From The Ground, Up

For the Sci Fi week competition, a The 100 Fanfiction.
What if Clarke was a grounder? Born on Earth to Commander Abby - what if she's still there when the Drop Ship hits the ground?
This story was originally posted on my AO3 account, entitled Get Knocked Down, Get Back Up. I've changed the name and edited it, and posted it here, as well. Hopefully it will still be eligible for the competition. (Was written in the beginning of August, 2015, still abiding by the rules.)

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1. What Falls From The Sky

 

 

Clarke’s story began and ended with fire.

She was born by candlelight, on the Ground to a woman named Abby and a man who had long since died. Her screams filled the hut, and took the attention from the blood, pouring from her mother. She screamed for the light, burning her eyes, for the oxygen she was inhaling and the world that she had been born into – radiation soaked. She screamed for her mother, who was dying before her, in the arms of people she didn’t know.

“What will you call her?” A man whispered to her mother, the Commander. Abby’s rasping voice could barely be heard over her daughter’s cries and the struggling to stop the bleeding.

“Clarke,” she said. And that was all she said, as Clarke screamed for her mother’s presence, fading like the light of the candles.

She grew up, an orphan, with the spirit of the woods in her veins. Clarke ran with the grounders, following their footsteps in the woods and learning the trade her mother had taught. Healing came naturally to her, and she chalked it up to the blood that flowed through her – her mother’s blood, Nyko would say with a smile.

Nyko raised her, for the most part. He raised her in a small village and taught her to fix the wounds that were brought about by war and animals. She could sew up cuts, and she said “yu gonplei ste odon” for the first time at age nine, dripping a liquid from a vial into a man’s mouth. Your fight is over.

She met Lincoln at ten – he was as large as many in her clan, and she smiled when he showed her kindness. They drew together, sketching into bound books of rough paper, with charcoal and sometimes the blood from a pricked finger. They found pencils in a bunker, once, and kept them a secret, hiding them in the coves in the trees, for only them to find. He became her best friend quickly, learning to be a warrior alongside her, whispering snide comments into her ear as Anya, only a couple of years older than her, but younger than him, tried to boss them about – as the new Commander’s second.

He even held her, as she screamed over a baby being left in the woods to die, the deformations on its face making it a weaker strand of their race.

“Not here,” he hissed, dragging her away. She was thirteen, and he was nineteen, six years older and far wiser than she would ever be. “You do not show weakness,” he told her, after pulling her into the woods in the opposite direction that the baby was left. “You only show me your weakness, okay?” She nodded, tears still streaming down her face. “Your weakness is your strength, but if you show it, you lose its power.” Clarke sniffed.

“Okay,” she agreed – even if she didn’t agree with the practice of killing the children.

“Ge smak daun, gyon op nodotaim,” he told her. Clarke brushed her hand roughly over her cheeks, getting rid of the tears.

“Get knocked down, get back up,” she repeated. Lincoln smiled then, squeezing her arms. He was her best friend, he knew what was best for her. She just had to believe in that.

It was when she was seventeen that something fell from the sky. The entire village went quiet as they stared, watching it fall - the fabric shooting out behind it and tightening.

“What is that?” Clarke breathed. Her face was smudged with war paint, and her armour was crooked, she had been out hunting and had only just returned.

“I don’t know,” Lincoln replied. “I really don’t.” A war meeting was called and Clarke and Lincoln waited outside for the verdict. A man walked out – Kensuk – just as big as Lincoln, with tattoos across his face. She wondered absently if Lincoln would ever get tattoos like that – and would he let her sit by his side, like she had during the other times, watching them getting painted on in the ceremony.

“She is sending scouts,” Kensuk said gruffly, to the people nearby. “We do not know if this is a threat. We are not to approach unless they step foot on our land.” Clarke nodded, and stood by Lincoln’s side until Kensuk turned to her specifically, glancing between her and Lincoln and sighing. “You wish to go?” He asked. She nodded. She was seventeen – still young for a warrior, yes, and better trained as a healer. But she could fight, and she could scale the trees like everyone else. “Watch for her,” Kensuk ordered Lincoln, and he nodded stiffly.

When they turned to walk away, he slapped a hand on her back.

“As if I wouldn’t anyway.”

It was large and metal – what had fallen from the sky – and Clarke watched from the trees as the people ran around, cheering and screaming. She sat on the branch next to Lincoln, whose eyes seemed to be following a pretty brunette through the grass. She was dancing and screaming with the rest of them, happy to be on the ground, it seemed, instead of wherever they had come from.

When Clarke tore her eyes away, they landed on a man across the clearing. He was a man – not a boy, like the others, with olive skin and dark hair. He smiled, watching the people run as he wandered slowly through the woods. His hair was slicked back, and his clothes were different to the others’ – black and more professional, while theirs were run down and worn.

She only dragged her eyes from him when she heard a bird sound, calling to retreat to further back trees. She did as she was told, stepping along the branches onto others, and climbing down, running quickly through the grass. But she doubted the children would notice if she was not one of them – they were all so spread out, so quick on their feet.

