinize her in silence.

Marie was aware that she could not do anything for John, but it just crossed her mind that her destiny was unclear as well “What will be happening to me?” she asked, trying to sound brave, but feeling horror settle in her mind.

The woman looked at her some more, before she answered in an even tone “We will see. But for now, you will live.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

The woman turned her back on Marie after long tense silent moment and shouted what might have been an order in the strange language, as if she was addressing the shadows. Marie frowned behind her back, but she noticed that beside the long sword, a long dagger was strapped to the woman’s thigh, glinting in the dim light.

A girl came out of the shadows only a moment later, joining them in the cell and answered the woman in the same language. They exchanged a few words in their language, before the woman suddenly strode past the girl, closing the door to the cell behind her firmly and disappearing into the shadows.

Marie looked up at the girl still standing in front of her and she seemed to be only a few years older than her, but she instantly noted that there was a sword dangling from her hip. Marie frowned slightly, the girl was clearly a child still, but she carried a weapon, she doubted anyone would have given a gun to a child on the Ark.

The girl stared at her silently for long moments, brown eyes shining with honest curiousity. She tossed her wavy brown hair back and sat down cross-legged across from Marie in one fluid motion. Judging from her size, Marie would estimate her to be around 13 years old, give or take a year or two.

“I am Tris by the way” the girl broke the tense silence and introduced herself in English. Her English had a more prominent accent than the woman’s spoken words had, but Marie could still understand her fairly easily.

Marie met her gaze silently for a few moments, before she swallowed and finally introduced herself as well, even if she guessed that Tris must have been near enough the cell to listen on in her interrogation and so had already heard her name. It was still common curtsey to introduce oneself. 

Tris inclined her head in agreement and stated with an amused glint in her brown eyes “I knew your name already”.

Marie did not know, what to say to that statement, so she stayed silent, only huffing slightly in reaction.

“Are you really from the sky?” Tris asked curiously, breaking the silence and her interest seemed honest. She had leaned slightly towards Marie, obviously eager to hear about space.

Marie shrugged, narrowing her eyes at the other girl. She was surprised by the difference between the woman and Tris. After a moment of contemplation, she said “From the sky is not really correct. The Ark is in space, which would be behind the sky.”

The other girl looked impressed and she also looked up into the dark night sky for a few minutes in silence. Her brown eyes were visibly filled with wonder, probably imagining what it would be like among the stars.

“What is living in the sky like?” Tris asked excitedly, once her gaze had returned to Marie.

When Marie stayed silent, because she did not think she would have to respect a girl barely older than herself as she did with adults, Tris continued with a light smile “You don’t have to answer. This isn’t an official interrogation or anything, I am just interested.”

Marie observed her for a moment longer, before she accepted her words for the truth. “I don’t know what living on earth is like, so I can’t compare it with living in space. But the Ark is cold, sterile and everything is pretty crowded” Marie tried to explain her experiences of the Ark. She could not say that she had liked the Ark very much and since landing on earth, she had found it so much more beautiful.

“Can’t you see the stars from up close then?” the girl continued her onslaught, a slight frown on her face.

Marie just now noticed the silence around them, John had stopped his screaming. They had either stopped his torture or he had passed out. Marie hoped the first option to be the correct assumption. “Yeah, you can see the stars and the moon. But I always liked the view of the earth the most” she recalled honestly.

“And what does the earth look like from the sky?” the girl wanted to know next. If not getting satisfying answers was frustrating her, she did not show it in the slightest, only asking the next question.

“The earth is huge. A round planet surrounded by clouds, with a lot of blue and green” Marie answered. It was true, she had liked seeing the earth best, while she dreamt about what it would be like walking on the earth. “Do you know what will happen to me?” she quickly interjected, before Tris could bombard her with even more questions. The worry of what would happen was still gnawing at her mind and the woman’s answer had not been reassuring for her in the slightest.

Now it was Tris who shrugged as an answer, but her tone was still light when she said “I don’t know for sure. But you are still just a child, I don’t think you’ll be killed.”

Marie’s eyes widened in fright. She had not really thought that these people would be as cruel as to just kill them for being here.

Tris just continued as if she had not seen Marie’s reaction “Indra had wanted to kill you without speaking to you, but Anya refused to kill a child just like that. You are still alive so I guess, that she likes you somehow.”

“Now if that is not reassuring” Marie responded drily, trying to cover her fear with sarcasm.

Tris laughed out loud as if she did not have a single concern in the world in reaction, as if she had just told her the best joke. “Tell me more about your life in the sky or why you were sent down” she urged a moment later.

Marie just rolled her eyes, aware that Tris had listened to her conversation with Anya before from the shadows. “We were obviously deemed expendable by the Ark. They sent down 100 juvenile criminals to see if they can survive on the earth.” Marie finally said bitterly speaking those thoughts aloud for the first time.

Tris now did look impressed and even slightly confused. “You are all criminals?” she asked with slightly widened eyes, her head tilted to the side slightly as she added “What have you done then?”

“On the Ark crimes were all punished by death. Only kids under the age of eighteen are put into jail and either floated later or re-integrated into society.” Marie explained, bitterness seeping into her tone. In her opinion, she had not done anything which could have warranted her sentence.

Tris looked rather confused and her brows were creased, as if she had not understood everything she had just been told and was now trying to figure it out in her head.

“I have been put into jail for breaking into the medical bay and stealing medicine for my mother” Marie continued her story with a sad glint in her eyes. She blinked against the tears suddenly gathering in her eyes.

“You are killed for getting healing for a loved one?” Tris questioned, tone slightly raise and obviously shocked.

“Everything on the Ark is rationed. We only have so much for everyone and my mum did not get better with the medicine. So, I tried to help her.” Marie tried to explain, shivering slightly as a memory of her mother wasting away assaulted her mind. The laws on the Ark were absolutely relentless and a lot of the times unjust. “Most of the other 100 have been put into prison for little things. Like taking drugs or stealing. I think only a few have done bad things” Marie continued, just wanting to keep on talking before she could begin to cry.

Tris inclined her head in a mute response and stayed silent for a long moment, obviously thinking about what she wanted to ask next and processing what she had learned so far.

Before Tris could utter her next question, Marie beat her to it again “And what is live on earth like?” Marie hoped that she could diver the girl’s attention from herself.

Tris shrugged her shoulders with a slight frown, before she said “It is all I know. Life can be short and harsh here.”

“All is so colourful here” Marie added with shining eyes, still intrigued by the beauty of the nature surrounding them “And what are you doing?” she asked, as her eyes darted down to the sword on the other girl’s hip.

“I am Anya’s second” Tris explained with a puffed-out chest, it seemed to be something to be proud of. As Marie looked at her confused, unsure what the term meant, Tris added in explanation “I am training under her to become a warrior.”

“How old are you, Tris?” Marie asked with wide eyes, the thoughts running wild through her mind. The girl looked much too young to become a warrior already.

“I have seen my twelfth summer this year” Tris answered truthfully “But I started my training under Anya in my fifth summer.”

Marie stared at her disbelievingly. They started to train little children to become warriors she thought with horror.

Tris obviously interpreted Marie’s expression as disbelief and she pulled her shirt down slightly and twisted around, revealing five small round scars on her shoulder.

“This are kill marks” Tris explained with clear pride in her voice “I have earned them by killing others in battle.” She looked at Marie for long moments, before she readjusted her shirt again.

Marie could not believe the words she had just heard. This girl had already killed five other people and she seemed to be proud of it. As Marie did not want to offend her, she just nodded mutely. Life on earth must really be harsh if children were part of battles. After a few moments of strained silence she asked “Do all of you train to become warriors?”

Tris shook her head in the negative “No. Some become healers, hunters or traders. Or learn other professions.”

Marie was fascinated by this piece of new information. So, the people on the ground had some kind of community structure that must be working. None of them seemed starved, so they were doing relatively well. She had not seen any sign of electricity so maybe the people on earth did not use technology any more.

She looked at the sword fastened onto the others girls’ hip “You do not have guns?” she questioned with a frown. Swords did not seem very effective, if you could use a gun from a saver distance.

Tris looked horrified for a moment, brown eyes widening at the simple implication, before she shook her head resolutely “Guns are forbidden. It is said that if a warrior picks up a gun their village will burn down.”

Marie blinked at her owlishly. But she gathered that the population of the earth must all share their dislike for guns. With a sword you would not be able to fight an army with guns, so they must share their way of fighting.

John’s screaming started again in some distance and Marie pulled her arms tighter around her body. “Why are your people hurting John?” Marie asked with a worried expression.

“He must be unwilling to answer their questions” came the simple reply from Tris. She seemed completely untouched by his screaming as if this was not the first time, she was exposed to torture to get information.

“Will he be killed?” Marie continued in a whisper, unsure if she really wanted to know the answer to this question. It disturbed her that Tris seemed so utterly unaffected by John’s screaming, while she felt sick again.

Tris shrugged her shoulders “I don’t know. But it is a possibility. If he does not have any further use, probably.”

Marie turned paler after hearing Tris’ response. The female warrior who had spoken to her before had specifically pointed out that Marie was still a child and Marie had the sinking feeling that John would be seen as a child by them as well. What use could he have to these strangers? What use could she have? “Why I am still alive then?” Marie wondered with horror underlining her voice and widened grey eyes.

Tris grinned mischievously as she answered “Anya seemed to like you. But the commander will decide what is to happen with both of you.”

“The commander?” Marie pressed on, unfamiliar with the term.

“Oh, sorry, sure you can’t know that” Tris answered and explained “The commander leads the coalition of the twelve clans. The commander will arrive here at dawn.”

Marie looked up through the bars between the cell and the sky. It was still pitch-black outside, so dawn was probably still a few hours away. Marie swallowed forcefully, in a few hours a stranger would decide if she was killed or allowed to stay alive. If she was allowed to live, what would her life turn into? If she was killed, she prayed it would be a quick and painless death. All she could do now, was wait. This inability to do anything made everything worse tenfold and Marie felt like throwing up. Her stomach growled rather loudly all of a sudden. She had eaten the last thing in the morning and it had not been a big portion either. The third time in only a few days, her life had been turned upside-down. The morning seemed like a life time ago already and her happy times on the Ark seemed to be a completely different life now.

Tris had obviously picked up on her glum thoughts and tried to cheer her up by telling her some stories about her own life.

Marie listened on intently, grateful for the diversion the other girl offered. Tris had been born into a small village near the border to Azgeda. Marie had absolutely no idea what Azgeda was, but she gathered it was a clan these people had fought many battles with. Tris’ parents had been killed in an attack on the village when Tris was four. Only a few children survived the attack and the village had been burnt to the ground. Anya had been sent to look for survivors and had taken the young child in for training. From the stories Tris told her, the adoration Tris felt for Anya was as clear as day to Marie. Her life seemed simple without the luxury technology had to offer. But these people were obviously content with their lives.

Marie wondered if the population from the Ark would be able to adapt to living without electricity as well, once they came down to earth. Most of the people there were completely dependent of the technology. It was just a simple part of their life and in everything that surrounded them on the Ark.

But from the stories Tris told her, Marie also could definitely gather that life on earth truly was harsh. The people here were used to fight battles upon battles for their survival. Warriors often died young in battle. Their medicine or the healers were obviously not able to heal many wounds. Losing a limp in battle, meant that the warriors could not fight anymore. But the villages seemed to take care of their inhabitants and everyone was doing what they could to contribute.

Marie constantly compared Tris’ experiences to her own. Sure, the Ark had technology, but it was so constricted that everything was rationed and space was short. Here, people had more than one child in a family as many children died in their early years. On the Ark, if you could not life by the rations you were entitled, no one would help you.

All Marie could do now, was pray that their commander would decide to let her life. She really wished to get the possibility to see more of the earth and the lives of its inhabitants. She did not know, if she would be able to fit in with the way of the survivors, but in her opinion she could surely try.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Dawn came quicker than Marie had thought possible. Tris’ mindless chatter had distracted her well over the last hours and she had not even truly noticed how fast the time had passed. As it grew brighter in the sky above them, Marie was starting to feel more agitated by the second and she was barely able to listen to Tris’ words any longer, starting to fiddle with John’s jacket nervously.

Tris picked up on the shift in her mood and smiled at her softly. “I don’t know when the Commander will arrive exactly” she explained with an apologetic expression. The survivors seemed to have lost the usage of exact time measurements and were travelling on horses, which probably made it impossible to predict a precise time of arrival.

As Marie’s stomach growled again loudly, Tris’ stomach joined in. Laughing lightly in reaction, the girl stood up from the floor in a slightly clumsy motion, legs obviously feeling numb from sitting cross-legged for so long and brushed her pants down quickly.

“I’ll see if I can get some food for us” Tris explained, stretching her arms high above her head and smirking slightly Marie, before she turned on her heels and left the cell again.

Marie noticed how a guard appeared closer to the door of the cell only a short moment later. She had not heard any other footsteps than Tris’, so the man had probably been there all along, just slightly further down, hidden in the shadows.

John’s screams had stopped hours ago and Marie wondered with a shiver, if he was still alive at all. She knew, that she was on her own here. Only her own life must matter to her from now on. She knew that none of the delinquents would be willing to search for her as she had left on her own. She still wondered, if anyone would even try to locate her at all.

Marie started to fidget around nervously, the silence seemed oppressive, being left with nothing else than her thoughts. The minutes seemed to tick by ever so slowly again, now that she was alone in the cell. What if the commander would not come at all? Would she be killed then? Her eyes flitted over the tiled walls of the cells and she began to count the tiles, if only to occupy her thoughts with a mindless task. She had reached around one hundred tiles, when Tris returned with a plate in one hand and balancing two mugs in the other. The guard opened the door for her and closed it again disappearing into the shadows behind the bars of the cell again.

She had a soft smile on her face and sat down gracefully across from Marie. Tris put the plate down on the floor between them and handed one of the mugs over to Marie.

Tentatively, Marie reached out and accepted it. She put it to her lips immediately and when she noticed that the mug only contained plain water, she started to gulp down the cold liquid with hurried sips.

Tris looked at her alarmed, brown eyes widened slightly and trying to slow her down “Slow down or it will come back up after” she warned.

Marie tried to slow down, feeling Tris’ brown eyes watching her every move, but only seconds later the mug was drained and she put it down to the floor with a sorrowful expression, regretting to have emptied it so fast.

Tris shoved her own mug over to Marie, with an amused smirk “Take it as well. I can get more for us later.”

Marie nodded at her thankfully and focused her attention on the plate in front of them. There was some meat on sticks, some bread, something Marie thought might be cheese and some fruit she did not know.

“Take whatever you want” Tris offered with a soft smile, having watched her expression as she inspected the food.

Marie took one of the sticks with meat cautiously and sniffed at it. It smelled divine. There had been no meat on the Ark and eating her first portion of the panther had been extremely tasty already.

Tris must have interpreted her hesitance differently and laughed “It is not poisoned if you fear that.”

As Marie shook her head in denial quickly, Tris added with an almost evil grin “Poison would go better into water anyway.”

Marie nearly choked on the piece of meat, she had bitten off a second ago, caught off guard by the other girl’s comment and the casual way she had proclaimed her words.

“Just a joke” Tris added laughing freely at the horrified expression flitting over Marie’s features.

Marie huffed under her breath and lightly glared at the older girl.

Suddenly the door to the ceiling was opened again harshly and Anya strode into the cell with a murderous glare on her face. She spoke some quick harsh words to Tris and the girls’ smile froze on her face and she looked abashed all of a sudden, shoulders sagged visibly.

Marie gathered that Tris must have given her food and water without gaining permission from Anya first. She tried to defend the actions from the other girl to Anya “Please, don’t be hard on Tris. She was nice to me.” She knew that speaking up had been a mistake, when Anya directed another murderous glare at her direction, before she turned back to Tris and continued to reprimand the older girl in their foreign language.

The girl sprung to her feet quickly, as soon as Anya had stopped her rant and hurried out of the cell without another word to either of them, not even once looking at Marie as she left.

After a moment of heavy silence, Anya also left the cell. With relief, Marie noted that Anya had left her with the mug of water and the plate full of food.

The guard returned to his post nearer to the bars and Marie ate some of the food in complete silence. Trying to keep her attention focused on chewing and swallowing only. Now she could really just wait for something to happen. Marie was cautious not to drink and eat everything Tris had given her at once, who knew when she would get another ration. Judging from Anya’s reaction to seeing Tris and her together, she doubted that she would be given anything else soon. With nothing to do but wait and lose herself in the fears of what would happen to her, Marie started once again to count the old tiles on the wall to keep herself distracted from her own thoughts.

Her focus wasn’t really good after a night with no sleep at all, so she had to start anew every few minutes, but the mindless task of counting the tiles served its purpose and Marie forgot to worry about her future all together. She was distracted from her counting when the door to the cell was pushed open again. Marie looked over to the door quickly and saw a young woman enter. Could this be the commander? Marie did not think so. The woman looked too young to hold such a position of power. She had brown hair, interwoven with different braids and wore armour not unlike what the others were wearing. As Marie looked straight back into the green eyes of the stranger, she had to admit to herself that this woman seemed to radiate a strange kind of power. So, she may be facing the commander after all right now.

Marie tried to sit up a bit straighter and taller, trying not to appear just as frightened as she internally felt.

“What are you doing on my land, skygirl?” the stranger inquired with a steely voice, green eyes narrowed and boring down strongly at Marie.

“I…” Marie started to stutter out her answer, as her tongue suddenly felt too thick in her mouth. This stranger made her nervous somehow. “We were sent from the Ark, to see if the earth is survivable.”

The commander inclined her head with an almost bored expression “I knew that already from the boy that was found with you. I wanted to know why you left the safety of your camp” the woman rephrased her question in a biting tone, scrutinizing the young girl in front of her.

Marie opened and closed her mouth soundlessly, for a moment unsure of what to answer. Finally, she gathered her thoughts and answered truthfully “John was banished from the camp. I did not want him to be alone.” Although she did not know this woman, she sensed that trying to lie to her, would be a deadly mistake on her side.

The woman looked down incredulously at Marie “So, you thought it was a good idea to follow him unarmed in the middle of the night?” she questioned with a raised brow, disbelief flashing over her features.

Marie just shrugged helplessly, lowering her eyes to the floor. Put that way, her plan had really been lacking a lot of thought, but she had come to that conclusion on her own already. Even if they had not been abducted by these warriors, how should they have survived in the wild on their own?

“Why do your people try to reach the Mountain?” the commander implored further, green eyes hard and tone steely.

Marie perked up, she could answer that question at least “We were told there might be a storage of food in Mount Weather. We did not get supplies from the Ark.” She at least hoped, that the woman was referring to Mount Weather with her question.

“Your people will not find the help they seek there” the commander countered, tone ringing resolutely.

Before the commander could formulate another question, Marie cut in bravely “What will happen to John and me?”

“You will not share the fate of the boy” the commander explained after a moment of heavy silence, where Marie tried not to squirm under the intense gaze of the woman.

Marie looked up at her with widened grey eyes and horror etched deeply into her features. Would they kill him?

“We do not harm the young needlessly. You will be allowed to stay and try to find a place within Trikru” the commander kept on explaining, not showing any kind of reaction to Marie’s unease.

“And what about John?” Marie asked tentatively, although she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know the honest answer. She was relieved to hear, that she would be allowed to live.

“The boy will be sent back to your camp” the commander spoke with a hint of finality in her voice. Marie would not be told anything further obviously, but she wondered why these people would be sending him back and allowing her to stay at the same time. It occurred to her, that the commander had not specified on the condition John would be in when he was sent back and she felt sour bile rise in her throat, already imagining that they would be sending John back in little pieces.

“Come” the commander ordered sharply, expression blank and she turned around on her heels striding out of the cell without looking back.

Marie struggled to get up, having sat on the cold stone floor for hours, her legs were now feeling weak and stiff. She tried to catch up to the commander quickly, as the woman did not seem inclined to wait for her. The sounds of the woman’s steps were already getting fainter and Marie was afraid of what would happen, if she got lost. She hurried along the corridor, spotting the woman at the end of it, as if she was waiting for her.

They climbed some old stairs to get outside together and now that there was light again, Marie could look around and take in the village with wonder in her eyes. The village or town was much larger than it had seemed in the dark. There were people everywhere going around their daily routine. She spotted warriors engaged in hand to hand combat, she was others preparing food and she even saw a woman nursing an infant against her chest. When they saw the commander coming their way, all of them would stop what they were doing and bowed deeply to the young woman with reverent expressions on their faces.

Marie followed the commander silently, her eyes hurrying from one place to another trying to take in all the new sensations at once. She was so absorbed in looking around, that she was utterly oblivious to the glares some of the inhabitants were sending her way. She also did not notice when the commander stopped walking suddenly in front of her and she abruptly bumped into the woman’s back. She stumbled backwards from the impact and would probably have fallen on her ass flatly, if not for the arm of the commander shooting out and steadying her. She glanced up at the woman sheepishly.

She startled, when a warrior in their close proximity took his sword from his sheath and approached her, sword raised in a threatening gesture. Marie looked at the approaching warrior with wide eyes filled with fear. She had not bumped into the commander on purpose after all. As the man approached further, the commander let go of her arm and made the man stop in his tracks with a simple gesture.

The commander let her gaze wander over the people around them shortly, most of them looked worried.

“The girl will be our guest indefinitely from now on. I expect all of you to welcome her into our midst” the commander let her sharp voice carry through the village unwaveringly. As some people still eyed the girl with undisguised distrust, the commander added loudly, steel creeping into her tone “An attack against her will not be tolerated.”

The people all bowed their heads again in silent acknowledgement and the commander turned back to Marie “You should better watch out where you are going” she warned the girl lowly.

Marie nodded mutely, while her cheeks turned a slight pink in embarrassment.

The commander continued their way without another word and Marie was cautious to keep a better track of her steps now, but she could not completely stop her gaze from wandering around the village. She was led towards a huge tent in the middle of the village which was flanked by several huge warriors. One of them opened the tent flaps for the commander and the woman stepped inside as Marie hesitantly followed her.

The interior of the tent was covered with furs from different animals and a huge wooden throne sat at one end of it, raised on a dais.

Anya was standing before the throne waiting together with the dark-skinned woman that had wanted to kill her the previous night. Marie remembered that Tris had mentioned her name to be Indra. Anya looked at the commander with an expectant calm expression, whereas the other woman looked slightly sour as she spotted Marie’s form behind the commander.

The commander strode through the tent wordlessly and sat down on the wooden throne “The girl will be allowed to stay” she proclaimed nonchalantly.

The dark-skinned woman let out a strange snarl filled with disbelief and discontentment, her hand gripping the hilt of her sword at her hip slightly stronger.

The commander’s eyes bored into the other woman’s, she asked, voice weirdly calm and expression blank “Do you got anything to say, Indra?”

The dark-skinned woman started to speak rapidly in the language Marie was unable to understand.

The commander lazily silenced her with a gesture “Speak in gonasleng, Indra!” she commanded sharply.

Indra shot a look full of hate towards Marie, before her gaze returned to her commander and she continued in English “Why allow one to survive? We should kill them all right now. They are invaders of our land, Heda.”

“We do not simply slaughter children, Indra” the commander offered in a bored tone, staring at the woman unfazed “I decided she will stay, so she will stay!” she added a little more sharply.

Marie was slightly confused, why the young woman obviously had so much power over others which were obviously much older than herself. She also did not have an incline as to why Indra was already hating her with such a burning passion, she had done anything to offend her after all.

“The girl will need a first, of course” the commander continued after Indra had fall silent again. Her green eyes shortly flitted over to Anya inquiringly. 

Anya minutely glanced over her shoulder at Marie, before she inclined her head and proclaimed in an even tone “I would gladly take her on.”

The commander regarded Anya for a short silent moment as their gazes connected and she dipped her head in silent agreement “You may have her. But keep a close eye on her, she is unfamiliar with our ways. Crimes out of ignorance won’t be tolerated for long.”

Anya nodded again “Yes, Heda. I will start right away.” Anya turned towards Marie after the commander gave her assent “Come, you have much to learn.”

Marie nodded worriedly. These people obviously led a completely different life and she could only hope to adapt quickly enough to her new surroundings. She followed Anya out of the tent and took the first steps into her new life.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

After they had left the commander’s tent, Anya guided her through the village silently. Marie just hoped that following the woman was the right thing to do. A few moments later, Anya came to a halt in front of a small wooden hut.  “You will get clothes suitable for your new status here” Anya explained and held the door open to Marie.

Marie entered the building and was met by the sight of an old woman. The woman’s skin was wrinkled from age and the exposure to the sun. In contrast to the reactions from the other inhabitants of the village, the woman smiled first at Marie and then directed her glance towards Anya.

“Landed yourself with another one, did you?” the woman asked Anya with a playful tone and her brown eyes twinkled visibly.

Anya just nodded stiffly, expression not turning even the slightest bit friendlier and gave the woman a look that clearly translated into “get on with it”, tapping her foot impatiently against the rough wooden floor.

“Come nearer, young one, and take off your clothes” the old woman demanded with a gentle voice, motioning her closer.

Marie blinked at her for a moment, her brows creased in confusion. Why would she need to strip in front of them?

“Can’t see what will fit you best under these loose clothes, girl” the woman explained as amusement creeped into her tone, when Marie hesitated a moment too long.

Anya seemed rather impatient as well and the glare Anya sent her way made Marie spring into action finally.

Marie shrugged out of the jumper and the pants she was wearing, but she kept her underwear and her boots on. Internally she hoped, that she would not be required to strip completely, not feeling well with the thought of being exposed in such a way.

“A scrawny one, I see” the woman commented in a teasing tone, when Marie was done with undressing and she inspected her body shortly.

Marie crossed her arms over her chest self-consciously. It was not her fault the rations on the Ark had been this small. When her mother was sick, they had tried to get extra medicine for all the rations they could spare. Later in the sky box, the prisoners were fed only the minimum to keep them alive. Mostly two small meals a day and if there was a shortage of something the prisoners were the first to go hungry. She had been in the isolation of the sky box for around a year and she knew that she had thinned even further.

The woman had turned around and was looking through a pile of different clothing articles she had pulled from a cupboard behind her.

Anya did not spare Marie’s reaction any attention and tapped her foot impatiently on the ground. The process was obviously taking too long for her liking.

A few moments later, she was handed different articles from the old woman with the instruction to put them on. Marie was a bit overwhelmed on how to dress in these strange clothes. All of the clothes seemed to have been recycled from other clothing. Different materials had been mixed together and sometimes a piece of metal had also been added into the mix. The clothes all had various straps and buckles and Marie was confused on how to fasten them properly. She fiddled around with the items helplessly, trying to figure out where they belonged on her own, but it did not seem as if she succeeded.

The old woman finally stepped closer to her and lend her a hand, noticing how helpless the girl was and fastened everything where it belonged. “That should do” the woman said only a short moment later. She was obviously satisfied with the result, as she stepped back with a small nod and a satisfied expression.

Anya shortly inspected Marie and nodded her consent to the clothes mutely. “Have some comfier ones and light armour for her sent to my tent as well” Anya ordered and without waiting for a reply from the old woman, she turned around and left the building, holding the door open behind herself for Marie, expecting the girl to follow her.

Marie was unsure if she should take her old clothes with her, but as she bent down to pick them up, she saw Anya turning around in the opened door.

“Leave them” Anya instructed sharply “You will not need them anymore and they can be repurposed.”

Marie nodded feeling strangely numb, leaving behind her only possessions from the Ark. But she knew, that Anya was right. She would be integrated into this culture and she would stand out even more among the people of the village in her old clothes from the Ark. But still it felt as if leaving the clothes behind would cement her leaving the delinquents completely. The numb feeling left her the instant she had followed Anya out of the house after waving goodbye to the woman. The village was bustling with people still.

“Wow, we were taught humanity had died on earth after the bombs fell. But it is so … so alive here” Marie voiced the wonder she was feeling aloud, looking up at Anya expectantly.

Anya gave her a short mild smile as a mute reaction, but kept them moving, weaving them through the tents and huts with the ease of familiarity. They went through the village towards the tent where the commander had stayed. In the near proximity other tents were located. All of the other tents were slightly smaller compared to the commander’s tent and Anya guided her towards what appeared to be the second biggest tent. “You will share a tent with me for now” Anya explained calmly, holding the tent flap open for Marie and motioning her inside, before she showed her the inside of the tent.

The tent was definitely smaller. It had two areas, one Marie thought might be reserved for sleeping and a second area where a chest was standing and a small table and two chairs were located, both parts were separated by what appeared to be a think leather curtain.

“Furs will be brought later for you to sleep on” Anya continued to speak in an even tone.

Marie just nodded in mute acknowledgement. She was still intrigued by this different kind of life and felt slightly overwhelmed with all the new impressions her mind had to process.

“We will get something light for breakfast and start your training immediately after it” Anya proclaimed after a short moment, enough time in her mind for the blonde girl to take in the tent, before she turned again and motioned the girl to follow her.

Marie followed her through the village again. On the other side of the village, Marie could see horses grazing. Marie was completely enthralled by the animals, Tris had already told her that her people used horses for transportation. She stopped following Anya when her attention stuck to the majestic looking animals and she wished to observe the animals for a moment longer. She had never before seen a living animal, except for the bird, as there had been none on the Ark. When Marie noticed that Anya had not waited for her, she sprinted up behind her trying to catch up. The woman had not appeared to be the most patient person and she doubted she would be pleased, if she just ignored. Unfortunately, she promptly bumped into a huge warrior, as she hurried behind Anya. She had simply not noticed the warrior crossing her path and had not been quick enough to slow her movements, to prevent crashing into the man.

The man whirled around to face her with a murderous expression on his harsh features and before Marie knew what was happening, she was backhanded harshly across her cheek from the stranger and lost her footing at the hard impact of the harsh blow. “Watch out, filthy invader!” the man sneered towering above her, eyes glinting hatefully and features contorted into a mean sneer.

Only a second later the man was lying on the ground, with Anya kneeling above him pressing a blade to his neck. “You will better watch out, Quint!” Anya hissed angrily at the man, pressing the blade a little stronger into the skin of his neck, piercing it lightly for emphasis “The girl is under my protection now. Heda decided she will be my second and spread word around camp.”

The man regarded Anya with a sour expression for a moment, but he nodded and stood up when Anya let him. He left without another word, but only after shooting Marie another hateful glare.

“Making friends already?” Anya teased her new charge lightly over her shoulder.

Marie cast her eyes down onto the ground, her cheeks dusting over with a blush. She knew it was her own fault for not following close enough to Anya, but fortunately the woman did not seem to be angry about that at all. The anger had faded out of her face all together after the man left them.

“Come” Anya ordered finally, tone stricter again and expression blank and they continued their way through the village together now undisturbed. They reached some buildings around a huge fire pit, where smoke was coming from chimneys.

Marie’s brain directly associated the smell with food and her stomach began to growl again. It had been a few hours ago already that Tris had brought her the food.

Anya was given two plates of food and two mugs without having to ask for them. It seemed as if everyone knew the woman very well, so Marie gathered that Anya must be pretty high-ranking within this village. Later Marie learned that Anya was one of the commander’s most trusted generals.

Anya sat down on some logs that had been placed next to the fire pit and mutely motioned for Marie to do the same. She was handed one of the plates and one of the mugs immediately after from Anya.

The mug did not seem to contain water this time as the liquid in it was of a slightly red colour and smelled strongly and weirdly. Marie took a cautious sip from the mug and had to cough at the strong taste, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “What is that?” Marie asked with a disdainful glare towards the mug, trying to supress herself from coughing and spitting out the foul liquid.

Anya snorted and amusement at the girl’s antics danced through her brown eyes. Her tone was even but hinted with the same amusement “It is watered down wine. From your expression I gather you never tasted wine so far?”

Marie just nodded in mute agreement and still looked at the mug distrustfully. She knew theoretically what wine was, but she was not sure if there had been any on the Ark. Even if there might have been wine, children under the age of twenty-one were prohibited from drinking any kind of alcohol by law. Marie knew that probably half of the 100 had been imprisoned, because of breaking this particular law.

“You will have to get used to the taste soon” Anya commented lightly and continued with her own food, although she kept close watch over the girl from the quarter of her eye. Water was not always safe to drink on the ground and wine was a common beverage.

The plate contained a strip of meat, a chunk of bread and some fruits again. Marry started with the red berries and let out a sound of delight at the taste. “What are those?” she asked after taking a second one and savouring the taste on her tongue. Her grey eyes clearly showed her joy as she glanced up at Anya.

“Raspberries” Anya answered simply with the corners of her mouth curling upwards in the ghost of a smile. It seemed weird that the girl was so intrigued by something so trivial, but it was refreshing to watch her reactions.

Marie decided that she liked raspberries definitely much better than the wine. The rest of the meal continued in silence and shortly after, Anya ushered her through the camp again towards the training pits. The training pits actually were just some free space, where wooden targets had been placed and borders were marked by some logs.

“I will need to test your skills first to start efficiently training you” Anya informed Marie, circling around the young girl.

Marie looked at the woman with a doubtful expression. “If you mean skills to do with fighting” Marie started lamely “I don’t have any. Children were not trained on the Ark.”

Anya looked slightly irritated by that statement, but just nodded in the end. Her lips thinned slightly “Then we will start with the basic skills.”

Basic skills for Anya obviously contained a perfect fighting stance for hand on hand combat to begin with.

For Marie it felt like endless hours, before Anya was even mildly satisfied with the way Marie placed her feet and got into a slight crouch raising her hands up to defend her head. She was sure that her shoulders and thighs would be sore in the morning from the uncomfortable position and having to take it up endless times again.

Anya also made her run around the fighting pits and the woman was really irritated to see that Marie’s stamina was next to none existent.

But how should she have gotten stamina to begin with? There were no offers of sports on the Ark and she had been in the sky box for the last months. Her cell had been so small, there was not much space to walk around in, so most of the days she had not made more than a few steps from one wall to the other. Marie was breathing heavily after only two rounds around the fighting pits and she felt the muscles in her legs burn and her feet ache. Some of the kids from the village who had eagerly wanted to watch the strange girl train where outright laughing at her now and begun to make fun of her. Marie had to struggle not to let tears of frustration flow and bit her lips hard to get her breathing under control, when she noticed them pointing and laughing at her.

Anya had her arms crossed over her chest and was showing a slight glare on her face. The woman shook her head in exasperation, her tone turned steely “You will just need to improve faster then.”

Marie nodded mutely, clenching her teeth together. She was feeling, as if she was confronted with an impossible task. But she would try hard to improve and satisfy Anya’s expectations, which she judged to be impossibly high. She prayed they would not cast her out on the spot for being weaker than Anya had thought.

After all, the training did end on a positive note as Anya handed her a dagger and told her to try to throw it at one of the wooden targets. Although lifting her arms felt weird and there was not much force behind her throw, she had not missed the target entirely. The blade fell down again only a brief second later, but her aim had obviously been well enough.

Anya nodded with a hint of satisfaction in her brown eyes “Good. When you improve your strength, the daggers will be your first discipline. Your aim was well, only the strength of your throw is lacking.”

Marie smiled proudly, she had a feeling that statements like this, would be all the praise she might get from Anya. The woman seemed nice enough, but definitely did not seem to be the cuddly type. Nonetheless, Marie was internally grateful when Anya told her that training would end for the day. Her limbs were feeling heavy and her back hurt from the unfamiliar fighting stance, she doubted she would be able to move again any time soon.

Anya brought her back to the tent, they would be sharing from now on, but told Marie she was allowed to roam through the village, if she did not go into the woods on her own. Dinner would not be for another few hours and Anya obviously had other things to do than babysat her the whole time.

So, Marie was left on her own in the unfamiliar surroundings. She stood in front of the tent undecided, unsure of what to do. She had no intention to go into the woods any way. She was sure that someone would haul her back sooner than she could try to leave any way. Anya had left her with the instruction not to get into trouble and Marie definitely was not planning to do that. She wanted to stay within her good grace as long as possible. Although her body felt tired, her mind was wide awake and she did not feel like sleeping now.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

Marie did not feel like sleeping at the moment and she wondered where Tris might be, but she had not seen all of the village so far and had no idea where to start to search for the other girl. It was also possible that Tris had other obligations and did not have time to spend with her. Without any other idea on what to do, Marie turned around and went into the direction she had seen the horses earlier. Wanting to see them again up close, now that she had the time. She could not forget the majestic creatures.

It took Marie some time to find the horses again, being so unfamiliar with the way through the rather huge village. But after some search, she finally found what she had been looking for. The people she met on her way, either ignored her completely, watched her with interest or turned away from her with distrust in their eyes. Word had obviously been spread, that she was not to be harmed, so the people left her alone for now and fortunately no one tried to approach her this time.

There were different horses grazing on a patch of meadow, that had been lined with a fence out of wood. Marie stood next to the fence and regarded the horses with eyes shining full of wonder. She had never seen any animals. There were no animals on the Ark. And these horses were absolutely huge and magnificent. She only knew, that the creatures were named horses as she had seen pictures from the old world in a book her father brought her once.

The horse that intrigued her the most was a beautiful black creature. It was amazingly huge and had a white star on its head. When Marie stepped nearer towards the fence the horse stopped its grazing and also came nearer towards the fence regarding her with dark wise eyes. The mare raised its enormous head over the fence and sniffed at Marie’s face, blowing its hot breath over her face. Marie laughed lightly as the horses’ breath tickled her face. Cautiously, Marie held her hand to the creature’s nose and let her fingertips graze over the soft skin of its nose. The mare whinnied a bit and nuzzled her hand in a way to tell her to pet her for a bit. Marie obliged the silent command and looked at the animal in wonder when it felt as if the horse settled the weight of its head into her hand. 

After a few minutes, the horse obviously had enough of her petting and went back to lazily grazing. Marie was slightly disappointed to have lost the animals attention so quickly. She made a few attempts to get the lost attention back, calling out to it softly and when her attempts all failed, Marie finally climbed through the fence onto the meadow the horses were grazing on, wanting to go closer to her.

The black horse looked up again, after she stepped onto the soft grass and came back to her. Nuzzling its big head into her midriff with a huff. Marie had only just begun to resume her previous caress, when shouting from a few meters behind her began. A man was running towards the fence all the while gesturing animatedly and loudly screaming a command in the unfamiliar tongue Marie yet had to learn. Marie just blinked back at the man owlishly, not understanding what he wanted her to do. The man also climbed through the fence hurriedly and came towards her with an expression screaming murder on his face for being ignored in such an impertinent fashion. To her utter wonder, before the man could make a grab for her, the horse she had been petting intervened. The creature blocked the man’s path and seemed to threateningly huff at the man and started to get on its hind legs kicking with the front legs as a warning.

The man seemed to be aware of the damage that the horse would be able to inflict on him if it wanted and went back through the fence quickly to avert the kicking front legs.

Marie looked on to the proceedings with a slightly open mouth. It seemed as if the horse had just protected her from the man. But why would a horse do that? She could not understand what had just happened.

Before Marie or the man could do anything else a strong female voice cut in, sending the man away.

Marie had to look around the horse to see that the commander herself had been the origin of the voice. Marie chewed on her lips nervously, the reaction of the man had clearly shown her that she had done something she should not have done.

She started to apologize, trying not to stutter, but the commander waved her off immediately with a lazy gesture.

“As it seems trouble seems to follow you, sky girl” the commander said with a hint of amusement in her voice and her green eyes seemed almost kind as she looked at her.

Marie pouted silently not knowing, what she was allowed to say and she did not want to get into even more trouble and Anya would surely already be disappointed when she heard of her newest adventure. The way the warrior had wanted to attack her before, simply for running into the commander, she did not wish to find out how insulting the commander would be punished.

The horse demanded her attention back and nuzzled her midriff again. Marie lightly scratched behind its ears, with a slight smile on her face.

“Curious. Touching my horses is forbidden for a reason, you know?” the commander continued, tone light, as she watched the young girl from the corner of her eyes “They normally do not let themselves be touched by anyone but me. They are trained against abductions.”

Marie looked at the young woman slightly shocked, thoughts whirling around wildly in her mind. The horse had been nothing, if not friendly to her. Frightened of the severity of her sin, she let her hands drop to her sides immediately as if burned and took a subtle step back. The horse obviously did not like her retreat at all and huffed again in complaint and kept on nuzzling her, prompting her to take up her caress again.

The commander had the hint of a small smile dancing around the corners of her mouth. She shortly let own fingers graze over her horse’s nose, before she assessed “She obviously likes you. You should not anger my horse by ignoring her now that you started.”

Marie could just blink at the commander in open astonishment. She had expected a lecture at the least or some form of punishment, but surely not to get the permission to continue. She stretched her hand towards the horse again, cautiously, watching the woman the whole time, trying to judge if the woman truly was not against her touching her horse. Marie guessed the commander’s personal horses were probably even more precious. “We did not have any kind of animals on the Ark” Marie finally said after a few moments of silence, as she glanced at the woman. She was wary of being alone with the leader of these people. She had no idea of their culture and she was bound to do one mistake after the other that way. The woman’s austere mannerism was alien to her and it made her even more nervous to be alone with her.

The commander inclined her head as if she had expected or already known this answer. Either John had been asked or they had concluded that fact themselves. “So, you will need to be taught how to ride a horse properly” the woman concluded in a kind tone.

Marie looked between her and the horse in wonder. Although Tris had already told her that they used horses for transportation, she had not thought that it would mean that she got to learn to ride, but she was already feeling excited at the prospect. She only knew of horse riding from an old fairy tale book her father had read to her a long time ago. In the book a prince had come riding a horse to a tower, where a princess had been hidden away.

“When will I learn to ride…?” Marie paused slightly at the end of her question. She was unsure how to address the woman correctly.

“You are eager to learn, I see.” The commander answered with a pleased note in her voice “You may call me by my name outside of meetings, but in front of other clans you will address me as Heda as anybody else does.”

Marie nodded immediately in agreement. The only problem was that she had no idea, what the woman’s name was anyway.

“What were the children of the Ark taught, Marie?” the commander sounded genuinely interested.

Marie tilted her head in thought, trying to remember as many of her lessons as possible. She had not attended many lessons only the basics, before her mother had been ill and she was incarcerated for trying to help her. “I have only been taught how to read and write, some basic math and the beginnings of earth study and history” Marie explained easily, features showing her utter concentration “I would have learned other things later as well, if I had not been caught stealing.” Marie bit her lips for a moment, unsure if admitting theft had been such a great idea on her part in front of the leader of the people here.

But the commander just nodded, maybe Anya had already told her that they had all been criminals of some kind. She could not see any kind of judgement in the woman’s features.

“What did you learn in earth studies?” the commander continued her questioning in a calm tone. She was truly interested to hear, how much the Sky youth might know about life on earth.

Marie first just shrugged a bit, she had not liked this subject in particular. She had not truly seen the purpose in learning something about living on a planet that their generation would never see. Looking back now, she wished that she had listened a little closer to her teachers. “Well” she started after a few minutes of silent contemplation, fortunately for her the commander seemed to be rather patient in contrast to Anya and just waited silently for her to continue, “We were told how to start a fire without a match, but just told in words. Burning a fire uses oxygen and the Ark was always short on that, so we just got the theory. Same goes for how to hunt or fish without a gun. In the last weeks I had been there, we were shown how to navigate and tell the time using the position of the sun. I know that later on in the class would have come more survival skills and how to grow crop and such things.”

The commander regarded Marie with a thoughtful expression, processing the information the child had offered freely for a moment. “Your lessons do not seem very effective without practise of any kind” she commented with a slight furrow to her brow.

Marie just let out a little laugh, totally agreeing with the woman. She had never seen the sense in knowing how to theoretically light a fire if she would never have to do it or know that she might be faced with having to do it in the future she did not think from the theory alone to be able to light an actual one. It had not sounded very complicated, but everything seemed easier in theory.

“But you did not learn any professions?” the commander called her out of her musings with another question.

“Professions?” Marie asked back unsure what the word meant exactly, tilting her head to the side slightly in confusion.

“Like healing or how to sew clothes or how to build a house or craft something” the commander tried to explain her question a little better, in term she hoped the girl would understand.

“Ah” Marie answered in understanding and shook her head in the negative “We would not be taught a job in school. In the year before you turn eighteen, you decide what you want to do later on or you got a recommendation based on the talents you showed in school. Some kids just chose to do the same their parents did. And when you turn eighteen on the Ark is the time you start training for your job.”

“That does also not sound very effective” the commander commented with a doubtful expression.

Marie shrugged helplessly “I did not make the system.”

“How does it work here?” Marie asked immediately interested in their way of living. She had judged already, from what little she had seen of the village so far, that the lives of the survivors were not comparable to her own experiences and life on the Ark.

“Children start training for a profession when they reach their fifth summer” the commander answered in a neutral tone.

Marie looked at her with wide grey eyes and her tone showed her shocked surprise “That is awfully young. You don’t have normal schools?”

The commander shook her head in the negative and explained “Not everywhere. In the capitol there is a school, but most of the smaller villages do not need one. The children learn all they need to know for their lives in the village they grow up in.”

Marie just caught up to the fact, that her peers on earth had the advantage of four years of training on her. How was she ever expected to get to their level of skills? She had already seen how lacking her skills were and how should she be able to make up for four years? “Do your warriors start training this early as well?” Marie asked hesitantly, internally praying for a negative answer.

“It depends” the commander answered “Some earlier, some later. I started my own training in my third summer.”

Marie looked at her with her mouth agape in horror. The horse seemed to sense her mood and whinnied at her to get her full attention back. Marie did not have the chance to say anything more as a messenger for the commander appeared behind the other side of the fence. The commander bid her goodbye giving her the permission to stay with the horses for as long as she wished and the explicit permission to visit them again later if she desired.

Marie was silently contemplating her future, while absentmindedly petting the horse from time to time, when Anya called for her from the other side of the fence. Her thoughts were glum and her shoulders were hunched. Marie quickly looked up at Anya and was relieved to note that the fierce woman did not seem angry at her, so Marie hoped that the commander had told her she had the permission to be with the horses.

“It is time for dinner now” Anya called her and impatiently motioned the girl to leave the horses “Come!”

Marie petted the dark horse one last time as goodbye and climbed back through the fence obediently.

“Have you been with Heda’s horses all the time?” Anya asked her on the way towards the place they had eaten before with amusement colouring her voice.

Marie nodded mutely. The prospect of having to compete with children that had years of advantage in training had dampened her spirit drastically. She was still unsure what would happen to her if she proved incapable for the training of a warrior after all and she was unsure on how to ask the woman, afraid that even through the simple action of asking she was admitting her incompetency and giving Anya further reason to be dissatisfied with her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

Anya regarded her charge silently from time to time with a worried expression on the way to the communal fire pits. The girl seemed to be physically unharmed, but the wonder she had observed sparkling in her eyes earlier in the day had dimmed notably and Anya was internally wondering what had prompted the obvious change.

The girl silently accepted her plate and mug and picked at her meal in complete silence as well. Anya would have expected for the girl to be starved and parched after their training. She doubted that anyone would have given her water or something to eat in her absence. But the girl was not really paying any mind to the food in her hands.

Word had spread quickly through the village of the girl who fell from the stars and more people than usual were gathered around the bonfire trying to catch a glimpse of the stranger. Her performance on the training pit had not been impressing, but the girl being allowed to be with the commander’s horses already must have added to the others’ curiosity.

Marie seemed to be completely oblivious to all the eyes watching her every move. It was starting to turn dark and the only thing that seemed capable of catching the girl’s attention was the bonfire itself. Anya wondered whether the girl had even seen such a huge fire before, but she highly doubted it. From what the boy had disclosed in his interrogation the sky people relied on electricity completely. The boy had not wanted to answer their questions at first, trying to resist questioning, while Marie had spoken freely and honest right from the beginning. It had nearly been disappointing just how quickly the boy offered everything they wanted to know under even a little bit of physical violence.

Anya could see Tris wolfing down her own portion alarmingly fast on the other side of the fire to return to her guard duty as quickly as possible. Anya had assigned her extra guard duty as punishment for her disobedience with the sky girl. She had made it clear that Tris should have only stayed with her and try to gather more information, but Tris seemed to have taken the opportunity and try to befriend the girl instead. Handing out water and food to prisoners, was unacceptable and although Anya was sure that Tris had been more than aware of that fact, her second had deliberately ignored it. She internally wondered what about the young blonde girl had been enough to make Tris forget all caution like that.

The girl was just nibbling at her food pushing it around on the plate not really eating anything at all. Anya frowned, when she noticed the girl more or less playing with her food, obviously lost deep in thought. Long after she had finished with her own portion and with a flash of annoyance, she took the girl’s still mostly full plate away finally.

“If you don’t want to eat, you’ll go hungry for the night” Anya said to the startled girl in a harsh tone and strode away to bring the plates away. Someone else could get the rest of the girl’s portion so that it would not be wasted.

Marie was left alone at the bonfire staring forlornly at the dancing flames for long moments. She was so lost in her thoughts that she had not even looked up from the flames when Anya returned to her side.

“It's time to retire” Anya told her, impatience with the girl seeping into her tone and strode through the crowd with Marie silently following her, with her head bowed down towards the ground.

Anya had no idea what Lexa had told the girl to upset her, but whatever it was had turned the interested, eager to learn girl into this silent version and it was getting on her nerves. Nothing which Lexa had relayed to her, had made her assume that Marie would be so glum now. Anya hoped that a night of sleep would restore her mood again on its own, it was probably to assume that the girl was tired. She hoped, that the girl was just cranky from exhaustion but highly doubted it. She bit back a sigh, she was not good in offering comfort and was not looking forward to having to speak with the girl about what was troubling her.

No one followed them through the camp, but Anya had seen that Marie had not left any flattering impression on their people. Before she had collected the girl for dinner, she had heard guards whispering about the fearless girl from the sky who tamed Heda’s beasts. More than a few of them had already learned painfully not to get too near to Lexa’s mounts. Unfortunately, during dinner, Marie had worn the expression of a startled deer and not some fearless girl. Anya knew it was important, that the people of TonDC respected the girl on their own. For that the girl would need to make a name for herself rather sooner than later, or scenes like the one with Quint would keep on repeating themselves.

When they reached the tent, they would share for now, Anya could see that her orders were already fulfilled and some furs had been added for the girl to sleep on. The sleeping area immediately looked smaller with a second bed roll added to it and Anya huffed lightly, it had been some years ago that she last had to share her tent with Tris. Her other second had long outgrown the need to be kept company during the night. Theoretically, Marie was old enough to have a tent of her own as well, but as long as the girl was unfamiliar with their culture, it was safer to keep her under close watch.

Anya immediately started to discard her own armour in silence and motioned Marie over to her sleeping place. The girl was struggling to open the clasps of her own clothes and the frustration seemed to grow on her features. Anya watched her struggle for long moments, expecting for the girl to ask for help, but when she thought to see tears glitter in her grey eyes, she stepped in with a huff. She batted the girl’s hands away impatiently and helped her undress briskly.

Marie looked even more dejected as before when Anya stepped back. Silently Marie was fuming, angry at herself for not even being able to dress and undress on her own.

When they had both undressed and gotten ready for the night, it started to rain slightly and Marie could hear the raindrops splashing onto the tent. She laid down on the furs allotted to her and pulled one over herself as a cover. The furs were much softer than she had thought and she liked the feeling of them on her skin, she could also feel how warm they were keeping her after only a short moment. They did not smell disinfected like the blankets on the Ark, the smell of nature and wood was clinging to them rather intensely. Marie laid under the furs without finding any rest, as her thoughts kept on circling wildly in her mind. No matter how tired her body felt and she did feel utterly drained physically, her mind was still racing with thoughts. She was trying to lay still as to not disturb Anya next to her who she thought had already fallen asleep. The woman's breathing sounded deep and even and in the dim light filtering into the tent, Marie thought her eyes looked to be closed. Anya had also stopped moving a long time ago.

The rain kept coming faster now and the wind seemed to have picked up as well. There were other sounds, Marie could not identify as well and the new atmosphere was making her even more restless. The sounds of the wind suddenly sounded more like the screech of a wounded animal and it made goose bumps raise on her arms as she pulled the fur tighter around her frame.

She felt like crying at the moment and struggled to not let her tears fall. She felt overwhelmed by everything and helpless. And to top it off, completely alone right now as well. Marie wished herself to be back on the Ark, being younger and safe in the small quarters her family had inhabited in happier times.

After some time there were tears running down her cheeks unbidden and Marie started to sniffle softly.

Only a few moments later the first signs of a storm could be heard and thunder was growling above them, startling Marie. When lightning illuminated the sky followed closely by a loud growl of thunder, Marie let out a startled scream and she was shaking slightly under her furs in fear. She had never seen or heard a thunder storm before. She knew from her earth studies, that they were a part of the weather and that the lightning could ignite trees and kill people. She had fantasized as a child what witnessing one would feel like, but in her mind she had never been in a thin tent with basically a stranger.

Anya had awoken with a start, when Marie screamed and looked around with a dagger, she kept under pillow, in hand for the intruder she thought had made the girl scream.  When she could not detect anyone in the tent besides the girl curled up under the furs, Anya lowered the dagger with narrowed eyes. She did not appreciate being woken in the middle of the night without a reason at all. She wondered if the girl might have been woken by a nightmare and she grimaced in reaction.

At the next lightning accompanied by loud thunder the girl let out a little yelp again and Anya huffed irritated for being woken by her for something as insignificant as a thunderstorm. Those were pretty common for the region and this season. Anya slid the dagger back under her pillow and laid down again hoping to fall asleep again. But she could hear the girl clearly crying now, loud sobs leaving her mouth when there was no thunder. She had never been good with comforting, but she was the only one here and as she assessed the time she doubted the girl would stop crying on her own any time soon.

When the next thunder made the girl scream again muffled by the furs, Anya sat up again with a sigh. When lightning illuminated the tent for a moment she could see the girl under her furs, her eyes red and puffy from crying. So, she had obviously started to cry before the storm.

Marie did not look in her direction and seemed to try to be as silent as possible, so she had not woken her up on purpose either. Tiredly rubbing her eyes, Anya spoke towards the girl “What is wrong, Marie?” she tried to keep her tone kind, but she felt the tiredness clouding her mind still.

Marie turned her head and looked at her startled, not having noticed at all that Anya had woken up until now.

The girl hastily rubbed around her eyes with the sleeves of her shirt and just shook her head silently.

Anya huffed under her breath in annoyance. She was not the most patient person when rested and being woken in the middle of the night did not help her patience one bit.

The girl jumped again with fright under her furs, when the next lightning illuminated the tent brightly only a short moment later.

“Come here” Anya ordered briskly and lifted her own furs. Maybe some closeness to another body would calm the girl down or she at least hoped the girl could draw comfort from her presence. Tris had been rather afraid of thunderstorms as well a few years ago and would always silently make her way under Anya’s furs to snuggle up to her on those nights.

The girl blinked at her with a sheepish expression and seemed rather unsure if Anya’s offer was earnest or not.

When the next lightning occurred and Anya was still lifting her fur the girl leapt from her furs under Anya’s immediately.

The girl was shivering and looked totally spooked.

Anya cautiously pulled her closer towards her not feeling entirely in her element. The girl finally snuggled up to her and tried to control her shivering.

“You are safe here, Marie” Anya assured the girl in the softest voice she could muster “A little thunder won’t hurt us.”

Marie looked up at her with her big grey eyes wide open and nodded.

“And now tell me what has soured your mood before.” Anya commanded with a hint of stiffness underlining her tone. They were both awake now anyway and hopefully speaking about what was bothering her besides the weather would put the girl to sleep sooner later. Judging from the utter exhaustion etched into Marie's features, Anya highly doubted that the child had slept even a little moment before the storm had started.

“Nothing” Marie answered and tried to turn away from Anya, clearly unwilling to answer the question.

Anya curled her lips in irritation and narrowed her eyes at the child, she absolutely hated being lied to. She pinched the girl’s arm hard once and hissed “I do not appreciate being lied to.”

Marie looked rather startled about the pinch and was gently rubbing the undoubtedly smarting region with her hand.

When Anya kept her gaze firmly drilled into Marie’s eyes the girl gave up with a sigh.

“The commander spoke to me earlier” Marie began slowly, grey eyes downcast and fiddling a few strands of fur between her fingers in obviously rising agitation.

Anya nodded in acknowledgment “I know, Lexa had told me where to look for you.”

“The commander’s name is Lexa?” Marie answered back, her attention diverted from the woman’s question as she let the commander's name resonate through her mind.

Anya nodded again pursing her lips slightly, she tried hard to keep her patience, but she was not used to dealing with a child like Marie “Do not evade the question, Marie” she reprimanded the girl with narrowed eyes.

“The commander, eh … Lexa, she told me that you start training warriors from their third or fifth summer the latest” Marie continued in a clearly subdued tone, but did not offer anything else as if that would answer the question.

The way Marie looked at her now clearly showed that the statement somehow must contain the reason for her sullen mood before and Anya blinked at her utterly confused. “Yeah, so?” Anya asked after a moment of contemplation not understanding what the girl was trying to convey.

“I am nine already” Marie explained with an impatient expression, as if Anya had not understood her on purpose.

“So?” Anya asked again with a confused furrow to her brow. She knew the age of the girl, she had asked for it herself after all. Anya clearly did not understand the way the girl was working her thoughts right now. What had her age to do with the age the other warriors started their training?

Marie huffed and her lips were starting to tremble precariously as if she was on the verge of tears again.

“How the hell am I ever going to catch up with them?!” she let out rather loudly looking at Anya accusingly as if Marie’s lack of knowledge and skill was somehow Anya’s personal fault.

Anya still blinked at her confused. She was not expecting the girl to catch up in a few days or only after one training. The training earlier had clearly shown her that her new charge did not even possess any basic knowledge of fighting neither was her body equipped with the muscles needed for efficient fighting. But that would change as they continued her training, so Anya was still not able to understand the origin of Marie’s problem.

Anya let out a strained huff “Marie, no one expects you to catch up just like that. It will take month or years of training. Maybe you will even never be able to catch up completely.”

That had obviously not been what the girl wanted to hear and she did start to cry again, tears leaving glistening trails on her pale cheeks.

Anya was watching her rather helplessly, what was wrong with her now?

“What will happen to me if I fail as a warrior” Marie asked through her tears, voice shaking and desperate “Will I be killed then? Or allowed to stay? And learn to become something else? Or…?”

The girl kept blabbering on.

Anya huffed with a glint of amusement in her brown eyes. She now did understand her charge’s problem. The girl was afraid of not meeting up to their expectations for her and she was afraid of the consequences if she would fail. Anya silenced the girl with closing her mouth and gently wiped away the tears from her cheek “You worry for nothing, Marie. If you try your best at the training you will surely not fail to become a warrior. And if you do not enjoy the life of a warrior you can of course choose a different path in the future. You will surely not be killed by us. So, stop the fretting, Marie.”

“Really?” the girl asked with a sniffle looking pitifully small right now, but Anya still noted the hope gleaming in her grey eyes.

“As I do not like being lied to, I will always speak only the truth to you as well” Anya answered gravely, her brown eyes boring down intently at the child.

Marie giggled lightly with a relieved expression “You know, the commander gave me the permission to keep on visiting her horses.” Her voice clearly resonated with the astonishment and even a hint of pride.

Anya inclined her head in acknowledgment and an amused smirk tugged at the corners of her lips. As fast as the girl’s mood had soured, it was lifted as well again obviously. The girl was not comparable to Lexa or even Tris in the slightest, both of them had never tended to get overly emotional and the instances where she truly had been required to comfort them had been very rare.

“And she allowed me to call her by her name outside of meetings” Marie added with a proud glint in her grey eyes. The exhaustion seemed gone from her features and the child was wide awake and even slightly chirpy now.

Anya nodded again “So I have heard already. You must have left a rather good impression on Lexa to allow you this privilege.”

The girl seemed to glow with pride at the praise and what it must mean and the sparkle was back in her eyes, before lightning and thunder came back again after some silence and the girl shrieked again and pressed herself into Anya’s body more firmly.

Anya could not help herself and started to laugh before she caressed her charges back soothingly, until the girl began to calm noticeably.

“Try to sleep, little skaifaya.” Anya murmured to her as she also settled down again “I will keep you safe.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

The next morning the storm had thankfully cleared away. Marie woke up still snuggled into Anya’s side comfortably. The woman seemed to be asleep still, her breathing even and deep and her eyes were closed. Maire peered up at the woman for long moments, as her grey eyes scanned over her features now that she had the chance to actually do so undisturbed. The woman’s features were sharp, even completely relaxed in her sleep, there seemed to be a lingering sharpness and austereness about Anya.

“Stop staring at me and get up” Anya grumbled at Marie suddenly with her eyes still closed.

Marie jumped slightly not having expected the woman to speak up as she had been convinced that Anya was still asleep.  “Sorry” she mumbled timidly, as a slight blush dusted over her cheeks at having been caught staring like that and she hurriedly inched away from the woman. She stretched slightly like a cat feeling the aches inside her body still. “Argh, my muscles ache” Marie complained in a whiny voice, testing slowly which movements hurt most and got up to dress for the day with a sigh, feeling Anya’s brown eyes watching her every move.

Anya had also gotten up now quickly in one fluid motion and she rolled her eyes at the girl’s complaint “You shall see, how your muscles feel after another round of training” she commented with a hint of amusement in her tone.

Marie looked at her utterly horrified, she had not even considered that her training would probably take place daily from now on. Internally she chided herself a fool for not having considered that yet, she was painfully aware of how lacking her skills were, so she would need to get as much training as quickly as possible, but she was not sure how she would be able to cope with the sudden physical strain on her body.

Anya laughed under her breath at her dumbfounded expression and tossed a wet cloth at her face “Wash yourself. I will grab us some breakfast shortly.” She had already dressed, while the girl had just stood around without doing anything really.

Marie glared at her retreating back, but started to wash herself obediently nevertheless. She should not anger the woman needlessly, she had gotten the impression that the woman would surely not accept disobedience or other non-sense. Anya would probably expect her to be on her own best behaviour constantly. She remembered Anya’s lasts words from last night, before she had drifted off again and noted to ask her about the unknown phrase later. The woman had spoken the words in an almost gentle tone and Marie was curious for their meaning. 

When Anya returned some time later, Marie was still struggling with her clothes and her hair started to look rather stringy and Marie kept pushing it out of her face in frustration, when the strands stubbornly fell in front of her eyes again, obscuring her view.

Anya placed the plates on the small table in the middle of the tent and huffed at Marie’s unsuccessful attempts to dress herself properly. “That won’t do” Anya said after a silent moment of observing the girl, so stepped closer to her and swatted the child’s hands away, closing all the buckles and straps in no time at all with practised hands. Marie would need to learn how to do that herself soon, but as long as the girl was unable to do so, she would help her. She turned the girl around and ran her fingers through her blonde locks shortly, detangling them, before she braided the wavy blonde hair into a simple braid fastening the braid in place with a short leather cord.

Anya turned the girl around and inspected her young charge with a critical gaze, before she inclined her head “Better, that will do for now. I will show you to the river later, where you can wash your hair”.

Although Marie was internally annoyed, that Anya had had to help her dress once again, smiled thankfully at the woman and tilted her head to the side slightly, trying to remember how exactly Anya had pronounced the unfamiliar words, before she asked curiously “What does skaifaya mean?”

Anya seemed perplexed for a moment, before a scowl settled on her features and she lightly glared at Marie and her cheeks seemed to turn a slight pink “Enough with the dawdling. Eat! Or you’ll go hungry until sundown.”

Marie wanted to argue, that she had not been dawdling at all and had only been curious and that Anya had evaded her question, but another glare from Anya, made her snap her mouth shut before she could try to argue with the woman. She sat down on the floor of the tent which had been covered with some pelts and eagerly ate the breakfast. Her stomach had started to growl at the sight of food. She had not eaten much the previous evening due to her glum mood, but now that it was lifted again, her hunger had returned.

Anya ate her food in silence and waited for the girl to finish rather impatiently, wanting to get back to the training pits as soon as possible. Once Marie did, Anya took the plate from her immediately and left the tent without any word, expecting the child to follow without being asked.

Marie blinked behind the retreating woman for a moment, wondering where Anya was going and why the woman had not told her, if she was supposed to follow or not. When she heard a throat being cleared directly in front of the tent, she stood up as quickly as her stiff muscles aloud, biting at her lips to reign in the slight hiss of pain wanting to escape. She hastened behind Anya quickly when the woman immediately resumed walking.

Anya discarded the plates at the bonfire, handing them over to one of the seconds on duty there and guided Marie through the village back towards the fighting pits.

With a small smile on her face Marie noticed that Tris already stood there, waiting for them. But a frown settled on her features, when they reached Tris and she could truly look at her. The girl reciprocated her smile in greeting, but Marie noted on the utter exhaustion painted on her face, bags were forming under her eyes, as if she had not gotten nearly enough sleep during the last nights.

Surprise flitted over Tris’ features, when she spotted Marie approaching behind Anya, but she did not make any comment.

Anya acknowledged Tris’ presence with a simple nod, her tone was sharp as she said “I hope the additional guard duty has cleared your head of your rebellious tendencies for now, Tris.”

Tris looked rather sheepish, lowering her eyes minutely before she nodded her head in agreement repeatedly “Of course, Anya. I’m sorry, I won’t disobey again.”

Marie listened to their conversation with a slightly confused frown, wonder why Tris was being punished. She dearly hoped that the other girl was not being punished because she had shown her kindness on the previous day. But she was pulled out of her musings by Anya, ordering the both of them to start running rounds around the training pits to warm up.

Tris jumped into action without missing a beat, being used to Anya’s drill and aware of what the woman expected, whereas Marie stayed in her place for a moment and sent a pitiful glance towards Anya in the vain hope of being let of training due to her aching muscles. Of course, Anya would have none of it and threatened Marie with additional training in the evening, if she did not obey her command immediately.

Marie ceased her unsuccessful attempt at manipulation quickly, when she noticed the impatience flashing through Anya’s brown eyes and started jogging around the pits as fast as she could. Tris was running way faster, so they ran around the pits in different rhythms. To Marie if felt, as if Tris was running at least two or maybe even three rounds, in the time she needed to finish even one round.

Anya kept watch over them carefully from the side-line, spurring Marie on sharply, when she started to slow down again after only a few rounds. Anya’s lips thinned visibly at Marie’s performance. The girl was moving too slow and her movements seemed uncoordinated and clumsy, even after only a handful of rounds the girl had visibly broken into a sweat and her breathing had gotten laboured. She wanted to see, how far the girl could push her own body, but Anya feared the child would collapse soon. So, she called both of her charges over to her, after another few rounds.

Marie came to a halt directly in front of Anya, breaths heaving and sweat running down her face. She tried to wipe away the sweat burning in her eyes, but only succeeded in rubbing more into her eyes. She had to hold herself up by putting her hands on her knees and leaning over slightly, as she frantically tried to regain her breathing.

Anya’s eyes narrowed at the younger girl, clearly unsatisfied with the girl’s performance. Her lips thinned, when it truly looked as if the girl could collapse any moment. She snorted under her breath, the girl would need to toughen up as soon as possible. She nodded to Tris, explaining to Marie briskly, that both of them would be using the hand to hand combat techniques, she had already taught her the basics off yesterday.

Marie foolishly assumed to have a higher chance at beating Tris compared to her previous experiences with Anya. She had forgotten for a moment, that Tris had also had years of experience in combat already. So, it truly was no surprise that she was lying gasping for air on her back on the ground only seconds later. She had not even gotten into the right fighting stance, before Tris had pounced her attack on the younger girl relentlessly.

“Again” Anya commanded in a bored voice from her post at the side of the field. She inclined her head at Tris minutely, acknowledging her clear victory. The girl had not fought unfairly, but she had hoped to see Marie try to defend herself at least a little.

Marie struggled to get up from the ground quickly, feeling her whole-body ache all over already. The rounds after that, Tris at least waited until Marie had gotten into her fighting stance, but it did not change the outcome of the fight one bit. The fights did only consist of one or two attacks from Tris and a poor try of Marie to defend herself against the other girl and Marie would end up on the ground again and again. After what felt like an eternity for Marie, Anya finally called an end to the fighting for now.

Tris looked at Marie apologetically, with a kind smile on her face and bend down slightly to offer her a hand to get up again. Before Anya could tell them what to do now, shouts were heard in the village. Marie looked over to them and saw that all of the inhabitants of the village were looking towards the sky, pointing at something. She looked up as well and a frown settled on her features, it looked as if another ship might have been sent down from the Ark and it was falling towards the earth with a flaming tail.

“Another part from your Ark?” Anya turned to her younger charge, brown eyes worried and lips pressed into a thin line as she questioned Marie immediately.

Marie shrugged “I don’t know for sure. But I guess. But the pod was rather small, probably only for one person.” She could not know for sure of course, but she did not have any knowledge of other people in space, which made it pretty probable that it had come from the Ark.

“It does not seem to have landed far from here” Tris observed thoughtfully, brown eyes hefted on the place, where the thing had disappeared from their sight.

Anya contemplated on what to do now for a few silent moments, before she inclined her head. “Come, we will try to find it” she briskly ordered, already beginning to stride into the direction of the tree line.

Marie felt a thrill of excitement run through her mind, forgetting about her aching body immediately, as she hurried behind Anya and Tris. The older girl seemed at least a little excited as well.

The way through the woods was much longer than Marie had anticipated and she had absolutely no idea how far away the village might be now or from which direction they had come from. What dimmed her excitement the most, was the fact that Anya had stopped criticising the way she walked from the very first moment in the woods. The woman constantly reprimanded her to walk more silently, although Marie was trying her hardest to copy Tris’ movements. 

“I am trying, Anya” Marie whined, annoyed with the woman’s constant criticism “Really…”

Tris had stopped in her tracks all of a sudden and Anya had whirled around, covering Marie’s mouth with her hand with an abrupt movement, startling the young girl strongly in the process.

Marie sucked in a harsh breath, looking up at the woman with widened eyes, wondering just what had made them stop. Anya and Tris both seemed to be searching for something, their attention solely focused on their surroundings.

“Ssh” Anya hissed at the girl under her breath, observing the trees closely and straining her hearing.

Only the fraction of a second passed, until a stag crashed through the bushes on their side, facing them for a second before it dashed away in another direction.

Anya let go of Marie and the girl looked after the stag shell shocked, grey eyes widened and sucking in another harsh breath. The stags head had been deformed split in a half between two faces, she had never seen such a thing before and the sight had shocked her speechless.

To Anya and Tris, the sight obviously was nothing to worry about and they both had relaxed again to some extent after the dear had vanished between the trees.

“Something or someone has startled the stag, careful now” Anya hissed at the both of them, as her eyes continued to scan their surroundings carefully. “You still place your feet wrongly” she continued her criticism in an annoyed tone after a few moments of moving again.

Marie sulked silently, as her mood soured again and tried to copy Tris’ movements harder this time. But no matter how hard she tried, she still failed miserably at it. If she looked on the ground to see the sticks she might step on, Anya demanded she did not heed her surroundings enough attention. She did not understand, how she should be able to know where she stepped without looking for it.

Sometime later, they finally reached their destination and could see that the pod had landed near a river.

Anya observed the pod from the safe distance of the tree line. Before Anya could leave the treeline to get a closer look at the pod someone could be heard behind them approaching the crash site as well. The sounds were much too loud to be caused by any of their people, so Anya instantly knew that it could only be Skykru or even worse Mountain Men. She whirled around quickly, motioning to her charges and Tris started to climb a tree next to them immediately.

Marie looked between the both of them worriedly, having concluded that whoever came there was probably not one of them. She watched how Tris climbed with a furrowed brow, absolutely convinced that she would not be able to get onto a tree like that and she dearly hoped that Anya had another hideout in hand for the both of them.

“Climb!” Anya hissed at Marie lowly, destroying the girl’s internal hope with her command.

Marie looked at her with wide grey eyes and fear flashing over her features, she had never climbed a tree and the first branch seemed to be awfully high up, she did not even know how she was supposed to reach it, nevertheless, climb the whole tree. She had already lost sight of Tris, as the girl had vanished at the top of the trees.

When the sound of the approaching person came nearer and Marie still had not moved an inch, Anya’s patience snapped and she quickly grabbed Marie and climbing onto the tree quickly, trying to hold Marie’s smaller body securely. Only a few seconds passed after Anya had stopped to climb further up in the tree, when a boy passed the tree under them with a raised gun in hand.

“It’s Bellamy” Marie whispered as lowly as possible to Anya, when he passed directly beneath them and she recognized his hair.

Anya nodded in mute acknowledgment and observed the sky boy. The boy ran to the pod, ripped the door open and searched for something frantically. He ripped a strange metal box out of the pod and closed the door again. Anya furrowed her brow in thought, the boy had completely disregarded the passenger she had already spotted inside the pod.

Bellamy ran a few meters away from the pod and threw the metal box into the river behind the pod. After the thing disappeared in the water the boy turned around and ran back into the woods.

All remained quiet for a few moments, but Anya still kept Marie mobilized beside her, waiting patiently if someone else might be approaching. She was fearing that the Mountain might have seen the thing falling from the sky as well and could come to investigate.

“What was that thing the boy threw into the river?” Anya demanded to know from Marie lowly, but her eyes remained on the metal contraption.

Marie shrugged in thought “I don’t know for sure, but it could have been a radio or something like that. Bellamy did not want the others to get in contact with the Ark.”

Anya kept a firm hold on Marie to make sure she would not fall accidentally from the branch they were cowering on, as the girl started to move a bit in this awkward position, clearly unused to stay still like this. The sounds of more approaching footsteps and a freely held conversation, made Anya tense again, tightening her hold on Marie even further.

When they were near enough to be seen from the tree, Marie easily identified the both of them as Clarke and Finn to Anya.

Anya observed the two teenagers as they ran towards the pod and opened the door also. But they in comparison to Bellamy were both more concerned about the passenger inside of the pod. A young woman with some dried blood on her forehead climbed out of the pod a moment later and hugged the boy rather enthusiastically. The other girl looked rather put out by the scene and remained in the background. They were too far away to listen on in their conversation, but a few moments later the woman from the pod went back and looked for something returning empty handed. All three of them appeared rather angry and hurried back through the woods in the direction the other two had come from.

Anya assumed that they were searching for the thing the other boy had previously tossed into the river. When the woods felt quiet again finally, Anya and Tris started to climb down from the tree again. Marie remained on the branch looking down to the ground with wide eyes. She had not felt too unwell on the tree with Anya securing her on it, but now without the woman, she was acutely aware of the heights.

“Come down, Marie!” Anya commanded loudly a moment later when the girl still had to move an inch.

Marie shook her head frantically, keeping a firm hold on the trunk of the tree. She had no idea how to climb down without falling the whole distance. She would probably survive the fall, but she would definitely hurt herself.

“Marie” Anya shouted again, impatience now noticeable in her voice.

When Marie still did not move, Anya turned away from the tree and sent Tris ahead back to TonDC with narrowed eyes.

The other girl left, sending Marie a short sympathetic glance over her shoulder. She knew that Marie would have to learn to move in the trees soon. They were surrounded by trees and using them as cover was essential for Trikru.

“Come back down at once” Anya ordered once more in a harsh voice that commanded absolute obedience.

Marie still just shook her head again, her fear only mounting with each passing moment.

Anya looked up at the branch she knew she left the girl on with an impatient glare “Believe me, you won’t like the consequences if I have to come back up and take you down myself!”

Anya’s threat had at least made Marie move a bit from the trunk, looking down to see if she would find a way to get down on her own.

“I don’t know how” Marie shouted down, voice frantic and tinted with rising panic, trying to keep her balance on the branch.

“It isn’t that hard, Marie” Anya answered back in a softer tone, rolling her eyes slightly at the frightened girl.

Marie huffed, of course it wasn’t hard for them. But she had never seen a tree until a few days ago nor had she ever climbed onto one. She had gotten one branch further towards the ground when she slipped and fell with a loud scream.

Anya had tried to catch the falling the girl before she could crash onto the ground, but the girl’s leg still twisted in an awkward angle with the impact of the fall.

“Ow!” Marie let out a pained moan as Anya let go of the girl to see if she could stand. The leg gave out under her and Anya caught her before she fell to the ground lifting the girl to carry her back to TonDC.

“Sshh” Anya shushed Marie in an almost gentle tone “Every child has to fall from a tree at least once, before they learn to climb. Nyko will take a look at your leg in the village.”

Marie gave her a little pained glare. She dearly hoped that not all of Anya’s lessons would contain hurting herself before she learned something.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

As Anya carried Marie back through the woods towards TonDC Marie, was trying hard to silence her groans of pain. Her leg was throbbing in sync with her heart beat and with every step Anya took Marie’s leg was jostled slightly only increasing the pain. She was unused to this kind of pain, never having hurt a limb before now. She held onto Anya’s coat strongly, hands fisted into the material.

“We will be there shortly” Anya tried to sooth the girl in an almost soft tone, sensing her charge’s discomfort. A small part of her, was feeling sorry for the child and that she now was clearly suffering. She had not lied, when she told her that it was common for Trikru children to fall from a tree at least once, but she had not managed to catch the girl completely and she knew that their training would not be able to continue as planned for the next days if not weeks. Trikru children grew up in the trees, so they started climbing as soon as they could walk. It was rare for Trikru children to seriously hurt themselves during their first attempts at climbing as the heights they reached, was not high enough to inflict serious damage. She had always believed that letting her seconds learn their lessons the hard and painful way, was for the best. A lesson which had hurt hard enough, would caution the pupil to do the same mistake twice.  That the girl let herself be carried by her now and was even clinging to her coat as if it was her lifeline, puzzled Anya greatly. She was certain that Lexa and Tris would not have assented to being carried in such a situation, even as a child the commander had been too proud to show weakness like this. Marie on the other hand, did not seem to have the same thoughts. That the girl had drawn physical comfort from her on the very first night of sharing a tent was also weird. The child was apparently trusting, too trusting in Anya’s opinion, it had taken both Lexa and Tris weeks to show the same amount of trust.

Marie only inclined her head mutely in acknowledgement, although she had no idea on what Anya’s definition on “shortly” would be. For her the way back seemed impossible long and she did not recognize anything during their walk. She breathed a deep sigh of relieve, when Anya suddenly broke through the tree line, revealing TonDC directly in front of them.

Anya immediately carried the girl into the healer’s hut and laid her down on one of the cots. “I will fetch Nyko” she told her charge ordering her to stay put and wait in a strict tone.

Marie sat up again as soon as the door closed behind Anya and looked around the hut with interest. She had never been here before and the hut looked vastly different than the woman’s hut who had given her the clothes. She could see a lot of different herbs hanging from the ceiling in dried bundles and the shelves which lined the walls were filled to the brim with different sizes and shapes of pots. The hut could not be compared on any level to the medical bay in the Ark, so Marie wondered how the healer of the grounder might work. The air in the hut was smelling strongly with the different herbs and the sturdy looking wooden table which stood in the middle of the room was covered in dark strains, which looked suspiciously like dried blood.

A shudder ran through her body, when Marie wondered just how many people must have bled on this table to leave it looking like that.

Her gaze was still fixed on the table, when Anya returned with a man following behind her. The man was as bulky as the other male grounders Marie had seen so far. He had dark hair braided back and a thick dark beard. His face was adorned with two huge tattoos and his blue eyes looked kindly at her.

Marie shyly smiled at the stranger, still wary of the reaction of the others to her. The memory of the slap she had received just yesterday was still fresh in her mind.

Nyko reciprocated her smile with one of his own and crouched down next to the cot the girl was lying on. “Let’s take a look at your leg then” he said in a kind voice as he had already been informed of the fall by Anya on their way and helped Marie shimmy out of her trousers and felt along her bare leg with a gentle touch.

She let out a hiss of pain when Nyko felt along her ankle. When he proceeded to twist her ankle around in various directions, Marie bit her lips to keep silent, groaning under her breath.

Nyko thankfully finished his examination quickly and got up again to look through on of the shelves filled with a variety of different pods. Marie could not see what he was searching for, but she guessed that the various pods all contained something different. Internally she wondered how the healer was able to know all the contents and where to find something specific, she had not seen any kind of labels and she could not identify a particular order system either.

“The bone seems to be intact” Nyko told Anya over his shoulder, still searching through the shelf. “Probably just sprained” he mused in a calm tone. They always regarded it as fortunate if the bones remained intact, healing a broken bone took long and sometimes they did not heal correctly, leaving the limb crooked forever.

Anya inclined her head with a hint of relief in her brown eyes. A sprained ankle would heal much quicker than a broken bone would have. The girl had a lot to learn besides physical training anyway, so there was still much she could do with her without having her to strain her injury. The child did not have any clue about the simplest facts of their culture, starting with their language and it was her duty now to change this as soon as possible.

Nyko returned to the girl’s side with a pot in one hand and gently applied the green paste it contained on the swollen ankle. The paste had a strong scent of mint and it tingled on Marie’s skin. He wrapped the ankle in a clean stripe of a soft cloth being careful not to wrap the swollen limb too tightly. “If you want to walk later, I will wrap it with something harder” he told the girl, before got up again.

Marie watched the healer take some leaves from a bundle of herbs and throwing them into a mug with steaming water. The mug was handed over to her a short moment later with the instruction “Leave the tea for a bit and drink it before it cools. It will help with the pain.”

Marie accepted the mug thankfully and softly blew on the streaming surface of the tea in order to cool it down faster.

“She should favour the leg until the swelling is down or she might hurt the ankle further” Nyko told Anya, blue eyes holding a warning. He knew well enough from experience that the warriors tended to overexert themselves too soon after suffering an injury, prolonging the healing even further. It was obvious that the child was physically much weaker than any of their own children her age and Nyko thought she would probably need a long time to adapt. The girl appeared to be soft and she would need to toughen up soon.

“Will do” Anya answered briskly, rolling her eyes slightly. She did not understand a lot of healing but she was of course aware that an injured limb needed to be favoured until it stopped hurting mostly.

“Thank you, Nyko” Marie acknowledged the man’s help with a shy smile and in a slightly subdued tone.

