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Sneaky
by Miimaas
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The final chapter.
The discussions ran for a long time but in the end agreements were reached on everything they needed to do to get the ball rolling and it was decided that Eve, Daryl, and Merle would go back to Woodbury with the three of them and start coordinating on their end — as well as to introduce themselves to the people who were going to join them; while Rick and the rest would go back to the prison to start organizing there, and naturally to inform their respective groups of their agreement to merge.

On the way to Woodbury Eve had half a mind that it may be a trap but the fact their entire force was dead, and Andrea had been with them yesterday, was enough to make her relax.

This wasn’t the exact outcome she had hoped for, but it was near enough to one she had anticipated. She just didn’t think it would be the one to happen but as they approached the Woodbury gates which had only one older man guarding — waiting for them to come back, it settled in.

She was still wary but even her most paranoid thoughts were assuaged.

If nothing else, she trusts her own eyes. They aren’t lying about not having the force to resist even the few at the prison anymore. Everyone who was capable of fighting went with the Governor that morning and were now lying on the roadside halfway between. Cut down by their own leader, who was laying with them in the end.

Daryl sensed her wariness of Woodbury, but it was distinct from being nervous. They won that fight but he understood her skepticism. It’s not every day your enemy takes care of themselves, it feels too good to be true, but it happened.

As they arrived, introductions didn’t take long because the whole town was waiting for them.

The words ‘whole town’ sound impressive but the whole town at this point was merely handful of older people, kids, and just a few people who stayed behind to protect them who hadn’t been with Woodbury long and volunteered to stay.

Martinez was surprisingly cooperative and worked well with Daryl and Merle as they got started. It was a little easier because he had worked with Merle for a long time and the way Daryl operated wasn’t much different (except for being less of an a**), and the younger Dixon did a lot of interpreting for his girl.

Eve was disinclined to speak much to a group of strangers, but Daryl knew she would be, so he unconsciously did the talking for her right from the start. From introducing her with, “This is Eve, she don’t talk much.” and the person she spoke to most was Daryl and Martinez — simply because she had to.

The real surprise was that Martinez followed Eve’s quiet leadership particularly well.

He may have been on the enemy side of the conflict, but he was a natural team player. He didn’t do so well being the person in charge, but he excelled at being a right-hand man. Which is good because Merle is missing his.

Eve, Daryl, and Martinez’s thoughts were on a similar wavelength so the three of them got Woodbury sorted out in no time.

Eve and Daryl stayed in Woodbury for days while they organized things but most people in Woodbury were relocated to the Prison on the first day.

And following within a few short days, they wrangled up all of Woodbury’s supplies. One after, trucks arrived at the prison’s dinky but newly rebuilt gate, loaded with fresh supplies of every sort. Enough to last the large group for weeks, and by the time the trucks stopped coming, they had to park half of them in the yard’s grass, and Eve radioed Rick telling him they weren’t even finished yet.

The harder things to move were going to require some more time. Particularly Milton’s lab, and the infirmary Woodbury had.

Not only were they going to be harder to move, but they had to leave people to protect them while Eve and Daryl finally went back to the prison to find some places to clear out and repurpose for them to set up.

It took quite a bit of reorganizing and a few more hands, namely Glenn, Rick, Carol, and Hershel to create a new plan for the prison; getting it organized into an actual base with future plans to grow it and expand a little taken into account.

It almost felt like playing a video game; the kind where you build civilizations and cities, with just a sprinkle of a survival game.

It was many late nights for Eve but Daryl was right there with her, Martinez joining them half the time, and Daryl never let her stay up too late because she had picked up the awful habit of fixating on them until she had a solution.

Despite this, their morning hunt became a ritual of relaxation and on a good day, they would catch something early and stay out until dawn had faded completely. Just lying in the dewy grass, surrounded by the scent of fresh rain.

Eve usually took her jacket off so she could feel the grass and the coolness against her skin. Even though it was (probably) summer, they were still getting rain showers late at night and the two of them often laid awake in bed listening to the pitter-patter outside.

It was all worth it though because within a few months — maybe even just a few weeks (nobody was really keeping track) — Woodbury had merged with the prison entirely and the process was near seamless.

It helped that the entirety of who was left in Woodbury had been ordinary people, and a number of them were already affiliated with the prison in some way, including Tyreese & Sasha — a pair of brother and sister; the remaining two from the Carl saved in the tombs before they were chased out by a hallucinating Rick Grimes.

