(2017-09-10) Where Are They Now?
Where Are They Now?
Summary: It's been a year.
Date: 2017.09.10
Related: None

((OOC Note: I've contacted as many people as I could about what, if anything, they imagine their characters in 5th Wave doing now. I got some responses, and worked them into the log. The rest of you, I've tried to extrapolate on the RP in the logs. If something I've posited you doing really goes against your grain, let me know, or having seen it you want your bit in it, let me know. I'm more than happy to change this log. Staff, first of all thank you for 5th wave. I had way too much fun with this MUSH. But also, once again, if you feel I've asserted plot you think is inappropriate, let me know. This is a for-fun project. If it's not fun for you, talk to me. I'm Wolf on SPN, for anyone who didn't know. -M))

Monica seems to be dressed in a button down pillow ticking shirt, apparently scavenged, since it's too big to have been one of her reenactment shirts. Way too big. As the picture pans around, it becomes obvious that the shirt is unbuttoned halfway to the waist, and she's nursing a baby. Once the baby is fed, burped, and asleep, Mon buttons up a few buttons and lays the baby in a crib made from a picnic cooler next to her. She gets out a pen, dips it in a bottle of ink, and writes in a notebook mounted with slightly green paper.

“Dear Mom and Dad: It's me, Monica,” she writes. “I'd ask how you guys are, but I already know the answer. Still dead. Yeah, I'm making jokes about it. What did you expect? I miss you guys.

Anyway. It's been just about a year since the Departure. Twelve days shy, or so. Things have finally calmed down around here enough that I have a few moments to write. And ink. And this fine paper which was made from cow shit. No, I'm not actually kidding.”

She looks down at the sleeping baby and smiles. Turns back to the paper.

“First off, you're grandparents again. I married the town doctor. His name is Elijah Cooper-Reid. You always said to marry a doctor. I didn't set out to take your advice (as usual) but in this case it worked out that way. After the Departure, we both spent all night taking care of casualties and collapsed (together) in his bed at medlab. Let's say we were there ten hours and not asleep the entire time. Let's also just say that at one point in our discussion there, I told him that having children with him was a risk I was prepared to take. The results were fairly dramatic. He asked me to marry him. I said yes. There were other dramatic results. You've probably been there, done that."

Monica stops writing there, smiles a little, then drains the pen, and gets other papers, some green, some not, and works on them for a while. She gets up to use the bathroom, apparently, since there's a flushing sound in the background. Changes the baby. Life goes on. It's later when she takes up the pen again.

“I know mom would be busy cooing over the baby. But Dad? Your first question would be, “So what else have you gotten done?” Well…we, the survivors of Camp Hope, the Kamo Kids, and everyone else who's joined us, have grown a town. And started the Co-op. Right now it's New Hope, formerly known as Stratford, Sunray, and Cactus. We're in talks with Dalhart to expand our trading partnership with them into full co-op membership. Total population… about a hundred and fifty in New Hope, another thirty or forty in Sunray, and a couple big families in Cactus. Another 70 or 80 in Dalhart. Why do they join us? Simple things. Electricity. Running water. Flush toilets and hot showers. And we can make more of all of them, given the basic resources. We have a small railway for moving food and goods. We have finished goods to trade. We share because these are people, like ourselves, who survived the aliens' attempts to kill us all.

We've figured out how to control the silencer nanites. We use them for a lot of things. Linc, Avery, Eli, and to some extent I did that. There are better chemists and molecular engineers on the team now, so while they all work for me (except Eli), I've pulled back from that team, for the most part. I'm still the town council's R&D lead, at least until the next election. The Nanotech Wiz Kids, my nickname for that team, are still making advances.

Avery's back with me in the machine shop. She's running it at the moment. In her spare time, if she has any, Linc's taken her under his wing. He and I don't get along as well as I might hope, but she's hidebound to be a proper engineer, and he has the qualifications to teach her. I can use a proper engineer. Maybe I'll even be one someday. I get her to teach me the stuff that sounds useful to me. I'm learning lots.