Both Anya and Nyko were looking at her rather strangely, after she had thanked the man and Marie averted her gaze biting her lips nervously. The man left the hut without another word, there were other things he had to do and the general would be able to take care of her second from now on.

Anya still stood next to the cot and regarded her charge silently for now with a contemplative expression on her stern face. A slight furrow rested on her brow, noting that she quickly needed to instruct the girl on how to behave from now on, it was absolutely clear that the girl’s upbringing had been vastly different.

“Why were you both looking at me strangely after I thanked him?” Marie questioned Anya a moment later to break the silence, feeling nervousness rise under the woman’s constant stare.

Anya crouched down next to the girl, looking into her grey eyes deeply, trying to convey that small things like this would be of utmost importance “We do not utter thanks for everything. It is Nyko’s purpose to heal others.”

Marie took the first sip from the tea and nearly spit it out again. She had not expected the brew to taste this bitter and a grimace twisted her features, as she coughed, trying to get rid of the taste. “Seems rather impolite” she commented with a frown.

“It isn’t for us. You will get used to our ways” she commented with a stoic expression, the girl would learn their customs with time. Amusement danced through her eyes, as she took some pity in the girl’s struggle to drink the tea, to retrieve some tea for her “And I suppose I can find some honey for your tea to sweeten it a bit”.

Marie nodded immediately with a thankful expression, glaring lightly at the cup in her hand and watched the woman leave the hut with quick strides. While she waited for Anya to return, Marie’s thoughts circled around the differences between her previous life and what she would need to adapt to now. She had naively thought she would just need to learn to fight, only now realising that she had a lot more to learn than that. Marie had thought that maybe Anya was just a stoic character, but the commander carried herself in the same austere fashion and although Nyko had appeared kind, he had shown the same stoic expression.

A short time later, Anya returned with a small round pot and a small wooden spoon in hand. She immediately took the mug out of Marie’s hands and added a spoon of honey to it, before handing it back to the girl.

Cautiously, Marie took another small sip from the tea noticing the sweeter taste immediately with relief. Her grey eyes clearly showed her gratitude for the woman, as she smiled up at her.

“Drink up” Anya ordered the girl sternly “The brew is less effective if it cools completely.” She also wanted to get back to her own duties and had just wanted to make sure the girl actually drank the tea, before leaving her alone.

Marie nodded mutely and quickly downed the tea with some bigger sips. “All done” she told Anya and handed the now empty mug back to her with a slight smile. Anya just sat it down on an empty table, Nyko would take care of it later when the healer returned.

“You will stay here for the next hours” Anya told her young charge “You will probably sleep sometime. The tea will make you tired. I will come and collect you later.” She had had to drink the tea on a few occasions as well, Anya preferred not take anything which would numb her mind to the pain, but she knew that the girl would likely sleep for a few hours before the tea’s effects wore off.

Marie just nodded in acceptance with a slight frown and wiggled a bit to get comfortable on the cot. Although the healer had been kind enough, she hoped that she would be left alone until Anya would be returning later.

Anya covered her with an additional fur as a blanket to keep the child warm and left the hut afterwards. She still had Tris to train and report to the commander what they had witnessed at the pod.

Marie had no idea how long she had lain on the cot before she fell asleep. But it could not have been long before her eyes had started to drop shortly after Anya had left her. She had already been tired from the training session and the shock of the fall and now the tea made her fall asleep almost instantly. The girl woke up to Anya shaking her shoulders rather roughly. Marie blinked her eyes open quickly, her mind still sluggish and confused.

Anya had an angry snarl on her face and the woman had not come on her own. Behind her Marie could see the dark-skinned woman, who had wanted to kill her before, and to Marie’s confusion the commander was there also.

All of them looked rather angry, while Indra looked outright livid. Anya’s brown eyes were narrowed to angry slits and one of the commander’s hands was tightened around her sword.

Marie noticed that it was already dark outside, so she concluded that she had slept for some hours already. She had no idea, what was up or what she might have done. Her tired mind was racing to come up with explanations as to why the three women were glaring at her that way. She could not have done anything while being asleep, right?

She looked at Anya with wide eyes, feeling afraid under their intensive glares. Her breathing quickened slightly, when the moment of silence seemed to stretch into eternity.

“Your people have declared war on us” Anya opened the conversation in a clipped angry tone, brown eyes glittering like polished stone.

Marie opened and closed her mouth a few times without uttering a word, silent in shock. She was absolutely clueless as to what had happened and had no idea what to say to them to improve her situation now.

“Did you know they had weapons to burn down a village?” Anya demanded to know harshly, pulling Marie out of her thoughts again.

The girl shook her head rapidly with an alarmed expression. “They burned down a village?” she asked with horror seeping into her voice, looking frantically between Anya and the commander, trying to avoid looking at Indra altogether.

It was the commander who answered her question in a grave voice “Yes. A village a few miles away has been burnt to the ground by missiles. And an armed group of your people has been seen wandering my lands.” The commander’s tone was laced with steel and her green eyes were furious. “What weapons did you have?” she wanted to know from the girl, although she already sensed that the child did not have the information they were searching for.

Marie took a moment to answer, her thoughts still fuzzy from sleep “Bellamy had a gun. And some others build some spears or knifes out of metal from the ship. But I don’t know about anything else.” Her grey eyes were honest and she hoped that the women would believe her.

The commander inclined her head in acknowledgment, contemplating the girl’s words for a moment, before she motioned to Indra. She left with her in tow without another word, starting to shout commands outside of the hut. She had foolishly assumed that the Sky children would not attack her people, but they needed to be taken off as quick as possible.

Anya’s expression still showed her fury, even after the commander and Indra had left. Her hands were clenched slightly and her lips were pressed into a thin line.

“Were there many people in the village?” Marie asked in a meek tone, not sure if the woman was angry at her. Even though she knew what happened was not her fault, she hoped that the other 100 had not burned the village on purpose.

“Around fifty I think” Anya finally answered the girl’s question with a sigh. The girl’s grey eyes were still clouded by fear and she appeared awfully small on the cot. Her anger was misdirected towards her charge, she knew that. Anya had already told Lexa and Indra that she thought it unlikely that the girl would know anything. So, she took a few calming breaths, trying to reign in her temper, it was not her intention to frighten the child.

“Are they all dead?” Marie asked, voice barely above a whisper and grey eyes shining with a sheen of tears.

Anya had to strain her hearing to even understand the girl at all. She nodded with a grave expression “I fear so. Nyko and some others were sent to look for survivors.”

“I am so sorry” the girl whispered tears dangerously close to falling now.

Anya shook her head “It was not your fault, Marie. We do know that.” She tried to reassure the girl, although she was slightly confused why the girl would assume such a thing at all. She took the fur covering the girl away and hooked her own arms under the girl’s knees taking her up into her arms.

“Nyko will not return before tomorrow. So, you can stay in my tent now” Anya explained in a calm tone, while she carried the girl through the village. Marie hid her face in Anya’s shoulder on the way, unwilling to see the glares she was sure the inhabitants of the village would be sending her way now.

Fortunately, Anya did not comment on her behaviour and no one tried to stop Anya on her way to her tent. She sat the girl down on the furs she had slept on last night. Marie was still feeling rather sleepy so Anya left her on her own.

Also, the girl was feeling sleepy, she did not want to sleep at the moment. She could hear Anya moving through the tent and sometime later another person entered. They were conserving in trigedasleng, so Marie was not able to understand anything at all. But she did recognize the voice as being the commander’s.

They both sounded angry judging from their tone. Marie could not fault them for being angry, the other 100 had eliminated a whole village. Surely, they would be killed now and there was nothing she could do. The way she was feeling at the moment she even was not sure if she should want to do something to help them.

Sure, the grounders seemed harsher than the people from the Ark. But they had sort of saved her and with Anya she was now given a chance to start a new life. Marie fell asleep again against her will, lulled to sleep by the ongoing conversation she could not understand in the tent between Anya and the commander.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

Booming thunder woke Marie up an undefined time later, with a startled squeal. She blinked her eyes a few times to adjust to the darkness in the tent and pulled the furs tighter around her body, shivering against the coldness of the night. Marie frowned, when she spotted the tent flap open and Anya’s furs empty, they also looked unused so far so Anya probably had not slept at all until now.

Wind was howling around the tent strongly and rain plastered against the tent in heavy drops. The storm sounded even angrier than the last one Marie had witnessed the night before. In addition, Marie could hear people shouting orders outside, against the howling wind and bustling through the village. Their voices sounded as if the inhabitants of the village were in a frenzy and Marie frowned, wondering what was going on. It worried her, that Anya had left her alone with no orders. She waited for a few tense moments, in the vain hopes that Anya would return to her quickly, before she slowly stood up, trying not to put too much weight on her injured ankle, and keeping the fur wrapped tightly around her slight frame. She slowly limped to the open tent flap and peered outside. Grounders were running through the village, taking down tents here and there and boarding up some of the wooden structures of the village.

The tent was shaking strongly under the force of the wind and Marie looked around for any sign of Anya, Tris or even the commander. Something was not right here and she was starting to feel afraid all on her own in the midst of the hectic bustling around her. The storm was definitely stronger than the last one. Before Marie had a chance to step out of the tent, Anya appeared in her line of sight and came towards the tent with quick strides.

“What is wrong, Anya?” Marie questioned the woman worriedly, grey eyes peering up at her.

“A hurricane is coming” Anya answered her in a serious voice, barely stopping a second in her movements “We are going to seek shelter in caves that are not too far away.”

Anya directed her back into the tent and Marie helped her to the best of her abilities to gather Anya’s belongings and roll up the furs. Tris also joined them a few moments later, already packed with her own set of furs, her weapons strapped to her body.

It took them only a few minutes to get ready to leave, but the wind had already picked up even more and Tris was glancing worriedly to the dark sky only illuminated by occasional lightning.

“Come” Anya ordered both of them in a strict tone and set the pace hurriedly through the village. Marie could see others packed with their things as well. The village did not barely have enough storm-proof buildings to host everyone, which forced many people to seek shelter elsewhere.

Marie had difficulties to keep up with Anya’s unrelenting pace and her ankle started to ache more with every step she took, but staying behind in a hurricane did not sound advisable as well. Marie had heard about hurricanes in the old world before the bombs in one of her lessons. They had been common in some regions in America and used to cause a lot of damage, destroying whole cities and killing people as well. So, Marie bit her lips and tried to ignore the pain for now. A safe place for the night was definitely more important than a hurting ankle now and she still hoped that Anya’s definition of “not too far away” would truly be relatively near.

On the way through the village, Tris suddenly yanked Marie to the side and Marie watched wide eyed as the horses raced through the village on their own fleeing before the storm as well.

She had just opened her mouth to ask why the horses were on their own, when Anya already answered her unvoiced question.

“The horses can find shelter for themselves. They will return when the storm has calmed” Anya explained to Marie. It was customary for them to let the animals fend for themselves in situations of danger, the horses were all trained well enough to find their way back to their homes when everything was safe again. Anya actuated them to keep moving against the howling storm and Tris and Marie followed the woman mutely.

The rain had already soaked Marie through and through completely, after only a few moments and the girl was starting to shiver against the cold, she could not remember ever being this wet in clothes before. For her it felt like an eternity through the woods in the darkness. The girl wondered how Anya and Tris were even able to navigate them through the trees without any hesitation at all. To Marie every tree looked the same at the moment and she dearly hoped they would arrive at the caves soon. Her ankle was sending a shooting pain up into her leg and she had difficulties not to slip on the wet ground and the rain was coming down on them relentlessly.

Marie stumbled behind Anya and Tris almost blindly and she felt like sobbing in relief when Anya called them to a stop at the opening of a cave, but her relief was rather short-lived.

Anya ushered them into the cave quickly, shortly speaking with the commander.

Marie recognized the commander and Indra in the cave, but she did not recognize anyone else.

A small fire had already been lit at the entrance of the cave and Marie had to cough because the air was heavy with smoke. Although breathing was difficult like that, it was at least warmer than outside and the ground of the cave was dry as well.

To Marie’s outmost horror her furs were also soaked through completely. With a miserable expression Marie set her furs down next to Tris’ and Anya’s furs. None of them had packed any dry clothes to sleep in. Tris and Anya had started to lay down their weapons and got out of the outer layers of their clothes. Both of them had worn heavy leather coats and were much drier than Marie herself, their clothes only showing a few darker strains, where the rain had found a weaker patch in their coats.

Marie grimaced, when she lowered herself onto her fur. She could feel the water which had gathered in the thick fur being squeezed out by the addition of the weight of her body, making the water cling to her already wet clothing. She looked over at Anya’s and Tris’ fur, wondering with a scowl what the both of them had done differently, as both of their furs looked much dried than her own.

Anya regarded the girl silently from the corner of her eyes, after having reported to the commander shortly. Guards had already been assigned and none of them would be required to partake in guard duty, so they could try to catch some sleep. It was obvious that something was bothering the younger of her charges, the girl laid on her furs, almost rolled together and Anya could her frame still shake with shivers.

“Are you alright?” Anya asked Marie lowly with a frown on her face and crouched down beside the girl.

Marie just nodded silently, unwilling to look at the woman for the moment. Marie was not alright of course, she was soaking wet and cold, her ankle hurt terribly and her mood was fouler than ever.

Anya huffed under her breath, annoyed at the girl for blatantly lying her in the face again. “Stand up” she ordered sharply with a glare. Her own shirt was reasonably dry and she feared her charge might already be getting sick without sleeping wet as well. The girl’s body was surely not used to rough weather.

Marie pouted visibly, but complied with her order without any voiced protest.

Anya took the furs of the girl with a slight grimace, feeling the water dripping from it already and laid them nearer to the fire so they might dry in the night. “You have rolled them up the wrong way” she told the girl in a sharp tone. Anya shrugged out of her own shirt quickly, leaving her in some tight pants and her breast bands. She handed her own shirt to the girl with the order to change into it. It was warm enough for her to sleep topless and she hoped that the extra clothing article would warm her younger charge quicker.

Marie blinked at her in obvious confusion, looking at the shirt for long moments, before she took it tentatively and changed into it finally. She felt weird wearing the woman’s shirt, as it hung from her thin frame, reaching down to her knees and hanging off of one shoulder. She felt as if she was drowning in the material, absentmindedly Marie wondered from what material the shirt might have been woven. It felt slightly scratchier than what she was used to, but it also felt a lot warmer immediately.

Anya watched the girl change in silence, frowning slightly at the pitiful image the child presented, fiddling with some of the excess material in her fingers, grey eyes focused on the ground at her feet. Her own gaze landed at the girl’s feet and she noted how the bandage Nyko had put over Marie’s ankle was soaked as well completely and the child was barely putting any weight onto the foot. Anya directed the her to sit on her own furs and crouched down in front of the girl. She carefully removed the soaked bandage from Marie’s ankle, trying not to twist the limb around, but she could still catch the girl hissing slightly at the contact. With a worried expression Anya noticed that the girl’s ankle was swollen even more now and the slightly bluish tint of the swollen skin only added to her worry. She huffed under her breath, there was nothing they could do now to ease the girl’s pain as no healer was present in the cave. She stood up again and ordered the girl to lie down. Her lips thinned, when the girl started to struggle to stand up from her furs again. Anya put her hands onto Marie’s shoulders, pushing the child down again easily. “You cannot sleep on your own furs now, they need to dry first” she explained in a calm tone.

Marie just nodded with a relieved expression and tried to make as much room for Anya as possible, clearly understanding now that they would be sharing Anya’s furs for the night. She looked around the cave minutely, grey eyes flitting around nervously, but none of the others present seemed to judge Anya’s half-dressed state or that she planned to shar her furs with her now. It did not seem to Marie as if many were even paying any attention to her at all.

Tris had also retired to her own furs and Anya quickly went over to the commander, speaking quickly with the younger woman, before returning to her charge. She slipped beneath her furs mutely and it took Marie only a moment, before the girl snuggled a bit closer to her with a shiver trying to absorb some of the heat the woman’s body was emanating. With an annoyed huff Anya ended the girls wriggling and pulled her smaller body more tightly against her own frame. With a sigh of obvious contentment, the girl got comfortable only a few moments later and Anya could see her grey eyes drifting shut with an almost peaceful expression.

In the morning Anya’s foreboding that Marie’s body might not be prepared to deal with the changed conditions was confirmed. When she woke up, she could already feel that the girl’s skin was emanating too much heat and sweat was glistening on her fair skin. When Anya shook the girl awake a moment later, her grey eyes were slightly red and glassy, obviously having problems to focus. She sighed under her breath, hoping that Nyko would have returned to TonDC. She was unprepared to take care of a sick child, nor was she rather patient at it.

Marie felt terrible when Anya woke her up on the next morning. Her head was throbbing painfully, her throat was sore and her nose felt slightly stuffed, hindering her breathing.

The girl looked the picture of pitiful right now and Anya groaned in annoyance, it was obvious that Marie was not just a little sick, but was already suffering from a full-blown sickness. The quick onset of the disease made her frown though, she hoped the girl had only caught a common cold and nothing more severe.

Fortunately, over the course of the night the worse of the storm had already passed over the area them and it was safe again now to return to TonDC. Anya knew that much would have probably been destroyed, but they would rebuild quickly. It was not the first and surely not the last hurricane to pass through TonDC.

She ordered her younger charge to stay put for the moment, standing up to collect her clothing. It should have been dried completely after lying next to the fire through the whole night. When she turned her back to Marie, the girl audibly sucked in a harsh breath and her grey eyes were widened.

“What is it?” Anya demanded to know with a furrowed brow. Her brown eyes had quickly flitted over the cave, but no one had made any move towards them.

“Are those all kill marks?” Marie questioned with a slight tremble to her voice, grey eyes clearly showing her horror at the thought.

Anya just nodded, confused with the girl’s reaction, although she was of course aware of the many rows of kill marks spanning over her shoulders, she had stopped thinking about them a long time ago. She handed the now dried clothing back to the girl, telling her briskly to dress. She was sure that they would set back to TonDC only slightly later. The swelling in the girl’s ankle had gone down a bit overnight at least. If the girl came down with a cold, she would not be able to train physically for some time anyway.

Indra was glaring daggers at her charge from the other side of the fire with a disdainful expression on her face. “These sky children are weaklings” she hissed at Anya as the woman went to the fire to also gather Marie’s furs.

Anya huffed, rolling her eyes at the dark-skinned woman “I am sure she will astonish you sooner or later, Indra.”

Indra pursued her lips and shook her head, while Marie had started to cough “Getting sick from a little bit of rain” the disdain dripping strongly from Indra’s every word.

Anya rolled her eyes again at the other woman. From what she had understood from the girl’s description of the space ship they had lived in, there had been no weather or changes in the temperature. So, Anya was not surprised that the girl would get sick easily, her body would need time to adapt to the new surroundings as well.

In the meantime, Tris had collected food from the hunters for all of them and gave Marie her portion. “Oh, you don’t look very well” the other girl commented with a small smile.

Marie just gave her a pitiful glance and coughed some more, she looked at the food in her hands with a frown, not feeling like eating at all.

Anya and Tris had both eaten their portions fast, both aware that the group was getting ready to leave the cave and return to TonDC as quick as possible, while Marie was only picking at her food not really eating anything.

After some time, when the others had started to pack up, Anya took the food away from the girl without a word, when the girl did not show any kind of resistance, in fact barely even reacting, she felt her forehead. The girl was definitely sporting a fever already. Anya hoped that Nyko had returned from the burned village as well. She was no good at healing and was unfamiliar with most of the herbs the healer used.

“Ow!” Marie let out a pained groan, when she tried to stand on her injured ankle. “I can’t walk back, Anya” she complained in a whiny voice.

Anya’s lips formed a harsh thin line “You will walk back or do you want to stay here?” she asked sharply.

Marie gaped at her for a moment before she shook her head. Internally, she was wondering if Anya would truly just leave her here to find her way back to the village on her own, if she was not able to keep up with the others.

“We can go slower now, Marie” Anya reassured the girl in a softer tone, when she spotted the girl’s expression falling and waited for her to limp to the entrance of the cave.

The commander’s horse had already found its owner and Lexa had already mounted the huge mare. Even under the influence of the fever Marie was enamoured with the horse and admired the horse from afar for a moment.

None of the others at the cave were injured or sick, so Lexa offered to take the girl with her on her horse, when she spotted how unsteady the girl seemed on her feet, swaying in place slightly.

Anya would have liked to decline, not wanting to show favouritism to the girl, but she knew that the way back would be longer without the storm pressing their pace. And as a bonus Indra’s expression of disbelief was enough for Anya to hoist the girl up in front of Lexa.

Lexa snaked an arm around the girl’s smaller body to keep her safe on the horse.

“Thank you, commander” Marie said with wonder clear in her voice and started to cough again right after.

The bulky man next to the commander said something to her in trigedasleng, but Lexa just waved him off dismissively. 

When the horse started to move Marie let out a startled yelp and clawed her fingers into the mare’s mane to what the horse whinnied back.

“Easy there” Lexa spoke softly to Marie and pried her fingers loose from her horse’s mane “You are spooking skairasha. I won’t let you fall off.” She snacked an arm around the girl’s body, pulling her closer to herself and making sure the girl would surely not fall down.

Marie nodded a bit reassured and leaned more firmly into the body of the commander to feel securer on the horse, unused to the heights and the movements of the horse.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

Shortly after their journey had started, Marie could not keep her eyes open any longer, she felt hot and cold simultaneously and her whole body ached. She tried to keep her eyes open forcefully, but the longer her tried, the stronger her eyes burned and she could already feel tears escaping her eyes and running down her cheeks, before she gave into the exhaustion and let them fall close, drifting off almost immediately.

Lexa frowned, when she felt the girl’s body slacken in front of her in the saddle. They had only crossed a short distance yet and she had to tighten her arms around Marie’s smaller body to keep the child in the saddle with her. She put a hand on the girl’s forehead worriedly and noticed that a strong fever was waging war within the child’s body. The commander urged her horse into a faster trot, the girl needed to see a healer as soon as possible. Quiet a lot of her people were lost to sickness and fevers; their healers were not always able to help their sick. The girl was small and scrawny, her body not used to the temperature drop. Marie needed to put on some weight and muscle or she would not survive the next winter breath. She had noticed how both Marie’s and the boy’s skin, who had been brought to TonDC with her, were fair and pale, untouched by the sun, giving both of them an almost sickly complexion.

When they finally reached TonDC, the extent of the devastation the storm had caused was evident. All of the tents that had not been dismantled on time in the night before had been completely destroyed, leaving only occasional broken off posts and ripped rags behind. Huge branches from the trees around the village had been ripped from the trees and had been blown into the village. The only buildings completely unscathed, had been those built out of robust wood or bricks.

All around the village, people were already working on removing everything which had been destroyed the previous night. Lexa could see that her tent had already been erupted again in the middle of the village as well and a small group was starting to erupt the general’s tent also. The healer’s hut was one of the sturdier buildings of TonDC, so it had survived the storm without any damage.

Lexa steered her mare directly to the healer’s hut and waited until Anya had caught up with her. Without Marie slowing the group down, the rest of the warriors had reached TonDC fairly quickly. She gave the unconscious girl over to Anya and dismounted her horse. A young second who had started to work at the stables for now came running to take skairasha’s reins over and bring the horse to the stables.

Anya took Marie into the healer’s hut and laid her down onto one of the cots. To her utter dismay, the hut was empty as Nyko had not returned yet. She let her gaze wander around the hut helplessly, trying to look for herbs she recognized, but as Anya was completely unfamiliar with all the herbs dangling from the ceiling, it was an impossible task. She never had had children of her own and when Lexa or Tris had been ill, there had always been a healer, so she never had to take care of them on her own in case of sickness.

In the meantime, Marie had started to shiver so much, that her teeth rattled together audibly. Anya bundled up some furs and packed the shivering girl tightly into them, in the hopes of getting her warm again. She also quickly stocked a small fire in the fireplace of the hut to raise the temperature in the hut. Anya sniffed at the different herbs dubiously with a frown on her face, trying to find something to lower the girl’s high fever. The only herbs she could identify for sure were herbs to numb pain, so nothing that would help Marie now. She got stuck with two different herbs, looking between them with narrowed eyes. They looked similar, too similar for her to settle on one and in the back of her mind, she thought to remember that one would induce a deep sleep and the other lower the fever.  Annoyed with her own incompetence, Anya huffed and pulled the furs tighter around the girl, before she left the hut in search of someone with at least some basic healing skills. The girl seemed to be burning up and Anya highly doubted that her fever would vanish without any interference, she knew how deadly a strong fever could be. 

Every inhabitant of TonDC was outside and they were all working hand in hand to erase the devastation as quickly as possible. Anya knew from experience, that the last traces of the damage would be wiped away in a day or two at most.

She stopped one of the warriors, who had been on guard duty the last night “Has anyone seen Lincoln return?” she asked him briskly. Anya knew that Lincoln had been supposed to keep watch of the sky children’s camp and he was the only one of who she knew for sure that he was versed in the art of healing.

The warrior shook his head in the negative “Not that I am aware, but I will ask around.”

Anya nodded with a frown, wondering what might have delayed Lincoln’s return. The man had been due to make another report last night already and she hoped that he had a good reason for his delay. She continued her way through the village with quick purposeful strides, she knew that Lexa was overseeing the rebuilding of the communal hall of the village. “Is any of the handmaids who accompanied you to TonDC familiar with healing?” Anya asked the commander, hoping that the woman could offer some last resort.

Lexa eyed her general with a questioning gaze, brow raised in silence.

“Nyko has not returned yet, neither has Lincoln from observing the invaders” Anya explained in an annoyed tone “The girl is burning up and I don’t know what herbs to give her.” It was clear, that she was annoyed about having to ask for help, but she would not do her charge any favour otherwise.

The commander gestured to one of her guards “Go and fetch Alira” she ordered sharply and the man inclined his head immediately, turning on his heel and leaving the communal hall without another word. While Lexa already gestured to another guard “Assemble a search party for Lincoln.”

The man nodded in confirmation and left as well.

“You worry for Lincoln?” Anya asked, remaining beside the commander with a slightly raised brow.

“He may have only been delayed, but a scout going missing is never a good sign” Lexa said in a cautious tone, her expression not betraying any of her feelings on the matter. They still did not know how dangerous the sky kids were and an armed group of them had been trespassing in Trikru land the day before. She would do well not to underestimate them after they had burnt down one of their villages.

Before they could continue their conversation, one of the guards returned with Alira in toe. Alira was one of her older handmaids who had already served for the commander before her. Lexa knew the woman had a broad knowledge and was loyal to the bone.

“Are you familiar with treating someone with a high fever, Alira?” Lexa addressed the woman.

The older woman nodded respectfully and her dark eyes flitted over the commander’s form quickly, obviously trying to judge if Lexa was sick herself.

“You are to follow Anya’s orders for now, Alira” Lexa commanded and dismissed both of them, returning her attention to the rebuilding immediately.

Alira followed behind Anya’s fast strides silently and Anya ushered her to the healer’s hut. 

Anya noted immediately that Marie’s shivering had only increased in the time she had been away and her whole frame shook violently now, her breathing sounded laboured as well, adding to her internal worry.

Alira took over the care of the sick child immediately and the first thing she did, was removing the furs from the overheated girl.

Anya stepped in front of the woman, taking a hold of her wrist, stopping her movements. Her voice was harsh as she addressed the handmaid with a furrow to her brow “What are you doing? She is clearly cold.”

Alira shook her head in the negative, waiting for the general to let go of her wrists as determination edged into her face. “The fever has to be brought down first. The shivering will cease afterwards” she tried to reason with the other woman.

Anya’s brown eyes bore into the dark ones of the handmaid for long moments, until she let go of her wrist again and took a slight step back.

The older woman took warm water from the kettle over the fire, poured it into an empty mug and walked around the hut taking different herbs here and there, adding them to the water. She minced different herbs together and crushed them to a paste that had a strong almost biting smell.

Anya continued to watch the woman like a hawk, still not convinced of her knowledge and if she might just want to worsen the girl’s condition even further. She knew, that not everyone had been pleased to hear the decision that Marie would be staying with them.

Alira took the girl’s shirt off to apply the paste to her chest and back to ease the laboured breathing. The tea had simmered enough and she manoeuvred the girl into a sitting position afterwards, forcing the brew down her throat with some gentle coaxing. “I need cool water now” Alira exclaimed in Anya’s direction, still coaxing the girl to drink the tea.

Anya inclined her head and grabbed an empty bowl. She hesitated for a moment, before she nodded towards the woman, still not feeling entirely well leaving the girl alone with the unknown handmaid. But the woman obviously had Lexa’s trust, so without another viable option, that would have to suffice for now. She went to collect some water from a nearby stream in a hurry, wanting to return as quickly as possible. When she returned to the hut, the mug had been emptied and Marie had been undressed to her underwear. The handmaid directly took the water from her, dumping some cloths into the cool liquid and positioning the wet cloths over the girl’s leg and chest.

Anya just stayed beside her and continued watching the woman work in silence.

“The wet cloths will help to lower her temperature more quickly. It is dangerously high right now. Her body does not seem able to fight the illness well” Alira explained to Anya’s unvoiced question and Anya noted on the badly veiled worry underlining the handmaid’s tone.

Anya inclined her head in acknowledgement, settling down on one of the chairs next to Marie’s bed, when the handmaid told her that they now needed to wait. Fortunately, the effects of Alira’s treatment could be seen a short time later already. Marie’s breathing had become more even again and her temperature was lowered. The girl’s forehead was still hot to the touch, but she did not seem to be burning up this severely any longer. The girl’s shaking had also decreased and Alira packed the girl into the furs again and made a new batch of tea for later.

“General, no offence” Alira started with a calm expression a few moments later “There is no need for you to keep her vigil as well. I will continue to monitor the girl.”

Anya looked at the woman with raised brows. Her lips thinned in irritation at the woman and the way she was now trying to order her around. “You are aware of who you are treating there?” she demanded to know rather harshly, glowering at the other woman.

Alira nodded with an honest expression “She is your second now, the girl who fell from the stars. Not that it matters to me, but word travels fast through the camp” she answered calmly, clearly unfazed by the general’s anger.

“You do not harbour any ill will towards her?” Anya implored with a piercing glare, still not yet convinced entirely.

The woman shook her head in denial with an open expression “It is not my place to carry ill will towards her. She is a child still and Heda seems to hold her in high regards that is good enough for me.”

Anya nodded cautiously, but the woman’s words had sounded honest enough. So, she turned on her heels and left the hut. She still had her duty as a general and Tris to look after anyway, although somehow leaving the girl behind did feel off somehow.

~~~

The next two days passed in a blur to Marie, as she continued to slip between consciousness and deliriousness constantly, her fever seemingly not being affected by Alira’s attempts to heal her. Alira stayed by her side almost constantly, sleeping in the healer’s hut for the time being and Anya was there, whenever she could spare a few minutes.

In all the time, Nyko still had yet to return, so they would have to take care of the child on their own for now. The fever always climbed back after a few hours and Anya had begun to fear the girl would not survive the sickness, her fear rising with every hour without a positive change.

On the third day, Alira declared that the fever had finally broke for real and that the child would surely survive now.

Anya took in the news with a relieved sigh, but it worried her still that Marie was still not coherent again. The girl’s skin was too pale and she seemed to have lost even more weight during the last three days, giving her face an even sicker impression.

“Go and get some real rest, Alira” Anya ordered the woman, as the handmaid had watched over the girl the whole last night on her own again. “I will stay for now” she proclaimed firmly. There was nothing which needed her immediate attention as Tris had joined a hunting group, giving her a few free hours.

Alira nodded her agreement in silence and left the hut to sleep in the tent reserved for the handmaids which travelled with the commander.

Anya sat down next to the cot, Marie was still sleeping in and gently took one of the child’s small hands into her own. She was relieved to feel that the child’s skin finally felt normal to the touch again. She noted absentmindedly how soft the girl’s skin was which was proof to the fact that the girl was unused to any kind of physical labour or fighting. Where her own fingers were calloused and littered with various scars, Marie’s small slender fingers were entirely smooth still. She squeezed the girl’s fingers lightly and startled slightly when she felt an answering squeeze from the child’s fingers. “Marie” Anya addressed the girl in a soft tone, trying to rouse her back into consciousness carefully.

It took Marie a few moments to blink her eyes open again and when she did, she immediately began to cough heavily.  “Anya…” Marie’s grey eyes showed her confusion and her voice was raspy “…what happened?”

“Wait” Anya ordered her charge and let go of her hand minutely to get the girl some more tea, hoping that it would sooth her scratchy throat and make talking easier. “Drink” Anya gave the cup to the girl and Marie took a few sips slowly, grimacing at the bitter taste of the brew immediately.

“You became sick after the storm” Anya explained in a soft tone, worry still lingering in her brown eyes, ignoring the girl’s grimace for now.

“How long…?” Marie wanted to know with a puzzled expression, trying to remember what happened, but her memories were fuzzy and unclear.

“You have been in and out of consciousness for three days now” Anya answered calmly, feeling the child’s forehead again, checking that her temperature had not risen again.

Marie looked at her with wide disbelieving eyes “That long?!”

Anya nodded with gentleness in her brown eyes “You got me worried there, ai skaifaya.”

“What does that mean?” Marie questioned Anya with curiosity written on her face, she remembered that the woman had used the term before but had not explained its translation to her yet.

“It translates to my star in your language” Anya explained after a long moment of silence somewhat reluctant. Anya decided quickly that the child’s blinding smile was enough to make up for her own discomfort.

Before the girl could utter her next words, the door to the hut was opened and Lincoln stumbled inside. Anya whirled around and quickly took in the man’s condition with a frown. He was wearing Skykru clothes and Anya could see bruises and cuts through the open jacket on his chest and one hand was wrapped in a thick bandage, blood seeping through slowly.

Marie looked at the stranger with wide eyes and a slightly open mouth, the man was obviously wounded and looked as if he had been trashed or in a heavy fight.

“What happened to you, Lincoln?” Anya demanded to know harshly and forced the man to sit on the cot opposite of Marie, as Lincoln looked as if he might drop any second. Which was exactly what he did only moments later, his eyes rolled back and the man lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Anya told Marie to stay put under her furs and hurried out of the healer’s hut with purposeful strides to alarm Lexa and collect Alira again. It was obvious that Lincoln was in dire need of some healing and the commander would surely wish to know that their scout had returned to call back the others seeking for him. On her way through the village, Anya was told that the commander was still occupied in the newly rebuilt communal hall, so she sought it out first. It was a fortunate instance, that Alira had went there as well and was still updating the commander on the sky girl’s changed condition.

Lexa’s green eyes showed their slight confusion at spotting Anya with them, before the general could speak.

“Lincoln has returned” Anya reported quickly to Lexa with a serious expression and an undertone of anger in her voice “And he is injured, lost consciousness before I came here.”

Lexa looked at Anya with a furrowed brow “Did he tell you, why he just returned now?”

Anya shook her head in the negative “He collapsed, before he could tell me anything.”

The commander inclined her head in mute acknowledgement, but Anya could see the slight tightening of the brunette’s jaw. She was familiar enough with Lexa to recognize the small change for a sign of anger. Both of them obviously had come to the same conclusion, it was unlikely that Lincoln had just been delayed by the hurricane. The scout was too familiar with the woods around them and would have easily found shelter, so it was probable that the Sky children had a hand in his condition.

Together, the three women went back to the healer’s hut, where they found Lincoln still lying unconscious on the cot next to Marie and the girl had fixed the stranger with an unblinking stare.

At the sound of their entrance, Marie startled strongly, grey eyes widened as she looked up to them.

Lexa looked at the girl with a calm expression and the corners of her lips ghosted upwards in the hint of a smile, her tone was reassuring and honest, when she addressed the girl. “It is good to see you coherent again, Marie” she acknowledged the child with a slight nod. The girl seemed openminded and curious enough, to have a chance at adapting to their culture. It had been surprising to see her horses reacting like this to the unfamiliar girl and she trusted their judgement. Something must be about the girl for them to accept her this easily. Anya had also told her, that the child seemed to develop a deep trust to her as well, enhancing her chances at survival. It would have been a shame, if the child died because of a simple sickness and she was honestly relieved to see her recovered.

“Thank you” Marie replied with a shy smile, voice slightly subdued, still not feeling too comfortable around the younger leader. “I am feeling better already” she added after a beat, before a new bout of coughing interrupted her words, watering her eyes with its force. She was visibly out of breath, a grimace on her face, as she gently felt along her throat, before her grey eyes returned to Lincoln.

Alira had directly went to the unconsciousness man and was quickly divesting him of the jacket, he was wearing.

What was revealed underneath the fabric, made Marie gasp loudly at the sight, grey eyes widening in disbelief.

Lexa and Anya both clenched their teeth angrily, the wounds left on Lincoln’s body agreeing with what they had been expecting already. They did not match with wounds, you would expect from an accident, but clearly looked to have been caused by physical torture. The warrior’s torso was lined with bloody welts and bruises and some round marks that appeared to have been burned into his flesh.

Lexa’s mouth tightened at the sight, anger rising in her mind. Lincoln had been tasked to observe the Sky children’s camp, so it was probable that they were responsible for his condition, adding another sin of war to their misdeeds. Another clan, would not have been foolish enough to let a captured scout escape alive and there was peace among the clans now. But what was revealed under the bloody bandage on the warrior’s hand, made the commander really grind her teeth in silent seething anger.

A tool of some kind had been pierced completely through the man’s hand and left there. When Anya helped Alira to pull the bulkier man into a sitting position to take a look at his back, they found it in a similar condition to his front littered with welts and bruises as well.

Marie watched the proceedings with horror etched deeply into her features. It took her long moments, to understand that this kind of damage could have only been inflicted by another human and definitely not by some kind of animal.

Alira had started mutely to gather everything, she would need to clean and take care of all the wounds.

Anya and Lexa were both silently staring at the warrior, none of them actually paying Marie any attention at the moment.

“First they burn down a village and now this!” Lexa fumed through clenched teeth, her hands balled into fists at her hips.

Marie gulped loudly as it clicked in her mind that the commander could only mean the other 100. “The other delinquents did this?” she asked, horror and disbelief battling on her features.

Anya nodded in acknowledgement with fury dancing in the general’s brown eyes. She was confused slightly, that the girl had obviously not come to the conclusion already on her own from the Skykru clothes to Lincoln’s condition. But she also saw the fear clearly evident in the girl’s grey eyes and that they were already glistening with unshed tears. The invaders had clearly declared war on them now and in a way, which could not be ignored any longer. First burning down a village and now torturing one of them, were all acts of war and Trikru had to answer them soon. A few silent tears were rolling down the girl’s cheeks already, as she watched Alira clean the wounds the other 100 had inflicted on the Trikru warrior.

Only a few days ago, when Marie had heard John getting tortured by Trikru warriors, she had been deathly afraid and sure that her people would never be this cruel to another. And now, she was proven wrong, the other delinquents had done exactly the same thing to the warrior. Even if she was unfamiliar with the ways of the warriors of Trikru, Marie instinctively knew that there would be deathly consequences for the other 100 now. A small voice in her mind wondered, if she would be subjected to the same consequences, but before she could actually work up the courage to ask, what would happen with them now, Indra burst into the hut fury suddenly and worry was clear on her face. Marie absentmindedly noted, that it was the first time she now saw Indra’s expression not filled with hate, distrust and disgusts. So, it seemed logical that the woman was somehow connected to the injured warrior on a personal level.

The dark-skinned warrior let her dark eyes scan Lincoln’s exposed body quickly and the visible worry for him, was replaced by fury only a second later. “Skykru?” came Indra’s angry hiss through clenched teeth.

Marie saw the commander nod in mute agreement towards the dark-skinned warrior.

The warrior set her blazing eyes to Marie for a moment. Marie startled strongly under the intensity of the woman's glare, pulling the furs tighter around her body and making herself even smaller on the bed. She was surprised slightly, when Indra seemed to swallow down her angry retort, when she noted on the tear tracks glistening on her pale face.

“Blood must have blood, Heda” Indra demanded forcefully a moment later, after her eyes had left the girl and returned to the commander.

Marie shivered in fear, goose bumps rising on her arms, as her eyes darted between the three women in the hut. She did not know exactly, what the woman’s words meant, but it sounded as if Indra was asking for retribution made out of blood.

“Let me kill the sky boy first and assemble our warriors to march on their camp at sunrise” Indra continued with conviction colouring her voice strongly.

Marie just now remembered, that John might still be in TonDC at all and felt slightly guilty for having forgotten about him completely. She also absentmindedly noted, that Indra had left herself out of her words, which gave her the slightest bit of hope that she would not be part of the penalty awaiting the other 100.

The commander silenced the angry warrior with a sharp gesture of her hand and answered the woman in the grounder tongue, so that Marie was unable to understand their conversation any longer.

Marie cast a worried glance to Anya, seeking reassurance from the woman. The stern woman had promised her that as her first, she was bound to protect her from physical harm. Marie wondered what would be happening to her, if the commander chose to execute her as well. She was not familiar with their ranking system, but something told her that the commander’s sentence would overrule anything, Anya could say.

Anya, Indra and Lexa kept debating between the three of them for a few minutes in their native language, while Alira continued to take care of Lincoln in silence, not even listening to the words of the others.

Marie could only watch their expressions with rising worry. The only thing she could clearly identify on their faces was a shared sense of anger and thirst for revenge.

The warrior had not woken up despite the cleaning of his wounds, Alira finished by applying a greenish paste to the welts on his torso and lastly turning her attention to the tool still lodged into the warrior’s hand. The woman grimaced at the sight. The skin around the tool looked swollen and the blood had coagulated around it, so it seemed to have been there for some time already. She could only hope, that she would be able to contain the beginning infection or the man would loose his hand.

Alira interrupted the ongoing debate, calling Anya and Indra over to help. “I will pull it out of his hand now, I fear he will wake from the sensation. Keep him still, the wounds need to be sealed shut immediately” Alira explained, she had already placed two daggers into the small fire in the fire pit in preparation.

Marie was overseeing the procedure silently and continued to drink her tea to suppress the urge to cough for a bit, while a few tears were still running down her cheeks. She had watched the woman care for the injured warrior in silence and she had frowned in confusion when the woman had placed the daggers into the fire. Sour bile rose in her throat at the prospect for what they were going to be used now.

The commander left the hut without a further word, intending to organize a few troops to attack the Sky children soon. While Anya and Indra crouched into position next to the shoulders of Lincoln pressing down with their hands to immobilize him as best as possible.

Alira nodded to both of them and with one sudden strong pull, she dislodged the tool from the warrior’s hand. Lincoln’s eyes shot open in the exact same second and he let out a piercing scream of pain, freezing the blood in Marie's veins at the intensity of pain lacing his tone, trying to wrestle away from the hands pressing his torso down.

“It’s alright, Lincoln” Indra tried to sooth the shocked warrior in a much softer tone than Marie had thought the woman capable of using  “Keep still, the wounds have to be sealed now.”

A flicker of recognition passed through Lincoln’s dazed eyes and he nodded sharply, biting his lips in obvious preparation. Marie was surprised at the man's sudden stoicism, she could only try to imagine his pain.

The bloody tool had been dropped onto the floor by Alira and the woman returned with the gleaming daggers in both hands. Anya had let go of the man’s shoulder and instead kept a firm grip on his wrist. Blood was already running down the arm freely now.

Alira nodded to Anya and pressed both daggers simultaneously on both sides of the bleeding wound. Lincoln let out a heavy grunt of pain through forcefully clenched teeth and a bit of smoke emanated from his hand, while the smell of burning flesh filled the hut.

Marie had to fight hard against the sudden urge to vomit. She could still hear his pained scream ringing through her mind and added together with the smell of burning flesh, she only felt sick.

A few moments later Alira took the daggers from the wound and gently inspected the hand. The bleeding had stopped and the skin had blistered shut. As gently as possible, Alira cleaned the blood away with clean wet cloths and applied a reddish paste to the sealed wound wrapping a clean bandage around the blistered area afterwards.

Lincoln’s lips had been pressed into a thin line and he did not utter any moans of pain at all, silently bearing the treatment, while Indra kept whispering words in their tongue to the man.

Anya had let go of the man’s wrist and crouched down next to Marie. The girl was observing the scene with horrified wide eyes, she had never witnessed anything like that ever before. The smell of burned flesh was still heavy in the air of the hut and the girl tried to breathe through her mouth against the stench. The girl was feeling sick to her stomach and shivered slightly from the shock, her eyes fixed on the bloody tool on the floor.

Anya gently touched the girl’s shoulder to get her attention and the girl startled strongly scooting away from the touch as if physically struck. She had let go of the mug still clenched in her hands and the remaining tea was spilled onto the furs as the mug fell to the floor. The grey wide eyes were now fixed on Anya’s face, but the girl’s gaze was unfocused and her eyes unseeing.

“Marie” Anya addressed the girl in a soothing tone “It is alright. Breathe, ai skaifaya.”

The term of endearment seemed to do the trick and snapped the girl out of her shock somewhat. Marie blinked at Anya and sniffed with her tears.

Shusha” Anya soothed the girl in a gentle tone “Everything will be just fine.” She picked the empty mug up from the floor and put it onto the small table next to them, standing up to exchange the wet fur for dry ones.

Marie’s eyes followed Anya’s movements and she gratefully accepted the new fur, directly snuggling into it to stem her shivering.

In the meantime, Alira had made a tea against the pain for Lincoln and handed the warrior a streaming mug. When she saw that the girl had spilled her own tea, she begun preparing a new one for her as well.

Indra was quietly conversing with Lincoln in their own language. The warrior seemed more coherent than Marie would have thought possible because of his injuries.

When Marie accepted the newly made tea from Alira with a grateful nod and a mumbled “thanks” the commander re-entered the hut.

Lexa directly started to interrogate Lincoln, voice strong and expression stoic “What happened to you?”

Lincoln started to tell them, that he had found a wounded sky girl in the woods and he had taken her with him to his cave and cared for her wounds. When she had tried to flee and they had seen the group of armed Skykru being followed and rounded up by the Trikru warriors, he had brought her back to his cave. The girl had gotten the better of him and knocked him unconscious with a rock against his head. When he woke up, other Skykru had been with the girl and he had stabbed one of them in self-defence. The others overpowered him together and he had woken up chained in the metal contraption they had landed in. He had been held there and tortured for information for an unknown time. The girl he had captured helped him flee, when the Skykru children had consumed bad Jobi nuts. He had made his way back to TonDC directly after, to report to his Heda.

Marie listened with wide eyes, as Lincoln described their torture methods to get the information which antidote would save the stabbed boy. The round brand wounds stemmed from cables used to give him electronic shocks. Marie wondered, how the warrior had even survived that kind of torture at all and was still able to travel the distance between the crash site and TonDC.

The others listened silently as well, only the commander adding another question here and there.

Lincoln declared that he had not given up any information at all, only that the girl knew for sure that he was able to understand their language. The commander nodded, she knew how strong her warriors were, and none would crumble easily under physical torture.

“Rest, Lincoln” Lexa said and nodded to the warrior, leaving the hut with Indra and Alira in toe, as the handmaid’s attention was not needed here any longer for the moment.

When Lincoln’s dark blood-shot eyes finally met Marie’s gaze, the girl startled again and had the strong urge to flee from the warrior, expecting him to have the need to seek revenge with her. Surprisingly, the warrior’s gaze held no particular ill will towards her at all, if anything he seemed slightly curious to see her. Marie still stood out and her light blonde hair was unusual for Trikru and paired together with her light grey eyes, it made her stand out as a stranger even more on first glance.

Anya had taken a protective stance next to her charge, but relaxed again as she saw the curiosity in Lincoln’s eyes, which reminded her of the almost gentle child the warrior once had been. But as the warrior just regarded the girl silently, Anya could see the warrior’s eyes starting to droop from the tea against the pain. It took a few more minutes before the warrior’s body slackened and he fell asleep.

“You can return to our tent now” Anya told Marie in a kind tone and took the emptied mug and the furs from her.

Marie nodded and slowly stood up, gingerly testing her ankle. It was still a bit sensitive, but the swelling seemed gone now. Anya nevertheless kept a steadying hand on the small of her back and set a leisure pace as she led the girl through the camp back towards their tent.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

After a few moments of silent walking through the camp, Marie finally voiced the question out loud that had been ghosting through her mind non-stop for some time now “What will happen now with the other 100?” She had noticed that Anya was walking much slower, but Marie was grateful for it. Her ankle still hurt slightly and she was able to place her feet more carefully at this pace.

Anya considered her charge for some time, brown eyes flitting over to the young girl minutely, before she answered the girl’s question in a hushed tone “Messengers will have been sent to the nearing villages by now to raise an army to march on your dropship in the next days.” She watched the girl’s reaction from the corner of her eyes carefully. Anya could fathom that the impending war could be difficult to grasp for her young charge.

Marie gulped audibly, grey eyes widening slightly, but other than that stayed silent, what was there for her to say anyway? But she was surprised at the efficiency of the warriors, she would have expected that it took more time to organize a war. She was aware that her place was now in TonDC by Anya’s side, so she tried to tell herself that it should not matter to her what happened to the other 100.

The way through the camp exhausted the girl more than it should have, but Anya had expected nothing less. The illness had eaten away even more strength from the young girl, not that she had possessed much of it to begin with and she would have to take it easy on the girl during training in the upcoming coming days.

Marie was relieved, when they finally reached their tent and she settled down on her furs immediately, grateful to get the weight of her ankle again.

“You can rest for a few hours now, Marie” Anya told the girl in a kind tone “I will be training Tris, we will be in the fighting pits”, she turned around to leave the tent again.

“I don’t need to train now?” Marie asked with confusion colouring her tone, stopping the woman’s retreat. She had not been sure, if Anya would care that she was still injured and not healthy again.

Anya shook her head with a soft expression “You are not well enough yet for physical training. I will give you lessons that don’t involve physical exertion later.” She watched as the girl settled down in the pellet of furs more comfortably and left her there. On her way to the training pits, she gave one of the guards an order to keep an eye on her tent and the girl for her. She did not truly expect that Marie would be trying to flee or something else, as the girl had not shown any rebellious tendencies before, but it was still possible that the girl would react more severely than she had predicted to the news of the impending war between Trikru and Skykru. It was also reasonable to expect growing hostility towards Marie now that there would be war officially. Anya was not sure, if Lexa would have officially proclaimed it already or not yet, but it was better to have someone keep an eye on her charge just to be sure. She could only hope that her younger charge had accepted or at least would accept quickly that she now belonged to Trikru, but she would have to speak to Lexa about an official initiation of the girl to Trikru, so that no one would mistake her for Skykru in the future.

Even tough Marie’s body was tired and weakened from her illness, her mind was racing and she needed a long time to finally fall asleep and she had a rather restless sleep, with nightmares plaguing her slumber. In them, she saw herself chained in the cell she had been held in during the first night in TonDC. Anya and Lexa entered the cell with feral expressions on both of their faces and started to torture her for information. They used different forms of torture, ranging from whippings, to slashing at her skin with glistening daggers or at last even removing fingers. In her dream, Marie was pleading with Anya and Lexa, begging them to stop, offering to tell them whatever they wished, but the women did not even hesitate for a second, expressions full of glee at her obvious pain. This particular nightmare alternated with a different scene. There, Marie was part of the 100 again. Instead of Lincoln chained in the dropship there were Anya, Tris and Lexa. The others were torturing them, in exactly the same way Lincoln had been tortured and demanded that she joined in. Screams from all three of them echoing loud and shrill around the small room. In her dream, she had tried to fight against Bellamy and Clarke, shouting at them to let them go, but a cable emitting sparks was pushed into her hands instead and Bellamy physically forced her to brand Anya with it. She cried, as the woman’s skin was slowly filled with blisters.

The guard who was supposed to keep watch over the general’s tent heard the girl moaning and shouting and guessed that the girl was caught in a nightmare. He walked around the tent quickly, just to make sure that no one had gotten in without his notice, but the tent was intact and when he quickly looked inside, he could only see the girl twisting beneath her furs. He waited for a certain amount of time, hoping that the girl would settle on her own and when the noises continued on, he went to search the general herself. He did not know, if he should try to wake the girl up and thought it best to ask the general on further direction. The young man found the general on the training pit in sword combat with her second Tris.

“General” he called loudly from the side line to get Anya’s attention.

Anya ordered Tris to practise some moves on her own and turned to the guard with a rather worried expression, wiping sweat from her brow with the back of her hand, she asked the young man in a sharp tone “What is it?”

The guard seemed unsure of himself and shuffled his feet slightly, he straightened up immediately, when he noticed the general’s expression turning into a glare “The girl seems to be caught up in nightmares, I wasn’t sure if you want me to wake her…” his expression clearly showed how uncomfortable the whole situation made him.

Anya huffed under her breath in light annoyance, she had feared that the girl would not handle the situation well. “No, I will take care of it. Return to your duty” she dismissed the young man back to his original post briskly.

The guard nodded with an obviously relived expression and left the training pit.

“Report to Indra for your guard duty, Tris” Anya instructed Tris quickly and left her other second back in the training pits.

When Anya reached her tent, she could already hear Marie’s whimpers from outside. As she entered, the girl was mumbling in sleep, voice pleading “No, … not Anya. Please stop…No…”.

Anya crouched down next to the sleeping girl, who was tossing around restlessly under the furs and shook her shoulders to rouse her from her nightmare. She wondered about what exactly the girl had been dreaming, she had clearly heard her own name and it had suspiciously sounded, as if Marie had begged her to stop with something. She frowned slightly as she could not remember being overly harsh with the child yet, so the girl should not have a reason to fear her.

With a startled gasp, Marie opened her eyes immediately at the contact. Her grey eyes were wide with horror and cold sweat glistened on her face. She needed long moments, before she could truly focuse her gaze on Anya’s face and when she really recognized the woman, she started to cry and flung herself at the unexpecting woman.

Anya had been utterly taken by surprise, by the girl’s body colliding with her midriff and had to balance them both on the balls of her feet, before they landed on the floor in a heap together. She could feel the girl’s hands clawing at her shirt and her smaller body was shaken by deep sobs. Gently Anya rubbed the girl’s back in a circular soothing motion and her voice was soft as she reassured her young charge “Everything is alright. It was just a dream.”

Marie loosened her hard grip of Anya’s shirt and backed up a slight distance, shaking her head vehemently, tears still streaming down her face and her voice quivered strongly as she began to relay to Anya about what she had dreamt “You were there and Lexa and Tris …”

“Where?” Anya asked, brow raised in confusion and brown eyes inquiring.

“In the dropship. You were all chained to the walls and the others … the others they … they tortured you … and they wanted me to join as well … I couldn’t…” the girl gasped out, still crying and sobbing.

Anya took a deep breath “Look at me Marie” she ordered in a stern voice, backing off a little, so that she could look better into Marie’s grey eyes.

The girl obliged immediately, almost scrambling back at the light push Anya gave her frame, but she was still crying. She tried to control her tears, but her breathing still hitched with sobs.

“I am here, Marie. Tris is here and Lexa as well” Anya reassured her charge in an even tone “It was only a dream” she emphasised strongly.

Marie nodded with a miserable expression and tried to stop her tears, taking loudly shuddering breaths.

Anya squeezed the girl’s shoulders reassuringly “That’s it. Calm down. Deep even breaths. Everything is well.”

Slowly, the girl calmed her breathing again and she was only sniffling softly now from time to time.

Before Anya could say anything more, Tris ducked into the tent and smiled at Marie kindly. “You’re back” the girl sounded honestly relived “I’m glad you’re better, Marie.” She completely ignored the way that Marie had obviously just been crying, grey eyes red and puffy, tear tracks still glistening on her pale cheeks.

Marie nodded and tried to smile at her, but as hard as she tried, she was unable to muster a real smile right now. She was nevertheless relieved to see Tris in person again and seeing physical proof that her nightmare had only been her imagination playing tricks on her mind.

Anya shooed Tris away sternly, only a short moment later “You have guard duty to attend to, Tris. Do not slacken now. You can talk to Marie after she has rested some more.”

Tris nodded in silent acknowledgment and gave the younger girl one cheering last smile, before she ducked out of the tent again, leaving Marie and Anya on their own.

“Do you think you can fall asleep again?” Anya asked Marie, although she did not expect a positive answer. It would probably be better for the girl to catch as much sleep as possible, but there would be no use in trying to force her to sleep either.

Marie directly shook her head in the negative, expression showing her slight fear at even thinking to sleep again now. She did not want to sleep anymore and she did not want to be alone right now either and Anya would surely leave again otherwise.

Anya accepted the girl’s refusal to go back to sleep, even though she would have preferred if the girl tried to rest more, but she understood her reluctance. “I will get us some food shortly” Anya told Marie and made to stand up, when Marie suddenly took her wrist in a vice like grip.

The girl looked at Anya with wide pleading eyes, widened in obvious fright “Please don’t leave” and the child’s voice sounded awfully subdued.

Anya gently pried the girl’s fingers from her wrist “I will return in a few moments. Nothing will happen, Marie” she shook her head with a stern expression.

The girl still looked rather pleadingly and vulnerable, but Anya was unwilling to indulge her young charge. She was already much softer with Marie, than she ever had been with Tris or Lexa before. Marie would never grow into a warrior, if she did not toughen up quickly and Anya had no intention to mollycoddle the girl.

Marie made no attempt to halt Anya’s retreat again and buried herself back into her furs. She felt chastised slightly by the woman’s refusal to stay and felt childish for having asked at all. The minutes still seemed to stretch into hours, before Anya finally returned again with their food and Marie had to forcefully keep her breathing calm and even the whole time.

When Anya finally returned with a plate of food for them to share and a steaming mug of new tea for Marie, the girl let out a relived breath and felt herself calm again instantly in the woman’s presence.

Anya sat down on her own furs opposite of Marie and placed the plate on the floor between them after handing the mug over to her charge. “So, as you won’t be able to take up physical training in the next days, I will teach you things you must know of our culture and our language of course” Anya addressed Marie, when the girl had started to nibble on a piece of meat. Her voice had been calm but stern and Marie immediately looked at her, curiosity replacing her fear quickly. “Learning trigedasleng is of utmost importance to you now. Not all of us can speak gonasleng or English as you call it. Only warriors learn both languages and you will need to be able to communicate with everyone. I will not always be there to translate for you” Anya explained to the girl in an even tone and her brown eyes had gotten harder again.

Marie was listening closely to Anya’s every word. She was not feeling particularly hungry, in the contrary she felt rather queasy right now. But the prospect of learning more about the culture of the survivors on earth and their language, kept her silent. She doubted that Anya would care for interruptions, so Marie settled down more carefully and listened intently to the woman’s words.

“There are twelve clans united in the coalition. You are part of Trikru from now on. Trikru has always had ties with the Boat People, Broadleaf and the Glowing Forest.  Then there are the Plain Riders, Delphi, Shallow Valley and the Lake people. These clans had already formed ties with each other, before the coalition came into existence. Blue Cliff, Rock Line and Desert Clan were more resistant to the idea of the coalition and will probably falter first if there is an unrest” Anya continued her introduction and stopped for a moment, wanting to see if the girl was truly listening.

Marie had tried to keep count in her head, feeling slightly overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar names. “Didn’t you say there are twelve clans? I only counted eleven” she commented with a frown of utter concentration.

Anya nodded approvingly, her eyes flashing softer for the fraction of a second, noting with satisfaction that the girl had obviously listened closely “Yes, the last clan is Ice Nation. We have been at war with Ice Nation for the longest time. They live in the north and are used to ice and snow. They are one of the hugest clans and only joined the coalition faced with the other eleven clans united against them.”

Marie nodded in understanding at the added information. Internally, her mind halted at the mention of ice and snow, she had always wondered what snow would truly look like.

“All the clans have slightly different customs. So, you will of course first need to learn Trikru’s customs. As you have already seen, we do live in the woods and our greatest enemy now is the Mountain” Anya continued her explanations.

“You asked me, if I was from the Mountain” Marie remarked interrupting Anya again.

“I did. The Mountain has plagued our lands, almost since the old world ended. The people living inside the Mountain wield guns and turn our brothers and sisters into monsters. Whoever goes into the Mountain, never returns again” Anya explained to Marie with a serious expression on her face and darkness in her brown eyes.

Marie shuddered involuntary. And this was the place the chancellor had wanted the 100 to go and seek help? “They turn men into monsters?” she asked with a disbelieving expression, wondering how this was possible and how the monsters might look like.

“Pray that you will never be faced with a Reaper, Marie” Anya spoke in a harsh tone, brown eyes hard “The Reapers live in the tunnels of the Mountain, if they come out, they abduct everyone they encounter. They are unnaturally strong and are hard to kill. Reapers do not recognize their kin any longer, they are soulless monsters.”

As Anya saw Marie’s shivering, the woman started to doubt that telling the girl about the Mountain and the Reapers now had been the best timing. “That is one of the reasons, you should never venture through the woods near the Mountain on your own” Anya finished the information about the Mountain with a serious expression and in a strict tone. It could safe the girl’s life one day, if she heeded that advice.

Marie nodded immediately and hoped she would really never meet a Reaper in person.

“So, now let’s start with the basics of trigedasleng” Anya instructed, diverting the child’s attention from the Mountain.

The next few hours, Marie learned how to properly introduce herself in the new language, the proper way to address others, to count, basic commands in combat, directions and other essential stuff. At the end of the lesson, Marie’s head was swimming with all the new information and she was sure she would forget most of it anyway again. She was starting to develop a headache and rubbed at her temples tiredly, her coughing had worsened as well in the last few minutes. She wished to have a notebook at hand, to write down all the words, she could feel them mixing in her head already.

“That should suffice for today” Anya closed the lesson with a nod. She had seen the girl getting more and more unfocused as the lesson continued on and she knew that her charge would not have memorized everything she had just been told. Anya gathered the plate and mug and stood up quickly. “Lie down and rest” the woman ordered sharply and opened the tent flap without looking back.

Marie could see, that it had already started to darken outside and she was actually relieved now to be able to rest. She did not think, she could concentrate on anything more this evening, her mind felt too sluggish to attempt.

When Anya returned sometime later, her young charge had already fallen asleep and Anya silently settled in her own furs for the night, trying not to wake her again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

On the following morning, the messengers which had been sent out to raise an army returned with the first warriors in tow and TonDC was quickly filled with a variety of new tents.

Anya had taken Marie with her to the training pit, to watch Tris’ training. Marie tried to keep her attention on the training combat between Anya and Tris, watching both of them fight clearly showed her, just how bad she was at it. Anya and Tris circled each other gracefully, as if they were doing a deathly dance. Tris did not seem to hold much of a chance at fighting against Anya yet and Marie glumly mussed, that she would never even reach Tris’ level. Her focus strayed ever so often to the newly arrived warriors instead.

The later it got in the day, more and more warriors kept arriving in TonDC non-stop. Sometimes only one or two at time, other times a larger group arrived together. Marie watched as more tents were erected on all the available places all around TonDC. She also saw Lexa and Indra welcoming all of the arriving warriors and personally instructing them where their tents should be erected.

Some of the warriors also came to the training pits and most of the strangers eyed Marie silently. All of them had heard word about the Sky girl, that had been allowed to stay in TonDC and all of them were curios to get a glimpse of the girl for themselves.

Anya noticed Marie’s attention straying every so often and finally had enough of her lack of attention. She stepped up to the girl almost silently and snapped her fingers directly in front of the girl’s face abruptly.

Marie startled with a loud gasp, jumping in place slightly and looked at Anya shamefaced. “Sorry” the girl mumbled almost inaudibly, averting her eyes to the ground at her feet.

Anya pursed her lips with a glare at the girl. Marie obviously did not understand yet, just how much watching a fight could teach her, but she would teach her its importance quickly. She sent Tris to join a departing hunting party and directed Marie to follow her. She mutely led her charge to an edge of TonDC, where stacks of wood were stored.

“Take some logs and stock them for a fire” Anya demanded from Marie in a sharp tone and sat down cross-legged on the soft grass, leaving enough room for the girl.

Marie blinked at the woman helplessly for a moment and when Anya did not say anything else, but began to glare at her, the girl straightened her shoulders and started with taking some logs. She tried to pile them together logically and looked back to Anya expectantly.

The woman just observed Marie with a bored expression, that did not give any indication if the girl was doing well or failing miserably.  “Light it” Anya ordered sharply at last with a hint of impatience in her voice, convinced that Marie had had more than enough time to prepare a suitable stack. She knew that she would have already have a burning fire at hand, if she had prepared it herself.

Marie bit her lip with a doubtful expression and stood in front of her pile of logs with no real idea how to accomplish her task. They had only once spoken the theory through of how to light a fire without any aid in her earth class. She tried to remember fervently what the teacher had said, but her mind remained blank.

“You told me, you were taught how to light a fire” Anya reminded the girl with impatience now clear in her voice as her eyes narrowed at Marie.

“Yeah, but with a lighter or some matches” Marie shrugged helplessly still biting at her lips, she tried not to squirm under Anya’s hard stare, but could feel herself failing miserably at it.

Anya stood up with a loud huff and her voice got colder “So, you don’t know how to light a fire at all?”

Marie nodded with a miserable expression, looking on the ground ashamedly.

“And how do you expect to survive a night in the cold or to cook your prey?” Anya lectured the girl sternly in a harsh tone, glaring down at the child impatiently.

Marie just shrugged again and kept her gaze locked on the grass at her feet, only feeling the weight of Anya’s gaze burning down on her neck.

Anya shook her head at the girl with an annoyed expression, her impatience rising at her clear inaptitude and checked the pile of logs the girl had put together critically. “Even if you could light it, this pile would never burn like that. You piled it completely the wrong way” Anya commented with the previous impatience, now turned into full annoyance in her voice.

Marie looked at her with her big grey innocent eyes and the woman huffed again.

Anya collected some smaller twigs and knocked Marie’s pile over completely with another impatient huff. “Come here and watch” Anya ordered her young charge sharply, looking up minutely at her and showed the girl how to pile the logs with smaller twigs in between, so that everything would burn evenly.

As Marie intently watched Anya lighting the fire with her bare hands, a figure suddenly approached them from the treeline.

Anya’s eyes snapped up to the approaching figure and she had a dagger in hand in a heartbeat, only relaxing her stance, when she recognized the figure as Lincoln. They spoke quickly in trigedasleng, much too quickly for Marie to be able to understand anything, even though she did recognize a word here and there.

Anya seemed rather upset about what Lincoln had told her, her eyes had gotten hard and unyielding and her jaw tightened and to Marie it seemed as if Lincoln was pleading for something from Anya. They seemed to have reached a consensus some time later as they nodded to each other and Lincoln disappeared into the woods again.

Anya turned to Marie with a guarded expression and her voice was impatient and harsh “Come. I need to leave for some time now. I don’t want you alone in the village right now.”

Marie blinked at Anya, confused because of the shift of Anya’s mood and followed the woman mutely. The question to ask what was going on burned on Marie’s tongue, but she thought it better to remain silent for now and not to annoy Anya even more, the woman’s mood seemed explosive enough. Marie had to hurry, to keep up to Anya’s quick pace and followed the woman through the village mutely. Anya had searched for Lexa and exchanged some words with the commander, too quick and low for Marie to hear anything.  “You will stay with the commander for now” Anya told Marie sharply and left on the spot, without looking back. Marie barely had time to blink, before the woman was gone from her sight.

“Is something wrong?” Marie asked the commander hesitantly, confused by the woman’s quick leave. She had seen the tension in Anya’s body and internally hoped that nothing bad had happened.

Lexa shook her head in the negative with a neutral expression “Nothing to concern yourself with”. She watched the young girl shortly, it was obvious that the girl was nervous in her company, but she was sure that the girl would get used to her soon enough. “Alira is sleeping so you will have to stick to me for the moment” the commander told the girl after a short moment of silence. She had contemplated to have the handmaid woken again, Alira would surely not complain, but Lexa dismissed the idea quickly. Being seen with Marie at her side in TonDC would clearly send the message of her trust in the girl to the newly arrived warriors and she could understand why her former mentor had not wished to leave the girl unattended.

Marie shrugged and as she did not want to be a bother to the commander she suggested “I can just go to the tent if that’s better?” her voice was slightly hesitant and a frown settled on her features. The prospect of being alone for an unknown time, did not sound appealing at all and she had no idea where Tris might be. She thought to have seen the older girl leave TonDC with a group of hunters after she had trained with Anya.

Lexa shook her head again in rejection of the girl’s suggestion “No, tensions are running high right now among the troops. It is better, if you stay here now. Most of the warriors have already settled, that were expected to arrive today. How about I show you how to ride, now that you are better?”

Marie was enthusiastic about the idea right away, just like Lexa had hoped to divert her attention. Anya had told her, that she was going to speak to the leader of Skykru now and they both agreed that they did not want the girl to get involved there. The child’s grey eyes had stayed on the spot where Anya had left and she thought that the girl could do with something to occupy herself with until her general returned.

The horse, Marie had been caressing the day before recognized her immediately, neighed at the girl and came to the fence to be caressed again. It was one of the commander’s personal war horses and even the most experienced groom was wary of the creature.

Marie smiled at the black horse and climbed onto the fence to have a higher perch. The mare butted against her outstretched hand and Marie happily felt the soft skin of its nose. Marie diverted her smile to Lexa standing next to her a moment later “Does it have a name, commander?” she asked in a chirpy tone.

Lexa nodded “She is named sontam, which translated to …”

Marie interrupted her boldly with a proud glimmer to her grey eyes “Summer, Anya has started to teach me basic things in your language.”

The commander nodded with a small smile ghosting around the corners of her lips at the girl’s obvious eagerness to impress her “You are learning quickly then” she commented in a kind tone, while Gustus, who was shadowing the commander as always, glared at the girl for her insolence.

Marie shrugged as she did not have any comparison, she could not judge that. She was fascinated with the new language. It was sometimes similar to English, but completely different in other ways, where she thought the harsher pronunciation would be the hardest for her to master.

A grounder who was working as a groom in TonDC came up to them, carrying brushes and horse tack.

Marie observed how the commander only nodded in acknowledgement, but did not actually thank the man, but she waited until the grounder had left them again to voice her question. “Don’t all of you say thank you? Or just because your commander?” Marie asked with curiosity written clearly on her face. She remembered that Anya already had told her something similar, but the concept still seemed so alien to her, that she wanted more confirmation.

“It is the groom’s duty to fulfil these tasks. You would not thank him for doing his duty” Lexa explained with a mild glimmer in her green eyes. The commander was pleased to note, that the girl seemed to be genuinely trying to adapt to their culture. “But as commander they are all my subjects, so I do not have to explicitly thank any of them” she added after a beat of silence. She doubted that the girl would understand their political system yet.

Marie looked at the young woman with slightly wide eyes. She was still new to this hierarchy and on the Ark, there was also one leader namely the chancellor, but the chancellor clearly was not as powerful as the commander seemed to be to the grounders. The girl was rather fascinated by this position and compared it to a kind of queen in her head. She also could not remember the people of the Ark ever showing the same amount of respect to the chancellor, as the grounders were freely offering to their commander.

Lexa presented Marie with one of the brushes and climbed through the fence.

“Heda, you should not…” Gustus started to interfere with a disapproving grimace, wanting to offer to prepare the horses himself instead.

Lexa simple shushed her personal guard with a gesture, motioning the burly man to stay put behind the fence and encouraged the girl to follow her. She was fairly certain that Gustus’ company was probably unsettling the girl further.

Marie looked at the brush in her hand rather doubtfully “I thought you wanted to show me how to ride” a hint of displeasure appeared in her tone.

Lexa had to chuckle at the girl’s disdainful expression “Grooming the horses is part of riding them. You have to take care of the horses that carries you. Just like you have to sharpen your blades before and after a battle to keep them in pristine condition.”

Marie nodded with a slight pout, but understood the logic behind the woman’s word and followed the commander to the other side of the fence quickly, smiling at the dark horse and caressing its nose shortly again.

Lexa showed the girl how to correctly handle the brush and together they brushed the black mare for a few minutes, while the horse seemed to enjoy the attention it was getting just fine.

Gustus was glaring at Marie non-stop and Marie felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise and looked over to the bulky grounder every few seconds, unnerved by his continuous stare. When she stood directly next to the commander, so that she hoped the man would be unable to hear her words, the girl asked in a low whisper “Why is he glaring at me all the time?” peering over her shoulder at him again.

Lexa could not stop a slight laugh escaping her lips now, but she also whispered back her answer to the child with a slightly amused glint in her green eyes “Gustus thinks it is unbecoming for Heda to brush a horse.”

“Oh” the girl said as realization clicked in her mind and she looked at Lexa clearly unsure now.

Lexa just gave her a mild smile, picking up on the girl’s uncertainty instantly and tried to sooth her “Don’t mind him.”

Marie nodded, but could not get rid of the weird sensation of being watched.

When they finally finished brushing down the horse, Lexa showed the girl how to correctly saddle the horse. Marie wanted to try it herself, but she was too short and could not lift the saddle high enough to get it over the horses back. She was surprised by how heavy the saddle was as well.

After that the commander crouched down next to the horse and offered the girl her hands to boost her onto the back of the huge creature. The girl would definitely not be able to get up on her own without the aid.

But Marie blinked at the woman totally confused and had no idea what to do, looking at the commander with her head tilted to the side in concentration.

After Lexa had explained it to the girl, Marie started on her first try with the wrong foot and the commander corrected her again with a gentle tone. With Lexa’s help the girl finally sat on top of the horse and now looked utterly bewildered.

Marie clung to the saddle strongly and her heart was beating way to fast.

The horse picked up on the girl’s discomfort and whinnied at her, cocking its head back in aggitation. Marie only clung harder to the saddle and looked at Lexa with pleading eye “I want to get down, now!” her voice had gotten higher, more a screech now.

Lexa shook her head with twinkling eyes and squeezed one of the girl’s legs reassuringly “Deep breaths. You won’t fall of and if you do, I will catch you” she promised the child.

Marie tried to control her panic and closed her eyes and also gripped the commander’s hand on her leg for a bit of more comfort.

After a few minutes, the girl finally relaxed on the horses back and let go of the commander’s hand again. Lexa had not even batted an eye, also the girl’s grip had been slightly painful.

Marie saw the commander taking the reins of the horse and the woman led the horse over the meadow slowly. Marie needed a few moments to get used to the sensation of the moving animal under her. When she realized that she would not fall off directly, even though it was awfully high, she even started to enjoy the movements.

After a few rounds of slow walking, the commander deemed the girl steady enough and urged her horse into a faster tempo and the girl started to let out squeals of joy. Lexa watched on as her horse trotted around the meadow and was slightly impressed how well the girl was faring for her first ride alone on a horse.

Marie thought it felt absolutely amazing, when the horse picked up speed. Going with the movements of the horse almost felt strangely natural to her and she did not mind the height any more after all. Her fun was abruptly cut short, when there was a loud commotion in TonDC. Lexa called her horse to her with a whistle and quickly helped the girl down from it.

Marie had to be steadied by the commander for a moment, as her legs felt rather funny. The already setting sun showed her, that she had been way longer on that horse then she had thought.

“You will learn another time what to do after a ride” Lexa told the girl in a calm tone and directed her to follow her in the direction of the commotion, wanting to see what was going on.

Marie nearly had to run to keep up with the woman’s fast purposeful strides to TonDC. First, she smiled when she saw that Anya was in the centre of the commotion. But soon her smile fell, when she saw the body of a warrior on the ground next to Anya. Marie turned to the commander with a confused expression.

The grounders around them were mostly muttering to themselves or demanding something for which Marie’s knowledge of the language was not sufficient to understand. What she did understand made her heart sink, the other delinquents had killed another grounder.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Marie indecisively stood in the middle of the commotion of the grounders in TonDC slightly behind Lexa, grey eyes wide and feeling her body tense in anticipation. It was painfully obvious just how angry all the gathered warriors were and to her internal horror their anger seemed to direct itself against her own person now. She could not take her eyes off of the body of a dead grounder lying at Anya’s feet and she heard that another one was obviously waiting in Nyko’s hut for the healer’s attention, wounded severely by a gun, but still alive at the moment.

The warriors around her were all shouting loudly at once, some had even drawn their weapons and were demanding retribution from the commander for the harm the Sky children had caused them yet again at once, or at least Marie thought they were, as they were using their native tongue. One of the warriors, who had only arrived at TonDC in the morning, suddenly shoved her from behind harshly and Marie fell to her knees promptly at the unexpected push. She looped up at the man with wide grey eyes and tried to scramble away from him, noticing the sword in his hand, but he held onto the material of her shirt and sneered into her face hatefully “Let us start with this one!”

To Marie’s utter horror, the man’s loud proclamation was met with cheers from quiet a lot of the warriors standing around them in a tight circle. Her grey eyes found Anya standing on the other side of the crowd, brown eyes narrowed in obvious anger and her own sword drawn. For the fraction of a second, Marie feared that the woman would not try to protect her, but rather assist the man in beheading her. But before Anya could reach her, Gustus, who had stood directly behind the commander, had stepped in suddenly and pushed the man to his knees in front of the commander, the commander glaring the warrior down, while Anya helped Marie up again from the ground.

Marie shrank into Anya’s side trying to disappear behind her, she noted how a deathly silence had suddenly fallen around them and it seemed as if the warriors were holding their breaths. The people were extremely angry right now and she was sure they would kill her before marching on the other delinquents. She felt one of Anya’s arms curl protectively around her back and she was pushed even firmer into the woman’s body, while the woman’s other hand held up a dagger in a threating gesture, brown eyes narrowed still into angry slits. Although she could still feel and see the other warriors glaring at her with hate and scorn twisting their features, Marie felt incredibly safer, protected by Anya like this, sure that the woman would not let anyone touch her.

The commander ended the commotion with some quickly barked orders in trigedasleng. Marie only caught some words from the orders, the commander’s words had been delivered through clenched teeth and much too quickly for her to understand. If she had understood her correctly, there would be an attack soon on the other delinquents, but it would not happen tonight.

The warrior who had pushed Marie down, was dragged away by two other warriors. Marie watched them go away and wondered what was to happen to him. By attacking her so openly, the warrior had obviously defied the commander’s order, that she was to stay and be treated as one of their own. Marie had no idea what the consequences were for defying a direct order in such a fashion though, but she guessed that she would find out soon enough. She frowned slightly, noticing just now that she had completely forgotten about Lexa’s orders to keep her protected.

Marie was pulled along by Anya only a moment later, stopping her internal mussing and she stumbled behind the woman silently, her body felt strangely sluggish and she still felt her heart hammering against her chest and she felt her hands shaking slightly. Anya directed them both to the healer’s hut with quick strides, holding a hand onto one of her charge’s shoulder. The girl still looked spooked and startled and Anya feared that the child may pass out suddenly, when the shock left her system.

When they entered, Marie could immediately spot a man lying on the cot, she had occupied the day before. The man’s face was covered in some paint, obscuring his features from view, although it had become visibly smudged in some places and he wore armour, that would blend in perfectly with the foliage of the trees, making it impossibly hard to spot him hidden in a tree. Blood was visibly pouring from a wound in the man’s thigh and a small puddle of it had already gathered beneath the cot. The wound seemed rather small and there was no arrow sticking out of it, so Marie assumed a bullet was wedged into warrior’s leg. The arrows she had seen so far, had all looked to be crafted out of wood and had been much thicker, sometimes completed with a rather bulky tip and she guessed that wounds caused by this kind of arrows had to look different.

Anya directed her to sit on the other cot of the room and told her to wait. Marie obliged without a word, suddenly glad to be able to sit down, feeling slightly woozy and cold, but her eyes were glued to the bleeding wound of the warrior and she was not able to divert her gaze. Nyko was still nowhere to be found and it seemed apart from the woman who had taken care of her, when she had fallen ill no one in the village seemed to master any healing skills.

Marie watched as Anya left the hut again and all she could do was wait for her return. She mutely wondered where the woman had gone, but she would not be foolish enough to try and follow her. She was not dumb and knew that only the commander's protection had saved her before, but she was unsure if some of the warriors would not try to attack nevertheless, if they encountered her alone and defenceless and she was sure it was better not to test her luck like that. Another thought invaded her mind, most of the survivors she had met so far seemed to possess combat skills, Anya had even told her that all of their children learned basic fighting techniques, no matter what they planned to learn later. It seemed rather impractical, that they were not taught healing skills as well as she thought it likely that warriors would often suffer from injuries. She had seen a lot of scars on Anya’s upper body already, so she thought that her assumption was well founded.

The warrior had barely acknowledged their presence in the hut. His dark eyes were glazed with pain and he seemed on the verge of losing consciousness and what Marie could see of his skin through the armour and the face paint looked alarmingly pale. Her gaze stayed transfixed on the blood slowly dripping from his wound to the ground beneath him and wondered why no one had at least bandaged the area to slow the bleeding. Marie did not have any real knowledge of healing, but she had seen Clarke patching up Jasper. She hoped someone would come and patch this warrior up soon as well or the man would probably bleed out. She knew that the bullet would have to be removed from his thigh as well or an infection would set in killing the warrior for sure. When it did not seem as if someone would return soon, she stood up again on shaky legs and took up what appeared to be a bandage of some sort. Slowly, a little afraid that the warrior might attack her, she stepped closer and pressed the bandage to his wound, her grey eyes flitting back and forth between his wound and his face. The man let out a slight pained groan at the contact, but he did not try to remove her hands from his body as well, so Marie remained standing beside him, trying to slow the bleeding by putting pressure on it. She grimaced slightly, worry rising in her mind, when she felt the bandage slowly getting moist against her fingers.

Anya returned sometime later with the commander and Alira in tow. The older handmaiden quickly kneeled next to the wounded warrior, ordering Marie to step back and assessed the wound through the hole in the armour. The woman felt the warrior’s forehead and her hand came back sweaty.

“I will try my best, Heda” Alira said, but to Marie it seemed as if the woman was already convinced, that she would not be able to save the man’s life.

Marie stepped back over to the other got, trying to ignore the feeling of the man’s blood against her fingers and watched on silently as the armour was cut from the wounded leg and the woman tried to extract the bullet from the leg.

Anya frowned slightly at her charge, positively surprised that the child had tried to save the warrior in their absence. Her attention was called back to the warrior, when he screamed loudly as Alira started to search for the bullet in his flesh.

The man finally had to be held down by two other warriors who had stood outside the hut. Alira did not want to give the man herbs for the pain as she feared if the man felt asleep he would never wake again.

Marie shuddered with every pained scream torn from the warrior’s throat. She observed alarmed how much blood the warrior was losing in the time it took Alira, to dig the small bullet out of the man’s flesh. The side of the cot was completely soaked red with fresh blood and some was gathering in a small pool on the floor of the hut. She startled strongly when she suddenly felt Anya’s steadying hand on her shoulder and the woman’s strong presence beside her all the time. If she wanted to become a warrior, she guessed she should get used to the sight of bloody wounds and dying warriors rather sooner than later. Fighting a battle with swords and bows was prone to be bloody after all. Still, her stomach felt rather queasy and she wished she could ease the man’s suffering somehow and get rid of his dried blood straining her fingers a rusty red.

When Alira finally succeeded and held the bloody bullet in her fingers, the others in the hut eyed the bullet warily. Bullets were associated with the Mountain Man’s weapons and the grounders had learnt that fighting with a sword against such a weapon was a fight easily lost. That the sky children now were armed with more of the same weapons, made them a more dangerous opponent and they would have to be dealt with quickly before they could side themselves with the Mountain Men. The bullet dug out of the wound was proof, that the sky children had found more guns. Anya and Lexa believed Marie’s word that only one pistol had been in their possession previously. As grounders did not touch any guns it was possible, that there had been some left in old bunkers or other uninhabited structures.

Lexa felt irritation rise in her mind at the prospect if sending her warriors into a battle against an opponent armed with guns. She could only hope that the Sky children were mostly as inexperienced in war fare, as Marie was, or they would suffer severe losses.

Marie had not taken her eyes from the wounded warrior and saw him loose consciousness. “Anya” she touched the woman’s side hesitantly to alert her mentor to the changed condition of the warrior. Marie was unable to see if the warrior’s chest was still rising and falling or if he had stopped breathing all together.

Anya and Lexa simultaneously focused on the wounded warrior’s face again, their eyes leaving the bloody bullet.

Marie saw Alira bent over the man’s body in front of his face. She thought the woman might be listening for breathing, but the man’s chest seemed to have stopped all movements.

With a grim expression the woman looked at the commander and shook her head silently. The gesture confirmed Marie’s observation, the warrior had died probably due to the high blood loss he had suffered.

Marie had never before watched a human being die before. Sure, she had seen the floating of her father but he had still been breathing as his body had been flung from the Ark.

The grim expression of Alira’s face was mirrored by all the others present in the healers hut. It took only a few moments, before the others sprung into action again but to Marie the seconds felt like a whole eternity.

The commander gave orders to Alira and the two other warriors who had held their now dead comrade down before. Marie could not hear the words against the loud ringing sound in her ears. She watched on totally catatonic as Alira started to strip the man’s body. His face and body were washed clean of all the spilled blood and the smudged face paint. Anya gave one final squeeze to Marie’s shoulder and left the girl’s side to take on the task of cleaning the armour of the fallen warrior.

Marie had not noticed, when Lexa and the two other warriors had left, but when her focus returned a bit later, she saw that Anya was still cleaning the armour and Alira was now re-applying the face paint to the dead man with a thin brush.

Anya had watched her charge from time to time, spotting the signs of shock setting in. She had thought it better to let the girl snap out of it on her own. When Marie’s grey eyes finally regained some focus and the girl became aware of her surroundings again, Anya had just finished with the last piece of armour.

Marie saw Anya putting down the last piece of armour and looking at her with a serious expression and she looked back at the woman with wide expectant eyes.

“The pyres will be lit tomorrow at sun down” Anya told Marie and ordered the girl to follow her out of the healer’s hut. The girl stood from the cot, on visibly wobbly legs, scratching lightly at her hands and Anya stayed close to her, in case the child would suddenly collapse. She could only try to imagine, how this days event would affect her charge.

Marie noticed, that night was already starting to fall around the camp, when they stepped out. In a slight distance, Marie could see someone sneaking through the camp and she exerted her eyes to get a closer look. She thought, that the figure seemed familiar to her.

“John?” Marie exclaimed disbelievingly, when it clicked in her mind. As the girl started to take steps into the boy’s direction and opened her mouth, probably to shout at him, Anya put one hand over her mouth and slung her other arm around the smaller body pulling her back behind a tent and ducking out of the way.

“No, Marie” Anya lowly hissed at the girl in a firm voice, not taking her hand from her mouth just yet “His fate is not your fate.”

Marie looked Anya with a questioning gaze, not understanding the meaning behind the words, but she accepted them nevertheless and did not struggle against the woman’s hold on her body. She did trust Anya after all. She had just not known for sure that John had still been in TonDC until now.

They both watched silently as the boy snuck out of TonDC, but Marie saw that the guards on duty had turned away from him, as if they wanted to give him a clear path. A few moments after the boy was out of sight and his footsteps had faded into the woods surrounding TonDC, Anya slackened her hold on Marie and stood up again, leading the girl back to their tent.

The guards returned to their normal positions as well and Marie watched all of the proceedings with confusion evident on her face.

Anya led her through the village with quick purposeful strides, hoping that the girl would contain the curiosity and puzzlement burning in her grey eyes. The village was oddly silent at the moment as the inhabitants were mourning the loss of two more lives.

Marie followed Anya silently, but she still kept a questioning gaze on Anya when they had entered their tent.

Anya huffed when the girl kept her under a piercing gaze and crouched down next to her directing the girl to sit on her furs.

“Why have all the guards let John flee?” Marie asked immediately, barely a moment later with confusion colouring her words.

“He was set free deliberately, Marie” Anya explained and after a short moment of silent contemplation on how much to tell her charge, she decided to be truthful with her “He has been infected with an illness that will weaken the Skykru before the attack.”

Marie nodded cautiously feeling sick again “You are making them sick on purpose?”

Anya nodded again “Biological war fare. It is simple, but effective. You have not been exposed to the illness, so you would have caught it with contact to the boy. I did not think we would run into him as I thought he had been let go already.”

Marie bit her lips silent in thought for long moments, a conflict visible on her features as she asked with a quivering tone “You are going to kill the other 100, aren’t you?”

A nod of confirmation was her only answer from Anya for now, before the woman squeezed her shoulder “You are not part of them anymore. Do not concern yourself with their fate, they brought it onto themselves.”

“When will you attack?” Marie voiced her question almost too low to hear.

“In a day or two. The illness needs some time to spread and thin out their numbers” Anya explained almost emotionless.

With a sinking feeling in her stomach Marie registered Anya’s words. In two days at most the other delinquents would be killed for good. She was utterly confused and overwhelmed with what to feel. She had been horrified to hear they had burned down a village and how Lincoln had been tortured by their hands and now the two warrior’s deaths had been added to the list, but knowing they would all be killed left a sour taste in her mouth.

When Marie opened and closed her mouth a few times without uttering an actual word and tears gathered in her grey eyes again, Anya moved and pulled the girl into an embrace.

She felt the girl’s smaller body shudder against her own with the force of her tears and she whispered soothing non-sense words to Marie to calm her a bit. Anya understood how hard the situation must be on the girl. She let the girl cry herself to sleep in her embrace and cautiously lowered the girl onto her furs and covered her, sweeping some stray hair out of her face gently. With that she left the girl asleep, safely tucked under her furs.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

The night had been exhausting for Marie and Anya likewise. The girl had woken several times through the night screaming from new nightmares. Anya had tried to ignore the girl at first, hoping that she would quiet down on her own, but after being woken up a second time, she abandoned that approach, choosing to actively try and sooth the girl, waking her up first and trying to wait with her until she fell back asleep. In the end and only a few hours before the sun would rise again, Anya had let the girl share her furs again. The child had been inconsolable and Anya knew that neither of them would get any more sleep, if she simply ignored her, so letting Marie join her under her own furs to get her to fall asleep once more at all had been the only viable option. But despite Anya’s reassuring body beside her, Marie still could not flee from the nightmares for too long.

Vision of the Trikru army slaughtered by the other delinquents and their guns; and Anya, Tris and Lexa bleeding out from bullet wounds with Marie standing beside them helplessly, a gun hanging limply in her hand, made her wake up screaming again and again.

All Anya could do to help her young charge was, to wake the girl again, stopping the nightmare and soothing her back to sleep, encased in her arms, whispering reassurances into her ears, until the girl’s body grew limp with sleep.

When the morning eventually came, they were both still tired.

Anya dearly hoped her young charge would learn quickly, how to cope with the life of a warrior or sleep would be evading their tent for months to come. She felt slightly foolish for readily accepting the girl as her second, she had not even considered how difficult it might be for the girl to adapt mentally. She sent the girl to wash herself, taking a few moments of silence to gather herself. The night had exhausted her more, than she had anticipated.

Anya frowned behind the retreating girl, her shoulders had been visibly hunched and her whole demeanour seemed subdued. She could understand to a certain degree that the girl’s prior experiences did not match with what she was confronted with now. But something still felt off somehow, Anya thought it unlikely that seeing someone with torture wounds and seeing another warrior die, was enough to warrant nightmares of this degree. Tris and Lexa had rarely suffered from nightmares in their early time with Anya, so the woman had only seldom been required to comfort them after one.

Marie was silent and deep in thought when she washed herself in the bowl of water in the other part of the tent and dressed again. She noted proudly, that she did not need any help anymore on how to fasten all the clothing correctly. But her mood was sour and her body felt heavy with exhaustion. The prospect of having to attend a burial in the night, did nothing to lift her bleak mood in the slightest.

“How do you bury people, Anya?” Marie finally broke the silence in the tent, when she spotted Anya behind her, while she tried in vain to braid her hair again.

Anya shook her head at the girl’s unsuccessful attempt and swatted her hands away gently.  “Leave it like that. It will need a wash. We will go to the river now” she proclaimed, wanting to speak with the girl where no one would be listening to their words.

Marie nodded, but still cocked her head to Anya as the woman had not answered her original question at all.

Anya huffed, rolling her eyes at the girl’s insistence “I will tell you about the customs on the way. Let’s grab some breakfast first. You are not progressed enough to stay silent enough, that I could hunt our food on the way.” She did not voice the last part as open criticism, only stating it in a matter-of-fact tone. It was no wonder, that the girl was not able to walk silent through the woods. It did puzzle her slightly though, why a child of this age obviously lacked any experience with braiding hair. It was an almost natural skill to Trikru, children mostly learned it very early on, practising with their mothers or fathers.

Marie lightly glared at the woman in annoyance, she was easier to irritate right now with all the nightmares still fresh in her mind, but she kept her mouth shut. Anya had way more experience in the woods, so if the woman thought she would startle all the possible pray away, she was probably correct anyway. She also noted how Anya seemed slightly tired as well, although the woman’s gaze did not lack any sharpness, Marie thought that her posture looked just a tad bit languid.

Anya quickly gathered, what they would both need for a bath in the river and then shooed the girl to the communal fire to have a quick breakfast. It would not truly matter at which time they left TonDC to take a bath anyway, the heat of the summer had already faded many moons ago. She internally expected the girl to find the water freezing cold and Anya hoped she would not get sick from it again. She could have asked Lexa for the use of the commander’s bathing tube, but her charge should not get used to such luxuries, as she would not have access to them later anyway. The girl would start as a simple warrior having to work herself up the hierarchy, she already had a slight advantage as not all the youngsters were taken as seconds and being taken as a second by a general was a great honour.

Anya also had to tell her young charge something, which she feared would upset the girl even more. In the night before, another contraption had fallen from the sky. The scouts which Tris had been allowed to join in the night, had reported that no one at the crash site was alive. Their scouts had found quiet a lot of burnt people, but had not located any survivors.  Anya did not know whether the girl still had any emotional ties to inhabitants of the space ship or if with the death of her mother she had truly been on her own.

Breakfast was a quick and silent affair. Marie had picked up on Anya’s tenseness and they had seen the pyres on a free spot in the village for the evening on the way to the fire pits. The mood among the warriors and the inhabitants of TonC was rather bleak as well, so Marie had not said a single word since they left their tent.

After breakfast, Marie was led out of the village into the woods surrounding TonDC by Anya. Fortunately, her ankle had stopped hurting all together and she made progress with walking through the forest as silent as possible.  “See, I can move quietly” Marie remarked feeling uneasy with the continued silence. They had walked for several minutes already and it unnerved her that Anya still had not said a single word to her, she internally feared that the woman was annoyed with her for waking her up so often last night.

The corner of Anya’s mouth twitched upwards, when she replied in a slightly taunting voice “Still sounding like a baby pauna.”

Marie pouted, she did not know what a pauna was, but the teasing tone of Anya’s voice made the meaning of the words clearer.

“But you are improving” Anya relented with a smile ghosting on her lips seeing the girl’s pout slowly turning into a scowl.

Marie beamed proudly at Anya at her small acknowledgment and let her gaze filter over the woods around them. “How far is it to the river?” Marie asked slightly confused. She had not noticed any change in the surroundings at all yet. Anya had told her earlier that the river could be reached quickly from TonDC and they had been moving for a rather long time now. She wondered if Anya’s definition of a small distance was only differing so strongly from her own, which was entirely possible as the Ark had not offered that much space to move around.

“Not far” Anya answered observing the girl next to her more closely “Does your leg still hurt?”

Marie shook her head in the negative and wiggled the limb a little for emphasise “No, totally fine again.”

Anya inclined her head, feeling a small sliver of relief “Then we can pick up combat training later again”. Tris had been allowed to rest for a few hours after the scouting mission in the night and would be able to join their combat training later. “You should watch your surroundings more closely” Anya commented after another few minutes of silent walk. She had led them in circles for the last part and had hoped the girl would pick up on that on her own.

Marie frowned confusion colouring her voice “Why?”. She looked around herself in the woods, but could not spot anything special.

“Look around you” Anya commanded and waited for the girl to do another scan of the trees around them. She had stopped in front of a tree which had a truly unique shape and was often used as reference by the Trikru.

Marie needed a few moments to come to the right conclusion and she crossed her arms over her chest with an accusatory glare “You led us in circles. I have seen this tree at least three times before” slight exasperation flashed over her features.

Anya nodded in agreement, but her brown eyes were hard as she stared down at the girl “Then you should have spotted that three rounds ago. We have passed the tree four times now. You must always keep your eyes and ears open” she chided the girl sharply.

Marie nodded with a slight pout, but kept silent. She had not anticipated the possibility that the walk was a lesson in itself already. But she knew now that it had been foolish to expect differently, it seemed Anya was intent to use every possibility to teach her something, considering her vast ignorance that was probably a good thing, although Marie was not appreciating it at this particular moment.

Anya turned in another direction “The river flows in this direction. The walk is not long.”

Marie followed the woman and now tried to keep a closer look on the trees and listened to the sound of different animals in the woods and the wind ruffling the leaves, she was not entirely convinced that Anya would not just lead them in another circle just to test her attention and she was intent on not failing again.

“There is something you need to know” Anya started in a calm tone, watching the child from the corner of her eyes “In the night another of your ships fell from the sky.”

Marie blinked up at the woman in confusion and her brows creased. She was still waiting on what customs the Trikru had for a burial and this piece of information seemed totally out of the blue.

“Scouts have already searched the crash site. No one has survived” Anya told the girl bluntly, but keeping a close watch of her reaction.

Marie gulped harshly, but nodded mutely only a moment later. “Was it the whole Ark?” she asked in a slightly quivering tone, looking straight ahead of them and not up at Anya any longer.

Anya did not know the answer to this question. The commander was wondering the same thing and she told the girl so.

The rest of the way to the river passed in silence. Marie was lost in thought. She had not known a lot of other people on the Ark. But the possibility that they were all gone now, still felt weird somehow and Marie could not place a finger on what exactly she was feeling at all. It was nothing she could change, so Marie decided it would be better for her not to ponder on it further.

The actual sight of the river, soon caught her complete attention anyway, diverting her from her own glum thoughts. The sight was breath taking and a small waterfall was cascading into the water. The water was so clear that Marie could even see the ground of the river.

Anya had directly gone to a spot on the shore and laid out their gear. She loosened the braids from her own hair and started to shrug out of her armour. “Start undressing or do you want a bath in your clothes?” Anya asked the girl with a teasing look over her shoulder, when the girl had not moved an inch a few moments later. Anya’s upper body was already bare, except for the breast band covering her breasts when Marie unlocked her gaze from the water and stepped up next to the woman, visibly hesitating.

“You are also taking a bath?” Marie asked, feeling slightly shy to undress completely in front of her.

Anya rolled her eyes at her charge’s antics and commented lightly “You do not have anything I haven’t seen so far,” when Marie still did not move, she raised a brow at the child “are all sky people so shy about their bodies?”

Marie blinked at her and bit her lip, expression indecisive “I don’t know.”

Anya huffed at the girl, who still had to start undressing “Being naked is nothing to be shy about” she exclaimed and a little impatience creeped into her tone.

Marie nodded and when she still failed to undress Anya threatened “If you don’t undress right now, I will throw you into the water like that and you will walk back in the same clothes.” She gulped at the woman, but she did not doubt the woman’s words for a second as Anya had delivered her threat in a sharp tone, lacking any kind of playfulness and she hastily began to undress. She placed her clothes next to Anya’s on the ground and when she looked up, she saw that Anya had already gone into the river. The woman was swimming through the water with practised movements.

Marie eyed the water uncertainly, it was obviously deeper than she had previously thought. She had no idea how to swim and although it did not look particular difficult, Marie was hesitant to try it out, she knew that people could drown and she had heard Octavia telling the others about the water snake which had bitten her.

“Come on in,” Anya summoned the girl loudly and she came back to the shallower part of the river “there are no creatures in this part of the river” she tried to reassure the girl in a calmer tone, recognizing the signs of fear on her young face.

Marie tested the water with her toes at first and quickly took a step back a frown on her face. “It is so cold” she complained loudly to Anya in a slightly whiny voice, taking another step back.

Anya huffed in annoyance and stepped out of the water “You get used to the temperature quickly and it is either the cold water or staying dirty and I will not share a tent with you, when you begin to smell.”

Marie eyed the water warily. It was cold and it was deep. Before she had the chance, to make a decision to try to get used to the temperature slowly, Anya had circled around her without her noticing and quickly thrown her into the deeper water.

Marie resurfaced to the surface a moment later, gulping for air and her arms flailing through the water panicky, trying to find something to hold onto, not feeling any ground beneath her feet.

Anya rolled her eyes at Marie’s overly dramatic reaction and after gathering the soap she joined the girl back into the water.

Marie had managed to stay above the surface somehow, but was still flailing around completely uncoordinated and panic was painted onto her features.

Anya snaked an arm around the girl’s body from behind, taking a little pity in the child “Calm down, you won’t drown.”

Marie looked at her with wide eyes “I don’t know how to swim” exclaimed, her hands almost clawing at Anya’s skin, afraid the woman would let go immediately.

Anya nodded and answered in a dry tone “That much was obvious. It is too cold to stay in the water long. You will learn how to swim in the next warm season.” She manoeuvred both of them into a shallower part of the river, where the girl would be able to stand and pried her fingers from her own skin, setting her back to her feet.

They both washed up in a hurried silence. The longer Marie stayed in the water, the colder it felt to her. Her teeth had started to chatter strongly because of the cold, when they finally went back onto the shore together.

Marie was handed a towel from the woman and they both dried up quickly. Anya had brought another set of clothes for both of them and after dressing, she motioned Marie to turn around and she braided the girl’s still damp hair away from her face and also braided her own hair in her usual style.

“How late do you think it is right now?” Anya asked the girl, bending down to pack their things together.

Marie looked up at the position of the sun “Around midday I guess” she mused with a slight crease to her brow.

“Correct” Anya nodded with a satisfied expression “So, you remember some of the lessons already.” Marie beamed up at her with a slight smile, but it dimed noticeably when she inquired about the reasons for the girl’s arrestment on the Ark. She listened on with a deepening frown to the girl’s tale; obviously the child had been arrested nearly a year ago and had been kept in almost complete isolation until having been sent to the ground. To Anya it sounded unbelievably harsh to subject a child this young for such a crime to such an extreme form of punishment, but it explained to a certain degree why the girl seemed so desperate to garner her trust, probably completely deprived of human comfort by now. On the way back to TonDC, Anya repeated some of the lectures in Trigedasleng they had had the previous days, trying to divert the girl’s attention again.

When they reached the tree line around TonDC, Tris was already waiting for their return on the outskirt of TonDC. The girl smiled kindly at Marie, not having seen her for a few days now “You look healthier again” she commented with obvious relief.

Marie nodded and reciprocated the other girl’s smile with an honest one of her own. She was only coughing seldom today and felt better except for the tiredness.

Their training session was exhausting. Marie was sure, a variety of new bruises would bloom over her body tomorrow from the many times Tris and Anya had sieged her today. She was relieved, when she was allowed to move from the training pit and only had to watch Anya and Tris spar against each other.

Anya had been pleased to note that Marie’s stamina and technique were improving. The improvements were small and slow but she was improving.

Marie observed them silently, keeping a close watch on both of their movements. Tris even managed to siege Anya once and the girl was beaming a great smile.

Anya nodded, with a pleased expression at the girl “You did well, Tris. You will be allowed to join the battle against the sky children.”

Marie blinked at the woman in astonishment, feeling her words like a physical punch. Through the day, she had somewhat even forgotten the other delinquents for some time.

Tris glowed with pride at the news and directly stormed away to tell one of her friends in TonDC of the news.

“Will I be fighting as well?” Marie voiced the loudest of her thoughts in a shaky voice.

Anya shook her head resolutely, brows creased into a deep frown “You still have to learn a lot, before you will be able to face a real battle.”

Marie nodded, unsure if she should feel relieved or not. She knew, that as a warrior she would have to fight someday. But she did not know if she would be able to fight against the other delinquents at all. Did warriors have to face their friends or even their families in battles? Marie finally voiced her thoughts to Anya worriedly.

Anya regarded the young girl next to her thoughtfully for a moment. Trikru children grew up with war surrounding them. They would never think to ask such a question at all. “We fight whomever we have to fight, if we are ordered to by Heda” Anya told her in a serious voice.

Marie nodded, mulling over the new information silently in her head “Would I have to fight the other 100 if my training was not lacking so much?”

Anya pursued her lips impatiently “Do not ponder thoughts, that don’t carry any meaning at the moment. Your training is, as you put it, very much lacking at the moment.”

Marie nodded one last time and tried to banish the thoughts from her mind altogether.

“Now, you can try to light a fire again” Anya demanded, trying to divert the girl’s attention from her glum thoughts. She ignored the girl trying to stifle a groan and only motioned at her to proceed with an impatient gesture.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

Marie quickly tried to gather enough logs together and tried to remember the way, Anya had stacked them before. It took her a few moments, to figure out that she had initially forgotten to include smaller twigs and some straw, which would catch fire at first and help lighten the rest gradually. Although thoughts of the upcoming battle between Trikru and the rest of delinquents kept on bugging at her conscience, Marie tried to concentrate her attention at the task at hand, feeling Anya’s gaze boring into the back of her skull heavily.

It took her long moments of trying to get the fire burning, she cut herself quite deeply, when her fingers slipped and she rammed a piece of the stick into her finger. She bit her lip strongly, trying to keep silent. If she had learned something from watching the training of other warriors, then that giving voice to your pain was weakness and weakness would get you killed in battle. Although Anya had told her decisively that she would not be expected to partake in the war against the other 100, Marie could not predict how long it would take until Anya would in fact expect her to march with them into battle. She had heard already that the survivors on earth seemed to always be fighting one battle or another.

When she finally managed to coax a small fire to life, Marie breathed out a big breath of relief and smiled slightly at the woman, still watching over her from the side.

Anya acknowledged the girl’s efforts with a pleased glint in her brown eyes and a relatively soft tone. “Remember, this one was just so easy to light, because all the wood was dry. Out in the woods it won’t be this easy” she cautioned the child in a strict tone. It was still noteworthy that her charge had indeed managed to light the fire without help, it had taken her much too long, but she had succeeded, although Anya had seen the girl’s patience wavering and she was sure, the girl would have given up after another few moments of not succeeding.

Marie’s smile lessened noticeably, but she nodded that she understood. She was thankful that Anya had let her practise with dry wood at all, she would not put it above the woman to let her start in the worst condition possible, after having thrown her into the water of the lake before. She was still feeling slightly insecure about all the things she did not know that came totally natural to the children of the village. So, she was really grateful that the woman seemed to go a bit easy on her, she was certain that Anya could make this much more unpleasant for her, if she wanted to and she would do well, not to provoke the woman.

Anya motioned the girl closer to herself and quickly grasped her hand, she had noticed when the girl had hurt her finger. She knew that even a small wound could cause great damage, if ignored and not cleaned.

Marie startled visibly at her sudden touch and instinctively tugged at her wrist, wanting to free her hand from Anya’s vice-like grip.

“Keep still” Anya ordered in a brisk tone, strengthening her grip on the child’s wrist slightly and turning it around sharply to be able to inspect the injured finger. A splinter was still visible through some blood and she guided the girl’s fingers a little closer to her face, directing her not to move it an quickly removed the splinter, before she poured some clean water over it and inspected it again carefully for any residual splinters. She let go of the girl’s wrist with a nod and watched the child rub at the slightly reddish skin gingerly.