The remnants of people’s apprehension towards each other slowly began to drift away as Eve did well in coordinating some new teams to solve an approaching supply crisis that she, Carol, and T-Dog predicted on the horizon.

(Ironically after a late night craving Eve had for sponge cake of all things and T-Dog & Carol — who were on watch — were the ones to find her rifling through the kitchen area at near 3 am looking for cake mix. Cake mix wasn’t the same and she couldn’t make a cake with what they had, but she was going to find a way no matter what.)

Nothing creates bonds like teamwork, so many of the able bodies from Woodbury — including Tyreese and Sasha — quickly found their places within the group and even began to form close friendships from watching each other’s backs. More than a few couldn’t help but draw the parallel to Daryl & Eve because the developments started out almost the exact same way these two’s partnership did.

Andrea’s trust in the prison group as well as Woodbury’s trust in her went a long way in smoothing the transition but in the end, it was actually a late night long talk between Eve and Hershel which led to the institution of the council that settled it once and for all, and it finally felt like the two sides had firmly joined into one.

The prison took a while to warm up to the new faces, but it turned out to be a breath of fresh air they didn’t know they needed. Meeting other people after so long felt a little weird but Carol and a handful of others were friendly enough that soon the conflict the late Governor started was nothing but water under the bridge and a memory that gave mixed feelings.

Martinez took up his position as a right hand well; bickering with Merle & Daryl almost daily like the three were brothers, and Eve came to find that Martinez was incredibly reliable on top of being a natural Eve speaker.

As far as leadership goes, Eve was a good deal more aloof than most expected. After having a charismatic ‘neighborhood nice-guy’ leader for so long, Woodbury’s people found it a little difficult to get used to, but she was a good leader.

It was reassuring to have someone so different in charge.

If she had been a smooth talker, most would not have been inclined to trust her, but Eve is the kind of person who inspires trust; not just in personality but her competence was difficult to overlook, so even if some had been wary, it didn’t last long.

Rebuilding the prison — starting at the rush job they did on the gates — and filling the holes took priority; especially because they had so many people now.

They wouldn’t be able to get out quickly if they were attacked or had a breach but just in case, while the council was coordinating some repair teams, Eve set to work on establishing escape routes and meet up points outside the prison in case of emergency, and once it was finalized they began to set up more safe zones in the area.

Everyone on base was required to memorize the emergency evacuation plans; they even did a few practice drills with the kids and anyone who was free to make sure it would work — and to help the kids memorize it and make sure they understood what they were supposed to do. As a nice bonus, it gave them something suitable to do to help the adults.

Among other things, the chain of command was something that seemed to tacitly fall into place.

Eve was the leader. The council helped her make decisions the way advisors would and organized how they did things, taking care of most of the logistics of how to get things done; they formed teams and squads for everything and assigned the most appropriate people to each, being careful to balance the team’s strength to weakness ratios so they didn’t have all their best people locked down on a certain team and leaving the rest to fall behind.

Daryl and Rick were naturally second in command, followed closely by Hershel, Glenn, T-Dog, and Maggie; and on the tail end was Michonne Merle, Martinez, and Sasha.

All these people and a few others were on the council, almost everyone from the original prison group were obviously trusted more and those like Hershel, Carol, and Andrea had a sort of...special standing. They were less involved in the larger operations and more involved in the day to day at the base, and it went without saying that everyone on the council was pulled in for crisis events.

As the months dragged on, they improved many things in the base, and they got smarter in several ways.

Eve spent less and less time on the day to day operations of the group — turning them over to the council almost entirely — and spending more & more of it in what used to be the warden's office, which  is now hers, coming up with more ideas and plans. The walls and floor were quickly plastered with good and bad ideas. Most were tested, some were implemented, and others were just spit balling at the future.

Daryl couldn’t have been happier that she had been kept at the prison through all of this. As much as he loves having his partner with him, and as weird as it felt without her around on runs, his heart needed to break from worrying about her. And he could get used to periodically finding her asleep on her desk.

She and Milton spent an entire month burning the midnight oil and frying their brains like fish over how to set up some actual functioning bathrooms inside the prison because their lavatory situation had always been bad and with the number of people in here it quickly became the top priority to deal with.

