Title: Scorched Earth
Fandom: nbc's Revolution
Rating: Mature or light-R. Language, non-descriptive violence, major character deaths.[Spoiler (click to open)]
Charlie, Rachel, Danny, Nora and Aaron all die.
Characters: Miles, Charlie, Rachel, Danny, Nora, Aaron, Monroe and Jeremy.
Pairing: Gen mostly, though mild Miles/Nora.
Prompt: From nbc_revolution's Community Prompt Table 011. Charred Remains.
Summary: Monroe catches up to the Matheson party outside of Springfield, Illinois and exacts his revenge.
A/N: This took me a while to write and I'm not sure how happy I am with the results. Also it's un-beta'd
and my knowledge of US geography is extremely limited. More notes at the end of the fic.
Miles shifts the kitchen curtain aside as he keeps a look out from the front of the farmhouse. They're taking shelter at a Rebel-friendly farmhouse, just outside of Springfield, Illinois, on their way to St. Louis. Rachel is keeping watch at the back and Miles can't help but feel relieved at the short reprieve from her company. Ever since they rescued Danny and found out Rachel was still alive things between them have been… Tense. They've managed to keep things civil, working together out of necessity, rather than choice. Rachel still hasn't forgiven him for what he did to her- not that he blames her, he still hasn't forgiven himself- and he's not sure if she ever will.
Hell, he's not sure if Charlie will ever completely forgive him either. It was easier with Danny- he didn't seem to expect much from his uncle or his mother, but when Charlie first found out… Well, she was pissed. The yelling he actually welcomed, it's the hurt and disappointed look in her big watery eyes that he couldn't stand to bear. He figured this was it, that she'd finally give up on him and he wouldn't have to be burdened by her faith in him. He was packing his gear when she cornered him.
"Where do you think you're going?" Charlie asked his angrily.
"I dunno yet, probably head west towards the border," Miles shrugged, trying not to meet her eye. "I kept my promise, I got Danny back. You don't need me anymore; there's no reason for me to stay."
"I get it," he stood and shouldered his pack. "I told you I was a monster; you just didn't want to believe me."
"You're not a monster," she insisted, but with far less conviction than last time. "I knew you did terrible things, I guess it was just easier to accept it when it didn't affect me."
"That's life, kid," Miles chuckled humorlessly.
"Maybe," Charlie sighed, shaking her head. "My parents are partially responsible for the end of the world. My mom gave Monroe enough power to probably take over North America," she gave him a crooked smile and a shrug. "I don't know if I can forgive you for taking my mom away, but I definitely won't forgive you if you just bail on us, without trying to fix things."
"Not everything can be fixed," Miles warned her, but the desire to flee abated. He couldn't abandon her, not if she asked him to stay. He realized in the tunnel leading to Philly that she'd weaseled her way into his heart; that he loved her and he couldn't let her down. She's the only person left who still believes in him, God only knows why.
"You've changed, Miles," Charlie continued. "The guy that took my mom and founded the Militia? General Matheson? You're not him anymore. Maybe we can't fix things, maybe we're just delusional- but we can't just give up without a fight. We have to try, even if we fail." Charlie turned around to return to camp and asked over her shoulder: "You coming?"
'You're better off without me,' Miles thought to himself, as he wordlessly followed her. A voice from long ago answered him back: 'But what makes you think you're better off without her?'
Miles shakes himself from his reverie, wishing not for the first time that he was back in his bar in Chicago, drinking himself to death. This wasn't his fight, because Miles Matheson didn't fight for lost causes. Nora was the one who stupidly believed the United States could be restored, Charlie believed in smaller causes- helping locally, one person at a time; righting one wrong after another. And Rachel… Rachel believed in those damn pendants.
Rachel said there were other scientists out there, that they had their own pendant and could help. That they could figure out a way to stop Monroe, to maybe get the power back globally. But so far none of the addresses they went to panned out. The places were trashed- no scientists and no pendants- someone obviously beat them to the punch. Rachel insisted it wasn't Monroe, that he didn't know about these locations. Aaron mentioned a similar sight welcoming him and Maggie at Grace Beaumont's place... Which meant that there's a third party out there, collecting their own scientists and pendants. Which is just… Swell.
They still have roughly 100 miles to travel to the rendezvous point at St. Louis and Miles wants to hit the road already, put as much distance between themselves and The Militia as possible. But the last scuffle took its toll and they need to lick their wounds and heal, before they can travel again. Miles glances out the window again for any suspicious activity, before he heads back to the living-room area.
"How's he doing?" He asks Charlie, folding his arms and leaning against the wall.