~~~

A few hours later, Marie had to retract her previous perception. Anya had insisted that in order to prepare Marie for a possible hunt, she needed to learn how to track pray on her own. After eating a quick lunch together, the woman had led her back into the forest surrounding TonDC and ordered her to seek for any signs left behind by possible prey. Tracking an animal proofed to be much more difficult than Marie naively had anticipated and her frustration was mounting as the time passed and she still had not found anything. If she had expected that Anya would actually help her, she was sourly mistaken.

Anya was only shadowing her silently without giving her any aid at all. The woman would just sometimes throw in comments, that Marie did not find helpful at all. Most of the comments were delivered in a sharp voice, sometimes laced with a bit of venom and impatience was creeping into the woman’s voice more and more with every passing moment.

After walking around the forest for what felt like hours, Marie stopped moving all together and crossed her arms over her chest, sulking silently. She had not seen any proof, that there were animals at all except a few tracks. She had proudly pointed them out to the woman, only for Anya to tell her in a bored tone that those were several days old and to top it all off, the woman had launched into a small tirade of criticism about the fact that she had not recognized that on her own.

“What is it now?” Anya asked her young charge in an impatient tone, coming to stop directly in front of the girl and towering over her.

Marie glared at her, grey eyes angry and speaking through clenched teeth “I did not find any tracks. This is completely pointless.”

Anya pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance “How do you expect to find prey if you give up like that?” exasperation rising at the girl’s insolent antics.

“I do not know if you noticed, but I do not know what to look for at all” Marie complained her temper flaring up, meeting the woman’s heavy stare unfazed in her anger. Her mood was sourer than usual due to the lack of sleep and the rising frustration of failing at her task and Anya only criticising her instead of actually helping her.

The woman growled under her breath and turned on her heel without saying a word and stormed away in fast strides, leaving the startled girl behind. Anya was well aware that they were not too far away from TonDC and the perimeter was already controlled by guards, even if the child would not follow her immediately, another warrior could escort her back to the village. The pyres would be lit soon and she was expected to be present.

Marie blinked behind the woman for a moment, before she realised that she would lose sight of Anya, if she did not hurry behind her immediately. She had lost track of the way, they had covered and was unsure if she would find her way back to TonDC without the woman. Her warnings of Reapers, Mountain Men and other dangerous animals lurking around in the woods, hurried her along further. She was nibbling on her lips nervously, knowing that she should not have snapped at the woman like that. Marie had no idea, how Anya would deal with insolence, the woman had not explained to her what she could expect if she misbehaved. Her mother had usually only sent her to bed without being read a bedtime story or taken a book from her for a few hours and she highly doubted Anya’s punishments would be similar. Internally Marie feared that the woman might even resort to physical punishments. “Anya, please wait” Marie called after the retreating woman loudly, voice already showing a hint of desperation “I am sorry, really.”

Anya let the girl trail after her silently for most of the way to the village and completely ignored her presence all together only stopping on the outskirt of TonDC. She knew from experience that being ignored by a first, would be enough to make the girl stew in her nervousness and make her think twice about being insolent like that in the immediate future. “If it were not for the funeral pyres to be burnt soon, you would still be out in the woods” Anya hissed at the girl impatiently, voice raised and brown eyes hard “If you give up like that on every lesson, you will really never become a warrior.”

Marie looked up at the woman, eyes widening slightly in fright, before she inclined her head meekly feeling chastised, but she knew that she had earned the rant with her previous behaviour.

The atmosphere in the village was gloomy, when they joined the other inhabitants. A large pyre had already been erected in the morning and people had started to gather around it, waiting for the burning ceremony to be opened.  The warriors of the village were all dressed in their armour and wore their war paints on their faces, some had even donned on their masks.

Marie could see two small children, she guessed them to be around four and six year’s old, standing directly in front of the pyre. The older of the two, a brunette girl, held her brother tightly and they were both crying. She immediately realized that they must be the children of one of the fallen warriors. Marie did not see any woman with them as the children were standing alone, only clinging to each other, so she wondered where the children’s mother might be.

The bodies of the warriors had already been placed on the pyre. Both were also dressed in their armour and their war paint had been applied again. To Marie it seemed as if they might just be sleeping and could be waking up at any moment.

When the last rays of sunshine vanished and it turned dark, the commander strolled out of her tent closely followed by Gustus and Indra. All of them were clad in armour and faces painted with war paint as well. Heda looked absolutely impressive in her dark armour with only the blood red sash as a dab of paint.

Lexa spoke some words to the inhabitants of TonDC. But Marie was still unable to understand the commander’s whole speech. She got that Lexa promised her warriors the blood of the delinquents in return, but she did not understand much more. After the commander’s speech, the people were chanting some words. Marie only recognized the word for blood out of them so far, but the atmosphere made goose bumps rise on her arms and she stepped the slightest bit closer to Anya.

The commander was handed a torch and when she ignited the pyres for the two warriors the chanting stopped abruptly. The village was eerie silent all of a sudden except for the two crying children and a few moments later the flames licking at the woods of the pyre, made the wood crackle loudly.

Marie looked up to Anya who was watching the flames consuming the body like everybody else did. Marie inched a bit more closely to Anya, to feel the woman’s strong and reassuring presence.

To her it seemed to take forever for the flames to consume the bodies of the warriors and she felt the smoke biting at her eyes uncomfortably. When the bodies had finally been consumed completely, the whole atmosphere suddenly switched again and Indra stepped forward, giving a short speech to the people of TonDC. She spoke of the honourable warriors the fallen men had been. The honour they had gained in dying a warrior’s death.

Anya explained lowly to Marie that they now would celebrate this night in tribute to them. Celebrating in tribute for someone, translated to gathering around another large bonfire. Alcoholic beverages were distributed freely and stories of the fallen warriors’ lives were recalled.

Marie declined the offer of the alcohol and just lingered close to Anya silently. She did not feel well participating in the celebration of two deaths. Although she had not been with the other delinquents at the time, she knew that they were responsible for these deaths and she had also seen that some of the warriors still held her responsible to a certain degree as well.

She saw Tris animatedly re-telling her siege over Anya in today’s training to a few of the other seconds that were close in age.

When Marie declined the beverage for the third time in the night, Anya forcefully pushed the mug into her hand. “Declining is to dishonour the dead” she explained to her young charge, brown eyes intently staring down into her grey eyes.

Marie looked at the drink disdainfully. Judging from the effect a few mugs had had on others around the bonfire, Marie judged the brew would be pretty strong and probably tasted even worse than the watered-down wine she had had before. Nevertheless, she nodded to Anya and accepted the mug. Disrespecting the deaths of the warriors was not her intention at all. So, she cautiously took a small sip from the mug and had to cough harshly from the burn in her throat.

Anya outright snorted a laugh at her reaction “You do not need to drink more than one mug” she tried to reassure the girl, who had quiet the comical expression on her young face.

But the words did not really reassure Marie at all. The mug felt awfully heavy and she swore she could even after the first sip feel the effects of the alcohol take hold over her body. She already felt warmth infuse her limbs and heating her cheeks. Staring into the dancing flames of the bonfire, Marie wondered silently if the delinquents would be burned as well after the Trikru troops would have killed them. In her mind, there was no chance the others could win against the warriors. She was sure that some would probably die because the delinquents now had more guns, but she highly doubted that they had enough bullets to siege a whole army that outnumbered them by far. She nursed the mug in her hand, taking a little sip occasionally, fighting hard against the urge just to spit the foul-tasting liquid out again and she got lost in her thoughts. On the other side of the fire, Marie could see the two children that had cried at the funeral pyre. She observed how many warriors went to them and spoke a few words to the children. They seemed to have pulled themselves together rather well and now stood proud and tall, no signs left behind of their previous tears and grief.

“They are the warrior’s children, aren’t they?” Marie asked Anya faintly when she was sure no one else would listen.

Anya followed her charge’s gaze and nodded with a grave expression.

“What about their mother?” Marie asked cautiously. She still had not seen any woman with the two children and she doubted that a mother would willingly leave her children to mourn the loss of their father alone.

Anya shook her head “Taken by Maunon two winters ago” her tone only showed a hint of bitterness.

Marie swallowed against the lump suddenly lodged in her throat. She realized that this was what death meant in battle, tearing families apart and leaving behind orphaned children.  “What happens to them now?” Marie asked with a quiver in her voice. She had no idea, what would have happened to her if she had not been put into the sky box. Maybe she would have been locked away anyway with no one to look after her after her mother’s death. The rules on the Ark about a family only being allowed to have one child were resolute and she did not know of a single case of an orphaned child before herself.

“They will be taken to Polis” Anya answered evenly, her brown eyes looking down at Marie and she noticed the child’s obvious mounting confusion “Polis is the capitol. There is an orphanage where orphaned children are taken care of” she added as an explanation. Not every village sent their children away, but those close enough to Polis and in Trikru territory had adapted this custom after Lexa took over as the commander.

The gathering around the bonfire continued long into the night and it took Marie nearly as long to finally empty her mug.

When Anya made them leave at last, Marie was feeling drowsy and light-headed at the same time. Her steps were unsure and her body was swaying with every step she took.

Anya snorted at the girl, it was more than obvious that the girl had no experience with alcohol and she guided her towards their tent with steadying hands on her shoulders to keep her from falling over.

When they had finally gotten ready to sleep, Marie was starting to feel more awake again. “Do you burn all your people after their death?” Marie asked into the silence of the tent, sitting upright within her furs and looking at Anya expectedly.

Anya rolled her eyes, she had already started to fall asleep, when the girl had spoken and alerted her again. “Yes” she simply replied, rolling over to face the child “Only those who committed a grave crime are denied. So, their spirits cannot be set free.”

Marie looked over at the woman with a frown “What do you mean with setting a spirit free?” She was unfamiliar with any real concept of what would happen after the death of a person. Her mother had promised her after her father had been floated, that he would be watching over her from the stars.

Anya huffed in slight annoyance, it was clear that the girl did not want to sleep right now. She had hoped the alcohol would make the girl sleepy and sleep through the rest of the night without the disturbance of nightmares. But it seemed to have had the opposite effect on the girl who appeared wide awake again. “We believe that the spirit of the fallen have to be set free by burning their bodies. So, that the spirits may be rebirthed in the future” she explained, sighing under her breath.

“But what…?” Marie started to ask with a frown on her face, her confusion only rising.

“Sleep, Marie” Anya growled at the girl impatiently. She knew it would not be long, before the sun would rise again. The woman faced her back to Marie without another word, clearly unwilling to answer any more of her questions for the night and efficiently ending the conversation. They both had not gotten much sleep the night prior and dearly needed rest.

Marie laid awake for some time more, unable to silence her thoughts. The idea that the spirits of people were rebirthed was alien to her. She did not know, what she really believed. Her parents had believed that after their death they would be in a sort of heaven. But if Anya was correct in her assumption of reincarnation, her parent’s spirits were trapped in their bodies. The dead on the Ark had been floated as well and she knew that the bodies would be floating around in space for eternity. She bit her lips as silent tears rolled down her cheeks. She mourned the death of her parents anew, alone in the dark night. The alcohol had made Anya’s sleep deeper, so the woman did not wake from the low sounds the girl made.

When the first rays of sunlight started to peek through the tent flap, Marie had finally cried herself into an exhausted sleep.

Only a short time later, Anya woke up. One look at her young charge was enough to revise her plan of waking the girl. The child looked completely exhausted and tear tracks were visible on her pale cheeks. Anya took a deep breath and pulled the furs tighter around the small body. She left the tent silently without waking the still sleeping girl and assigned another guard to the tent. She would start training Tris and continue with Marie’s training later. She also needed to speak with the commander again. Tomorrow they would march against the sky children and Anya wanted Marie to stay with Lexa in the meantime. She also wanted to ask her previous second to look after the girl should something happen to her. Death was a constant companion for warriors, but she wanted to make sure the girl, she had begun to grow fond of, was taken care of after her own death.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

When Marie woke an undefined time later in the day, she did so with a heavy pounding in her head. She had cried herself to sleep, the previous night and the alcohol had not helped the matter at all. She could not remember ever having had such a head ache and she had difficulties in opening her eyes at all. When she looked over to Anya, she noticed that the woman’s furs were empty. Slowly, she sat up within her furs and tried to listen for sounds of the general on the other side of the curtain. Groggily, she rubbed at her eyes and frowned, when she could not hear anything and realized that the woman must have left her behind. She could already see sunshine falling into the opened tent flap and she scrunched her eyes closed against the bright light. Confused about the fact that the woman had not woken her up, when she left and wondering just how late in the day it already was, she scrambled out of her furs and hurried to make herself presentable for the day, trying to ignore her headache all together. She hoped that she would get used to the consumption of alcohol soon enough. Anya had explained to her already that they did not always have access to a safe water source and that alcohol was usually safer to drink. She struggled with her hair for quiet some time and finally gave up, with a frustrated huff, combing her wavy blonde hair open again with her fingers and just leaving it like that. Anya had also told her, that she would be expected to partake in every morning’s training session from now on and that this usually took place even before the sun rose. It puzzled her greatly, that the woman had let her sleep instead of dragging her to training and a small voice in her head wondered if Anya might have already realized that training her was a waste of time and energy. Her heart sank at the thought and she quickly shook her head, shooing the thought away and turned to leave the tent.

When Marie stepped out of the tent, she directly ran into the guard who Anya had obviously posted there to keep watch over her. She did not know the man personally, but he seemed to be relatively young so he was probably still a second as well. Absentmindedly, Marie mused that the woman would probably not bother to have her guarded, if she did not plan to keep her around.

He insisted on directly escorting her to the training pit personally, the general had been absolutely clear in her orders not to leave her second out of his sight. In the early morning hours, more warriors had arrived and TonDC was now truly crowded with different people. It was easy for Marie to identify the ones that had just arrived, as most of them stared at her as if she was an exhibition in a zoo. Marie was glad for the company of the guard as no one approached them on their way and not all of those who were stared at her, had a friendly expression on their faces, she easily spotted a number of hateful grimaces instead.

She waved goodbye at the man with the hint of a smile on her smiles, which brightened slightly when she saw Tris standing at the edge of the training pits. The older girl’s attention was focused solely on the fight currently ongoing on the training pits and Marie went up to Tris and the other girl greeted her with a kind fleeting smile, brown eyes immediately returning to the fight. Marie looked over the training pits as well and her grey eyes widened in recognition when she noticed Anya and the commander sparring with each other.

“Watch them” the older girl commanded amazement evident in her brown eyes “I hope I’ll be as good someday” her voice clearly portrayed her deep admiration for both women.

Marie tried to reassure the other young warrior, that she was an amazing fighter already, but the girl waved her off and gave her a slight shove to finally truly watch the fight on the pit. Her headache was forgotten when she watched the fight, as it was really astonishing to watch Anya and Lexa fight.

Lexa was slightly shorter than her previous mentor, but what she missed in size she clearly made up in speed. Their movements looked like a deadly dance. They moved with grace and purposefulness. Marie found it hard to decipher all their moves, when they seemed to blend and flow into each other with the speed they were going at.

“Does the commander often spar?” Marie asked Tris lowly after a few moments. She had seen Anya on the training pits before, of course, but she could not remember seeing Lexa here so far.

The older girl clearly only averted her attention to Marie reluctantly “No, almost never. Heda does not have to prove her strength on the training pit anymore. Anya told me she was already an excellent fighter when she was still her second.”

Marie wanted to ask more but refrained. She had not known that Lexa had been Anya’s second in the past and she was astounded to learn this little fact. But it made sense, they did seem to have a certain familiarity with each other which she had already noticed.

The fight seemed to continue forever. They were dancing around each other, sometimes testing the other’s defences so that loud clanging sounds from the swords clashing against each other echoed through the training pits. Marie was slightly confused that she could not spot a single bleeding wound on either of them yet.

In the end, the commander was able to disarm Anya when the older woman started to tire and let her guard down for just a slight moment. They clasped arms and the commander shooed the crowd away, that had gathered around the pits.

Marie looked at the both of them with wide eyes. She still could not see any bleeding wounds, but Anya’s jaw was already starting to darken with a deep bruise.

“I hope you have learnt something from watching” Anya commented when she saw the stares from both of her seconds. Tris was looking at them with admiration shining in her eyes and Marie looked completely astonished.

Tris nodded vigorously in agreement, but remained silent.

Marie’s eyes were still glued to the swords, they had used in their fight when the girl commented in a horrified voice “Yeah, I’ll be dead in under ten seconds in a real fight.”

Lexa seemed to have to bite her lips, as to not laugh out loud at the matter of fact tone the girl had used.

Whereas Anya’s lips thinned and she glared at the younger of her charges “That just shows you, how much you still have to learn and how idiotic your question was if you are to join in the attack” her voice had gotten harder again and the light seemed to leave her brown eyes.

Marie nodded solemnly and looked onto the ground glumly. Silently, she doubted that she would ever be able to learn how to fight like that. Anya had made it sound in the woods, as if she was even unable to walk properly, so how was she supposed to master all of the skills she lacked? She highly doubted that she could even make the movements in this speed, she had just seen Lexa and Anya use, not even thinking about adding the weight of a sword to it. What truly astounded her, was the fact that neither women seemed to be particularly out of breath, even though they had been fighting for quiet a long time.

Lexa saw the self-doubt in the girl’s grey eyes quite clearly and she wanted to show the girl that she might just have to focus on the skills she already possessed instead of focussing on what she could not do at the moment. “Anya told me that you seem to possess a talent for throwing knifes, Marie” Lexa addressed the child in a casual tone.

The girl whipped her head up again with a wide-eyed stare alternating between Anya and Lexa every few seconds.

Anya snorted at the girl’s antics, it was obvious the girl had no idea how to behave around the commander. She was glad internally that the girl was being cautious and was obviously trying not to overstep the rules she was still unfamiliar with. In her position, it was safer to be overly cautious, she could not always be around the child and protect her.

In the end, the girl opened and closed her mouth several times without uttering a word and finally settled on just nodding mutely mixed with a shrug. The helpless expression would have been comical to watch, if Anya and Lexa were not aware of all the others watching the exchange critically as well at the moment. One silent glance between former mentor and commander conveyed enough of a conversation to settle, that they both agreed that the girl dearly needed more confidence to hold herself in their harsh world, where strength mattered above everything else.

To reassure the younger girl, Lexa smiled at her uncharacteristically soft and took a dagger from a holster at her hip and offered the handle to the girl. She knew that what she wanted the girl to do was risky, the child could disgrace herself even more if she failed. But Lexa knew for sure that Anya would not have mentioned the girl's inherit talent, if it would not hold up to her words.

Marie blinked at the offered dagger a few seconds, clearly unsure of what to do, before she cautiously took the weapon and she looked at the commander questioningly.

Lexa looked around and pointed to a pine tree at the edge of the village a good distance away. She wanted the girl to arm for some cones at the top of the tree.

Silently, she hoped the girl really was as good as Anya had told her. She liked this dagger and did not want to lose it. If the girl did not hit her target, it would take hours to find the dagger if they even could spot it altogether.

A few warriors from another small village were openly laughing at the girl now. Lexa lightly glared at them, convinced that neither of them would be able to hit the cones, she had just pointed out, there was a good chance that she would miss them at the first try as well. Internally, Lexa mused that it would have been better to give the girl an easier target, while Marie gulped silently and straightened her shoulders. One threating glance from Anya was enough for the girl to finally accept the challenge.

Tris was watching the proceedings quietly. She had never seen the commander up close until she arrived at TonDC and was intrigued with the woman she turned out to be. Anya had not always been open to tell her things about her previous second, but she knew how proud the general must be to have had a hand in the shaping of the commander.

Anya observed that even Indra had stopped in her tracks and was watching the girl. She hoped her charged would succeed, if only to see Indra’s shocked face. She knew it was not impossible to hit the cones, but it was pretty far and only someone with great skill would hit them on just one try.

Marie was carefully taking aim, while her thoughts raced through her head. She knew, that she would embarrass herself and probably Anya too if she failed. She remembered how her dagger had fallen from the target on the training pits before, not sticking for longer than the fraction of a second. So, she knew that she would not just have to take aim carefully, but also use all the force she could muster. She could feel sweat gathering on her brow as nerves invaded her mind.

She closed her eyes for a few seconds to focus. Something her mother had told her a long time ago flashing up in a memory. When Marie had had difficulties to read out loud, because she stuttered the words out, her mother had told her to focus only on herself and completely forget the kids at the class around her who were laughing at her for stuttering.

So, that was what she did right now as well. After a few deep even breaths, she opened her eyes again and threw the dagger towards the cones as hard as she could.  She waited with a halted breath, watching the blade soar through the air for endless moments and when the dagger did hit the cones, she nearly jumped up in joy only refraining herself in the last moment, but she could not stop the huge grin on her face when she looked to the others around her, grey eyes shining with pride joy. Lexa looked mildly impressed and nodded at her in silent acknowledgment. Anya was more occupied with eying Indra’s shocked face at the moment, her gaze slightly smug at her charge’s accomplishment. Tris smiled at the younger girl. She knew that she would not have been able to hit the cones, throwing knifes had never been one of her strong suits.

Lexa looked smugly at the other warriors who had doubted the girl’s ability and was satisfied to see a look of clear disbelief on their faces.  Internally, she was relieved that the child had succeeded, she had already mentally prepared to defend the girl’s obvious lack of skill in case of her dagger missing the cones. “You did well, Marie” the commander praised with a slight smile. Even Gustus who had hovered behind them silently, looked mildly impressed of the throw.

“If you can find the dagger, you are allowed to keep it” Lexa offered the girl with a kind smile. Anya subtly rolled her eyes at the commander and it was evident Gustus wanted to say something, but refrained in front of all the other warriors still gathered around the pits and watching the exchange.

Marie’s grey eyes had gone wide again and she was still smiling a blinding smile.

“Tris can assist you in the search for the dagger” Anya told Marie and the glance she threw Tris’ way was order enough to be dismissed.

Tris took the younger girl by her sleeve, pulling her along, when she was still thanking the commander rapidly.

As soon as the girls were out of hearing range, Anya rolled her eyes at the commander critically “Really, gifting a new second with one of your own daggers, commander?”

Lexa just huffed in response and jutted her chin out defiantly. Anya and Gustus both would not dare to question her in front of the other warrior’s and one glare was enough to shut both of them up. She knew that it had been a tad bit overdone to promise the child a gift of such honour, but she would not retract her words now. The child was obviously truly gifted with an inherit talent and she was curious to see what else the child might be able to do with a little patience and training.

Tris pulled Marie through the village in fast strides. The dagger had hit the cones and had fallen down together with them. She knew that did not mean the dagger would just lay on the ground, it could have become entangled with smaller branches or leaves and was stuck somewhere on the tree. Tris knew that Marie’s previous experiences with climbing were not excellent, but hiding in a tree was essential for some scout work.

“Come, I hope we are lucky and the dagger fell from the tree with the cones” Tris told Marie and let go of her sleeve.

“Where else would it be?” Marie asked confusion on her face.

Tris snorted in silent laughter, the girl really knew nothing about trees. She pointed up to the branches silently with a meaningful glance.

“Oh” came the sorrowful reply as the meaning of the other girl’s words sank into Marie.

Now Tris could not contain her laughter anymore and laughed out loud at the downtrodden expression on Marie’s face.

Marie pouted at Tris silently.

“Don’t fret, I do not mean harm” Tris still laughed slightly.

Marie glared at her lightly, but nodded.

They reached the tree only a few moments later and as it seemed they were not lucky. They could not spot the dagger anywhere on the ground, so it probably really got entangled on the way down.

Marie glared at the tree as if it had personally offended her somehow, prompting another bout of laughter from Tris.

“Then we will have to climb” Tris told the other girl what was obvious to both of them.

Marie reluctantly nodded and exhaled loudly “I can’t climb.” She crossed her arms over her chest with a pout, her glare deepening.

Tris bit her lips to stop laughing “I know, but you have to learn it. Trikru warriors often use the trees as cover.”

Marie huffed again, but nodded at the logic. Tris was much more patient with her now than Anya had been. To be fair they now had the time for Marie to really just get a feeling on how to climb and where to place her feet and how to hold her balance.

Marie quickly found that being taught something from Tris was vastly different. The older girl first patiently explained with words what Marie should do and then slowly demonstrated how it was done correctly.

In the end, Tris and Anya had both been right getting into the tree was not that hard, when she had the time. Fortunately, they did find the dagger quickly in the tree and it truly was still stuck in the cones it had hit.

Marie triumphantly took the dagger together with the cones and slowly climbed back down, which she fortunately managed this time without falling down again.

“See, it isn’t that hard” Tris commented kindly, when Marie smiled at her after her feet touched solid ground again.

Marie nodded, pleased with herself to have managed to climb up and down without another accident. “You are a really good teacher” she acknowledged Tris’ efforts with honest gratitude, Marie highly doubted her success in retrieving the dagger without the older girl's help.

“We should heed back, there will be a meeting for the attack tomorrow soon” Tris told the other girl, waving off her gratitude with a smile.

Marie nodded, the smile leaving her features altogether. She had completely forgotten about that.

Tris tried to lift Marie’s mood on the way back, but was completely unsuccessful and admitted defeat. She was excited about the attack on the sky children. It would be her first bigger fight and it was an honour to her skills that Anya allowed her to accompany the army.

Anya was already waiting for Tris at the outskirt of the village and sent Marie to Lexa. The commander would not get herself involved in the fight for now. A village had been burnt, so it was a Trikru matter right now.

The woman watched Marie walk through the village obediently with hunched shoulders, her good mood had vanished completely.

“What happened?” Anya asked Tris lowly with a frown on her face.

“I told her about the meeting for the attack” Tris admitted softly feeling slightly guilty.

Anya nodded silently and watched the girl disappear into the commander’s tent with a downtrodden expression on her face.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

The guards outside of the commander’s tent let Marie enter without any objection, as they had been informed the girl would be sent there. Some already thought it strange that their Heda would spare any time for the sky girl at all and questioned their leader's possible hidden agenda in whispered rumours.

Marie nodded politely at the guards, as she entered. Her mother had always instilled in her, how important proper manners were.

Lexa was sitting on her wooden throne and Gustus stood beside the woman stoically, whereas Indra stood opposite of them and broke off the conversation as the girl entered. Turning slightly and glaring at the child.

Lexa immediately spotted Marie’s mood and furrowed her brow. Maybe the girls had been unable to find the dagger?

Indra’s warriors would not join in the fight tomorrow, so that TonDC would remain protected and they would be able to monitor any movements from the Mountain that way, so the woman was not required to attend the meeting for tomorrows attack. Internally, Lexa knew that it was only a matter of time now until the Mountain Men would get involved. It was unlikely that the two metal contraptions fallen from the Sky, would have been missed by them. Although her warriors had been unsuccessful to figure put how the Mountain Men watched their surroundings, it was clear that they somehow did. The fog usually appeared only if someone crossed the river towards the Mountain after all.

“Weren’t you able to find the dagger?” Lexa asked the girl, leaning slightly towards the girl in her throne, when the child stopped in front of her looking insecure and small, shoulders visibly sagged and expression downtrodden.

Marie shook her head in the negative and held up the dagger as physical proof with a slight fleeting smile, that dimmed again notably after only a second again.

Indra muttered something that sounded suspiciously as “ungrateful brat” under her breath, too low for Marie to hear clearly, but the dark-skinned woman’s expression was full of hate and anger. Even Gustus was slightly glaring at the girl now. Being gifted with one of the commander’s personal weapons was a great honour, the girl obviously did not quiet grasp its magnitude yet. Lexa somehow doubted that the child was truly ungrateful, it did not fit with how she had seen the girl behave until now.

“What is it then?” Lexa inquired in a calm tone and serene expression, relaxing her posture slightly; she had noticed already how the child seemed unsure in her presence. She had planned to give the girl a lesson in written Trigedasleng. Not all of her generals were able to read, but she thought it to be an important skill. Anya had told her beforehand, that the girl was able to read and write English, so it should not be a very hard lesson for her.

Marie bit her lips for a few moments and let her shoulders drop even more “The attack is tomorrow” she stated in a subdued tone. Her grey eyes only connected minutely with the commander’s before she averted them again, it was obvious that the girl was troubled deeply by her thoughts on the matter.

That was everything the girl offered freely as an explanation, but Lexa pursued her lips in slight irritation. Anya and she had previously talked about the attack, her general was fearing that the girl’s ties to Skykru would be too deep for a smooth transition into Trikru. The child seemed much more sensitive and Anya was not certain of the child’s ability to truly adapt to their culture.

Indra and Gustus shared a knowing look and Indra resumed her silent glare. Lexa had forbidden her to speak up against the girl again openly, so the general kept silent although her reluctance was more than obvious.

“I understand that it is hard for you to accept that the other Sky children will be killed…” Lexa started to tell Marie in a calm tone and a hint of compassion infused her green eyes.

To the commander’s silent consternation, the child interrupted her mid-sentence. “It is not that!” Marie exclaimed voice raised slightly and her hands balled into fists at her side, frustration flashing over her features openly. As quick as the girl’s anger had risen, it deflated as well and the child looked even more troubled “Not completely at least…” she added in a whisper.

Gustus also glared at the girl now for having interrupted Lexa so rudely, but Lexa could spot the same confusion in his eyes she was feeling at the girl’s sudden change of mood. Internally, she hoped that the girl would learn quickly to guard her feelings better, she wore them on her face without any filter. Lexa looked at the girl in silence, a question burning in her green eyes and waiting for the child to explain herself.

After a moment the girl looked up at her and exhaled loudly, before she did continue in a slightly strained voice “I should feel more empathic that they are all going to die, I know that.” Her shoulders visibly sagged again, probably from guilt at her own feelings.

Lexa had listened to the girl’s words with a deepening frown, confusion rising in her mind at the girl’s illogical way of thinking; she could have easily fathomed the girl to be downtrodden at the prospect of her people’s impending extinction, but something else was obviously upsetting her although Lexa could not think of something else. Sending her to participate in the fight would be a suicide mission and the girl was aware that she could not fight well enough to help in a real fight. She had voiced as much after watching herself and her general compete in combat just this morning.

“The others have guns” Marie explained after another beat of heavy silence and her voice quivered noticeably, fear showed clearly in her big grey eyes “What if Anya and Tris won’t even reach them before they are shot down? Or your other warriors? A gun against a sword does not seem like a fair fight” the child’s voice had risen at the end and her grey eyes were now locked with Lexa’s.

Indra and Gustus both were blinking their eyes at the girl in silent astonishment. Marie was obviously worried more for their warriors, than she was for her own people, a train of thought absolutely alien to them.

Lexa was lost for words for a moment as well, taken aback at the child’s depths of compassion for her warriors. Her grey eyes had shown with honesty and her emotions were displayed visibly on her pale face, easy to read. “My warriors are way more trained in the art of battle, Marie” Lexa reassured the girl in a kind tone. But all of them knew, that guns were weapons they could not fight well against. They had a strategy and if all worked to plan the losses would be minimal, but there would be losses. But losses were a part of every battle anyway. “Falling in battle is an honourable death and death is a constant companion to warriors, Marie” Lexa continued in an even voice as she gazed down at the girl “I will not lie to you. There will be losses, but we will be victorious” her tone was sure and she held Marie’s gaze for long moments.

Marie nodded with a solemn expression, but it was evident that the girl did not feel reassured in the slightest and she was biting at her lower lip.

Indra eyed the girl with a contemplating expression and it was clear to Lexa, that the woman was already starting to adjust her previous conception of the young girl. She might not have the physical strength the other seconds all had but there was another strength in this girl. Lexa could not quiet put a finger on it yet, but something was special about the girl, something Anya must have sensed as well. She had been surprised that she had not been forced to chose someone as the girl’s first.

“Indra, Gustus, leave us” Lexa commanded authoritatively, waving dismissively at both of them. Indra nodded at once and left without another word, her dark eyes minutely flitting back to the blonde child, whereas Gustus lingered behind for a moment clearly reluctant to leave her side. One silent warning glare was enough to convince him to follow her orders.

Marie watched them leave silently and her grey eyes returned to Lexa’s face expectantly.

Lexa saw that the girl was still holding the dagger in her fingers and offered one of her sheaths to the girl that could be strapped to her thigh.

The girl accepted it gratefully and Lexa stood from her throne to show her how to fasten it and what position would not hinder her movements.

The lesson itself worked rather well and Lexa was positively surprised to note that the girl possessed a quick mind and was obviously still eager to learn. The girl’s pre-existing ability to read and write English helped her progress greatly. Trying to read Trigedasleng would improve her skill of the new language even faster than just speaking it ever could. Lexa was pleased to spot the child relaxing her tense frame as the time passed and the girl seemed to gradually become more confident to actually ask her questions, although a residual tenseness and caution remained.

Anya’s return to the commander’s tent, after the meeting had been called to a close, ended their lesson and she nodded thankfully to Lexa for having kept the girl close to her.

Marie softly bid goodnight to Lexa, a shy smile flitting over her features before she followed Anya through the village. The atmosphere in the village seemed excited, dimming Marie’s own mood. Preparations for the attack were ongoing everywhere she looked.

Anya guided them back to their shared tent and they ate some dinner there in a heavy silence. Marie could not help herself and she was looking up to Anya every few seconds.

Anya had picked up on the girl’s strange behaviour almost immediately, but she was also relatively sure of the origin. The girl was making sure, she was still there, although she was slightly astounded to note honest worry for her own person in the girl’s grey eyes. She had of course already noted that the child seemed to wish to form a bond to her immediately, but Anya had been certain that it would take more time for Marie to actually do so and warrant what she assumed to be fear of losing her. She already expected that the girl would not be able to sleep this night as well. So, after dinner she opted to do something that she had never before done with Lexa or Tris. Anya directly made Marie lie down with her in her bedroll and let the girl snuggle up to her, hoping that she would be able to sleep better this way. The battle would take place tomorrow and although she was confident in their strategy, she could not afford to be overly exhausted and by thus easily distracted.

“Please promise to come back tomorrow” the girl whispered in a pleading voice moments later into the darkness in the tent and her small fingers fisted in the material of Anya’s shirt.

Anya stiffened a bit and had to forcefully exhale. She had no idea, why the girl felt this connected to her already after only a few short days and she knew she could not make this promise without lying. A warrior would never be able to promise to return safe from battle. “I will try my hardest” she offered sincerely instead.

The girl seemed to understand and nodded against her chest tightening the grip she had on Anya.

Her closeness had helped greatly and the girl had thankfully not woken up from any nightmares. So, Anya was glad to wake up reasonably rested on the next morning.

One glance into Marie’s face was enough, to know that the girl was totally frightened. She looked pale and her grey eyes appeared even huger in her face, staring at Anya forlornly. Anya tried to be as gentle and reassuring with her charge as possible without eluding the truth.

When they met Tris for a breakfast at the bonfire, her charges could not have been more different. Where Marie was biting her lips and looking small and frightened, Tris was buzzing with excited energy.

They would not be doing any physical training this morning, as they would start their march in a few hours and Anya did not wish to tire Tris too much. Lexa had agreed to look after Marie again in the meantime. For Anya’s taste, Tris was overly excited and she changed her decision against the physical training immediately after breakfast.

Marie was allowed to only watch them spar and she blinked in open puzzlement. It took Anya only a few moments to correct Tris’ cockiness and the girl looked abashed. Marie internally wondered if Tris had only been able to win against Anya in the last training, because the woman had actively let her win, Tris did not have even the sliver of a chance in their short match.

“You are a good fighter, Tris” Anya reassured the girl “But overconfidence will get you killed faster than you think in battle. It makes you reckless, remember that later.”

Tris looked up at the woman immediately, brown eyes understanding, before she nodded with a slight smile and rubbed at her smarting knees. Anya had been careful not to inflict any real injuries before the fight nevertheless. She just wanted the girl to be more cautious and nothing was more effective in bringing down an overconfident warrior than showing them proof of their many flaws.

Marie had watched them silently. But she would take this lesson seriously as well.

The rest of the time before the attack, Anya made Marie try to shoot a bow.

The girl was not completely skill-less, but it was clear that her attention was lacking. Anya wondered whether she would show the same talent with a bow as she had with the throwing knifes if she just focused correctly. She had tried snapping at the child to get her to focus, but it had not shown any positive result, if anything Marie had been even less focused afterwards, her grey eyes searching her own even before she truly let go of the bow string.

Marie had great difficulties to focus her attention at all on what she was doing. If possible, she would have liked to turn the time faster. So that Anya and Tris would have returned already. On the other side, she felt awful, that she barely spared the other delinquents any thoughts at all. But she guessed, that she had already accepted their deaths as a given.

When it was time to change into the armour, Marie trudged behind them silently looking to be on the verge of tears. She watched Tris and Anya change and apply war paint quickly. Both looked more ruthless now, but for Marie they still felt like her new family and she prayed she would not lose them already.

Anya tried to ignore the girl’s obvious difficulties, she had already tried to reassure her with words and they had not shown any effect. There was nothing else she could say to ease her mind. When Tris and she were both ready to join the army, she sent her older second ahead for a moment and opened her mouth to order Marie to seek out the commander, when the girl suddenly launched herself at her, hugging her midriff tightly for a moment. Anya swallowed forcefully and squeezed the girl’s shoulders for a moment, before she eased out of the girl’s arms and nudged her towards the tent flaps.

A few moments later Marie was standing next to the commander, who oversaw the leaving warriors, she had lost sight of Anya and Tris some time ago already. The girl was constantly biting her lips now and Lexa already could see a red shimmer of blood on them. The girl seemed oblivious to the nervous gesture altogether.

When the war drums started, Marie took a startled step closer to Lexa seeking any comfort she could get in the moment. Gustus glared a bit at her, but did not make amends to remove the girl. Lexa also allowed it for now, she could see that this was taking a great toll on the young girl. They all had to remember, that Marie was completely unfamiliar with the concept of war. On the ground, war had been a constant after the end of the old world. But the girl still had to get familiar with their ways, so Lexa opted to be lenient with her as well. Only when the last warrior had disappeared in the woods and the sounds of the drums started to fade, did Lexa direct Marie to her tent.

Gustus stayed back at the entrance of the tent, leaving them in private for now.

Lexa looked at the girl and she had to admit she looked awfully small at the moment. With an almost pitying look, Lexa silently thought that the girl would have to harden fast to survive in their world. Where the sky had left the child soft, she would need to be hard on the ground. As best as she could, she diverted the girl’s attention back to the lessons they had started the previous evening. Marie’s progress was slow today as the girl was unable to concentrate properly. Lexa had to take some calming breaths sometimes as to not lose her patience with the girl.

“Marie, I know it is hard right now, but you need to concentrate” Lexa rebuked the girl in an even tone, while she kept her eyes gentle.

But all the lessons were forgotten long moments later when a loud explosion suddenly resonated outside.

Lexa whirled around and strode out of the tent in big strides, while Marie followed the commander quickly, grey eyes wide and fear showing on her features.

Marie could see smoke emitting in a big cloud in the distance and the smoke seemed to come from the direction of the drop ship. She was looking at the cloud of smoke with horrified eyes and Lexa was already shouting orders for scouts to be sent to the explosion.

Gustus and Indra had looked in another direction and were now casting worried glances in the direction of Mount Weather. An explosion this size would not have gone by the Mountain Men’s attention. Even if the Mountain Men may have miraculously been oblivious to the Sky children’s presence until now, it was sure they were aware of them now as grounders did not use any kind of explosives.

“What happened?” Marie asked in a low quivering voice, when Lexa returned to the girl a few moments later.

The commander could only share a few worried glances with her general and her guard. There were only two big questions for them. Had they underestimated the sky children this gravely? And what about the Mountain Men?

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

The scouts sprang into actions immediately around TonDC, barely a moment after Lexa had stopped barking orders to them. Marie was ushered back into the commander’s tent by Lexa herself. There was nothing they could do now besides wait for news.

Lexa, Indra and Gustus seemed worried, whereas Marie looked to be almost apathetic with worry. The girl could not halt her racing thoughts and her heart was drumming loudly in her own ears. From what she had seen from the inhabitants of TonDC, she logically knew that the explosion could not have been caused by them. So, that only left the other delinquents as the creators of the explosives. Marie had not been aware that they had anything to build explosives with, but if she remembered correctly Monty was rather affine to technical stuff, so Marie mused that he could have come up with something. She shook her head slightly, wondering who exactly had caused the explosion was useless. Her mind was invaded with a persistent question which made her stomach churn with worry. What if Anya and Tris had been in the middle of the explosion? She knew how strong an explosion could be and was absolutely certain that no one would survive standing directly next to that.

Lexa was speaking rapidly in Trigedasleng with Indra, while Gustus had returned to the spot beside the throne to guard his commander.

Both Lexa and Gustus kept an eye on Marie the whole time. It was clear, the girl had fallen into a shocked trance like state. She was standing in the middle of the tent staring at nothing in particular and was breathing shallowly.

Marie did hear the ongoing conversation, as if her head was stuck under water and she unable to decipher even one single word of what was said, she was not even certain in which language they were speaking at the moment.  She was jostled out of her trance, when loud shouts suddenly resonated outside of the tent. Her head whirled around to the shouts as Lexa already glided out of the tent followed by Gustus on her heels.

Marie hurried behind them, feeling her heart beat strongly in her throat, to hear what the scouts that had returned had found. Her brows creased in startled confusion, when she realized how many of the warriors who had left to fight against the rest of the 100 had returned with the scouts. Frantically Marie scanned the crowd for Anya and Tris, but no matter how often her grey eyes searched the crowd in rising desperation, she could not spot them among the other warriors.

She abandoned her search with a sinking heart and instead tried to listen to the report the head of the scouts was giving to the commander at the moment. She was not able to understand everything, for the man was speaking for too quickly for her, but it was enough to gather, that the other delinquents had blown up a bridge when a part of the army had already been on said bridge. The bridge obviously had been the only direct connection between the place of the drop ship and the woods, the army needed to regroup now and return, using a longer way. Marie’s blood ran cold and she felt her breaths stuck in her throat upon hearing the report, as she knew that Anya as one of the most high-ranking generals and Tris as her second were supposed to be at the very front of the army, so they must have been caught directly in the explosion. She remained rooted to the spot, breathing erratic and vision blurring slightly, while the warriors around her were already springing back to action.

It took some time, but in the end the commander together with Indra organised a group to return to the site of the explosion to look for the wounded and to gather the dead to give them a proper burial ceremony. Marie barely heard any of their plans, her grey eyes were fixed into the treeline, hoping against all sense that Anya and Tris would just suddenly appear out of thin air. When the warriors started to move again, she was snapped out of her thoughts.

Marie just now realized that no one was paying her any real attention and that the commander had already joined the group to leave TonDC. Anya’s clear order to stay in TonDC, no matter what, rang loudly in her mind for a moment. So, with drooping shoulders Marie trudged through the camp. Around her warriors were running around the camp gathering everything that could be used to carry bodies.

She looked around and noted that still no one was paying her any attention and a defiant glint appeared in Marie’s grey eyes. She quickly gathered a piece of cloth and wrapped it around her hair as a shawl. She knew how easily she was being identified by her bright hair, most of the people here had at least dark blonde hair like Anya, but she had not encountered a single one to have such blonde hair like she did. As silently and unobtrusively as possible, Marie followed the departing group of warriors through the wood, her heart beating loudly in her chest. She did not know for certain, why she felt compelled to see the site of the explosion herself, but she just followed them, trying not to think at all and hoping against all sense that Anya and Tris had simply remained behind to help the wounded. Fortunately for her the warriors’ attention was focused on the area before them, so that they did not pay close attention to the movements behind them.

Marie followed the group of warriors led by the commander undetected like this  to the blown up bridge.

Her grey eyes widened at the sight of the destruction, the bridge had been completely destroyed. She noted how narrow the bridge had been so that not many warrior could have possibly been on it simultaneously, when the explosion occurred.

Nevertheless, quiet a large number of bodies lay scattered around the bridge, Marie forced her eyes to flit over them, afraid that she might find Anya and Tris among them. She exhaled forcefully in relief, when she was able to finally spot Anya, the woman was checking for survivors, going around the bodies in the ground and testing if they still breathed.

Marie immediately began to move in Anya's direction, her heart calming it's frantic beat slightly. What she had not anticipated when she followed the group without permission was, what would be the retribution she might face for her disobedience.

The commander had already stepped up to Anya and they were speaking rapidly in Trigedasleng about what had happened here. Lexa’s eyes immediately spotted the girl approaching them and she narrowed her eyes with them flashing dangerously. No one had given the girl permission to join the group of warriors or even leave TonDC on her own at all. She had expected for the girl to return to her tent and stay there, it had not even crossed her mind to make sure of that.

Marie faltered in her steps, when suddenly both women were glaring daggers at her. Anya harshly grabbed her by the arm in a bruising grip “What are you doing here? You were told to stay in TonDC!” her voice was sharp and her brown eyes unrelenting.

Marie stuttered a bit and winced at the painful grip Anya had on her arm “Well, technically …” she began to try and justify herself.

Lexa interrupted them, she knew how worried the girl was about Anya, but disobedience could not be tolerated either “I am sure you will quickly rid your new second of her rebellious tendencies.”

Marie gulped rather loudly and nodded with down cast eyes, shamefaced.

Before Anya could say anything more on the subject, Tris interrupted them, appearing from the tree line. Marie breathed deeply in relief, seeing the older girl as well.

The girl looked unharmed on the first glance, but as Tris opened her mouth to speak, she started to cough, her brown eyes widening in obvious panic and blood glistened on her lips. She seemed to have trouble breathing and Anya caught her, when her legs abruptly gave under her. Marie watched the older girl crumble and her blood ran cold.

Anya clutched Tris' limp body in her arms and she motioned three warriors to follow her as she hurried away from the bridge and Lexa quickly nudged Marie to follow them, the blonde girl had simply watched the proceedings frozen in place. The girl would not be able to help much at the bridge and Anya was surely already worrying enough about Tris’ health. So, Lexa thought it best that Marie accompanied her mentor. Fortunately the explosion had caused enough chaos that the other warriors did not think too much of Marie’s presence. Lexa was internally grateful that she as the commander would not be forced to punish the girl publicly. Anya could afford to be much more lenient with Marie. Even Lexa had had bouts of rebellions in her youth and she remembered her old mentor’s way to eradicate them well.

Marie hurried quickly to follow them, only fleetingly looking up at the commander before she turned on her heels. She seemed lucky that Anya had thought about ordering one of the warriors to wait for her and the masked figure hoisted her onto a horse behind her, before he kicked the mount to follow the others. They were travelling at an amazing speed through the woods, but Marie internally wondered why they did not travel towards TonDC. She had definitely not come from this direction. It did not take them long to reach their destination. There were some ruins or tunnels of sorts ahead of them, where they carried Tris into. The whole way no one had talked a word to her so far and Marie was unnerved by the silence.

Marie watched as Anya placed Tris on a table and she could hear the other girl struggling for breaths.

Anya whirled around suddenly and commanded the two warriors to wait outside, before her brown eyes found Marie, her hard gaze drilling into the child's grey eyes. “You are going to stay here with Tris” Anya commanded in a clipped tone with angrily glittering eyes.

Marie opened her mouth to object, but closed it as quickly again when Anya let out a warning growl, her features angry and her gaze hard.

“You will guard Tris until we return. If you even take one step outside and I hear of it, you will regret it” Anya threatened, voice somehow deathly low and still frightening “Am I clear?!”

Marie nodded rapidly in agreement and with apologetic eyes returned to Tris’ side.

Anya left without another word and Marie was left alone with the unconscious other girl.

Cautiously Marie took one of Tris’ hands in her own. She thought it a good sign, that Tris was still breathing but her breaths sounded laboured and pained. There was no blood visible on the girl’s armour, so there seemed to be no superficial wounds. She wondered what else could be affecting Tris' breathing like this.

Marie had no idea how long she waited there with Tris, but every second seemed to stretch into eternity. When it started to darken outside, Marie went around the room and lit a few candles.

At one point Tris briefly woke up. Her brown eyes were panicked and she definitely had trouble breathing. Marie tried to calm her down as best as possible, gripping her hands strongly and trying to address her with soothing words and hoped that Anya would return fast with help. Only a few moments later Tris lost consciousness again and Marie was unbelievably glad that she could still hear her breathing indicating that the other girl was still alive.

When there was the sound of movements from outside, Marie hastily  grabbed the dagger she still had strapped to her tight, afraid that someone might attack them or an animal searching for something to eat.

She breathed a mute sight of relief, when it was Anya who entered the structure, followed on her heels by the two warriors who each dragged Clarke and Finn behind them.

Marie looked behind them confused of what they were doing here, she had hoped that Anya would bring a healer for Tris and lowered her dagger again. She did not need to defend herself from Anya of course.

Clarke and Finn were both staring at her with wide eyes, disbelief clear on their faces. Marie realised that either John had not arrived back at the camp yet or he had not told the others that she now lived with the Trikru.

“You are going to heal her” Anya commanded Clarke and pointed to Tris. The girl’s laboured breathing sounded even more strained now “If she dies, so does the boy” proclaimed in a threatening tone and stared at the blonde girl for a moment, before she let go of Clarke’s arm.

Marie could see Clarke gaping at Anya and the blonde argued that she lacked the equipment to be able to offer Tris any help.

Anya commanded one of the warriors to gather what Clarke needed. “You will stay with them” Anya ordered Marie and the girl nodded immediately in mute agreement.

The others left the building again, probably to search for what Clarke had asked.

“What are you doing here, Marie? We thought you might have been caught in the acid fog, when we did not find you” Finn directly addresses her when the grounders were out of earshot “We will get you out of here” he promised with a desperate certainty.

Marie looked at them in confusion, she was not here against her will after all, but the others obviously thought different.

Tris started to gasp loudly suddenly and Marie turned to the older girl again, her grey eyes widening in fright for her.

“Help her” Marie pleaded Clarke, she could see that Tris’ condition was getting worse. The blonde nodded silently and turned to Tris.

“What happened to her?” Clarke asked, looking up at Marie minutely.

Marie looked at both of them with an accusing stare “She was on the bridge when you made it explode” her voice was hard and her lips thinned.

Finn was helping her to get Tris in a sitting position, when Anya and the other two warriors returned. One of them was carrying a bag of sorts and laid it out on the floor. It seemed to contain medical equipment.

“Why do you think I could help her?” Clarke asked Anya in honest confusion, as she inspected the instruments.

“Lincoln told her” Finn concluded from his place at the side line, before Anya answered.

“As I did” Marie added and watched as Clarke put her ear to Tris’ back, listening to her breathing.

“Her left lung seems to have collapsed” Clarke observed with a worried frown. Marie drew in a harsh breath, she doubted Clarke’s abilities would be enough to save Tris’ life from that kind of injury.

Clarke looked through the bag the others had brought and made a cut in Tris’ side from which blood immediately ran fast.

Marie looked on concerned as Anya came closer to investigate and snarled at Clarke “What have you done?!” her features showing her rage.

Clarke tried to explain to the woman that Tris could not breathe, because of the blood in her lung but when Anya shoved Clarke away from Tris, Finn tried to intervene and a few seconds later both lay on their backs with swords drawn to their throats in warning.

Marie tried to calm the situation down, because she remembered Clarke’s mother doing something similar to her own mom, when her lungs were full of blood. It had helped her mother for some time and she deeply wished that it would now help Tris as well, she did not wish to see the older girl die.

Anya and the warriors looked doubtful, but they waited to judge Tris’ condition. The girl’s breathing did not sound as laboured any more, but she was still unconscious. Marie had started to worry for all the blood the older girl had already lost.  The waiting with nothing to do was proving to be the worst thing ever to Marie. She would have liked to step closer to Anya to draw comfort from her presence, but the woman seemed unapproachable at the moment and Marie did not want to strain the atmosphere even more. The minutes stretched endlessly and Marie bit at her lips in agitation.

When Anya felt Tris’ forehead sometime later, she observed that the girl was running a fever.

Marie could see Clarke losing her nerves and the other girl was blaming Anya now for even sending a young girl into battle. To Marie Clarke’s lashing out now only proved that the girl herself had given up hope to safe Tris’ life.

“That is the way we train them to become warriors” Anya answered seriously, voice controlled and expression drawn.

“So that the killing can continue easily forever” Clarke shouted hotly and Anya took a threating step closer to the insolent girl.

“You blew up the bridge, you did this” Anya hissed in her face with angry eyes and barely refrained herself from just killing her on the spot.

Clarke told Anya that the only option to save Tris was to give her clean blood. When Clarke asked Anya for her blood, a warrior stepped in and declined immediately, all three warriors seemed set against even the idea of the concept. Marie knew from Nyko that the survivors on the ground did not use any blood transfusions anymore and the concept was alien to them.

“Take mine” Marie offered from the side. She would do what she could to safe the other girl and standing beside the proceedings without anything to do was making her antsier by the minute. In her opinion, it was already taking way too long for Clarke to do something again to try and help Tris who was obviously suffering, breaths rattling and sweat glistening on her face.

When Clarke finally had a syringe and a needle that would do, she took some blood from Marie. Marie pressed her lips together against the stinging pain and shared a worried glance with Anya. She could see through the angry façade how worried the woman was for Tris.

Marie had listened to Tris’ laboured breaths the whole time as a sign for her continued survival and suddenly they stopped. She turned her eyes to Tris and felt her breath stuck in her throat in silent horror; Finn had also observed the missing breath.

“She stopped breathing Clarke” the boy softly said with remorseful eyes.

The warriors shared a heavy look and Marie could see Anya’s eyes glistening with unshed tears as she bent down with a dagger and cut a braid from Tris’ hair.

One of the warrior’s took Tris’ body and left the building. Marie was still standing in the middle of the room speechless, with silent tears running down her cheeks. Tris had died, Clarke had been unable to safe the other girl. She was barely able to think straight against the transition of Tris' death.

“Take the boy away and kill him” Anya ordered one of the other warriors in a deadly tone, expression steeled again.

Another warrior stepped up to Clarke and held her in place while Finn was guided away with no resistance at all by a masked warrior. He just told Clarke to cease the fighting to safe herself instead.

“No!” Clarke screamed and tried to get away from the warrior holding her in place “I tried everything, please” voice shrill in desperation.

But her pleas went unanswered and Marie followed Anya and the warrior carrying Tris’ body outside.

Marie was feeling numb and blood was loudly rushing in her ears, her nightmare had become partially true already.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

Horses had been tied to the outside of the structure and the grounder carrying Tris’ body was already mounting his own, carefully holding the girl’s limp body to his chest.

Tris had had the respect of the warriors of TonDC. She had been exceptionally brave and experienced for someone so young in years, already having earned her own kill marks. She had been well known and honoured to have been the general's second.

“What happens now?” Marie asked Anya almost in a pained whisper, when the woman just stood routed next to her horse with a stony expression contorting her features. Marie could barely look away from the warrior holding Tris' body, one of her hands hanging beside his larger form limply.

Anya looked at the blonde girl in front of her and drew in one harsh breath, pushing the loss of her older second from her mind for now. The time to mourn for her loss would come, but it was not now.

“The boy will be executed” the woman told Marie and nodded towards Finn who just stood next to the grounder holding him with an empty expression on his face, it appeared that he had recognized that there was nothing he could do to change his fate “Tris’ body needs to be returned  to TonDC to be put on the pyres with the other warriors that fell on the bridge,” although Anya's features were blank, Marie could still see the sliver of loss in her brown eyes “after that we will march on their camp again, razing it to the ground” the little expression of feelings left the woman's eyes at the last part, leaving them hard and her features were harsh and cold, clearly waiting to get retribution in the names of those they had just lost.

The masked warrior holding Finn just nodded to Anya without a verbal answer and mounted his own horse with Finn as if the boy did not weigh anything at all.

After a moment of consideration Anya added to her younger charge “You will accompany Caliban and the girl to TonDC.”

Marie nodded mutely, sensing that trying to argue with the woman now would not have gone over too well and watched Anya mount her horse and follow the one with Tris’ body. She would have preferred to accompany Anya, but she would not question the woman. It was neither her place nor the right time to do so. Marie internally hoped that Anya would not be too angry about her leaving TonDC, she would not regret her decision now. If she had stayed in the village, she would not have seen Tris again at all. Still, without Anya in her immediate sight, she instantly felt alone and she hoped that Caliban would lead them back towards the village quickly, she was not convinced of her ability of locating her way back alone.

So, Marie wiped the tears from her wet cheeks and took a few steadying breaths to calm herself. Just like the death of the warrior in the healer’s hut, Tris’ death had happened so silently.

When Marie entered the structure again, she remained frozen in the entrance for long moments, as her mind tried to process on what scene she had walked in on.

Clarke was kneeling in front of Caliban and was pressing his mouth closed. Marie could distinctly see blood running from a deep cut on the man’s throat.