Sasha and Randall became their best shots and the two of them spent a lot of time on watch when Sasha wasn’t doing runs. They oversaw the guard schedule, perimeter checks and setting up shifts to clear the walkers from the improved fences. Each fence was lined with metal sheets that stopped just short of the average human adult’s shoulder so they could still kill the walkers and see over them but they provided some reinforcement and a degree of protection from outside weapons should they be attacked. They tested the metal sheets before putting them, using a few walkers and some (precious) ammunition to make sure they’d work but a few bullets were well worth the cost.

Thanks to Rick making regular visits to his friend Morgan, the man who had saved his life when he first woke up from his coma and who most recently saved their lives by providing those guns they used to fight the Governor, he finally managed to convince the man to come back with him. He was pretty hostile at first, he’d been alone for a long time, but he seemed to respect Eve and gravitated towards her ideas for traps outside the prison to combat too many walkers piling up against the fences and to make coming and going from the prison a little safer; being somewhat of an expert for walker traps (Rick could attest, given what the man managed to do to Rick’s entire hometown).

He spent a lot of time with Eve, Daryl, Glenn, and Martinez as the five of them figured out how to set up some of Morgan’s more effective and elaborate traps around the prison and they finally managed to make the waves of walkers that were stacking up against the fences, no longer an issue. So long as they stayed ahead of it.

But perhaps the first biggest decision the council made as a collective, was to take people in.

Drawing from their own experience and taking some sage advice from Woodbury’s surviving top guys (namely Martinez and Merle who had seen the worst of it), they weren’t going to be nice and let just anybody they came across in.

Now that they’re stable and working towards sustainability in terms of their basic needs, they recognized that there must be some big groups out there.

If Woodbury got to the size it was, and now they themselves are bigger and setting up a damn fortress (literally; Eve had started fiddling with some far-reaching ideas and drawing up plans for building layers of cinder block walls and looking at the land immediately around the base with some...architecture in mind), there had to be other groups out there who were doing both better and worse than them, if they could do it, it wasn’t possible that other people weren’t as well.

They were a little smaller than Woodbury was in its prime, but what sparked this discussion of taking people in, was finding a small family of three who Daryl’s group brought back after bumping into them on a run and radioing back about what to do.

They took the family in because it was a father, mother, and their daughter who was about Carl’s age, but they couldn’t do that for just anyone. So, they made some rules.

They would not bring people directly back to the base, they would bring them to one of the safe zones/outposts they had just started getting set up, and a small group of people would come meet them, and the group was selected based on a number of things, but the one requirement was that they all had opinions that typically ran in different directions.

The group selected for the responsibility was: Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Glenn, Maggie, Carol, Martinez, Merle, Sasha, Tyreese, and finally Eve herself.

The group would consist of as many of the selected people as possible, all of them if they could, but they knew they would rarely be able to spare more than a handful of them at any given time.

They would never tell the people they found that they had a big group or a base — they would only tell them that this spot (whichever safe zone they brought them to) was safe. They would never tell them who was in charge; Eve’s identity as the leader was guarded closely against outsiders and they were deliberately misled because people cannot be trusted to be honest or show their true colors under the presence of authority, especially under desperate circumstances.

And finally, there was a list of questions they needed to know about people before they would even consider letting them in. If they passed, they would bring them back and let them be astonished by their own luck for stumbling upon a functioning base that was basically a small tribe.

The ultimate decision of whether someone was allowed in, was left up to more than one person though. They had to have a majority agreement by the selected participants to let someone in, and if the answer was no, they would simply give the stranger a little bit of food and water that their “little group could bear to part with” and send them on their way none the wiser before returning home to their base.

Those who were taken in, were given further tests but more of the ‘get to know you as a person’ variety and two of the questions were, “What experience weighs heaviest on your conscience?” and “What is your biggest struggle?”

And it worked.

Sure, their system wasn’t perfect, but nothing is, and they weeded out quite a few rotten apples as they stumbled across people and saved the ones who could be saved.

Their method earned them a real doctor and an ex-army medic who had a drinking problem because he had been the only survivor for the last two groups he’d been with, so instead of having him do runs like they were originally thinking, he was assigned to assist the doctor and only went on runs where they needed someone with the medical knowledge to get what they were after.