Eli also took the silencer nanites into the medical side. He and his team have revolutionized medicine as humanity knew it. Seriously, we have Star Trek medicine now. You have to be pretty dead before you're so far off that Eli and the other medicos can't patch you up, good as new. And post-natal care… well. Personal factoid. At no time have I had stitches in my nether regions, despite giving birth to my first baby. The muscles in my pelvic floor are exactly how they were beforehand. I'm nursing and eating what amount to dog biscuits - bread baked with bone meal for calcium. Slightly less hard and more flavorful than your hardtack, Dad. Anyway, other than those two things, I'm pretty much back to normal physically. So physically I can have as many babies as I want. I figure one for each person I ever killed should be enough. That's five, in case you didn't keep track. After that, we'll see how it goes. Eli's a very, very attractive man, in addition to sweetness, light, one leg by yours truly, and a mega-watt brain. I may be having quite a lot of babies. Hopefully raising them agrees with me as well as making them. Yes Dad, I know. A dog or a cow can have babies, what have I done? Ok.

I personally designed the waste treatment system, based on some articles in Sewer Pipe Monthly from 2014 I found in the bowling alley. There were magazines for everything back then. We now have a marsh, of sorts, fed under the surface to keep the water from evaporating. Yeah, it stinks. On reverse wind days, people grumble about it a bit. But it works, and the water that comes out of it is just this side of drinkable, so we use it to water crops. We harvest all kinds of interesting chemistry from the marsh too.

Linc, Avery, and the other Wiz kids and also finished cracking the alien power cells. I had a bigger hand in that, especially figuring out how to manufacture them. The factory in Sunray looks a little Rube Goldberg in places, but it works. We call them Shipstones, just like Heinlein named them. We trade them for all kinds of things, because of all the comforts of the old world, electricity is the most useful and the hardest to make consistently. The usual size fits in the back of a pickup truck, or about fifty to a boxcar. Come next spring, we're going to start scouting out some more power generation – Sunray is pretty much maxed out. I'm thinking the Hoover Dam, or the system of dams and generating plants in Estes Park, or something like that. The idea of shipping electricity via rail seems ridiculous, but at these densities – roughly 2500 watt hours per cubic inch – it makes more sense than trying to restore the power grid. For reference, lead acid car batteries held about 1 watt hour per cubic inch. It's a big deal. One of my ideas that really went the distance.

New Eden Nation didn't happen, at least not the way I suggested it. I think I was expecting the town to grow faster than it did, or something. That, and Piper renamed the town on me again. I like this name better. Anyway, The Co-op seems to be filling most of the needs I did foresee, and it's much more us.

Right now, tonight, I'm working on a printing press and figuring out how to make this cow shit-paper less green. Looking forward to some other things too. Remember Mom had problems with post-partum depression? I've had some of that too. I'm feeling better. I'm getting better. I keep telling myself that. When I'm sure, I can get the keys to the gun cabinet back from Eli.

I'm looking forward to taking my M0 or my P1 out to the range, or maybe take Chester out hunting if he remembers who I am. It's been a while. I've also re-thought the C1 carbine and the problem of sealing the front of the cylinder, so I'd like to be able to touch those problems again. Might have to wait on more work with propellant until after I'm done nursing, but the industrial chemist we picked up in April has a good handle on that. She's already replaced my corrosive, nasty potassium chlorate primers with lead nitratohypophosphite based primers. They work like gangbusters. She's written the recipe down, but I haven't tried it personally. Eli suggests strong nitrates and babies may not be a good mix. He's thinking medically, of course, but all that comes to my mind is “Don't drop the baby, she'll explode.” I need to spend more time alone with him. Maybe swap baby sitting and wet nursing with someone. Two hungry babies and double the diapers, how bad could it be? If my old world self could read this, she'd probably barf at the very idea. But I grew up. I really did. Who'da thunk it?”

It's later when Mon gets back to the table. She rubs her eyes, and takes up the pen, dipping it in ink again.

“So I know you guys don't know anyone here but me, but if you'd been following along from the time I got here to the Departure, you might be wondering “where are all those people now?”

Mostly, we're still right here, in New Hope. Scavenging a little less, and for different things. Some folks left to be farmers. Some left to go to Sunray and make shipstones. Some drifted away. A few, not many, but a few, died.