“What have you done?” Marie asked in a screeching cry, once she had found her voice again and she looked at the older girl with widened eyes. Clarke had just signed her death warrant by killing Caliban. Even if Anya had seemed intent to let the girl live, now she would surely be executed alongside of Finn.

Clarke whirled around at the sudden shout and held the bloody scalpel up in a threating gesture. Her blue eyes showed the panic she was feeling and adrenaline rushed through her system. “I am not going to stay here, Marie, neither will you” Clarke said in a quivering tone and she lowered the scalpel, when she recognized Marie.

“You … you killed him” Marie accusingly stated with a pointed look at the body at Clarke’s feet. Her mind was still reeling and her breathing quickened with horror at what the older girl had done.

Clarke nodded and gave a watery smile to Marie “We can go home now, we just have to hurry before they return.” It was obvious that Clarke was convinced that she had successfully saved her own life by killing the grounder.

Marie had opened her mouth to tell the girl that no one was returning, when she thought better of it and closed it with a loud click. She had no intention of returning to the other delinquents. She wanted to be there when Tris’ body was burned and she would most definitely not stay with the other 100, her place was with Anya and in Trikru now.

“I am not held captive, Clarke” Marie tried to explain to the blonde girl, exasperation rising with every passing moment.

“You are not?” Clarke asked an octave higher and blue eyes widened in startled confusion “Why are you still there then?”

“Anya took me as her second. I can live with them now, Clarke. So can you...” Marie said lowly, hoping to convince the older girl, but she frowned and added “Or rather could before you killed him.”

Clarke just shook her head, keeping the scalpel clutched in her hand and she abruptly grasped onto Marie, pulling the child along as she rushed out of the structures, having a firm grip on the startled Marie.

“We don’t have the time to discuss this now. We need to get moving” Clarke told the girl while dragging her away. She was not certain of the direction, but hoped that she could figure that out later.

Marie tried to shrug Clarke’s grip off, knowing that the older girl was dragging her away from TonDC and every step she was forcefully pulled in that direction, pulled her nearer towards the other delinquents and with it a certain death and also further away from Anya. She kept up her struggle lightly, but soon she was more occupied with following Clarke quickly without stumbling over logs or holes in the ground. The older girl pulled her along without any real direction and whereas Marie was certain Anya would have known by heart on where to step, Clarke made the both of them stumble more often than not.

It was completely dark outside and she still had not gotten the hang of moving around the forest in total darkness and it was painfully obvious that Clarke was not faring any better. They were way too loud, if Clarke wanted to move undetected, but Marie was not going to point that out to the other girl. She internally hoped that they would run into some scouts soon. She had already heard enough of Anya's strategies to know that the woods around TonDC were heavily patrolled, but Marie was not certain how the war against the other delinquents and the blown-up bridge might influence the frequency of guards.

To Marie's internal consternation, they did not run into any scouts on their way and she already mused about how to slow down the older girl best. The fact that Clarke still had the scalpel clutched into her fist with desperate determination, stilled Marie's attempts to actively hinder her movements, she was honestly afraid that Clarke might suddenly lash out. Fortunately for her, Clarke triggered a booby trap a few moments later and both of them were dangling upside down from long ropes from trees after a frightening moment of the sensation of suddenly losing the ground beneath their feet.

Marie did not say anything, when Clarke desperately tried to get loose from the trap. They were hanging pretty high up and she knew from experience that a fall from that height would definitely hurt.

“Stop struggling” Marie finally snapped at the other girl after an undefined time. She was getting a headache from all the blood in her head and Clarke was getting on her nerves. She had noted that during the activation of the trap Clarke must have lost hold of the scalpel and the girl obviously did not have another knife with her. Marie did not bother to even try to use her own dagger to free herself, the ropes were thick and she was still convinced that the fall after cutting herself free would not be worth it.

“They will find us” Clarke shouted back with unmasked fear in her voice.

“I know” Marie calmly answered, she was counting on that fact otherwise they really would need to get down soon as the position was not comfortable at all. She did not know if there might be some sort of signal system which would alert a warrior on guard or scouting duty that one of their traps had been activated. She knew from Anya that the hunters usually tried to check their traps as often as possible, so that their prey would not have to suffer needlessly.

Fortunately, Anya found them only a short time later, accompanied by other warriors. The woman had started to worry when Caliban and Marie had not arrived at the estimated time. She had just lost one of her seconds and she already had had a strange feeling, leaving Marie alone to begin with.

Marie was unbelievably grateful, when Anya finally let her down again. She stumbled feeling dizzy when her feet touched the ground again and Anya caught her to prevent the girl from falling over. No one went to help Clarke get up from the ground after they had let her fall from some distance.

“Where is Caliban?” Anya demanded to know in a sharp tone, when Marie stopped blinking to clear her head.

Marie looked at Clarke accusingly “She killed him” she answered, leaning slightly closer to the woman and further from Clarke.

Anya snarled “Another warrior lost to the sky children. You will be put on a tree for your sins” her brown eyes had turned hard in their anger and her voice furious.

Clarke had no idea what that meant in particular, but she gathered that it would be a form of execution. Marie swallowed loudly, she had only heard from Tris what this punishment meant. People who got convicted for murder or treason were bound to a pole and killed by numerous cuts from the inhabitants of the village. She could imagine how such an execution would look like and she internally hoped that it would be a long time until she actually had to witness one.

“We head back to TonDC now” Anya declared to the others who had accompanied her. Marie noticed the masked warrior from before again in the group, most of them had shed their masks, but curiously he still wore his.

Anya kept a hand on Marie’s back and guided the girl a few meters away from the others. “What happened Marie?” Anya asked her young charge almost kindly. The girl had seemed too relived to see her again and the child still seemed pale and shocked.

“Clarke had already killed him when I got back. She still had the scalpel in her hand. And she wanted me to return back to the delinquents with her. I didn’t want to go with her…” Marie told the woman, the words rushing out of her mouth, as her agitation grew “I want to be at Tris’ pyre. I belong to you now…” a sheen of tears misted over her grey eyes now.

Anya did not know if the girl meant to belong to her in person or to Trikru now, but she was touched nevertheless. “I know” Anya easily reassured the girl and squeezed her shoulder “You will return to TonDC and stay there when the actual battle happens.”

Marie nodded and gave the woman a watery smile. She did not know why she felt so strongly about never wanting to return to the delinquents, but she just did.

The way towards TonDC had been uneventful so far. Clarke had ceased her struggling against the grounder who dragged her along against her will, probably recognizing that she would never manage to flee alive from so many trained warriors and Marie walked directly next to Anya.

Suddenly Anya halted Marie and protectively stood in front of the girl with her sword raised, while the other warriors had also drawn their weapons. Marie looked ahead into the darkness around them with a frown, trying hard to figure out what she had apparently missed.

A moment later a male warrior together with others appeared from the trees in front of them. “I am to lead your warriors into battle” he told Anya with an arrogant sneer.

Anya clenched her teeth “The commander ordered this, Tristan?” her rising irritation was almost palpable.

The man nodded arrogantly looking down on Anya. Marie could see the anger radiating from her mentor, but surprisingly the woman kept silent. Marie wondered why Anya had lost the command over her warriors, but she recognized that Anya would not question the commander’s orders at all. The woman had told her in one of her lessons that questioning Heda might be seen as treason, so she was cautioned against ever doing so.

“We march right now” Tristan announced to the warriors. Marie looked at Anya unsurely, the woman had only wanted to attack the next day.

“Take Marie back to TonDC and kill the prisoner” Anya ordered the masked warrior to do. She could not bring her second back herself, she would disregard a direct order if she did so, but she would still make sure that the girl would get back to safety.

The man just nodded and took Clarke on his horse in front of him and lent a hand to hoist Marie behind him.

Marie kept her eyes firmly on Anya, when they rode away from the other warriors. She could not put a finger on it, but separating again from the woman had felt wrong and she would have preferred to stay beside her, even if that would have meant to march with them against the other delinquents.

She cautiously put her hands on the warrior’s hip to stay in the saddle, they were riding a rather fast pace and she found it hard to hold herself in place.

They stopped shortly after and the warrior gently let her glide down from the horse and helped Clarke down as well.

The older girl directly began to plead the warrior to spare her life and let her go, when the man finally lifted his mask.

“Lincoln” Marie gasped shocked when she recognized the man and blinked at the man in confusion as he sent his horse away with a clap to the horse’s rear.

She gaped even more, when Finn appeared behind a tree trunk obviously alive and unharmed.

The wheels were turning fast in her brain and she glared at Lincoln. The only logical reason for Finn’s appearance was that Lincoln had disregarded Anya’s commands.

Clarke had thrown her arms around Finn and they were hugging each other.

“Quick. It won’t be long until the others figure out that I helped you escape” Lincoln told the two hugging teenagers with urgency in his tone. 

Marie shook her head not liking where this was obviously going. Why was everyone set on her returning to the delinquents?

“I don’t want to come with you” Marie declared stubbornly and crossed her arms over her chest defiantly, not moving an inch. Lincoln would just have to carry her, if they wanted her to move. She knew that the army would not take long to reach the others.

“You can come with us and be safe at the camp. We will move to another clan, you do not need to stay with them” Finn tried to persuade the younger girl in a soothing voice.

Marie just huffed at him “You don’t get it. I want to return to Anya!” her voice rose with each word and her grey eyes steeled over.

Lincoln looked unsure “I can’t guarantee for your safety if you stay here on your own.”

“I don’t care” Marie declared loudly. She just did not want to return with them. If the army had already moved to their camp, they would surely not care why she was there, they would just kill her with the other 100. She was not even sure if they would take the time and see who they killed. She would probably be killed alongside the others and Anya might learn of it afterwards.

“You can’t seriously want to leave her here alone. She is just a child” Clarke interjected and tried to put a hand on the younger girl’s shoulder which Marie promptly shook off.

“We will need to move through the reaper tunnels. If she does not come willingly and struggles, we won’t pass them undetected” Lincoln told Clarke with a grimace on his face.

“Do you know the way back to TonDC?” Lincoln asked Marie his voice laded with doubt.

Marie nodded as convincingly as possible. Lincoln nodded in return and told the others to follow him.

Of course, Marie had absolutely no idea how to get to TonDC, she was not even sure about the general direction the village lay in.

She went through the woods a lot more silently then Clarke had. So she truly now did understand why Anya told her that they were even unable to walk.

As Anya had taught her, she tried to keep watch of the stars to get an indication of the directions. She had no idea if she moved in the right direction and she lost any feeling for the time as well.

Marie had kept a firm hold on her dagger the whole way. She knew she would not be able to defend herself with the blade efficiently, she could only hope that she would not encounter a dangerous animal or a Reaper, but it at least gave her a sense of protection nevertheless.

She was startled when a warrior suddenly dropped from a tree directly in front of her.

Marie was lucky that it was a warrior who recognized the frightened girl immediately.

He looked the girl over checking her for injuries, but did not ask her what happened. The young man just guided her back to TonDC in fast strides and delivered her to the commander’s tent directly.

Lexa looked up from a map with a frown on her face, when she saw the girl being escorted into her tent in the middle of the night.

“What happened?” Lexa asked Marie still frowning and sent the warrior away with a simple wordless wave of her hand. She noted how shocked the child still appeared.

So, Marie repeated everything of what had transpired after they left the bridge to the commander.

At the mention of Lincoln, the woman’s green eyes narrowed angrily, but she let the girl finish without any interruption.

“The pyres are still being built, I will wake you when they are going to be lit” Lexa told the girl. Marie looked ready to be asleep on her feet and not wanting to send the girl alone into the empty tent, she just silently guided the girl to her own furs and ordered her to lie down. She was not going to sleep in the next hours anyway.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

Lexa remained inside her tent, waiting almost anxiously for the first of her scouts to return to TonDC and report the progress of the army. She had sent enough with the army that she would be receiving regular updates. Something already told her that the Sky children still had an ace hidden and she hoped that her army’s tactics would be enough to extinguish the Sky children, without her own people suffering too much losses. She kept watch over the young sleeping girl from the corner of her eyes. The girl was restless in her sleep, features troubled and twisting beneath the furs regularly. So, it did not come as a huge surprise to Lexa when Marie’s sleep started to be disturbed with nightmares. She tried to reassure the girl that she was safe and back in TonDC to the best of her abilities and convinced the child to try to get more sleep afterwards. It was obvious that the comfort she offered to Marie, was doing very little to ease the child’s fears and Lexa strongly assumed that she only tried to continue to sleep because she was even more afraid to openly disregard a direct order from herself.

A warrior entered her tent some time later, proclaiming lowly that the preparations for the pyres had been finished. She sent him away with a mute gesture. The people of TonDC would wait for her arrival before setting the souls of their fallen comrades free. Silently Lexa want behind the curtain to her sleeping area and shook the sleeping girl’s shoulder, trying to rouse her gently.

Marie awoke almost instantly at her touch, gasping in obvious fright and staring up at the commander with wide grey eyes.

The child’s breathing was visibly irregular, but Lexa ignored her reaction “The pyres will be lit soon” she told the girl in an even tone, offering a hand to Marie to help her from the bed.

Marie regarded the commander’s hand for a silent moment, before she hesitantly let the woman help her, she inclined her head in acknowledgment that she had understand. She swallowed deeply and her expression turned sad with the knowledge that Tris would be among those to be burnt.

Lexa saw the girl’s downcast expression and addressed her in a serious tone “Tris died well. She fell in battle, Marie. Death is a constant shadow of all warriors, but death is not the end.” She knew that her words were solemn, but the girl would recognize their truth soon enough.

Marie only nodded in silence, unable to give voice to her feelings, there were far too many at the moment and she was fairly certain that the commander would not be interested in them as well.

“It is alright to mourn someone. But the dead are gone.” Lexa lectured the young girl in a gentle tone. She knew that accepting a loved one’s death was not easy for a young warrior, but the girl would either harden against the pain or break. Lexa squeezed the girl’s shoulder reassuringly and went behind the curtain again, waiting for the girl in the larger part of the tent.

Marie had to gather herself a few moments, before she could join the commander. Tears were already gathering in her eyes and she had to take some deep breath to swallow them down.

The commander was listening to a report from a scout that had shadowed the army marching on the crash site, when Marie joined them. The army had arrived at the crash site and the Sky children were wasting their bullets falling for their strategies, immediately shooting into shadows only. He had left when they wanted to move closer to their metal fence.

Marie let out a deep breath, she had not been aware holding. It sounded as if the army could not had suffered many losses this way, which was a good thing for her as it meant that Anya was most likely well and unharmed. She felt slightly better with the knowledge that the army had not lost their fight. She mutely followed the commander out of the tent to the pyres, when the woman motioned her to. Marie could directly spot Tris’ smaller body on one of them and she had to swallow against the lump forming in her throat. Tris’ body looked so much smaller, covered by a bright kind of fabric and it only emphasised just how young the older girl had been in comparison to most of the other warriors who had lost their lives as well.

It looked as if everyone who was left behind in TonDC was now standing together at the pyres. Marie barely listened to the commander saying a few words, before she lighted the pyres with a torch. Absentmindedly, she sensed when the commander returned to her side once all the pyres were burning. Marie watched the pyres burn through a veil of tears silently falling from her eyes.

In total, twelve warriors had died so far from the explosion of the bridge. Lexa had been informed that three more were still fighting for their lives against severe injuries and without a proper healer present at the village, no one was sure if they would make it. Ten additional warriors had been wounded, but luckily just sustained little damage and were all expected to make a full recovery.

Time flowed by without Marie noticing and when the commander touched her shoulder an infinite time later, she blinked a few times before her mind caught on with the fact that the pyres had already burnt down to glowing embers. She did not understand, how she had not even consciously realized that, but most people had already left to turn in for the rest of the night.

“Come” Lexa ordered in a calm tone to the obviously dazed girl. She had occasionally looked over to the girl, to see her stare at the pyres with tears streaming down her face completely unblinking.

The girl was in absolutely no condition, to be left on her own at the moment, so Lexa would just let her sleep with her in her own tent for the night. Hopefully, Anya and the army would have returned victoriously by morning of the next day.

Gustus frowned at Lexa, leading the girl back to the commander’s tent and lowly offered to let the girl share his tent for the night. He did not particularly care for the girl, but he thought that it was absolutely inappropriate for Heda to look after the girl this much and in his opinion letting her sleep in the commander’s tent was unacceptable, but Lexa refused him of course. She had set her mind on it and she rarely let herself be swayed, once she had made a decision and Gustus being her personal guard for the last years knew that of course. He still only begrudgingly accepted her denial, he had even tried to reason with the commander, that the girl could also sleep with some other younger seconds in a tent, she would be safe there as well, but Lexa would hear none of it and had shot him down decisively. She had personally promised her former mentor to look after the girl in her absence and she would keep her word.

On the arrival in the huge tent, Lexa forced some food and a mug with wine into Marie’s hands. The girl had probably not eaten anything in some hours and looked ready to faint any moment. The night would end soon, but Lexa had neglected to convince the girl to eat beforehand and the child was already much too thin to miss any more meals.

Marie wanted to argue with the commander, feeling rather sick already, but after a stern look from Lexa and seeing the woman eating and drinking a bit herself, Marie did eat something and downed the wine in one go. Fortunately, the wine had been rather strong and made her feel slightly drowsy pretty quickly and Lexa directed her to a set of extra furs a maid had put there for Marie.

The girl fell asleep immediately as her head touched her pillow as the events of the day finally caught up with her. Lexa hoped that the wine would also help the girl sleep through most of the night. The child must have truly been exhausted as she was now lying under the furs with blank features and had not moved an inch in several minutes.

Luckily for both of them, the girl truly slept heavy without the interruption of nightmares until a loud commotion woke both of them up again some time later. Lexa had actually just napped for a bit, not even bothering to change out of her armour at all, anticipating the return of several scouts to come and report through the night.

It truly was a scout that had come to her tent and Lexa lightly glared at him for causing so much noise. She directly went to hear his report, whereas Marie sat up in the furs blinking owlishly to stop her head from spinning.

The girl strained her ears to listen on in the report and what she could hear made her heart miss a beat. The scout had reported that first reapers had interfered with the battle and then the Sky children had barricaded themselves inside their metal thing. Apparently, Anya had managed to slip into the metal thing, before it had been closed and flames had erupted from the thing which had immediately burnt all of the warriors who had still been outside. Marie breathed in a shocked mouth of air, feeling a painful flash of compassion for all those warriors who must have died in the flames, but she internally held onto the hope that Anya had escaped the flames. She desperately hoped that the other delinquent would not have killed her.

Marie felt the blood turn to ice in her veins when she heard the last part of his report.

The scout had fled when the fire started and returned sometime later to find the metal thing empty. All the Sky children as well as Anya were gone.

Lexa had listened to his report in serene silence to this point, but when the man did not offer anything else, she thundered loudly at him “But they cannot be just gone!” The Sky children could not have possibly evaporated into thin air after all and it was obvious that they were not skilled enough to flee without leaving any trail behind.

The scout tried to explain, that he had not been able to find any real tracks. The only thing he had found, were strange metal things left behind and tracks obviously left behind by human beings leading in the direction of the Mountain.

Lexa dismissed the scout in a strangled voice, but could not do anything as one of Indra’s scouts who had had an eye on movements from the Mountain wanted to make his report as well.

Marie again listened on and learned that Mountain Men had been seen leaving the Mountain and more people then had left, had returned later in the night. The scouts had not been able to get close enough without being detected to recognize who had entered the Mountain, but Lexa just dismissed this scout as well.

The commander was sitting on her throne, face hidden by her hands, when Marie emerged from the other side of the tent padding barefoot over the tent’s floor. She looked up at the girl immediately, expression blank and tightly controlled.

“Anya is inside the Mountain, isn’t she?” the girl asked barely above a whisper with horror edged firmly into her pale features.

Lexa contemplated the girl in silence for a moment, taking in her small form, pale features and how lost the girl looked, standing in front of her and looking expectantly at her, as if she had the might to make Anya appear with them somehow, before she nodded with a grave expression, swallowing harshly against the lump forming in her own throat. They had obviously gravely underestimated these Sky children when they had been able to lay siege to an army of 300 warriors outnumbering them greatly. All of them had known that the explosion of the bridge would have surely caught the Mountain Men’s attention, so it did not come as a surprise to Lexa, that they finally had made their appearance.

Marie’s thoughts were racing wildly in her head. She just knew one thing for certain. Anya had once told her, that no one who had entered the Mountain had ever been seen again. So, if the Mountain Men really had Anya, she was probably dead already. The other alternative would be that the woman had died in the fire around the drop ship, as the rest of the army seemingly had. The girl had no idea which fate would have been worse. At least the fire sounded like a quick death. Who knew what the Mountain Men actually did to the people they had captured? And she had just lost her mentor, so what was going to happen to her now? Would she be discarded as she had when she was without her parents on the Ark?

“What happens to me now?” the girl chocked out in a broken whisper, after a few moments of tense silence.

Lexa regarded the girl silently for a moment. It was not unusual for a former second to take over the current seconds of the first after the demise of the first. Even Lexa had to accept that Anya’s fight seemed to be over. She had given a promise to the older woman to look after Marie for her should something happen to her in the battle and she would honour that promise.

Gustus and Titus would surely throw a fit, when they heard of her decision. She had only once taken a second in her time as commander. Naively she had thought that as commander she would of course be superior in everything, so surely her second would have been the best as well. She had taken on a young boy from Trikru at the age of six. After two years of her tutelage, they were deep into war with Ice Nation. And Lexa had believed that her second would need to prove her superiority by marching at the front of the battle with her. Barely a few minutes into the battle the boy had been wounded fatally and Lexa had to recognize that she had gravely overestimated the boy’s and her own skills this day. The boy had payed with his life for her error and she had never taken a second again after that day.

But before Lexa actually had the chance to give a verbal answer to the girl’s question, Gustus burst into the tent demanding the commander to follow outside at once.

Lexa quirked an eyebrow at her guard’s strange demanding behaviour, but let it slide for now and stood from her throne, joining Gustus outside immediately. The sight outside let her mouth drop open. Another thing was falling from the sky and it looked much bigger than the last metal box which had fallen from the sky a few nights ago.

This time the ship did not explode when it landed on the earth, so Lexa concluded that the passengers of this ship would have probably survived or at least had a chance of survival.

Marie had followed behind the commander to the entrance of the tent hesitantly and had also seen the falling ship in the sky. So, the last ship had not been the whole Ark after all. Her eyes fell to the place where the pyres had burned last night and the realisation hit her, that there would be no pyres for the fallen army as they had already burned and there would be no pyre for Anya, as they did not have a body to burn. A little bit of hope silently blossomed in her chest, that Anya might still be alive somewhere without prove of her body.

One of the warriors who had just moved on from being a second himself, sneered at the girl with murder written all over his face. “They have burned our warriors alive” he raged and made to actually attack the girl with his sword raised.

Lexa stepped in with one of her own swords hastily drawn and metal clashed loudly against each other. She had the man fallen and her swords tip pressed to his throat in seconds, seemingly without any effort.

“Marie is not Skykru any longer. She will officially be introduced as my second into Trikru soon enough” Lexa loudly proclaimed and looked around the gathered warriors with hard eyes. The commander knew that none of them would dare move against the girl now, but they still would have to keep an eye out for those seeking revenge in the dead of the night.

Indra looked rather perplexed at the girl, while Gustus looked at Lexa as if she had just proclaimed the sky to be purple.

Marie herself was replaying the words in her mind over and over again, trying to make sense of them somehow. She had feared that she would be banished from the village and now the commander would take her over as her second? Her mind seemed incapable to process this unexpected development.

Without another word, the commander turned around and went back into her tent, motioning Marie to follow her as well. Gustus and Indra also followed inside and both had their eyes fixed on Lexa. Both of their faces showed a mixture out of startled confusion and disapproval.

When Indra made to speak, Lexa silenced her with a simple gesture “Whatever you want to say will not persuade me to change my mind, Indra. I have made a promise to Anya to look over Marie and I will honour that promise. If I were not the commander, you would not think anything about me taking her over as a second.”

Indra snapped her jaw shut and nodded begrudgingly. She was more than aware that testing the commander’s patience now was not a good idea.

“But you are Heda, Lexa. Trikru might accept that, but what about the other clans?” Gustus questioned with concern for Lexa’s life evident on his face.

“I will deal with them” Lexa simply answered, green eyes turning hard with determination. The other clans had agreed to subordinate themselves to her rule and as her subjects, she would not accept their disapproval of her second. “Return to your duties” she dismissed both of them in a clipped tone, not in the mood to be questioned even further.

Both nodded and Gustus mutely returned to guard the entrance of the tent and Indra to organize more scouting teams towards the new fallen metal thing.

“What are my duties now?” Marie asked uncertainly, standing in front of the throne and fiddling with the hem of her shirt in obvious nervousness.

“I did not mean you now Marie” Lexa reassured the girl who still seemed rather tired, trying to gentle her tone slightly “You should rest for a few more hours. We will discuss everything concerning your new role later.”

The girl nodded with a serene expression and obediently returned to the additional furs in the other section of the tent. Internally, Marie was still occupied with worrying about what the change would now mean to her. She could not stop thinking about Anya and desperately wished that the woman would still return to TonDC miraculously.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

It had taken Marie a long time to fall asleep, her mind had just not wanted to quiet down. She could not forget the way Tris had looked as she crumbled in front of the blown-up bridge, her brown eyes wide and shocked. The image of the older girl’s chest suddenly stopping its regular movements and remaining still, as Tris had died, haunted her in her sleep. Although she had not been present when the army had been burned alive, her imagination was still enough to make up what it must have looked like. She remembered keenly how Anya and Tris had prepared themselves for the battle, dressing in armour and applying dark paint to their faces. She desperately wished to be able to travel back in time, preventing the army from marching against the other delinquents at all. But she knew that such a thing was impossible and only part of old science fiction books.  She drifted off into an exhausted sleep some time later, haunted by Anya’s face as they had separated in the woods.

It took Lexa a rather long time to listen to all the reports of the different scouting teams and she felt drawn and tired, when she was finally able to turn in as well. While listening to the different reports, she had still tried to listen if the young girl sleeping beside her own bed, was having nightmares again, she had been rather surprised that the girl had slept so long already. On the other hand, the day had been exhausting and eventful for both of them and the child still did not make a healthy impression, her body probably still weakened from her severe illness. Beside listening to various reports, she had already organised different scouts to keep an eye on the crash site of the Sky children and sent more warriors to investigate the newly fallen ship.

She had already discarded her sword, shoulder pauldron and red sash, as she pushed the curtain to the site and observed the young girl for a moment. Fortunately, the child was asleep still but even in the dim light, Lexa could clearly see her features being troubled. She could fathom that the girl would find it difficult to adapt to the sudden changes. It seemed that Marie had formed a rather deep instinctual bond to her general and Lexa knew that the girl would grief her loss.

She tried to undress as silently as possible, placing her clothing neatly folded beneath her bed and her dagger beneath her pillow. Lexa knew that it would take her some time to get used to having such a young and inexperienced second. Her previous might have been younger in years, but the boy could not be fairly compared to Marie. She had seen first-hand that even Anya had been a lot gentler with the girl than she had been with Tris or Lexa before.

It had been some time ago that Lexa had to share her personal space with anyone and she regarded the girl to be too inexperienced and too easy of a target to let her have her own tent at the moment. She internally hoped that through sharing a tent, they would grow closer together more quickly, the girl had been reversed towards her so far and had obviously been wary of her.

She lied down in her bed, facing the girl and looking over to her. The small body was wrapped tightly into the thick furs and the girl’s features looked anything but peaceful. She would have liked to offer her some words of comfort, but Lexa thought it better to let her sleep as long as possible. She drifted of to the soft sounds of the child’s breathing only shortly later, forcing her thoughts to remain quiet and not even start to wander. She would have enough time to contemplate what had happened in the morning.

For Lexa it felt as if barely an hour had passed, before she was woken by the girl’s nearly silent weeping. Lexa had always been a light sleeper and as the commander, she always had to be on high alert for a possible assassination attempt, if she was not in her well-guarded quarters in the tower of Polis.

Marie had woken from a nightmare a few minutes ago, her heart racing and the image of Anya burning in front of the Drop Ship fresh on her mind. She had been disoriented when she woke and in the very first moment, when she had heard someone else’s breathing, she had felt relief course through her mind, thinking that everything had just been a dream and she was in her tent with Anya. But as soon as she had opened her eyes, she felt her heart shatter anew. She recognized the commander’s tent and the memories had flooded back into her mind all at once, now she was desperately trying to be as silent as possible, as hot tears ran down her cheeks. She was still feeling wary of Lexa’s knew role for her and the fact that the woman was the commander was intimidating her even more. Marie could not help wishing for Anya to be here instead right now, she had felt an instant connection to the older woman. It was not that Lexa had been unkind to her, but she was not connected personally to the commander.

When Marie saw that she must have woken the commander up, as the woman grabbed for something beneath her pillow, frame tense for a moment until she sat up, the girl stiffened in fright and tried to stifle her sniffling instantly.

Lexa could spot the girl’s struggling immediately, when she stood up to see what was wrong with her charge, she doubted that the girl would quiet down on her own and she did not wish to let her suffer alone through her grief. A sudden image of Anya offering her comfort through the long nights of her own all-encompassing grief flashed up in her mind, but Lexa pushed it from her thoughts forcefully. “A nightmare?” she inquired keeping her voice as soft as possible on purpose. It did not sit well with her, how the girl was peering up at her with wide grey eyes, body tense and biting at her lips to contain her sobs.

Marie looked up at the commander for long moments, trying to assess if the woman was angry, before she nodded mutely in agreement with tears still rolling down her cheeks silently.

Lexa crouched down next to the girl who had set up in her furs “You are missing Anya, aren’t you?” she questioned softly and looked at the girl with compassionate eyes. She had obviously guessed correctly, as the girl’s lips started to quiver immediately in reaction and she cried in earnest now, loud sobs bubbling from her mouth. Lexa squeezed the girl’s shoulder to offer some comfort in silent solitude. She knew only too well, that there was nothing she could say to truly ease the girl’s grief.

Marie could only look at the woman in silent mourning and in this moment, she did not care that she was facing the commander, but only that the woman had promised to now be her first and she instinctively launched herself at Lexa and slung her arms around the woman’s neck strongly, simply needing to feel the comfort of another’s embrace, trying to sooth the grief clawing at her mind painfully.

Lexa had to balance herself against the offhand weight of the girl as to not get knocked over, she had simply not expected the girl’s reaction. After a few moments she awkwardly wound her arms around the smaller body and petted her long blonde hair and back soothingly. She felt truly out of her element, she had never been required to console someone like this and it had been several years ago that she had allowed someone close enough to her for an embrace.

Lexa had little to no experience with grieving children. Her only experience with children coming from her deceased second and the nightblood children in Polis, which were trained there as her possible successor. But she had never truly been close to the boy and her second had been too proud to be chosen for this position to express his feelings openly in front of her and she had never seen the boy shed a single tear in the two years she had regularly seen him. The nightblood children rarely cried as well the less so in front of her. Only the younger ones usually ever cried on their first days in Polis, when they missed their families the most and the memories were still fresh on their minds. Training and lessons with Titus diverted their attention quickly and she rarely had to comfort any of them. She knew from personal experience how quick the flamekeeper was in instilling proper etiquette to his pupils and warding off their visible emotions was one of his first lessons.

“It is alright” Lexa tried to sooth the crying girl, continuing to caress he back reassuringly. She could feel the girl shaking in her arms from the sobs wreaking her smaller body “Ssshh”.

Lexa kept on whispering non-sense reassurances into the girl’s ears for a rather long time, while she felt the front of her shirt gradually being soaked with Marie’s tears. She was glad now, that she had decided to let the girl stay in her tent or the child would have been completely on her own with her grief. She was also certain that Gustus would not have offered the girl any comfort either. Although she knew him to have a softer heart than his appearance would led to believe, Gustus still thought that letting the girl live was a mistake and it would have only cemented his belief.

When Marie had finally calmed down to occasional sniffles, the girl pulled away quickly from Lexa her face flaming red in shame. “I am so sorry” the girl tried to excuse herself in a quivering voice and panic flashed through her puffy eyes minutely.

“No harm done, Marie” Lexa reassured the younger girl with a gentle smile and brushed the girl’s blonde hair away from her face. Although she did not show an outward reaction, Lexa still noted with a flash of irritation how the child almost instinctively tried to inch away from her hand, as if she was afraid that she would strike her. It may be important for Marie to have a certain amount of respect towards her as the commander, Lexa still felt slightly affronted at the girl’s irrational reaction. She had not given her any reason to fear her, she may be harsh, but she would certainly not hurt the girl without reason.

She sighed under her breath, hoping that the girl would get used to her quickly. “Do you think you can sleep for some more?” Lexa asked Marie in a calm tone.

Marie’s first reaction would have been to shake her head in resolute denial, but she saw how tired the woman actually looked and nodded in silent agreement, although she was sure she would never fall back asleep again.

The commander had early on developed the talent to spot if a person was speaking the truce. This talent had served her well as the commander so far and she immediately saw that the girl had just lied as well. “I am pretty certain Anya also had wanted you to speak only the truce to her. The same is true for me” Lexa spoke in a firmer tone to the girl “So let’s try again. Do you think you can sleep some more?”

Marie looked at the commander with wide eyes and answered in a subdued voice “I am sorry. You look tired…”

When the girl trailed off looking to the floor and averting her eyes, Lexa at least concluded that the girl had been trying to be considerate and had not lied simply to spite her. The girl was correct in her assertion though, she was still feeling exhausted and the morning was only a few short hours away.

As Anya had told her, that the closeness of her body had calmed the girl during the thunderstorm, Lexa thought to try a similar solution. She knew that she did not have the same measure of trust from Marie as Anya obviously had, but she was certain that they would grow closer with time. The other option would be letting the girl spend some time on her own in the camp, which Lexa did not regard as a good option in the night with so many grieving warriors.

“I understand Marie. We could lie down together, maybe you can sleep some more that way as well” Lexa offered in a soft tone. She was completely out of her abilities here as well. She was well versed in the art of fighting and balancing politics, but taking care of a child most of the time was new terrain to her as well.

Marie nodded with an uncertain expression and hesitantly laid down next to Lexa on the commander’s bed. She carefully kept a good amount of distance between their bodies, she was confused why the woman had allowed her to join her at all and she did not wish to anger the leader even more.

Lexa fell asleep rather quickly, while Marie was tense and unsure for longer. She could not deny the appeal of Lexa’s body emitting a reassuring warmth and she had felt safe within her arms. With a slightly quicker breath, Marie slowly crawled closer to the woman, snuggling up to her, her grey eyes flitting up to the woman, when she felt her tense. She wanted to pull back already, afraid that the woman had not wanted her to get this close, when the commander snaked an arm around her, pulling her even closer and remained like that, not even opening her eyes.

Lexa had to stifle a laugh as she pictured Titus’ reaction to finding the mighty commander as a pillow to a young Sky girl. But she did fall asleep with the smaller body snuggled up to her and both managed to catch some more much needed rest, before the sun rose and Lexa had to rise as well.

The morning was luckily not as awkward as Marie had feared. The commander did not mention her nightly breakdown at all for which Marie was grateful. She was surprised how quickly different people came to see the commander, as if someone had proclaimed that Lexa was awake now.

Alira came to bring the commander breakfast and help her to re-braid her hair after the night. Lexa was of course able to do so on her own, but it was faster to have someone else do it.

The woman smiled at Marie kindly, who stood awkwardly to the side when she entered. Gustus also entered the tent to rely a message from one of the scouting teams. The man just shortly glanced at Marie while the girl tried to be as silent and unobtrusive as possible. Lexa had not told her yet what she was expected to do and she thought it safer to remain in the background.

“Heda, the scouts have seen Skykru soldiers moving to the Sky children’s ship. They were all armed with guns, but the scouts have not been spotted by them” Gustus told Lexa, relaying the message from a scouting team.

Marie’s skill of Trigedasleng was improving rapidly, now that she was exposed to the language so often and she was able to understand most of Gustus’ words without translations.

Lexa nodded with a hint of satisfaction “I want the scouts to remain undetected for now. We need to know their numbers and movements, before we do anything. I also want you to send riders to the neighbouring clans to order for reinforcement” she added. They had obviously underestimated the Sky children, she would not repeat this error by marching only the Trikru army, or what remained of it, against the rest of Skykru.

Gustus nodded wordlessly and left again to directly carry out the commander’s orders.

“Eat something” Lexa ordered Marie suddenly, startling her in the process, but she had not forgotten about the girl. Lexa saw that the girl’s braids had come undone during the night as well “Are you able to braid your hair on your own?” she inquired as she took some breakfast for herself.

Marie took a bite from a piece of bread and shook her head “Not yet.” Anya had promised to teach her how to do and Marie noted sadly that this would never happen now.

Lexa nodded and when Alira had finished the commander’s braids, she asked the woman to also do the girl’s hair for now. Alira quickly put a simple design into the girl’s blonde hair that kept her long hair out of her face. Marie cautiously ran her fingers over the braids, trying to inspect them, when they were finished. There was no mirror she could see, so that would have to do for her imagination.

Alira left them to their breakfast shortly after and both ate in companionable silence. Lexa had never been one who had the urge to fill every second with mindless chatter, rather enjoying the few peaceful moments throughout the day she could get.

Marie had no idea what to say either and her mind was still occupied with her grief.

As Lexa did not have any pressing matters to attend to in the morning, she had time to start training her new second in combat, before the first scouts were expected back with their report on the movements the Sky people had made.

So, after the breakfast Lexa ordered Marie to change into the light armour the girl owned and to follow her outside. Lexa had no desire to start training the girl in the fighting pits of TonDC, as she was bound to gather a crowd of on-lookers pretty quickly. She had the pressing foreboding that the girl’s performance would be greatly influenced by her grief and the girl was skittish enough around her.

So, Marie followed Gustus and the commander into the woods surrounding TonDC in silence. The walk was relatively short and they stopped in a small clearing covered in soft green grass and a few flowers.

Gustus went to stand at the border of the clearing, when Lexa called him back. The commander handed a wooden staff to Marie “Try to attack Gustus, Marie” she ordered in a firm tone.

The girl gaped at the older woman for a moment in obvious surprise, before she hesitantly took the offered staff from the commander’s hands. The staff she was given, was relatively thick and Marie thought it might be slightly too long for her. It was definitely heavier then it looked like and it felt weird in her hands. “But I can’t just hit him” Marie replied with an unsure expression, moving the staff in her hand slightly.

The bulky man rolled his eyes at the girl’s reaction, but remained silent while Lexa pursed her lips with a look clearly telling Marie to better get started.

Her first hit was more a joke of a hit than anything else. Marie barely put any strength into her attack, unwilling to possibly hurt the man in front of her and honestly afraid of what he would do, if she actually succeeded in hitting him. What Marie had not expected, was that Gustus used her attack to get a grip of the staff and throw her over with it in just a blink. Astonished the girl was blinking her eyes, trying to breathe again after the unexpected impact on the ground. 

Lexa was glaring slightly at the girl, not being impressed by her lack of will at all “Stand up!” she barked at her, feeling impatience rising in her mind.

Marie scrambled to her feet quickly to comply with the sharp order and was handed the staff back from Gustus.

“Try again!” Lexa ordered in a calmer voice and watched the girl’s movements. The child was blatantly betraying the region she wanted to attack before her actual attack.

It took Marie several tries to even come remotely close to hitting Gustus at all and she ended the training with forming bruises under her armour and a bleeding split lip.

Lexa pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance, after having witnessed the girl’s talent with a dagger, she had actually expected a better performance. “We have a long way to go…” she commented darkly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

The next few days passed in a similar manner, as Lexa tried to work out a routine for her new second, hoping to get her used to her new role quickly.

Marie was still sharing a tent with Lexa and ended up snuggled to the commander on most nights after only a few hours of peaceful sleep. Lexa found it almost comical, how the girl sought her out for comfort in the night and was clearly still hesitant and unsure around her in the light of day. The commander had absolutely no idea on how to get the girl to trust her and she could only hope that it would get easier between them with time.

What made Lexa worry the most about the girl, was the extent of her grief. Marie was still doing her training and followed the orders she was given to the point, but there was clearly something off with the girl. The girl was barely making any progress in their training and the lack of it was only increasing her impatience with the child. She had not once shown a desire to visit the horses, that she obviously admired greatly. If Lexa did not keep the girl occupied with one mindless task after the other, she would see her just standing somewhere, staring into nothing with a forlorn expression. She had also not seen the girl smile since Anya’s disappearance, not even the hint of one.

Tension with Skykru were running high on the other hand and worsening with every passing moment. An increasing number of them had been trespassing armed with guns on her lands. Her scouts had the strict order to remain unseen as much as possible. But there had been some minor losses nevertheless. She had been informed that one scouting team had actually crucified three Sky guards on patrol. Lexa was aware that something would need to be done against them and the sooner the better, but she was waiting for the reinforcement of the other clans to arrive. She would not sacrifice any more of the Trikru warriors before her army had reached its full strength.

It had now been seven days since her warriors had been burned at the Sky children’s crash site. She had sent out riders to the other clans to announce that a bounty had been put on all Skykru. Late in the night a bounty hunter had brought a lone Skykru man to TonDC, claiming to have found the man in the Dead Zone. Lexa had no idea how he might have gotten there, but she would deal with him later. He had been put into a holding cell in TonDC and she was convinced that letting him wait there for some time would only increase his likelihood of actually saying something voluntarily.

Right now, Lexa was watching Gustus trying to train with Marie again. Unfortunately, the emphasis lay in the word trying. Lexa shook her head in frustration. It had been a week now and the girl did not even show the slightest improvement. Her movements were sloppy and there was no force behind any of her attacks. If Lexa did not know any better and was practically ordering her to eat, she would suspect the child to be sick and in the process of slowly wasting away. Lexa knew that they had trained often enough with the girl, that she could have improved already, but she obviously wasn’t into the training anymore. She had seen how the girl’s body was covered in an increasing number of bruises with each passing training session, but Marie was not increasing her effort to defend herself, apparently preferring to suffer in silence instead.

“Enough, Gustus” Lexa called over and the man immediately lowered the staff he had been training the girl with. Lexa would have liked the girl to have improved to a point by now that they could move to real weapons, but with the lack of improvements she would never get to the point to hand over a sword to the girl without having to worry that the girl would accidentally kill herself.

“Return to the village” the commander ordered Gustus with a tone, that left no room for argument.

Marie blinked at the woman in honest confusion, up to this point she had only trained directly with Gustus and Lexa had stood beside it, watching and criticising her. She was unsure what exactly she had done wrong now, but she had learned enough of the commander by now to know, that she had angered her.

Gustus nodded, albeit reluctantly and left the small meadow they had been training on handing the staff over to Lexa on his way. He had already told the commander, that he regarded the girl as completely unfit to ever become a warrior the prior night.

If the girl really had no will to become a warrior, Lexa would not continue to waste her time with the child. There were enough professions the girl could apprentice for after all.

“Attack again” Lexa ordered Marie in a stern voice, getting into a defensive stance and waiting for the girl to follow her order.

Marie looked truly startled for a moment. Up to this point, she had always only had to attack Gustus and never the commander herself. But she could see the commander’s jaw tightening in rising annoyance at her hesitation and she tried to attack the woman.

Lexa easily deflected the flimsy attack with her staff and asked in a taunting voice “Is that all you can do?”

Marie tried again, but Lexa found the attack similar to her first try without any real effort behind it. If Lexa had wanted, she could have just easily ripped the staff from the girl’s hands, she seemed to barely hold onto it with any strength.

Lexa gritted her teeth angrily, she had seen a little flash of something flash through the girl’s grey eyes after her previous question. She steeled herself, hoping that angering the girl would get a rise out of her and changed her tactic. “Again” Lexa ordered in a bored voice, twirling the staff between her hands in practised movements, which would surely intimidate the girl even more.

After Marie’s attack, Lexa this time countered the strike with one of her own, hitting the girl in the left side. She took great care in measuring the force of her attack as to not seriously injure the girl, but it would almost certainly leave a bruise. The girl appeared startled to be physically hit for a second. but straightened up moments later.

“Again” Lexa issued the same order again and again. Each time the girl’s attacks were nothing but flimsy and Lexa only commented with a scathing “pathetic” and a counterattack of her own. She was sure, the girl would be bruised and stiff in the morning, but Marie did not show an emotional reaction at all, which only increased the commander’s worry.

With her last attack Lexa swept the girl’s legs out under her so that she fell onto her back on the ground with a thud. Lexa towered over Marie’s form in the grass and pressed the staffs end onto the girl’s chest “That was the most pathetic attack I have ever seen. Every five-year-old can do better than that.”

Marie’s eyes blazed angrily a second, before they visibly dimmed over again.

But Lexa had seen the short spark and so kept on hissing her tirade to the poor girl “You will be a disgrace to me, if you continue with this lame effort. How do you suppose to survive even the first attack in a battle? You would lay slain after only a few seconds!”

Marie’s eyes filled with angry tears and she forcefully pushed Lexa’s staff from her chest, getting up quickly from the grass to face the commander “I don’t, alright? I know that I would fall. I will never learn!” The girl’s exclamations were nearly screamed at Lexa with frustrated tears glittering in her grey eyes.

The commander let her staff sweep the girl’s legs under her again for her insolence and took out one of her swords. “Then let me put an end to you now” Lexa offered the girl in a deadly serious voice and hard green eyes.

Lexa brought down her sword in the direction of Marie’s throat in a quick movement. In the last second before Lexa wanted to end her attack as to not behead the girl, Marie suddenly brought up her staff deflecting the sword away from her throat with a resonating clanging sound.

The commander could see the girl’s grey eyes glittering angrily at her, but she had her where she wanted her and now, they could finally begin to train in earnest. “Attack again” Lexa ordered still deadly serious after putting her sword away again. The shock of near death had finally been enough to snap the girl out of her pathetic state and Lexa was grateful that the child was showing some emotions again.

Marie really did attack now with a new-found ferocity. Of course, she was no match to Lexa’s skill and the commander still easily deflected each and every blow from her, but the girl kept on trying now without being told to.

When the girl was panting heavily and still tried to get a single hit in long moments later, Lexa disarmed her with a well-placed hit against her fingers holding the staff and the girl let the staff drop with a pained hiss.

“Enough” Lexa said with satisfaction in her voice and nodded at the girl in silent acknowledgement for her efforts. She stepped up close to her and took her chin in a strong grip, forcing her to meet her eyes “No one will force you to become a warrior. Either you want to, or you don’t. But if you choose the path of a warrior, you will have to put all your energy into it. Never underestimate yourself. You give up way too easily. Get smacked down, get back up!”

Marie nodded with wide eyes clearly impressed with the commander’s skill and she seemed to contemplate the woman’s words.

“Think about the choice if you want to become a warrior, or not” Lexa told the girl when she let go of her chin. She would not expect an answer right away, but it would surely not do to fore the girl to become a warrior, if she was not into it.

Marie nodded again biting her lips for a second, before she softly asked her eyes clouded with doubt “Do you really think I have the abilities to become one?”

Lexa fixed the girl with her green eyes in an unwavering glare “I would not waste my time with you otherwise. Anya also thought so.” The general had told her that she believed the girl to possess great potential and although Marie obviously was lacking in almost all basic skills, the girl was still young enough to learn them.

The girl exhaled loudly and nodded again in acknowledgement. The doubts were still visibly flashing through her eyes and she was still biting at her lips.

“No one expects you to suddenly become a fully trained warrior overnight. This training takes months, if not years. But if you are not into it with your whole heart, you will never succeed” the commander spoke with putting emphasis on her last sentence.

Marie nodded again, but Lexa was satisfied to see new determination burning in the girl’s eyes.

“Actually, this was one of the first lessons Anya drilled into me after I became her second” Lexa recalled with a thoughtful expression. No one had believed that the youngest and scrawniest nightblood in the bunch could rise up to become commander. Only Anya had believed in her from the first second, so she knew the importance of that particular lesson and when she recalled the lesson now, Anya’s approach all those years ago had been similar.

Marie looked at her with an awed smile on her face. Lexa had already concluded that the girl loved to hear more about Anya’s and her shared past.

“Now, come” Lexa concluded the lesson. Although no scouts had obviously searched for her during her absence from her tent, there was always something she needed to organise.

Marie was bleeding from a split lip and her whole body ached with pain, while her fingers where Lexa had hit her last were bleeding also and had started to swell a bit.

Lexa took the girl’s wounded hand into one of hers and inspected the damage she had done. “We will get you some water to cool them” Lexa said to her young charge and took both of their staffs to return to the village.

Marie followed Lexa the way back to TonDC and let her eyes scan their surroundings. The commander noted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief that the girl was keeping her eyes open instead of silently being lost in her thoughts. So, Lexa hoped that this lesson had been enough to get the message across to the girl.

She would still give her the chance to decide for herself, if becoming a warrior was something she desired or not. Lexa did not think that Anya would have asked the girl for her opinion on that matter. But every one of her people had at least some basic fighting skills, so the girl had needed to acquire them first no matter what she actually wanted to do with the rest of her life.

As promised Lexa sent a maid fetch for some cool water when they had returned to their tent. Marie was sent to clean herself up from the training. The girl was more familiar with the outline of the village and the villagers had become used to the girl’s presence, so Lexa had started to send the girl from the tent for some short periods of time. Just as Lexa had predicted, not a single one of the people of TonDC had dared to move against Marie again, now that she had proclaimed her to become her second.

While Marie was following her orders, Gustus came into the tent. He had seen the girl on his way still bleeding slightly from her lip. “I doubt she possesses the skills to ever become a warrior, Lexa” the bulky guard said to her his dark eyes reflecting the same doubt, he had already voiced the previous night.

Lexa looked at him contemplatively from her throne “We shall see in the next days. The girl is still grieving deeply for Anya. But she will have to make the choice to either become a warrior or not for herself.” She had honestly not expected the girl to grief this deeply for her general, they had not shared a lot of time together and forming such a strong attachment outside of a family was unusual among her people. She had not yet spoken with the girl about her own family, although she knew from Anya already that her parents had died before the girl had been sent to earth.

Gustus nodded in agreement and before he could say more, Marie slipped back into the tent holding a piece of cloth to her lips to stop the bleeding. The maid also brought a small bucket with water from the stream from nearby and Marie gratefully put her swollen fingers inside, instantly feeling the relief the water provided.

“Lexa” Marie started to ask in a hesitant voice, she had become used to addressing the commander by her first name inside of the commander’s tent by now. An idea had bloomed in her head, while she had been away from the tent. She wanted to desperately proof that she could indeed become a warrior and the sooner she accomplished that the better.

“Yes?” Lexa answered, when the girl did not continue and looked at her with an expectant expression.

“Could I join some scouting teams or something?” the girl asked, with her eyes showing that she was still thinking about the idea herself.

Lexa blinked at the girl in honest surprise at her change of mind, while Gustus obviously had to control the urge to stare at the girl in disbelief. The child so far had not shown any initiative of any kind to join in anything the village did, except for when she was explicitly told to do so.

The commander thought about it for a second and then shook her head in the negative “Not right now, no.” The girl was not experienced enough that Lexa could let her join a real scouting mission, she was still moving way too loudly and had also not gotten any better at using the trees as a hideout.

“But I need to show that I can help somehow…” the girl trailed off with frustration glittering in her eyes.

“No one would let a second join scouting teams after only a few short days of training, Marie” Lexa explained when she saw disappointment in those eyes as well “But I might be able to spar some hours tomorrow to take you on your first hunt” she mused thoughtfully.

Lexa had made the last offer as a sort of compensation for having been so harsh with the girl before. Marie was instantly into the idea her grey eyes glittering with excitement.

“But I can’t shoot a bow, yet” the girl exclaimed in obvious disappointment, after a few minutes of silent anticipation.

Lexa nodded in acknowledgment “That won’t matter. You can try throwing knifes tomorrow.”  In all honestly, she had little hope that they would even manage to catch any prey at all. But she had not been on a hunt for some time as well and would enjoy the little moment of freedom for herself as well. In Polis she rarely had the sparse time to go on a hunting trip and it had been a few weeks since her last hunt.

The girl was even more enthusiastic now, letting out a squealed whoop of joy at the prospect. Although she still felt a lingering sadness in her mind, Marie knew that she could not afford to focus on it. She had to accept that Anya would not return rather sooner than later.

Gustus rolled his eyes at the childish demeanour of the girl, while Lexa watched her with a slight snort of amusement under her breath. If the prospect of a hunt was enough to diver the girl’s attention from her residual grief, it had been the right choice to offer her one and even if they would not catch any prey, it would have still been a success.

To both of them it was already clear, that the girl had decided to follow the path of a warrior but she still had a very long way to go to even become close to being one. But now that her will to actually learn had obviously kindled again, there was hope for her still. Lexa had promised her previous mentor to teach the girl and she would make sure that Marie would grow to become the best warrior she could be.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

Marie was so excited about the prospect of going on her very first hunt, that she found it extremely hard to settle down for the night. Her body was thrumming with nervous energy and her mind was racing wildly imagining what the next day might bring. Anya had previously said that she would not be able to hunt with her in tow and hoped that the woman had been wrong. Sadness flashed through her mind, at the thought that she would never get to go on a hunt with Anya. But Marie tried to resolutely push it from her mind, letting her thoughts wonder instead to which animals they might encounter.

Lexa had sent the girl ahead to settle for the night, while she was still changing out of her commander’s attire. Marie had gotten to see a softer side to her as a woman whenever she also retired for the night. Lexa absentmindedly wondered if the girl might simply be intimidated even more by her commander regalia. The girl had seemed more likely to speak more freely with her when she was still dressed in the nondescript clothing she slept in in the early mornings.

The days before, the girl had always already fallen asleep, when Lexa was finally able to try to get some rest. But right now, the girl seemed wide awake and her grey eyes instantly found Lexa’s when she joined her in the sleeping part of the tent.

Lexa had just opened her mouth to ask the girl, if she had already had a nightmare when the girl started to speak rapidly.

The child was speaking so fast, that Lexa had to strain her hearing to discern even a single word. “Slow down, Marie” Lexa gently reprimanded the girl and sat down on the edge of her bed, facing the girl sitting up in her own furs.

“I was thinking about the hunt you promised” Marie began a lot slower, face showing her excitement at the prospect.

Lexa did not have it in her heart to quench the girl’s obvious enthusiasm with the warning that there might be something tomorrow hindering their trip still. But with a possible war looming before her, she could not make definite plans. Lexa internally hoped that she would not have to disappoint the girl tomorrow.

“Where will we be going? Will we go alone? Or will Gustus come with us? Or someone else? What prey can we get? Will you make the kills? Will we face a pauna or Reapers?” Marie did not even seem to take a single breath in between all of her various questions, grey eyes shining and she seemed to almost be bouncing under her furs with barely contained excitement.

Lexa just raised an eyebrow critically at the girl, listening carefully to her stream of questions and waited until the child had finally ran out of questions for now.

“Sorry…” Marie finally ended in a soft tone and fiddled with the furs in her hands, a slight blush dusting over her cheeks as she averted her eyes to her fingers.

An amused smile played around the corners of Lexa’s mouth, when she finally had the chance to answer some of the questions “We will most definitely not face a pauna. And I dearly hope neither Reapers. You shall see tomorrow where we will go and now sleep. You can’t expect to hunt if you are not rested” she added in a serious tone, although her eyes showed the hint of a tease.

Marie pouted for a moment at not getting even half of her questions answered, but finally relented and laid back down again. She knew that trying to continue to bug the woman with questions would probably not get her any more answers.

Lexa also slipped under her own furs and hoped that the girl would sleep through the night without a nightmare. The girl had not stopped struggling with her nightmares so far and Lexa had almost gotten used to have the child sleep beside her for some part of the nights.

For Marie the seconds seemed to tick by ever so slowly, as she had started to roll around every few moments again not finding a comfortable position at all. Her thoughts were running wildly through her mind, imagining just what their hunt might look like tomorrow.

Annoyed at the constant shuffling of the girl next to her, Lexa huffed under her breath. She was too light of a sleeper to be able to slip into slumber with the girl constantly causing new noises. She waited for another few moments, hoping that the girl would quiet down, but her tossing and turning did not seem to change its pattern.

“Come here” Lexa ordered lowly and lifter her furs up for the girl to slip under them. She hoped that the girl would be able to sleep next to her or neither of them would be getting any sleep this night.

Marie blinked up at the woman in startled confusion, but obeyed her order nevertheless. Up to now, the commander had only let her join her, if she woke up after a nightmare, which usually happened at some point during the night. She slipped beneath the commander’s furs with a sheepish expression and tried to find a comfortable position, her body still felt as if it did not want to stop moving.

Lexa pulled the smaller body firmly against herself, when the girl just started to wiggle around next to her on the bed. “Now concentrate on my breathing and only on my breathing. Match yours to it” she said in a calm tone and placed one of the girl’s smaller hands flatly against her stomach, keeping it covered with one of her own hands. The girl would be able to feel her deep regular breathing that way and Lexa really hoped that it would calm the obviously restless girl.

Marie did as she was told and Lexa exhaled deeply in relief, when she felt the girl finally relax into sleep in her arms only a few moments later.

It had taken some time for Lexa to get used to sharing her sleeping space with someone again. She had never shared her furs with anyone after she had lost Costia, but to her the closeness of the girl also proved calming to some extent. She knew that she could not let the girl develop a habit of only sleeping well if someone shared the furs with her, but she hoped that with time Marie would feel secure enough again and sleep would come natural and restful again without aid.

Luckily for both of them Lexa’s closeness was sufficient enough to keep the nightmares away from Marie’s mind for the whole night and Marie woke up completely rested and buzzing with fresh energy. Her body ached from the hits she had taken in the last training, but she had already started to get used to a certain level of pain after a week of training with Gustus. The man had usually not been really careful with the hits he inflicted on her, only making certain that he would not seriously wound the child.

Lexa felt relatively rested as well and nudged the girl to get ready for the day, with an amused expression when Marie immediately began to show signs of her previous overexcitement. She had never seen her previous second express his excitement in such an open fashion, but Lexa somehow found the girl’s antics weirdly endearing.

Lexa watched from the corner of her eyes, how the girl almost wolfed down her food at breakfast and waited obviously impatient for herself to finish her own portion while she also listened to the reports from the guards and a scouting team that had just returned. Fortunately, nothing too pressing had come up overnight, so that Lexa would actually be able to take some time for their short outing.

Gustus who had joined them in the tent and brought in their breakfast had of course instantly picked up on the girl’s excitement and could not completely cover a laugh at the look on the girl’s face, when the scouts had at least left and Indra promptly entered to also make a report.

“Marie” Lexa admonished the girl in a sharp tone and with a brief glare, before her eyes returned to Indra.

Marie instantly straightened up again and tried to stand still, which proofed almost impossible at the moment.

Gustus chuckled lowly, when the girl started tapping her foot impatiently after another minute and shook his head at the girl’s antics. The girl was not behaving in a way that one of their own children at the same age would, but the girl had a certain naïve air around herself.

When Indra had finally left, after what had felt to Marie like another hour of a boring report, she directly asked “Can we go now?” with a little impatience creeping into her tone. Her grey eyes were shining again with excitement and she had already turned towards the exit of the tent, clearly expecting a positive answer.

Lexa snorted the child’s antics and shortly contemplated just letting her wait for a few moments later to teach her some patience, but relented a moment later “Yes, we can. Although your patience clearly needs some work as well.” There would come another time to teach her patience though.

Marie seemed slighty reprimanded for second, before she perked up again “I am just so …” she tried to justify herself.

“Exited?” Lexa supplied in an amused tone, rolling her eyes at the child “That much is painfully obvious” as she gathered a bow with a quiver for herself.

To Gustus’ outer dismay, Lexa had already decided that she would leave alone with Marie. Marie on the other hand was ecstatic with the prospect. She had started to see Gustus as a constant presence to the commander, but she did not particularly like the bulky man.

Gustus followed them to the tree line and Marie was fairly certain that the man would have followed them even further if the commander had not explicitly sent him back with a light glare.

With a happy skip to her step, Marie followed Lexa into the woods around TonDC, but to her utter dismay the hunting trip in itself turned downhill pretty fast.

Just as Anya had, Lexa directly started to correct the girl’s way to walk around the forest. The slight difference was that Lexa was quicker with giving her advice on how to improve in contrast to Anya just pointing out what she did wrong and not even offering her suggestions on what to do better.

If Marie had hoped that the commander would be searching for their prey and she would just stroll around with her, she had to realize that she was sorely mistaken. Lexa also expected her to find the trails of the animals living in the woods as Anya had already told her that the girl had had such a lesson before.

Marie’s mood soured again with every passing moment of not finding anything and she was only shortly away from snapping at the commander, in the same fashion as she already had done previously with Anya. When she more by chance than everything else managed to pick up on the tracks of a group of deer.

Marie had to this point not really thought about what would happen, once she actually succeeded in finding a trail. She had naively thought that spotting a trail would be the hardest part about hunting, but she had to learn fairly quickly that this assumption was a grave mistake on her account. Approaching animals without them getting aware of your presence proved to be much harder.

Lexa had begun to walk very closely to Marie, enabling her to physically pull the girl to a stop or efficiently guide her movement, before the child could step on a branch and make too much noise. She was also lowly trying to explain to the girl how important it was to keep track of the wind. Animals would otherwise be able to pick up on your scent, scaring them away, before you could get a clear shot at them.

It took them a long time to actually get nearer to the group of deer, but when they finally did get near enough to a younger deer and Marie made to grab her dagger strapped to her thigh, the commander shook her head, halting the child’s movements.

Lexa had taken a bow with her and had decided to take down larger prey, if they should find any. In all honesty, she had not really thought to be able to track and get close enough to prey with the girl on her first real hunt, but the girl had followed her instructions much better than Lexa had anticipated. Her movements would still need a lot of training until she would instinctively know on how to move silently, but she was not hopeless either. 

Marie watched on with wide eyes as Lexa notched an arrow, carefully took aim and took the animal down with a single shot. The girl was clearly in awe with her skill and looked at her with shining eyes.

“You will learn how to handle a bow later, but with your dagger you would have just caused it needless suffering, Marie” Lexa explained, expecting the girl to be at least slightly disappointed at having been denied to make an attempt, while they went to collect their prey.

Marie nodded in understanding, she had already gathered from narrations that hunters always tried to kill their prey in the first attack, that way the animal would die almost instantly and could not flee wounded.

Lexa eyed the deer critically she had just shot. The animal may still have been young, but it would be quite heavy already, so she opted for skinning the kill right there. She now almost regretted having chosen to go out alone with the girl, it would have been easier to have the deer carried back to TonDC in the company of other warriors.

The commander motioned Marie to stand close to her and ordered the young girl to watch her closely, as she carefully began to skin the animal. Lexa hoped that her charge would not be overly disappointed, that she had not made the kill herself, but she still remembered that she had not made a kill on her own first hunt as well and she had been deeply disappointed by that fact. After skinning the animal, she started to cut the deer into pieces and blood started to flow more freely from its body.

Marie had been standing beside the commander the whole time and had watched on intently, but as the blood started to flow, her stomach revolted suddenly and she immediately turned away beginning to retch from the sight.

Lexa snorted under her breath “You will surely make a great hunter” she commented with a roll of her eyes.

The girl was still retching and could barely look at the dead animal, before she got the urge to gag again.

When Lexa had finished in cutting the dear to smaller pieces long moments later, she finally regarded her young charge again. The girl looked completely pathetic, her face had a slightly greenish tint and she looked at the rest of the dead animal with obvious disgust.

“You do know that the meat you have eaten so far is procured exactly this way?” Lexa asked the girl with a laugh colouring her tone

Marie nodded with a miserable expression. She had known about the process of hunting and killing an animal for its flesh from books and old films. “I have just never seen it before” she justified, still looking down at the remainder of the deer in open disgust; the severed head was freaking her out the most.

Lexa inclined her head in understanding, it made sense as the girl had told her previously, that they did not have any kind of animals on their spaceship.

After the girl’s stomach had finally settled again, they distributed parts of the animal between them, while Lexa took the bigger and heavier parts and now carried their kill back to the village. Marie needed a few moments to get used to the sensation of the added weight and tried hard to ignored that she was basically carrying a still warm corpse of an animal.

On their way back to TonDC, Lexa asked the girl in an even tone “Have you put some thought into what you want for yourself?” she kept them moving, but she thought now was a good opportunity for the child to state her mind without the risk of being overheard.

Marie bit her lips for a second, before she nodded with a thoughtful expression “I did. I want to become a warrior. I just don’t know if I really can” doubt was still colouring her tone strongly.

Lexa had looked closely at the girl’s face and nodded not having detected a lie “You do not lack talent completely. You just need to learn everything from the scratch. But it is not impossible, Marie.”

The girl smiled slightly, obviously reassured enough for now by her words.

Lexa tried to let Marie navigate them back to TonDC and she had to compliment the girl on her instincts, as she guided them back well enough.

When they reached TonDC, Lexa was relieved to note that no one instantly stormed in her direction, so there probably had been no crisis while she had been away with Marie.

Dusk was already starting to fall and Lexa sent Marie to collect them some dinner. She expected the child to be tired out from the hunt, which had taken much longer than she had originally planned and wanted the girl to turn in a little earlier.

The villagers had gotten used to the kind child and the ones working at the communal kitchen always greeted her with a smile now.

Marie was balancing two plates and a pitcher with water on her way back to the commander’s tent, when she saw someone stagger into TonDC from the treeline. She could just see the outlines of the person through the impeding nightfall, but the person seemed to sway on their feet and Marie went to see if she could help.

When Marie got nearer to the stranger, she could recognize that it was a woman. The woman’s clothes were in a terrible condition, ripped and with a heavy layer of mud caked on them. The stranger’s hair was also matted with dirt and Marie could see some blood mixed into the dirt from the distance. It even was not possible to tell which hair colour was hidden beneath all the dirt.

She stepped closer hesitantly and when the stranger looked up at her, Marie let the things she had carried fall in shock at once.

As Marie looked into familiar brown eyes, her own eyes widened and she whispered in total astonishment “Anya?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

The woman’s brown eyes connected with hers for a moment and Marie could shortly see recognition flashing through them, mixed with pain and immense fatigue.

In a spur of a second, Marie sprinted closer to Anya and flung herself at the woman overcome with a sudden storm of emotions. She could barely believe her own eyes, until she felt that Anya was indeed there as she wound her arms around her form and was not simply a fabric of her imagination.

When Marie closed her arms around Anya, the woman hissed loudly obviously in a great amount of pain and alarmed at the sound, Marie slackened her hold immediately and her hands came back from Anya’s side coated red with fresh blood.

The girl’s grey eyes widened in shock at the sight of the blood and she barely managed to keep Anya’s body somewhat upright, as the woman suddenly lost consciousness and slumped forward into her arms. Forgetting all about protocol for now, Marie turned in the direction of the commander’s tent still holding onto Anya’s heavy body and yelled loudly for Lexa to come and help her, panic flooding through her mind.

The commander stormed out of the tent, barely a second later with her swords drawn, obviously expecting a possible attack. Lexa quickly scanned the surroundings for whoever was attacking the girl and she frowned slightly when she spotted Marie holding onto the body of an unconscious woman.

“It’s Anya” Marie added instantly in a desperate tone with helpless tears now dripping down her cheeks, tightening the hold on Anya’s body subconsciously. 

Lexa sheathed her swords again immediately and quickly called over some guards to help carry the unconscious general into her tent as the healer’s hut was farther away and Anya seemed to be in bad shape.

Another second was sent as well to fetch Alira as Nyko still had to return to TonDC.

Marie let go of Anya’s body somewhat reluctant and watched on as two bulky guards carried Anya into Lexa’s tent and laid her down on the commander’s bedding, which was big enough to allow easy access to the wounded woman. She immediately stepped closer to Anya’s unconscious form, still not truly believing her own eyes. Marie had slowly begun to accept in the last days that Anya would never be returning and seeing her back now, was a huge shock. The fact that the woman was obviously seriously injured, was overwhelming her mind profusely.

“What happened to her, Lexa?” Marie asked the commander in a desperate tone, her worried grey eyes only left Anya’s face for a second to glance at Lexa shortly, before they instantly returned to Anya’s face.

“We won’t know until she wakes up” Lexa answered in an even tone although she internally wondered the same thing.

“Come, make room for Alira, Marie” the commander added in a strict tone, when Alira arrived barely a minute later and pulled the girl a pace away. No one had ever returned alive from the Mountain before and Lexa had been sure to never see Anya again as well.

Alira assessed the bleeding wound on Anya’s side first. She turned the woman onto her side and inspected the wound. “It seems that she was shot, but not by an arrow. A wound caused by an arrow would have been broader” the handmaid voiced her observation with a slight frown “The bullet has passed her through cleanly, it may save her life.”

Lexa narrowed her eyes at the information, but nodded. The Mountain Men had always been wielding guns, so such a wound was to be expected. She hoped Anya would survive this wound, as their healers had little experience with dealing with such wounds and most warriors who had sustained such a wound before could not have been saved. She absentmindedly noted that with armed Skykru roaming through her forests, it was not out of the realm of possibility that one of them had wounded Anya instead of the Mountain Men.

Anya was a great general and strategist and as her former first she of course held great personal value for the commander as well and she had already lost almost every one through the years who she had held dear. She had not allowed herself even a single moment to acknowledge the loss of her former mentor until now with the impending war and Lexa dearly hoped Anya’s fight would continue for her own and for Marie’s sake as well.

Marie could see that the wound Alira was inspecting carefully was still emitting a sluggish trickle of blood. None of them could tell how long ago it had been that Anya had been shot and the fact that she was still bleeding, was frightening Marie beyond imagination. The handmaid had already directed for blades to be heated in order to seal the exit wounds shut and finally stop the bleeding.

The girl watched on anxiously as Alira received the first red gleaming blade and pressed it on the round wound on Anya’s back and she sucked in a harsh mouth full of air. Anya groaned in pain as the smell of burning flesh penetrated the air, but she remained unconscious.

Before the guard with the second blade entered the tent, Nyko suddenly rushed into the tent. The man looked dishevelled and started addressing Lexa in rapid Trigedasleng. Marie was unable to understand, what the healer was reporting to the commander due to the speed of the language and her mind still being focused on Anya. His light eyes seemed to be blazing and Lexa had to loudly command him to stop his rapid report.

“Your case will be heard later, healer” Lexa harshly reprimanded the man for his insolence and shot a glare at the guards who had let the man enter without any announcement “First, do your duty”

Nyko seemed to visibly deflate, but nodded in agreement and Alira stepped back, so that the healer could take over Anya’s care.

Before the healer started his work, he left shortly to gather some things out of his hut.

In the meantime, a guard announced that one of the scouts who had gone missing had returned together with another man from Skykru. Marie’s head was already swimming with all that was happening at the moment and inched back closer to Anya.

Lexa had to leave to interrogate the scout on what had happened in the time he had been missing. She turned to Marie and the girl was still fixing Anya with an unwavering stare.

“Can I stay here with her?” the girl questioned in a low quivering tone her eyes glistening with moisture.

Lexa nodded her agreement, this way she was sure Marie would remain guarded inside of the tent at least “But do not hinder Nyko’s work, Marie” she cautioned the girl in a sharp tone.

The girl looked up shortly at the commander and nodded “I fear she will stop breathing when I look away…” she admitted, voice giving out on her at the end.

Lexa regarded the girl with softened eyes and squeezed her shoulders “Anya’s spirit is strong and her fight is not yet over.” She at least hoped that her former mentor would be strong enough to survive.

Marie hoped that the commander would be right and prayed to whatever god there may be to give Anya further strength, as she watched Lexa stride from the tent.

Nyko returned only shortly after the commander had left and grunted at Marie “If you are going to be standing there, you can help by cleaning her up” he pushed a bowl with warm water in her direction and handed her some cloths.

Marie nodded immediately, relieved to be able to do something that could really help and started by gently washing away the dirt caked on Anya’s face revealing huge bruises covering the skin underneath.

Nyko worked on the huger bleeding wounds and it took them a rather long time to take care of all of them, while Nyko started to explain to Marie what he was doing exactly and why he was treating the wounds with different herbs and salves. Marie sponged up all the knowledge she could get, as she thought that some understanding of healing could come in handy later.

During all the time, Marie paid special attention to Anya’s chest rising and falling in a rhythmic pattern with each breath and to her great relief she could not detect any changes in the pattern so far. She felt a flash of the memory of Tris suddenly stopping to breath from her mind forcefully, she had to convince herself that Anya would not die.

“Do you think Anya will survive?” Marie asked Nyko with hope in her voice after they had finally finished and Anya’s unconscious body was covered with fresh furs.

Nyko regarded both Anya and Marie for a moment before he answered “Anya is stubborn and strong. The bleeding has stopped. If the wounds are kept clean and do not fester infection, she should make it.”

Marie nodded with a hopeful smile playing on her lips, before she could say anything more the commander re-entered the tent closely followed by Gustus and Indra.

This time Lexa granted Nyko the permission to state for what he had rushed into the commander’s tent a few hours ago. Marie did not catch all the words as the speed of the speech increased rapidly, but what she could understand was enough. Two Skykru boys had obviously entered the village where Nyko had been. The boys had wielded guns and one of them had shot eighteen unarmed villagers, mostly elders and children. Marie felt a deep flash of compassion for the villagers who had been killed and wondered who from the other delinquents had been responsible for their senseless death.

Marie could see Lexa, Gustus and Indra clenching their teeth in silent anger from her spot next to Anya.

The scout who had delivered the Skykru man to TonDC had reported that the man had sought an audience with the commander to make peace. What a great way to start peace with sending an assassin to a small village, Lexa thought while her eyes glistened dangerously.

The threat Skykru posed now could not be ignored any longer. Lexa silently debated the options she now had to proceed, with the added threat of the Mountain she would need to eliminate Skykru fast before they could site with the Mountain Men. The first parts of the reinforcement she had ordered from the other clans had begun to arrive at the outskirt of TonDC and it would only be a matter of a few days until there would be enough warriors to march against Skykru, hopefully before Skykru could manage to erect a fortress.

She proclaimed that she wished to disguise as a normal servant and to observe the Skykru men herself. Lexa’s green eyes fell to Marie and she internally wondered if they would recognize the young girl as one of their own. She knew that her own warriors would likely not break under torture or at least just after immense efforts of torture and she sensed that another approach was called for with Skykru.

Marie had listened to the plan with a slight frown. She had honestly expected that the two men would just be tortured, as had obviously been done to John and she did not understand the difference.

Gustus did not agree at all with the plan Lexa had come up with in the end, he regarded it as too risky and he was completely against Marie’s role in it. But Lexa thought the plan was a good idea and as Lexa had officially taken over Anya’s role as Marie’s first, her orders were of course to be obeyed. Notwithstanding the fact that Lexa’s word as commander was as good as written law anyway.

To be fair Marie had no idea, if Gustus actually disagreed on her being part of the plan on principle or the other part where Lexa wanted to disguise herself as a servant girl and so get a purer impression on the two Skykru men they had captured and held in a cell at this moment.

Lexa regarded the silent girl standing next to Anya’s sleeping form with a thoughtful expression. Since the battle with the Sky kids and Tris’ death, the girl had mostly lost the sparkle in her grey eyes. Marie was still eager to learn and to adapt, but her huge curiosity had been dimmed notably. It had started to re-appear after she had confronted the girl with the choice of death. Some of the generals were still openly against her decision to let the girl live and they despised her decision to take her over as a second even more. It was essential that the girl got a chance to prove her loyalty and the faster the better.

Marie had admitted that the two men they had captured might not even recognize her when asked, but Lexa hoped to get a rise out of them by presenting them with a child from them that had obviously integrated well into Trikru.

In the last moments, Lexa revised her plan and motioned to a young second “Check if the clothes Marie wore when she arrived are still intact, if that is the case, bring them immediately. And hurry!”

Marie and Gustus were both looking at the woman with a questioning expression.

“Do you think you can act as if you were still our prisoner, Marie?” Lexa asked the girl in a low tone. The girl’s lip was still visibly burst and a few bruises were visible on her revealed skin, she also still looked rather thin, giving her the easy impression of having been incarcerated for some time.

Marie scrunched up her face in thought for a moment, before she nodded with uncertainty lingering on her features “I guess so, but why?” she questions in honest confusion.

Indra who was also standing behind them rolled her eyes at the girl, lowly growling under breath. It was obvious she still regarded the girl as an impertinent brat.

Lexa on the other hand nodded, she had told the girl to ask all questions she wanted, after all how was she supposed to learn anything, if she just obeyed orders without further thought. “Depending on your acting skills you will probably be able to get the most honest reaction out of them” Lexa told her as an answer. The commander hoped that the girl would be able to lie convincingly as it was sometimes a skill needed to keep you alive.

In the meantime, the young second had hurried back with a bundle of clothes in hand. He handed them directly to Marie and the girl started to shrug out of her light armour and re-dressed in her old clothes from the Ark. She had lost most of her shyness regarding her body as nakedness seemed to be a totally normal thing to the grounders, some of them even bathing together shamelessly in the streams.

The clothes somehow felt oddly on her skin now. The material scratchy and she definitely felt more comfortable and confident in the clothes she had received here.

Remembering her braids and that she never had worn any on the Ark, Marie opened the cords keeping them in place and combed her hair out with her fingers. Lexa took one of the cords and motioned for the girl to turn around. They would need to pull the girl’s hair up as the braids had left it unnaturally wavy. She fastened the ponytail with one of the cords and turned the girl around again, inspecting her appearance shortly.

The girl looked just slightly different from the first time Lexa had seen her dressed like this during their first meeting. Marie was still pretty thin, but had started to build light muscles, but this could be contributed to the weeks she had already spent on earth as well.

Marie felt oddly uncomfortable, when Lexa told her she would not be allowed to keep her dagger with her. But who in their right mind would let a prisoner be armed? So, it made sense that she had to leave it behind. Reluctantly, the girl handed the dagger over to Gustus who put it into a pocket of the coat he wore with the honest promise to return it to her later. She immediately missed the sense of protection the dagger had offered to her, as she handed it over.

In the time it had taken Marie to re-dress, Lexa had also shrugged out of the pieces that identified her as Heda and had covered most of her braids with a grey shawl. Marie watched the woman also shed all hidden weapons, she was actually surprised to see just how many small blades had actually been hidden in the commander’s clothes.

But the girl had no doubt in mind, that Lexa would still be able to effortlessly kill both of the Ark’s men with just her bare hands. She doubted that even members of the guard on the Ark had any real fighting skills, if you took their guns away or at least not what the survivors of the earth would recognize at fighting.

Gustus looked even bulkier and more imposing then ever, next to Lexa who seemed to have shrunk without the heavy armour concealing her slight built.

If Marie were not aware of the fact that Lexa was the one in power, even she would have easily been fooled by the image they presented. Marie saw that Lexa even limped a bit to emphasise her vulnerability, she really had to acknowledge that the commander could truly act well.

Marie was to be escorted into the cell later, as if she had been moved from one cell to another without any association to Gustus imposing as the commander or Lexa. That way Marie was able to keep watch on Anya a little longer. The woman had not steered so far, but Marie had watched carefully that she was still breathing regularly.

“Please, fight Anya” Marie begged the woman in a low wavering voice, fearing that the woman might still die and she knew just how much truly watching her die would hurt, now that she had regained her hope and waited for the guard to fetch her, when Lexa decided to include her in the charade.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

Marie had no idea how much time had already passed since Lexa and Gustus had left her in the commander’s tent. She had stayed next to Anya and kept careful watch over her unconscious form. To her great disappointment, there had been no change in her mentor’s condition at all. Marie tried to hold onto the belief that Anya would wake up soon and recover completely with all the strength she could must. She did not even wish to contemplate that the woman could still perish. Cautiously, Marie leaned closer to Anya and took one of her hands between her own. The woman’s fingers felt limp and heavy with unconsciousness, but to Marie they already felt weirdly familiar, she was relieved to feel that they still felt warm with life. She squeezed the woman’s hand lightly, hoping that somehow Anya would sense that she was back in TonDC and finally being taken care of. Her grey eyes remained focused on her chest, as it rose and fell slightly with each shallow breath the woman took.

A guard announced his presence by clearing his throat an undefined time later, startling Marie by his sudden appearance. He commanded the girl to follow him out of the tent. Marie nodded mutely at him, trusting that Lexa had left someone trustworthy to get her to the holding cells. She needed a short moment to let go of Anya’s hand, feeling the loss of contact like a physical slap almost. She followed the man in silence, her mind torn between slight regret and fear at having to leave Anya behind and nervous anticipation at what would transpire now. She was aware that Lexa was giving her a chance to prove her worth by including her into the plan. By the ruff description of how the two men looked who were contained in the holding cell, Marie had not been able to identify them. When they neared the holding cell, the young man suddenly grabbed one of her arms in a tight grip, pulling her along strongly. She did not put up a real fight, but she thought that the man had a slight apologetic expression on his face, before he pulled her in front of the holding cell. He shoved her so roughly into the way to the cell that Marie staggered slightly, trying to keep her balance and not fall down, but the man’s grip did not falter and kept her upright. She absentmindedly noted that she would probably have light bruising with the shape of his fingers on the arm later. The door to the holding cell was opened for him immediately by another guard.

Marie barely had any chance to let her gaze wander around the interior of the holding cell, before she was abruptly shoved inside. Her foot caught on an uneven stone on the floor and she tumbled to the ground immediately, hissing lightly as she scraped her palms on the rough ground.

Lexa looked up to see the girl being shoved onto the floor of the cell rather roughly by one of the guards and watched the scene with feigned disinterest. The fact that the child even fell over made the scene seem even more realistic. She could see the two Skykru men in the cell with her sprung to action immediately from the corner of her eyes, while she herself pressed slightly closer against the wall she had been leaning against. So far, the men had not revealed anything of particular interest, just demanding loudly to speak to their leader, wanting to justify themselves.