Honestly the hardest part of life inside the base was perhaps coming up with children’s cautionary stories about walkers and strangers after Carol told Eve & his father about one of the girl’s in camp who was getting the other kids to name the walkers outside the fence and treating them as if they weren’t dangerous, just misunderstood people.

It pained Eve to have to deal with children this way but even if someday the concept had merit, it was a dangerous idea to get stuck in their heads. People already had enough trouble killing walkers when they believed they were dead people.

It had completely blindsided them; they hadn’t even thought about the kids growing up in a world like this growing up skewed if they weren’t taught and monitored properly.

They had been looking after them like adults are supposed to, but they had neglected to teach them some things that had never applied before now. For example, survival skills. Eve had only just greenlit Carol to teach the kids basic survival skills and she had barred teaching anyone under the age 13 skills to kill because they were too young to fully understand and even if they’re growing up in a world where they will need to kill someday … children don’t need to be strong, they need to be safe.

When they were old enough, they would be taught how to protect themselves. Until then, they would be taught how to run, hide, basic survival skills, how to clean a wound, and other things about the world that they would have no way of knowing if not taught but had real-world effects & applications like science, physics, self-defense (as in, Eve was teaching people basic MMA to fend off an attacker or a walker if they needed to and were unarmed), the human body, animals, how to tell if food had gone bad, to be aware of germs & disease, and what to do if they encountered something they weren’t sure about or were separated from groups.

There was no shortage of things the kids could learn that would be far more valuable at this stage in their lives than how to kill.

Teaching a child how to kill… has some dangerous repercussions, and Eve would know. She was surrounded by desperation, growing up. She knows what it does to a child.

In the end Hershel and Eve both went to talk to the girl and Eve held a suspicion that the girl might be schizophrenic. She’s not a psychologist by any means but after spending some time with the girl, there was some damning evidence.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any psychologists with them, the closest they had was someone who used to be a school counselor. The doctor had some experience prescribing medications for mental health and knew which medication she would need but her being a child and them not having someone qualified to make the diagnosis, it was too risky.

However, that didn’t mean they couldn’t get the medication just in case, antipsychotics and perhaps anti-tremors. They weren’t needed for many other things so there was a good chance they were among the few medicines that were still on most pharmacy shelves.

Together, the counselor and the doctor took up the responsibility to teach the girl about her possible condition and try to figure out what exactly she had. Schizophrenia was simply Eve’s best guess but there were a variety of other things it could be. One thing was for certain though, whatever was going on with her, they wished they were better equipped to help her.

Through the months many people speculated names for the base because they had all just been calling it ‘the base’ or ‘the prison’ but those going out on runs quickly realized that was a little on the nose and if anyone who overheard them who had a map it wouldn’t be difficult to find out where they were set up.

A lot of different things were tossed around until Glenn came up with The Atlanta base.

They were nowhere Atlanta anymore but it was somewhat fitting, not just for throwing people off who might overhear them, but also to help them remember where & and how far they’ve come, and to honor those from the original group they’ve lost.

Eve even took the time to improve her art abilities with the kids and sketch portraits of their old friends for the memorial they had long since set up.

She asked Carol but she didn’t want to remember Ed and frankly Eve was relieved for not having to sketch that wet towel’s mug, so Ed wasn’t included, and neither was the Governor. Nobody was keen to remember either of them.

Amy was there and other than the few who had known her personally, the people Andrea had grown close with also knew that the young woman was her sister, but the portrait that Eve spent the most time in front of was Sophia’s, and she placed a little gold necklace that she picked up from the woods in front of the portrait. She had meant to give it to the little girl when they found her, but Eve had forgotten she even had it after… She found it caught around a loose string in her backpack. It had been there all this time.

As time went on, they collected more people. Including a tank operator and his tank, plus a pair of sisters with a young girl who reminded Eve so much of Sophia it was almost heartbreaking.

The little blonde girl hadn’t spoken a word since the world ended but as soon as she found out that Eve didn’t talk much either, she became like a little duckling, trailing after her with her stuffed animal under her arm.

All the kids seemed to get along exceptionally well with Eve, and she’s one of the only adults who took the time to play with them. They often played games like soccer and basketball, tag, frisbee, even red-light green-light and Simon says.

