Chapter 2- ALBAN

This was the fifth person to arrive at our doorstep today. It was a teenager with bright and wild red hair. There were bags of what most likely was supplies slung over both of her shoulders, and cradled in her arms was a baby, a little infant who probably hadn't seen the light of day for probably little over a few weeks. It was a miracle that the two had survived this long.

There was a knock on my door, I gave it a small acknowledging "Come in." before returning to my view of the strange girl below. I heard the door creak open and many quick paced footsteps before I heard the person speak.

"Alban, what do you want us to do about the girl…turn her away?" A gruff voice asked. I turned around to see my brother, a short man, but of course that was common with all little people (although he preferred be called space efficient or fun sized). He was in his early 20's with medium length blond hair, angular features and a nicely built body. In another life he would have been a heartthrob and I don't say this to be rude, it's just the facts- women usually prefer a tall and handsome prince, and while Barrow was definitely a looker, he was far from tall.

"No…" I replied, "Let her come in."

"But Alban—"

"I said let her in."

"But…a baby Alban. Really? You know that it's just going to make survival even more diffic—"

"Barrow, I don't care about the risks. There must be a reason why they have survived so long and to be honest…I'm curious." I turned away from him and watched as the girl began scanning the wall that protected our safe haven. My brother sighed and muttered some cliché about how curiosity killed the cat before he left the room. I closed the blinds to the window, and later went downstairs myself. The house seemed oddly empty today, I supposed everyone was tired from the previous night's raid and wanted to get rest, although I highly wished we had more guards protecting the borders. Several teens were downstairs lounging, and others were in the kitchen nearby, making a ruckus over what they were cooking for dinner. When the girl was led in, all eyes were directed towards her, well more at the child then the teenager holding it. They people who were present murmured and gave me a dirty look, because of course this was my doing. Respect for a leader only went so far, and it seemed that the bending point was housing a liability.

"Welcome." I said, loud enough for the whole room to become quiet.

"I'm guessing you're the leader or whatever you call it here." She said looking around with a nonchalant glance.

"Your guesses are correct."

"I was expecting someone else…well older." She replied, her tone firm but not rude.

"Age isn't a factor in survival…unless of course…" I gestured to the baby in her arms, "Is he yours?"

"She, and no. At least not by blood."

"I'm curious, how long have you been surviving, just the two of you?"

"Oh, a few weeks by now at the least." She began to look around the room, examining and evaluating. He was quite impressed at her behavior; she was not at all like any of the sniveling teens that had arrived at his doorstep, she was more controlled, more calculative.

"A few weeks… with a child in your arms. Now that is a story I would like to hear. Where did you come from?"

"The south side of the city. I don't know why it's a big deal, we ran in to practically no Zed." She shrugged and continued with her self-tour around the room. I laughed.

"That's impossible; the south side is completely infested. That's where the virus started in Texas you know."

"I don't lie, and yes I do know, I was there."

"Oh really."

"Yes really. Now if you don't mind all I need is a few days rest and I will be on my way, and you won't have to deal with the creepy ginger that lurked outside of your house." The girl sighed and readjusted the strap on her left shoulder.

"What's your name?"

"That's irrelevant."

"I like you Ms. Irrelevant." I said through a smirk. The girl blushed and shifted from one leg to the other, obviously uncomfortable.

"Lotus, just call me Lotus."

"Well, Miss Lotus if you will follow me…" I turned around and headed upstairs, with reluctant steps behind me. I led her to the room on the far right at the end of the hall. I heard her stop, and I glanced over my shoulder as she stared at one of the photographs on the wall.

"This isn't your house is it?"

"Ahh, very observant aren't you… Come with me, this is your room." I opened the door and she walked in, her face empty of expression, but full with the symptoms of sleep deprivation. Lotus slid the bags from her shoulders and let them hit the ground with a heavy thunk, she then laid the sleeping baby on one of the mattresses in the room. It let out a quiet gurgle in its sleep, and for a moment Lotus's face softened as all of the past and exhaustion hit her at once.

"Can I ask you something?" I whispered, afraid to wake the child up. She glanced at me, her eyes barely open.

"Sure." She replied wearily.

"Do you have any strengths or any skills?"

"Umm…" she shut her eyes, and kept them closed for a very long time, almost making me wonder if she fell asleep from where she stood, "Yes. I have medical experience, my mom was a nurse…and I can fight. I tookself-defense classes…" She trailed off and her head bobbed downward slightly.

"Why don't you get some rest, you need it." I said gently. She crawled in bed, next to the child and almost immediately fell asleep. I made my descent down the stairs again. Curious chatter had already began to accumulate in the lobby, but it all halted when I made my appearance.

"Listen up. I want everyone to know that our guest, will be permanently staying." A grumble went through most of those who were gathered. A man in a white tank made his presence known. He was bald, clean shaven and had a broken nose.

"Why? She just looks like trouble; I mean who the hell would have a baby at times like these? I say we just kick her out as soon as we can, she will just hold us back. We can't afford to give out charity every time some hot girl comes up to our doorstep. This is survival." He said. The skinhead had a thick jersey accent, and he crossed his arms trying to look intimidating.

"I can give you three reasons why she should stay. One- she isn't lying about south side. I can tell by the way she is dressed that she was raised there. And I believe it would have taken either a hell amount of fighting skills or brains to get her out of their alive, especially when caring for a baby. Two- she has medical experience, and we all know a first aid kit will not save our asses when the real injuries come. Three- if she is from south side and somehow managed to get out, she can find a way back in. No-one has come out of there alive except her, and I bet there are houses full of canned goods and weapons just waiting to be recovered. This girl will be staying and everyone will make her feel welcome." I gave the bald man a cold stare, "You are right, this IS survival."