The man who was closer to the girl sprung up and helped Marie up from the floor looking at her face closely for long moments, before recognition seemed to flash over his face. “I know you from the Ark” he finally spoke after some time with confusion lacing his voice and a disbelieved expression marred his face. The man had obviously not expected a child from the Ark in the village and Lexa hoped that her plan would work. The men had not revealed anything interesting to her until now. The dark-skinned man obviously regarded his people as better human beings with their tech but she was not sure about the other one yet.

The bound dark-skinned man had also stood up now after he had heard the words of his companion and was looking at the girl closely as well, but he seemed to have figured out the girl’s complete identity only a moment later. “You are Marie Matthews, the youngest on the drop ship” his tone of voice was weirdly calm, he did not seem affected at seeing Marie at all.

Marie looked between them both for long moments, fright marring her face. Lexa had to give her credit for playing the scared prisoner rather well. Even when she had interrogated the girl a few days ago, she had not seemed this frightened. Now that she thought back on it, the girl had shown respect and certainly worry what was going to happen to her, but she had not appeared outright frightened.

“What happened to you, Marie?” the first man asked with concern now in his voice trying to sooth the girl, as he crouched down in front of the girl.

Marie flickered her gaze to the cell’s door and let her gaze wander to Lexa only for a second, as if just acknowledging the presence of another human being in the cell, before she answered in what sounded like a shaking voice “I got separated from the others some time ago together with John Murphy. We were caught in the woods and brought here. I don’t know what happened to John though and I don’t know how long I have been here.” Lexa had instilled in her to stay as close to the original events as possible, making the likelihood of her accidentally revealing something slimmer.

The men shared a short silent glance, before the one still standing next to Marie spoke again “No need to be frightened kid. The Ark guard is here now and we are going to get out soon” his words had obviously been supposed to be a reassurance.

Internally Lexa snorted at their arrogance. Skykru obviously had no incline as to how many warriors she had had at hand. She was certain that the Skykru guards would never succeed in reaching these two, if she did not set them free deliberately.

Marie just looked unconvinced and let herself slide down the wall next to her, as if she was weakened by days without proper food.

“Have you been tortured as well?” the man standing next to her asked the girl inquiringly, dark eyes kind and tone soft. His eyes remained on her burst lip for a second.

Marie shook her head vehemently “No, I have not been ill-treated” her tone was strong, slightly affronted with the thought that Anya would have tortured her. Lexa narrowed her eyes slightly, she had hoped that the girl would not reveal her role so soon and her injuries from training were plain to see on her skin.

“You are wounded” the man retorted, leaning closer to her and softly putting a hand on her bruised cheek.

Marie shrugged of his touch and she swallowed deeply. “The guards don’t like arguing” she offered lamely, but to her internal relief he obviously believed her.

“I have seen how savagely these people live, Marie” the dark-skinned man intervened in a scathing tone, clearly not believing a word the girl said.

Before Marie could retaliate, the other man spoke up again this time directly to Lexa “The girl did not do anything. She is not included in this right?” Lexa was glad that both of them were looking at her now, Marie’s grey eyes clearly showed her anger for a moment until she blinked and pushed it back.

The man’s eyes flitting to the dagger still lying on the cell’s floor, told Lexa that he wanted the girl spared from their fate. He was obviously much more compassionate; the dark-skinned man did not seem to care for Marie at all.

Lexa looked at him and also took a glance at the dagger, before shaking her head indecisively answering in an unsure voice “I do not think so. The commander did not say.”

“There has to be another way, Thelonious” the man said to his chained companion, voice desperate and his expression showed his deep concentration, probably trying to figure out what they could offer instead.

“There is no other way. Eighteen of our people have been slaughtered. Blood must have blood. It is our way” Lexa offered in a soft tone she usually reserved for small children. Simultaneously she was twirling a leave between her fingers to pass the time and strengthen her innocent image.

“What happens when we refuse to pick up the knife?” the man still standing next to Marie asked, swallowing harshly.

“The commander will use it to slit both of your throats” Lexa answered in a calm voice not looking up from the leave between her fingers.

The dark-skinned man seemed thoughtful “We can offer them technology, medicine, guns. I have seen how savagely they live …”

Marie interjected “They seem to be doing just fine without. I have not seen any starving people so far.”

Lexa gathered that the young girl was obviously angry at the dark-skinned man and then it clicked in her mind. She had finally asked the child for what had happened to her parents. Marie had told her the chancellor’s name once and it had to be the same Thelonious Jaha, who had had her mother executed and the girl incarcerated. But she still hoped the girl had not just blown her own cover with her outburst.

“I have seen some of them living in the desert. They are living like primitive savages. We can offer them so much more, we are better than they are” Jaha answered in a reprimanding voice and his dark eyes narrowed down at the child, clearly irritated with her.

Marie’s grey eyes blazed angrily “How can you even say something like that?!”

“Marie…” Kane tried to interject, hoping to calm the situation, but the girl ranted on her eyes glistening with angry tears.

“How is locking an eight-year-old up for trying to safe her mother better? How is floating the mother for being sick better?” the girl asked bitterly, glaring up at Jaha accusingly.

Lexa was relieved that Marie had not hinted at her new role here, but rather let her pent-up emotions towards the former chancellor out. It might also work to get an unfiltered reaction out of them being confronted with what they had done. She had been confused with the penalty for Marie. Her people cherished their children and although of course children had to be punished for stealing somehow, locking them up in isolation for such a prolonged time was not a feasible punishment in her opinion.

Jaha looked right back at her his gaze unyielding “We were trying to survive, Marie. We all deeply regret tragedies like yours. But sacrifices had to be made for the human race to survive.”

To Lexa the man’s words seemed empty and dishonest, while his face was not showing even a glint of compassion for the girl. He might speak true that he remembered all he had wronged, but he obviously did not feel for their deaths.

The other man in comparison looked deeply pained at the reminder of the girl’s fate.

Jaha obviously was not finished “What were we to do with a criminal child without parents?”

Marie blinked at him in disbelief, clearly shocked into speechlessness and obviously fighting hard against her tears now.

“Thelonious, please” the other man tried to calm Jaha down, who had started to get angry as well.

“What, Markus!” Jaha answered hotly “We did what we had to do. One life loss of a single girl had no meaning at all.”

Markus just shook his head tight-lipped as an answer and sat down next to Marie with an apologizing expression and a kind smile while Marie was trying not to start to cry. He hovered beside Marie indecisively for long moments until his gaze fell back to Lexa “So, there is nothing we can do at all?” he asked pleadingly.

Lexa just shook her head in the negative silently as an answer unwilling to say more.

Markus regarded the dagger again for long moments, before he heaved himself back to his feet and went to pick it up from the floor.

Jaha had also stood up again now, watching in confusion what the other man might be doing “What are you doing, Markus? We are not going to comply with their ways! They want to turn us against each other. That is not the way we achieve peace.”

“They showed as a way to peace, Thelonious. If we truly want peace…” Markus said and picked up the dagger from the floor and turned back to Jaha and offered the dagger handle first to the other man “You have to kill me” his voice was calm now and his dark eyes shown with acceptance.

“No” the former chancellor answered immediately and crossed his arms over his chest “We have not come this far to die here. There has to be another way than murder.”

Markus shook his head slightly, swallowing and now brought the dagger to his own arm “What if we can only survive by sacrifice?” he asked in a strangled tone.

“Markus no, do not do it!” Jaha shouted and went to the man as far as the chains keeping him at the wall allowed it.

“We do need peace between our people, Thelonious or the killing will never end” Markus said in a strong tone and pressed the dagger deeply into his own arm. Jaha strained against the chains, reaching Markus finally and wrenching the dagger from his hand. He threw the dagger away from both of them and pressed onto the bleeding wound.

“Help us, please” Thelonious had turned to Lexa and his words sounded honest and his face finally revealed some compassion for the first time.

Lexa took out a cloth hidden in her shirt and gave it to the man, wanting to see what he would come up with as an alternative.

Thelonious bound the bandage over Markus’ arm quickly and Marie watched as he suddenly bent down again to retrieve the dagger. In a quick movement, he had pressed the dagger against Lexa’s neck and hauled the young woman up pressing her against his chest.

Marie’s eyes widened in shock, but she could not detect fear in the commander’s eyes and was reassured that Lexa knew that she could disarm Jaha without any problems.

Gustus and two guards had burst into the cell immediately, when Jaha shouted for them to break them free, pressing the dagger firmly against Lexa’s neck.

Lexa commanded them to wait in Trigedasleng, when they made to grab their swords and forcefully remove the man from their commander.

Markus had also stood up on visibly shaking legs and was trying desperately to reason with Jaha “Thelonious please, she is just an innocent girl. Let her go. This will not help us” he pleaded with the other man.

Marie could have laughed out loud at the absurdity of the statement as Lexa was anything than just a girl. She watched on in silent awe as Lexa brought Thelonious to the cell’s floor in only a few seconds and now had the dagger pressed to his throat.

Thelonious surrendered immediately when he recognized that he had no chance and Lexa stood up again.

Marie could see her whole posture changing all of a sudden. Gone was the young woman, who could have easily passed as a mere servant perfected even with a slight limp. In her place even in the clothes she wore was a proud woman who seemed to radiate power somehow.

Lexa was handed back her shoulder pauldron with the red sash and buckled it into place and finally removed the shawl that had hidden her intricate braids and nodded to Marie who stood up from the floor as well immediately.

Gustus stepped closer to the girl and also handed her back her own dagger immediately and both Marcus and Thelonious looked at Lexa in disbelieved surprise.

“You are the commander?” Marcus asked disbelief colouring his voice, as realization dawned on his features.

“I have learned much about you. It is clear your intentions are honourable, your desire for peace is true” Lexa addressed only Marcus now in tight tone.

“Free him” the commander ordered and the guards obeyed immediately while Marie had stepped up next to Gustus.

“Later we will talk. In the meantime, your friend will be used to send a message” Lexa said calmly and while one guard restrained Marcus, two others started to beat Thelonious up. Markus desperate pleas to stop were completely ignored. “The massacre must be answered. Blood must have blood” she said with absolute authority in her voice.

Marcus looked at her disbelievingly as the guards hauled Thelonious out of the cell only a moment later.

“You are not a prisoner here” Marcus finally addressed Marie with confusion clear on his face, when he spotted the girl standing behind the commander.

Marie just shortly glanced at Lexa, before she inclined her head with a resolute expression. They had not spoken about what she was allowed to reveal and what not, so she thought it might be better not to answer in words.

“Get him something to eat and drink” Lexa commanded to one of the guards “Escort him to me later” she instructed. The woman turned from Marcus and regarded Marie for a second and acknowledged her with a nod “Come” she ordered as she strode out of the cell without another word.

Marie followed Lexa quickly without looking back at Marcus even once. She did not harbour any particular ill feelings towards him, but she had not felt pity for Jaha when he was beaten up earlier. A small part of her even believed that the man deserved every hit he had gotten and much more.

On the way back to the commander’s tent, Marie remembered that Anya would probably still be lying there. She desperately hoped that Anya was still breathing, but Marie guessed that someone would have alerted Lexa if Anya’s condition had changed even slightly.

“You did well” Lexa acknowledged on the way back to her tent towards Marie.

Marie smiled slightly and nodded, relieved that she had not screwed up.

“Your strategical thinking needs some improvements though. But you will learn” Lexa continued, letting her gaze travel through the village.

She had given orders to the guards on what message Thelonious should deliver to the Skykru. She would grant them two days to leave or her army would attack. She would still listen to what Marcus had to offer though.

On the return to her tent, they both changed back into their normal clothing and Lexa applied war paint to her face. She wanted to present her most imposing persona to Marcus when he was allowed to speak to her later. Marie immediately checked on Anya and was relieved to see that woman was still breathing, although she still had not woken up either, but Lexa reassured the girl quickly that she had every faith in Anya’s strength.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

Marie watched on, sitting next to Anya’s unconscious form, as Lexa re-dressed in her full commander regalia. She was intrigued most by the glove that ended on the first knuckle and that was decorated with metal mimicking the bones of the hand underneath the black leather. It was really impressing to see the woman change from a normal young woman to the mighty leader, she actually was.

Tentatively Marie placed one of her hands over Anya’s larger one and was relieved to feel the skin normal to the touch temperature wise. She had feared Anya might have gotten an infection or had slipped away while she had been in the cell with Kane and Jaha, but to Marie’s internal gladness the woman’s skin was neither hot with a fever nor cold in death. She clenched her teeth angrily, thinking about what the former chancellor had said to her. His words had almost assured her, that she would have never been integrated back into the society of the Ark after her mother died. In the months she had spent lonely in the small cell in the sky box, she had continued to hope that she would be released and given the chance to live with another family. Her family might not have had many close ties to others on the Ark, but she knew that there would have been at least a few people willing to look after her. It felt like a physical punch to the gut to acknowledge the fact, that either no one had spoken up to take her over or the chancellor had just denied them for whatever flimsy reason.

Lexa was meanwhile applying black war paint around her eyes and down her cheeks. Marie had never seen her with it so far and thought it reminded her of a racoon; an animal she had thus far only ever seen a sketch of in an old book. The paint made the green in the commander’s eyes stand out even more strikingly. The commander’s eyes seemed to almost gleam of their own, now that they were accentuated by the black paint.

“You can change back as well, Marie” Lexa suddenly said, when she put down the fine brush and startled the girl who had taken up to simply watch Anya’s chest falling and rising again.

“Sure” Marie nodded in agreement and begrudgingly stood up, losing the contact to Anya’s hand once again. She quickly started to shrug out of her old clothes from the Ark. She was suddenly glad to be able to get them off of her skin and hopefully she would never have to see the clothing ever again. Hastily Marie re-dressed in the clothes, she had been given by the grounders and she was so familiar with them now, that she did not need any help anymore to get everything in its right place. She immediately felt more comfortable and confident in the light armour.

To complement her outfit, Marie buckled the sheath of the dagger around her thigh and placed the dagger she had received back from Gustus into its sheath. She had somehow come to enjoy the sound of the metal sliding into place over the course of the last days.

“Turn around” Lexa ordered Marie softly, as she had watched the girl change back into her clothes. The commander loosened the band keeping the girl’s blonde hair up in the ponytail and gently combed the hair through with her fingers. With quick and well-practised movements, Lexa braided the girl’s hair into a few intricate braids in a style she herself had worn as a second many years ago. The hairstyle was unfortunately more intricate than the easy design Alira had used the previous days, so the girl would continue to need help with her hair, but Lexa thought that as her second, the girl was entitled to receive a little help from one of the handmaids. It would certainly get a little complicated now that Anya apparently had not died and she had already officially proclaimed to take Marie as her second, but they would be able to figure something out together, once the older woman had woken up.

The commander had also ordered to have a coat tailored for the girl the previous day. It would start to get colder soon and the raining would increase as well. Lexa saw the called for piece of clothing lying on her bed and held it open for Marie to slip in. It was a coat made from leather, that had been dyed into a green so dark, it seemed almost black on first glance. The leather had been layered to make it protective against light attacks and had a long hood on the back. She had thought about the inclusion of some metal inlays as well, but had discarded the idea. Marie would need to get used to added weight of the coat without adding even more to it, as long as the girl was so inexperienced, she could also easily injure herself on spikes or additions like that. Lexa fastened the buckles for Marie around her midriff and took a step back to assess the girl’s appearance.

The commander nodded with a satisfied gleam in her eyes “You look like one of us now, Marie” she proclaimed in acknowledgement. The girl truly looked completely different, she would easily pass for a warrior in training now. The combination of her light hair and her eyes would forever make her stand out among Trikru, but she already appeared adapted to them now.

Marie dearly wished to have access to a mirror now, wishing to see for herself what she looked like now, but there was none in the commander’s tent. She felt weirdly stronger with the coat and she smiled at Lexa nonetheless, being appreciative about the gifted coat. “Thank you” Marie said softly and smiled a bit wider, as she let her fingers trail over the soft leather.

Lexa gave a curt nod as acknowledgment “Appearances are very important in politics” she explained in a serious tone.

Marie looked at the commander with a scrunched brow, as she did not understand how she should have anything to do with politics. She was not even a true warrior yet after all.

“First impressions are most important. You are a part of Trikru now, which will be made official in the next days, and you need to look like that” Lexa explained to the girl in a serene tone “And this does not only apply to Marcus kom Skykru, but even more to the generals of the clans that will arrive soon”. If the girl were only Anya’s second still, it would not be as important, but Lexa knew that she had put an even higher focus and interest on the child by proclaiming her to become the commander’s second, an honour quite many would envy her for.

Marie nodded with a thoughtful expression, carefully contemplating the new information silently.

They had just finished getting ready and Marie had checked again that Anya was still breathing, when one of the guards outside of the tent announced Indra’s arrival.

The general entered accompanied by Gustus, as Lexa closed off the curtain concealing her bed from view from the main part of the tent, motioning Marie to leave Anya be for now. She could see the hesitation flash over her young face, before she followed her mute order.

Lexa sat down on the wooden throne in the centre of the tent and Gustus took position next to her as her personal guard. Marie stood beside all of them at first, unsure of what to do exactly until Lexa ordered her to stand on her other side.

Indra made a report telling the commander, that another general was ready to move his warriors into position at a river. Marie noted to herself that she was really making progress in Trigedasleng. She did not understand all of the words Indra had used, but she understood enough now to make sense of the report without the need for further translation. She would probably be able to follow most conversations with only a little more practise.

Lexa just listened to Indra’s report mutely without any reaction, until other guards suddenly entered the tent leading Marcus Kane in between them.

Marie could see Marcus swiftly looking over the attendants in the tent and his glance lingered a second longer on herself and she thought she might have seen surprise flashing through his dark eyes before he directed his gaze to the commander.

Lexa just stared down at the man sitting regally on her throne without a word at first. She was well aware of just how unnerving it was to others to be confronted with her calm stoicism.

It was Marcus who spoke first and he did so with desperation evident in his voice “Commander, we can still find a way to avoid violence.”

Marie tried to keep her face impassive as Lexa and Gustus were doing, but she highly doubted that the army would really want to lay down their weapons after eighteen people had been slaughtered in a village. If she understood one thing about the new culture around herself, it was that senseless deaths were paid for with blood.

Indra reacted to the man’s declaration instantly, her hand gripping the hilt of her sword tightly, as she answered hotly “The Sky people have given their answer. They think you are weak.”

The general had switched back to their native tongue and it was apparent that Marcus did not understand most of what was said by the confusion flashing over his features.

Lexa jutted her chin out defiantly as Indra ended her statement with the word “weak”. The commander knew that it was imperative for her survival, that her people would never begin to question her own strength.

“Let me show them how strong you are” Indra ended gripping her sword tighter and glaring at Markus with hateful dark eyes.

Marcus was eying Indra with barely covered suspicion. He did not need to understand the words that were spoken to sense that whatever was being said, was not positive for him.

Lexa had listened to them both, without any outward reaction and she spoke in an even voice “My warriors were watching your camp. They move guns to the wall. I offer generous peace, they prepare for war” looking down at the man impassively.

Marie silently begged that no additional warriors had been shot so far to add to the pile of grounders Skykru had already killed.

Marcus raised his hands in a soothing gesture when he answered, desperation more pronounced in his tone now “Commander with all due respect…”

The man made to step closer to the throne Lexa was sitting on and the guards who had brought him in were already stepping in front of the throne to protect their commander, blocking Marie’s clear path of view from Marcus.

Marie highly doubted that Marcus had any idea, how powerful the commander really was. It had taken her several days to get even the slightest understanding of the hierarchy the grounders lived in and she still found the concept weird.

“When we are threatened our first instinct is to defend ourselves. In that we are very much like you” Marcus tried to explain and fabricate common ground between them, before he pleaded “Give my people more time. Please!”

Lexa regarded him for a second, before she responded “Time to strengthen your defences?” brow raised inquiringly.

“No” Marcus instantly declined in a firm tone “Time to understand the generosity of your offer.”

Indra reacted to his words first in a low and serious voice “There can be no understanding between Skykru und Trikru. We are born of different worlds.”

Marie was taken off guard by the conviction with which Indra had spoken and she desperately hoped that the woman was wrong in her notion or her place with Trikru would never be secure for her, if everyone were to share Indra’s opinion. In her mind, there absolutely was a chance for an understanding between both people, but it would need heavy adjustments from Skykru first.

“Blood must have blood” Indra finished hotly glancing at Lexa who still sat as relaxed on her throne as if they were merely discussing the weather and not a possible war. Marie thought she was starting to understand what Lexa had meant with her words about politics and the importance of appearances.

Marcus was looking at the commander expectantly now, probably aware that his chance to convince the young leader had passed and there was nothing more he could do.

“Move your warriors into place” Lexa commanded Indra to start preparations to march against Skykru.

The general did not react with words and Marie watched as Indra just turned around and left the tent without another word. It was obviously a signal that the commander had made her decision and the talks were finished for now.

Marcus also watched Indra leave with alarm flashing over his features and he quickly turned back to Lexa rapidly addressing her again in an almost pleading voice “Commander, Indra is right. We are born of different worlds. But we have to share one world.”

Marie silently doubted that Lexa would “have” to do anything, if she did not want that for her people. The grounders were clearly at an advantage. They outnumbered Skykru greatly and although a war between Skykru and the survivors of the earth would not be fair, their knowledge of this world and their sheer number would secure their victory.

Lexa just shortly glanced at Gustus and stood up from her throne in one fluid movement and made to move away behind the curtain where Anya was still lying. The commander motioned for Marie to proceed herself and the girl obeyed instantly, slipping behind the fray material mutely.

“Skykru and Trikru, together” Markus called behind the retreating commander and Lexa stopped in her tracks and turned back towards the man a few seconds later.

“Maybe we can learn to understand each other” Marcus continued with conviction clear in his tone and an almost hopeful expression on his features.

Lexa and Gustus shared a silent glance. Lexa internally hoped, that the man might be right in his notion. If Skykru were not to ally with the Mountain Men, they might ally with her instead and they might finally have a real chance against the Mountain in the future. Skykru were bound to have a much better understanding of the tech the Mountain was using against them.

Anya and she had decided to give Marie a chance in the ranks of Trikru, but giving one single child, which had done no real wrong, a chance was a totally different scale than trying to bring peace between her people and Skykru. Too much blood had already been spilled for her people to accept peace without any retribution. She could force peace between them, but it would cost her greatly later.

“All I am asking for is a little more time, please” Marcus finished his plea and waited for the commander to react.

Lexa seemed to contemplate his words for a moment, before she replied her voice as unyielding as the blade of her sword “The decision has been made. We move into position right now. You will be brought back to your people then.”

The commander motioned to one of the guards and he took Marcus in a vice like grip and escorted him out of the commander’s tent, not showing any reaction to the man’s obvious struggle.

Marie had continued to listen from behind the curtain and had already checked on Anya.

Lexa found the girl kneeling next to Anya’s unconscious form and gently holding one of her hands in between her smaller ones.

“Where are we moving?” Marie questioned Lexa softly without looking up from Anya’s face. The woman’s face was still looking too pale to be healthy and she had obviously not woken up yet.

“We will break camp in a few hours and march to theirs to surround them. Skykru will be surrounded before their time is up” Lexa explained in a strong tone, sitting down on the edge of the bed and facing the girl.

“I thought you are giving them the opportunity to leave your land?” Marie questioned back with a furrowed brow.

The commander nodded curtly with a satisfied gleam in her eyes, that the girl was starting to use her head “I am. But if they do not leave until dawn in two days, every one of them will be slaughtered.”

“But…” Marie started and stopped again looking down at her hands still holding onto Anya.

“Continue” Lexa commanded the girl to speak her mind in a softer tone.

“This is not meant as …” Marie paused again trying to sort through her thoughts “…criticism”

The commander had the ghost of a smile playing around her lips for a second “You are allowed to speak your mind freely, when we are alone, I already told you that. You only have to be careful who you let listen to your thoughts.”

Marie nodded and continue again “Marching against Skykru is bound to cause heavy losses. The guard that came down are heavily armed with guns.”

Lexa nodded letting out a deep breath. She had already thought about that and she knew that the girl was right. Fighting against Skykru would cause her army heavy losses, but every single warrior of her would rather die in battle than let their demand for blood be unanswered.

“That is absolutely true, Marie” Lexa answered and leaned slightly closer to the girl still kneeling next to the bed “But Skykru will not have enough bullets to kill all of us.”

Marie swallowed thickly her eyes swimming in unshed tears, as she looked down on Anya “Do you think Skykru have shot Anya?” she asked tentatively in a small tone.

The question had been nagging at Marie’s mind for some time now. The woman had told her that the Mountain Men also wielded this kind of weapons, but from what she had heard from the scouts reporting to the commander, the Skykru guard that had patrolled through their forests was also armed with guns and they had shot at every suspicious movement.

Lexa contemplated the question for a few moments, also her own thoughts had gone in the same direction already “I cannot say. We will know when Anya wakes.”

The commander had also noted with satisfaction that Marie had obviously already stopped thinking herself to be part of Skykru, as she always separated herself from their actions in the words she spoke.

“Rest a bit, before we break camp” Lexa suggested to Marie who looked as exhausted as she felt. As the commander, she would need to be seen in the camp right now, but the girl was unaccustomed with the strain of the days before a battle “The next days will be strenuous.”

Marie bit her lips for a moment, obviously unwilling to follow her suggestion and a conflict flashed over her features visibly.

Before Lexa could reprimand the girl to follow her suggestion, Marie looked at her with her grey eyes swimming in tears and her voice quivering “I fear Anya will slip away, when I look away too long now …”

 Lexa let her face and eyes soften, as she covered Marie’s and Anya’s hand with her own squeezing reassuringly “There is nothing you can do now. Anya would not want you to exhaust yourself needlessly. She will wake when she is ready, she is strong and too stubborn to surrender now.”

Marie looked up at Lexa with a wavering smile, but nodded and slipped out of the coat and pulled her own furs closer to the bed, before she lied down.

Lexa watched the girl with a slight frown, it was obvious that the child wished to stay as close to Anya as possible and she could only hope that her former mentor would truly wake up soon. She left the tent without another word, but she assigned guards to keep watch of the tent for her during her absence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

It was a few hours later when Lexa was finally able to return to her tent. She had been required to organise more than she had anticipated. The people of TonDC were less than pleased with the news of what had transpired at their neighbouring village and Lexa had needed to try to calm them down before they would just march against Skykru without proper order. More warriors had slowly begun to arrive as well, requiring accommodations and instructions until their respective generals arrived as well. She had not managed to catch any sleep at all this night, but Lexa was used to having to stay awake and alert through several days if required.

Directly upon her entry, she quickly discarded of the heavier parts of her armour placing them on a table as silent as possible, wanting to free herself of their weight at least for a short time. She slipped behind the curtain into the sleeping area of the tent on silent feet, wanting to check on Marie and her general.

Anya still was still lying on her bed and had obviously not woken up yet, her position unchanged from a few hours prior. The woman still looked sickly pale and Lexa had ordered for Alira to prepare a strong broth for Anya. The woman would die of thirst, if they did not force something into her soon; they had no idea when was the last time the general had gotten something substantial into her body.

She could see Marie starting to twist in her furs and the girl’s face scrunching up as a nightmare took hold of the child’s mind. Lexa crouched down next to her and put her hands on the girl’s shoulders to stop her movements and gently shook the girl to rouse her “Marie, wake up” she addressed her in a soft tone.

It took a few moments, until the girl’s grey eyes fluttered open, widened in fear and her body shot upright trying to rip herself from the hands on her shoulders.

“Ssshhh, you’re alright” Lexa tried to sooth the obviously frightened girl “Look around, you are safe, Marie”

“Lexa…” Marie said in a clearly shaken voice, once recognition flashed over her features.

“You are safe” Lexa repeated soothingly and waited on the girl’s eyelevel until her erratic breathing slowed back to a normal rate.

Marie nodded some time later, indicating mutely that she was feeling better now. Only the fraction of a second passed, until she sucked in a harsh bout of air and her gaze frantically searched for Anya behind Lexa’s form.

“She is still breathing, Marie” Lexa reassured the child and stood up, just as Alira announced her presence at the entrance of the tent.

Marie could see through the fray material of the tent, that the sun had already risen while she slept and she did feel much more rested now. She could hear the activity of the army around them in TonDC, so she assumed that Lexa must have already given the order to start breaking down the camp.

The girl stood up from the furs and folded them together in a neat pile, while Alira entered carrying a tray with food and drink for Lexa and Marie and a bowl with steaming broth for Anya.

Involuntarily, she shuddered as she remembered parts of her dreams. Her mind was trying to convince her, that the commander’s army would all fall under the rain of bullets from Skykru and she was left standing as the lone survivor surrounded by the slaughtered warriors.

Marie put on the coat again and strapped the sheath with the dagger onto her thigh and instantly felt stronger somehow. She observed the commander mutely, who had been washing away her black war paint and re-braided some of the braids that had started to loosen slightly. Lexa was straightening her spine slowly trying to get out the aches that came from being on her feet so long. Marie thought that without the war paint and all the heavy armour, the commander looked much more the young woman she still was, but she was also aware that none of the other warriors would probably ever get to see any cracks in the strong façade of the commander. She had begun to slowly understand how important the image of unwavering strength was for the commander, the loyalty of her warriors obviously depended on her continued strength.

Alira put the tray on a small table that stood next to the bed and handed a plate with food and a mug to Marie “Good morning, child” she greeted the girl with a kind smile.

“Good morning” Marie greeted the woman back with a smile of her own on her face. She remembered that the older handmaid had taken care of her, when she had fallen ill and had spent many hours sitting at her bed. She took the offered food and the drink with a thankful nod and plopped back down on the pile of furs to eat. She wanted to be able to see Anya and she would not have a clear view of the woman, if she went to eat a table in the main part of the tent.

Lexa joined back with them a moment later and also started to eat the food Alira had brought for her.

In the meantime, Alira had sat down slightly behind Anya and had brought the woman’s upper body onto her lap. Gently, she opened Anya’s mouth and slowly forced some of the broth down the other woman’s throat.

Marie ate her breakfast in silence and just observed how Alira took care of Anya. After she had emptied the bowl of broth long moments later, the handmaid inspected the open wound on Anya’s arm and at last the gunshot wound. She nodded with a satisfied expression “No signs of infections in the wounds” she proclaimed with apparent relief.

Marie let out a breath, she had not been aware of holding at hearing the good news. Even though Anya still had not regained her consciousness, she knew that an infection would almost surely kill the woman, probably without her waking up at all beforehand.  “Why has she still not woken up?” Marie asked in a worried tentative voice, unsure if her question would be welcome.

Alira turned to the girl and gave her a slight smile “Anya has lost a lot of blood; her body needs time to heal. She will wake up when she is ready.”

Both Lexa and Alira seemed to have faith that Anya would indeed wake up, so Marie just nodded mutely hoping the woman would do so soon. Lexa had already given her almost the exact same answer the night before.

The commander dismissed Alira for now and put her armour and her long coat back on and lastly fastened the commander’s red sash into place under her shoulder pauldron.

Marie watched on in awe as the commander strapped two short sheaths onto her back and sheathed two elegant swords into them. Silently, she wondered how Lexa could sheath the swords without slicing away some of her hair or cutting into her back so effortlessly.

“No face paint?” Marie asked in honest curiosity, as Lexa seemed to turn to leave the tent.

Lexa shook her head in the negative and amusement danced through her green eyes “It is called war paint, not face paint” she corrected the child gently “and no, we are not marching into war today only into place for a potential war tomorrow.”

Marie nodded mutely, storing the new information away in her memory. She was still learning a lot of little things daily and she internally highly doubted that this would be changing any time soon.

“Come” Lexa ordered the girl and turned around to leave the tent. Upon their exit, Gustus fell into step slightly behind Lexa mutely and Marie copied the man’s position.

All around TonDC, the tents that had been erupted in the previous days were being removed again. During the course of the night, more warriors had obviously arrived, as TonDC seemed to be bursting with warriors now. When a warrior spotted the commander approaching, he would stop doing whatever he had been doing and bowed deeply to the commander with a solemn “Heda”.

Marie could easily distinguish the warriors, who had seen her before from the ones who had just arrived at TonDC. The ones who had not seen her until now, were mostly glaring at her as if she was the devil herself. She tried not to react to the threatening glares, but she did move a little closer to the commander nonetheless. She was absolutely certain that the commander and even Gustus would not let anyone harm her physically though, which was the only thing keeping her walking behind the leader without the urge to flee.

Lexa had to meet with one of her generals, getting a short update on the status of the breaking down of the camp. They would be ready to depart in a few hours and would leave directly to march on the Skykru’s camp.

The commander swiftly decided, that there would be enough time now to put in a training session with Marie. To her internal relief, Anya’s return seemed to have fuelled the girl’s will to fight and Lexa noted improvements with silent satisfaction. The girl still did not stand a chance at actually beating Gustus, but she started to manage to at least dodge or parry some of his attacks. Marie was still fighting without enough tactic and was giving away her movements before she made them. Against a completely unskilled opponent, the girl might now stand a chance to get some hits in, but as most of her warriors were highly skilled, Marie still needed a lot of training. It was promising nevertheless to see the girl’s skill slowly developing.

“Enough” Lexa called loudly after Gustus had beaten Marie effortlessly more than ten times in a row.  She unbuckled her shoulder pauldron and placed it down next to the training pit.

“Watch my movements, Marie” Lexa ordered sharply and shooed the girl to the side, taking a fighting stance opposite of Gustus.

Even though Gustus was much stronger and heavier in built, they were both aware that the commander could beat him in hand combat relatively easily. She had learned early on, to make her slight built and the agility it offered one of her main suits. Marie would need to acquire this fighting technique for herself as well, if she ever wanted to stand a real chance. The girl was still young, but she would physically never match up to most of the other warriors; even if she might still grow to be tall Lexa highly doubted, she would ever be this muscular and burly.

Marie was gingerly rubbing the elbow, she had landed on a few times and was sure that tomorrow the arm would mostly be blue from a huge bruise. She watched on as Lexa danced around Gustus, always eluding his swings with minimal quick movements. She was awed by the woman’s effortless agility and wondered if she would ever manage to move like this.

After a few minutes without any serious hits, Lexa stepped back and turned back to Marie “What do I do differently to you?” she questioned the girl, walking over to her.

“You always get out of Gustus reach quickly, before he gets an actual hit in” Marie answered easily. The girl noted that even though Gustus and Lexa had both fought for several minutes, neither of them seemed to sweat and their breathing did not seem elevated at all. Marie herself in comparison had broken into a heavy sweat under the light armour she wore and she highly doubted she would ever get the stamina, they both obviously had.

The commander re-buckled her shoulder pauldron quickly and nodded in acknowledgement to the girl “Correct, we need to work on your agility. You may never be able to match up in pure strength only.” Marie let her shoulders drop dejectedly, before Lexa continued “But only very few battles are won with strength only. You will need to learn to analyse your opponents’ movements and how to utilize their strength against them” she explained to the young girl in a serious tone.

The girl nodded in understanding, starting to see why both Lexa and Anya seemed so keen to have her watch other warriors fighting against each other.

Looking around TonDC, Marie noted that most of the tents that had occupied the village were already dismantled, so they would probably begin their march soon. “How far is it to Skykru camp?” Marie asked, as she had no idea where exactly the space ship had fallen, she only knew that it was not extremely far away from the drop ship the 100 had fallen to earth in. She was still not certain that her own definition of “not far” matched to those of the grounders yet. They could not have trained for very long, Marie estimated from the position of the sun, that it was still a few hours until midday.

“We will arrive after sunset” Lexa answered as she guided them back from the training pits to TonDC’s communal hall, as her tent would have already been dismantled by now as well.

Her orders had already been followed and Anya was lying on a pellet of furs in the communal hall guarded by two of her personal guards. Alira was waiting for the commander there as well.

“Everything is working in frame, Heda” the handmaid reported immediately at their entrance “The first groups have left two candle marks ago.”

Lexa nodded in acknowledgement and looked at Anya “Will she be alright on a horse?” she inquired with a hint of worry.

Marie looked at the commander with confusion on her face. How should Anya ride, if she was still unconscious?

Alira nodded, her face grim “Yes, the wounds have not bled again”. They could only hope that the wounds would not open due to the movements of the journey.

Lexa dismissed her with a nod and turned to Gustus “You will take Anya with you on your horse” she informed the man in a serene tone.

The burly man nodded in acceptance and motioned the guards next to Anya to bring her body outside, so that they could help him mount. Lexa had considered having Anya brought along in a cart, but it would slow them down considerably and they would have needed to leave earlier in order to arrive at the Skykru camp at sundown. They would have also needed to take a longer route to their destination, as part of the forest they would travel through was hard to navigate even for horses alone. Leaving Anya here, was also out of question as no healer would remain behind in TonDC and she also doubted that separating Marie from the general would have gone over too well.

“You are going to ride with me. The path is too bumpy for such an inexperienced rider” Lexa proclaimed and Marie just nodded. The girl would have liked to ride on her own, but she trusted the commander’s judgment and she did not want to slow them down or fall down when she overestimated her abilities.

The commander just shortly had to listen to different reports from scouts, before they could depart. It seemed, that Jaha had reached Skykru and delivered her ultimatum to his people. The scouts had heard that the order had been given to pack everything and be ready to leave their camp.

Lexa wasn’t sure if she should be disappointed that Skykru seemed to take the easy alternative and flee and in that way rob her people of their claim of blood or if she should be relieved that Skykru seemed to leave without further bloodshed. They would still move into place nonetheless, as commander she knew just how quickly plans could change and she would not blindly trust the word that Skykru would leave her lands willingly.

After the last scout was dismissed, Lexa motioned Marie to follow her outside where her black mare was already waiting for them. Gustus was also already mounted and had Anya’s unconscious form leaned against his chest on his hazelnut mount.

Lexa mounted her mare first and lifted Marie in front of her into the saddle, keeping her arms lightly around the smaller body for now. That way she could easily take a stronger hold on the girl, when the terrain became harder to travel and navigate her horse more easily.

Their group consisted only of a hand full of other warriors as most of her army travelled on foot and had already started their march hours ago. None of the warriors showed any outward reaction to the commander sharing a mount with the Sky girl and Marie let herself relax after a few moments and slightly leaned against Lexa’s chest.

“You can rest if you want, Marie” Lexa offered in a soft tone, whispering the words into the girl’s ears and pulled the girl’s body flusher against herself to have a better hold on Marie.

Marie nodded mutely and let herself be lulled into sleep gradually by the constant movements of the horse underneath her and the sounds the horses’ hooves made on the forest ground. She could also lightly sense Lexa’s strong heartbeat and her rhythmic breathing which calmed her down even more, so that it did not take long for her to fall asleep completely.

Lexa tightened the hold her arms had around the slackened body of the girl and felt Gustus disparaging glare on herself.

“It is unbecoming of the commander to cuddle a mere second not even from our clan” the guard muttered under his breath sullenly. They were far enough away from those travelling with them, so that the others could not have caught his words or Gustus would not have spoken so openly at all.

Lexa just huffed softly and rolled her eyes at the man “She is still a child and unaccustomed to our ways, Gustus” she reasoned with him lightly.

“A warrior should not let his guard down so completely on the way to battle” Gustus grumbled back, clearly still not satisfied with the girl’s antics.

Lexa looked down at the sleeping girl in her arms. The girl’s face had completely relaxed and she looked almost peaceful this way and the sight warmed her heart in a strange way “It is a sign of utter trust to let your guard down completely around others” she commented, looking over at Gustus minutely.

“Mmpphh” Gustus just huffed as a response and tightened his own grip on Anya’s body when they started to get on more difficult terrain.

Lexa just smirked at the man’s obvious irritation with her letting the girl getting this closely to her, but the girl had started to grow on her irrevocably over the course of the last days and although she was sure Gustus would not agree out loud, the child must have started to grow on him slightly as well.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32

They were still moving through the woods, when Marie woke up again a few hours later. She woke to the sensation of the horseback moving beneath her body and the commander’s arms holding her in place against her chest. Lexa slackened the hold she had had on the girl’s body immediately when she woke and body retention returned to the child.

Marie blinked her eyes a few times to adjust to the darkness surrounding them. She had gotten better with seeing in near darkness, but she still wondered how all the grounders seemed to be able to see perfectly well in the dark. Her grey eyes immediately sought out Gustus, who had been riding next to the commander. Anya’s body was still slack in his arms, so Marie gathered with rising disappointment, that the woman still had to regain consciousness. From her perch in front of Lexa, Marie was unable to assess if Anya was still breathing and she leaned forward trying to peer at the woman more closely.

Lexa and Gustus both noticed the girl trying to check on Anya as soon as she had opened her eyes. It was truly astounding to watch the physical proof of just how deeply the child must have bonded to the general already.

Gustus answered the girl’s silent worry in a gruff voice. “Anya is still breathing” he informed the child.

Marie nodded with relief clearly written on her face and she softly said “Thank you” to Gustus, acknowledging his words. The burly guard just nodded and stared ahead of them with a stony expression.

Lexa was fighting against a smirk wanting to flash over her features at the little scene. It was blatantly obvious to her, that Marie truly was starting to grow on Gustus as well, despite how much the man apparently tried to stubbornly fight against it still. The girl truly acted completely different than their own children at that age did, but the girl’s easy friendliness made it hard to meet her with blank stoicism.

The commander had met Gustus very early on in her time as a novitiate. He had been a warrior in the village, Anya had brought her into after the woman had officially taken her as her second. Both of them had been constant parts of her education from that point onwards and had trained her in much more than just fighting skills. The man had always been rather gruff with her, but underneath his hard façade, she knew that Gustus had cared for her as person as well, instead of just the next potential commander to lead their people one day. She had also shared some training with one of Gustus’ daughters, Sierra, who was still on a patrolling mission around the Skykru camp and would probably report to her when they arrived at their camp.

She had come to trust the warrior so much, that directly after her ascension as the commander she had called Gustus to be her personal guard. Titus had not been pleased with her wish, preferring that she severed all ties to Trikru. But the burly man had gladly taken the offered vocation and she knew he would protect herself until breath left his body. Sierra had quickly moved on in the ranks in the army, but she was a born scout and she often resided in Polis with the commander, as they shared a deep friendship.

After a few minutes Marie picked up on the repeating sound of bird calls resonating through the woods around them. “I did not know there were that many birds in the forest” she proclaimed with a frown on her features. Her grey eyes had searched through the trees around them, but she had not spotted any birds yet.

Lexa smirked and answered simply in confirmation “There are not”. Internally, she was satisfied to see that the girl was truly starting to pay closer attention to her surroundings and began to use her head to question them as well.

Marie scrunched up her brow in rising confusion. “Then why are there so many bird calls?” she continued to question the commander, twisting around slightly to look up at the woman.

“Our warriors use them as communication” Lexa offered as an explanation with a pleased note in her voice.

Tilting her head to the side, Marie listened more closely to the sounds around them. “How do you know when it is not an actual bird calling?” she wondered out loud, a look of puzzlement marring her features.

“You cannot detect a difference?” Gustus asked from his horse with a slight snort under his breath.

Marie shortly looked over to him, before she listened more closely again to the sounds and then shook her head in the negative, her face still showing her concentration to somehow notice differences in the bird calls.

“You are not born from the trees, but you will learn” Lexa commented simply, silencing Gustus before he could make a scathing remark about the girl’s lack of knowledge on her part. The Trikru warriors had developed this art of communication a few years ago. It gave them a clear advantage fighting in the trees and communicating without detection. Just as Marie was unable to tell the difference between an actual bird call and the ones emitted from hidden warriors, clans not so familiar with the trees in Trikru territory were also unable to distinguish between them.

Marie would need to learn this form of communication as soon as she would be included in scouting missions and Lexa already thought about tasking Sierra with teaching the girl this particular skill. As one of her most trusted scouts, there would be no one better equipped to do so. She also knew that Sierra and Marie would need to get to know each other at one point and she hoped that the scout would be openminded towards the kind child. There were many different ways to communicate without detection utilizing your surroundings. The girl would need to learn them all at one point, even though she would probably need a few weeks to recognize the patterns and to school her hearing. It was not an easy skill to learn, but Marie seemed eager enough to learn that Lexa had no doubt that the child would master the skill in the future.

The rest of the way, passed without any complications and Marie still felt slightly tired, although she had already slept a few hours on horseback. The unsteady pattern she had gotten to sleep in the last days had begun to confuse her body and mind. In the Sky box their daily routines had been tightly regulated by the times, they would be given something to eat or when the inspections took place, without much to do to occupy her mind during her time in prison, Marie had also slept away a huge portion of the day out of utter boredom.

Marie at first did not even recognize that they had arrived at the camp, the army had started to erect. She only realized that they must have reached their destination, when Lexa and Gustus both slowed their horses don and she noted the presence of other warriors around them. The warriors were all working in complete darkness and now that she knew what to look for, Marie could even see that some tents had already been erected and she thought that she might see the outline of the commander’s big tent slightly uphill from their current position.

Gustus and Lexa steered their horses in directly that direction. When they had gotten a slight distance uphill, Marie could see the brightly illuminated silhouette of the Ark standing out starkly in the darkness in the distance.

“That’s not the whole Ark” Marie told Lexa with a frown “The Ark was at least five times this size.”

Gustus and Lexa shared a silent glance before Lexa answered “So, there might be other parts scattered somewhere else?” she mused thoughtfully.

Marie shrugged her shoulders. She had no idea how the Ark had come down to earth and Marcus and Thelonious had not spoken about any other parts of the Ark. “I don’t know, but I guess it is possible” Marie hypothesized, while Lexa brought her horse to a sudden stop in front of her tent.

Three younger warriors immediately approached them. Two of them immediately helped Gustus by taking Anya’s body off his hands, so that the burly guard could dismount.

The third one received Lexa’s reins and the commander quickly dismounted in one fluid motion, before she held her arms up to help Marie down the big animal as well.

The commander afterwards motioned to one of the guards around her tent to give “the signal”. Marie had no idea, what signal the woman might have meant, until the guard mimicked another bird and the warriors closest to the Ark started to light up torches, they had all been carrying.

Marie swallowed thickly, because of the mighty picture the army must form from Skykru’s perspective. It did not take long until shouts from the Ark could be heard, floating over towards them in the night. So, Skykru had finally noticed their appearance. Marie silently wondered, how they could have been oblivious to a whole army building camp around them, even through the darkness they should have noticed something was off. She would have expected the guard from the Ark to have been on constant high alert and it did not speak too highly of their skills, that they just had noticed the army now.

Additionally, Marie thought that Lexa was correct in her assumption, no matter how many guns the guard from Skykru might actually have, they would not be able to win against this huge army outnumbering them so greatly.

The girl followed Gustus and Lexa into the commander’s tent and saw that the guards had already laid Anya down onto the commander’s bed. Alira entered the tent carrying another bowl of broth and she watched worriedly how the woman again forced the broth down Anya’s throat. Marie watched her intently the whole time and thought that Anya might look the slightest bit less pale already, but she internally hoped that she was not just imagining this by wishful thinking.

In the meantime, Lexa was listening to the progress of the camp Indra had come to report on. Everything had gone according to plan and Skykru apparently had not detected her army until the torches had been lit. Lexa had to agree to Indra’s notion that Skykru were obviously like helpless children in many ways. But she knew how dangerous even children could become when they were frightened and had the means to protect themselves. Those fearing for their own lives and those they loved with no way out, tended to be the most dangerous and desperate enemies.

That was the main reason, why she had decided to march on Skykru even though it seemed as if they wanted to flee from her lands. If there was no need for an attack tomorrow at dawn, then they had at least done some military exercises and made sure that the smaller villages in the vicinity were protected.

She dismissed both Alira and Indra and sent Gustus to stand guard at the entry of her tent afterwards. Lexa already felt the anticipation of tomorrow’s potential battle flooding through her veins and she felt strangely antsy.

The commander removed her swords from her back and unbuckled her shoulder pauldron and placed the heavy peace of armour on one of the tables in the tent. Marie had also shrugged out of her coat and had discarded it on a stool in the corner.

Marie thought that the commander looked relatively tired as well and she just realized now, that the woman probably had not slept at all during the previous night. The commander’s bed was still occupied with Anya and she internally wondered where the woman planned to sleep and when Lexa ordered her to lay down again to get some more rest only a few moments later, Marie answered in a hesitant tone “You should try to get some sleep as well”.

Lexa glared at the impertinent girl lightly, her patience thinned with rising exhaustion and the impending day. Her gaze softened when she noticed that the girl had just wanted to be considerate again and offered in a calmer tone instead “We can lie down together”. It would not make for an ideal sleeping position, but the girl was correct, she needed to rest as well.

Marie immediately nodded her head in mute agreement and they squeezed under the girl’s fur together a short moment later. It was a bit cramped and not truly comfortable, but they both fell asleep quickly. It would not be long now before dawn and they would either have to attack or retreat back to TonDC.

The guards scattered around their camp had the clear orders to wake the commander as soon as there was any news, so Lexa could afford to get some rest now as long as it was still possible.

Cuddled tightly against Lexa, Marie’s dreams were thankfully peaceful and they were woken shortly before first light by a guard announcing that Sierra and Indra wanted to come by shortly later to make their reports.

Lexa instantly woke up at first sounds from the guard outside her tent and quickly entangled herself from Marie, who was now slowly waking up as well.

The commander ordered one of the guards to fetch Alira for her to re-braid her hair as some had become loose again in sleep. Lexa hurriedly washed up and was in the process of applying new war paint to her face, when Alira entered with a tray of light breakfast.

The woman handed a mug with steaming tea to Lexa and motioned for the commander to sit on a stool to be able to reach her hair more easily. Alira quickly opened all the braids and gently combed out the thick brown locks, before she started to re-create the intricate design the commander usually wore.

Marie had also washed up by now and slipped the boots back on her feet and stepped back from behind the curtain into the main area of the tent. She had already made certain that Anya was in fact still breathing.

The girl greeted Alira with a soft smile and the handmaid nodded back at the child and motioned for her to take some of the food from the tray. Marie sat down on a chair in the other corner after taking a few thin slices of dried meat and started to chew on the dried food in silence, simply watching the handmaid work on the commander’s hair. She internally wondered why the leader had such an intricate and impractical design for her hair at all, but she could guess that the degree of how intricate the hair was done could show a certain amount of power as well; she highly doubted that a normal warrior would have access to a handmaid to help with their hair.

After Alira had finished with Lexa’s hair, she checked on Anya and forced some more liquid into the woman and lastly checked if Marie’s hair was presentable still and was dismissed afterwards.

Lexa firstly called Sierra into the tent after she had finished with her own quick breakfast. The woman immediately entered, faltering in her steps slightly when she spotted the blonde Sky girl in the tent.

Marie had so far not met the young warrior and was a bit surprised to see the stranger react so distrustfully to her. The woman had dark long braided hair and dark eyes that seemed to gleam murderously at her for a moment, before she focused her attention on Lexa.

The commander also wasn’t pleased to note Sierra’s reaction to Marie but let it pass for now only listening to her short report. The scout and her group had been tasked with watching the woods surrounding the Ark and the woman reported, that no one had passed by them. Lexa furrowed her brow as this direction would have been most likely taken by Skykru to leave her lands. But the commander just nodded and dismissed Sierra. She could see from the corner of her eyes how Marie relaxed again immediately after the scout had left them alone.

Indra was called into the tent just as the sun was starting to rise as Marie could see through the material of the tent and Sierra had left.

“Heda” the general greeted with a reverent nod.

Lexa answered with her own curt mute nod and sat down on her throne.

Marie threw a chirped “Morning” in from the side, which Indra did not dignify with an answer at all. The dark-skinned warrior only scowled at the child, before her eyes returned to the commander.

Lexa wondered why the child was obviously in such a good mood, but focused her attention on Indra instead.

“Heda, Skykru has not left in the night” Indra reported, voice laced with anger as her hand tightly gripped the hilt of her sword.

Lexa clenched her teeth in silent anger. The commander could see the smile on the girl’s face being frozen in place and her grey eyes widening.

“I thought they had planned to leave” Marie said in a small voice looking almost dejected at the news. Internally, Marie feared what would happen now. Anya had told her before they had marched against the other delinquents, that she was not nearly ready to partake in an actual attack. Would she be required to be part of the army now? She knew that the army would have to face the guards with their guns and she shuddered to imagine just how many warriors would die, before they could actually reach their enemy to slay them with their swords. She was aware that the army also possessed bows, but she could not imagine that they could be compared fairly to the efficiency of a gun.

Indra glared at the girl for a second, probably affronted that the child chipped her opinion in between the general’s report.  “Obviously they changed their plan” she commented in a brisk tone.

Lexa had taken a dagger from a sheath on her thigh and was twirling the blade between her fingers, deep in thought.

“The warriors await your command, Heda” Indra said in a meaningful voice, when Lexa remained silent with a contemplative expression.

The commander merely nodded as a mute response. She had hoped to circumvent an actual attack by marching on the Skykru camp. The girl’s words still ringing in her ears loudly. Marie was correct, they would suffer heavy losses if she made her army attack. The commander was sure she would be victorious, but she had to consider the price for their possible victory as well.

Before Lexa actually said anything, shouts could be heard through the camp of the army. Someone from the Skykru camp was approaching and demanded an audience with the commander.

Lexa jutted her chin out, she had to give whoever was on their way to approach her credit for bravery. It was risky to march into an enemy’s camp like this. Gustus shortly stepped into the tent, asking if the invader should be killed on the spot or actually allowed to pass.

Marie watched as Lexa continued to play around with the dagger in her hand, contemplative for a few moments, before her green eyes set on Gustus and she said in a dangerous voice “Let them pass.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 33

Marie listened on as Gustus spoke to whoever had demanded an audience “If you so much as look at her the wrong way, I will slight your throat.” The man’s deathly calm voice sent a shiver through Marie’s frame and she hoped that he would never threaten her in such a fashion. Internally, she wondered frantically who would be entering the tent now.

There was no response from whoever was with him and then the tent was held open by Gustus only a short moment later.

Lexa had positioned herself almost relaxed on her throne. Her legs crossed over each other casually and she lazily spun a dagger on the tip of her index finger, not even looking up from the dagger to see who had entered the tent. The way the commander was almost playing around with the dagger did seem weird even to Marie’s eyes, she was sure that she would have already cut her own fingers, if she were to attempt the same.

To Marie’s utter surprise, it was Clarke who had demanded an audience and strode into the tent, head held high and proud. Marie scrunched up her brow in confusion. Sure, Clarke had had authority over the other delinquents, but with return of adults from the Ark, she had been convinced that surely one of them would now hold the power in the Skykru camp.

Marie could see that Clarke had some obvious wounds on her face, as if she had recently fought with someone and she could see that the older girl was desperately trying to appear calm and brave. Her blue eyes widened almost comically, when she spotted Marie standing next to Lexa’s throne, she had obviously not expected to see the younger girl here or ever again for that matter.

“You’re the one who had burnt three hundred of my warriors alive” Lexa said in an almost casual tone, still fiddling with her dagger. Marie could see the commander only looking up after she had pronounced the last word and she was looked down at Clarke expectantly.

“You’re the one who sent them there to kill us” Clarke answered almost accusingly, not wavering under the other woman’s gaze.

Lexa pushed the tip of her dagger onto the armrest of her throne with a loud clinking sound and asked “Do you have an answer for me, Clarke of the Sky people?” The commander silently noted, that the blonde girl obviously had courage and she held her place even under her glare. A feat not all the other clan leaders could accomplish. Lexa still had to determine if the young woman actually had the bravery and self-confidence she displayed or was just arrogantly stupid.

Clarke instantly replied, in an even voice “I have come to make you an offer”.

Lexa subtly shook her head and answered with a determined tone “This is not a negotiation” her tone left little room for discussion.

“Let me kill her and get this over with” Indra interjected, speaking up for the first time now from the other side of Lexa’s throne.

Lexa just lazily held up her hand to silence Indra’s offer and Clarke spoke up again “I can help you beat the Mountain Men” conviction in her tone and blue eyes.

Lexa took the blade back between her hands caressing over the steel almost gently, expression contemplative “Go on” she urged the other woman.

“Hundreds of your people are trapped inside Mount Weather in cages. Their blood is used as medicine” Clarke explained in an honest tone.

“How do you know this?” Lexa questioned in a steely voice, leaning slightly forwards. No one had ever left the Mountain alive, maybe besides Anya now, but as the woman had not woken up yet, they did not yet know what had actually happened to her general.

“Because I saw them. My people are prisoners there to” Clarke continued quickly “I was one of them”.

“Lies” Indra spat from the side “No one escapes the Mountain”. Lexa knew that Indra had lost her husband and a son to the Mountain and the Reapers, so the woman was always a little more impatient when it came to the Mountain.

“I did” Clarke claimed hotly “With Anya. We fought our way out together.”

Marie barely was able to bite her tongue, before she said anything at the mention of Anya. She desperately wanted to ask Clarke on what had happened and who had shot Anya, but she knew that interrupting now would probably be a mistake, so she swallowed her questions down.

“Is that so?” Lexa questioned her eyes drilling into Clarke’s. It sounded as if Clarke was not aware that Anya had made it back to them then. She contemplated the blonde woman for a silent moment, it did not help to portray Skykru in a good light, if the woman might have actually been the one to wound Anya during their escape. It did sound slightly reasonable that they could have truly been inside of the Mountain, as the trail had shown into the direction of the Mountain. 

Clarke put a hand in the pocket of her jacket and made to grab something from it. All the guards around Lexa, also made a grab for their weapons ready to defend their commander, probably expecting the woman to try to kill their leader.

Marie watched as Clarke retrieved a piece of a braid from the pocket of her jacket and had to fight hard against the instinct to check on Anya’s hair, if there was a braid missing.

“She told me you were her second” Clarke said and stepped forward and handed the braid over to Lexa “I am sure she would want you to have this” she continued in an emotional tone. Whatever had transpired between the two women, had obviously left a lasting impression on Clarke.

“We don’t know it’s hers” Indra said in an angry tone. All occupants of the tent beside Clarke were aware that Anya was still lying unconscious on the commander’s bed after all. Marie looked at Lexa in confusion, wondering silently why the commander did not tell Clarke that the woman had made it back.

“Be quiet Indra” Lexa commanded the general in a clipped tone, inspecting the braid in her hands for a short moment. So, Marie remained quite as well. Lexa must think to gain something from not telling her about Anya now.

“Anya was my mentor before I was called to lead my people” Lexa told Clarke in an even voice and laid the braid down on the armrest next to her “Did she die well?” she inquired with intent green eyes.

Marie saw that the commander had not looked directly at Clarke, when asking after Anya’s death and waited with baited breath for Clarke’s answer; she sensed that the way Clarke answered the question was very important.

“Yes” Clarke simply said “By my side. Trying to get a message to you” she spoke quicker at the last part, emphasising it.

Lexa looked back at Clarke, expression stony. Marie had been able to see a flash of annoyance in the commander’s eyes, before she redirected her gaze to Clarke and had them carefully blank again.

“What message?” the commander asked in a clipped tone.

“The only way if we want to safe both our people, is to join together” Clarke declared in a confident voice, her blue eyes bearing into Lexa’s.

“Those who are about to die will say anything” Indra interjected again and Marie had to silently agree with her. All of them were aware that Clarke had just outright lied Lexa in the face. But maybe the older girl was just unaware that Anya had survived, but then the question would be why she had not helped the injured woman?

“I am still waiting for an offer, Clarke” Lexa spoke with finality in her voice. Her patience was obviously running thin. Internally, she was irritated that the blonde woman had lied to her like this, making it harder to believe anything which came out of her mouth.

“The Mountain Men are turning your people into Reapers” Clarke said “I can turn them back” she claimed with confidence.

“Impossible” Indra snarled “Commander, I beg you let me kill her.” Indra’s patience seemed to run out as well.

“I have done it with Lincoln” Clarke declared with urgency in her voice as Lexa raised her brows.

Indra marched towards Clarke gripping her sword “The traitor is the reason my village was slaughtered by your people …” Marie had known that Lincoln was bound to be punished harshly, if he ever returned to one of the Trikru villages; he had blatantly ignored an order from Anya and instead helped Finn and Clarke escaped. She had heard later, that the man had led Reapers to the battle field with the Sky children, diverting the army’s attention from the other delinquents.

“Indra” Lexa tried to call Indra down, voice still relatively calm, but the woman was too enraged to listen.

“Enough” Lexa loudly commanded and stood up from her throne, while Indra was glaring daggers at Clarke. The dark-skinned warrior might have stopped in her tracks, but the anger still blazed in her dark eyes.

Lexa moved from her throne right in front of Clarke and stared her into her blue eyes searching for truth in them “You say you can turn Reapers back into men” she repeated the woman’s bold statement.

“Yes” Clarke nodded in agreement, not faltering in the commander’s strong presence and keeping her ground.

“Then prove it” Lexa snarled at the other girl through clenched teeth “Show me Lincoln” she demanded coldly.

Marie could see the blonde girl swallowing heavily, but she nodded nonetheless and she did stand her ground against Lexa’s stare without wavering.

Gustus led Clarke out of the tent by her arm only a moment later.

“Commander, with all due respect it could be a trap” Indra tried to convince Lexa not to listen to Clarke’s words or at least to hinder the woman to inspect Lincoln herself and sent someone else instead.

Lexa looked contemplative for a moment, before she turned to Marie “Do you think your technology could do something like that?” she questioned intently. The child would be the best equipped to judge this.

Marie shrugged with a helpless expression “I don’t know what Reapers are exactly and I am no doctor. But I know that the Ark has different medical technology than Trikru possesses.”

“We will go with Clarke and observe Lincoln. Removing the Reapers would weaken the Mountain considerably” Lexa proclaimed after another moment of silent contemplation. She could not deny the chance that she was walking into a trap, but the advantages of the blonde’s words, if they were true, could not be ignored either.

Indra huffed silently, but nodded and left the tent to wait with Gustus and Clarke and to gather more guards to accompany them. It was not her place to question the commander, if a decision had been made.

“Why haven’t you told her of Anya?” Marie asked the commander in a low voice, the question still on the forefront of her mind as her gaze flitted to the curtain concealing Anya.

Lexa smirked at the girl “To judge honesty in your opponent is always important and having more information can give you an advantage later.” The girl would need to mind her tongue in public, but it appeared that the child was already beginning to understand when she could question her on something and when to keep silent. She had noticed the child fidgeting in place, as soon as Clarke had mentioned Anya and she had half expected the girl to intervene.

Marie nodded silently biting at her lips and trying to make sense of the words.

“Come” Lexa ordered having decided that the girl would also be accompanying them.

Lexa surveyed the group who was going to guard them. Beside from Gustus, Indra and Marie, six additional warriors were waiting. Their faces all hidden beneath different masks, she recognized Sierra under one of them.

The commander nodded and motioned Clarke to proceed them and lead the way towards where they were keeping Lincoln.

They did not speak a single word with each other on the way. Marie soon recognized that Clarke was leading them towards the drop ship and her heart sped up a bit. She had not been to the drop ship since she had separated from the other delinquents to follow John into the forest.

The reports about the battle had clearly said that the delinquents had made the drop ship emit flames that burned the warriors outside of the drop ship. Marie was afraid what such a place would look like now. The scene had been manufactured in some of her nightmares through pure imagination already and her imagination had made it look bad enough, that she feared that the reality of it could be even more gruesome.

It did not take them long to reach the drop ship and Marie’s fears were confirmed. The earth around the drop ship was black with soot and bones and skulls of the burnt warriors lay scattered in front of the drop ship. She could also see a few pieces of burnt metal, glinting under the soot. It might have been pieces of armour or even weapons, which had melted. The heat must have been incredibly high for the metal to melt in such a fashion, Marie was fairly certain that all of the warriors would have died quickly.

Marie could see all of the warriors clenching their teeth at the sight, while Lexa looked around with an almost mournful expression in her green eyes.

Clarke had picked up on the oppressive mood and directed in a slightly shaky voice “This way”.

Marie dearly hoped that there were no armed guards waiting for them inside of the drop ship, as she had also thought that the location might be almost perfect to use as a trap.

Lexa just swallowed and followed Clarke with the others into the interior of the drop ship. Marie was slightly relieved that the drop ship appeared to be empty.

Clarke climbed up the ladder up to the second part of the drop ship first, followed by Gustus and then Lexa.

The first things Marie registered after stepping from the ladder was Clarke looking slightly shocked. Octavia kneeled next to Lincoln who appeared to be dead and was crying while Bellamy obviously tried to comfort his sister. Marie recognized Clarke’s mother Abby Griffin shaking her head at her daughter with a desperate expression.

Lexa surveyed the situation for a moment, before she gave a nod to Indra and simultaneously pulled Marie behind herself to shield the girl’s body.

“I’ll kill them all” Indra snarled and unsheathed her sword in sync with the other warriors just as Bellamy took up the automatic gun lying next to him on the floor and raised the weapon aiming for Lexa.

All of them froze in place as nearly everyone was the aim of one weapon or the other.

“Please” Clarke started to intervene trying desperately to calm the situation “You don’t have to do this”

“You lied” Lexa accused seething “And you are out of time” she surmised, gripping her own sword in a tighter grip, preparing on who to attack first.

In an obviously last effort Abby made a grab for a shock stick lying on the floor and shocked Lincoln with it two times before the man started to breathe again and opened his eyes.

Clarke looked as surprised about the fact that it had worked to revive Lincoln as Indra and Lexa did.

Octavia crawled over to Lincoln’s form instantly and he whispered her name. Tears of relief ran down Octavia’s cheeks, as she bent down and pressed a wet kiss to Lincoln’s lips.

Lexa sheathed her own weapon again. No healer from their people had ever managed to cure a Reaper so far. Reapers were unable to talk, so that the warrior was coherent again was enough evidence to know that whatever Skykru had done had indeed worked. Lexa was aware of just how many of her people had already been lost to the Mountain, to return as Reapers. Their numbers seemed to have grown in the last years and they became bolder, it would not be long until she expected the first Reapers to try and raid the villages closest to the Mountain.

Clarke looked more relieved than she should have been, if she had been as sure this would work as she had claimed before.

Abby just now seemed to really look around the others who had come with Clarke. Her eyes widened when she recognized Marie behind the commander. “Marie?” she asked disbelief clear in her voice “Marie Matthews?”

Marie stood a bit taller and nodded mutely stepping up next to Lex, instead of behind her, now that the threat was obviously gone for now.

“We had no idea you were still alive” Abby spoke, still clearly amazed and Marie did not like the way Abby looked over her form and took in her clothing and hair with disdainful eyes. “She is a child from the Ark” Abby directed her words to Lexa purely now “As chancellor of the Ark, I demand you hand her and Marcus Kane over back to us”

Lexa would have nearly laughed the impertinent woman in the face, but just fixed her with a challenging glare “You will get the one you call Marcus Kane back upon my return to camp” she agreed.

“And the girl” Abby continued again “You cannot keep her against her will!” voice rising with each word.

Indra and Gustus were both already gripping the hilts of their swords. Not one of their generals would have presumed to talk with the commander in such a way and expect to keep their tongues to tell the tale.

“Marie is no concern of yours any longer” Lexa simply said, green eyes hard and expression unyielding “She belongs to us now”.

Marie let out a breath, she had not noticed to hold that the commander was backing her here. She had not even been aware, that she was still slightly afraid that the grounders would cast her out at the first opportunity.

Abby seemed intent to say more, but Clarke stopped her “Mom, enough” she interrupted and shook her head vehemently.

Lexa looked between both of them for a moment, before she gave Clarke a short nod and motioned for her warriors to leave the metal contraption. “You will accompany us to our camp, Clarke” Lexa told the blonde woman.

Abby opened her mouth again “Clarke is not the chancellor of us” she reasoned, clearly intent on taking her daughter’s place.

Lexa returned her gaze to Abby and stared her down for a moment “Clarke was the one asking for an audience, so she will be the one hearing my requirements for a truce”.

“It’s ok” Clarke told Abby and motioned to the commander to proceed her and that she would follow shortly.

Abby obviously wanted to talk again to Marie, so Lexa ordered the girl to climb down the ladder in front of her, so that she efficiently blocked contact.

Chapter Text

Chapter 34

Marie was internally grateful when they finally left the drop ship behind them and walked back to the camp of the army. She had not liked the way Abby had looked at her and spoken about her at all and she somehow sensed, that the woman had not given up getting her back to Skykru yet. She also worried how Anya was doing, they had been gone from the camp for some time now and she was eager to return and check on the wounded woman, hoping internally that she had already woken up during their absence.

Clarke followed the commander and her warriors silently. Lexa was also silent and thought about what she needed from Skykru to satisfy her warriors’ thirst for blood. Skykru had slaughtered 18 innocent villagers and that could not go unanswered. The deaths had not happened on a battle field, but had truly been the doing of an assassin. She did not particularly care for the reasons of the assassin and she knew that her people waiting for their righteous revenge would also not.

She hoped that the Sky people would understand the difference between vengeance and justice. From what Marie had told her about “floating”, Lexa had gathered that Skykru were not unfamiliar with death penalty. There could be no lasting truce between their people before justice had been served. The chances to finally fell the Mountain had never been this high before, but Lexa knew that she would need to tread carefully from now on. Skykru had not proven to be trustworthy and even after retribution had been payed, the peace between the coalition and Skykru would be shaky at best.

Although the clans would certainly be able to sympathise with Skykru’s need to protect themselves and by thus explaining some of what had transpired, Lexa was certain that the clans would not understand that Skykru had sent unskilled children to the earth first. In her opinion it truly showed for the cowardice of Skykru that they had deemed their children expendable enough to sent them into unknown territory, not even giving them the skills and means to sustain and protect themselves.

The walk back towards the army’s camp was quick and quiet. Lexa’s warriors nodding with a reverent “Heda” when they saw her return.

The commander led Marie and Clarke directly into her tent. Gustus had again taken post at the entrance of the tent and Indra had left to be with her warriors, reorganizing them, now that they were not attack immediately.

Marie followed both Lexa and Clarke and took position slightly behind the commander waiting for a command on what to do, although she itched to slip behind the curtain to the sleeping part of the tent and finally be able to convince herself that Anya was still there and breathing.

Clarke also waited for Lexa to begin to speak, not sure how to begin peace talks.

“Lincoln’s recovery was …” Lexa said and waited for a moment as if searching for the right word “impressive. No one has ever survived such a fate before” she let her pleased surprise show slightly in her eyes.

Marie could hear how genuinely pleased Lexa was with the fact, that they now could save Reapers and silently she wondered if the commander had lost people she cared about to that fate before. She had heard from Anya, that nearly all the grounders who lived in proximity to the Mountain had lost someone in their families to the Mountain over the years. Now that she thought about it, she actually had no idea about Lexa’s past other than the fact that she had been trained early on for her role and had been Anya’s second before.

“It’s not complicated really” Clarke answered “You just have to keep them alive long enough for the drug to leave their system. I know we can do the same for others.”

The blonde’s words resonated with conviction although Marie thought saving Lincoln had been more dumb luck than anything else.

Lexa nodded and looked contemplative for a moment before she spoke again in a slightly softer voice “You may have your truce.”

Clarke looked genuinely relieved to hear the words spoken out loud and thanked the commander.

Lexa’s face turned harder again “I just need one thing in return” she said. There would be no peace before retribution had been payed by Skykru.

“Tell me” Clarke said promptly, sounding sure that she could do whatever the commander might ask of her. Marie had a suspicion as to what Lexa would ask for. If she understood one thing about the grounders, it was that Finn would not come out of the whole ordeal unscathed. She had heard already that murderers were punished by death by a thousand cuts and although she hoped that it would not be exactly as the phrase implied, she could already imagine that it was not the quickest way to die.

Lexa’s voice turned steely again and she fixed Clarke with her strong eyes “Deliver me the one you call Finn.”

Marie could see Clarke pale at the words.

“Our truce begins with his death” Lexa finished with finality in her voice. Marie knew that no matter what else Skykru might offer, it would not be enough to appease the grounders. She knew that the commander could have as well asked for eighteen people of Skykru instead of asking only for Finn.

Clarke looked at the commander with wide eyes, obviously searching for anything in her green eyes that might give her a chance to sway the fierce leader. But Lexa held her stare impassively. The commander knew, that she could not relent on that condition as her people would see her as weak if she spared the murderer’s life. As commander, Lexa was sworn to do everything to protect her people and bringing them justice belonged to her duties. She would surely have to pay with her own blood, if she failed to do so.

Marie thought Clarke looked as if she was lost for words and tried desperately to come up with something to say. Before Clarke could find the right words to plead for Finn’s life, Marie could hear a slight coughing noise from behind the curtain were Anya was still lying.

The commander had also heard and ordered to Gustus “Escort Clarke back to her camp. Sent two riders with her to wait for the murderer” urgency underlaying her tone.

“You will go back to your camp and hand over the one you call Finn” Lexa said to Clarke her eyes blazing accentuated by the coal around her eyes “If your people refuse to give the murderer up, there will be no truce and I will call war on your camp at nightfall tomorrow”.

Gustus had stepped up behind Clarke and gripped her biceps to direct her out of the tent, the blonde looked at the commander with pleading eyes, struggling against the man’s grip already “Commander, please…”

But Lexa nodded to Gustus and he forcibly dragged the young woman from the tent.

Marie waited until Gustus had dragged Clarke out of the entrance of the tent and immediately hurried behind the curtain to the bed.

Anya moved slightly under the furs and her face was distorted in a grimace as if she was in a great amount of pain.

“Is she waking up, Lexa?” Marie asked with worried grey eyes, hovering beside the bed. The girl would have liked to take Anya’s hand again, but she did not want to startle the woman or restrain her movements.

The commander motioned for another guard outside the entrance “Fetch Alira” she ordered immediately, before she returned to her bed. Lexa was also intently observing Anya as they waited for Alira to appear “It would appear so” she answered the girl’s question vaguely. She was no healer and could not truly judge that.

Marie looked up at Lexa, having kneeled down next to the bed and saw the commander’s green eyes flashing with worry as well.

The handmaid arrived only a few moments later, slightly out of breath as if she had hurried to reach the commander’s tent.

The older woman shooed Marie out of the way and Lexa pulled the girl in front of her own body by her shoulder, so that she would not obstruct Alira’s reach at all.

Marie felt herself relax despite her excitement at the strong physical presence of the commander behind her.

They both watched in tense silence how Alira checked Anya’s temperature and inspected the gunshot wound. She also laid her hand on the other woman’s throat to feel her pulse.

“The wound is healing well” Alira said to the commander “Her pulse has grown stronger again. It won’t be long until she wakes” she surmised and her eyes looked reassuringly at the deeply worried child.

Lexa nodded and dismissed the handmaid again. There was no use in having her wait at Anya’s bedside as well. She was sure Marie would want to wait until Anya finally woke up anyway. It had been apparent before, that the girl had not wished to leave the wounded woman out of her sight and she sensed that convincing Marie to do so now, would even be harder.

Night had fallen around them and Lexa knew that there would be no more training with the girl tonight. She highly doubted that Skykru would be giving up their murderer quickly, a part of her exactly already expected their denial to hand him over at all. Nonetheless, she would let her warriors erect a tree for his execution now.

“You can stay with her” Lexa told Marie who flashed her a grateful smile. They had discussed previously that as a second it would be expected of her to be at the commander’s site at all times, but Lexa still had to organize her official appointment.

When Anya finally woke, they would need to discuss how to deal with the fact that Marie now officially had two mentors. She had declared, that she would take on the girl as a second, so she would need to keep her word now. Her own claim on Marie would easily outrank Anya’s claim, but Lexa had no intention of separating the girl from the general. Although Lexa had previously sent Anya away from herself shortly after Costia had been murdered, she was inclined to call her back to Polis now.

Depending on what Skykru chose to do now, Lexa already planned to have Marie officially initiated into Trikru the day after the murderer’s execution. Now that Skykru’s chancellor had already declared her intention to get the child back, it was even more important to carry out the initiation as soon as possible. It was more than obvious, that Marie had no intention of returning to Skykru and she would certainly not force the child either. If Marie were to express her wish to return, Lexa would need to think of something to make it possible for her, but it was better for all of them, if the child remained.

Lexa swept out of the tent closely followed by Gustus, leaving Marie at Anya’s side.

“Two warriors wait in front of the Skykru’s gate for the murderer” Gustus reported and Lexa nodded although she doubted that their wait would be effective.

Marie had taken to kneeling next to Anya again. The woman had started to wreathe under the furs as if she was trying to get away from invisible restraints and she was muttering something unintelligible under her breath. Watching the woman like this, felt utterly wrong and Marie wished for nothing more than for Anya to finally wake up. Feeling utterly helpless without anything to do to help the woman, Marie felt completely forlorn.

After a few minutes of watching on helplessly, as Anya clearly suffered Marie hesitantly laid her hand over Anya’s who had started to claw at the furs under her fingers.

Instantly, when her skin made contact with Anya’s hand the woman’s brown eyes shot open. Marie reeled back in shock, as Anya nearly shot upright in one sudden motion. Her brown eyes were widened and filled with absolute horror and pain and she seemed unable to really recognize her surroundings.

“Anya?” Marie hesitantly tried to get the other woman’s attention, staying on her knees in front of the bed and looked at the woman with a storm of emotion raging through her mind. She had expected to only feel relief, when the woman woke up, but Anya’s state had shocked her deeply. She immediately wondered just what must have been to the otherwise so stoic woman, to reduce her to such a state of primal panic.

Anya’s brown eyes instantly snapped to her and she blinked a few times finally able to really see. Anya’s mind had been filled with total panic when she woke and could not recognize where she was. Memories of waking up in the Mountain flashing up in front of her eyes.

The furs around her body had felt as if something was restraining her and as she shot upright a blinding pain resonated through her abdomen. The woman gasped and her breathing was exhilarated, but as she felt the furs under her fingers her mind instantly registered, that she could not be in the Mountain nor in Skykru’s camp.

Her mind flashed with memories and the last moments she could remember clearly, came back to her rapidly. She had clasped arms with Clarke from Skykru and wanted to depart to find the commander and try to negotiate peace between both her people, when a shot had suddenly rung through the air.

“Anya?” Marie asked again in a shaky voice with tears gathering in her grey eyes. The woman was frightening her with her uncharacteristic behaviour and the lack of response was only putting her on edge.

Anya closed her eyes for a moment as more memories came back to her and when she opened them again, she found the worried eyes of her second looking back at her, glistening with tears.

“Yes” she rasped out through a painful throat. Her throat was sore and dry and her voice gruff from disuse for an unknown time. Anya had no idea on just how long she had been unconscious, her body felt weirdly heavy and weak, so she knew that it must have been several days.

“Oh Anya…” Marie choked out through her tears, now freely flowing down her cheeks as her relieve overwhelmed the girl at finally seeing Anya conscious again.

Anya tried to calm her rapid breathing and tried to push the memories of the Mountain and the horrors she had seen there to the back of her mind and painfully rasped out “Water…”

Marie instantly jumped up “Of course” and in her haste she nearly tripped over her own feet which earned her an almost amused sounding snort from Anya.

She quickly poured a cup of water from a jug on one of the tables and hastily hurried back to the bed, where Anya was slowly and obviously painfully lowering herself back onto the furs. In her hurry, Marie slushed some of the water over the rim of the cup and onto her clothes, but she barely registered that.

Annoyance flashed through Anya’s brown eyes, when Marie held the cups to the woman’s lips and refused to let go of it intent on helping the woman.

“Go and get the commander, Marie” Anya said in a strained voice, after she had drained the whole cup awfully slowly. As thirsty as she still felt, Anya would have liked to drain the whole jug, but she knew that she would do no good to her body that way.

Thankfully, Marie nodded immediately in agreement and instantly stood up with only a short glance over her shoulder, as if to make sure that Anya was still awake and she had not just imagined everything.

Anya tried to let her body relax against the furs. Now that she was alone in the tent, the memories forcefully pushed back into her mind. Although her skin felt cleaned of the mud, the woman still felt her skin crawling from the treatment she had been subjected to by the Mountain Men. Anya clenched her jaw closed almost painfully and forced herself to think of something else, wondering where exactly they were and how much time might have passed since she had been shot. She wondered if Clarke had attempted to get an audience with the commander and she grimaced at the thought. She had failed her commander on every account.

Gingerly, she felt over the bandage covering the wound on her torso. The wound hurt like hell and the feeling of being shot flashed through her mind. She had never experienced a pain like that, so sudden and surprising in its intensity.

Carefully, Anya tried to move her limbs one by one and noted relieved that she had full control over her limbs, even though she felt strangely week and heavy. Her fingers looked almost spindly against the furs, as they seemed to have thinned and she was not as gaunt as she felt.

She wondered if Lexa had had her army attack on Skykru already or if there was still a chance to work with them to bring an end to the Mountain.

It took Marie some frantic searching through the camp, to finally locate the commander. Thankfully, none of the warriors tried to approach her, although she was aware that most of their eyes followed her every step as she hurried through the camp, all thought of proper protocol forgotten for now.

Lexa heard the muttering of her warriors, before she saw the girl hastily approaching her. The commander dismissed the general she had been speaking to and went to meet the girl halfway.

“She’s awake” Marie hastily reported to Lexa and barely refrained from taking the commander’s arm and hurrying her back to her tent.

Lexa smirked and motioned the girl to proceed her “Then hurry along” she directed in an amused tone. As the commander, she could not be seen running through the camp like the child could and she watched on in amusement as the girl scurried back obediently, while Gustus who had accompanied her just rolled his eyes at the child’s obviously overexcited antics.

Chapter Text

Chapter 35

Marie had hurried back into the tent and the noises she made in her haste, startled Anya awake again who had begun to fall back asleep.

The woman’s wide brown eyes searched the tent for a few moments, before she realized that Marie alone had woken her.  “Where is the commander?” Anya asked in a tired voice, reflecting the strain on her body.

“She’s coming” Marie reassured the woman quickly and kneeled back down next to the bed. Her grey eyes were searching Anya’s face intently, she could still not truly believe that she was actually looking at the woman and finally able to speak with her again as well.