"I'm fine," Danny insists, even though he can't hide his wince, when she ties the bandage on his leg a little too tight.
"He'll live," Charlie gives her brother an evil smile, before turning her attention back to Miles. "What are the chances that this farm has a horse or two?"
"None," Nora shakes her head as she walks back into the room carrying supplies. Aaron follows her a moment later, holding as many items as he can in his uninjured left arm, his right arm in a makeshift sling. They dump their supplies on the floor and Nora quickly starts sorting through it. "Bill told me the Militia took all his livestock a few years ago. They were gracious enough to leave him his crops, provided he pays his taxes on time."
"Speaking of your rebel-groupie buddy, shouldn't he be back by now? I thought he just went into town for some supplies?"
"He's not late yet," Nora says hesitantly. "If he's not back in 4 hours, then we can worry."
"I don't want us to still be here in 4 hours," Miles says tiredly, rubbing his eyes. "The Militia's too close, we need to get moving, not give them time to catch up."
"I'm not sure if Danny can walk, without opening up his stitches," Charlie tell him, biting her lower lip.
"I'll be fine," Danny puts his hand on her arm and squeezes briefly. "Uncle Miles is right, we need to get moving." He tries to get up on his own, but stumbles the minute he puts weight on his leg. Charlie catches him before he can hit the ground and gives Miles a pointed look.
"We can help support his weight," Aaron offers. "We might be slower, but we'll be moving at least."
"Yeah, ok," Miles grabs his bag, as Charlie and Aaron flank Danny from either side. "Nora, go get Rachel- tell her we're leaving." Nora nods, puts the supplies in her bag and gets up. Before she can take another step, Rachel rushes in.
"Militia- out back," she says out of breath. "I counted twenty, maybe thirty."
"God damnit!" Miles runs to the front and looks through the window again. Sure enough, he can see thirty men coming up the hill, led by Jeremy. "They're flanking us."
"What's the plan?" Aaron asks, trying not to panic. "Do we even have a plan?"
"Bill said that there's an underground tunnel from the cellar that leads to the river," Nora tells them. "The Rebels dug it, in case they need to make a hasty retreat."
"Right, take Danny and go, we'll cover you," Miles tells Charlie, Rachel and Aaron.
"We should set up booby traps," Nora lays her equipment down on the floor and gets to work.
"I'll help," Aaron volunteers. "Just tell me what I need to do."
"We should all go," Charlie insists.
"Shut up," Miles snaps.
"Shhh, listen!" He warns them. He sees the growing look of terror on their faces and knows they've heard it too. He goes to the front and looks out the window again- Jeremy's men are getting closer- before he looks to the sky. It's a chopper, a fucking chopper.
"Matheson party," Monroe's amplified voice booms at them from the chopper. "You're surrounded. You have no where to run or hide and we'd rather not waste any ammo or men; surrender now and your death will be quick and painless."
"What's Emperor Palpatine doing outside of his lair?" Aaron whispers frantically.
"He's probably on his way to the Plains front," Rachel swallows, gripping Danny tightly. "There's been an increase in 'activity' in St Louis; I guess he's finally going to squash it for good."
"We can't go through the tunnel," Miles watches as The Militia gets closer. "The Militia on the ground might not see us- but Monroe in that chopper? He'll see us surfacing and gun us down in minutes."
"So what do we do?" Danny asks, shifting his weight between his sister and mother. "We can't just give ourselves up."
"We won't," Nora says tersely. "I'd rather blow myself up and half of those assholes with me, than surrender to Monroe."
"We need to get that chopper down," Miles says, eying it wearily.
"How, exactly?" Aaron asks. "Are we gonna throw stuff at it? 'Cause I think I forgot my Bazooka in my other pants."
"Aaron, not now," Miles snaps at him and risks another glance out the window. Jeremy's men are about forty feet from the farmhouse, approaching carefully, fully armed. "I think I've got an idea," Miles grimaces. He reaches a tentative hand and opens the window a crack, before hiding again behind the wall. "Captain Baker!" He yells and checks for a reaction.
"Yes, former General Matheson?" Jeremy yells back, looking way too amused.
"I'll give myself up, but I'm done rolling over for just anyone- tell General Monroe that I'll surrender to him and him alone. Then I'll negotiate for the others."
"Miles, what are you doing?" Rachel asks suspiciously.
"I'm buying you some time," Miles explains. "Monroe won't be able to resist the opportunity. The minute the chopper lands- make a run for the tunnel."
"You can't!" Charlie tells him emphatically. "He hates you- he'll kill you on the spot!"