When it started snowing it almost became tradition to have a giant snowball fight every time there was fresh powder; involving almost everyone at the base, from Daryl to Glenn & Maggie, to Rick & Michonne, T-Dog, Big Tiny, Sasha, Tyreese, Karen, Martinez, Hell even Merle was dragged in sometimes. They even made a giant snowman so big that they couldn’t move it even with 12+ adults and it was almost as tall as the fences that kept them safe. The kids treated it like a jungle gym for weeks and when the weather started to warm again, it was quite a nice source of easy water; they even went through the trouble of building a makeshift pool out of a hole in the ground downhill from it, and tarps to keep the water mostly pure.

Two years in, they took down the trees in a wide perimeter around the prison and put up more fences and cinder block walls, creating more space for their growing population.

They cleared the roads in specific patterns so that they can get around quickly but they’ll know if anybody else comes through because they would have to move things and likely would not close them back up once they had passed through, and there were watch points all over the area that kept track of people coming and going.

They lived in one place but much like Woodbury in its prime, they had the entire area covered and unlike Woodbury, it was all monitored carefully.

They had a few big groups blow through on occasion but unless they were desperate and on the verge of dying off, they didn’t approach those groups. They let them pass through and on occasion even forced them to by releasing a carefully contained section of walkers where herds liked to stack up and used them to nudge them along as well as determine a group’s threat level.

If they dealt with the walkers instead of moving on, that’s when they stationed strike teams to watch them carefully and the prison would be on lock down in those times, in case of a fight but whether by luck or careful planning, they had yet to have it escalate to a fight. And they even took in one big group; the tank operator’s group — which Martinez and his squad were tasked to make contact with because they were dying and didn’t even have the energy to flee the herd they had released to get them to move on.

The watch posts outside Atlanta base had rotating shifts of 2-3 days so they always knew what was going on around them.

They met some people who were trying to make their way to Washington DC; claiming that one of them, a man named Eugene, had important information that would help a lab up there which was still functioning, to manufacture a vaccine for the virus.

Needless to say, they were all very skeptical about the authenticity of this. But after some deliberation, Eve decided it was worth the risk.

They had plenty of supplies to be able to spare a little, and even on the slimmest chance that this was for real, it was worth helping them, because they could and not many people left out there can afford to do that.

A few volunteers from the Atlanta base went with them, keeping in touch with satellite radios wherever they could as they went but they never could figure out why the signals weren’t the best and didn’t always work even though the satellites will still be in orbit long after all of them are dead and gone, but for reasons they had no means of figuring out, they couldn’t always keep in contact but the small group never even got close to DC — even with the amount of support this miraculous Atlanta base had given them.

When they were nearly there, they made contact with the lab and there was no one left. Someone who had wandered in looking for medicine, picked up the radio and told them the lab had fallen last winter, something about the heat and light from the building’s generators drew the dead like moths to a flame and it wasn’t until about a month ago that they started clearing out the area again.

Eve wasn’t too upset, she had extraordinarily little hope for something like a vaccine at this point, but others took the news much harder.

However, while the Washington group was mourning the loss of a mission that had been keeping some of them going, they met a guy on the road who had a settlement nearby.

A place just like the Atlanta base and offered to let them stay for a bit; except he failed to mention they were under the thumb of a group called ‘The Saviors’ until those pricks showed up on the doorstep and took what they owed for their “arrangement of protection”.

After much consideration and deliberation with the whole council and even a few of those outside of it, Eve and the council finally decided that if the people in this “Alexandria” wanted to take the risk and come join them, they would be willing to help them escape.

Eve didn’t make this decision lightly.

It carried a much greater risk than anything they had ever done, but the reason she considered it and eventually decided that it was worth it, was because these people had some extremely valuable skills that they were in desperate need of, and after losing their hope in Washington, if they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel on numerous things, it was worth the risk.

Their people were already up there anyway, they might as well get something out of it.

Eve came up with a plan and Daryl relayed it to the leader of the Washington group, Abraham, that they were sending some reinforcements and to wait for them in Alexandria. They were instructed not to make any moves until they got there. For a soldier having just lost the mission that had been keeping him going, Abraham was more than happy to take new orders from the highest authority he could find and as far as he was concerned, that meant the Atlanta base who helped them get this far.

Two weeks later, Evelyn Rider herself showed up with three of her right hand’s, Glenn, Maggie, and Rick, with several fast cars to ferry the people out of here to a couple of converted buses they had a good distance away.