They did not have to wait long for Lexa to arrive. Gustus stayed outside of the tent again to stand post at the entrance.

Marie could see relieve flickering through Lexa’s green eyes, when the commander saw Anya awake with her own eyes.

“I am glad to see you awake again, Anya” the commander said and her eyes were swimming in emotion. Lexa knew that their relationship had been strained in the last years. After Costia’s head had been delivered to her bed, she had finally heeded Titus’ advice and sent those away that still held personal ties to her. Anya had not been understanding of her decision to ban her from her personal council and sent her to a small village near TonDC and the woman had seen the order as a punishment, Lexa was sure of that. The commander had not seen her former mentor for some time before the Sky children fell from the sky and reports of them had called her to TonDC. Lexa had expected their interactions to be strained with undissolved tension, as she would not apologize to Anya for her previous decision. It was actually Marie, who had made them reconnect effortlessly and Lexa had already decided to revise her former decision and call Anya back into her inner circle in Polis, if the woman regained her health. Being confronted with the very real possibility of having lost her previous mentor, had been enough to prove to her that she in fact did wish for the woman to return to her side.

Anya looked genuinely surprised at the commander’s admission, but nodded mutely in acknowledgement her eyes softening for a second. She had known the younger woman for long enough to identify just how concerned her previous second really had been for her. Absentmindedly, she realized just now, that she was not in her own tent, but in fact residing in the commander’s tent.

“What happened to you?” Lexa asked in an even tone and Marie could see the woman’s demeanour changing as if she hardened herself.

Anya inhaled deeply and closed her eyes for a second and when she opened them again, Marie found that they were gleaming hard like polished stones in the candlelight in the tent. The woman seemed distant somehow, as she recalled everything and she was surprised and confused at the monotone quality of Anya’s voice.

Anya told the commander how Tristan had led them into battle at the crash site of the Skykru children. Lexa could hear the bitter tone in Anya’s voice, as she mentioned that she had lost command to the other general. The commander hoped that her former mentor would understand that it had not been a personal decision. Anya continued, how Reapers had suddenly appeared and when they had dealt with them and gotten closer to the metal contraption, the children had fallen to the ground in, they started to close the door.

“I had been closest to the door as it started to close” Anya recalled her eyes far away and voice slightly wooden “So I jumped onto it and climbed into their metal thing.”

The woman related, how she had been overpowered by the Skykru children after they had made flames erupt outside. Marie could see a shudder coursing through Anya’s body as she recalled how the warriors outside had screamed burning alive. Lexa had clenched her teeth in silent anger, knowing that there would be no retribution for the death of the 300 warriors that had burnt. Their warriors had fallen in battle, it might not have been a fair battle, but it had been a battle nonetheless.

Anya told them that the Sky children had taken her headband, coat and swords from her before leading her outside, bound by some weird straps. The woman was not sure what had happened then exactly. She knew for certain that Mountain Men had appeared, but they had thrown strange metal things at them, that had emitted red smoke and Anya knew that she had lost consciousness only moments later.

“When I woke…” Anya narrated her features becoming stone hard as well and her tone void of any emotion “…I was chained by the Mountain Men and they dragged me through the Reaper tunnels. I tried to fight against their hold, but it was in vain. I was hauled into a strange room. There were grids as a floor and I wasn’t alone there.” The shudder which ran through her frame was visible and Marie would have liked to reach out to her, but Lexa shook her head subtly, urging her to remain back for now.

The woman told the commander, that she had seen people from most of all the clans within the Mountain. Mountain Men in their strange suits had ripped the clothing from her body and literally scrubbed her clean from head to toe.

Marie glanced at the commander in silent horror, when Anya described the process of how they were cleaned by the Mountain Men and saw a blazing fury in the green eyes, while Anya’s eyes remained carefully blank. The girl herself was feeling cold all over and bile was rising in her throat at the images Anya’s words conjured in her mind. How could anyone treat another human being like that?

The procedure sounded awfully painful and extremely humiliating. It sounded as if the grounders were no better than animals for the Mountain Men. Her blood turned to ice in her veins, when Anya continued, confirming her image of the grounders being nothing more than cattle to them.

Lexa listened on in silent horror as Anya described the room, where she had been caged together with almost 300 others of their people. She could only begin to imagine how it must have felt like to be caged in such a room, waiting for certain death, utterly powerless to fight your survival.

Anya described how the Mountain Men would come into the chamber, shock one of the caged grounders with a weird stick and inject them with something which made them sleep for a few hours. The sleeping grounder would be hung upside down and their blood flowed in pipes in the wall.

“How often have they done this to you?” Lexa interjected the narration for the first time, trying to keep her internal horror from her tone. She could not stop her mind from wondering just how many of her people had been killed in such a fashion.

Anya shrugged indecisively “Three or four times, I think. It would not have been much longer before they would have discarded me” her voice did not sound particular frightened and it appeared as if she had had accepted her impending death.

Marie inhaled sharply at the woman’s words, feeling her heart squeeze painfully at the thought of losing Anya forever. If the woman realized her strong reaction, she did not show outwardly.

“The Mountain Men would take the strongest ones at first” Anya continued her eyes distant again “The room was heavy with the suffering of our people. Many were almost dying and they threw their bodies away like waste.”

Marie could see Anya’s brown eyes blaze for a second before they muted again visibly. Internally, she wondered what the Mountain Men had actually done with all the corpses. She doubted that they had burnt them, so they had not only taken the people but kept their souls trapped as well.

The woman continued her narration with how the blonde Sky girl had found her in the room an undefined time later and freed her from the cage and how they had fled together. She told them about the tracker in her arm and how she had simply bitten it out, knowing that she would fight until her last breath before she let herself be captured again by the Mountain Men, how she had fought with Clarke and how she finally had been shot, when she wanted to depart from Clarke in front of Skykru’s camp.

“I don’t know for certain how I actually got here” Anya ended with a heavy exhale, the events of the past days fully registering in her mind. During her trek to TonDC, she had doubted constantly that she would ever reach the village, pure stubbornness and determination had kept her going somehow, exceeding her physical limits.

Lexa looked down at her former mentor, trying to process everything the woman had just told them and she was truly just glad to see the woman alive. She knew that she should not care on a personal level for the general and heard Titus’ voice in her head repeating sharply how love was weakness. But in this moment. she could not be happier to see the woman conscious again and to hear her voice.

A short glance to the girl still kneeling next to Anya and the paleness and troubled expression on her features, told the commander just how deeply Anya’s tale had shaken the child. Marie looked shell-shocked and it worried her slightly that the girl had not truly reacted yet, simply staring at Anya with grey eyes wide with horror.

“Have Skykru approached you?” Anya asked the commander with guarded eyes. She was unsure of her standing with the commander right now. She had lost command over her unit before the actual attack, but she had nevertheless been with Tristan when they had led 300 warriors to their deaths. She should not have survived a lost battle in such a fashion, the fact that she had been abducted and forced into the Mountain, did not compensate her failure in her opinion.

“They have” Lexa answered simply and told the woman quickly how she had posed as a servant girl. A fleeting ghost of a smile flittered over Anya’s face at that. When she told Anya of the meeting with Clarke and how they had cured Lincoln from the Reaper drug, surprise and disbelief was evident on her face.

“So, there will be an alliance?” Anya asked with a faint flicker of hope in her brown eyes.

Lexa huffed under her breath, before she also filled the older woman in on the assassin who had been in one of the villages close by and the eighteen people that had been slaughtered at his hand.

Anya’s lips thinned “I don’t know if we can trust them. They were blindly shooting into the forest at everything that moved.” The woman thought that Clarke had obviously been lucky as Lexa had not mentioned that the blonde had also been shot. She distantly remembered the Sky girl shouting for her, while she staggered into the tree line and the girl was hauled away by Skykru. She had been lucky that their guard had not followed her into the trees, she would certainly not have been able to flee from them in her weakened state.

Lexa nodded as she had wondered the same already. Looking down at Marie, she knew that there might be some people trustworthy among Skykru, but obviously most were not to be trusted. Markus and Clarke seemed to be two members of Skykru who were genuinely interested in peace between their people as well.

“Do you think we need them to get into the Mountain?” Lexa asked after a moment of silent contemplation. Anya was the only one to ever escape the Mountain alive, so she would be best equipped to judge that. 

Anya looked honestly surprised by the question and Lexa surmised with a flash of regret, that the woman obviously thought to have lost all of the commander’s trust.

“We are no match for the tech the Mountain Men wield” Anya said slowly, as if she was unwilling to admit the fact that they might truly need the Skykru.

The commander nodded with a thoughtful expression “They will have their truce after the murderer dies.” She had already come to the conclusion that their only chance to fell the Mountain was in working together with Skykru.

Anya nodded in mute acknowledgment and Lexa recognized how tired the other woman looked, her features pale and exhausted.

“Go and get something to eat for us, Marie” Lexa softly commanded towards the child and the girl sprang into action immediately. Lexa had wanted to speak with Anya for a moment in private.

As soon as Marie had left the tent, Lexa crouched down next to Anya and when the woman tried to sit up, she put a steady hand on her shoulder to keep her down and stop her obvious struggle. She wanted to speak with her as herself and not in her function as the commander.

“I am truly glad to see you alive, Anya” Lexa said her voice soft and her green eyes expressive “When you have regained your strength, you will lead our warriors into battle against the Mountain at my side.”

That was the closest Lexa would come to actually apologizing to Anya, but the commander could see in Anya’s brown eyes that she understood all that she could and would not say out loud. Anya held up her arm and the commander gripped her forearm with her own in a warrior’s grip and they silently nodded to each other in acknowledgement.

On a certain level, Anya understood how hard it was for Lexa to let even her see more than the façade of the commander. But the woman still remembered the small and skinny runt Lexa had been when they had first met. The child had always been spirited and Anya had helped groom this woman into the commander she now was and she was deeply proud of the woman she had grown up to be.

“It would be my honour” Anya answered with a heavy voice and let go of Lexa’s arm.

“So, you have taken over the girl as your second now?” Anya asked with a slight teasing in her voice. Of course, she was aware that she had asked the commander to look after Marie in case something happened to her but, she had never expected the commander to actually take over her duty, but rather to delegate it over to someone she trusted.

Lexa nodded immediately in agreement “Of course”.

The conviction in Lexa’s voice told Anya more than any words could have, that she had never truly lost the commander’s trust, otherwise Lexa would not have been willing to take Marie as her second. Anya still remembered, how Lexa had mourned the loss of her first second and how she had been unwilling to ever take over a new one and she knew that the younger woman had not truly grown very close to the boy under her tutelage. 

The train of thought made Anya realize, that she did not possess any of her clothes she had worn to battle anymore. Tris’ braid had been in a pocket on the inside of her coat and she wondered if the Mountain Men had already burnt it. She wondered why her eyes started to burn, as she thought of the piece of braid burnt to ashes just as her second’s body already was.

“What is it?” Lexa asked worry laced into her voice at the easily displayed amount of emotion on her former mentor’s face. She had rarely seen the woman express her emotions freely.

Anya exhaled forcefully against the lump in her throat “Tris’ braid had been in my coat”

As the woman’s voice trailed off tinted strongly with regret, Lexa understood the meaning. But she remembered that Anya had mentioned that the Sky children had taken the coat from her in their metal contraption, so it was a distinct possibility that it was still there together with her sword.

“It may still be in your coat” Lexa mused and Anya seemed to remember that her coat had not been in the Mountain at all and a sliver of hope flickered in her eyes.

Before either of them could say more, Marie barged back into the tent loudly. The girl tried to balance a stack of mugs, a big jug and two plates somehow. Lexa immediately stood back up and took some of the things from the child’s hands before she could let fall all of them.

“You could have gone twice, Marie” Anya reprimanded from the bed and the girl smiled innocently as her only reaction.

Lexa just shook her head in amusement and distributed the food evenly between the three plates. She handed one to Marie and brought one over to Anya, pushing it into her hands with a forceful “Eat. You need to regain your strength quickly.”

Marie had sat down cross-legged across from the commander’s bed and after a few moments of silent eating, the girl blurted out the question that had been on her mind “Who’s second am I now?”

The commander could see a flash of regret flicker through Anya’s eyes at the realization that she probably had lost her claim over the girl, so before the older woman could answer, Lexa beat her to it in a strong tone “You will be a second to the both of us”.

Anya blinked at the commander, confusion obvious on her face. Sharing a second was unheard of so far to her knowledge.

“I have already proclaimed to take her as my second in TonDC” Lexa explained to Anya “So it will happen. But a first, whose fight was supposedly over, to return has never happened before, so you are also still her first as well” she tried to reason calmly. She had no intention to pass over the bond which had already formed between them.

Anya wanted to answer how a commander’s claim on a second would always overrule that of a general, but Lexa shook her head with a gentle smile.

“I have already made my decision Anya” Lexa reassured her and glanced at the girl who seemed happy enough at the news “We will figure out how that will work specifically at a later point”. She somehow had the feeling that Marie would continue to help them reconcile with each other.

Chapter Text

Chapter 36

After the meal they shared Anya fell asleep quickly.

Marie looked at the woman worriedly and Lexa reassured the girl “Her body needs rest, Marie. Sleeping is the best thing for her at the moment.”

After another glance at Anya Marie nodded seeing the logic in the words. She already thought that Anya looked the slightest bit less pale.

Lexa stepped out of the tent to Gustus “Still no word from the Sky people?”

The bulky guard shook his head “The warriors posted to wait for the murderer have not returned yet.”

The commander clenched her teeth angrily. The logical side of her knew that they would most definitely need Skykru’s knowledge of the mountain men’s technology if they ever wanted to lay waste to the mountain once and for all. But she was also aware that her people would not stand for an alliance if justice was not served. It would be her own blood that would be spilled if she ignored their claim for blood. Indra had already made it clear that the woman would not stand for an alliance before they got their justice. Lexa knew that Indra would not stand alone to doubt her if she sided with Skykru now and she could not afford that.

“Has Marcus Kane already been released to return to his people?” the commander asked. She had not been specific in the instructions on when to release the man.

“No, heda. A guard holds him in a tent waiting for command” Gustus answered.

Lexa nodded mutely thinking for a moment but disregarding her idea for the moment instead she said “Have Sierra sent to me”. Gustus nodded in acceptance and left to fetch his daughter.

Marie had looked up wonderingly at Lexa as she never had heard the name so far. When Lexa saw her charge’s gaze locked onto her she simply said “I told you that you would need to learn the communication systems our scouts are using. Sierra is best suited to teach you.”

Marie’s grey eyes lighted up minutely at the prospect of learning this particular skill. She had been fascinated with intimating bird calls and other sounds of nature for communication purposes. Her slight smile fell when Sierra entered and she recognized the scout that had reacted so mistrustfully to her. The woman completely ignored Marie’s presence and waited for the commander to tell her what she wanted silently.

Lexa ignored Marie’s reaction to Sierra as she hoped that her old friend would get to know her charge better and come to like her with time and said to Sierra “I asked you here to teach Marie your scouts’ language skills. I know you are the best in them.” The compliment was aimed to sooth the obviously discontent scout and Lexa saw the other woman sigh before she said “Is teaching one of them our ways really wise, Lexa?”

The commander glared down at her old friend “I have clearly given you an order, scout.”

Sierra’s lips thinned but she nodded mutely and turned to the young girl. “Then let us begin” she said with a slight grimace on her face. Lexa just shook her head in annoyance and stormed out of the tent leaving Marie alone with Sierra. Fortunately the woman knew better than to disregard a direct order and did teach her the beginning of this communication form. It proved difficult for Marie to learn as she was completely unfamiliar with the different birds and their distinct calls. Marie had no idea how long they had practiced when Sierra suddenly stood up and glared down on her “That was enough for now. Hopefully you will memorize at least a bit” with that the warrior left the tent while Marie just looked at her retreating back in silence. 

A few minutes later Marie could hear Lexa conversing with Gustus at the entrance of the tent.

Lexa nodded to Gustus after she had walked through the camp to assess their numbers and the mood in the camp and said “Have Markus Kane escorted to me now”.

Gustus nodded and strode from the tent while Lexa turned around and re-entered the tent.

Some moments later Marie sat on the floor next to Lexa’s bed and had some parchment placed on her legs. Lexa had given the girl the instruction to practice her writing in Trigedasleng and the girl was focused completely now. Lexa nodded satisfied as it seemed that the girl now was finally able to gather her focus again. They would both need to work with Marie very urgently on that. A battle was always chaotic and the girl needed to learn to keep her focus no matter what. She also needed to direly learn to push her personal feelings away as the child was too easy to read at the moment but Lexa was positive she would learn quickly enough.

Quietly the commander strode over towards the girl and peered down on what she had written so far. Lexa quickly recognized that the girl had made a chart with words and phrases in Trigedasleng and their translation into English.

She bent down and said “Your spelling is incorrect.”

As Lexa pointed at the phrase Marie jumped in her place startled not having noticed the commander approaching at all.

“Always be aware of your surroundings, Marie” Lexa lectured in a mild tone “If my intention had been to kill you, you would not have seen the attack coming”

The girl nodded with slightly widened eyes “How can you move this silently anyway?”

Lexa chuckled slightly “You will learn soon enough”

Marie opened her mouth to add something but Gustus interrupted them proclaiming Marcus Kane’s arrival as Lexa had requested.

The commander straightened up and told to Marie “Continue your practise”

Lexa hoped to actually show the man a different side of them right now with the girl relaxed sitting on the floor and just practising her writing skills.

“Lead him in” the commander called but stayed standing beside Marie.

Markus was lead into the tent by a guard holding him in a vice like grip. The commander nodded at the guard and he let go of Marcus and stepped out of the tent to wait to escort the man back.

Marie had just shortly glanced up at the man but now had her attention focused back on her parchment again.

Lexa could see the man taking in the slightly domestic scene with barely hidden surprise in his eyes.

The man straightened up when he noticed that the commander had watched him in his starring.

“You wished to speak to me, commander” the man offered in a gentle tone seemingly not resentful for the rather harsh way he had been treated with so far.

Lexa inclined her head “I did. Your chancellor seems unwilling to give over the murderer for justice.”

Markus looked away from her for a second clenching his teeth silently.

“Tell me, Marcus of the Sky people” Lexa said her eyes hardening “how would your people have punished a murderer?”

Marcus exhaled rather forcefully before he answered his voice sounding hollow “The boy would have been floated. So executed…”

As the man’s voice trailed off Lexa wondered why the Sky people resisted handing the boy over for his justly punishment if they had proceeded similar with criminals.

“Commander” Marcus started looking back at her with an almost pleading expression “I know that your people deserve justice. But I fear that the chancellor will not hand him over to your justice. I am sure I can convince them to construct a trial of our own for Finn.”

Lexa furrowed her brow for a moment mulling the offer over in her head. She doubted that a Skykru trial would appease Indra and those who shared her opinion but if she as commander proclaimed it to be sufficient she was fairly certain her people would accept that. At least for now that the mountain would deflect their anger from Skykru, Lexa would have to suffer from the repercussion later.

“And your trial would result in the murderer’s death?” Lexa asked returning her gaze to Marcus watching his face intently.

The man nodded “Lesser crimes have been punished with death by us so far. And if that is the only way for a peace.”

Lexa nodded “Your people have until sunup to decide to give the boy up. You will be returned to your people then to offer them a trial on their own.”

The solution was not ideal on many levels but without the boy’s death there was absolutely no chance for an alliance. Many would not like it but Lexa was positive she would be able to handle critics from her own people for now.

“Thank you” Marcus said with an open and honest expression on his face his eyes flashing with relief.

The commander nodded once and called out “Escort Marcus of the Sky people back to his tent and stand guard.”

The guard who had brought Marcus Kane into her tent re-entered a moment later and lead the man out without another word.

Lexa led the tension drain from body feeling slightly exhausted all at once.

Anya’s voice which suddenly resonated nearly made her startle “Was that really wise?”

Lexa turned back to her bed and saw the woman trying to get up into a sitting position and Marie still sitting on the floor beneath the bed looking up at her with worried eyes.

“Speak your mind” Lexa said to Anya. She had always listened to her former mentor’s advice. She had not always heeded it but she still treasured a second opinion.

“Indra and others won’t stand for a simple quick execution” Anya said contemplatively.

“They will when I order it” Lexa bit back through clenched teeth. But Anya had spoken out what she feared might happen. She had the unwavering support of Trikru at the moment but that might change anytime.

Anya regarded her former second with caring eyes “This decision might cost you your life, Lexa”

The use of her name without any title let Lexa turn back to the woman and she nodded with heavy eyes.

Marie had listened to them and had her head slightly cocked to the side “Why would it cost your life?”

Lexa sat down on the unoccupied edge of her bed and explained “As commander I cannot show weakness. Indra and her village demand and deserve justice for their dead. If I decide to finalize an alliance with Skykru without that justice being served to their satisfaction they might proclaim me to be too weak to stand up against Skykru and too weak to demand their rights.”

Marie mulled the words over in her mind for a moment before she furrowed her brow with a frown “But that is dump. You would just want an alliance to fight the mountain which would be easier with Skykru.”

The commander smiled down slightly at the girl “You are correct, which would be why I would make an alliance with Skykru after the murderer gets a Skykru trial, but Indra and many others might still not be satisfied with that. They may not speak up about it until after the war against the mountain.”

“So they would question your decision later on?” Marie wondered loudly.

It was Anya who nodded after a glance to Lexa seeing the woman taking in that this choice could truly cost her life. Anya knew that Lexa would gladly take this risk if it meant freeing them of the threat of the mountain forever. That was why Lexa was such a great commander, she understood the need for sacrifices even sacrifices she herself might need to make.

“Are politics always like this?” the girl asked with distaste clear in her voice.

Both Lexa and Anya chuckled slightly before Lexa answered with an almost weary voice “I fear so. You always balance on a swords edge. One wrong move and the sword will be used to cut you down.”

“I hope they give Finn up” Marie proclaimed with conviction blazing in her eyes. Lexa regarded the girl with a slight smile warmed by the care the girl obviously now held towards her wellbeing.

“We shall see in the morning” Lexa said.

Darkness had fallen outside of the tent and Anya offered to return to another tent to make Lexa’s bed available again.

But Lexa refused telling her that her tent still had to be erected and she would just sleep on the floor with Marie again.

Anya looked on dumbfounded as both Marie and Lexa got ready to sleep and Lexa let the girl cuddle up to her with a content expression on her face.

Lexa only glared at Anya from the floor with a glare that promised murder if she so much as breathed a word of this to anyone when she caught the woman still staring at them.

It did not take any of them long to fall asleep. But Anya waited until both of them had fallen asleep to glance down at her former second and her current second with a gentle expression.

The night passed without any disturbance which also meant that the Sky people still had not given over the boy.

Anya painstakingly got up from the bed and made some weak steps through the tent under both Lexa’s and Marie’s watchful eyes. It was clear Anya was still not well but that she was awake again and able to walk at all was more than Lexa and Marie had hoped for days ago.

Anya seemed more annoyed than anything else at the weakened state of her body and let herself sit down on one of the stools with a groan.

“Patience” Lexa admonished from her throne “You are breathing and alive. Healing will take as long as it takes.”

Anya obviously had to bite back a sharp retort at the words. She had been the one to utter those words to Lexa many years ago and now knew how unhelpful they actually were. If anything they incensed her impatience with herself even more.

Chanting had broken out in the camp when Marie had been sent to collect them breakfast.

“Blood must have blood” was repeated from all warriors and created a daunting atmosphere in the camp.

Marie shivered slightly and hurried back to the commander’s tent after she received some food.

Lexa and Anya stood at the entrance of the tent and both were looking out onto the camp as two riders approached the commander.

“We have a message from the Skykru chancellor” one said through his mask “They are unwilling to give up the boy and are ready to fight if it comes to that”

Lexa clenched her teeth angrily and nodded to them to dismiss them. Anya and the commander shared a silent worried glance and she issued the command to silence the chanting.

She would grant Marcus Kane his chance to convince the chancellor now.

Chapter Text

Chapter 37

Lexa and Anya both were tense throughout the meal they shared in the commander’s tent. Marie had picked up on both of their moods and purposefully had her eyes fixed on her plate.

Lexa itched to march into Skykru’s camp and to haul out the boy by herself. She had hoped these people would have more sense of honour. If Skykru chose to have the boy put to a trial themselves it was Lexa who would suffer the repercussion later on. But now they could just wait if Marcus would be able to convince the chancellor to see reason finally.

Anya watched on as Lexa grinded her teeth nonstop and knows that right now she won’t be able to offer her help in fighting off the tension from Lexa.

Shortly after they had finished eating Alira came into the tent to check on Anya’s wounds and exchange the bandages again. The woman seemed to be satisfied with the healing process but told Anya firmly to take it easy the next days or the gunshot wound could reopen internally.

“We will continue your training” Lexa declared in a clipped tone after Alira had just stepped out of the tent. Anya nearly winced in sympathy for Marie and wondered for a second if she should call off the training for Marie. She decided against it and struggled to get up and follow them instead.

“You should rest, Anya” Lexa barked out while strapping on her swords.

“And you should not train her in this mood” Anya muttered under her breath while Marie tried to be as invisible as possible.

Although Anya’s words had been spoken very quietly Lexa had picked them up just fine. The woman huffed in annoyance with herself. She knew that her former mentor was right and would not be fair to use the girl as an outlet for her frustration with Skykru. Lexa knew that Marie still stood absolutely no chance in combat training against her so as to not harm her by accident in her current mood Lexa sent a guard to retrieve a bow and a quiver.

Anya had feared to be met with open hospitality after she was the only one to return from the lost battle with the Sky children. But to the woman’s amazement the opposite was the case. Many warriors bowed to her in acknowledgment and silent honour.

“You are the first to escape the mountain, Anya” Lexa said to the woman lowly “That far outweighs the shame of losing a battle” Anya just nodded silently but felt touched nonetheless.

Indra approached them on their slow way towards the free place where Marie could practise with the bow.

“So Skykru have not handed over the boy” the dark skinned warrior seethed through teeth clenched in anger.

The commander merely nodded.

“When will we march on them, commander?” Indra asked with hard eyes her fingers around her sword.

“Not now, Indra” Lexa told her in a calm voice “Marcus from the Sky people is speaking with their chancellor”

Indra’s lips thinned and her eyes glinted dangerously but she kept silent knowing better then to question the commander even more.

“Keep your eyes on the woods” Lexa relented “If the boy leaves the safety of their camp, capture him”

The woman nodded immediately obviously appeased for the moment.

“Let’s hope they are dumb enough to let the boy flee” Anya said contemplatively.

That was actually what Lexa was hoping for at the moment as well. She knew she would not like the outcome for herself if the boy was executed by Skykru.

The guard she had sent to collect a bow met up with them on an unoccupied patch of free space with trees as a border on which the girl could try to shoot.

Lexa nodded at the guard as a dismissal after she took the bow from him. She tested the bow out for herself for a few moments and shot a single arrow at the nearest tree hitting the trunk perfectly.

Anya sat down on the grass next to Lexa so that she could watch the training and not put more strain on her injury.

The commander handed the bow over to Marie. The girl had once before tried to shoot with a bow but had only had average success. Anya was eager to see if her charge would fare better now that she should be able to concentrate again.

The first few shots of the girl did not hit the tree trunk at all. They were close but they all missed. Lexa made some corrections on the stance the girl had and made her hold the bow much longer so that she could aim far better on the target.

The corrections helped immensely and only a few shots later Marie fired a series of five arrows which hit the tree trunk nearly on the spot Lexa had aimed for before.

Both Anya and Lexa nodded at the girl satisfied with her skill. It was obvious the girl had to have some natural talent with both the throwing knives and the bow to be this good after only a short training period.

“Marie seems to have some natural talent there as well” Lexa commented to Anya while Marie went to collect her arrows.

Anya nodded mutely.

“She might make a good hunter or even a scout” Lexa mussed.

“Yeah” Anya agreed instantly “But she will need to train for sword fighting as well”

Lexa nodded “True, but it is good if she has some skill already and does not have to learn all weapons from the scratch.”

“Will she march with us against the mountain?” Anya asked after a moment of silence.

Lexa opened her mouth and closed it again without uttering a word and spoke only after another moment of thought “We shall see when the battle will take place. As my second or our second she should be at our sides but I will decide if she is ready when the time comes.”

Anya nodded satisfied with the answer. The woman knew that she should not doubt taking the child with them to battle as had always been their way to take seconds to battles as early as possible. But second were normally much younger when they started their training and so the seconds who were as old as Marie was already were experienced enough to go into battle and to prove their skills.

Even though Lexa was feeling a sense of satisfaction while she watched the girl train her skills with the bow it did not help her one bit to dissolve the tension she was feeling. The commander had started to tap the hilt of her sword with her finger tips in a nervous gesture.

Anya was watching the younger woman from the corner of her eyes from her position on the ground while Marie had her difficulties to get the arrows out of the tree trunk again.

Anya smirked as the girl failed to extract the arrow Lexa had shot at the beginning. The child had put that much strength into the pull of the shaft that she nearly fell over when the arrow did not budge and her hands lost her grip on the smooth wood.

As Anya found the sight of the girl amusing Lexa rolled her eyes in slight annoyance. In a few quick strides the commander had went over to the tree bunk and pulled out her dagger.

“Watch” Lexa barked at Marie losing her patience with the girl who looked at her with a sheepish expression.  The woman cleared away some of the wood from the tree around the arrow so that it was easy to pull out afterwards.

She handed the arrow over to the girl with slightly more force then necessary and Lexa saw alarm in the grey eyes of the girl. Taking some deep breath the commander tried to push away the annoyance that was thrumming through her veins. She knew that she was not annoyed with the girl herself but rather with the whole situation and Skykru. Anya was right after all, training the girl now had not been a good idea.

Lexa let her eyes gentle slightly “That is enough for now. You can watch me spar now.”

Marie blinked at the young women astonished. Tris had said that the commander rarely participated in the training after she had been called to lead and she was about to be able to watch her again.

Anya had picked up on Lexa’s words as they moved in her direction and slowly got up from the ground again feeling a throbbing pain in her abdomen at the movement. The woman gritted her teeth. She hated injuries with a passion and she normally would ignore them but this injury was more severe and even she had to admit that she needed time to heal before she would be able to fight again.

Lexa waited until Anya had gotten to her feed again knowing that the woman would not appreciate it if she offered her assistance.

Together they went back to the training pits where some warriors were sparring just to get rid of some tension while others were also training their seconds giving last advice on the battle to come.

The warriors instantly saw the commander approaching the pit and respectfully halted their training to make room for their leader. The older warriors all deeply respected Lexa as their commander as most of them had seen the young woman fight in one battle or another. The younger ones of course showed her respect as well as was due to her leader position but they had not seen the woman’s combat skills for themselves. So all seconds were eager to be able to watch the commander fight as well.

“Come” Anya said to Marie and guided the girl to the side so that they would not stand in the way of the sparring warriors with a hand on the small of her back. She took the bow and the quiver with the arrows from the girl and handed them to one of the guards to take them back where they had come from.

A second later Gustus stepped up next to Anya watching the proceedings with a slight frown.

Lexa had stepped into the centre of the training pits and looked around the warriors that had started to gather around her.

“Whoever wants to try their luck” Lexa addressed all of them with a quick glance and twirled the sword in her hand skilfully.

The seconds around the pit were all buzzing with excitement now eager to try to beat the legendary commander. The older warriors just rolled their eyes at their excitement.

 Anya could see Gustus’ frown only deepening at Lexa’s words and she spoke under her breath to the man “Ease up, Gustus. Let her vent of her frustration.”

Gustus did not show any sign that he had even heard the other woman’s words and just watched on as the first second charged at the commander with his swords raised.

Marie also watched the impeding fight and how the commander just waited for the second, a young second Marie guessed to be around fourteen, to make his first strike.

The commander seemed to dance away from the blade aimed at her head and when the young warrior charged again the commander dived under the other’s defence and hit his hand with the blunt end of her sword.

The second let his sword drop at the painful sting the hit emitted on his hand and if the commander had not stopped her next strike in the last second she would have beheaded the teenager without much effort.

The second picked up his sword again with his shoulders dropped slightly and the grin he had on his face as he charged at the commander now completely gone. But Lexa did not show the second any more attention and already had taken a defensive stance again and waited for the next second to charge at her.

It did not take the commander long at all to disarm all of the seconds who had wanted to take their chance with her. Marie noted that the woman did not even seem to be out of breath.

Lexa huffed still feeling the nervous energy buzzing in her veins and twirled her swords again. The commander was rolling her shoulders when Indra took out her sword and faced the commander.

Marie looked at Anya for a second and whispered “Do generals normally spar?”

Anya also had her eyes slightly narrowed and shook her head “Indra is just not satisfied with the commander right now.”

Indra’s fighting skills were definitely a better match to the commander’s skill and the woman’s posture changed from looking almost playful as if they really fought just for the fun of it to circling the other woman with steely eyes.

After a few moments the loud clang of swords clashing against each other resonated through the camp. Marie could see that Lexa really had to concentrate now and the blows she dealt out had much more force to them then they had in the previous fights.

Marie loudly observed to Anya how she was able to detect differences in the fighting style between Indra and Lexa and the woman nodded satisfied that her second was paying attention.

The fight seemed to continue forever. No one actually won the fight as a scout came running to the training pits shouting “Commander, Skykru have moved the boy out of their camp!”

Both Lexa and Indra stopped in their tracks turning to the scout.

The dark skinned woman growled slightly and she looked to Lexa expectedly.

The commander sheathed her sword and hissed at Indra “Gather your warriors and bring the murderer here, Indra”

The other woman nodded and a wolfish grin formed on her face that made Marie’s skin crawl. The general gathered her warriors and left while Lexa returned to her tent hoping that they would get the boy here soon.

The commander hoped that this way they would still get their justice.

Chapter Text

Chapter 38

Marie watched Indra and a few warriors among them she recognized Sierra leave the training pits in a flurry of movements after Lexa gave her command. For her liking Indra seemed to enjoy catching Finn a bit too much. Although she did understand that the village deserved their revenge. From what Marie had heard from Anya about the previous commanders it was even lenient for Lexa to only demand Finn and not eighteen people from Skykru as 18 villagers had been massacred by Finn.

“Who is Sierra?” Marie asked lowly to Anya still standing next to her. Gustus had stood near enough to them to catch the girl’s soft question and answered in her stead “She is my oldest daughter.” Marie’s eyes widened momentarily and she stared at Gustus’ face more closely. Now that she knew of them being related she remembered that the woman had the same form of her eyes and their noses looked almost the same and the way they carried themselves was immensely similar as well. Anya regarded the girl next to her with a smirk as it was obvious the girl was bursting with questions she clearly wanted to ask but Gustus’ involvement had made her hesitant to speak up as it seemed. “Sierra and Lexa have trained with each other for years” Anya said taking pity in the girl’s burning curiosity “She is the commander’s most trusted scout and they have been friends for years before she was called to lead our people.” Marie nodded with a thoughtful expression clearly silently processing the new information and she only spoke up again a few minutes later and so low that both Anya and Gustus had to strain their hearing to catch her words “She does not seem to like me … like at all”. “As a scout Sierra is more distrustful of strangers then a normal warrior” Gustus said and reassured the girl “It is not personal.” Marie looked at the man with a frown on her face obviously not believing his words but she kept silent.

The commander had obviously vented enough frustration for now and sheathed her swords on her back. Anya had a slight grimace on her face and had put a hand over her clothed abdomen right where Marie knew the bandage rested over the gunshot wound. The woman’s breathing was also exhilarated even though she had not moved in some time. Her face looked even paler and she seemed to sweat. But Marie had no idea how to tell the woman she obviously needed more rest without insulting her somehow and she knew enough of their hierarchy by now to know for sure that it was not her place to give Anya any medical advice. Grounders seemed to be all about strength so with so many of them in earshot she would only affront Anya.

Luckily for Marie Lexa had also picked up on Anya’s condition after she had put away her weapons and guided them back through the camp towards her tent. The commander knew that Anya could sometimes be as stubborn as a mule so she would need to order her to rest or she never would on her own. She knew the woman would keep pushing through the pain until her body gave out on her.

On the way through the camp Marie saw the place where the execution would take place when Indra and warriors returned with Finn. A thick pole had been erected on a platform and Marie guessed that Finn would be tied to the pole but she had no real idea how grounders executed criminals.

Lexa purposefully walked much slower than normal to give Anya more time and the fact that the woman had not complained about the slower speed spoke volumes about her pain.

“Go to the handmaiden’s tent and fetch Alira to change Anya’s bandage, Marie” Lexa lowly said to the girl walking between Anya and her. Marie nodded wordlessly and skipped away from them after a final glance at Anya. The woman only looked at her with strained features clearly trying to hide her discomfort.

The handmaiden’s tent was only a slight distance away from the commander’s tent so it did not take her long to reach her destination. In front of the tent Marie saw a young girl she judged that the girl was probably even younger then herself.

“Is Alira here?” Marie asked the girl in a kind voice.

The girl had just looked up and opened her voice when the woman she was searching for walked out of the tent.

“The commander wants you to change Anya’s bandage” Marie said to the woman. Alira nodded and stepped back into the tent to gather a bag with her medical equipment. The girl in front of the tent was staring at Marie with wide eyes but she did not say a word either.

“Come, child” Alira said when Marie was also only looking back at the girl without saying anything. On the way to the commander’s tent Alira commented “Betha is intrigued to see you in person. She had only heard talk at the bonfire about the girl who fell from the sky.”

Marie looked at the woman with a furrowed brow wondering what the people were saying about her.

“You have made an impression on the warriors when you threw the commander’s dagger at the pines” Alira said chuckling slightly. They reached the commander’s tent only a moment later so Marie did not have the opportunity to ask what else people were saying about her.

Anya was standing in the middle of the tent with her arms crossed over her chest looking like a defiant child glaring at Lexa who had obviously just said something to Anya seconds ago. After a few moments of silent staring at each other Anya huffed obviously annoyed and lowered her arms again turning around to Alira. The woman completely ignored whatever had transpired before they entered the tent and professionally tended to Anya. The bandage she removed from her abdomen was soaked with blood and Marie could see a worried frown on the woman’s face at the sight of the wound.

Gently the woman applied a reddish paste on the wound and tightly wrapped a new bandage around Anya’s torso.

“You need to rest” Alira said with emphasis and turned to Lexa “The wound has reopened partly. Without bedrest I fear it will reopen completely.”

The commander nodded with a glint in her eyes that clearly promised she would make Anya rest if the woman wanted to or not and dismissed the handmaid again.

“You heard her, Anya” Lexa said with an unyielding voice and looked pointedly at her bed of furs.

Anya gnashed her teeth with an annoyed expression huffed and pulled her hands up in surrender “But I can rest in my on tent.”

Lexa slightly shook her head and answered in a softer voice and her green eyes portrayed even more emotions then her words expressed “My mind would rest easier if I knew you rested nearby.”

Anya only huffed once and moved over to the furs and lowered herself onto them with an obviously pained grunt. Marie had watched everything with worried eyes and hoped that Anya would heal faster by some kind of miracle.

Lexa motioned Marie over to a table and made her sit down on a small stool. She handed the girl some parchment and started to ask her for translations of certain phrases. Whenever Marie did not know a word or a phrase she would write them down on the parchment to be able to review them on her own whenever she had the time. After some time Lexa told Marie to continue on her own and checked on Anya’s sleeping form. The woman was sleeping peacefully although Lexa could see a slight sheen of sweat on her pale skin and worried that the wound might fester an infection.

“What exactly does an execution look like here, Lexa?” Marie asked looking up from the parchment she was supposed to work on her writing skills on.

“It depends on the crimes committed by the accused” Lexa said and glanced over the girl’s head at the parchment judging how much her charge had already practised. The commander could see the curiosity burning in the girl’s eyes and knew she would need an answer before she would be able to concentrate back on her task at hand so Lexa said down next to Marie and looked her in the eyes with a serious expression on her face. “I am sure you actually want to know how Finn is going to die, correct?”

At that Marie nodded and bit her lips as if afraid of what the answer would be.

“Finn killed innocent villagers who were not even warriors. He killed elders and children without defence” Lexa said gravely “That is one of the worst crimes for us. As he killed innocents his punishment will start with fire.”

“Fire” Marie echoed with a slightly trembling voice. Pictures were already running through her mind of Finn being tied to the poles and burned with torches.

Lexa only nodded and continued “After the fire his hands, tongue and eyes will be removed. If he survives all villagers get their turn with a knife. As commander I would end the execution with my sword through his heart.”

Marie looked slightly green and had to swallow against the lump that had formed in her throat.

“Most do not last until the sword” Lexa finally said “He killed eighteen innocents so he will suffer the pain of eighteen deaths. If death has no cost, life has no worth.”

Marie mulled over the words in her head for a few moments processing the new information.

“How were your criminals executed?” Lexa asked to divert the girl’s thoughts from the specifics of their executions. Only the worst crimes were punished that way.

Marie’s eyes seemed distant for a moment before she blinked once as if to clear her head and answered “We called it “floating”” Marie said “But it was …”

Marie thought for a moment before she continued “…less bloody I guess. Most criminals were floated on the Ark due to the restricted resources. I have seen my father being floated.”

Lexa could see the girl’s body shivering slightly as she thought back on her father’s execution. The commander waited for her charge to continue in her own time.

“A criminal would stand in an air lock” Marie explained and when she saw Lexa’s furrowed brow at the uncommon term she explained further “An air lock was so to say a door in front of the door to space from the ark. When the air lock was sealed to the interior of the ark the chancellor would press a button and a door to space opened. It sucked the body out. There is no air to breathe in space so you suffocate after a few minutes.”

Lexa nodded and thought about what Marie had just told her. It was no wonder Skykru would see her people as savages. They obviously had a completely different attitude towards life and death. Pressing a button was an easy way to end someone’s life. A coward’s way as her people would say. Skykru were in for a rude awakening when they recognized completely how brutal the world was into which they fell.

After a few moments of silence Marie spoke up again Lexa could see the hesitation the girl was obviously battling internally to speak at all “When the execution is over we will have peace with Skykru, right?”

Lexa nodded with a cautious expression unsure of where the girl was going with her question. Much could still go wrong before there would be peace and going to war against the mountain was far away from actual peace. They would have a treaty for the duration of the war preparations and the war nothing more nothing less. Peace would mean a more binding and more stable solution.

Marie continued still hesitant “Maybe Abby could look at Anya’s wound. I know that they have more possibilities to treat such a wound.”

Lexa had already opened her mouth to retort with an “absolutely not” when she actually thought about the suggestion. If they were to have a treaty, why not make use of it that way? So she changed her answer and said “We shall see what happens.”

Marie nodded obviously satisfied that her suggestion had not been rejected directly. The girl returned her attention to the parchment and repeated some of the new phrases silently in her head to better memorize them. Lexa squeezed the girl’s shoulder once and stood up again to retrieve a whetstone from a trunk and pulled another stool from under the table. The commander set down and took both of her swords from their sheaths putting her swords onto the table. Marie admired the swords for a moment still fascinated with the weapons and with the elegance Lexa had wielding them. Lexa started to hone first one blade and switched to the other when she was satisfied with the blade’s condition. She had always enjoyed the soothing monotony of honing a blade on a whetstone. Anya had drilled it into her head from the first moment she had been given an actual blade how important it was to keep your blade as sharp and pristine as possible.

She was able to let her thoughts wander while she honed the second blade. Marie had stopped in her practise and was watching Lexa intently. The commander’s face looked utterly relaxed and the woman did not seem to pay any attention to her hands as if the motion was natural to her.

The short moment of peace was shattered when shouts resonated through the camp. Indra’s warriors were on their way and they had Finn. Lexa let out a breath she had not been of holding while Marie’s heart plummeted into her stomach. Of course she had known that Finn would be executed but knowing what fate exactly waited for the boy made her stomach churn with dread. Silently she wondered how many executions like that the commander had already been witness to and wondered whether she would one day look as calm as Lexa did now with the prospect of another one.

Chapter Text

Chapter 39

Anya seemed to be in a worse state then the woman had let on as the loud commotion outside the tent had not woken her from her slumber. Lexa swiftly put her shoulder guard back on and motioned Marie to follow her. Stopping shortly in front of the exit of the tent the commander said over her shoulder “If you are unable to watch, return to the tent. But it would be better if you stayed.”

Marie swallowed against the bile rising in her throat but nodded with a resolute expression. She could not afford to be seen as a weakling by the warriors. The girl had understood that as the commander’s second her actions would be under constant watch from everyone and if she failed it would reflect badly on Lexa and Anya which was something she wanted to avoid as long as possible.

It had gotten dark outside of the tent and the atmosphere in the camp sent a shiver through Marie’s slight frame. The others seemed overly excited with the prospect of Finn’s execution. A never ending chant of “jus drein, jus daun” resonated through the camp and it seemed most of the warriors had already gathered at the huge pole. Marie subconsciously kept as close to Lexa as possible needing the reassurance the young woman radiated. Indra and Gustus were already awaiting the commander at the edge of the crowd of warriors. Marie looked over the crowd of warriors all under their masks and saw the lights from the Ark at the other end of the crowd. In front of the Ark separated from the warriors by a high fence Marie could see her previous fellows. They seemed to have also gathered to watch the proceeding although in comparison to the excitement of the warriors Skykru looked more afraid of what would happen.

Marie did not recognize the other three warriors that stood next to Indra and Gustus. Their armour and their masks were a tad bit more elaborate so Marie guessed that they had to be other generals she yet had to meet. Inspecting the three strangers a bit more in detail Marie detected that one of them was a woman while the others were clearly male. The female general was a bit more lithe than burly compared to her male companions but all of them resonated physical strength in their appearances.

From the other side of the crowd the girl could see two warriors leading Finn in their direction. The boy’s hands were bound and the warriors kept his elbows in a steady grip. Marie felt a sudden flash of compassion for the boy when she saw his barely concealed panic. From what Marie had heard from Lexa and what her mind had added to it the boy was right to be afraid of what was waiting for him. To Marie Lexa looked like the perfect image of calm. The commander’s face was expressionless and she stood tall and unmoving waiting for Finn while Marie herself could not seem to stop fidgeting somehow. At the least the crowd’s chant had finally stopped when Finn was in visual range of everyone.

Movements from the other side of the crowd caught her attention and Marie could see someone hurrying out of the gates from the Skykru’s camp. A path was cleared for whoever was approaching them. Lexa had also noticed the movements but kept her attention focused on the boy her warriors were chaining to the pole at the moment. The commander wondered if the boy might have had a chance on earth if their people had not clashed already but that did not matter anymore. Marie had also returned her gaze to the pole where Finn now stood his eyes looking over the crowd of warriors with fear prominent in them.

Indra suddenly had her spear in hand and pushed its point into whoever had come to them. Marie shifted slightly behind Lexa to see who it was and saw Clarke standing opposite of Indra. Although Clarke was speaking lowly Marie could hear her words well enough “I am here to talk to your commander.”

When Indra did not lower her weapon Clarke seemed to walk into the blade and Marie was pretty sure the other girl was bleeding already from the pressure she put against the sharp metal. The blonde continued through clenched teeth “Let me through.”

“Let her pass” Lexa suddenly said and Indra instantly lowered her spear although Marie could see the reluctance in her eyes. The commander had turned into Clarke’s direction and looked at the blonde for a moment before she shook her head slightly “You bleed for nothing. You cannot stop this.”  After what Marie had heard about what a Skykru execution could potentially mean for Lexa she could only agree in her mind.

“Only you can” Clarke said with emphasis and looked at the commander with pleading eyes “Show my people how powerful you are. Show them you can be merciful.” Marie could see Lexa processing the other’s words and she thought she might have detected a flash of empathy in her green eyes.

“Show them you are not a savage.” Clarke continued in a desperate voice. Marie saw the commander’s frame becoming tense at Clarke’s words and Gustus and Indra shuffled with blazing eyes obviously deeply affronted by her words. Marie knew that Clarke should not have said her last sentence it must have sealed Finn’s fate for good.

“We are what we are” Lexa said with fury evident in her green eyes and her face hard as stone. It was evident to Marie that Clarke was getting more desperate by the second as the other girl must have recognized her failure to sway the commander already.

“I am a killer. I brunt three hundred of your warriors. I slide a man’s throat and watched him die. I am soaked in grounder blood” Clarke continued and Marie thought her voice sounded slightly trembling. Lexa only cast a short glance at Finn and looked back at Clarke her face an expressionless mask.

“Take me” Clarke had started to plead in earnest now. The commander had to silently give the blonde leader credit for her bravery. It was obvious how much the boy must mean to her or she would not offer her own life in exchange. But there was no possibility to take someone’s place in such a punishment, her people would never accept such a thing.

“Finn is guilty” Lexa only answered with a piercing stare. Marie shortly glanced at Finn and the boy seemed to be watching their exchange with watering eyes. He must have been aware that changing his fate was impossible. Marie silently asked herself if the boy might not even think that he deserved the punishment he would get.

“No” Clarke denied vehemently “He did it for me”. Marie could see the blonde’s eyes watering as she repeated in a whiny voice “He did it for me…” Her voice completely gave out on her on the last words.

“Then he dies for you” Lexa said in an even tone and the commander seemed completely unmoved by Clarke’s admission.

Marie could see the hope Clarke had obviously still held onto desperately vanish in her eyes and she let her shoulders sag in defeat. The blonde looked at Finn who had taken to looking at the sky above them and looked back at the commander “Can I say goodbye?”

Gustus and Indra frowned at the question but Lexa seemed to consider it for a moment before she merely inclined her head to signal her permission.

Both of them watched as Clarke slowly went over to Finn and hugged him. They were standing too far away from the pole to hear the words the blonde was obviously whispering into his ears. From the shaking of Clarke’s shoulders Marie was sure the older girl was crying now.

After a long moment what seemed like a small eternity later Clarke finally moved away from Finn with tears streaming down her cheeks. Marie could see Finn’s body had sagged in the chains and his head had fallen onto his chest with a harsh breath she realized that Finn had already died. A small knife dripping with blood laid in Clarke’s hands and it took the warriors around the pole only a short moment before they also caught on to what had transpired.

Outraged shouts could be heard and Indra and some others had already drawn their weapons again and were clearly intending on attacking Clarke. Lexa looked shocked for a slight moment before she pulled her warriors to a stop with a simple gesture of her hand. “It is done” the commander declared in a steady loud voice. The approaching warriors stopped in their tracks but the murmurs of discontent continued.

“Bring Clarke into my tent and stay with her” Lexa said to Marie and nodded to Gustus to follow both of them. Marie complied with Lexa’s orders instantly and stepped up to Clarke hesitantly she touched the older girl’s elbow to get her attention as her gaze had been fixed on the sky above them. Clarke jerked away from the touch but looked at Marie after a moment and her eyes cleared somewhat and she readily followed Marie to the big tent. Gustus trailed after them and stayed just outside of the tent to guard the blonde sky girl should any of their people seek the revenge they had been robbed off.

In the commander’s tent Marie directly went behind the curtain to check on Anya. Anya’s condition alarmed her instantly. Her face looked waxen and sweaty and her breathing seemed laboured and irregular. When she went back behind the curtain to Clarke the blonde had started sobbing and was desperately trying to rub away Finn’s blood from her hands. Marie had no idea what to say to comfort her and the worry for Anya had her agitated as well. Unsure of what to do Marie stepped back to the entrance of the tent which directly alerted Gustus and she hurriedly told the bulky guard that Anya did not look well at all. The man followed the girl into the tent to see for himself if her words were not just exaggerated but the girl had obviously spoken the truth.

“If someone comes in, defend yourself” Gustus said to Marie although he highly doubted her fighting skills would be enough to defend both of them should anyone really try to harm the blonde young woman from Skykru for denying them their rights. Marie bit her lips mutely and nodded watching the man leave the tent with quick strides. Gustus had completely ignored Clarke who seemed to have a nervous breakdown and was still scrubbing at her fingers with a hitching breath.

Marie was still thinking about what to say to her when someone suddenly entered the tent. Afraid it might be an actual attacker Marie drew the dagger from its sheath on her thigh and stood in front of Clarke in a defensive stance. It was Abby followed closely by Kane who had entered the tent and the woman blinked at the young girl clearly in surprise. Marie cleared her throat awkwardly and put the dagger back into its sheath again. Abby immediately went around the girl to her daughter and enveloped her in a strong hug while Clarke started to babble that she had to kill him to save him. Marie swallowed harshly as she had no real idea what Clarke must be feeling right now because she still had to make her first kill. Kane remained standing closely to the entrance of the tent and looked deeply troubled to watch the intimate scene between mother and daughter.

A sudden coughing sound from behind the curtain to the sleeping area of the tent brought Marie out of her dark thoughts and she hurried behind it. Anya seemed to have trouble breathing and Marie felt panic overcome herself. Even though Lexa had not precisely given her permission to ask Abby to look at Anya Marie was well aware that Skykru medicine was superior to what a grounder healer could do and it was obvious Anya was suffering.

“Abby” Marie loudly said when she stepped back behind the curtain. The woman looked up from her position still pressing her daughter’s body close to her own and said “What is it?”

The woman’s voice did not sound angry maybe only tired and resigned. Marie gestured behind the curtain and Abby slackened her hold on Clarke patting her blonde hair a last time before she followed the younger girl behind the curtain.

“She has a gunshot wound” Marie said unsure on what to say at all “Clarke escaped the mountain with her”

Clarke had obviously gathered herself again and had listened to them and joined them behind the curtain “Anya” she said disbelief colouring her voice.

“She escaped with you?” Abby asked her daughter needing confirmation. Clarke nodded with a troubled expression “She was on her way back to the commander to start negotiations for a treaty but a guard shot her. I thought she had died…”

Marie swallowed harshly even though she had already known that Skykru had been the ones that had wounded her mentor it was still like a punch in the stomach to hear it again.

Abby had turned her attention to Anya and had bent down to take a look at the woman feeling her pulse and temperature first and last looking at the actual wound. When she put slight pressure on the area around the wound Anya groaned obviously in a great deal of pain and Abby pulled away saying “Internal bleeding…”

Chapter Text

Chapter 40

The commander followed by Gustus and Indra had just entered in time to catch the last words Abby had spoken. Lexa breathed in deeply she knew that such an injury would probably cost Anya her life.

“But you can save her?” Marie asked in a high pitched voice laced with desperation. Lexa was unable to see the woman’s expression as they had obviously not noticed their entrance yet when the woman answered “Not without an operation…”

As the woman’s words trailed off Lexa cleared her throat loudly to make her presence known Marie jumped away from Abby like she had been caught committing a crime and her grey eyes shown with guilt at having engaged Abby without Lexa’s permission.

Abby and Clarke had also turned to them quickly and it was obvious that Clarke had been crying only moments ago. Her mother’s eyes looked at the commander disparagingly and it was clear to Lexa that they would probably never share common ground.

“You have the equipment to save her?” Lexa asked in a calm measured voice. She had planned to make their way to TonDC immediately but it seems her plans had changed already.

The Skykru doctor nodded with a cautious expression “But only in the Ark and I cannot guarantee her survival. She seems to have lost much blood already.”

“Then heal her” Lexa answered and sat onto her throne looking down on Abby.

“What about the treaty. I will not…” Abby started to say her voice growing louder with each word anger and distrust colouring her voice. Lexa’s lips thinned dangerously. Skykru obviously had no incline to what Clarke had just done. To kill someone before this kind of execution was treason and you would usually take the place of the one you had just saved.

“We will do it” Clarke interjected vehemently standing up to her mother with gleaming eyes “I will do it myself, if you won’t.” Lexa silently wondered why the blonde was obviously determined to save Anya now as she had left her to die before. Indra would not appreciate the delay to her village but that was not to be helped at the moment. The commander only nodded at the girl with an inquiring gaze.

“Treat her” Lexa commanded when no one had said or done anything a few moments later “We will talk later”

Abby gapped at the commander seemingly unused to being treated in such a way but Clarke only nodded and pulled her mother along out of the tent.

It took Lexa only a few minutes to organize everything. Four warriors entered the tent only moments later carrying something resembling a stretcher to transport Anya into the Ark. After a short discussion with Indra and Gustus it was decided that the commander and her most trusted guards would also accompany Anya into the Ark to make sure that no one would move to harm the general while she was unconscious and could not defend herself. Lexa only allowed Marie to also be a part of their little group because the girl was more familiar with the Ark and Skykru. She doubted anyone would really try anything now but as commander she had learnt that you could never be too cautious with a mostly unknown enemy.

Marie herself felt rather strange to walk next to Lexa slightly behind the warriors carrying Anya’s unconscious form through the army’s camp and through the gate of the Skykru’s camp. The part of the Ark that functioned as the centre of the camp loomed in the darkness like a beast made of gleaming metal. People she had once lived with still stood scattered in front of the Ark and nervous whispering broke out among them when the gates were opened for Abby, Kane, Clarke and their grounder entourage. Skykru were eying them suspiciously as none of them had any clue what the commander could want in their camp and some were probably fearing retribution after Clarke had interfered with Finn’s execution. The commander did not spare them more than a short glance over the crowd and Marie could see a certain admiration in her green eyes when she saw the Ark up close. Having lived inside the ship Marie immediately recognized that they only stood in front of a rather small part of the Ark but the grounders probably did not know that.

Stepping into the remaining part of the Ark felt even weirder for Marie. The constant hum of machines she had grown up with was still present so someone had obviously been able to fix the electricity. On their way through the metal corridors Marie felt an awkward sense of melancholia remembering her childhood in those very walls. A glance at Lexa and the warriors that had accompanied them clearly told her that the others felt completely uncomfortable in these alien surroundings. Marie thought that was no wonder as Trikru people were used to the woods and the vast space of nature around them and not the constricting corridors of the Ark were basically every available centimetre had been put into use.

On their way to the medical bay no one dared to approach them. The people from Skykru they encountered seemed absolutely intimidated by the heavily armed soldiers with them. Abby had tried to get them to leave their weapons outside but one resolute headshake in the negative from the commander had been enough to quell her objections. Marie dearly hoped none of the guards would suddenly open fire with guns on them or there would be bloodshed she still wondered how the scouts had obviously been able to kill some Skykru guards without any real losses.

Entering the medical was especially hard for Marie. She had been sure to never see this place again. Memories immediately flooded her mind. Her mother lying on one of the beds with Abby tending to her. Her mother still lying on the same bed as she got thinner and weaker when the medicines failed to work for her. And finally how she had tried to break into the medical bay to get more medicine for her mother who had been released into her own quarters to die. A sudden clicking noise had the girl wheeling around as her mind had catapulted her back into the night she had been caught and thrown into the sky box.

Lexa regarded the girl next to her worriedly. She had seen how the girl got more and more distant after they had entered this place. The commander herself felt her skin crawling with the strange smell the air had and the constant hum was making her skittish. The whole place was making her feel rather claustrophobic and she wondered how Marie and the other Skykru had been able to live in this place and remain sane.

Another young man was already in the medical bay when they entered. The man had an olive tint to his skin, dark hair and kind dark eyes. The man looked baffled when the grounder group entered but it was obvious he was a doctor as he immediately went over to assess Anya after the warriors had transferred her onto a bed Abby had indicated to.

“What happened?” he asked simply and already started to cut away the clothing on Anya’s upper body.

It was Abby who answered “Gunshot wound in the lower abdomen. It was a clean shot the entry and exit wounds have been burnt shut but there seems to be internal bleeding.”

“How long ago has she been shot?” the man asked as he applied some pressure around the wound which made Anya moan.

Clarke was the one to answer now “She was shot by our guards on the night I came back. We were in the Mountain together. The Mountain Men must have bled her a few times as she was physically completely drained when I got her out of the cage. So six days ago.”

The man nodded while Abby had put on some gloves and critically looked at the commander “It would be easier if you just waited outside.”

Lexa’s lips thinned and she mutely shook her head. Abby just sighed in annoyance and together with the man they started to work on Anya firstly giving her an anaesthesia. The commander kept a close watch on what they were doing and when Abby made a cut over the sealed shut wound a copious amount of blood rushed out of Anya. Marie sucked in a harsh breath at the sight and Abby and the man became more frantic obviously trying to find the reason for the bleeding.

For the grounders it looked as if the Skykru healers were actually trying to kill Anya faster as they completely reopened the wound and even enlarged the wound to search for the damaged blood vessels that had caused the internal bleeding. Clarke had stayed beside them and was constantly trying to explain what her mother and Jackson were doing to minimize the chance of the grounders interfering.

It seemed to take both of them a rather long time to spot the teared blood vessels and it took them even longer to seal them so that the bleeding at least slowed. Marie watched the heart rate monitor constantly which still beeped in a rhythmic way.

In contrast to a grounder healer who would mostly seal a wound shut by a heated blade the Skykru healers took needles and thin threads to sew the now larger wound shut and they seemed to be doing several rounds of sewing. Lexa watched that with a raised brow being completely unfamiliar with this kind of healing.

“You cannot sew deep wound in one go. Or the strain on the threads would be too strong and the underlying tissue has to be sewed separately for a normal wound healing” Clarke explained seeing the confusion on the other faces.

Abby and the man seemed to be worried on the strain the severe blood loss would have on Anya’s body telling the commander that the woman might fall into shock which would most likely kill her. The doctor tried to explain that Anya definitely needed a blood transfusion to higher the likelihood the woman would survive the operation. As the anaesthesia was leaving Anya’s body Marie saw that her heart rate increased with each passing second. All the grounders looked alarmed when the heart rate monitor started to beep a shrill alarm.

“She needs more blood” Abby said again with emphasis. As a doctor she had sworn to save peoples’ lives so she wanted the woman to survive it did not matter at the moment that she might be the enemy still.

Jackson had drawn a tiny amount of blood from Anya’s finger to make a quick test for her blood group while Abby injected the unconscious woman with different medicines to try to counteract her still increasing heart rate. She had already hooked the woman onto a fluid injection to get some fluids into the body for the heart to pump but that would not be enough.

“O positive” Jackson said after a minute with a frown on his face. That was exactly the blood type they did not have at hand at the moment.

“What does that mean?” Lexa asked her frown deepening.

Clarkes answered her question in a hurry “You cannot just infuse any blood into anyone. The blood groups have to match. Anya is O positive. So she can only receive O blood as well anything else would cause another shock to the body and kill her. I am AB positive myself so I could not donate blood for her.”

“You can test me” Marie interjected from the side. The girl had no idea what her blood group was. Jackson went over to one of the computers and typed something on the keyboard.

“No need” he told the girl “We still can get into the main databases of the Ark and the medical files were all stored. You are O negative. You can donate for her.” The man seemed to let out a relived breath. It was a very rare blood group so they had luck that Marie matched.

Lexa seemed inclined to interject the procedure but Marie said to her “I want to help her. They won’t take enough blood to make me ill but it might save Anya.” The girl’s grey eyes had shown with determination so the commander had nodded and they all had watched as Abby set the girl next to Anya’s bed and connected them with thin tubes.

It did only take a few minutes to set up everything and blood was already leaving Marie’s body and entering Anya’s. Some more minutes later and Anya’s heart rate was slowly decreasing to a normal level again. When Abby had removed the connections again Marie had wanted to stand up immediately and step back next to Lexa but Abby had forcefully pushed her back into the chair.

“You lost quite some blood. I want you to remain sitting” the doctor told the girl in a strict voice.

“What happens now?” Clarke asked after Abby told them that the night would show if Anya truly survived.

The commander told Clarke unyieldingly “Tomorrow we will talk. There is something that needs to be done before we can talk about peace”.

Clarke seemed to blanch slightly murmuring “I thought we already had peace…”

Chapter Text

Chapter 41

The night proved to be a long one.

Abby and Jackson had kept Anya under sedation so that she could sleep and heal without the added stress of pain to her body. So far the woman slept peacefully and no further alarm sounded so the blood transfusion had done its job. Marie had been put into a bed next to Anya after Lexa agreed that the girl should try to catch some sleep.

It was obvious to her that grounders and Skykru were unnerving each other. Seeing people from both people in such a small room brought out the contrasts between them even more. Kane and Abby clearly had no intention to retire to bed as long as armed warriors were in the medical bay and Clarke seemed intent to stay as long as her mother would in case she would anger the commander and her interference was needed. The warriors all stood scattered around the room still like statues. They had declined the offer of chairs and had even looked offended when Jackson tried to offer empty beds to them. Lexa herself stood between Marie’s and Anya’s bed keeping watch over them and seemed content to just stand there.

That was a strikingly difference as well. It was painstakingly obvious that all the Arkers present were completely uncomfortable with the silence that kept on settling between them. Abby had even tried to get the commander to tell them what was still needed of them right now but the commander just shook her head and repeated that they would talk in the morning. Marie had been with the other warriors long enough to know that none of them talked just for the sake of talking. Grounders obviously did not feel the need to fill every second of silence with constant meaningless chatter. But that made everything they did deem important enough to say out loud even more important. What Marie had also noted so far was that the warriors were much more attuned to the body language of others so that there were silent conversations ongoing at all time. For her it had started to make sense that a warrior could not waste precious breath and lose his focus to meaningless chatter as they had all been trained too well for that.

The unknown of what the commander would demand from them was probably adding to the discomfort the Arkers already felt so the atmosphere in the small medical bay was pretty tense and Marie was grateful when Lexa allowed her to sleep and thus flee the heavy silence.

Marie was jostled from her sleep when someone shook her shoulder some time later. When she blearily blinked her grey eyes open Lexa’s green eyes looked down into hers. “It is time to leave” the commander told her young charge in an even voice. After stretching out her limps slightly Marie sat up and slid down from the bed.

Abby was standing on the other side of Anya’s bed who still lay unconscious with frustration etched deeply into her features. The doctor also looked exhausted so Marie gathered that the night had probably passed and Anya was still breathing as she could clearly see her chest rising and falling again. “You cannot transport her into your camp right now” Abby said in a high pitched voice to the commander.

Lexa just looked at the woman with a determined expression and said “You said she is out of immediate danger. We will not remain longer than necessary.” The commander nodded to the warriors who had carried Anya into the Ark the previous night and they moved to hoist the woman back onto the stretcher. “It is not…” Abby tried again and Marie concluded that this argument had obviously already started while she was still asleep. Gustus and Indra who were both still present looked ready to strangle the Skykru doctor.

“Mom” Clarke intervened from the side in a strident tone and vehemently shook her head. The girl was the only one with any experience to interact with the grounders and knew that her mother trying to dissuade the commander from taking Anya now was not helping them at all. “When will we talk?” she asked instead.

Abby had obviously admitted defeat and stepped back from the bed so that the warriors could hoist Anya up. The commander turned to the young blonde woman and answered “In an hour from now”.

The walk back through the Ark was silent as well. It was obviously still very early as there were only very few guards awake right now. Back in the camp of the army that looked slightly different Marie guessed that at least a third of all of them was awake but no one interfered with their way. Marie watched as the warriors brought Anya into the commander’s tent but something else caught her attention. Guards stood scattered around the place Finn had been mercy killed by Clarke. His body had been removed from the pole and Marie could see someone sitting to a form on the ground which she guessed to be Finn’s body.

Lexa had also seen this and asked a guard next to her tent “Who is that?”

The young man looked over to the kneeling figure for a second before he answered “Raven kom Skykru. She refused to leave the body and we did not know …” The man trailed off obviously uncomfortable.

The commander just nodded and when she saw Alira hurrying to her tent laden with a big tray she stepped inside with Marie trailing behind her. Lexa was relieved to finally be able to get rid of the heavy shoulder guard and long red sash even only for an hour. Marie also shrugged out of the dark green leather coat and helped Alira with the tray when the handmaid entered the large tent.

In the same moment as both of them had started to eat and Alira left the tent Indra, Gustus and Sierra entered. Both women seemed to be angry while Gustus looked more worried. Marie heard Lexa sigh deeply next to her but the commander just continued eating and gulped down some of the warm wine.

It was actually Sierra who seemed to lose her patience with being ignored by the commander and spoke up first “Lexa, you cannot…”

The commander quickly whirled around from her sitting position to face the other woman and they suddenly stood opposite of each other with barely any space left between them and Lexa glared at her friend for her insolence. The other women seemed to shrink under her intensive glare and lowered her head in defeat apologizing quickly and stepping a pace back.

“What is it?” Lexa asked through clenched teeth her patience obviously running thin at the moment.

The dark skinned general looked back at Lexa with an unwavering stare “There is discontent in the army because of what the Skygirl has done.”

Lexa exhaled loudly straightening her shoulders she had feared that reaction but she truly had not foreseen that Clarke would kill the boy out of mercy. But she had seen the girl crying afterwards and she knew that her suffering would be worse than the boy’s might have been as the blonde leader would need to life with what she had done for the rest of her days.

“We need Skykru to face the mountain” Lexa spoke in a clear voice “I did not foresee Clarke killing the murderer or I would have not granted her the possibility to say her goodbyes” The commander seemed to consider something for a silent moment “The murderer will be joined by fire with those he killed.”

Indra did not seem satisfied with that solution “We were owned our justice, commander”.

Lexa nodded with a grave expression “The boy’s blood has been spilled. Not in the way we wanted it but he is dead now, Indra. There is nothing I can do to change that.”

The general also nodded now although she still did seem anything but pleased with the outcome. Sierra also looked displeased but she obviously knew better then to speak up now after she had just overstepped mere moments ago.

Before anyone said anything else a guard outside the tent announced the arrival of the Skykru delegation. Lexa called out to the guard to let them pass and quickly put on her shoulder guard together with the red sash again.

A moment later Clarke entered closely followed by Abby and Kane. All three of them looked weary to be here even though Clarke at least tried to look confident.

Lexa had set down on her throne and Gustus had moved to her right side “Blood has answered blood. Some on my side say that it is not enough. They wanted the murderer to suffer as our tradition demands” the commander said with a carefully blank face.

“But they do not know that your suffering will be worse” Lexa said looking deeply into the blonde’s blue eyes with a slight hint of compassion in her green ones “What you did last night will haunt you until the end of your days.”

Clarke swallowed harshly biting her lips and reverted her eyes to the floor of the tent obviously unable to meet the commander’s piercing gaze any longer.

“Still there will be restitution. The body will be given to the people of TonDC. Murder and murdered joined by fire. Only then can we have peace” Lexa finished her demands in a calm tone.

Abby and Clarke both seemed speechless for a moment so Kane spoke up “No,no. We have done enough. The boy should be buried by his own people” the man said with conviction in his voice.

“Enough” Indra interjected with a taunting voice “We were owed the pain of eighteen deaths, we were owed our righteous kill. My village deserves justice.”

“You do not want justice” Abby spoke up now clearly agitated “All you want is vengeance.”

“You have not seen my vengeance” Indra seethed and stepped closer to Abby her grip on her sword becoming tighter as the tension rose in the tent.

“We’ll do it” Clarke suddenly said in an empty voice “But when it is over we talk about how to get our people out of Mount Weather, all of our people.”

“We want the same thing, Clarke” Lexa said evenly.

“Good” Clarke answered “When do we leave?”

“Now” came the short answer from the commander as the woman stood up from her throne again “Chose your attendants”. Clarke only nodded her hear slightly as a sign of acceptance as Lexa followed by Gustus, Sierra and Indra moved out of the tent.

Marie hurried to stand up from the table she had watched the scene from and followed the commander but she could still hear Clarke and Abby conversing with each other. Abby clearly did not want to obey the condition set by the commander while Clarke simply told her that this alliance had to hold or she had killed Finn for nothing.

When she had caught up with the commander Lexa was already organizing the party that would accompany her to TonDC. After the woman had given her orders to Gustus and Indra they departed to carry them out.

Lexa turned to her young charge and told her “You can try riding on your own this time. We won’t be travelling fast and the terrain is mostly even. Skykru will travel on foot as will some of our warriors.”

Marie nodded and smiled slightly as she looked forward to riding again but her brows furrowed soon after “What about Anya?”

The commander said “She will be transported in a wagon. The war council will meet in TonDC so we might stay there for a while.”

In a distance Marie could see Clarke arguing with Raven who was still sitting beside Finn’s body. Obviously Clarke had gotten her point across as Raven stormed away so that the two grounder warriors could take Finn’s body to wrap it for transport.

It took a shorter time then Marie had thought for everyone to get ready to leave and move to TonDC. She had followed Lexa to the improvised stables and was presented with a hazelnut coloured mare that whinnied friendly at her when she held up her hand for the horse to smell it.

Their party was led by a few warriors on foot followed by a wagon pulled by a black huge horse. Finn’s body wrapped in an orange material lay on it together with Anya buried under some furs and Raven was allowed to also sit down on it because of her hurt leg making it impossible for her to walk this distance. Abby had checked on Anya before they had left adding another fluid transfusion to make her stable for transportation. The doctor had argued that it would be better for the woman to remain behind health wise but Lexa would hear none of it. After the wagon came the Skykru who travelled on foot. Clarke and Bellamy proceeded Abby and Kane and Octavia and Lincoln. Marie had expected some of her companions to greet Lincoln in a friendly manner so the girl was perplexed when no one actually spoke a word to him at all.

After three guards on foot they were riding. Lexa had been right and they were travelling very slowly Marie thought that she could have probably kept the pace on foot easily enough but the hazelnut horse proved to have a gentle nature and she instantly took a liking to the creature. She rode on Lexa’s side who had mounted her white steed and Gustus rode on the commander’s other side. The only other grounder on a horse was Indra who followed behind them together with several others who travelled on foot.

To Marie’s great chagrin Sierra also travelled with them and walked beside her father’s horse. For her it was difficult to imagine them as father and daughter as she had never seen them interact besides in their duties to the commander. It was obvious the woman still had not taken a liking to her and she had felt her eyes on her the entire time when Gustus had helped her to mount her horse in the camp.

“You are awfully quiet” Lexa commented after they had ridden some time glancing at her young charge “But I see that your riding has improved. We shall practice at a faster pace when it is possible.” Marie just shrugged her shoulders and kept her gaze locked on the muddy road ahead of them.

Stop worrying Gustus” Lexa said now turning to her guard and the commander could see Sierra also listening intently “Like you have always told me, all alliances are risky.

This is not the same as uniting the twelve clans. The Sky people are different” the burly man answered in a serious voice.

Yeah, they are more like the Mountain Men than us” Sierra interjected with a short glance at Marie.

It could kill our coalition” Gustus added lowly with worry evident in his dark eyes.

“Our coalition, or me?” Lexa asked her gaze switching between Sierra and Gustus daring them to answer in an offending way.

You are the coalition, commander” Gustus said in a reverent tone.

Lexa looked at his face for a second before she answered in an even tone “Then do your job and protect me.”

Gustus just looked ahead of them again and silence settled between them again.

It was when darkness started to fall that the commander called their group to a stop to make camp for the night.

Chapter Text

Chapter 42

Marie wasn’t able to help much when they started to set up the camp. The only tent that would be erected at all would be one for the commander. The tent was slightly smaller than the one Lexa had in TonDC but it was big enough that Anya had already been laid down on one side and Marie and Lexa could still both sleep comfortably in it.

When the camp had been set it was completely dark and the warriors had lit some fires around the clearing they had chosen to camp in. It was as if someone had drawn an invisible line through the camp. Skykru remained on one side while the warriors remained on the other side.

Abby had come into the tent shortly to look at Anya’s wound again worried that the constant movements of the wagon might have teared some stitches. The woman had been administered with another sedation before they had left but Lexa declined to give her another. So Marie hoped that Anya would wake up again soon just to be sure that she actually could still wake up.

After the long hours in the saddle Marie was relieved to finally feel solid ground under her feet again and Lexa had to steady her for a moment after she dismounted as her legs felt strangely wobbly. The commander had smirked slightly at her and said in a teasing voice “You will get used to the sensation with more practise. Your muscles still need to get used to it.”

Marie had been handed some food to bring to the Skykru and after she had distributed it she heard the exchange between Lincoln and Indra but she was unfamiliar with the word. So when she returned to the fire in front of the commander’s tent she lowly asked Gustus “What does natrona mean?” as she could not see Lexa anywhere.

“It means traitor” Gustus said not looking up from his own food. Marie still looked confused and asked “Why would Indra call Lincoln that?”

Now the man did look up and studied the young girl for a moment. It was evident she really asked only out of genuine curiosity with the need to understand their ways “Out of two reasons. First he had been a reaper and they turn onto our own people” Gustus told her lowly “And he obviously chose the dark haired Sky girl.”

Marie looked over to the other side of the camp where she could make out Octavia and Lincoln kissing each other passionately.

Lexa returned a few minutes later with Sierra in tow. Both of them looked frustrated as if they had just argued with each other and had been unable to reach an agreement. But the commander ordered the scout to do a search through their surroundings to be sure so the other woman left without another word.

When they had both eaten and Lexa wanted to turn in for the night for a few hours of rest Marie was thrilled to note that Anya seemed to wake up. The woman had started to move slightly and it did take her only a few more minutes until Marie could again see her brown eyes fixed on her own.

“It is good to see you coherent again” Lexa said as she stripped out of her armour.

“What happened?” Anya asked in a confused tone and carefully felt at her midriff where a clean bandage rested over her wound.

“You had internal bleeding” Marie immediately answered with worry in her grey eyes “And Abby operated on you and I donated some blood to you.”

Anya’s brows furrowed in obvious silent horror at the mention of the blood transfusion so Marie quickly said “I wanted to…”

Anya nodded obviously still confused and said “Where are we?”

“On the way to TonDC” Lexa said as she had finished undressing and laid onto her furs in tight trousers and a thin top “To burn the murderer’s body along said the murdered. Clarke killed him…”

 The general’s brown eyes widened slightly as she processed the information “That is not good…”

“No” Lexa said matter of fact “But it cannot be helped now. After we burnt the bodies we will plan our war against the Mountain. Rest now, both of you, it is still some distance before we reach TonDC.”

It did not take Marie long to fall asleep that night. The ride had been more exhausting then she thought and they had travelled through most of the day. Even though sleep came easily she did not remain untroubled. Not long after the girl had fallen asleep Lexa was woken by the girl’s constant turning and twisting under the furs. Just as Lexa sat up with a sigh to wake her Marie suddenly said upright with wide frightened eyes screaming “Noooo!” loudly through the small tent.

Her grey eyes were unfocused when Lexa touched the girl’s shoulder to get her attention. Only after Marie had blinked a few times and took in some shuddering breath did her eyes clear momentarily before they misted over with tears.

“Hey” Lexa softly spoke to her young charge as Anya somehow had slept through even the screaming “It was just a dream”.

Marie nodded and while she glanced at Anya’s sleeping form beside her shortly her tears spilled over and she said between sobs “It was Anya on the tree … not Finn … and you said I could say goodbye … I … I killed her …. I …”

“Shh” Lexa softly soothed the girl and pulled her trembling body firmly against her chest. “It was only a dream” Lexa kept on repeating reassuringly as she gently stroked the girl’s blonde hair. After some time the girl had simply fallen asleep again in their embrace and Lexa pulled the girl’s body with her under her furs and closed her eyes again to also sleep for a bit. The rest of the night passed peacefully.

In the morning Marie went into the woods out of sight of the camp to relive herself. She was already on her way back to the camp when she suddenly heard a conversation. Trying to be as silent as possible Marie went closer to the voices and could see Gustus and Sierra obviously in the middle of a heated argument.

“You cannot mean to do nothing, father” the dark haired woman snarled at Gustus who had his arms crossed over his chest. The man shook his head “And what should I do? Heda’s orders are clear. Skykru are with us now” the man said and added more silent “I hope Lexa knows what she is doing…” “Exactly” Sierra answered stepping closer to the burly man “We cannot let something happen to Lexa. The kongeda would fall. Skykru must fall instead”. “No” Gustus emphasized and shook his head “This is not for us to decide. We must have faith in Lexa’s decision.” “You will see, she will fall if we don’t save her” Sierra answered hotly. “Don’t do anything rash” Gustus said harshly to his daughter before he could say anything more Indra suddenly appeared from the direction the camp lay in telling them to come as the commander wanted to move on.

Marie’s thoughts were reeling as she made a short circuit so that she would not come from the same spot Gustus and Sierra would enter the camp. The girl was thinking about whether to tell Lexa about what she had overheard directly or wait until later. The decision was made for her when Sierra and Gustus both were already standing next to the commander.

Anya had obviously also gathered enough strength again to walk as the woman stood beside Lexa as well. Marie smiled widely at the woman when she caught her eyes. Her smile fell slightly when the commander told her that Anya would ride the hazelnut horse for the rest of the way and Marie herself could walk. The muscles on her legs were already sore from the previous day and the long hours riding so she doubted that walking along distances would help with the pain. But when she saw Sierra’s disparaging glare hefted onto herself Marie straightened slightly and just nodded mutely.

She had walked slightly behind the horses for some time with Indra who completely ignored her presence as the path was too narrow to walk beside the horses.  The longer they walked the more her legs started to ache and Marie already prayed that their way would not be long. She was surprised when Gustus slowed his horse some time later to walk beside her and held his hand to her and hoisted Marie into the saddle in front of him saying gruffly with a teasing glint in his dark eyes “I couldn’t bear to watch your suffering any longer”. Marie just huffed mutely but was internally grateful to have the possibility to rest her legs now. Both Anya and Lexa had watched the exchanges with smirks on their faces but they wisely kept silent. Sierra seemed to glare at Gustus once and then slowed her walking pace to walk with Indra from now on.

The rest of the way to TonDC passed in companiable silence and Marie enjoyed watching the nature around them as the sun came out along the way. In front of TonDC Gustus dismounted the black horse and helped Marie down quickly. Lexa also dismounted and waited for Anya to do the same standing close to the general to offer help if needed.

Marie saw that Lincoln who had walked with Skykru had already taken out the knife he carried and put it into a huge basket Gustus had taken from the side and told the other Skykru that they would have to disarm before they were allowed to enter. She watched as Gustus searched the others for weapons and before he was finished Sierra had suddenly stepped up to Raven and pulled out a hidden knife from her jacket.

