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we only come out at night (the days are much too bright)

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They only come out at night.

The ravagers are attracted to light. This was what kept them from ever being referred to as vampires - early on they were called all the usual buzzwords that stand in for zombies, and then the news started to toss that word around, like it was serious, but too late everyone realized zombie outbreak might have been easier to deal with. These things were never human, never anything other than hungry, roaming animals on two legs with hands that are more claws than fingers.

It's still unknown where they came from, how and why they were just, suddenly, here. Laurel's not sure of Kara's theory of a dimensional portal being opened to let these things in - as a way of ridding the planet of its apex predators, maybe, or perhaps a parallel earth's struggle having inter-dimensional side effects - but then she was still wrapping her mind around extraterrestrials when the ravagers first appeared.

"What does it matter?" Oliver says. "It doesn't matter where they came from. They're winning. They're everywhere. There are more of them now than there are any of us left."

Now humans are the nocturnal animal, slipping out only after sunset, when it's safe. The stories always had it backwards - come out during the day, hide away at night. The monsters lurk in the shadows, shun the light, shun fire and the sun.

Laurel still has to remind herself the shadows aren't hiding the enemy.

Each and every noise feels like it could be an alarm, a signal to bolt. They move in single file, always, the three of them - Kara, Oliver, Laurel. It's almost a ritual now. A routine ingrained into their very nature. With her Kryptonian vision, Kara is perfect for the lead, while it was decided that Laurel's meta ability made her the best candidate for the rear, in case of any attack from behind. Oliver had protested that once, but the ravagers had limited vulnerable spots that his arrows could pierce, while sonic screams worked just as well on them as with humans.

Under the cover of night they hunt for food, medical supplies, anything needed to get them and the small band of survivors they protect through the next few weeks. Sometimes they find means to send out word for other groups out there, but it's been ages since they made contact with anyone else.

Oliver's given up hope that there are any others left - it's in his eyes when Laurel uses any radio, any working landline, anything they can find to reach out. It's in his body language when nothing happens, and Kara promises her that Quentin and Dinah and Sara are still out there, somewhere, surviving - in the silence that comes from him when she needs his comfort most. He doesn't ever say it, but she knows he can't let himself hope anymore.

Sometimes she wants to scream at him that it's easier for him to stop hoping when he at least has his sister with him. She never does, though. She can't begrudge him Thea, when Thea means as much to her as her own sister does. When she knows Oliver's already lost everyone else before the ravagers even came. When Kara's adopted mother and Martian father figure are out there somewhere too, but she doesn't begrudge Oliver his cold defenses. So Laurel just curls up between them during the long, bright hours of day, begging him not to tell her what he thinks.

Much like learning to embrace the dark, Laurel still has to remember the light is not their friend.

It's been especially hard for Kara - learning to distrust the very source of your powers.  At first she tried to go out on her own during the daylight hours. She was stronger than the ravagers - and they did not have powers like ice breath or heat vision - but there was something in their claws that could even hurt her. For humans it was lethal, but then plenty of poisons were and yet did nothing to Kryptonians. Whatever they were, wherever they were from, there was something in the ravagers that could nearly knock out a Kryptonian.

Oliver had posited something magical - maybe demonic - was behind the ravagers when Kara had told them other than Kryptonite and red sunlight, that was the only other weakness she and Clark had known on Earth.

Something else Laurel was still wrapping her head around before the invasion.

That is how she thinks of it - whether it's magic or alien or extra-dimensional - this is an invasion.

The real mystery - not the where or how - is why. There's nothing in the ravagers' behavior to suggest they are there to conquer, and so far there has been no sign of anything pulling their strings. Kara says it's probable that whatever is behind this is waiting - waiting for every last trace of human, alien, meta, anything here before the ravagers to be wiped out - before they join their monsters in the light.

At this point does it even matter what's going on? All they can do is survive.

"Survive to survive to survive."

Ollie says that sometimes, when he thinks she and Kara are asleep.

Laurel asked Kara once if that's what they were doing - if that was what their lives had developed into. Surviving just to survive another day, no end goal in sight other than staying alive. And for what?

"To see your family again," Kara had told her. "To see other families, any that are left, be reunited, maybe someday without the fear of being torn apart again or worse. Finding someplace where we can rebuild and keep them out. No matter the cost." She'd looked at her then, staring her straight in the eye - and that hope that she kept sharing with Laurel keep Laurel's alive, it was faded and haunted and barely there behind the grief and a grim determination to rival Oliver's - and said, "I'm not letting another home die."

So they survive to survive to one day live. They move at night - single file and in sync, months or maybe years of routine ingrained now into the very fiber of their beings - and take whatever they can find. They find comfort wherever they can.

Somehow it wound up being with each other, the three of them. In this harsh, new world there's no room for jealousy or a lack of trust. Past baggage is out the window, only the bonds - old and new - remain. Somehow Laurel wound up back in love with the man who broke her heart, and the two of them fell hard for the Kryptonian keeping them all alive. Somehow they all just, fit together, broken and jagged pieces that manage to line up just right. At this point they feel more like three parts of a single unit - a team out in dark, a family hunkered down away from the light.

The ravagers' numbers are dwindling down - Kara and Oliver think they're stretching out thinner now, as humans become harder and harder to find. Scout missions are easier, but less successful. The invasion has lasted so long - Laurel suspects it's been at least two years, possibly three or four - now time has become a foreign concept. The only real indicator is the goods they find are all rotten and dust.

"We need to find somewhere that we can make a camp. Plant, harvest - this is the only way we can survive," Laurel says one morning, when they come back from a fruitless mission - it'd been easy, too damn easy. "Weapons are the one thing we can find that's still good, and we have plenty. We make base, we set roots. There are only a few stragglers left here."

It's a solid option. It's a terrifying one. They've been on the move for so long now, been so terrified of the light.

Kara is nodding - there's fear but she's shaking it - but Oliver won't look at them, only stares at the bow in his hands.

It's been a long time since he used it on anything other than animals for food. It's been a long time since it was any us as a means of protection. He's shaking and somewhere else, Laurel thinks - an island maybe, where he was surviving to survive to one day escape. Here there is no escape. He won't say it, but he's given up.

Laurel's caught him eyeing their knives a certain way - sometimes his hand hovering near a gun - but has always dragged him out of that place somehow. She sees that look in his eyes again and lays her hands over his on the bow. She blinks when another pair of hands lay over hers, and they both look at Kara, the three of them clasping their hands as she intertwines her fingers with theirs.

"We survive," Kara whispers. "We settle down, we fortify, we rebuild. And then others will find us. We'll make a home."

They take the plan to the group, to Thea and Sin and James and Alex, then to the rest of the survivors they've kept going. They take a vote, offer any who are afraid the supplies they can if any want to leave. In the end they all stay - they trudge on until they find an old factory, one where there are plenty of shadowed corners to hide in. One that gets sunlight in the grassy, soft areas they can plant in. One where they can make a home.

At first they only come out at night. But little by little they start to reclaim the days and the sun.