"Maybe," Miles agrees. "Maybe he'll parade me around first or torture me. Maybe he'll keep me around as a souvenir. But he'll kill you without blinking an eye. At least this way you've got a fighting chance."
"Miles, you need to stop doing this," Charlie huffs a choked laugh, her eyes welling up. "Or people might think you actually give a shit."
"Can't have that," Miles gives her a tiny grin. "I've got a reputation to uphold."
"You need to move fast and Danny's injured," Miles tells Rachel. "Go to the cellar and start making your way through the tunnel. Nora-"
"I'll signal them when the chopper hits the ground," she nods at him, her mouth set in a grim line. "For the record- I'm not crazy about this plan of yours."
"Believe me, I'm not crazy about it either," Miles shrugs. "But it's the best play we've got. Who knows, Monroe might just be crazy enough to keep me alive."
"Knowing him, I'm not sure that's the better option," she says darkly.
"I'll do my best to keep them safe," she tilts her head at the others. "It won't be easy though- they're trouble magnets."
"Tell me about it," he rolls his eyes and they share a look.
"I'll go set up some surprises, in case they decide to storm the place." She walks out of the room with a determined stride.
"Right, I should help her; three hands are better than two," Aaron shuffles out of the room as well.
"Miles," Charlie seems at a loss for words, probably for the first time since he's met her.
"I know," he says. "But this is your fight, not mine. Everything I touch, everything I get involved it… I screw it up, or taint it. I need to do this and I need you to keep fighting. Because if anyone can win this hopeless battle, it's you stubborn idiots," he looks at Danny and Rachel in turn. Charlie rushes over to him and engulfs him in a tight hug; he squeezes his eyes shut, savoring the feeling and whispers in her ear: "Give him hell for me." She steps back and nods, wiping stray tears from her eyes.
"Rachel…" Miles starts.
"You took care of Charlie and you rescued us," she gives him a small nod. "You kept your promise- I got to see my kids again. I'm grateful for that."
"I'm sorry, for everything," he apologizes officially for the first time. "If I could take it back-"
"I know," she says. "Me too."
"Danny, try not to get yourself kidnapped again," Miles warns.
"I'll do my best," Danny smiles at him, as the three make their way to the cellar. Nora and Aaron return and they wait in silence for a few tense moments.
"Miles Matheson!" Jeremy announces. "General Monroe accepts your terms." They hear the chopper drawing nearer and watch through the window as it lands.
"Show time," Miles mutters, turning to Nora. "You should go signal the others." Nora grabs his face and kisses him goodbye, before retreating quickly, not meeting his eyes. "Aaron, make sure Nora doesn't decide to stick around for the fireworks."
"Right," Aaron says and he quickly squeezes Miles' shoulder, before heading after her. Miles waits until he sees Monroe exiting the chopper and coming forward, his men forming a shield around him.
"I'm unarmed and I'm coming out!" Miles yells out the window, making sure not to step on the trip wire on his way to the door. He takes a deep breath and opens the door, raising his arms over his head. He discreetly nudges the door closed with his foot, before he steps away from the house. His eyes lock onto Monroe's and he swallows at the blazing anger directed at him. He slowly makes his way over, trying to buy the others a few more precious moments.
"Monroe," he greets him.
"Hands behind your back," Monroe tells him without preamble. Miles complies and Jeremy comes over with a pair of handcuffs. "No, tie his hands with rope," Monroe corrects him. Jeremy shrugs and gets rope from one of his men. "Now," Monroe tells Miles, giving him a sardonic grin. "You wanted to negotiate their surrender? Captain Baker, tell me- do we negotiate with terrorists?"
"No sir, we do not," Jeremy answers, his arm resting on the hilt of his sword. Four Militia goons raise their guns and aim them at Miles.
"Monroe, look- Nora's got the whole place wired to explode," Miles warns him. "You storm the place and you'll have dozens of dead soldiers."
"What do you suggest then," Monroe smirks at him. "I just let them go? You know I can't do that."
"I know," Miles says. "But you can take them in alive."
"And why should I do that? Your family has been a thorn in my side for far too long." He takes a step closer, invading Miles' space and lowers his voice. "Besides, I already have you. What could you possibly barter with?"
"I'll give you the locations of other Rebel Camps," Miles doesn't meet his eyes. "I'll give you names, numbers, whatever you want."
"You'd sell out your comrades?"
"It's not my Resistance, these aren't my men," Miles shrugs casually. "They're a bunch of blind idiots playing at being soldiers; they'll get themselves killed anyway sooner or later."