They could have been here in a week, but Eve was a cautious person and wouldn’t dare to put the Atlanta base in jeopardy to help these people, even if they were worth helping.

They got here in a week but she refused to move until she knew what they were up against, so for seven whole days, they did nothing but stake out these “Saviors” and sneak around like shadows, watching them from the darkness, and the amount of information they obtained just from doing that was… startling.

That’s why after her recon, she not only called for the buses that the Atlanta base had been preparing while she was gone, but also called for the tank to protect and escort the buses home. Seeing as how they’d affixed some plow-esc contraptions onto the front, the tank was not only capable of steaming rolling over the top of cars — as tanks do — but could now also push things out of the way and create a solid path like someone took an eraser to the road and just made a straight line to their destination, clearing a path without even stopping.

When they showed up, it was like the cavalry had arrived at this little untouched community fenced in by large walls of industrial sheet metal built by the leader’s husband who was an architect, keeping them safe.

She had Abraham and a few others find some semi-trucks that would be good for hauling. She stationed some lookouts & scouts that she had personally trained to keep an eye on their surroundings and monitor the Savior’s so they could work in secret, getting people out of the metal-fenced community and into the buses with the belongings they couldn’t bear to leave.

Then once everyone was gone and they’d loaded up the resources onto the trucks with armed guards and sent them all back with the tank and buses, her team smashed the place to bits; even driving cars through the walls and finally set it on fire.

It took a bit more elbow grease than they thought, but they made it look like the place had been raided and like these Savior’s had a much bigger problem to worry about than wondering where all these people went.

Eve even made a few last minute touches of spray-painting some meaningless symbol around the place to make it look like they were hit by an organized group that doesn’t exist and they got out of there just in time because all the giant plumes of smoke and noise drew a massive herd in — the biggest they had ever seen, and they managed to get out just in time.

With their fastest cars, they managed to catch up to the trucks in record time and the fast cars escorted the slow moving haulers behind the spearhead that was their tank all the way home, and they only stopped to have Abraham use the military truck to block the way behind them. Better not to leave a cleared path straight back home.

With that, it was like they were never there.

Once they got home, Eve dealt with their first internal altercation with one of the people they’d brought back being abusive to his wife and kids, and then let the council decide his fate while she put the rest of these people to work.

They had an architect and real builders now. Which meant their plans to expand the base just became possible, and just in time because with the addition of those from Alexandria, they were officially full up.

With the architect’s invaluable help, they were able to come up with more than just expansion plans but also some promising defenses that would work not just against walkers but anything with apposable thumbs too.

He and his wife Diana — who was a low-level politician/city official of some sort before the turn — joined the council as soon as Alexandria’s people made it back to the base.

The Atlanta base didn’t have any neighbors in the area, but Eve put Diana and Aaron (the man from Alexandria who had originally found Abraham’s group) in charge of diplomacy basically. In case they run into any other established groups. They seemed to have qualifications and a knack for it. And later, it would be one of the best decisions she’d ever made.

They’ve taken in a lot of people but all of them went through an extensive vetting process. As the group became too big to manage on a tacit chain of command, Abraham suggested a rank-based system just like the military had. Everyone was then given ranks and only people of a certain rank could enter certain sensitive areas, such as the armory and the labs (where Eugene, Milton, and other smarties were set up, making bullets, trying to figure out a way to set up renewable energy and solar panels to link up to the whole base, and creating better gear for the runners, one of them was even trying to figure out how to manufacture medicine but it would be a long time before they saw any success in that area).

The council area was also off limits to anyone but the council and the trusted guards outside it when they were talking because of an incident that caused panic to sweep through the base and blew a small but sensitive issue way out of proportion.

Inside the base it became necessary to mandate that only knives were allowed and only those on guard duty could carry guns. Entrances and exits were monitored carefully, and their walls were inspected carefully and regularly for damage, wear & tear, and it went unsaid but for sabotage as well.

But the most off-limits area in the entire base, was actually Eve’s office.

Daryl, Glenn, Rick, Herschel, and Carl were the only people allowed in there. Not because her office was particularly important but because they were the only ones who dared enter the cave of the beast, and usually it was to drag said beast out by her ankle for sunlight and food.

Eve became increasingly busy as the base expanded and they continued to run into problems because it was literally her job to solve them.