“All clear” Gustus finally called to Lexa who nodded and proceeded the group into the village. At first the inhabitants of TonDC were happy to welcome back their commander before they saw the other Skykru behind them. Shouts of outrage resonated through the village some were shouting for the death of them and Marie looked at Anya in alarm. The villagers had mostly been friendly to her after she had been with them for a few days and now she did not recognize them any longer.

Suddenly a man stepped in front of Lexa blocking the commander’s path and he loudly said “Sky people took everything from me: my wife, my child”

Gustus firmly ordered the man to step back and let them pass but the man obviously did not want to listen and said venomously “Murderers are not welcome here”.

Lexa had nodded to Gustus who stepped in front of the commander and started beating the man up who obviously stood no chance against the burly guard. Marie watched with frightened eyes and felt Anya laying an arm around her protectively from behind. The grounders did not seem surprised to see the proceedings only the Skykru looked slightly distraught. Gustus kept on beating up the man until Clarke stepped up to the commander and urgently said “Please, make him stop. They will blame us for that too.”

Lexa seemed to consider to a moment before she said “Let him live”. Gustus let up on the man who remained on the ground coughing up some blood with a bleeding nose someone went over to help him up.

The commander turned around to face the villagers and loudly proclaimed “The Sky People march with us now. Anyone who tries to stop that will pay with their life.”

Some of the villagers nodded their agreement while others just remained silent. Anya winced slightly when she removed her arm around Marie. The girl turned around with worried eyes fixed on Anya’s midriff “Are you in pain?”

Lexa had watched her former mentor and suddenly stood beside them telling Anya lowly “Rest. You will do me no good if you don’t get well.”

Anya grudgingly nodded and left while Marie watched as people quickly erected a pyre. Eighteen wrapped corpses were propped against the pyre while Finn’s body was placed on top of the pyre.

“People of TonDC, in fire we cleanse the pain of our past” Lexa said loudly while Marie could hear Lincoln lowly translating for Skykru. Marie stood beside Lexa when Gustus handed her a lighted torch. The commander waited for a moment considering something when she called Clarke to her side handing over the torch. Indra, Sierra and the other inhabitants of TonDC seemed less then pleased that Clarke was the one to light the pyre. But their grimaces lessened when Clarke said “Your fight is over” when she finally lighted the pyre. Marie could see Raven crying silently while Clarke looked pale and distraught. Lexa and Gustus in comparison looked perfectly calm.

“I lost someone special to me too. Her name was Costia” Lexa suddenly broke the silence. Marie had stood beside Lexa while the commander waited with Clarke for the pyre to burn to the ground. Marie noted that most of the others had already left the pyre. “She was captured by the Ice Nation, whose queen believed she knew my secrets. Because she was mine …” Lexa’s voice sounded graver then normal even her face did not betray any emotion “They tortured her … killed her, cut of her head.”

Marie swallowed harshly not wanting to interrupt while Clarke said “I am sorry”.

“I thought I’d never get over the pain, but I did” Lexa said.

“How?” Clarke interrupted in an almost dejected sounding voice.

The commander tightened the grip on her sword slightly as she answered in an even voice “By recognizing it for what it is. Weakness.”

Marie had to swallow again and felt the need to comfort the commander somehow but the woman did not pay her any attention at the moment as she had turned to fully face Clarke now.

“What is? Love?” Clarke asked in an incredulous voice as Lexa just nodded as a simple answer. Clarke shook her head “So you just stopped caring about everyone. I could never do that.”

“Then you put the people you care about in danger” Lexa said seriously “And the pain will never go away. The dead are gone, Clarke, but the living are hungry.”

The commander turned away from Clarke leaving her obviously speechless as Marie gauged from her expression and hurried to follow Lexa. She had thought the woman would directly go into the hall where a feast was to be held to celebrate the new alliance. But Lexa went to look who Anya was doing first and Marie silently trudged behind her. Anya was asleep and Lexa turned away from her after a moment.

“Lexa?” Marie approached the woman cautiously not sure if her approach would be welcomed or not. The woman looked at her young charge with a silent question to continue in her eyes. Marie swallowed one before she stepped closer to the commander squeezing her hand once and said with compassionately shining eyes “I am sorry that you lost Costia like that.”

Surprise flashed over the commander’s face for a moment before a melancholic smile settled on her lips as she answered the squeeze on her hand softly “Thank you for compassion. But we need to go to the feast.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 43

The feast the commander was giving in honour to the newly found alliance to Skykru took place in one of the old buildings that had remained after the bombs. It was slightly dark but candles and torches had been placed around the room basking it in warm flickering light. Huge tables stood in the middle of the large room and were all heavily laden with a variety of food. Marie was intrigued to see that what looked like a whole pig was put onto the table as well.

She had entered together with the commander and Lexa told her to take the seat next to her so that she sat between Lexa and Gustus. Indra also had a seat on the table as did some others Marie was not yet familiar with. In addition some people under them she recognized Sierra stood slightly behind the table in front of the wall and waited.

Across from them seats had remained empty for their guests and Lexa nodded to one of the guards to signal for Skykru to come when she was satisfied with the setup.

It took the Skykru delegates only a few moments to enter the building proceeded by Clarke who still looked obviously shaken by the events of the last days.

Marie silently watched as Markus offered a bottle with a clear liquid to the commander as a gift of sorts for their alliance. Marie had never gotten any alcohol on the Ark as the consumption had been illegal for minors. But she guessed that the bottle would be containing some form of alcohol as Markus cautioned the commander not to drink too much of it at once. Lexa did not show any reaction to the advice while she could see Marie frowning slightly beside herself and she mentally had to agree with the girl that her people were definitely more used to consume wine and beer on a daily basis then Skykru would be. In some of the feast she had held in Polis warriors had indulged in drinking matches so it was seen as weak not to be able to drink much.

Markus looked genuine in his will to gift something to the commander and Lexa asked Clarke to drink together with her from the gifted bottle. Lexa herself poured some of the clear liquid into two cups and offered one to Clarke. Before the commander took a sip Gustus stepped forward slightly and said “Heda, allow me” clearly intent on trying the drink before his commander would ingest the thing. Marie silently wondered if it was really necessary to try the drink beforehand.

But she was proven wrong only moments later. Gustus had drunken a bit of the drink from Lexa’s cup and when Lexa toasted to Clarke for the alliance and pulled the cup to her own lips the burly man suddenly started to gag and cough. Marie whirled around to the man not understanding at first what was happening at all.

Gustus collapsed still coughing against the wall as another of the warriors suddenly shouted in outrage that the drink must have been poisoned. Marie saw that Bellamy knocked the cup from Clarke’s hand before she had taken a sip herself and suddenly Indra blamed Skykru and had her sword drawn ready to attack them.

Chaos broke out in the room and Marie moved back from the tables towards the wall looking at Gustus with worried grey eyes. Nyko had moved to the man and was speaking with him in a hushed tone.

Clarke loudly addressed Lexa “It wasn’t us. You have to know wasn’t us!”

But Lexa ignored the Skykru leader for now and had also moved to Gustus telling Nyko urgently “Don’t let him die.”

Marie’s eyes widened slightly at the words as her brain had not caught up to the fact that the poison may indeed have been lethal. 

Indra took control of the situation “Everyone out and I want them searched!”

“No. No, we didn’t do this” Clarke repeated again to Lexa as the commander marched up to the blonde girl with blazing eyes and her face reflecting fury. Marie still stood at the wall as Nyko grabbed the discarded bottle with the alcohol and others helped Gustus to his feet hauling him out of the room.

“Gustus warned me about you, but I didn’t listen” Lexa snarled at Clarke in unrestrained anger.

“Lexa please” the blonde tried to sooth her somehow.

“Tell me something Clarke” Lexa continued her voice going hard “When you plunged the knife into the heart of the boy you loved, did you not wish that it was mine?”

Marie could see Clarke paling at the commander’s words and she seemed lost for word. Before the blonde could answer a warrior called for the commander. He had found a small container in Raven’s coat.

Raven immediately claimed that it did not belong to her. The man handed the commander the container as Raven continued “That’s not mine, he must have put it there when he searched me.”

Clarke only shook her head in clear disbelief when Lexa’s face contorted in silent seething and she loudly declared “No sky person leaves this room!”

The commander swept from the building with her long coat swooshing behind her and some warriors following their heda immediately. Marie still stood rooted to the spot stunned at what had happened the last moments. Her mind had just caught up with the fact that the commander said that no sky person was to leave the room when her heart clenched as Lexa had not took her with her. With a hammering heart she hoped that the commander had simply forgotten for her in the chaos of the moment but when Indra swept from the room and told Lincoln that he was one of Skykru now and Sierra left as the last of the grounders the other warrior pushed her away from the door before she closed it snarling at her to stay where she belonged.

Marie stood in front of the closed door with wide eyes her breath coming out in short erratic bursts. Lexa must know that she had nothing to do with this. But no one came back in the next few minutes. The others completely ignored her most of them looked shell shocked and Marie somehow doubted that any of them were behind the attack on Lexa.

When Clarke asked Raven if she was behind it and said that the girl had wanted her to kill Lexa at Finn’s execution Marie’s eyes widened further. So Clarke had not planned to kill Finn at all but rather to kill Lexa. But Raven’s reaction seemed too honest so Marie somehow doubted that the other girl was lying that she had absolutely no idea where the container had come from.

Clarke suddenly seemed to talk with the air in front of her after Raven had hit her. And Marie watched on with a frown as Abby tried to calm Clarke down. Maybe the other girl had lost her mind due to all the stress?

It seemed to take forever before someone came back. Marie had set down next to the door keeping her gaze locked outside. Wishing Lexa to return for her and she wondered what Anya would say when she heard of what happened. But with a sinking feeling Marie started to doubt if anyone would even come for her.

Marie listened on as the others argued about who might have wanted to kill Lexa besides them and the answer Lincoln gave frightened her. She had already learned from Anya and Lexa that the decision to make an alliance with Skykru might not be reviewed well by their people but hearing someone else saying that it might be a reason for a lot of people to want her dead made the message sink in.

When the door finally opened again it was Anya who entered closely followed by Sierra. The dark haired scout was obviously trying to discourage Anya from retrieving Marie from what the girl caught from their conversation.

Marie held her breath until the woman offered her hand to hoist her from the floor with what looked like regret flashing through her brown eyes. Marie could not help herself and shortly slung her arms around Anya in relief feeling herself shuddering slightly. She had really started to fear that she had somehow already lost her place with them. Anya gently touched her hair and bent down to whisper “It is alright. You are not to blame, ai Skaifaya”

Marie looked up at Anya with a teary smile and let go of Anya immediately when the other woman winced slightly from pain.

Anya, the commander said that no Sky person leaves the room” Sierra repeated and Anya turned to the woman with her face set in a warning snarl “You know very well that Lexa did not mean her!”

“Come” Anya said to Marie and just walked by the younger woman with blazing eyes. Sierra seemed to have recognized that she had lost and closed the door again after they had left. Abby had come to the door to ask what was happening but the scout just ignored her and stormed away from the door passing Anya and Marie on her way out without another word.

Anya walked at a pretty slow pace so Marie gathered the woman was still in pain. The girl scooted closer to Anya and whispered “What happened?” “Soon” Anya hushed back in a strained voice and led the girl to the healer’s hut.

The small hut was pretty crowded. Gustus lay on one of the cots looking as pale as a ghost and he was still vomiting obviously. The commander, Indra and some warriors Marie did not recognize stood scattered in the small room while Nyko tended to Gustus.

Marie only glanced at the commander shortly but remained standing next to Anya’s side. She could not help feeling slightly betrayed by Lexa who seemed to have forgotten about her. “How is he?” Marie lowly asked Anya looking at Gustus now.

“It seems that he is improving” Anya answered while sitting down on one of the empty cots. Marie followed her and now that she was so close to the woman she leaned against one of her long legs. Lexa had watched with a furrowed brow as the girl had just looked at her once with a hurt expression and now kept on looking every other way.

“Where were you?” Lexa asked stepping up to them. It sounded as if Indra and the other warriors had already started planning to attack the Ark soon. Marie had opened her mouth to retort in an accusing voice but Anya cut in quickly sensing her charge’s anger “She was, where I thought she would be when you said you expected her to be at my bedside, with the other Skykru, commander.”

Lexa seemed puzzled by that information for a moment before annoyance flashed over her face. “Sierra didn’t let me leave” Marie grumbled crossing her arms over chest. The commander growled something too low to understand under her breath before she added “I will have you welcomed into Trikru at the next opportunity so that such a misunderstanding won’t repeat itself, Marie”.

Marie nodded mutely but Lexa could see in her grey eyes that she had lost some of the trust the girl had had in her irrevocably for now and it would certainly take her some time to regain said trust back. But she couldn’t apologize to the girl right now with some of her generals in the same room. A commander did not have to apologize for anything ever. She had been drilled with that from early on. Apologizing meant admitting an error. And that was something she could not do openly. She would later talk to Marie when they were alone as she did regret not having checked earlier where the girl was. It was her responsibility to look after the girl and she felt that she had failed her already.

Silence had settled over them while they watched Gustus. His vomiting had slowed and Nyko had given him a tea and they now waited if he would keep the liquid down. “What kind of poison was it?” Marie asked after some time lowly. Lexa answered the girl’s question “It was made from the sap of a special tree. But they do not grow here.”

Marie furrowed her brow in thought. She had heard Raven claiming again to the others that she was innocent and how should the girl have gotten the sap if the tree did not grow here at all? No one seemed to have come to the same conclusion but as she made to speak up and tell the commander her thought the door opened and Sierra came in and Gustus started to vomit again. Marie looked alarmed when the vomit had turned red and the commander went over to Nyko again.

Gustus had been given something else and they waited again. Sierra had followed the commander and after being reprimanded for having kept Marie in the room as well to what Sierra did not even bait an eye the woman reported that part of the army had arrived at the outskirt of TonDC. The commander nodded and the generals apart from Anya who was to stay and safe her strength left the hut to meet up with the other warriors.

Chapter Text

Chapter 44

Indra had returned to the hut again later to fetch Nyko. Marie just listened shortly and heard that they would get Raven to start the punishment.

The girl had remained standing leaned up against Anya’s leg the whole time they had waited now and when the healer left and Gustus started vomiting again Marie rushed over to help the man.

When Gustus stopped vomiting again a few minutes later Marie kneeled down beside his coat “Are you feeling better?” the girl asked in soft voice her eyes still showing her concern for the man.

The burly man looked at the girl with surprise flashing over his face before he nodded. “Do you want more tea?” Marie asked but the man declined and thanked the girl for her concern.

Anya had stood up from the cot she had been sitting on and said to Marie “Come, we are expected to be outside soon” Marie nodded she guessed to witness Raven’s execution. Something was not adding up in Marie’s mind about the whole incident. She somehow knew that Raven truly had not tried to poison Lexa.

Gustus had also heaved to his feet and followed them outside. The man looked slightly pale and his skin seemed clammy but he followed them with sure steps and did not seem to waver. In the distance she could see two warriors escorting Raven to a pole in the centre of TonDC. The inhabitants had started to gather around the scene and were watching as Raven was stripped of her jacket and her hands tied above her head with a thick rope to the pole.

Right in front of the pole the commander, Indra and Sierra stood and watched the Skygirl being tied to the pole. Marie furrowed her brow and when she looked at Sierra something clicked in her mind and she touched Anya’s hand to make her stop. Gustus directly moved past them to step up next to Lexa. The commander looked slightly relieved to see her guard back on his own feet.

Anya had turned around to her charge and asked “What is it? If you think you can’t watch anymore, you can leave.” Marie shook her head vehemently as Lexa loudly proclaimed the alliance to die with Raven “It is not that. She didn’t do it, Anya.” The woman looked at her sceptically so Marie quickly continued before Anya could interrupt her “I think it was Sierra”. Anya looked alarmed for a second and let gaze quickly sweep over their surrounding making sure no one had overheard them as she quickly led Marie a few paces away from the sight of the upcoming execution “You cannot go around blaming someone just like that. You could get framed for that.”

“No” Marie tried to reason with Anya as the conversation she had overheard in the morning between Gustus and Sierra flashed up in her mind. She quickly told Anya about what she had overheard in the woods and watched as doubt started to show in Anya’s brown eyes but the woman still did not look convinced so Marie added “And Sierra could have hidden the container in Raven’s jacket when she pulled out the small knife. And she did not seem surprised at all when Gustus suddenly started to cough. And I haven’t seen her worrying over his health at all, as if she knew that he would survive” Anya’s brows had furrowed and the woman looked to be deeply in thought when the first scream pierced the air. Lexa had drawn the first blood and handed the dagger over to Indra. Marie grew more urgent she did not want an innocent to die “Anya, please, I know she didn’t do it…” Even to her own ears her voice sounded desperate. “We do not have proof” Anya said regretfully “Sierra would hopefully not betray Lexa’s trust like that.”

“But we need to do something” Marie pleaded with Anya. But the woman shook her head “There is nothing we can do now. I am sorry, Marie.”

Another scream sounded and Anya put her hand on Marie’s shoulder guiding them back to the execution. Even if she did believe in her second’s words it would be her word against Sierra’s. There was the potential chance that Marie would be put on the tree for protecting Skykru and framing Sierra a highly trusted scout with trying to poison the commander.

Marie could barely look at the scene in front of her as she stopped next to Anya. They were now standing slightly behind the commander and the knife given from Indra to another warrior. At the other side Marie could see the rest of Skykru. Marcus held Bellamy back who obviously wanted to interfere and Abby was calling for Clarke to come so that they could leave.

When the bloodied blade was handed in her direction Anya took it and placed a shallow cut on Raven’s exposed arm handing the blade to another warrior skipping her second altogether for now. No one commented on that also Anya could see Sierra narrowing her eyes at the girl slightly.

Suddenly Clarke stormed from the room and demanded from Nyko who had talked to Lincoln to be handed the bottle. The blonde stormed to the site of the execution and Lexa told the warriors to let her pass.

Marie could see the other’s blue eyes blazing with determination as she said “One of your people tried to kill you, Lexa, not one of mine.”

“You should have run” Indra blustered and stepped closer to Clarke her grip on her sword tightening.

“I can prove it” Clarke countered took the bottle from Nyko and drank a huge slug of the clear alcohol. Marie could see Lexa’s green eyes widening slightly at the sight as confusion flashed across them. When nothing seemed to happen to Clarke after a few moments and Gustus had started coughing almost immediately after ingesting the liquid Lexa said through clenched teeth “Explain”.

“The poison wasn’t in the bottle” Clarke concluded “It was in the cup.”

Most of the others around her looked confused only Sierra looked alarmed for a second before she stepped up to the commander and lowly said “A trick, commander. Do not be fooled”.

Marie was even surer now that it must have been Sierra but Bellamy had come to another conclusion and was blaming Gustus now who quiet obviously had searched Raven as well. Marie had seen recognition flashing up in his dark eyes seconds before and wondered silently if the man had caught up to what his daughter had done. The man had looked way too surprised by the poison to have put it in the cup himself.

“Gustus would never harm me” Lexa assured Bellamy with absolute conviction in her steely voice. “You weren’t the target. The alliance was” Bellamy said.

The commander had turned around to Gustus her eyes hard and it was clear she had no idea what to think at the moment when she said “You’ve been accused, Gustus. Speak true.”

Marie could see the man struggle for words but he finally settled on “This alliance would cost you your life, heda.”

All of them looked slightly shocked by that admission but Sierra seemed the most unsettled. Marie could see a conflict raging in her eyes and she was now absolutely sure it had been her. The girl wondered why Gustus obviously planned to take the blame for Sierra as she was sure whoever had done it would take Raven’s place on the tree. She turned slightly to Anya as Lexa said in a carefully even voice “This treachery will cost you yours.” Anya had her eyes hefted on Sierra now as well but she did not interfere. “Put him on the tree” Lexa ordered and when two warriors grabbed for Gustus’ arms Marie stepped up to Lexa and loudly said “It wasn’t Gustus. Sierra also searched Raven…” The girl let her voice trail off and Lexa looked between Gustus and Sierra with widened eyes anger now obvious in them.

Lexa’s features showed confusion but to Marie’s utter relief the commander seemed to at least be willing to believe her word. Lexa had felt that Gustus had not been telling the whole truth and she had silently wondered who he tried to protect by taking the blame. She had silently begged the man in her head to speak the truth as she had not wanted to have to execute him. As she turned to her old friend and looked into her dark eyes she knew Marie’s words to be the truth with a sudden pain in her chest. It all made sense now how extremely hostile Sierra had been to Marie, why she had kept her with the other Skykru and had not rushed to the healer’s hut with her father. Simply because she had known he would survive the poison. The commander had already wondered how Raven might have gotten hold of this poison but it would not have been a problem for Sierra.

“Why?” was the only thing Lexa wanted to know from Sierra. The woman had her chin jutted out defiantly as she shortly glared at Skykru before her eyes got softer and she looked at Lexa “I could not have you get killed by the alliance.” Marie could see the commander closing her eyes for a second as if she were in pain before her voice had turned monotonous again and she ordered Sierra to be taken to the tree.

The scout did not resist being stripped of her coat, her shirt and her weapons. She was tied to the pole in her trouser and her bindings covering her chest. Marie could see a variety of tattoos climbing up the woman’s sides and arms in intricate patterns.

Anya had quickly stepped up to her young charge and quickly explained something to her the girl must have been unaware with. Anya had planned to wait for the first cut to accuse Sierra and give her time to admitting the truth herself but Marie had beaten her to it and now had to face the consequences of doing so. She spoke in quick serious words to the girl “Because you have identified the culprit you are now given the honour to place the second cut after the commander, Marie.” She tried to convey in her voice that Marie could not possibly decline this tradition. She could see the girl’s grey eyes widening and her breaths picking up. Anya squeezed Marie’s shoulders and lowly added “You cannot decline. You do not have to cut deep, but you need to place your cut.” Marie was biting her lips slightly trembling at the prospect but she nodded trying to calm down.

Lexa had received another dagger and placed a long cut above the other woman’s breastbone. In contrast to Raven who had started screaming with the first cut Sierra did not make a single sound. As Anya had told her Lexa handed the dagger to Marie now. With shaking legs and an unsteady hand nearly unable to meet the woman’s dark eyes Marie made a rather short cut on her exposed stomach. The woman only silently glared at her but did not say anything. Marie watched the small cut starting to bleed and she felt vomit rise in her throat unsure of whom to give the dagger next she turned back towards Anya with a helpless expression. But Gustus had already stepped up to the young girl and had taken the knife from her trembling fingers.

Looking up at the man while she let go of the knife Marie felt tears watering her eyes and she could barely breathe.

You should not have done that” Gustus said lowly to his daughter regret clear in his voice. Sierra slightly shook her head with a small smile on her lips as she said “Keep her safe”. It was obvious she must have meant Lexa as Gustus nodded and cut his own daughter in the stomach as well. Gustus had been willing to die for his daughter and because of her he now had to participate in her execution. Marie felt even sicker with the thought and stumbled back to Anya almost blinded by her tears.

No one commented on Marie’s behaviour but after Anya had placed her cut the woman had enveloped her in her arms and let the girl take some strength from her presence.

Silently crying Marie watched the execution pressed up against Anya’s body. The girl could see the silent struggle in Lexa’s green eyes as she watched her friend bleed to death. Skykru looked all slightly green in the face and to most it seemed to sink in what justice for the grounders really meant. Gustus had not looked at her again but he had his eyes fixed on his dying daughter.

It seemed to take forever for the knife to be handed to all inhabitants of TonDC once. But when it was handed back to Lexa, the commander put the knife away and stepped up to the pole. Sierra’s upper body was littered with bleeding cuts and some had not just placed a cut but rather stabbed the woman with the knife leaving bleeding puncture wounds behind. Red blood was glistening slightly on the woman’s lips and she had started moaning some time ago when a new wound had been made. She was obviously struggling to keep on breathing but her pained eyes instantly connected with Lexa’s when the commander stepped into her field of vision.

Marie watched still crying as Lexa seemed to straighten herself and take a deep breath when Sierra said with great effort “Be strong and stay alive, little Lexa”.

The commander took out one of her swords and said “Your fight is over” while pushing the blade into Sierra’s heart watching the life leave her dark eyes.

When the woman’s head fell onto her chest Marie let out a loud sob again turning into Anya’s body and slinging her arms around her. Anya let the girl hug her for a few moments even though it did hurt her wounds pretty much but when Lexa left the place of the execution closely followed by Gustus Anya broke away from their hug and guided the girl to follow them.

Gustus had stayed outside of the commander’s tent which had already been erected and guided the entrance. When Marie saw the man standing there she swallowed harshly and when she looked up to him her eyes overflowed with tears again she said weakly „I am sooo sorry…”.

But the man’s eyes only mirrored her grief not showing any blame or anger. He squeezed her shoulders slightly and said in a grave voice “She had made her choice. I had just not recognized how serious she was about this. You are not to blame in any of this.”

When something suddenly made a crashing sound in the tent Anya pushed Marie inside quickly while Gustus followed them. Lexa stood in the middle of the tent in front of a table she obviously had overturned in anger. Her face was grief stricken and Marie was surprised to actually see tears on the older woman’s face as well.

Anya and Gustus seemed just as surprised as Marie was because the girl was the first to take a silent step up to Lexa and simply hug the commander in silent solitude. Anya could see Lexa stiffening in the sudden embrace and surprise flashed across her formers second face momentarily. Before she looked down on the girl that had wound her arms around her body tightly and just tightened her own arms around the smaller body in a silent answer. Lexa laid her chin on Marie’s head and closed her eyes for a second before she picked up her head again and looked at Anya and Gustus.

There was only understanding in their eyes as well as a silent promise of unwavering support and Lexa nodded to them in silent thanks still hugging Marie tightly to herself.

Chapter Text

Chapter 45

Marie had no idea for how long she stood together with Lexa locked in a tight embrace. It had completely passed her attention that Anya had sat down on one of the stools and Gustus had returned to his post outside of the tent.

Lexa pulled her arms tighter around the smaller body once more before she let her arms go slack. With gentle fingers she wiped away the tear tracks from Marie’s cheeks and forced a slight smile on her face. Marie could clearly recognize that the smile was fake on the commander’s part but even she knew that Lexa needed to pull herself back together. Now that they had an alliance with Skykru the planning for the war against Mount Weather was bound to begin soon.

“What happens now?” Marie asked as the commander bent down to set the table right again she had knocked over. The girl quickly helped Lexa with picking up the things that now lay scattered on the floor.

“Now we wait for all of the generals of Trikru to arrive” Lexa said while re-arranging maps she had just picked up from the floor. The commander’s voice sounded steady although Marie could still see a lingering sadness in the green eyes.

“What about Skykru?” Anya asked from her position on the stool “They cannot fight as we do, they cannot even hunt. How are they supposed to help in this war?”

Lexa took out her sword and laid it on the table quickly going to the side of the tent where a basin with clean water and some rags were stored. She wetted a rag and started cleaning her sword of Sierra’s blood. It took her a moment to gather her thoughts and answer “They understand the Mountain Men and their defences better than we do, we will need their knowledge to win. But I still think that some of us need to train them in our ways. You are right, they need to learn to provide for themselves and to fight for themselves without their guns. They will run out of bullets sooner or later.”

Anya nodded also with obvious reluctance “I hope you do not intend to send me to train them.” The woman felt deeply uncomfortable in the presence of Skykru and their guns. The memory of the gunshot still fresh in her mind.

Lexa shook her head “No, you are still recovering. And you will need all the time you can get to recover before the actual battle.”

Anya seemed to let out a breath she not been aware of holding at all. The commander had taken an empty sheet of parchment and a piece of dark charcoal and started to draw something. Marie stayed standing beside the table and glanced over Lexa’s shoulder curiously. The girl could only see an intricate pattern of lines which seemed to form the crown of a tree. Lexa let the girl watch silently not reacting to her obvious eagerness to discover what it was that she was drawing. The commander needed something to take of her mind of what had happened today and introducing Marie to Trikru properly was more pressing than ever. When the other generals arrived the girl’s place must have been made clear so that no other not so accidental misunderstanding could happen.

Anya also had no idea what Lexa was sketching on the parchment but she had an idea when she glanced at the parchment.

“Finished” Lexa said after some time and turned the sheet of parchment for her to see “What do you think?”

Marie tilted her head slightly in thought. The parchment showed a big tree without any leaves. The tree was surrounded on both sides by twelve stars on top of the tree’s branches Lexa had sketched first her discontinuous eternity symbol and above that her headpiece. “It looks nice” the girl said uncertainly clearly not having caught up to what the sketch should represent.

Anya had also stood up from her stool to get a closer look at the sketch but she looked slightly alarmed to find the commander’s symbols included in the design “Don’t you think including the commander’s sacred symbols is a bit over the top?”

But Lexa just shook her head resolutely and explained “Marie is to be my second as well. And as the commander’s second I can grant her the honour to wear those symbols.”

Marie had caught up to what she had been presented with and her eyes got wide “This will be my tattoo?”

“If you like it” Lexa said softly to her and watched the girl closely to assess her reaction.

“I love it” Marie was instantly delighted “The tree for Trikru” and Lexa nodded “and stars for Skykru?” Lexa nodded again “Your origin will always stay in the stars. It are twelve stars for the twelve clans in the coalition. And this” she pointed to the eternity symbol “is the sacred symbol of the commanders. It will mark you as someone highly trusted by me.” Silently in her head Lexa added that it would also offer additional protection to the girl and the commander who would come after her would probably honour the symbol as well so that Marie would remain protected no matter what happened.

Initiating the girl into Trikru would also serve to rectify the mood in TonDC as most of the inhabitants had already taken a liking to the quite Skygirl. Trouble concerning Marie would probably wait again when she met with the other generals or with Titus in Polis the latest.

“And where will it be made?” Marie asked trying to picture the motive somewhere on her body.

“Here in the tent” Lexa answered not having understood the question at all. “No” Marie answered quickly “I meant where it be placed on my body.”

Anya snorted slightly being better aquatinted with the girl’s way of thought. She had directly understood what the girl meant.

“That depends on where you want it placed” Lexa answered shooting Anya a look to silence her “You could have it placed on your upper arm, a leg, your back or even one of your sides.”

Marie looked down her body as if to judge where it looked best and Anya really laughed when the girl turned around herself once while trying to look at her own back. “If you get it on your back or sides it will probably be too big to be done in one go. But it is your first tattoo so it will probably be made in several sessions anyway.”

The girl suddenly looked smaller somehow and worried her bottom lip between her teeth “Will it hurt much?”

“Well it is not exactly pain free” Lexa admitted fighting against a smile “But are special creams or even a tea that you can get to numb at least some of the pain.”

“Are there any other rituals or something?” Marie wondered out loud.

Anya shook her head “Not for you. A child being integrated into a clan works differently from petitioning to be integrated to another clan as an adult. If you were older you would have been sent on a hunt of your own to prove that you can provide for yourself and aid the clan you want to join. But you are still a child and Lexa already proclaimed her intent to have you made a member of Trikru so there is no need for you to prove anything now.”

Marie nodded with relief evident on her face. After what she had seen so far Marie had envisioned the initiation to somehow involve a fight or something.

Gustus suddenly announced Indra’s arrival and the commander told him to let the general enter. Indra strode into the tent and also shortly glanced at the parchment but the general did not comment on it at all she rather stated what she had come for “Our scouts report that the generals from Ice Nation, Rock Line, Lake People and Blue Cliff are approaching fast. They should arrive at TonDC in the morning.”

Lexa nodded she had already sent word to the clans days ago now and expected all of them to arrive in the next two days. She said “I want you and some of your warriors to accompany whoever wants to return to Skykru camp from them. Stay with your warriors and start training them in our ways to fight and hunt.”

Indra’s lips seemed to thin slightly but the general nodded silently “You can tell their party of the plan yourself.” The dark skinned woman nodded again “Anything else?”

The commander shook her head and dismissed Indra again. She turned to Anya “Do you know if Leilani is still in TonDC presently?”

The other woman nodded “I think I have seen her around. Should I get her?” Lexa nodded and added “And ask her to bring her equipment to start right away.”

Marie watched the exchange with interest unsure if she should stay with Lexa or accompany Anya. Lexa answered the girl’s silent question by slightly pushing her towards Anya to go with her. Lexa wanted a few minutes of quite solitude for herself at the moment.

From the position of the sun Marie judged it to be sometime about early afternoon. She was internally still thinking about where to have her tattoo placed. “Do you think I should get it done on my back?” Marie asked Anya on their way through TonDC and added “And who is Leilani?”

Anya chuckled at the girl slightly “It will probably look most impressive on your back, but it will be covered by your clothes most of the times. But you can get other tattoos later on in different places if you want. And Leilani is well known for her talent in marking another’s skin.”

In the distance they could see Indra talking to Marcus. The man nodded and went back to the other Skykru.

“When will they leave?” Marie asked. She hoped the atmosphere in TonDC would get friendlier again after the others had left. Anya had watched the girl closely guessing her train of thoughts and she shook her head with a slight frown “Not all of them will leave, Marie. Clarke will be expected to be part of the war meetings. Our people will need time to adjust.”

Marie nodded with a thoughtful expression. With what had happened with Sierra she doubted that it would be easy. Leilani lived in a small cave on the outskirt of TonDC and the woman turned out to be much older than Marie would have guessed. Her skin was wrinkled from age and her hair had started to turn grey. But her brown eyes were still sharp when they assessed Marie standing next to Anya.

Anya spoke with the woman “The commander asks for you to come and mark our new second.”

Leilani’s brown eyes were fixed onto Marie’s for long moments and the girl tried not to squirm under her intense stare. Suddenly the woman nodded and she smiled and turned around to gather the things she would need. “I am sure she will do great for Trikru” the woman said after she had a pouch under her arms.

Marie blinked silently unsure of how to react to such a comment but Anya just shook her head with a smile dancing in her eyes and shoved the girl back out of the cave in front of her. Their way towards the commander’s tent was silent and short. Lexa stood in front of the tent and it seemed she had just finished a speech as most of the inhabitants of TonDC stood gathered around the tent.

When they saw Anya, Leilani and Marie approaching the tent they cleared a path for her and Marie could see that Skykru had also gathered interested in what was happening. The commander just turned around and entered her tent again and they followed her inside leaving the rest going back to what they were doing previously.

Lexa showed Leilani the sketch she had made for Marie and the woman nodded silently. She turned back to Marie and walked around the girl once “Her back would be most suited.”

The commander nodded and Marie was told to strip of her clothes and to lay face down on the commander’s bed for now. Anya and Lexa had both followed her into the sleeping part of the tent and Anya had sat down on Marie’s other side while Lexa still stood next to Marie’s head. It was obvious to both of them how exited and scared the girl was to get her tattoo and with that to really belong to Trikru from now on.

At the first prick of the needle Marie shrieked slightly. Leilani had not announced that she would start so she had simply startled Marie. Lexa had taken to sitting down next to the bed cross-legged after she had rid herself of her shoulder guard and long coat. To calm the girl she had taken one of her hands and when the child shrieked Lexa could see Anya taking Marie’s other hand.

After some time Lexa softly asked “And how is the pain?”

Marie blinked her eyes owlishly as if she had been only moments ago from falling asleep “It doesn’t really hurt.”

Lexa chuckled softly and squeezed the girl’s hand once. Anya was leaning against a post while still holding on to Marie’s hand and also seemed to be close to sleeping so Lexa simply took to try to mediate. She had expected her focus to be off while she still held the girl’s hand but it did not take her long at all to settle her thoughts into the trance like state she wanted to achieve.

The tattoo took hours without end. Luckily Marie still felt the sensation as not being really painful per se and she had truly even slept some of the time. When she blinked her grey eyes open again some time later she could feel Anya’s hand completely relaxed and a short glance out of the corner of her eyes told her that the woman had also fallen asleep. She doubted though that her half sitting position was very comfortable to sleep in.

Lexa had her eyes closed but she sat with a straight back next to her bed so Marie thought that the woman was probably awake. She softly squeezed the commander’s hand and instantly her green eyes snapped open again. Leilani was humming a constant melody under her breath and Marie wondered if the woman did not want to take a break.

“How far are we?” Marie asked in a low voice to Lexa and the commander looked at the girl’s back shortly. She must have mediated longer than she thought. Most of her charge’s back was already decorated with dark ink no. Leilani had started at the girl neck with her symbols and the stars and worked her way down the girl’s spine at the moment occupied with outlining the tree’s bark. Lexa told her that it would not take much longer and most was done already and saw the girl’s eyes light up happily.

Leilani had also heard the question and shook her head slightly “I will still need some time.”

Lexa nodded for her to continue. Marie felt awake now and did not want to sleep again but when Leilani moved to colour some of the tree’s bark directly over her spine she winced. That really actually hurt now.

“Can you distract me somehow?” the girl asked wincing again her back straightening and trying to arch away from the needle. Lexa squeezed her hand reassuringly and said “And what do you want to hear?”

Marie thought for a second “Can you tell me of your time before you became the commander?”

Lexa nodded again and silently thought about what to tell her specifically “You already know that I have started training early on. Our children start training in fighting when they pick up a weapon the first time. I did that with three summers.”

“You have always been overly eager” Anya interjected in a sleepy voice. Lexa chuckled softly at the memory and so they passed time with speaking about Lexa’s childhood.

It had already turned completely dark by the time Leilani finally stepped back with a satisfied nod and left them again after gathering her things.

The skin on her whole back felt slightly irritated as Marie turned her head to catch a look. She could see some branches of the tree even climb over her shoulder and the stars had been interwoven into them. Lexa and Anya both seemed satisfied as well with the result and Anya left shortly to go to Nyko. She still needed her bandages to be changed and she wanted to get a balm to help with the healing of the freshly tattooed skin.

Marie was feeling absolutely blissful right now. She finally belonged to Trikru. She had a place where she belonged again.

“Thank you” Marie said softly to Lexa.

“For what?” the commander asked slightly confused. It was normal to be marked at an initiation.

“For giving me a place to belong to” Marie added and hugged the perplexed commander again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 46

When Anya returned a few minutes later after having her bandage changed and gathering a balm to sooth Marie’s freshly marked skin the woman walked into the tent to see Marie still hugging Lexa tightly. Anya remained where she was for a moment just watching her former second and the younger one together. Lexa had of course heard Anya enter the tent and her green eyes were now firmly fixed into Anya’s.

It made her chest tighten to see this expression in Lexa’s green eyes. She knew how much Sierra’s betrayal must have hurt the commander, her losing control afterwards in the privacy of her tent was testament to that, but she had also seen the concealed hurt flash through the same green eyes when Marie had openly just sought out her own presence and averted Lexa earlier. Obviously they both cared deeply for the young girl now even though Anya still had a hard time to understand how that had happened. When she had agreed to take Marie as her second in TonDC she had just felt the sudden need to somehow help the young girl. There was something in Marie which she had never seen in anyone until now and seemed that the same thing must be calling to Lexa as well. Although Anya knew that Lexa always had a rather soft spot for children and how much the younger nightblood children adored the commander.

For all of their sakes Anya hoped that Marie would not hold a grudge towards Lexa but somehow she doubted that she would.

Silently the woman wondered what would happen with Gustus now. He had been willing to die for his daughter. On a personal level she could understand this decision completely but it also meant that Lexa would be a fool to continue trusting him blindly for now. She highly doubted that Gustus would make the same mistake again to think that he knew better than the commander but he had still disregarded her orders and thus undermined Lexa’s authority.

After a few moments of silently watching them both she slightly cleared her throat to make the girl aware of her presence as well. Marie let go of the commander with an almost sheepish expression and smiled at Anya with her grey eyes shining happily. Anya held up the jar she had gotten from Nyko and said “Sit on the bed, so that I can apply the balm”.

Marie nodded and complied quickly with her directions. With gentle fingers Anya applied the reddish balm which smelled strongly of honey and had a faint trace of marigold as well. The girl hissed slightly at her first touch and wiggled in discomfort when she moved her fingers over her lightly swollen skin.

The girl was relieved when Anya finally closed the lid of the jar again having finished with the skin on her back. Lexa had looked through a wooden chest and dug out a soft shirt for the girl to wear for the night. She knew how the girl’s skin must feel right now so she needed something loose and soft for the night. It was one of her own undershirts and the commander stepped up to the bed directing Marie to lift her arms over her head. She simply slipped the fabric over the girl’s head directing her arms into the short sleeves of the shirt and regarded the dark shirt with a frown on her face. The thing looked ridiculously large on their charge’s small frame. Had she ever been this small?

Her thoughts must have been written clearly on her face as Anya seemed to have to battle to not start laughing out loud. Lexa narrowed her eyes at her mentor with a slight pout on her lips and that really did it and Anya loudly started to laugh. Marie looked between the both of them with confused grey eyes not having caught up with the silent conversation between them. Lexa huffed in annoyance at being laughed at by the woman. When Anya suddenly winced with obvious pain flashing over her features from the laughing which pulled at her healing wound Lexa’s annoyance faded completely and was replaced with a feeling of gratitude. She had nearly lost Anya forever and she just now started to see again how precious the woman really was to her. With a slight grimace Lexa thought about returning to Polis after felling the mountain and facing Titus again. She knew the man would not take kindly to her renewed relationship with Anya and he would probably had a fit when he met Marie and recognized the significance the girl already carried for her.

But that was a conflict for another day and they only had a few hours left before the sun would rise again calling her back to her duty. The commander knew that Anya also dearly needed all the rest and time to heal the woman could get and the day had been exhausting. She felt completely drained but she doubted that sleep would really help with the hollow feeling in her chest.

“We should rest before the sun rises again” Lexa finally said. She already wore comfier clothes so after Anya had nodded and stood up from the bed the commander climbed into the bed and laid down slipping under her furs. Marie was still sitting on the edge of the bed looking between the bed and her own furs with a frown on her face. The girl absolutely hated sleeping on her stomach but she doubted lying on her back would be a possibility for the night.

When Marie still had not moved a few moments later Anya asked “What is wrong? Go to sleep, Marie.”

The girl looked at the woman with a pout on her features which Anya did not see as she had not even opened her eyes. Marie answered her in a slightly whiney tone “I can’t sleep on my stomach…”

Lexa could practically hear Anya rolling her eyes at the answer and before the other woman could tell the girl to just suck it up Lexa motioned the girl over to herself lifting her furs invitingly for the girl to slip under. Lexa just lowly chuckled to herself when the girl immediately snuggled up to her lying on her side with her head positioned on her chest. She softly let her finger glide through her blonde hair a few times while wondering how this position was any different from sleeping on her stomach on the furs. But she had spent enough nights with the girl in exactly this position to know that it helped her charge sleep immensely even though the girl herself obviously had not caught up with that.

Feeling the girl’s smaller frame pressed against her also helped herself now. When Lexa had slipped under the furs and closed her eyes she had immediately been confronted with Sierra’s dark eyes staring at her from the tree in her head.

As the commander Lexa had already executed many people through the years. But she had always been haunted by their faces in her sleep. No matter if she had known them personally or not. It had been worse in the first year after her ascension. Nothing could have prepared her for the harsh reality of leading people. Costia had been the only reprieve in those times. And when she had been killed and Lexa had been delivered her head the woman had not slept in days. She had suffered from nightmares for days on end before she finally learned to close of her heart for good. Lexa had felt a peace of herself dying back then but it somehow started to come alive again now. But the girl’s regular breathing grounded her thoughts and let her slip into a dreamless slumber quickly.

The girl had not moved an inch when Lexa awoke even before the sun started to rise again. Her body was completely programmed to rise early as the hours before the sun rose where mostly the only time she had to herself. Her duties kept her occupied mostly long after the sun had already set again. Being away from Polis gave her a little more free time so there was no need to rise this early.

The arm on which Marie was still lying was completely sensationless and cautiously Lexa tried to get her arm out under the girl’s body. But as soon as she started to move slightly the girl just followed her movement snuggling up to her upper body again. With a silent huff Lexa resigned herself to her fate for now. When they finally would rise later her arm would still be fine. Instead of falling back asleep Lexa thought about what she needed to do the next days.

She already knew that planning the war against the mountain would be straining. The involvement of Skykru was bound to cause unrest in her army. She was sure that some of her generals would be testing her patience the next days. With that line of thought her mind strayed to the blonde Skykru leader.

Lexa wondered what on earth had made her tell the other woman about Costia. But in that moment it somehow had felt to be the right thing to do. She had absolutely no idea why her eyes seemed to look for the blonde woman whenever she was near.

She had to give Clarke some credit. The girl had not cowered beneath her at all. And she silently admired her stubborn will to get her friends out of the mountain. She recognized the soul of a true leader in the blonde Sky girl even though Clarke herself seemed completely unaware of her strength. She knew how much strength it must have cost Clarke to murder the boy she loved.

With that her thoughts irrevocably returned to Sierra. Lexa felt a pang of pain in her chest as she remembered her last words. “Little Lexa” only Sierra had ever called her by that nickname. They had met each other years ago shortly after Anya had begun training her as her second. Sierra had always been slightly bigger in their shared childhood and she had liked to tease Lexa with that. And being young back then she always riled Lexa up with it.

Lexa also knew that she needed to make a decision concerning Gustus. Even though he was innocent in the end she had seen in his eyes that he might have done something similar if Sierra had not beat him to it. She doubted that she would have to punish him publicly though. He had paid enough already with seeing and participating in his own daughter’s execution. Mentally Lexa was sorting through warriors she trusted enough to serve alongside Gustus in her personal guard. She could not let Gustus continue as her sole personal guard until he had fully redeemed himself again.

Lexa was interrupted in her thoughts when Marie started to wiggle around still pressed to her upper body. One of the girl’s arms was bend behind her back and she seemed to be scratching at her skin underneath the lose shirt. But the girl’s eyes were still closed so she did the scratching subconsciously. Lexa gently shook the girl’s shoulder with her free hand to wake her. It would not be long before the sun rose so they could get up now anyway.

Marie startled awake from her touch instantly but her scratching only increased with a pained groan. Lexa extricated her numb arm from under Marie’s body and chastised her charge “Stop with the scratching. The skin must heal undisturbed or you can destroy some of the design.”

With great reluctance and moving her shoulders around to get some friction from the shirt Marie obliged her words. Lexa was cautiously massaging her tingling arm with the other hand as blood flowed again freely through the limb. “Sorry” Marie apologized looking downcast slightly. Lexa just shushed the girl with a shake of her head and saw that Anya had also woken up and seemed to carefully stretch herself under her own furs.

Lexa snatched the jar of ointment from a small table next to her bed and motioned Marie to turn around and strip off the shirt. While turning around Marie looked into Anya’s brown eyes and smiled at the woman mutely. The girl flinched away from her fingers when she started to apply the balm and she noted that some patches of the girl’s back looked slightly inflamed. They would have to keep a close eyes on the healing process before an infection would fester.

Anya had stood up from her nest of furs and now stretched her hands up over her body which brought an agonized expression onto her face. Lexa knew how impatient Anya was when it came to her own body and the time a wound needed to heal but she would also keep an eye on the older woman to make sure she rested. When they would finally march against the mountain she wanted to know Anya to be next to her so she needed all the time to get better.

Sounds from other inhabitants of TonDC were starting to filter through the tent and not much later Gustus announced Alira who brought in a heavy tray laden with food for them.

Chapter Text

Chapter 47

Lexa was still applying the balm to all of Marie’s freshly marked skin when the tent flap was opened and Alira and Gustus stepped inside.

The commander could feel the girl’s frame tensing underneath her fingers when she saw Gustus but the man showed no reaction to Marie’s behaviour at all. Alira had placed the tray with the food on a bigger table in the central part of the tent. At least the girl had obviously lost the shyness to show her body as she didn’t try to cover her naked front from Alira’s and Gustus’ eyes at all.

Alira had come over to Marie and crouched down in front of the bed to be on the same eye level with the girl. The handmaid warmly smiled at the girl and said “Welcome to Trikru, Marie” afterwards she thrust out her forearm for the girl to grasp in the way warriors did to show respect to each other. But Marie was still unfamiliar with the gesture and after thanking the woman for the welcome she looked at her with her head tilted slightly in confusion. Anya snorted from the side in an attempt to conceal her laughter when Marie finally just made to shake the other woman’s hand.

Marie looked even more confused now and let go of Alira’s hand as if burnt looking at Lexa with helpless eyes. The commander also had her lips turned upwards in the hint of a smile while she shook her head and stood up from the bed. She just took the girl’s arm in what a warrior clasp should have looked like and said “It is a sign of honour to clasp hands in that way.”

“Oh” Marie said blushing slightly and now clasped her arm with Alira again who had waited patiently until now. “I am still trying to learn” Marie stressed after she let go and looked at the woman with big honest eyes. Alira chuckled at the girl nodded to her and stood up again “We all know.”

Marie was surprised when Gustus also crouched down next to her and offered her his arm now. Anya could see guilt clearly on Marie’s face and the girl seemed to find it extremely difficult to look at Gustus.

Lexa interrupted the awkward moment after she had dressed and addressed Gustus “I want you to call Aleo to my tent. He will aid you in your guard position from now on.”

Gustus simply nodded silently although Lexa knew that the man had understood the order for it really was. A sign that she did not trust him completely anymore but he was too professional to react at the open jab. The man left the tent a few moments later together with Alira.

Marie was even more surprised when they had finished their breakfast and she left the tent together with the commander and Anya that inhabitants of TonDC started to come to her one by one offering their welcome into Trikru just as Alira and Gustus had done. The girl was internally grateful that the embarrassing moment had happened inside of the commander’s tent and not outside for all of them to see. At least she now knew how to answer their welcome correctly without offending anyone or deflecting badly on Lexa and Anya.

Both Anya and Lexa noted satisfied that most of the people seemed sincere in their welcome to their second into Trikru. But they really needed to think about all the small things the girl needed to learn quickly to be able to better blend in with their culture. Her education would really need to contain more than survival, fighting and language skills.

On the outskirt of TonDC Skykru had erected small tents for themselves. Clarke and Abby had been conversing with each other in front of them when the people started to gather in front of the commander’s tent. Through the crowd Lexa could see both Clarke and Abby watching the proceedings with interest. But while Clarke seemed only genuinely interested, Abby looked alarmed at the gathering.

It was obvious that the people of TonDC kept clear of the small place the Skykru occupied in their village now and the atmosphere in TonDC all in all was rather tense. The last who welcomed her into Trikru was a warrior who looked to be around Lexa’s age and turned out to be Aleo. The man was tan and a lot thinner than Gustus but Marie could see his athletic built through his light armour. He had dark brown hair and warm eyes and seemed completely unbiased towards Marie for which the girl was silently grateful. Aleo had a charming light smile on his face when he clasped arms with Marie and she could see Gustus grimacing from the corner of her eyes.

Marie stood a bit taller when all of the people had officially welcomed her and Anya watched with a pleased glint in her eyes. The girl really looked to be one of them now. Her light hair was braided in the style Lexa had worn when she had been young and the dark green coat made a stark contrast to her fair hair, skin and eyes. Some traces of the tattoo peeked out under the girl’s collar and she seemed to have a certain glow of happiness around her at the moment.

Even Indra seemed mildly impressed with the confident image their second now projected but the atmosphere got tense abruptly when Lincoln followed by Octavia came over to also offer his welcome. Indra’s lips thinned angrily but the general remained silent when Lexa let the man come to them and only nodded in silent acknowledgment to him. Curiously the girl who had followed Lincoln seemed to be the slightest bit envious of Marie to be accepted into Trikru now.

Indra had already told Skykru that some of them would accompany them back to the Ark to teach them their way of hunting and fighting. Marcus had also watched the proceedings with interest and stopped Abby from interfering. With a hint of annoyance Lexa noted that Abby obviously was still not satisfied with Marie now officially being integrated in Trikru but that was the other woman’s problem.

After the crowd had diffused somewhat Clarke approached the commander with a determined expression on her face. Gustus made to step in front of Lexa protectively but the commander waved him off. After the events of the previous day Skykru would be highly dumb to try anything against her in one of her villages.

Marie saw Raven limping behind Clarke trying hard to keep up with the other’s quick stride. She spotted a radio in her hands and wondered what was going on.

“We have news from the mountain” Clarke began urgently “We received this yesterday but you were not to be disturbed”

Lexa furrowed her brow slightly as she had not given Gustus orders to keep everyone out instead of showing that she asked “What is it then?”

Clarke nodded to Raven who pushed a button on the radio and the radio emanated a voice “Forty seven of us are trapped inside Mount Weather. We don’t know how much time we have left. Please hurry. This is Jasper Jordan. We need help.” The message started to repeat itself so Raven let go of the button she had pressed. The grounders looked at the radio with puzzlement obvious on their faces, some of them looked even alarmed. None of them had ever seen a radio in use and they were completely unfamiliar with how they worked.

The commander and Anya shared a silent glance when Clarke continued “Bellamy and Lincoln will depart shortly. We need an inside man to lower their defences. Lincoln can get Bellamy in undetected.” The blonde young woman had spoken with conviction in her voice and met Lexa’s piercing gaze steadily. The commander was slightly put off that such a decision had been made without her, but Clarke was a leader in her own right or at least she was growing to become one.

Markus and Abby had also approached the group and Marcus told Indra that they were ready to leave. The dark skinned general nodded and turned to gather her own warriors who would accompany her to the Skykru’s camp.

Abby spoke up next obviously trying to deter Clarke from her plan “Clarke you can’t sent Bellamy to his death. There has to be another way.”

Clarke’s eyes hardened when she answered her mother in a clipped tone “What good does an army when it cannot reach the enemy. Bellamy needs to turn off the acid fog before the commander’s army can attack.”

Lexa had to admit that Clarke’s arguments were right but she highly doubted one spy inside the Mountain would be enough. But she would not tell her this in front of Abby. So instead she just nodded and watched Abby huff annoyed. Her green eyes turned to Bellamy who had also approached them “I will do it, chancellor. It is worth the risk.” At least he seemed intent on his mission.

Anya was wondering silently how Lincoln planned to get Bellamy into the Mountain undetected but she hoped they had a sound plan. “Who will stay in TonDC beside you?” Lexa asked turned to Clarke.

“She will not stay” Abby interrupted rudely looking at her daughter.

“I will, mom” Clarke said resolutely “You will not.”

Abby opened her mouth to retort but Clarke continued “You are the chancellor and a doctor. You are needed at the Ark. I need to do this.”

The older blonde woman conceded but added “But Major Byrne will stay here with you.” Clarke seemed to roll her eyes but nodded silently.

By the time it had took them to discuss Indra had finished gathering her men and returned to them “We are set to leave”. Marcus nodded and Skykru left. Clarke had stepped away a few meters and was quietly talking with Bellamy while Lincoln said his goodbyes to Octavia kissing the girl passionately.

They watched the Skykru group leave before the Trikru warriors with Indra did. The people of TonDC seemed to breathe more easily after they had left. “When will the war council start?” Clarke asked after having been assigned a place to sleep with Major Byrne.

“Later” Lexa answered “When the other generals have arrived. We will train in the meantime” The commander had added to Marie.

Clarke had asked to watch them train to what Lexa agreed. The commander had decided to train Marie herself today. Anya was still healing after all so the woman stood next to Clarke on the side of the training pits. The initiation seemed to have really boosted Marie’s self-confidence and the girl exerted herself completely in training. Lexa still did not want to move her to a real sword so they trained with wooden staffs again.

The girl’s movements were getting quicker and she was much more agile on her feet and her reflexes had improved as well. Lexa still had to hold back of course it would probably take Marie a few weeks if not month to match up to her.

Clarke was surprised to see how well Marie seemed to do in the training. The girl’s movements seemed controlled and precise already. “She seems to do fine already” Clarke commented to Anya after a few minutes of silent watch. The general looked to the blonde girl shortly and nodded with an unreadable expression “She is trained by the best after all.”

Clarke obviously had no idea what to answer to that statement so silence settled between them once again. But Anya could see that the younger woman clearly still wanted to tell her something. It took Clarke a few moments before she started again lowly so that only they would be able to understand the words “I am truly sorry for leaving you behind, Anya. I know that I would not have escaped without your help. And I am honestly relived to see that you are doing better.”

The girl’s blue eyes portrayed her honesty and Anya simply nodded in acknowledgement for now. She had not expected Clarke to speak to her about the Mountain at all. What was done, was done. Clarke must have interpreted her silence differently because she added “I truly had no idea you had survived being shot. And I have asked Octavia to look at the drop ship if your coat is still there or not.”

Anya looked at the other girl obviously surprised now “That is very ….” She paused “… considerate of you. I appreciate that.”

Clarke looked slightly pleased but focused her attention back to Lexa and Marie still sparring with each other while silence settled between them once more but now it felt more companiable.

Chapter Text

Chapter 48

They only stopped their training when scouts came to the training pit telling the commander that the other generals would arrive in the next hour. Marie was thankful for the reprieve as Lexa had started to really test her limits in the last hour or so. The girl had a split lip and her arms felt slightly strained. She was completely out of breath and felt ready to collapse.

Lexa took the staff from Marie’s hand and squeezed her shoulder gently once and told the girl with a pleased shine to her eyes “You did well. You are improving fast now.” Marie beamed with the compliment and smiled widely at Lexa even shortly glancing at Anya. The older woman still stood next to Clarke and nodded to Marie in acknowledgment with a faint smile on her features.

“Go and wash up” Lexa told her charge “You will sit in on the war meetings. You need to learn strategical thinking as well.” Marie immediately nodded and hurried back to their tent where she knew a bucket with clean water would already be waiting for her.

Lexa told Clarke that they would begin the war council immediately when the generals arrived in TonDC and the blonde excused herself to fresh up and eat something. Gustus and Aleo silently followed the commander from the training pits with Anya. The general wanted to get her bandages changed again before they would start as well.

“Some of the others might question your choice to keep me close” Anya cautioned while Nyko untied the bandage around her midriff. Lexa nodded with a slightly bored expression “Let them”. “I still have failed you, Lexa” Anya retorted a tad bit agitated now. Lexa shook her head with a slight frown on her face “There is always the possibility to lose a battle. You did not fail me, you returned to my side after all.” There was conviction in Lexa’s green eyes so Anya chose to let the matter rest although she still worried about the reception she would get from the other generals. She knew that not all of them would be as welcoming to her as the people of TonDC had been.

But the other generals barely reacted to Anya at all. Their reactions were much clearer when Marie entered the building where the war council met a few minutes later. Quint was the one to react most viciously and a snarl set on his face disdain evident on his face when he saw the blond girl. Marie had looked up at the burly man with a startled expression and stopped abruptly in her tracks.

Lexa glared in warning at Quint and put a hand on Marie’s shoulder protectively while she let her gaze travel over her assembled generals. After a moment of tense silence the commander said clearly “Most of you have not met Anya’s and my new second. It is true, Marie is born of Skykru. But she is now marked as one of us and as the commander’s second” with that she slightly turned Marie around which elicited a confused glance from Marie and brushed the girl’s long hair to the side revealing her neck. Just above the collar of her coat the tattoo ended with a few branches of the tree visible in which the commander’s holy sign was intertwined.

The generals all looked at the visible mark with unconcealed astonishment but Quint deflated visibly and nodded mutely now staring silently at the large table between them. Lexa gently pushed Marie to stand beside Anya and they now only waited for Clarke’s arrival.

In the meantime Lexa reported to her generals that they now had a truce with Skykru and that they would attack the Mountain together. Some of the generals reacted with obvious unease to that piece of news. Anya could even understand their reluctance to some extent but she also understood that they needed Skykru’s knowledge of technology to match up to the Mountain men.

Clarke it seemed had been productive in the hour. When she came into the room followed by Major Byrne who had a hand on a Skykru weapon Clarke had some parchment in her arms. She opened out the parchment to reveal maps of Mountain she had hastily drawn on the parchment. Lexa looked mildly impressed at the images.

Apart from the little information Anya had provided on the outline of the Mountain they had absolutely no idea how the interior of the Mountain was designed. Clarke seemed to know much more of that as it seemed. The maps clearly outlined the different levels of the Mountain, the functions the levels had and the entrances and exits Clarke had heard about. Some part of the maps were greyed out for spaces where Clarke could not remember what was supposed to be inside.

Clarke although completely ignored the glares that most of the generals were sending her. Anya watched as Quint now focused his resentment on the blonde Skykru leader. She knew that Quint’s brother had been with her when Clarke had burnt all the warriors outside of their metal ship.

Lexa completely ignored the man’s anger as well and instead asked Clarke to tell them what they knew of the Mountain Men for sure by now.

Clarke retold what she had already told Lexa a few days ago “I have escaped the Mountain together with Anya. Hundreds of your people are trapped in their in cages. Their blood is being used as medicine to heal the Mountain Men of radiation poisoning. My people are prisoners there, too, as we now know for sure.”

The commander nodded to Clarke and said “The goal is clear. Fell the Mountain once and for all!”

The generals scattered around the room nodded. Anya knew they would even be willing to work with Skykru if that meant eliminating the Mountain Men for good. The Mountain had cast a shadow over them for too long.

However it became clear pretty quickly that getting into the Mountain was the main problem. Most of the generals were sure that their size of the army would be force enough to siege the Mountain.

They argued back and forth for what felt like hours. Anya was finding it increasingly harder to remain standing straight as the time passed with no mutual consent so far. She could also Lexa’s patience waning out the tightening of her jaw a dead give-away to those who knew the woman better.

It was Quint who finally lost his patience and roared “This argument is a waste of time! It is simple. If they can’t breathe our air why not just open the door and be done with it? Let them burn!”

Marie looked at the man with an unconvinced expression in her grey eyes. If opening the door would be easy they would have surely won against the Mountain in the past already. The generals on the other hand seemed to like that idea and approval resonated through the room.

“No, because they have a containment system, multiple airlocks just like we had on the Ark” Clarke argued against Quint’s point “Our inside man can get that down.”

“If he gets inside” Quint retorted scornfully and crossed his arms over his chest. Lexa had let them argue among themselves for now only listening but now she intervened “What if we shut it down from the outside? You say the dam gives them power. Let’s take that away.”

“That dam withstood a nuclear war, commander. I highly doubt…” Clarke said but was interrupted by Quint smashing his fists onto the table angrily. Marie jumped slightly next to Anya startled at the sudden loud noise.

“All she offers is “no”” Quint seethed to Lexa his eyes blazing angrily.

“Quint…” Lexa cautioned the general with a silent warning and glared at the impatient warrior.

“Apologies, commander. But the biggest army we’ve ever had waits for us to give it a mission. The longer that takes, the more of our people die inside that mountain” Quint said trying to control his emotions.

Clarke’s comment didn’t help with that when she said “It’s the same for all of us.”

“We’ve lost thousands” Quint snarled at Clarke turning to her “How many have you lost, girl?” He stared at Clarke for a moment before he continued “She says she has a plan. I say waiting for one man to get inside is not a very good one.” He shook his head at the last part to emphasise his point and a younger general directly agreed with him “I agree with Quint. We have an army. Let’s use it.”

“We will after Bellamy lowers their defences, turns off the acid fog” Clarke interjected her voice increasing in volume “I don’t care how many men you have. If you can’t get to your enemy, you can’t win.”

“You are the enemy” Quint had obviously finally reached the end of his patience and his eyes blazed dangerously. Anya felt Marie stepping even closer to her and saw Major Byrne stepping closer to Clarke when the blonde had turned to face the incensed warrior.

“I am sorry. Have I done something to offend you?” she asked the man her eyes unyielding. Lexa seemed to take even breath to calm herself slightly as the situation threatened to get out of hand.

“Yes” Quint answered in a deadly serious voice “You burnt my brother alive in a ring of fire.”

Anya could see Clarke falter for a second before she straightened again and fully faced Quint standing nearly nose to nose with the man “He shouldn’t have attacked my ship.”

“You’re very brave under the commander’s protection, aren’t you?” Quint seethed at Clarke with glinting eyes.

“Enough” Lexa finally interjected to diffuse the situation before Quint would really attack Clarke.

“I can’t be in an alliance with these people” Quint proclaimed while turning away from Clarke with his lips pressed together and started to walk away from the table. He had not been given the permission to leave the gathering so he would stay until it was called to an end.

“Quint’s right” Lexa finally said towards Clarke “Waiting for Bellamy is not a plan. It is a prayer. One not likely to be answered.”

Clarke seemed to have to hold back a retort and settled on “Excuse me. I need some air”. Anya watched the blonde leader leave the room closely followed by Major Byrne while Quint looked at least slightly satisfied for now. Lexa intently studied the maps on the table to search for something they had not thought of until now.

“Come” Anya said to Marie. She also needed to get away for now. She could barely conceal the pain in her midriff anymore and needed to be away from the other generals for now.

Marie silently followed Anya out of the building and watched as Clarke went to enter the woods at the outskirt of TonDC. She had stopped to talk with Major Byrne and the woman let her go on her own for now obviously.

Anya had led Marie to Nyko’s hut to ask the healer for a tea against the constant pain. The man quickly threw together some herbs and Anya drank the foul tasting liquid keeping a completely straight face. After a few moments Anya straightened herself up again and led Marie back to the fighting pits, she needed to vent off at least some frustration. On the way to the fighting pits Marie saw Quint also leave TonDC in the same direction Clarke had gone only a few minutes ago.

She highly doubted that fighting was something Anya should be doing right now but when she had cautiously tried to voice her opinion Anya had just pursed her lips and handed her a staff.

Reluctantly Marie did spar with Anya a few moments later. She had not expected Anya to be this strong again and the girl lay coughing on the ground a second later trying to get air back into her burning lungs.

Anya just silently waited for Marie to get back up and fixed her with a stare that clearly told Marie that Anya really wanted her to try beating her, so she did. After only a few minutes Marie regretted her struggle though as she had truly managed to hit Anya. Her staff had connected with a thumping noise with Anya’s midriff and the woman hissed painfully. Out of shock Marie actually let go of her staff and looked at Anya with huge worried eyes.

Anya cautiously touched the bandage under her shirt and cursed under her breath when her fingers came back slightly coated in fresh blood. She must have pulled some stiches. Marie looked close to burst into tears when Lexa suddenly appeared behind them.

The commander had seen them spar and Marie getting a hit into Anya. With worry she noted the blood on Anya’s hand so she turned to Gustus “Bring her to Nyko.”

When Anya made to open her mouth to retort something angrily Lexa only glared at her and the woman shut her mouth again. Marie looked completely lost and her lips were quivering slightly as she stared at Anya’s bloodied fingers.

Lexa held the girl back when she made to follow Gustus and Anya to Nyko’s hut. She had expected Clarke to be somewhere near and she wanted to continue the war council but she had not seen Clarke anywhere. “Have you seen Clarke anywhere?” she asked the girl.

Marie’s eyes snapped to her as she had watched Anya’s retreat before and told her that she had went into woods and pointed the direction as an after-thought the girl added “Quint also went there later”.

Lexa seemed to grind her teeth together in anger, fearing to know already what might have happened “Come, we will search for Clarke and Quint.” The commander nodded to Aleo who silently followed them, leaving TonDC behind them.

Chapter Text

Chapter 49

Lexa seemed to sense that something wasn’t right when both Clarke and Quint were nowhere to be found in TonDC so she hurried them through the woods. Marie had to run to keep up with Lexa’s fast strides.

It did not take them long to hear a commotion not far from them. As they hurried closer Marie just saw Quint attacking Clarke throwing himself onto her body. In lightning speed Lexa had pulled one of her daggers and when Quint made to kill Clarke with his sword drawn Lexa through her dagger. Marie shortly admired the great precision Lexa obviously had with the dagger as the blade imbedded itself only moments later in Quint’s outstretched arm making the man turn with widened eyes to his attacker.

Aleo had also drawn his sword and they now surrounded Quint who held his wounded arm in front of his body protectively. Lexa just bent down and quickly pulled her dagger out of his arm which made Quint groan in obvious pain.

“Attack her and you attack me” Lexa said to the man towering above him while Aleo still had his sword ready to strike the warrior down should he try anything.

“Thank you” Clarke said breathlessly after getting up from the ground and she now had a pistol trained on Quint.

“Where is your guard?” Lexa asked Clarke with annoyance in her voice. It was irresponsible for a leader to leave a camp unsupervised. Even she as the commander rarely left without guards at her side.

“He killed her” Clarke answered instantly although Marie thought that unlikely somehow.

“She lies” Quint said still lying on the ground between them as he turned to the commander he added “My fight is only with her”.

“Your fight is over” Lexa deadpanned seriously. She had made it clear that Skykru were not to be harmed and attacking another clan’s leader was always a serious crime. Marie could see Quint’s eyes widening slightly as if the man had not anticipated the outcome of his doings at all.

“The kill is yours Clarke” Lexa said to the blonde and put her dagger away again now that the threat was handled.

Marie could see Clarke swallowing uncomfortably and the fingers holding her pistol were visibly shaking. Lexa was gauging Clarke’s reaction and noted her reluctance to kill Quint with silent disdain, leading people always meant hard choices.

The situation abruptly changed when a loud roar resonated through the woods still a slight distance away. Marie looked to Lexa in confusion who had whipped around to the direction where the roar had come from. “What was that?” Marie asked slightly worried. She had a distinct idea what it might have been, but she hoped to be wrong.

“Pauna” Lexa almost whispered fear flashing up in her eyes. In a split decision Lexa took her sword out and slashed into Quint’s legs. The warrior fell with a surprised scream while Lexa shouted at them to run away.

They ran in the opposite direction of the roars that clearly became louder and closer each passing second. Marie could hear what sounded like trees snapping behind them and a few moments later they could distantly make out Quint’s screams mixed in between the roars.

Lexa pushed the girl ahead when Marie started to slow slightly and loudly proclaimed “We need to hide” looking around them desperately for a place to hide from the beast that would reach them in a few seconds.

Suddenly Clarke changed her direction and called behind them “This way. I found something” Clarke stood in front of what looked to be an old huge pipe that was closed by a metal grate. Aleo quickly helped her with pulling the grate aside and they slipped into the pipe.

But the escape route Clarke had found did turn out to be in fact the way to the feeding ground of the creature. Parts of animal corpses lay scattered everywhere with piles of bones. Marie scrunched her face up in disgust as flies swarmed around the older corpses and the smell of the place was anything but nice, her stomach churned slightly.

Before they had a chance to really look for a better place to hide they could hear the creature approaching them quicker. Both Lexa and Aleo pulled their swords ready to defend themselves when suddenly the huge gorilla jumped from the edge of the wood right onto Aleo. The beast smashed its fists into the man a few times and threw the unconscious man into the opposite wall with a sickening crunching sound. It was obvious the warrior was dead instantly.

The beast pounded his fists onto its chest a few times before it roared at them loudly. Lexa had positioned herself slightly in front of Marie to guard the girl from the attack she was sure would follow soon. Clarke had shot at the beast with her pistol but that only seemed to incense the creature as it threw a large stone into their direction with another loud roar which rang uncomfortably in Marie’s ears.

Clarke fired a few more times at the gorilla and the beast fell backwards into a small precipice. Marie let out a relived breath as they had seemed to win against the gorilla. They were all panting slightly when suddenly the gorilla started to climb up from the precipice into their direction. “Run” Lexa screamed and pulled Marie in the other direction away from the beast.

They managed to escape the gorilla for a short amount of time before the beast spotted them again. They stood in front of a railing under which an abyss with a small opening was visible. Without any better idea Clarke sprang down the abyss. Lexa pushed Marie to follow the older blonde girl and sheathed her sword into place. Marie managed to land without hurting herself and followed Clarke to the opening before she heard Lexa crying out in obvious pain. The commander had obviously not landed well and had hurt herself on the impact.

“Lexa” Marie shouted worried and ran back to the commander just like Clarke also did. Together they helped Lexa up and had the commander lean on themselves in support to get her to the opening. Clarke climbed through the small opening first followed by Marie. Before Lexa could follow them the gorilla was on her and pulled on her leg roaring angrily.

“Leave me” the commander shouted when both Marie and Clarke tried to help her.

“No way” Clarke loudly declared and started to shoot at the beast with her pistol again. The beast did not seem to let ago so Marie had also taken her own dagger aimed it at the beast’s head and threw the blade with all her might. The blade landed in a perfect hit in one of the creature’s eyes. The gorilla seemed to howl in pain and suddenly let go of Lexa’s leg. Clarke immediately pulled Lexa through the opening kicking away the metal rod which had held it open.

Marie registered with widening eyes that they had run into a deadlock. Clarke closed the next door behind them while Marie searched the small room for another exit but she could not detect one. Lexa panted heavily and cradled one of her arms in front of her chest.

Clarke took Lexa’s sword to block the door from the inside while the angry roars outside got louder and more frequent. Marie watched Lexa worriedly lean on a pillar her face contorted in obvious pain. The girl had never seen the ever stoic commander in any physical pain and the sight somehow frightened her deeply.

She also recognized with a sad feeling that she had already lost the dagger now. She felt the now empty scabbard on her thigh. Marie guessed that Lexa or Anya would surely be able to get another knife for her but it would not be the same.

Lexa watched the girl hover in front of her. The grey eyes clearly portrayed the girl’s distress and worry. After having secured the door Clarke had ripped a strip of fabric from her shirt to make a make-shift sling for the commander’s arm. Lexa let the blonde leader tie her hurt arm in front of her chest saying in a serious voice “You have left me behind. Now three will die here, instead of one”.

Marie swallowed uncomfortably. Would Lexa really have just sacrificed her for them? Before she could say that she would never have just left the commander behind, Clarke spoke up “I am still new to your culture, but when someone saves your life, my people say thank you.”

“I am serious Clarke” Lexa continued still serious while Clarke tested the grate on the other site “To lead well, you must make hard choices.

“Hard choices?” Clarke asked almost sounding mocking “You are telling me that…”

“I have seen your strength, it is true” Lexa answered still calm “But now you waver. You couldn’t kill Quint, you couldn’t leave me to die. That was weakness.”

“I thought love was weakness” Clarke retorted angrily. Marie stayed silent and just watched their confrontation. It was obvious Lexa was distressed.

“Mockery is not the product of a strong mind, Clarke” Lexa answered.

“You wanna know why I saved you?” Clarke had turned to Lexa again “Because I need you. God forbid one of your generals becomes commander. You may be heartless, Lexa, but at least you are smart.”

Marie pursued her lips silently. What she had seen from the commander until now was anything but heartless. To Marie's puzzlement Lexa actually smiled slightly when she answered Clarke “Don’t worry. My spirit will chose much more wisely than that.”

“Your spirit?” Clarke asked obviously confused. Marie had heard some things from Anya about the commander’s spirit already so what Lexa said next was not completely new to the girl. “When I die, my spirit will find the next commander.”

“Reincarnation” Clarke said almost just to herself “That’s how you became commander?”

“How are your leaders chosen?” Lexa asked with open interest.

Before Clarke could answer the commander’s question a loud roar resonated from the other side of the door and the door shook when the beast started to pound on it from the other side. Marie shrieked lowly and Lexa shoved the girl behind herself. “It found us” Clarke panted with wide eyes.

“Do not be afraid Clarke” Lexa said completely calm “Death is not the end.”

“We are not dying here” Clarke countered sounding slightly angry “I need your spirit to stay where it is.”

“Stay behind me” Lexa ordered to Marie and pulled out her dagger “Then get ready to fight, he is coming in.”

“Maybe we let it in” Clarke said suddenly as if she had an idea and sprinted past Lexa who watched the other leader with a confused stare.

Clarke had moved to the door and said urgently to them “Come here”. Both Marie and Lexa hastened to follow her order and Marie stood pressed beside Lexa at the door. The sword was already deformed and would not hold the door for much longer.

“Now!” Clarke suddenly shouted and pushed the sword out of the brackets. It fell to the ground with a clinking sound and not a second later the door was almost blasted open by the impact of the gorilla. The creature bounced into the small room looking for them. Clarke had pushed Marie through the door already and said loudly to Lexa to go. She left the room last and hastened to pull the door closed behind them securing the door on the other side with a heavy metal hatch.

Marie looked at the door with widened eyes the gorilla had already started to pound against the door angrily now shut into the small room. She silently wondered how long it would take the beast to escape its prison. To her great wonder she saw something gleaming next to her feet and found her dagger lying on the ground. With a disgusted face she removed some of the blood from the blade by rubbing some leaves over the metal. With a small happy smile the girl put her dagger back where it belonged and smiled at Lexa who had watched her silently.

“Let’s go” Clarke said wanting to get as much distance to the door as possible before the beast would break free.

Chapter Text

Chapter 50

They quickly made their way to leave the feeding ground of the gorilla. Clarke identified the old structure as what must have been a zoo. Lexa had read of the term in an old book but had not thought that something like that had endured the end of the world. Marie tried to assist Lexa in climbing over some of the obstacles on their way back into the woods and they walked for what felt like an hour or two before they could not hear the roaring of the gorilla anymore. Marie hoped that once the beast would break down the door they would be back at TonDC but she really had no idea how far away that might be and she could see Lexa grimacing with every step. The commander obviously tried to conceal her pain but if you looked closely enough you could still see it in the tightening of her yaw and the effort in her green eyes.

“Should we take a break?” Marie suggested faintly. She thought that Lexa should rest and she also felt the strain of the day quite clearly. The commander contemplated their position to TonDC and how long they would need to reach the village. It was starting to turn dark and she knew that travelling through the woods in her state and with Clarke unarmed and Marie too inexperienced to really help in a fight it was unwise to do so. So she reluctantly nodded although she could clearly picture Gustus and Anya worrying back in TonDC both of them must have caught on with the fact that she was not simply taking a walk through the woods. It had been hours since they left TonDC.

Lexa had let them continue for some more moments until she found a place she was satisfied to settle for the night. Under her guidance Marie constructed a small camp fire smiling proudly when she got the logs burning after only two tries. Lexa had set down propped up slightly against a tree log. Clarke also watched the girl’s efforts with a furrowed brow. The blonde leader had clearly not expected the other girl to adapt o Trikru as quickly and as easily as it seemed.

“You can rest” Lexa said to Clarke “We will take the first watch.”

Clarke seemed to think the offer over a moment before she nodded and laid down next to the small fire.

“Come here” Lexa said to Marie and the girl obediently sat down next to Lexa eying the commander still with worry in her eyes.

“I will be fine” Lexa said wanting to ease the girl’s worry before she hardened her eyes slightly and continued in a firm tone “When you are given a command by me, I expect you to follow that. To the point and without hesitation.”

Marie looked slightly downtrodden. The girl knew what Lexa meant “But I could not simply let that beast kill you and watch you die, Lexa”

The commander’s lips thinned slightly “The day will come, when you must. I am just the vessel of the commander’s spirit and when I fall and my spirit choses the next commander, you will aid the next commander.”

Marie furrowed her brow and shook her head vehemently “But you are not just the commander to me, you are Lexa. I could not leave you behind, Lexa.”

Lexa’s eyes softened slightly on the emphasis of her name in the girl’s words. She had learned from a young age that her own life mattered very little. She was the commander’s vessel and there would always be a commander after her, but she had obviously forgotten that there were people who still cared for her life just for her and not because she was the commander.

“You are angry with me?” the girl questioned in a rather small voice, when Lexa had not said anything again in a few minutes.

Lexa shook her head in the negative and the girl let out a relived breath before her eyes seemed to widen again “You almost died…”

As the girl’s words trailed off Lexa could see the girl’s grey eyes starting to water. “But I did not. Thanks to you and Clarke” Lexa said with an honest smile on her face as she offered her uninjured arm to Marie.

The girl scrambled closer to Lexa and cautiously wound her arms around Lexa’s midriff pressing her face against Lexa’s shoulder. When the commander felt her young charge shudder slightly in the weird embrace she knew the girl had started to cry.

“Shhh” Lexa soothed her gently rubbing the girl’s back with her free hand “I am here and nothing will happen now. We are safe, skaifaya”

Lexa had no idea if Clarke was feigning to have fallen asleep already or if the blonde Skykru leader really had let her guard down this quickly. The commander in her reeled at the trust such a gesture as falling asleep in another’s presence conveyed. If the roles were reversed Lexa would definitely have declined the offer to sleep. But a small part of her felt slightly honoured that Clarke obviously felt safe enough in their presence to let her guard down.

It did not take Marie long to fall asleep. The girl now slept with her head pillowed by Lexa’s legs while the commander watched the flames and scanned their surroundings every few minutes. Fortunately the woods stayed quite around them apart from the little sounds of the animals moving around them. Absentminded Lexa stroked over Marie’s hair occasionally or twirled her dagger between her fingers. She was used to keeping watch through a night. Although it had always been unlikely that she would need to do such after her nightblood was revealed Anya never distinguished between the duties and lessons she deemed important for Lexa.

The conversation she had had with Clarke encased in the small room flashed through her mind unbidden. Did the other girl really think her heartless? Forming the coalition had not always been easy. She had had to make a few very hard choices locking her heart away solely listening to her head. But she strived to form the coalition for her people, all of her people. Too many children lost their parents in senseless skirmishes for land and resources. She knew that her people would prosper once they had learned to efficiently share and trade their goods and knowledge.

The willingness to sacrifice your own personal feelings and wants was what made her a good commander or so Lexa thought. Her sacrifices would have been worth it when her people would finally have peace. Looking down at the sleeping girl using her legs as pillow Lexa thought that Marie most definitely did not regard her as heartless.

With a huff Lexa wondered why she even cared what the blonde Skykru leader thought of her. She had never before been personally offended when another clan leader insulted her in any way. She was annoyed with herself for feeling slightly hurt. So Lexa firmly banished all of her thoughts from her mind and kept her consciousness solely focused on their surroundings.

The commander did not wake Marie or Clarke to take over the watch. She would not have slept then anyway. The girl had looked peaceful in her slumber although she had some time ago wound her arms around one of Lexa’s legs as if to make sure she was still there. The position was not the most comfortable and due to the girl lying partly on herself she could not move around without waking her. Her shoulder throbbed painfully with every breath she took but she had been hurt far worse before.

When the sun was slowly starting to rise a loud roar resonated through the woods. The sound awoke Clarke and Marie both at the same time. Clarke startled awake and searched their surroundings with startled eyes while Marie shortly tightened her hold on Lexa’s leg before sitting up and stretching slightly.