"That's cold, but I guess loyalty doesn't mean much to you these days," Monroe glares at him. "We'll get the information out of you eventually- I think Major Neville has been itching to see you again," Monroe gives him a smug grin. "And I'm not too worried about the so-called-Resistance, because, like you said, they're in way over their heads. I'll find them soon enough."
"You'd be stupid to kill them," Miles keeps going, trying to buy them more time. "Rachel knows where there are other scientists, other pendants. She can build you weapons, amplifiers, whatever you want."
"We already tried that once- she built a bomb and tried to kill me," Monroe counters. "I can't trust her to keep her word."
"Which is why you need the kids, to help keep her in line."
"I'd only need one of the kids for that."
"You need them both, in case you need to make a point- you need to have a spare." Miles swallows thickly and continues. "They're smart kids and tough, if you conscript them you'd have good, loyal soldiers as well as leverage."
Monroe grins at him widely. "I always did love that twisted brain of yours. Go on, then. What about Ms. Clayton and Google guy?"
"Aaron's good with computers and smarter than the both of us combined. He can help Rachel with whatever it is you need." Miles pauses, racking his brain. "Nora… Well you can use her for slave labor, I guess."
"That was a bit weak." Monroe sounds disappointed.
"I know, I tried my best," Miles counts in his head how long since the chopper landed, how much of a head start he managed to buy them. He needs to stall for more time. "If you let them live, I'll do anything you want."
"You're already in our custody," Monroe smirks. "I have you and I can do whatever I want with you."
"I'd come back."
Monroe's eyes narrow in anger. "You had your chance, remember? That offer is no longer on the table. We're done with this game," he tells Miles, before giving Jeremy some kind of signal. Jeremy nods and whistles to some of his men, who follow him in the direction of the house. Monroe closes the gap between them and whispers in Miles' ear. "You'd do it though, wouldn't you? You'd sell out the Rebels, you'd come crawling back to me and do anything I wanted, if it meant I'd let them live."
"They're my family, not that you'd know anything about it," Miles twists the knife and sees the look of hurt on Monroe's face, before he manages to school his expression. Miles is tired of this game and he just hopes he bought them enough time to get away.
"Yes, they are," Monroe nods, his eyes blazing. "You know what the problem with hostages is? You've got exactly one play with them. You can't kill them, at least not all of them because you need them alive to use as leverage. But they don't share your sentiment, they aren't grateful that you spare their lives. No, they keep trying to fight, to escape, to kill you, despite your leniency."
Miles waits for the sound of explosions and gun fire to rip the air, but it doesn't come. He glances at the house, but Jeremy and his men aren't there- where the hell did they go?
"The farmer who lives here- Bill Jennings?" Monroe says conversationally. "He seems to have this nasty habit of stowing Resistance members on his property. Our local Garrison picked him up a few months ago."
Miles' heart skips a beat and his panic must show on his face, because Monroe gives him a toothy grin. "It seems he cares about his own life a lot more than he cares about your cause. It didn't take us long to break him, but we let him live, despite his acts of treason, providing he gives us intel on anyone passing through his farm. He kept his word and came running the minute you showed up. Unfortunately, he probably blew his cover, so we had to dispose of him. And yes, Miles- we know about the secret tunnel, we've had an ambush set up the minute we got here."
Miles hears shouting and watches in dawning horror as more Militia men, led by Jeremy, come up the hill with his family in tow. Danny is being dragged by two men, his injured leg bent at an odd angle; Charlie is shouting and struggling in the clutches of three men and Rachel is walking on her own, a rifle to her back, clearly sensible enough to know when to give up. Aaron appears next, his face bruised and Miles feels a ridiculous sense of pride that he put up a fight. Finally an unconscious Nora is dragged between two more men, beaten and bleeding.
"Miles!" Charlie sees him and renews her struggle against her captors.
"Charlie!" Miles struggles against the rope binding his arms and tries to run towards them. Three pairs of arms grab his shoulders roughly and he feels a sharp blade resting against his throat. "Bass, you son of a bitch-"
"Oh it's Bass now, is it?" Monroe asks Miles mockingly. Jeremy jogs over to Monroe, who tells him: "Have your men get them inside and secure them. Be careful, Ms. Clayton left a few surprises for us- make sure the kids go first."
"Yes, sir," Jeremy says quickly, but offers Miles an apologetic glance, before relaying his order. Miles doesn't like this- there's no reason to take them back to the house. If he wanted them alive, he'd secure them to the wagon. If he wanted to kill them, he could line them up right here and shoot them. Why is he taking them back to the house?