Ginny hooked up with a massive blond farmboy out of Iowa with hair longer than hers. Or mine. He cleaned up nicely. They got married back in March. They didn't waste any time starting a family.

My buddy Elan disappeared before the Departure, and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Carilena works for me in the machine shop part time, and she's the backup engineer for the train when it's out. That's where she is now, somewhere between here and Kerrick, hauling out a carload of shipstones to trade for anything that will fit on the flatbed, plus grain if there is any. She also sees patients when she's in town. Including me sometimes.

I've seen Caitlyn once since the Departure but her home seems to be in Scarborough now. We have trade relations with them on a very limited basis. Mostly we give them black iron, they give us handmade leather goods. They're evolving their own culture. I get the feeling they do not like how we've assimilated alien technology, so they don't want to be in the Co-op. I'm good with that. Better to have multiple cultures in case we're making a fatal mistake with alien tech, or food supply, or whatever. I got new boots from her when she was here. They're awesome. I'm wearing them now.

I got my teeth fixed. Dr. Windslow, our new dentist, turned up in November, and we pretty much overwhelmed him with patients. Two root canals later; using cocaine from the police evidence locker as the local anesthetic and hand made gold crowns (robbed more safe deposit boxes); my teeth were clean and sound again. As a local, not much cocaine makes it into your system, so Dr. Winslow and Eli felt the risk of not having the work done was much higher than the risk to the baby. So yeah. Your nerd daughter has done coke. If I ever go back to Wyoming, I'll generate electricity from your spinning in your graves.

Mon looks at the paper, and runs her hands through her hair. Takes a deep breath. Dips the pen and goes on.

“It hasn't been all success and happily ever after. Sophia's baby didn't make it. She miscarried in late October. She's still alive, and as well as can be expected. Bob is still here, and he's still mayor, at least until the next election. His relationship with Sophia is still complicated. I've discovered experimentally that if I want to go on talking to them, that's a topic to avoid, so that's all I know, but we have cheese, we have wine, we have ice cream sometimes, and we have a mayor.

Terry, who rescued me when I first got here, Terry, my brother in arms, fellow gun nut, and beta tester, was gone a long time. He just turned up two days ago, with some new buds: John, an older guy, maybe 50, mustache, who reminds me of Dad a lot, Jack, his son, and their friend Shelly, who was planning to come here anyway to see if we have news about her ex-kamo-kid son. Which we did. Alive and well. Sometimes people luck out. Terry says they were rehabbing Liberal (Kansas), which I didn't know anything about. He says the helium plant there is about ready to come on line. Still not sure how much we need helium, apart from specialty welding, but… maybe… airships? He settled down with Shelly. Shelly's a country girl like me, learned to shoot as soon as she could stand up. It's also obvious that she loves Terry, and he loves her. You have to watch for it. They've both been through a lot, so they're very private about it, but I know what to look for. That, and I got a wedding invitation this morning.

Gabriel, my first love, first lover, still cooks to make the angels sing, and he still spends most of his time in the kitchen or with Trouble, the dog. I can never tell whether Gabriel's angry that I didn't stay with him. But he went walkabout when I needed him most, and about then Eli and I started getting close dealing with Eli's missing leg. I need to talk to Gabriel now that I can get out more. I don't know how I can make it good that I didn't wait for him. Maybe I can't. I'm still eating his dog biscuits. He and Ginny bake them by the hundred. Not just for me.

Still no sign of big Quinn or Devon, but there's this: a few weeks after the Departure, Piper quietly found adoptive homes for some of the children in her flock, and left with Kayla, Becca, and little Quinn. She came back, right before I popped, with Becca, Little Quinn, and a new baby named Elizabeth whom none of us had seen before. Being Piper, she didn't say where Elizabeth came from.

I did get to hear her sing and play again. I'm sure she knew I was there. Don't know whether she was high again or not. One day I hope to find some of her music from the old world. It's that good. Anyway, Piper kept busy with Eli, making remedies, kind of shepherding our knowledge of silencer nanites. I was never clear how much she really knew about them, but she nudged the direction of research occasionally. We're all inclined to listen, I think. She spent most of her time taking care of people in the infirmary, and looking after her greenhouses. She was still Piper, so few words, well placed.