“It is okay” Lexa said to Clarke “You are safe”. Clarke nodded faintly before she turned around to face Lexa and Marie. Lexa could see Clarke’s eyes widening when she saw the smaller girl sitting completely at ease next to the commander so closely that their legs were touching.

“How is your arm?” Clarke asked after a second with honest eyes. Lexa simply said “hurts” as an answer. She could see Clarke frowning at her nonchalant reaction. The girl could not know that it was an enormous show of trust on the commander’s part to admit to being in pain in front of her. Pain was weakness and with many other clan leaders she could not be this honest but she felt that Clarke would not try to exploit her injury. She had learnt that the girl was a healer of sorts so it must be in her nature to fuss over an injury.

“We should go” Clarke suddenly said standing up “That cage won’t hold forever”. Lexa nodded and Marie also stood up brushing some leaves from her coat as she stood. The commander wondered if the beast was still in the cage or if the loud roar a few moments prior had marked its escape. But she still had to tell the other girl something before they returned to TonDC. Something that she had not managed to push from her mind the whole night.

“Wait” Lexa said to Clarke and stood up coming to stand next to the other leader “I was wrong about you, Clarke. Your heart shows no sign of weakness.” The blonde seemed slightly surprised to hear her say something like that but she just nodded in acceptance before Lexa could see an idea flash in her blue eyes.

“The cage won’t hold” Clarke mumbled before turning back to Lexa and speaking louder again “I think I know how to take Mount Weather. We have been trying to get inside. But they have already let us in”

“What are you talking about?” Lexa asked confused by the other’s thoughts. They were quite obviously all outside of Mount Weather and not inside.

“Your army is already there” Clarke explained with confident words “Locked in cages. We just need someone on the inside to let them out.”

Lexa pondered her words for a moment. They had seen how weak Anya had been when she made it to TonDC. The question was how her health had been before she had been shot by Skykru. And Clarke’s plan was based completely on Bellamy’s ability to infiltrate the Mountain. She still was sure that relying on one man was not a good plan. “So Bellamy” Lexa said her face clearly showing her reluctance to accept such a plan.

But Clarke nodded vigorously so Lexa asked “You have faith in him?”

“I do” Clarke retorted in a heartbeat obviously not doubting Bellamy’s success for a second.

“I hope your faith is well placed” Lexa said still doubtful “Because if he can’t get inside, we can’t win.” She knew that the blonde had a point that her army would be useless against the acid fog. She would just lead her army into their sure death if they could not somehow lower the Mountain’s defences.

“He will” Clarke confirmed again kicking out the fire “Lexa, this is going to work. Come on”

Lexa nodded motioning Marie to come as well. The girl obliged silently without question. In her head Lexa debated how to convince her generals to grant Bellamy a few days to accomplish his task. To her it did not really make a difference how fast they were going to attack. They had already lost thousands to the Mountain. As hard as that sounded she would need to be sure that they had a chance to win before she would order her army to attack. Before they knew that those who entered the Mountain would never return, she would be happy to safe as many of her people as possible, but her priority had to be with those that were outside of the Mountain and to lay waste to the Mountain so finally no one else would get taken there.

Chapter Text

Chapter 51

Lexa guided them through the woods with a fast pace eager to return to TonDC. She knew her people would start to get anxious when it was discovered that their commander had gone missing. Marie’s stamina had already improved somewhat so the young girl had it easier to keep up with Lexa’s fast strides. But it was obvious that Clarke was struggling with their pace combined with the uneven ground of the woods. So Lexa reigned in her impatience and slowed them down slightly.

It took until early midday to reach the perimeter covered with scouts from TonDC. Two warriors suddenly dropped out of trees in front of them with their weapons drawn. They hastily put their swords into their sheaths when they recognized the commander and bowed reverently. “Alert my guard that I will be in TonDC shortly” Lexa ordered to the younger of them who quickly turned and vanished between the trees in the direction of TonDC. The other warrior looked at her arm still bound by the make-shift sling with a frown but the man dared not to question his commander. A silent waving gesture of Lexa’s hand was enough to make the man return to his watch post in the tree.

The rest of the short walk was spent in silence. On the outskirt of TonDC Lexa could make out Gustus and Anya waiting for their arrival and with a frown she also spotted Indra, Clarke’s mother and the Skykru girl who had taken a liking to Lincoln. The latter should all have been in the Skykru’s settlement. She could see her young charge smiling when she spotted Anya among the small group.

“What happened?” Anya immediately asked when they were in earshot. Gustus and Indra both looked relieved to see their commander return alive.

“We have run into a mutant gorilla” Marie chirped in quickly before Lexa had the chance to respond. Anya’s eyes widened almost comically as did the others. Warriors seldom survived facing a gorilla. The woods around TonDC housed a pair of them and people stayed clear of the area they were known to live. Clarke could not have known that of course.

“Chancellor, what brings you to TonDC?” Lexa formally asked interrupting Marie. Abby had stepped up to Clarke and had checked her daughter over quickly for any visible injuries and was obviously relieved to find her daughter whole and unharmed. “A messenger had told me that Clarke was missing” Abby answered “I wanted to know what had happened to her.” The commander inclined her head in acceptance and offered “Accommodations can be provided for you of course until you return to your settlement.” Abby nodded mutely and Lexa walked past her and Clarke while the rest of the group followed her to her tent.

Lexa sat onto her throne while Gustus summoned Nyko to take a look at her injured arm although she had already told them it was nothing serious.

“Are you hurt as well?” Anya asked Marie slightly concerned although she had not been able to spot any injuries on their charge. Marie shook her head and said “Only Lexa hurt herself when she fell.” Lexa bit her tongue in hidden annoyance she had not planned to reveal that detail. Anya scrunched her brow and questioned “Fell?” Marie animatedly described how they had tried to escape from the gorilla and how Lexa had fallen on the impact from the jump. At the end of their tale Anya smirked at Lexa but fortunately remained silent for now.

Lexa rolled her eyes while Nyko re-entered the tent closely followed by Gustus. The healer quickly examined her arm and came to the same conclusion she already had. It hurt but she could still move the arm and no bones were broken. So it was just an annoying injury and nothing serious.

“And why are you back in TonDC?” Lexa wanted to know from Indra when the healer had left her tent. Marie had gone behind the curtain with Anya and was probably washing herself judging by the occasional sound of a cloth being squeezed out of water.

“Abby had demanded to go to TonDC” Indra explained “I could not let her travel alone and the messenger had already left” Lexa nodded in silent acceptance and Indra continued “I also seek permission to take Octavia from the Sky people as my second.” The dark skinned general shortly gestured to the girl standing behind her. Octavia stood slightly taller when she heard her name and her eyes shown eagerly to be accepted in this new role. Lexa nodded again although she was surprised by this piece of news. Indra had been steadfastly against even considering to take Marie as her second when asked opting to kill the girl instead. So something must have happened between both of them for Indra to agree to take Octavia as her second. Indra rarely took seconds at all so it was a great honour for Octavia to now be the general’s second. The commander dismissed the general and her new second moments later when Marie returned from behind the curtain with Anya.

Her former mentor had a smirk on her face when she teased good-naturedly “So the mighty Heda is defeated by a mere wall in a fight against a gorilla…” Lexa grumbled lowly too low to understand any words which only made Anya laugh out loud. Marie had been watching the exchange with confusion on her face when she caught up with what Anya implied her face fell and she looked at the older woman reproachfully. It was Lexa’s turn to burst out laughing when Marie explained to Anya in a serious tone that making fun of Lexa for that was mean from Anya. The look of utter disbelief on Anya’s face had Lexa forget her slight annoyance in seconds. Marie was even more confused by that reaction and looked at Lexa questioningly “What is funny now?” her voice had a hint of a pout in it and Lexa sobered quickly still chuckling slightly she answered “You managed to shut Anya up. Not such a small feat.” Now Anya lightly glared at the commander but kept silent for now. Lexa had a soft expression on her face when she complimented Marie “How you managed to hit the gorilla in the eyes was also a great feat.” The girl seemed to glow under her praise and smiled widely at Lexa.

Anya wanted to know what exactly she meant by that but Lexa let Marie tell the other woman about that. So the commander just listened as Marie recollected how she had saved Lexa with Clarke. Anya looked slightly impressed at the girl’s involvement but Lexa could see a flash of concern in her brown eyes when the woman realized how close to death Lexa really had been.

Anya was relieved to see Lexa smiling even just for short moments. When the commander had sent her away from Polis she knew that a part of Lexa had died alongside Costia. It seemed that Marie had helped Lexa in a way no one else had been able to so far.

Even for herself there had been a time when she had lost sight of the sense of all the fighting. She had just lost her younger sister to the Mountain and a few weeks later a group of bandits from Azgeda had attacked the small journey of merchants traveling from Polis back into their villages in Trikru. Her older brother had been with them and with him the last part of her family had died. Anya had been consumed with grief and a blind thirst for revenge, she had barely finished her own education as a second. Her own mentor had watched her spiral into the abyss of anger and hate. When she had joined a group of young Trikru soldiers to raid Azgeda villages next to their borders and had barely survived their insane skirmish her mentor had taken her to the side again. She had raged at the older woman that with the death of her family and everyone she had cared about there was no sense in fighting anymore. The woman had let her rage for as long as she wanted baring the storm of her emotion without reacting to them. When her rage had burnt down and all that was left was emptiness her mentor had taken her to another village. She had been introduced to a small orphaned child, a boy named Thaim. Her mentor had told her to take care of him and she would learn again why they would forever continue to fight. She had been right. Taking care and training a child had awakened something within her again and so it seemed to have also now happened to Lexa.

The commander was pleased to hear that Anya and Gustus had kept her disappearance mostly silent. Her army would most likely not have reacted well to the news that their commander and the Skykru leader had gone missing together. Anya also seemed to do better. Marie had obviously re-opened part of the wound when her staff had hit her but according to Nyko the wound was healing nicely.

Lexa told Anya of the plan Clarke had come up with “If Bellamy gets into the Mountain, he can free our people and we already have an army inside.” Her voice sounded slightly faltering even to her own ears. And her doubts were directly reflected on her former mentors face. “Her plan has a huge flaw” Anya said after a few moments of silence “Most of our people locked there in cages won’t be able to fight. I was barely able to walk, I would not have been able to escape without Clarke. They keep us in a sort of daze with something they inject.” Lexa grinded her teeth together mutely deep in thought, that was exactly what she had feared “Clarke is right that we need the acid fog gone, leading the army against Mount Weather would just kill us all otherwise.” Anya nodded with a contemplative expression but she had no alternative plan to offer.

They were interrupted when Gustus proclaimed Clarke’s arrival. The blonde girl stormed into the tent with purposeful strides and directly said “I will leave to Arkadia now, with my mother. I need to know, if Bellamy has checked in yet. And maybe Raven can up with something to destroy the dam.”

The commander nodded “Indra and a few of my warriors will escort you to your settlement. And you will be assigned a personal guard.” Clarke opened her mouth obviously intent to reject the offered guard but Lexa continued not giving her the opportunity to speak her mind “As a leader of your people you need to be guarded, Clarke” when the other still looked at her sceptically Lexa added “Even I have guards with me at all times. The generals of the other clans are expected to arrive in the next two days, you will be needed here for the next war council.” The blonde sighed still reluctant but nodded her consent.

The commander had quickly organised a small group of warriors to escort Skykru back to their camp as well as scouts to search the way beforehand. Lexa had given Indra strict orders on who to listen to in the Skykru camp should there be any problem. For her it remained true that Clarke was Skykru’s leader and not her mother. The commander had made sure that they would be riding to their settlement or they would not reach it until night. Marie and Anya had watched how both Clarke and Abby were helped onto a horse and the girl was snickering quietly at the open fright on Abby’s face. She had come to love the big animals but obviously the others still needed to see what she loved about them.

Just as the small group had ridden out of sight from TonDC another group arrived in TonDC from the opposite direction. Marie could see Anya stiffening slightly next to her and she cast the woman a worried glance and Lexa had quickly removed the bandage around her arm. The newcomers dismounted in perfect sync but it was obvious they were not welcomed in TonDC judging from the glares they received. The commander approached the small group with a carefully blank face and greeted the general who had led the group. “They are Ice Nation, are they not?” Marie whispered to Anya to which the woman only gave a curt nod her eyes not leaving the other warriors. After they had discarded their hoods Marie could see scars forming patterns on their faces and their armour was aligned with fur which she had not seen with Trikru soldiers.

The tension was diffused somewhat when another group entered TonDC on horseback. Their clothes were completely different from Trikru, while Trikru mostly wore dark and earthy colours, those people wore light clothes. The one proceeding the group had some bright yellow strips of cloth interwoven in her dark blonde hair. “Desert clan” Anya said when Marie looked at her questioningly.

A few buildings had been cleared in TonDC and extra tents had been set up to house the generals and attendants of the other clans.

The night was interrupted time and time again by generals arriving in TonDC and the commander was barely able to catch any sleep. Lexa did not want to keep on waking up Anya and Marie who lay beside her bed on their furs. After the second time she had been woken by Gustus Lexa opted to rest sitting on her throne. Annoyed the commander wondered if the generals had planned their arrival in the middle of the night just to spite her. But they were finally getting what she had promised when she had started to form the coalition. Her strongest argument in the beginning had been that they could just fell the mountain if they combined their strength which made her wonder what would happen to her coalition if they truly succeeded to win this war?

Chapter Text

Chapter 52

When Marie woke the next morning she was still snuggled up to Anya. Cautiously she extracted herself from the still sleeping woman. Through the thin material of the tent she could see that the sun had not started to rise yet and a glance at Lexa’s bed showed the absence of the other woman. Marie noted with a frown that the commander’s bed looked untouched and she wondered if Lexa had slept at all last night. Silently Marie tiptoed behind the curtain and made a surprised sound when she found Lexa dozing lightly on her throne still dressed in full armour. The sound however faint it had been startled Lexa awake instantly and Marie noticed the dark shadows under the green eyes indicating the exhaustion the other woman must feel. “Can I get you anything?” the girl asked in a kind voice reflecting her worry for the commander. Lexa tiredly rubber her eyes and let out a hiss when she moved her injured arm forgetting momentarily of the injury. Having slept sitting clad in full armour had aggravated the discomfort she felt and her shoulder seemed to give a slight painful throb with every heartbeat.

“You can get Nyko” Lexa said to the girl to which she nodded enthusiastic to be helpful in any way, as an afterthought the commander added “But I do not want you wandering TonDC on your own now”. Marie pursed her lips slightly but nodded. Silently she thought that she could defend herself if needed. To the girl’s discomfort only Gustus stood post at the entrance of the commander’s tent. Marie still couldn’t really muster the courage to look at the man. Gustus of course instantly agreed to accompany the girl to the healer’s hut. On their way to Nyko Marie could spot various new arrivals in TonDC. All of them seemed to turn their heads when Gustus and she walked past them. Fortunately no one dared to approach Gustus who was known as the commander’s personal guard.

Gustus was slightly unnerved by the girl’s sudden quietness around him, he had come to like the child’s chirpy talkativeness. To finally clear the tenseness between them he pulled Marie to the side before they entered Nyko’s hut. The sudden alarm flashing across Marie’s eyes only convinced Gustus that he really needed to talk with the girl urgently. He slightly crouched down before the girl to be on the same level with her which only made her eyes widen in obvious confusion. Silently Gustus wondered if Marie really had feared that he would attack her out of revenge for Sierra. “Listen to me” Gustus said to the girl in an even honest voice his dark eyes boring into hers “And listen well, because I will not repeat myself.” The girl nodded mutely so Gustus continued “I do not blame you for Sierra’s death” when the girl made to open her mouth Gustus shook his head and said “I do not! You did the right thing. I should not have taken the blame for her sins, Marie.” “But you had to …” Marie tried with an unsteady voice “…to cut into her and all because of me…” Gustus again shook his head “You still do not understand what such an execution means to us” When the girl looked at him with confused grey eyes he added “I would have put shame to my whole family, my position and the commander if I had been executed while Sierra lived. No matter what sins you might have committed, by accepting the death of a thousand cuts we clear the culprit. If a member of your family is to be executed it is seen as a dishonour to not participate and by thus not accept the punishment.” Marie still looked slightly confused but she nodded mutely with a cautious expression. More to himself then to Marie he added “And Sierra might have even tried again to go against the alliance later." Marie tentatively smiled at the burly man who nodded once more to her and stood up opening the healer’s hut as he did.

Nyko immediately gathered what he might need for the commander and they together quickly made their way back to the commander’s tent. When they entered Anya had also already gotten up and was sipping a steaming cup of tea. Alira was still bustling through the tent after helping the commander doffing off her armour. The healer made Lexa a special brew that should keep her alert through the day despite her lack of sleep and applied a paste to the injured shoulder to aid in the healing and to take the edge of the pain. He also checked on Anya’s injury removing the dressing carefully. The healer was obviously satisfied with the healing progress but demanded that the general still should take it easy for the next days or she might undo the healing progress.

“How many clans have already arrived?” Anya asked when Alira and Nyko had left and they had sat down to have a quick breakfast together. “Seven so far, but the others are expected here until tomorrow night when the war council will take place” Lexa answered grimacing at the bitter taste of the brew Nyko had provided her with. “Do you want some honey?” Marie offered a small pot to the commander. After Alira had seen how much the girl clearly enjoyed a bit of honey on a slice of bread and to sweeten tea she made sure to always provide a small pot with every meal she brought to them. But the commander shook her head declining the offer seeing the small frown forming on their charge’s face she explained “This tonic doesn’t mix well with honey. It counteracts some of the effects so you need to drink it as it is.” “Oh” Marie said in a sympathetic tone. “Marie should not wander TonDC on her own now that other clans have arrived with their delegations” Lexa said to Anya and Gustus who both nodded while Marie looked slightly glum. Anya shot the girl a warning glare and admonished her “Not all the clans will accept Skykru as friendly as Trikru has” “But I am Trikru now, am I not?” the girl asked in a defiant tone. “For those unfamiliar with you and Skykru it will only amplify their distrust that you have been integrated in Trikru this quickly and that I have put you under the commander’s protection will certainly add to that” Lexa tried to explain to the girl who now nodded in understanding.

After their breakfast Lexa made a round through TonDC. Because Anya still had to take it easy Lexa had outright forbidden her general to train Marie in combat for the next days. The commander and Gustus would later take some time to continue their training. Anya had grumbled the whole time until they stepped outside of the tent her face becoming expressionless but still clearly annoyed by the orders.

The commander checked in with all the delegations that had arrived so far to confirm that each had settled well into their temporary accommodations. Tensions were running high in TonDC and it was obvious that some of the clans would have rather liked to already start fighting each other which made Lexa wonder again how she was supposed to keep the coalition together should the Mountain fall. None of the generals outright said anything to Marie’s presence but the judging glances were enough to show Marie that Lexa had been right and she would avoid going through TonDC on her own from now on. While some of the delegations such as Floukru had only seemed intrigued by the blonde girl others like Azgeda had looked had her with open hate and distrust.

Marie noticed that the warriors which had erected their tents in the free spaces TonDC had were dismantling the tents again. When she questioned Anya for the reason the general told her that the village was too small to house the army so that the warriors would fan out in the woods around TonDC leaving only a small delegation including the generals to settle in the heart of TonDC instead.

Later their training garnered some of the delegations towards the training pits. Marie was handed some knives to show off her skills with throwing them. A second from the desert clan bolder then the others asked since when the girl has been trained. When answered that her training just started a few days ago all the assembled seemed impressed. Even her skills with a bow were enough to show off with the information that she also had never held a bow prior to getting to earth. The Azgeda general scorned at the girl when Gustus had taken position opposite of her to start actual combat training. Marie had already improved a lot compared to the very first training session but she still stood no chance against Gustus and being watched by so many had made the girl nervous and flimsy tripping over her own feat in the first round. Anya could see the Azgeda general smirking down at the girl whispering a taunt to a warrior next to him who burst out laughing. What they both had not expected was for the girl to quickly spring back to her feet with an ambitious glint in her eyes and made a quick combination of attacks on Gustus. She did not bring him to his back but she did get a hit in successfully.

“Enough” Lexa suddenly proclaimed nodding at the girl with appraisal in her green eyes. Marie straightened her back and wiped the sweat from her brow. They had succeeded to show that Marie had started her training and showed some talent which had been the whole point of this upset.

The commander had to leave to greet the broad leave clan delegation. At the same time Indra came back to TonDC with Octavia in tow. Anya brought Indra to the commander’s tent to wait for Lexa who returned a few minutes later. Octavia had a photograph in hand which showed Clarke and the commander and both of their heads had been marked. Indra explained to Anya that they had had a run in with assassins from Mount Weather and one had survived. It was obvious the general was angry that the Skykru had denied her the right to kill the man. Apparently Bellamy had finally checked in with Skykru and made it into Mount Weather undetected.

Lexa had listened to Indra’s report with a furrowed brow. She wondered how the Mountain Men could have this much knowledge about them. She had no idea how they got a photograph of them. Someone must have watched them even though she had had the whole woods around TonDC spiked with her own scouts. That Mountain Men had obviously wandered the woods completely undetected did not sit well with her. “Increase the patrols through the woods” Lexa ordered immediately to Indra who nodded and left the tent with Octavia.

“Skykru have a weird sense of honour” Anya said after Indra had left to which Marie looked at her confused. Lexa just waved her off her thoughts still occupied by something else “How could Mount Weather infiltrate the woods around us? The whole perimeters are scouted rapidly…” It was obvious that the commander was alarmed over the news. Anya made a noncommittal noise as the only answer fiddling with Tris’ braid in her fingers. She would have to thank Clarke for having Octavia look in their metal ship for her coat. She had been lucky and her coat had still been there with the braid hidden in an inner pocket. Octavia had handed her the coat while they had waited for the commander to return. Anya had only looked for the braid after Indra and Octavia had left the commander’s tent and was internally grateful that it had still been there.

The night went over in a similar fashion to the previous one. Lexa was awoken by Gustus three times throughout the night to greet another delegation arriving at TonDC. The commander had only caught a few hours of sleep in the early hours of the night and had been lucky that the next delegation arrived just after sunrise. Now only two more clans had to make their appearance and Clarke was expected to be back as well.

Lexa was slightly irritated when Skykru had sent Marcus Kane instead of Clarke. Even though she thought the man had a talent for diplomacy it was important that Clarke was seen by the other delegations. Marcus tried to apologize for the girl telling the commander that something with Bellamy had come up. He also had a draft of a plan with him on how Skykru’s engineers thought of a possibility to destroy the dam and in this way cut Mount Weather from their power supply.

Lexa had still denied Anya the opportunity to train Marie this day but had relented when Anya suggested to take the girl on a short hunt. So Anya and Marie left TonDC in the early morning. The general was annoyed with all the useless waiting and needed something to do. Marie had at first been enthusiastic but her spirit had quickly dampened when Anya started criticizing her the moment she stepped foot out of TonDC. Going on a hunt with Lexa had been way more entertaining but when Mari said so lowly Anya had been less then pleased with the grumbled comparison. Her brown eyes were drawn into angry slits when she jeered “You are still as loud as a pauna”. Marie bit her lip to keep silent. She had noticed Anya’s mood and impatience and knew better then to rise to the bait.

Marie was startled when Anya suddenly sprinted away from her with her swords drawn and she tried to keep up with the woman. Suddenly a gunshot resonated through the trees where Anya had disappeared and with a loudly hammering heart and her dagger in hand Marie crept closer to the origin of the sound. Anya was fighting with a man from Mount Weather judging by the strange material he was wearing. What her mentor had not seen was the second man still hidden in the bush. Marie spotted the man who was wearing a strange camouflage suit blending him into the surroundings perfectly taking aim with his gun at Anya while the woman still fought with the other man. Without further thought Marie jumped at the man as silent as possible dagger drawn and rammed the blade into the suit to hit the other’s throat. The man had not noticed her approach and shock registered on his face when he ripped the blade from his throat. Blood sprayed through the large tear in the suit onto Marie’s front and hands. With widened eyes the girl watched the man falling to the ground clutching at his severely bleeding wound when the skin under his helmet started to blister. Anya had managed to kill the other one with her sword straight into his heart in the meantime. When the woman saw her charge standing over the second dead warrior her grey eyes wide and unseeing she cautiously approached the girl. “Marie?” Anya called for the girl and slowly extended her hand to her. But when she made contact with Marie the girl reeled back as if burnt shaking her head silently crying in shock. Her breathing was erratic while her eyes switched between her bloody hands and the corpse at her feet in obvious horror. “Marie” Anya repeated now louder and clearer, she had no idea if there may be more Mountain Men hidden in the vicinity so they needed to leave to TonDC urgently. “I ...” Marie started her eyes now fixed on Anya “I …” but the girl did not manage to get the words out she wanted to. “Ssshh” Anya shushed her. She knew that the very first kill was the worst, it got easier but she still remember her own first kill and both Lexa and Tris had not reacted well to their first kills either. She enveloped the girl into her strong arms for a moment “We need to return to TonDC” she said to her young charge with urgency in her voice. The girl’s eyes had cleared somewhat although she was shaking slightly but she nodded. With shaking hands the girl retrieved her dagger from the ground her eyes taking in the blood on the blade. Not giving her any more chance to break down in the wood Anya just grabbed one of Marie’s hand and practically pulled the girl the way back to TonDC. Lexa took in the girl’s appearance with worried eyes when they finally made it back to TonDC. Marie was completely unresponsive at the moment and still had the dagger clutched tightly into her other hand dried blood smeared over her front, face and hands. Anya needed to be part of the war council as well so she steered the girl into the commander’s tent to try and calm Marie as best as she could in the few minutes left before the war council would gather.

Lexa had looked behind her former mentor and Marie disappearing in the direction of the tent, she knew that Anya would tell her later what had happened in the woods and just before the commander had wanted to call the generals to open the war meeting two riders approached TonDC at a fast pace. To her surprise it was Clarke with the guard she had assigned to her.

“Clarke of the Sky people honours us with her presence” she jeered slightly at the blonde leader telling her that just sending Marcus Kane in her stead was unacceptable. The other had the decency to blush but she also just ignored the jab asking for a private audience. The urgent tone of her voice told her that whatever Clarke wanted was important.

Chapter Text

Chapter 53

Anya had guided the girl to the commander’s tent feeling eyes following the both of them. The girl was white as a sheet and had stared blankly through everything. Blood had sprayed over the girl’s hands, face and coat. Due to the dark colour of her coat the blood was not that obvious but it contrasted strongly with her pale skin. Gustus who had been send from Lexa’s side when Clarke demanded a private audience was waiting outside of the tent.

“Marie” Anya addressed the child in a gentle tone but the girl was unresponsive as if she had not heard her at all. Anya let the girl stand in the middle of the tent for a moment collecting a basin with fresh water and some cloths to clean the blood from her young charge. When she returned the girl still stood where she had left her shaking slightly her fingers clenched strongly around her dagger on which the blood had dried by now.

Cautiously Anya crouched down in front of the child taking the hand still clutching the dagger in hers and started to gently pry away the girl’s fingers from the handle just letting the knife fall to the floor of the tent with a low thud. Carefully she started to clean the Mountain Man’s blood from Marie’s hand with a wetted cloth. The girl’s shaking increased with every second and when Anya started to whip the dried blood from her face the girl started to blink a few times as if waking from a haze. Her grey eyes were wide and unfocused. “I killed him” the girl said suddenly in a shaky voice “just like that. He had aimed at you …” Anya’s eyes softened and she gently framed the girl’s cheeks with her hands “Then you have saved my life, Marie” “But I just killed him…” the girl’s voice got shriller with each words tears gathering in her eyes. Anya shook her head “The first kill is never easy and killing another should never become easy.” “How do you do it then?” Marie asked her voice despaired. “You need to remember why you are fighting at all” the woman said “And you did not hesitate to defend me today. You did well, you will receive you first kill mark for doing so.” The girl did not seem reassured at all and just broke out in tears. Anya pulled the child’s body against herself and enveloped her in a strong hug gently rocking the girls lightly all the while murmuring nonsense words in her ears.

They were interrupted when suddenly Lexa burst into the tent closely followed by Clarke. The blond looked confused when she noticed Marie’s obvious distress but just turned back to Lexa and seemed to take up an argument “You can’t just want to do nothing. What good does an inside-man if we do not use his information?”

Lexa seemed to ignore the other and quickly unbuckled her shoulder guard discarding the armour and her red sash carelessly on the floor of the tent. Anya watched on in confusion as Lexa disguised herself with a dark scarf and pushed on into Clarke’s hands.

“We must do something!” Clarke raged just holding the scarf in her hands her face showing her inner turmoil.

“What is going on?” Anya asked confused still keeping her arms around Marie.

Lexa turned to her former mentor “Mount Weather is sending a missile to TonDC”

Anya’s eyes widened. She had not seen the effects of such a weapon first-hand but she was told from the elders in her village that the last time Mount Weather had launched one had left a whole in the woods to wide to see the edge. But as a strategist she also understood why the commander had obviously not ordered for the evacuation of TonDC. Their ability to win against the Mountain largely relied on Bellamy’s success.

“But…” Clarke tried again her desperation rising obviously. The commander whirled around to her “What do you want me to do Clarke? Has Bellamy disabled the acid fog? Has he uncaged my sleeping army?” when the blonde woman shook her head reluctantly the commander continued “You have not said anything about the missile even to your own people. You know that this is the only choice to make. You have shown great strength today, don’t let emotions cloud your mind now. We must slip away now.”

Marie had backed away slightly from Anya looking back and forth between the commander and Anya with wide frightened eyes.

“A fire…” the girl mumbled suddenly while Lexa tried to urge Clarke to leave. “What?” Anya asked the girl lowly. “Starting a fire would make the people go into the woods or gather water from the stream” Marie reasoned. Lexa had turned from Clarke and listened to Marie’s words.

“Would a fire spread fast enough?” the commander turned to Anya who was more familiar with the buildings around TonDC. The older woman thought for a second then nodded her head “You should retreat to the woods nevertheless. But be careful, we encountered two from Mount Weather in the woods on our hunt.” Lexa was struck uncomfortably with the fact that her former mentor did not seem to think about leaving before anyone else did even for a second. A worried glance at the girl still leaning against her told the commander that the woman cared more for the girl surviving the attack then herself. “Let Gustus help you” Lexa suggested “And be quick about it”. The commander was strangely reluctant to leave her former mentor behind now that she was faced with her.

The woman nodded and gently pushed Marie in Lexa’s direction her eyes almost pleading with the commander to take the girl with her to safety. Lexa nodded to Anya and quickly retrieved another scarf to hide the girl’s conspicuous hair. She pulled the girl with her Clarke following them almost reluctantly while Anya had picked up Marie’s knife and put it into her coat to hopefully return it to their charge later. She quickly briefed Gustus on what to do and they set to work.

Lexa urged Marie and Clarke to leave TonDC faster without attracting attention to them. When the blonde Skykru leader stopped suddenly behind them Lexa turned and noticed what must have made her stop. Clarke’s mother was walking through TonDC and Clarke hurried to her. Lexa called behind the other but was ignored. With a curse under her breath the commander halted. In the middle of TonDC she could suddenly see smoke rising in the air indicating that Anya and Gustus had put their plan into action. It took only a few moments before others had noticed and people started to swarm out into the woods. Lexa anxiously watched the sky that had started to turn dark for any signs of a missile. She knew that only moments would pass between seeing the signs and the impact.

A moment later the horses had been released from the meadow they had been kept on and stormed away from TonDC. Smoke had become thicker indicating that the fire was spreading quickly. Lexa knew that the few buildings which had remained from the world before the bombs would probably not burn well. But these buildings had served as a centre for TonDC and wooden structures had been erected around them and as the village had grown they had started to build closer to other buildings leaving next to no free space between them and the wooden structures would all burn well once they had caught fire. The commander thought that she already knew why the Mountain chose to use a missile now after so many years. Before she formed the coalition there had always been war between the clans, some smaller alliances had existed but nothing permanent, leaving all of them vulnerable and weak and unable to face the Mountain. Now that they had banded together their combined strength must pose a very real threat to the Mountain. Killing all of their leaders with just one attack would warrant that their attention turned from the Mountain to resume waring with each other making them weak once again.

“What about all of those that don’t leave?” Marie suddenly asked in a timid voice. The girl no real idea what damage a missile would do but she had seen what the relatively small explosive had done to the bridge where Tris had been killed.

Lexa looked at the girl who still looked shaken and pale “Everyone who escaped from the fire will be save from the missile”. The commander watched as Clarke practically pulled her mother away from TonDC and into the treeline when suddenly the missile appeared on the dark sky. Marie’s eyes widened and all seemed to happen in slow motion. The girl sucked in a harsh breath and anxiously watched the missile’s flaming path over the night sky until it exploded. The force of the explosion swept both of them from their feet and Marie’s ears ringed painfully.

Everything seemed to stand still for a few seconds until Marie heard muffled screams through the ringing in her ears. She barely felt it when Lexa pulled her to her feat a few seconds later having recovered earlier from the impact. Marie could see many people running through the trees. Some were still fleeing away from the site of the explosion while others tried to get back to the smouldering ruins which once were TonDC.

In a slight distance they could see Clarke trying to talk with her mother who just turned away from her with judging eyes and Clarke crying a single tear. Lexa’s mind raced as she analysed that the Skykru chancellor had obviously concluded that her daughter had been aware of the missile. This could end in possible disaster.

The remnants of TonDC were burning and screams and sounds of despair carried over to them. Lexa closed her eyes tightly for a second absorbing the pain and death of her people. The time between the fire and the missile’s impact had not been long enough for all of the people to flee into the woods. But the commander knew that staying so close to TonDC was dangerous. Clarke had explained that the Mountain Men needed what she called a spotter to aim their missile, if they would see her and Clarke she feared they would send a second missile and more people would die as some had already started to run back to TonDC to look for survivors.

When Lexa saw Clarke following her mother who had run back to TonDC with unsteady steps she quickly ordered Marie to stay put and hurried behind Clarke. The girl was in shock obviously and only responded after a few tries muttering that she had failed.

“Victory stands on the back of sacrifice” Lexa said “And we have to move, if they see us, they will strike again.” The blonde leader nodded after a few seconds coming out of her daze when suddenly shots rang out through TonDC.

“The spotter. He is alone” Clarke said already moving in the direction of where the shots came from. The commander and Marie followed her Lexa stopping her quickly “If he sees us and reports to the Mountain…” Clarke interrupter her with an angry glint in her blue eyes “He won’t because I will kill him beforehand.” The defiance in Clarke’s blue eyes silenced the commander and she merely nodded.

“What about Anya?” Marie meekly asked Lexa looking back at TonDC with worried grey eyes. Lexa shook her head “I hope she is alright. But we cannot return to TonDC before the spotter is gone.” “Can’t I search for her?” Marie almost pleaded. “No” Lexa said with finality pulling the girl behind Clarke forcefully.

They walked through the dark forest for a few minutes. Lexa tried to reason with Clarke that they had done the right thing and that killing the spotter for revenge won’t make her feel better. Silently Marie thought she could absolutely agree with the last part. The girl’s breathing quickened slightly when the Mountain Man she had killed re-appeared in front of her eyes his blood spraying over her again.

Lexa turned around to Marie having picked up on the girl’s distress and grabbed her shoulders harsher then intended and said “Focus!” Marie tried to stop her panic and nodded slightly when suddenly Lexa whirled around again as footsteps sounded in front of them.

The footsteps belonged to Lincoln who was obviously surprised to see them here. But before the man could say anything Gustus and Anya joined them. Lexa felt relive curse through her veins while Marie instantly hugged Anya tightly making the woman wince slightly from the pain of her healing wound.

“The fire was no coincidence, wasn’t it?” Lincoln asked in a cautious voice. The commander thought of her options for a moment before she inclined her head in agreement. Shots rang out again and Lincoln told them that the survivors of the explosion were trapped by the sniper. They set off together to take him down.

Chapter Text

Chapter 54

Searching for the sniper took way longer then Marie expected. The sun was already rising behind the mountains behind TonDC. The shock of the previous evening had worn off and Marie now only felt empty and drained. Keeping up with the others became more strenuous with every new step uphill. She had no experience with climbing a mountain and the exhaustion of the previous day caught up with her making her legs feel like heavy blocks.

Behind them smoke still rose into view in a big black cloud from the remnants of TonDC. Marie could see the commander looking down onto TonDC with regret flashing in her green eyes. The girl silently wondered why the commander had not just evacuated TonDC the moment Clarke told her of the missile, that way more lives could have been saved. She wanted to ask Anya when suddenly a bullet hit a rock behind her chipping off some small slivers. Gustus had positioned himself in front of Lexa and pushed the commander to seek cover behind a mountain ledge. Anya quickly pushed the startled girl down to make her a smaller target and almost hauled the girl behind the mountain ledge.

“So much to the element of surprise” Anya commented almost snarky. It had taken way too long for her liking to find the spotter from Mount Weather. They needed to return to TonDC as soon as possible to help the survivors and the commander needed to be seen by her people before chaos broke out. She knew how quickly the absence of a leader could cause unrest between the armies of the different clans.

Clarke suddenly started to fire her gun at the spotter giving Lincoln the opportunity to approach the spotter unharmed. Anya also slipped away to come at the man from his backside. She had to admit that the disguise of the spotter perfectly blended into the woods. If she had merely been on patrol and the man had kept still she highly doubted she would have noticed his presence at all. Marie had stayed back with the commander Gustus standing in front of the woman protectively.

The girl watched as Lincoln pinned the spotter to the ground holding a dagger to his throat when the man suddenly had a small device in his hand that made a shrill noise making Lincoln drop his dagger and grab his head as if in pain. Clarke still her gun pointed at the spotter and looked ready to shoot when the spotter easily overpowered Lincoln and threatened to kill him should Clarke not lower her weapon. The man had not noticed Anya rounding up on him from behind and his face morphed into a shocked grimace when suddenly a sword protruded from his chest. Anya ripped her bloodied sword out of his body with one quick movement and then man fell to his knees in the grass clutching at the whole in his chest. Marie watched on emotionally unattached as the man’s eyes became glassy, he had bled out.

“We need to get back” Lexa said breaking their stupor. The commander knew that it would not take long for the parts of the army that had camped a few hours away from TonDC to make their way to the ruins. They all needed to see that she had survived.

The way back to TonDC seemed even longer to Marie although they were travelling downhill now they had walked several hours the last night and had to return the whole way. She was both relieved and shocked when they finally reached TonDC. The missile had completely destroyed the village but what surprised her was that several members of Skykru were there helping to dig out survivors out of collapsed buildings.

Lincoln had spotted Octavia with the others seconds trying to pull a heavy piece of rumble away and quickly run to her. Both of them hugged enthusiastically and kissed. Others had spotted the commander by now and chanting of “Heda” resonated through TonDC as all of the grounders stopped what they were doing to acknowledge that their commander had survived the attack.

Lexa pulled her hand up in the air and the crowd hushed immediately. Anya let her eyes quickly roam over the gathered crowd and thought that many more would have been lost without the deliberate fire and she squeezed Marie’s shoulders gently, while the girl let herself lean against Anya’s strong frame.

The commander spotted a few deceased people between the ruins but filed that away for later when she would knew exact numbers of the losses “What happened today will not stand” Lexa loudly addressed her people “The mountain will fall. Our dead will be avenged!” Shouts of affirmation could be heard through the crowd as they cheered. Abby suddenly spoke up that there were still people buried alive and that they had to start getting them out. Lexa looked slightly annoyed at the older woman but let her insolence pass turning to Clarke with determination in her eyes “With both our people working together, we will win this war.”

Clarke nodded although it was obvious guilt was already weighing her down seeing the effects of the missile now. “Everyone joining the attack will leave now to join up with the army already camped in the vicinity of the Mountain” Lexa added and the blonde nodded, knowing that she would be joining the commander.

Lexa looked to Anya and Marie. The girl looked to be asleep on her feet and leant against Anya but letting her stay here was not an option. Gaining her first kill had definitely given the girl the right to join in the attack.

Clarke asked if Lexa could spare some people to help hers gather the wounded to the Ark, where they had better equipment to help heal them. The commander quickly organized what would be needed and watched as Clarke said her goodbyes to her mother. The older woman worried her slightly it was obvious she knew that she had not given the orders to evacuate TonDC and she did not trust her to keep silent entirely.

Indra had stepped up to the commander and Lexa noted with slight worry that the general was wounded. The sniper had shot at her and the bullet had pierced right through the other woman’s shoulder. The steeliness in the dark skinned woman’s eyes was unchanged and there was no talking sense into her to stay behind at least for a day or two. Of course as the commander she could have just ordered Indra to stay or accompany Skykru to have her injurie properly treated but she knew that the woman would take such as a personal insult so she had the wounded general join the procession of warriors who all wanted to join up with the army.

The way to the army’s camp site was long and they travelled through the whole night. Marie had never felt more exhausted she was only working on auto-pilot blindly stumbling behind Anya and Lexa. Her legs seemed to have lost feeling all together and the girl wished for nothing more than a horse to carry her weight. But Marie did not complain aloud once.

Anya had to forcefully keep a pained grimace from face. The still healing injury gave a painful throb with every step she took. Lexa looked to be deep in thought same as Clarke. But Lexa had a calculated expression on her face as if she might mentally be planning their next steps in this war whereas Clarke looked a mixture between defeated and defiant.

“What did marrow treatment mean?” Anya suddenly addressed Clarke who visibly startled. The warrior had caught the phrase spoken between Clarke and her mother but was unfamiliar with the meaning.

“It is a medical procedure with bone marrow” Clarke explained. “Bone marrow” Anya repeated the unfamiliar words as if to get a taste of them. Clarke tried to explain to the general how stem cells derived from bone marrow could be used to transfer cells and their phenotypes into another body. Anya’s brows furrowed in confusion she could distinctly imagine what the blonde girl meant but the concept was alien to her. She had been shocked already to see the Mountain use their blood as medicine. “How do you get that?” Anya asked next avoiding using the word “harvest” as she had heard Clarke call the room Mount Weather had kept all of them in. “You can extract it from the hip bone by drilling into it” Clarke answered. From the corner of her eye Anya could see Lexa following the conversation with obvious interest. One more question struck in her mind “How much marrow can you extract from a body?” “That depends on many factors” Clarke answered thinking hard to remember the medical lessons she had had with her mother “Health, body size and other factors influence that. And age is a huge drawback. They could get more or rather stem cells with a higher potency out of … for example Marie in comparison to me.” Anya silently processed the words she had just heard “And this treatment makes it possible for them to breathe our air?” Clarke nodded with a sad expression in her eyes “That the sniper was not wearing a hazmat suite proves that.”

The conversation halted when Clarke’s face fell. Even though she had no definite proof she knew that the Mountain must be killing her friends one by one to cure themselves. Ironically Clarke thought that many people from the Ark would have been willing to donate stem cells if asked and in exchange for shelter or aid. But the Mountain Men had chosen their path and she would stop at nothing to rescue her friends from their greedy clutches.

When finally they met the first scouts around the army’s camp Marie nearly collapsed to her knees relief clearly written on her face. The scouts’ relief at spotting the commander herself leading the group was palpable in the air. They spoke of unrest in the army’s camp. All of them had seen the missile soaring through the night sky from the Mountain and obviously the Azgeda delegation had already joined up with the army spreading news of the commander’s supposedly death. Chaos had taken root in the camp and the different clans had directly been at each other’s throats. The scout Lexa heard the report from, a young man barely older then fifteen winters, told her that the generals who had made it back to the army’s camp were holding a meeting in the commander’s tent to decide how to move on now. The commander angrily gritted her teeth she could almost imagine the disappointment of some of her generals at discovering her survival.

Lexa urged the group on faster eager to end the meeting her generals were having without her attendance. She feared they might just decide to march on the Mountain like that or attack Trikru. Most of the Trikru army had been stationed nearer to TonDC and all generals of Trikru travelled with her in this group at the moment. Trikru had suffered the most losses through the missile she knew that without exact numbers but it would make those who had survived fight all the harder to avenge those that had been lost to Mountain.

Marie obviously had trouble keeping up with the increased pace but she urged her body to somehow dig out more energy from her reserves.

The warriors who saw them approaching immediately started chanting Lexa’s title in reverent voices. From the tent intended for the commander shouts flittered through the tent’s material. Lexa did not even wait a heartbeat and stormed into the tent with purposeful strides. The faces of the generals as they whipped around to the intruder were almost comical in their obvious shock. Lexa carefully let her eyes scan over all of the assembled generals noting who looked genuinely relieved to see her and who barely managed to hide their displeasure. Only three generals stood out among the others, the Azgeda general among them which did not surprise the commander at all.

She glared at all of them for having the audacity to believe in her death without proof and trying to plan a war without a real commander. The general’s squirmed under her icy glare and when one opened his mouth to say something the commander silenced him with a simple wave of her hand simultaneously dismissing all of them for now.

After the generals had slowly filed out a handmaid entered the tent with a tray of food and drinks. Marie briefly wondered if Alira had survived the missile but no one knew at the moment who had died. The girl sat down at the table and gingerly ate a piece of soft bread. She had not noticed how hungry she had been. Marie did not notice as she became more tired with each second and she had stopped registering what happened around her altogether.

Anya watched as the girl started to fall asleep still chewing slightly on a bit of bread. The woman snorted and went to wake the girl up but Lexa stopped her. Clarke had been assigned a tent and Ryder had taken up post outside of the commander’s tent relieving Gustus from his duty for now to rest.

“Let her sleep” Lexa said in a soft voice carefully testing the movement of her shoulder. The injury barely hurt anymore, a day or two more and she would be healed. Anya also looked exhausted and Lexa gently hoisted the sleeping girl into her arm carrying her over to the part of the tent reserved for sleeping and set her down on some soft furs. The girl did not even stir and stayed asleep.

“It does not do for us to stay in your tent forever, Lexa” Anya said with thinned lips.

The commander shook her head again “It does for now. And I am sure she won’t be sleeping for long.”

Anya nodded. She had already feared that new nightmares would hunt their charge now after her first kill. Even Lexa had suffered from them for a few month. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 55

Anya was mostly grateful to finally be off her feet. She hoped that the pulsing pain in her abdomen would recede once she had gotten some rest.

And Lexa was proven correct only a few hours later. Marie had slept for a few hours due to her bone deep exhaustion but soon her sleep was disturbed by images of blood spraying on her hands and the shock in the eyes of the Mountain Man as he had bled out on the forest floor.

Anya had fallen asleep only a few moments ago when Marie started trashing in terror under her furs. The commander still had made a round through the huge camp of the army making a point of visiting each clan’s delegation at least shortly and had just returned into the tent when the nightmares came.

Lexa placed her sword on a table in front of the sleeping area of the tent and crouched down next to the girl trying to rouse her gently. As soon as her fingers made contact with the girl’s shoulders Marie’s grey eyes popped open and she shot upright from the furs nearly knocking Lexa over colliding with her head painfully. “Au” Marie gasped her eyes still wide breathing heavily. “It is ok” Lexa soothed in a gentle tone waiting until her charge’s grey eyes regained some focus. Marie looked at her hands and started to scratch at them almost violently the feeling of the warm blood coating them still fresh in her mind. Lexa quickly enveloped the smaller hands into her own and by thus stopped the frantic scratching. “Stop hurting yourself, Marie” Lexa ordered in an even tone her green eyes fixed on the girl looking even smaller right now.

The commander encased the girl in her arms pulling her thin frame against her chest rocking her in a slight soothing motion. Marie was tense the first few moments before she let herself relax in Lexa’s reassuring warmth.

After some silence Marie had calmed and eased out of the embrace peering up at Lexa with huge eyes glistening with moisture “Do you ever forget?” Lexa knew exactly what the girl was asking about. But she shook her head. She still remembered her own first kill vividly. The memory would pop up in her mind sometimes unbidden.

The memory flashed through her mind again. She had been younger then Marie was now barely seven summers old. She had disobeyed Anya’s orders and strayed too far in the direction of the mountain. She had run into a reaper and without thought she had barged at the reaper. She had survived the fight against the reaper. She still remember how she had driven the sword through the reaper’s stomach. Lexa would forever remember the eyes of the reaper clearing of their insanity in the last moments before death. Anya had found her after some time. She had been in too much shock to move away from the dead reaper.

The commander still remembered that day clearly but the memory had lost its cutting edges over time slowly. She gently swiped a stray lock of blonde hair from the girl’s face “No, you will never forget that moment. But you will learn to accept that death is a vital part of being a warrior.” Marie stayed silent but was biting at her lips with her face scrunched up. “You did not attack the Mountain Man just to kill him, did you?” Lexa asked Marie to steer her from her silent musing. Marie shook her head “He was aiming at Anya with his gun and she had not seen him…So I wanted to …”

“Protect her. Am I right?” Lexa suggested. The girl nodded immediately “I didn’t even think. I just attacked him …” Marie looked miserable as if what she had done was a great sin and she looked down at her knees averting her eyes with trembling lips. “Look at me, Marie” Lexa admonished directing the girl’s chin up gently to re-connect their eyes “You may have saved Anya’s live by doing so, Marie. The most of our fights are fought to protect those we love.” Marie seemed to contemplate Lexa’s word before she nodded with a cautious expression. Lexa silently wondered if Marie would have fought as hard for her own live. It sounded as if Marie had surprised the soldier from the Mountain and she doubted her fighting skills would have been enough to save her had the situation been different.

When the girl started to yaw after a few moments Lexa gently pushed the girl down on her furs. They all needed more rest. The signal that Bellamy had succeeded in dismantling the acid fog could come any moment now. Tomorrow morning they would hold a last meeting with all the generals to speak through the finer details of the plan. Lexa doubted that the plan Clarke had taken such pain to come up with would hold long into the battle. Plans never lasted long into battle. Every battle had a dynamic of its own, it was completely impossible to accurately predict the way in which your opponent would react. And it was impossible to come up with enough small details and backup plans to cover all possible scenarios.

The commander shrugged out of the light armour she had been wearing and also laid down to rest a bit. She felt the girl’s eyes watching her every move until she laid down and with an almost inaudible sigh Lexa lifted her furs for the girl to slip under. It was obvious their charge was afraid to fall back asleep. It took Marie only a few moments to leap over and snuggle up to the commander letting out a contented sigh when she had wiggled into a comfortable position. Lexa silently wondered when it had become routine for the small girl to seek shelter with her in the night and why she did not mind the fact at all. Her previous second had never sought comfort from her and the nightbloods did seldom, Titus being quick to instil proper manners and decorum into them.

The rest of the night went over quickly and fortunately without any further disturbances. They had all gotten some rest and Anya was relived to note that the pain from the wound had subdued almost completely. Constant sounds of movements in the large army camp around them filtered through the thin material of the tent.

Marie smiled happily at Alira when the handmaid brought breakfast into the commander’s tent glad to see that the woman had survived the bombing of TonDC. A messenger was waiting for the commander to be granted an audience bringing news from TonDC. But Lexa told Gustus who had already taken up his post at the entrance of the tent together with Ryder to let the man wait to give her some time to get presentable again.

The girl had washed up and dressed again while Anya sat down behind Lexa gently combing out the commander’s thick brown locks. Marie was munching on a slice of bread with some white mild cheese when Anya started to weave new braids into Lexa’s hair. “Just like old times” the older woman said with a slight tease in her voice. “Feel yourself honoured” Lexa shot right back.

Marie cocked her head to the side obviously confused “Is it an honour to braid your hair, Lexa?” “Letting someone close enough to braid your hair is a gesture of tremendous trust. You turn your back to the other and literally bare your throat” Anya answered the innocent question in an even tone. “Usually family or lovers braid each other’s hair” Lexa added remembering Costia’s fingers in her hair. Marie nodded obviously thinking the new information through before she exclaimed with a scrunched brow “But you and Lexa always braid my hair. We are not family…” The girl’s words trailed off and it was obvious to both women that the girl clearly wished it was otherwise. “The bond between a second and a first is considered to be a familial bond “Anya provided with a gentle smile on her strong features. It was next to impossible to not develop a strong bond with your second as you spent years with each other.

“So I could braid your hair?” Marie pressed in a curious tone. Anya snorted lightly to which the smile fell from Marie’s face again. “You can theoretically braid our hair, yes. But you are lacking the ability to do so. We share a sleeping space. There is no greater sign of trust, Marie” Lexa appeased the girl and with a mischievous glint in her green eyes added “But I am sure Anya would be glad to let you practice some with her hair.” Anya’s lips thinned glaring at Lexa for a moment before she let out an annoyed huff and affirmed to Marie that she was welcome to practice some on her. She could always quickly replace the braids again.

The girl waited almost impatiently for Anya to finish with Lexa’s hair and the commander motioned the girl over to sit down behind Anya. The older woman had taken a mug with steaming tea and had obviously resigned herself to just sit patiently and wait. The girl was extremely gentle with the comb trying to untangle Anya’s locks without pulling at them. “You can pull harder at the comb or you will never get through the hair at all until nightfall” Anya suddenly remarked annoyance obvious in her clipped tone. Marie startled slightly when Anya spoke up and let go of the comb completely. Cautiously she continued with more force behind the strokes and had the hair detangled after a short amount of more time.

Lexa had already eaten a quick breakfast and now sat down next to the girl showing her how to weave a simple braid. After braiding a thick strand through to the tips Lexa loosened the braid again and now watched as Marie tried. It was painfully obvious the girl had never braided any kind of braids until now. The girl needed a few tries to even get a simple three-stranded braid correctly without losing part of the braids halfway.  Lexa had to give credit to Anya for remaining as calm and patient as the woman was. The commander still vividly remembered the first few times Anya had let her braid her mentor’s hairs. The woman had been impatient and had her re-do the design over and over again nearly driving her crazy in the process.

It took Marie pretty long to finish the relatively simple design Anya usually had braided into her hair. But the girl was grinning proudly when Lexa finally proclaimed the braids to be satisfactory for now. Anya carefully let her finger glide over the braids under the watchful eyes of their charge. They were uneven at times and they would probably not hold through the next night but they would do. Something must have shown on her face as Marie’s shoulders had dropped slightly and the girl said in a sad voice “You do not like them?!”

Anya could see Lexa fighting a losing battle against the grin on her face and she glared slightly at the younger woman, the whole situation was her fault after all. “They are fine for your first attempt, Marie” she tried to placate the girl who obviously caught on with that and crossed her arms over her chest a scowl on her face. Anya gritted her teeth in annoyance she wasn’t used to dealing with a child this sensitive. “You did really fine for your first attempt” Anya repeated with conviction in her tone and added with a devilish glare at Lexa “And Lexa had to re-do my braids more often then you did the first time she tried.” The commander just acknowledged her words with a slight eye roll as she had only been listening to their conversation with most of her attention being focused on the maps in front of her. A perimeter had been defined for the army and scouts had carefully outlined how far the acid fog of the Mountain really reached and all members of the army had strict orders not to cross that line. Both women did not deem it necessary to explain to Marie that Lexa’s first attempts at braiding Anya’s hair had been done to perfection but of course she already had previous experience with braiding her own hair.

In no time at all Anya now had braided Marie’s hair again which had become lose due to her tossing under the furs in the previous night. An almost melancholic look crossed over the older woman’s face while her fingers braided the familiar braids into the blonde hair. She had lost count of the times she had weaved the exact same braids into Lexa’s hair who had only adopted a more intricate pattern of braids after her accession to command.

Finally the messenger was granted entry into the commander’s tent. The survivors who had remained in TonDC had mostly cleared the ruins of those who had died on the impact of the missile. They had counted eighty-six corpses and a few had been brought to the Skykru’s camp to be treated for severe wounds. Lexa nodded with an unreadable expression and dismissed the messenger grinding her teeth together. She knew that the death count would have been even higher if not for the last minute idea to start a fire. But losing so many without a real battle was still a heavy blow and the area would surely need aid from Polis in the upcoming winter to bring the survivors through the harsher month without stocked supplies. Marie had become slightly paler hearing the actual number and Anya had looked mostly angry. The commander knew that most of her warriors would even be spurred on to fight harder against the Mountain now after these recent blow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 56

The army camp was already bustling with activity when the commander led them outside of the big tent. Every warrior who spotted the commander cheered and bowed to her offering their respect. Lexa acknowledged them all by inclining her head in a faint nod taking her time to walk through the camp. Marie was awed to watch this show of respect and spotting differences between some of the armour the warriors were wearing told her that these soldiers were mixed from different clans.

Gustus and Ryder were walking closely behind Lexa in case there was an assassin hidden between the warriors which was always a possibility for the commander. But no one seemed to harbour any ill will against the commander at the moment the whole atmosphere in the camp buzzed with excitement and Lexa dearly hoped that Bellamy would quickly succeed in disabling the acid fog. Feeding that many warriors in one place was putting a heavy strain on the wild life in the woods around them and the atmosphere in the camp could change quickly when they had to wait too long for discontent to simmer. She knew all too well how quickly the warriors off different clans jammed together in a camp could start fighting over the simplest dispute.

Lexa led them to the small free space in the middle of the camp where some older warriors were overseeing their seconds sparring with each other shouting critics at them occasionally. Marie gulped nervously when she caught up with the commander’s intention. All of the second she could see training looked to at least be fifteen and older and all were at least a head taller than her. Anya barely concealed a snort at the look of doubt on the young girl’s face. Marie looked pleadingly between Lexa and Anya silently trying to ask them to let her pass this training but both completely ignored her mute pleas. The commander nudged the girl in the direction of the free space with a hand against her shoulder so that Marie stumbled slightly.

Indra who had been watching Octavia spar with a second from the desert clan had stepped up to the commander and Anya and addressed both of them in a mocking tone “Your second looks ready to bolt the second someone attacks her”. “Is that so?” Anya drawled in a bored tone “I am sure she would hold her ground against your second”. Marie turned around to Anya with widened eyes having listened on to the conversation. When the dark skinned general suddenly started to laugh out loud Marie clenched her jaw in silent anger. Octavia had obviously finished her match with the other second and joined her mentor waiting silently for more orders. Indra inclined her head towards Marie “Your next opponent and make it quick” she ordered.

Octavia looked at Marie with a furrowed brow “But she is just…” Indra stared down at her second her grip tightening around her sword’s handle fury blazing in her dark eyes at being spoken back by her second in public like that. Octavia seemed to have caught on with her error and lowered her head for a moment in a silent apology and then turned on Marie “Sorry, kid” the older girl said to Marie. Lexa could see Marie looking around almost frantically. Octavia had a blunted sword in her hand while Marie was not armed. Gustus offered another blunted sword to Marie which the girl eyed cautiously. They had not progressed to sword training yet and Lexa doubted that the girl stood a real chance in this fight.

But after hesitating for a moment Marie took the sword from Gustus and turned back to Octavia who had waited patiently. Marie took on her protective stance and waited for Octavia to attack first. The older girl’s movements were brash and after a few minutes Marie started to see a pattern in them which made her able to dodge the first attack.

But Marie was too inexperienced in fighting to react properly when Octavia suddenly changed her tactic and lay all her strength into a single attack diving under the girl’s defences and hitting her with the pommel of her sword against her sternum. Marie fell backwards landing on her back on the soft grass gasping for air while her chest burned.

Suddenly the girl heard someone shouting but she was unable to understand the words with the pain blinding her other senses. Clarke had barged into the ring of fighters having watched the match from the side-line. When Octavia had hit Marie the blonde worried that Octavia might have shattered Marie’s sternum with the impact of the pommel. “Are you fucking crazy?!” the blonde had screamed at Octavia before anyone had reacted. Indra and Anya were loudly arguing with Clarke while Lexa tried to calm all of them down. Marie had used the time to gather back some breath and had gotten up again gripping the sword in her hand.

“Let them finish their fight” Lexa said bringing back the focus to Octavia and Marie. The commander nodded to them and guided Clarke back to the side-line to give the two seconds some more space. “She could be seriously injured, Lexa” the blonde seethed at the commander. Anya rolled her eyes “She will survive and become stronger”. Clarke whirled around to face the older woman her eyes glaring daggers at her but before she could say something she might regret the sound of steel connecting forcefully with each other sounded loudly signalling that both of them had taken up their fight again.

Marie was still panting slightly pain blooming in her chest and she was sure a huge bruise would be forming already. Circling around the older girl Marie tried to remember what both Lexa and Anya had told her on how to beat someone clearly superior in strength. She could either try to wear Octavia down but she doubted that would work or she would need to get close to a single hit against a sensitive spot. “You can give up, you know” Octavia said after they had circled each other for some time without any real attacks on both sides. Indra seemed to growl from the side-line “Finish it!” Marie could see Octavia’s fingers tightening around the swords handle getting ready to attack again. Marie crouched lower into her protective stance waiting for the attack.

This time she let her defence drop on purpose trying to lure Octavia closer to her body. The older girl immediately dived in to attack her and Marie used that to take a step closer taking the blunt end Octavia’s sword painfully against her ribs but simultaneously Marie used her own sword to hit Octavia’s throat.

The other girl clearly had not anticipated that move and she fell to her knees gasping and coughing for air. Indra seemed to be completely floored her mouth opened in silent disbelief while Anya looked smugly at the other woman. “In a real fight both of them would be dead now” Lexa commented nonchalantly but with a glint of pride in her green eyes. She had not anticipated the girl to fight that well and boldly. But it was true, faced against a sharp sword Marie might have been able to kill Octavia with such a move but she would also be bleeding out right now from the wound in her side.

Clarke had walked up to Octavia and seemed to inspect her throat for permanent damage. Marie stepped up to them with a pained grimace on her face tenderly touching her chest. Anya smirked “Come, I am sure one of the healers will have an ointment for that” and directed the girl away.

“You fought well” the general said to the young girl on the way to a tent reserved to healers. Marie’s smile was strained when she looked up at Anya but her eyes seemed to glow with joy at the compliment. “Do not get cocky now, Lexa is right you would be bleeding out right now had you both fought with sharp swords” Anya cautioned. Marie scowled slightly but nodded she was still pleased with herself, she had been sure to lose against Octavia.

The healer did have an ointment against the bruising which would enhance the healing and numb some of the pain. A guard came to them when Marie followed Anya through the camp relying a summon from Lexa to the commander’s tent. The Skykru delegation who would join them in the battle had reached their camp and Lexa intended to hold the last war meeting now so that Anya’s presence was required.

The tent was stuffed with people when they entered. Marie looked around and noticed that she seemed to be the only second in the tent as the others apart from Skykru were all older and probably generals from the different clans. She wondered silently if she should be waiting outside but Anya had not told her to wait so she was probably allowed to listen.

Marie frowned when Clarke was motioned to speak. Her plan sounded off and way too optimistic. The blonde had obviously planned to only rescue her friends and execute the leaders of the Mountain Men and to spare all the other inhabitants. It was obvious the generals were confused to receive that order and Marie could see Anya’s brown eyes blazing with anger.

Lexa felt the atmosphere in the room shift the longer Clarke explained their plans. A heavy silence settled once the blonde Skykru leader had finished her words. Before the situation could get out of hand Lexa stepped in taking place in the centre of the meeting letting her eyes wander over all the faces of those gathered in the tent slowly and intently before she spoke in a clear voice “The Mountain has cast a shadow over our lands for years now. Abducted our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers to use our blood or to turn our loved ones into monsters. We have lost thousand to them over all the years but these days end now! We will lay siege to the Mountain and avenge the ones we have lost! You have all heard our plan. We will rescue our people and free these lands of the Mountain forever. Have your warriors ready to attack at a moment’s notice as the signal to attack can come any moment now! When the acid fog is disabled, we will attack immediately and we will win this war! Until then…” Lexa paused for a moment and started chanting “Blood must have blood”. The generals immediately joined her chant enthusiastically, thirsty for the blood of their greatest enemy.

It took some time for all the generals to finally leave the tent. Clarke had followed the Skykru delegation to caution all of them with their guns personally. The commander was aware that Skykru carrying guns was an advantage and simultaneously a huge liability. One wrong shot and her soldiers were bound to break into a panicked mass, the fear for this weapons too deeply ingrained in all of them.

Once Marie was alone again in the tent with Lexa and Anya she worried her lips between her teeth. She had understood the general plan but she had no idea where she would be during the battle and that worried her immensely. “Where will I be…?” the girl asked in a small voice her last words too low to understand but both women knew what their charge wanted to know nevertheless. It was Lexa who turned to the girl and evenly said “You will be with me and Anya, as our second that is the place you are intended to be.” Marie nodded with a small frown on her face, she was unsure if she should feel happy or excited to be part of the battle or if she should feel afraid.

“Stay close to me at all times, no matter what” Anya addressed the girl staring into her big grey eyes intently. Marie nodded that she understood but the worry was still evident in her young face.

“Were you afraid?” Marie asked after a few moments of silence. Lexa inclined her head to their charge in question not understanding what it was the girl implored after, so Marie explained “Of your first battle?”

Anya snorted slightly, her mind shortly flashing back to her own first real battle. She had barely seen fifteen summers back then, but she had been absolutely full of herself. The fear had only sat in once the battle had started and she had to acknowledge that she was not as skilled as she had previously believed. On the other hand the older woman did also remember the first battle she had fought together with Lexa and how the girl had voiced the same worry in the night before the immediate attack. “I wasn’t” Anya said back in the present with her mind “But it is better if you are.”

Marie cocked her head slightly unsure what her mentor meant but Lexa now spoke softly “I had the same fears you are probably having right now. You are young, you will learn in time not to let your fears rule your decisions. As long as you keep close to us, you should be save” The commander knew that she could not make a promise to the girl that she could not fulfil as she had no intention of lying to their charge. “Try to get some sleep” Lexa ordered and when the girl made to object she added more sternly “That is not a plea, you need the rest for tomorrow.”

Marie nodded with slightly drooped shoulders but Anya would join the girl now as the general also wanted to rest as much as possible now that the battle could start at a moment’s notice. Anya was already deep in slumber, while Marie tried to calm her hammering heart, when Clarke barged back into the tent wanting to speak through the plans of the battle with Lexa again.

The blonde obviously had doubts if their plan still had flaws they could prevent. Marie could hear Lexa sighing before she stopped Clarke’s rambling “Plans don’t last very long in battles, Clarke. Going over plans again and again is a waste of energy”. Clarke’s voice was agitated when she answered “People died for this, Lexa, it has to work!”

“You are doing, what I did when I first took command” Lexa said in a calm tone “You cannot move forward and it is giving you too much time to think. Once Bellamy shuts down the acid fog and the battle begins, everything will be clear.”

“What if he can’t?” Clarke asked her voice laced with doubt “What if it was too dangerous and I sent him in there anyway.”

“You care about him” Lexa stated in a measured tone. “I care about all of them” Clarke retorted forcefully. Lexa remained unfazed “Then you worry about him more”

“I could not have kept us alive all this time without him” Clarke explained getting louder, Marie glanced to Anya but the woman was still asleep and Clarke continued “We need him and now I might be the one who gets him killed.”

“That is what it means to be a leader Clarke” Lexa said more forcefully “The truth is, we must look into the eye of our warriors and say “Go, die for me””

“If only it were that easy” Clarke remarked with a frown “Can we please just back to the plan”

“No” Lexa denied immediately “You could be a leader your people look to, pour their hopes and dreams into, someone they will fight and die for.”

“I never asked for that” Clarke retorted her voice sounding disgusted by the very idea “I am just trying to keep us alive.”

“You were born for this Clarke” the commander said after a moment of silence “Same as me”

Not soon after Clarke finally gave up speaking with Lexa and left the commander’s tent to get some rest herself. Marie heard Lexa stepping through the tent for some minutes before she shrugged out of her coat and joined them in the sleeping area. The commander felt Marie’s eyes on her the second she stepped behind the thin veil.

“You heard all that, didn’t you?” Lexa addressed the girl who was peering up at her with her huge grey eyes. Marie nodded while a thousand thoughts raced through her mind. The girl could hear the young woman sigh heavily and after a few moments of silence Marie asked barely above a whisper “Will I have to die for you, too?”

Lexa felt her throat contracting painfully at the question voiced by the girl who still carried so much innocence. She had no intention of ever lying to their charge but she did not have it in her right now to be bluntly honest as well, so she settled for “Anya and I will protect you to the best of our abilities in the battle and you would not be considered a warrior yet, Marie.” The words alone obviously were not enough to settle the girl’s worries, so Lexa offered the only other thing she could right now. She crouched down next to Marie’s furs and opened her arms, inviting the girl to hug her. Marie hurled herself into Lexa’s open arms immediately, her small body shaking slightly from tears she had not been aware of. The commander enveloped the girl strongly and tried to sooth the child in her arms.

Chapter Text

Chapter 57

The next three days trickled by awfully slow. The tension in the army camp was getting thicker with each hour that passed waiting for the signal. Marie could see that the generals and Lexa were getting anxious. Clarke obviously feared that Bellamy had been detected as they had lost contact with him some time ago now.

The only one who did not seem to mind the wait very much was Anya. The woman had used the three days to rest mostly and Clarke had taken out her stitches a day ago, after which Anya had stormed to the training grounds immediately. Clarke had been less then pleased but Anya had been unstoppable. Marie had watched with worried eyes how Anya had challenged Indra to a fight. There was no clear winner in the friendly match but luckily Anya’s injury had not broken open again so Clarke had given her a free pass knowing that the stubborn woman would not heed her advice to rest longer.

After the night she had listened to Lexa and Clarke talking Marie had even more problems with sleeping. Hearing Lexa say out loud that being a leader meant to ask your warriors to die for them had really driven home to the girl that there was a very real possibility that she could die in the battle. She knew that Anya and Lexa could also fall but she had never thought about her own death in that context before and she was afraid of the battle, deathly afraid at that.

Both Anya and Lexa had no idea how to help their charge. They had both caught on to Marie’s sullen mood and even sleeping snuggled up to one of them did not keep the girl’s nightmare away anymore. The commander had asked Anya to keep the girl occupied for some time as she intended to speak with Clarke in private. Anya had of course agreed with a slight teasing remark concerning Lexa’s obvious growing concern for the blond haired leader.

The training grounds were crowed when Anya led Marie away from the commander’s tent so Anya led the girl in the opposite direction of the Mountain into the woods. The familiar sounds of the forest soothing Anya’s nerves. The general was awkwardly antsy to return to the Mountain. She tried to ask the girl about what she remembered about the plants surrounding them, which were edible and which to avoid. But it was obvious that the girl’s mind was elsewhere and her answers were delivered in a clipped tone a testament to her sour mood.

Anya huffed in annoyance, she was starting to doubt that the path of a warrior was the right one for the girl. “I dearly hope that you get your attitude in check when the battle begins” Anya rebuked the girl “Or you will bring both Lexa and me in danger if we try to protect you.” “I won’t be a liability” Marie said in a small voice looking down at her feet. The general sighed lowly “We have taught you enough that you won’t just stand in the way. But you are being overly difficult…”

Marie just furrowed her brow but stayed silent. A patch of flowers on the ground caught her attention. They seemed to be affected by the radiation and glowed so strong it was even visible in the soft daylight filtering through the trees surrounding them. Someone must have stepped onto them carelessly, as some were broken off, the petals already beginning to fall from the flowers. Anya watched as the girl kneeled in front of the flowers “They are quite beautiful, but their sight is even more fascinating in the dark” the woman commented. “It is sad, someone destroyed them” the girl said in a forlorn tone and gently let her fingertips glide over the soft flowers. Anya had to blink twice at what she saw right in front of her eyes.

The very second Marie had touched the first flower the petals on the ground had somehow reattached to the stem of the flowers and they now stood unscathed again. The girl’s face was illuminated with a gentle smile and her fingers seemed to glow as the flowers seemed to bend slightly to meet the girl’s hands. Anya had watched the proceedings with her mouth hanging open in silent shock and when the girl turned back around to her as if she just remembered Anya’s presence at all, the girl started blinking her eyes as if waking up from a kind of trance. Her grey eyes wandered between her hands and the flowers widened in utter disbelief.

“How have you done that?” Anya asked after a moment as her mind still had difficulties to grasp what had just happened. She distinctly remembered old myths she had heard from an elder of the desert clan about people who once had walked the earth and were able to heal by their touch. “I..” the girl stuttered and shook her head helplessly. “Has this happened before?” Anya implored with an intense gaze. Marie immediately shook her head in the negative. The girl could not even explain what had happened at all. She had just seen the destroyed flowers and something inside of her had called to her to kneel before them and touch them mourning the loss of such beauty. Her fingertips had felt awkwardly warm and tingly when she touched them but she had not even noticed what she had somehow made happen before she had seen the shock in Anya’s face. “Do not let anyone see that” Anya cautioned. Marie cocked her head to the side obviously confused by the order.

“You seem to be gifted with a very rare talent, Marie” Anya said “But until you don’t know the extent of your talent and how to control it, it can be dangerous for you if others know.” The girl nodded her head immediately still looking at her own fingers with confusion written over her face “Do you know someone, who can do something like that?”

Anya shook her head in the negative “No and that is why we need to keep it a secret for now. I distinctly remember an old myth about people gifted with the power of healing but I don’t know if there is any truth to them.”

Before the general got the chance to elaborate and recall to the girl what she remembered a flare illuminated the sky. “The signal” the girl said in a breathless voice.

Anya nodded and immediately grabbed onto Marie’s shoulder pulling the girl along hurrying them back to the army’s camp. Lexa and Clarke were standing in front of the commander’s tent looking down onto the main part of the army as Lexa gave the order to sound the horn signalling for their army to start the attack.

The preparation to leave went over in a blur. Anya jostled Marie back into the commander’s tent having the girl sit on one of the chairs and after applying her own war paint, she carefully designed Marie’s war paint. She used black war paint around the girl’s eyes and created a design similar to that Lexa wore, but she created what resembled a bird with outstretched wings over the young girl’s face making her grey eyes appear even clearer and harder. Lexa approved of the design and handed Marie a light sword to give her more protection then the dagger would offer, the girl had shown in the match against Octavia that she had at least some instinct fighting with a sword.

While all the warriors seemed to buzz with excitement and energy eagerly awaiting to shed the blood of their enemies, all Marie felt was a paralyzing fear. She stumbled behind Lexa who walked next to Clarke shadowed by Gustus and Anya keeping closer to the young girl feeling strangely numb in her body. Once they had passed the perimeter where they knew the acid fog could reach them, the army started to emit war cries all around.

Marie would be joining Lexa and Anya in the team to heading for Mount Weather’s front door. It was a relatively short distance to cover by foot and no soldiers seemed to be waiting for them.

“They are sure their door is unbreakable” Clarke said looking around the entrance of the Mountain. Lexa nodded, they had agreed to assemble the army’s main force at the front gate to keep the attention of the Mountain Men away from the small group heading for the dam and the reaper tunnels.

Standing in front of the big metal door the waiting began anew. “For what are we waiting exactly?” Marie asked Anya lowly anxious for something to happen. A man from the Ark had dug a hole into the door and inserted explosives made by Raven.  The girl could see Lexa and Clarke speaking with each other a slight distance away but she could not hear the words. “For the red lamp to fade. Clarke said, that signalled the dam’s destruction and would leave the Mountain without power” Anya explained in a hushed tone, dearly hoping that their plan would work, as their successfulness solely dependent on that step.

From the direction of the dam a loud explosion suddenly resonated making the ground they were standing on vibrate slightly and the small red lamp went out a second later.

“Time window begins” Clarke said offering the remote control of the explosives to Lexa. The commander wanted to press the button together, but nothing happened once they did. “Why doesn’t it work?” Lexa asked with a furrowed brow. “They must be jamming the signal” Clarke cried out “I must get closer”. Once the blonde moved in the direction of the door soldiers suddenly appeared on a ridge positioned on a side of the door opening fire on them.

“You work on the door” Lexa ordered Clarke and motioned to a small group of warriors to follow her “I will take care of the soldiers” The blonde leader nodded and Lincoln stayed with her to help while Marie hurried closely behind Anya praying silently that the bullets would miss them but the soldiers seemed to still aim for the group around Clarke.

Once they had reached the top of the ridge and Lexa motioned the warriors to attack, Anya having her sword at the ready, a soldier from the Mountain appeared having a white flag in his hands he had put up in surrender. Lexa halted her warriors with a simple gesture waiting for the man to make his move she scanned the area looking out if they had just ran into a trap but all the soldiers of the Mountain who had aimed at them had lowered their weapons.

“I am here on the presidents order” the man addressed Lexa, clearly aware of who he was talking to “He wishes to make a deal”

Lexa’s lips thinned as her fingers tightened around her sword eager to strike at the man but waiting what they had to offer. The man cautiously stepped closer and Lexa saw he had a radio in his other hand and a rectangular object strapped to his belt that looked strangely like a mirror.

“The president offers to let all of the prisoners from you go unscathed” the man said.

“On what terms?” Lexa asked her mind already reeling with the possibility to get all the prisoners out without further bloodshed.

“You call your army to stand down, leave the area and your people will be save from us” the man said.

The commander furrowed her brow. That deal sounded too easy to be true. “What happens with the Skykru?” Lexa asked.

“They are not part of the deal” the man said and suddenly his eyes found Marie standing behind the commander “The president also demands to have her” he pointed with his finger at Marie who sucked in a loud gasp of air her grey eyes widening.

Anya tightened the grip on her sword her knuckles becoming white under her skin and she seemed to growl.

“What if I don’t agree to the deal?” Lexa retorted. She knew that they could still win this battle once Clarke succeeded in opening the door.

The man’s face contorted into an ugly smirk “The president knew you would not be convinced so easily” he motioned the commander closer pushing a button on the rectangular object somehow turning the piece of teach on. Lexa cautiously stepped closer Gustus shadowing her to strike the man down in a second if necessary. The commander looked at the object in the man’s hands and Anya’s breath caught in her throat painfully as she recognized the room the Mountain Men had kept her in. The cages they could see were all empty now and the prisoners had been forced on their knees in front of a row of soldiers armed with guns pointing at the front line of prisoners. “They will all be dead in a few seconds otherwise” the man drawled obviously deeply pleased with the progression.

Lexa had to control her fury but it must have shown on her face as the man pressed a button on the radio and just said “Shoot” and the soldiers killed the first line of prisoners with single clean shots to their heads, their lifeless bodies slumping to the floor. Lexa’s eyes widened in horror at the sight, she knew they would never reach this room to rescue any of the prisoners but something still made her pause.

“You may have your deal, with the exception of the girl and the Skykru outside of the Mountain” the commander said in a cold voice but the man shook his head “We feared you would say that. One of our spotters has been able to locate your capitol and we are able to fire a missile there as well now. All I have to do is give the order and the missile will explode destroying your capitol.”

Lexa felt the blood run cold in her body. She thought of all the innocents living in Polis, of her novitiates and everything the capitol stood for. She had no means of checking if the man was bluffing or not, but she could not risk it.

“I accept” she said in a monotonous voice, her face a mask of stone. “I was sure we would reach an agreement” the man said and he motioned for a soldier to take the girl. Marie looked at Lexa in complete bewilderment her eyes watering with tears as she shook her head. She tried to struggle against the hands seizing her but the man was way stronger than her.

“Anya...” Marie desperately cried out for the woman to help her but Anya did not move. Her face unreadable only her eyes showed the regret she felt, but she would not move against the commander’s order. She felt something inside of her break as she had to watch the girl being dragged away her screams dulling the farer she was brought away and she knew her former second well enough to read the little signs in her face as the tightening of her jaw to know that she felt the same way.

They had promised to protect the girl and they had both failed her…

Chapter Text

Chapter 58

Marie continued to scream and struggle against the soldier from the Mountain dragging her into a smaller door and through unfamiliar halls. She had managed to get one hand free and had tried to get a hold of her dagger, the sword had already been taken from her and the soldier had carelessly let it fall to the ground.

The man stopped in his movements abruptly and Marie thought that he must have seen her reach for her dagger. She could not react quickly enough, before the soldier had physically slammed her into the wall behind them.

Marie’s head snapped back forcefully, colliding with the wall painfully and her fingers let go of the dagger immediately. In the back of her mind, she could hear it falling to the cement floor with a clattering sound, but she was still dazed from the impact against her head.

She was unable to put up much of a fight after that and the man easily dragged her along now. He did not seem to care, if she stumbled and fell on the way, simply tightening his grip on her arms and hoisting her back to her feet roughly.

She was paralyzed with fear and still could not believe that Lexa had just handed her over like that. The last seconds of what had transpired outside of the Mountain, kept on repeating in front of her eyes.

She had seen Anya shortly one last time when she was dragged away, regret plainly to see in her brown eyes but the woman had not moved to help her, Marie knew that the general would never disobey the commander like that, but it still hurt deeply that her screams for help had been ignored like that.

The question if she would someday have to die for Lexa flashed back up in her mind. Bitter tears streamed down her cheeks, as she thought that her “someday” was obviously way sooner than she would have ever anticipated. When she had thought about the possibility last night, she had envisioned being wounded mortally in the battle, but never being handed over just like that. She could not understand how Lexa had been able to hand her over like that, the commander had not even looked at her after accepting the deal, remaining with her back to her. She had thought that they were sharing a familial bond now and she could never imagine betraying your family like that.

She was dragged into a room where Marie saw some of the others from the drop ship. Some were locked into cages while others were chained to the wall, she also saw Raven and Abby among them. Marie recognized Harper and Monroe, both being contained in a small cage, and both of their bodies were littered with bruises and Harper seemed barely conscious.

When the man dragged her towards a table and ripped her coat from her Marie started to struggle again. She struggled in earnest once she spotted corpses on the side of the room on table like they wanted to strap her to. She did not recognize who had died exactly on this tables, but the corpses were dressed in weird gowns and bloody patches were visible through the thin fabric.

“Just make it easier for all of us and stop your senseless struggle” a man wearing a suit drawled at her. The man had dark hair and eyes and a sneer was plastered on his face but he had to be important as the others from the Mountain all listened to his commands. All of her struggles were in vain when she was hoisted onto the table by three soldiers at once. They quickly strapped her to the table face down immobilizing her completely. Fear gripped her body and she could barely breathe anymore.

A man wearing a medical gown shoved up her shirt and lowe