"Please, Bass," Miles tries again. "I'm begging you-"
"I begged you to come back!" Monroe seethes. "I told you I'd give you anything, that I'd let them live. What did you tell me? That I wasn't your family anymore, that I was nothing to you. Do you have any idea what it's like to lose everything, your whole family not once, but twice?"
"I'm sorry, ok? I hurt you, I get it! So take it out on me, just don't kill them." Miles pleads, struggling against the men holding him. "I'll do anything, please, just let them live!"
"We already played this game," Monroe says, sounding bored. "Just remember that this is on you- you made your choice and now you have to live with it." He waits until the men return from the house, before he says to Miles: "How much explosives do you think Nora stashed there? Shall we find out?" He turns back to Jeremy. "Tell you men to keep their distance and guard the exits. Torch the place."
"You bastard!" Miles shouts at him. "You fucking bastard!"
"Sir, wouldn't it be easier and more humane to just shoot them?" Jeremy asks, ignoring Miles.
"I told them that if they surrendered their death would be quick and painless- they didn't. They don't get that luxury now, they get to suffer and burn to death," Monroe says in clipped tones. "And it's not about what's easier, it's about sending a message." He looks at Miles pointedly.
"Yes, sir," Jeremy says and turns to his men. He hesitates a moment, before giving the order: "Light it up!"
"NOOO!!!" Miles yells and tries to dislodge the men holding him. He keeps fighting their hold, rubbing his wrists raw and bloody as he tries to release his hands. He alternates between begging Bass and cursing him; he can see the smoke and the rising flames beyond the curtain in the kitchen. He shouts and screams until he starts to lose his voice; his throat feels like sandpaper and his heart is hammering in his ears. 'It's not too late, the flames haven't spread yet, I can get them out-'
he first explosion rocks the ground, before setting off a string of larger ones. Miles loses his footing and ends up banging his face in the ground. He grunts and looks up to see the whole house on fire. The men guarding him momentarily loosen them hold and he shakes them off, jumping to his feet and running towards the house. He's got no plan; he just knows he needs to get to them. He can feel the heat from the fire licking at his skin, he's almost there-
Only to get tackled by Jeremy. Miles elbows Jeremy in the face and struggles to get to his feet. "Get off of me! Jeremy! Let me go!"
"Miles stop! You can't help them," Jeremy wrestles with him, until three more men finally manage to grab Miles and drag him back. "They're dead, man," Jeremy says with a pained expression. "There's nothing you can do for them now."
"He knows," Monroe says, walking in front of a kneeling Miles and blocking his view of the house. The flames dance between his curls, giving him a twisted halo. "He knows deep down that they're gone, but there's still this little sliver of hope," Monroe's tone is almost kind, as he looks down at Miles with pity. "As long as you don't see their bodies, they're not dead. Maybe they got away, maybe they're only hurt. Maybe the hospital got the wrong family." His voice cuts like a knife. Miles can't think, can't talk and he forgets how to breathe, watching numbly as the flames continue their vicious dance.
"When the flames die down, we'll take you inside so that you can see their burnt corpses; if you can still recognize their mangled bodies." Monroe promises him darkly, kneeling down next to him. "That's when it'll hit you, that's when you'll finally realize that in one moment, you've lost everything and you have nothing left."
Monroe grabs Miles by the shoulders and leans in, resting their foreheads together. "The pain and grief and guilt will overwhelm you. All you'll want is a way out, an end to your suffering, to die as well- because you'll know that it should have been you." His voice is soothing as it stabs him in the gut. "But I won't let you, just like you didn't let me.'You've got me'," he echoes a parody of Miles' promise back at him. "'What the hell would I be without you?'"
Something in Miles finally cracks and a broken sob tears its way from his heart. He cries for the first time since his mom's funeral and Bass embraces him, whispering to him: "It's ok" and "I'm here, I'm not going anywhere." Miles can't shut the floodgate as his body is wracked with sobs. He looks up through bleary eyes at the burning house, watching as his whole world goes up in flames.
This has a sequel: Makers of Monsters
Yeah, so you know how Rachel stabbed Jaffe to death and cried how sorry she was while doing it? That's me right now. When I prompted this word I just thought it sounded cool, I had no intentions of filling it, nor did it inspire me in any way. And then I thought about the prompt literally and this happened. Be grateful, in my head the whole fic starts with Miles looking at the charred remains of his family. At least I spared him the visual (but Monroe probably won't).
This might or might not have a sequel/Companion piece with a broken Miles and Monroe and "what happens next?" It all depends on my muse