She promised Daryl a long time ago that she would stop leaving and boy did she keep it. She barely had the time to leave the base anymore but she still left regularly because she would go stir crazy if she didn’t and after a little convincing, Daryl helped her divide up her work onto more shoulders who suited to handle them so she would have more free time.

Rick became a “cop” again and was grateful for it. It felt like he found his purpose again. He oversaw security at the base and collecting information from their scouts outside, keeping up with the concealed watch posts alongside Martinez and Merle, and he was damn good at it. He was often the first to know when they had a problem.

Merle never thought he’d be taking orders from Officer Friendly but he would have been a heaven-descended profit if he could have predicted all of this, and the mere thought of Merle Dixon being a profit, scared the living soul out of Eve.

As the years passed, the base grew and expanded many times. More and more people were collected but after a run in with a place called ‘Terminus’ after a few of their top people went to cautiously check it out, they were glad that they hadn’t been stupid enough to broadcast about Atlanta base over the radio.

They were right about big groups being out there, they contacted quite a few of them but never told a single one of them that their group was bigger than 25 or where they were set up.

Not one of those groups was doing half as well as theirs, and on occasion, they brought big groups into the fold because of it; After their bases were falling apart, either because of an attack or bleeding their resources dry, or no longer being able to go on by themselves.

Four years down the line, the Atlanta base got so big and sustained the people inside so well that the small handfuls of people who were brought in almost bi-weekly all were under the impression that a piece of the old world had actually managed to survive all this time. They never would have believed that this place was once only a handful of close-knit people.

It became a wide-spread joke that the Atlanta base had managed to raise up their own little fully functioning kingdom through the fiery ashes of a modern world.

They joked but they were right. It was exactly what they had done.

They weren’t the only ones who had managed to build something that resembled life as it used to be, but as far as they could tell, they were the biggest group on the whole Southern East coast.

They were literally building anti-walker skyscrapers whose sides were lined with watch/sniper posts and solar panels to house all these people without spreading out over an area too big for them to protect and monitor. Almost every rooftop in the place was filled with food-producing gardens and greenhouses.

Their biggest problems were the same problems that civilizations always had, but because of the ever-present outside threats, the internal structure of the Atlanta base remained far more stable than civilizations of history.

They dealt with many things over the years. Including disease, famine, death, sabotage, and another war but this one was much bigger — between them and the Saviors who had decided to expand a little too far south for their own good and were obliterated after poking a sleeping giant they didn’t realize was right underneath them.

Eve’s leadership was comparable to Marcus Aurelius of the Roman empireFlyoutMarcus Aurelius Antoninus was the Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire.. A stoic leader with philosopher type thoughts and a mind for problems.

Her job migrated from solving problems to creating and managing the groups of people who were most suited to solve those problems and then approving or sending back their solutions for more thought before organizing what they needed to implement them.

She was kept busy but had more free time than she had in the beginning and she spent every second of it with Daryl and her family.

She and Daryl spent almost every night on the rooftop of the central tower that had become the base’s main operations, staring at the sky — even going up to stare when she was stuck. It was the one place she could always be found. And she instigated a snowball fight every year, without fail, on the first snow of winter.

She still found time to play with the kids and wrestle with Carl who had grown up into a fine young man, taking care of his sister and she teased him endlessly when she was the first to find out the kid had a girlfriend.

Judith was growing up smart as a whip and as brave as a little lion, and aunt Eve’s love of reading had rubbed off on her. She and Glenn & Maggie’s son were best friends but they both shared one thing in common: Aunt Eve and Uncle Daryl were their favorites.

They couldn’t keep the base a secret forever however, especially once they truly became physically noticeable and had made contact with enough groups and were sending enough of their run-parties out for supplies every day that the secret was out.

However, with how monstrous the size and might of their base was, it was suicide to try and attack them and nobody with any real idea of what was going on even dared.

Once they started trading with other large but incomparably smaller groups, they earned the affectionate nickname: The last civilization, and were known for being, Sneaky.

The End

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2020-09-22 11:40:48 - TheYellowKing - Man end of an era! Thank you for your work and I look forward to your next endeavor.
2020-09-21 20:40:11 - wiscnok - fantastic ... really like how much detail you put into making the ending encompass so much more of the world than just their little group ... thank you for putting so much of your time and effort into making such an enjoyable tale ... bravo!!
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