She disappeared every now and then for days at a time, sometimes with the flock, sometimes not. In fact, she's gone now. Hasn't shown up for dinner now for over a week. I don't know when, or if, she's coming back. She was alive when I saw her last. I hope she's alive now. That's as much as I know. I hope she's with big Quinn, maybe at the old Camp Hope site in Fremont. Wherever she is, alive or dead, I hope she's ok that we used her birth name for the baby's middle name. She wasn't using it anymore. I miss her.

Nora comes and goes. It's what Nora does. Last winter she teamed up with Noah, and they trade with places our little railroad doesn't go yet. She stays with Lincoln when she's in New Hope. He smiles more when she's around. Most of the time.

Mon screws the lid back on the ink bottle and shakes it up. “Who knew India ink would be such a pain in the ass to reverse engineer.” After some tinkering she gets the pen to flow again, with only a few fingerprints on the paper.

“2016/17 was a hard winter. Scavenging got thin, hunting got thin, most of the MREs everyone had were eaten or went bad, and there was food-poisoning a-plenty before we realized that. The food team did as well as they could with Piper's greenhouses, but we'd grown so fast that food got pretty short. We got by, but let me tell you: we appreciated Christmas far more than we might have otherwise. Winter solstice. The hard times, the bad weather, are half over. Let us share what we have. I get it now. I really get it. Things are better now. We got enough machines running on diesel we found in the refinery in Sunray that we could get the winter wheat in. It's keeping us alive now while we anticipate the fall harvest. The bio-diesel revolution we planned isn't happening. By mid-winter planting, this year, we should have those machines electrified. We've already got our kitchens electrified. Which is good. I've got plans for any propane I can lay hands on. I've read it's an awesome refrigerant, especially if you mix it with some isobutane…

Three families with significant herds of cattle joined us this summer, and just like you said, Dad. Animals are power. There are cattle, there are chickens, there are rabbits galore, and we farm them all now. I think Piper's (former) team is looking at farming crickets.

Trade too. We trade like fiends now because we'd really like to avoid another lean winter. Our civilization is small. We don't have the massive inertia we had in the old world. Famine could still kill all of us. But that's what civilization is for, right? So we can all eat reliably, and specialize without starving. A civilization, but a small one. We've got some things in our favor though. Mostly this: We were welded together by hard times, by the end of the old world, war with the aliens and their surrogates, and by the other three horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, pestilence, and death. But most of all, by hope, that together our combined strength, brainpower, and dumb luck will be enough. We're better off now. We're already preparing for winter 2017. Which is good. There are a lot of new babies in the community now. Eli and I weren't the only ones to celebrate the departure in bed. And new babies are fragile.”

Mon yawns and looks up as a rather tired looking Eli comes into the room, carrying the baby, who is smacking her lips. “Hungry again?” Mon asks.

Elijah nods. “Growing is hard work.”

Mon unbuttons her sleep shirt and draws the baby to her, as though it's the most natural thing in the world. Which, at least for mammals, it is.

Elijah reads what she's been writing. He smiles and rubs her shoulders.

Mon leans her head back against his belly, closing her eyes while the baby nurses.

“Are you sure you want to go back to the shop tomorrow?” Eli asks.

Monica nods. “Yeah. Yeah. I'm ok. I'm ready. I've got work to do.” She looks at the paper, reading back what she's written, and blows out her cheeks. “Hope is hard work.” She looks up at him. “Hard work is also hope.”

He bends down to kiss his wife's head softly.

Monica smiles bright, white, healthy teeth, with a flash of gold crowns in the back. She leans forward again and dips the pen once more, a little awkwardly, so as not to disturb the baby.

“Anyway. You should know that I have a new name (Monica Cooper-Reid) and our little girl who will never meet her grandparents is named Hope Savannah Cooper-Reid, for Piper and Eli, and for the most powerful emotion (even more than love) a human being can have. Hope changes everything. Hope is a lens through which all things seem possible. We named her Hope, in honor of that, and in honor of the camp that gave hope back to me when I had none.

Love and Hope,
Monica Cooper-Reid.”

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