On that day, a group of them wandered through the forest. She watched from the trees as one swung over the river on a vine – he seemed to be wearing goggles. He pulled a sign from the bush, and she knew it to be the one for Mount Weather – shuddering at the thought of them. She didn’t have much time to think, though, because a spear flew out from the trees, hitting him directly in the chest. The other’s screamed, ducking and running, leaving the boy to bleed.

Clarke followed the men carrying him, tending to his wounds as they went. He wouldn’t live if she didn’t, and they knew it.

“Let him die,” Anya had said, with a wave of her hand. Clarke glared at her.

“No, I won’t. He did nothing wrong.”

“He was in our land.”

“He didn’t know we existed,” she retorted. “I will save him.” Anya eyed her for a moment before sighing.

“Fine, but after, string him up on the tree for them to collect – if they don’t, he will die anyway, I hear the animals have been wanting a new meal.” Clarke sat with him, the boy with the goggles, for a while, cleaning and packing his wound. She followed the men, carrying him to the tree, and climbed it, too, to keep him bandaged up. His eyes opened sometimes and they would look at each other carefully.

“You will be okay,” she whispered to him, as the others dropped to the ground. He stared at her, unfocused, before his eyes fluttered shut again. Then she followed the others back to the village.

Lincoln was called back to watch the camp, after that, returning to scouting and keeping an eye on the intruders that fell from the sky. Some days he took her with him. She would sit in the trees as he sketched in his book. Sometimes she would whisper over and ask what he was drawing – it tended to be the brunette girl or the metal machine, other times it was just him taking a tally of their numbers.

She watched from the trees as a boy with long, shaggy hair went on expeditions by himself, discovering bunkers even she had never seen before. Sure, he intrigued her – but not as much as the olive-skinned man. Much to her disappointment, he seemed to be hugging the brunette Lincoln would watch, and they tended to be fairly close. This man seemed to be their leader, she noted, and watched as they lined up to follow his lead – hacking off the bracelets that encircled their wrists.

When another boy with darker skin would approach him, the first would rally his troops, calling out ‘whatever the hell we want’, and making a speech about it being their ground now. Clarke and Lincoln would smirk at this, looking to each other before back to them. It would never be their ground, she thought to herself. They didn’t know what they were in for.

A couple of days later, Clarke was in the village, mixing herbs, when Lincoln walked over to her. He was quick, trying to look casual, but she knew the older man too well, to recognise the look in his eye.

“What did you do?” She hissed, standing up.

“A bad thing,” he replied. He only jerked his head and she followed him. Lincoln had a cave not far out of the village – it was hidden well by shrubs, and over the years the two of them had made it quite homey, with pelts and a fire pit. She followed him instead, down the steps and into the dark. But, clear enough, there was a girl on the ground, possibly asleep, possibly unconscious, possibly dead.

Clarke’s eyes widened, and she moved towards the girl, nudging her hair back to find her to be the one he’d been watching.

“What the hell?” She whispered, gently feeling at her neck and sighing in relief when she felt a pulse.

“She fell down a hill, West of here, and hit her head. I just wanted to heal her,” he said. Clarke sighed at this, looking to the blood that coated her face.

“But you don’t know how?” Lincoln nodded, producing the makeshift kit that Clarke had left there sometime before. He didn’t need to say anything – his eyes did all the begging.

Clarke worked quickly, packing her wounds and wiping up the blood. But she awoke as she stitched up her head wound. At first, it was groaning, and then her eyes opened, adjusted to the light, and she scrambled back, to the wall, with a scream. Clarke held up her hands, empty after the girl had pulled away the needle and thread, still dangling from her forehead.

“Who are you?” The girl asked. “What are you doing?” She felt at her head, before fingering the stitches. Clarke looked to Lincoln, deciding to speak in Trigedasleng.

“What do we do?” She asked in her own language. Lincoln shrugged, his expression far less panicked than her own. We don’t show weakness, she told herself, and her muscles relaxed, her face becoming passive.

“She’ll die out there on her own,” Lincoln replied, and the girl looked between the two of them, not knowing the language.

“What are you saying?” She asked in English. “Who are you?”

“One of our own will kill her,” Clarke agreed in Tridedaslang, ignoring the girl all together. But the girl was looking at her wounds, finding them bandaged and clean.

“Are you helping me?” The girl asked. Clarke only glanced to her, before sending another look towards her friend.

“Clarke, please,” Lincoln said lowly, in their language. Clarke nodded, standing up.

“Chain her, then,” she announced, and she knew that the girl wouldn’t see it coming – not without knowing their language. Lincoln nodded, his jaw tight, before pulling the chains down from the shelf and clasping the cuffs around her wrist. She struggled against him, calling out, but he chained her to the wall anyway. Clarke approached then, with her knife, and the girl winced, crying out. But Clarke just cut away the remaining thread, hanging from her forehead and nodded to her.

She then packed up her things, and left.

“That was so stupid,” she told Lincoln, as they trudged through the forest. He just nodded.

“I know.”

The next thing she knows, it’s a day later and Lincoln is missing. No – not missing, kidnapped. She searched for him all day, before wandering out to the cave. She saw the blood first – something that hadn’t been there before, and the way the grass was leaning on way, forced to, as if something heavy had been dragged across it. Or someone, her brain supplied.

Clarke was moving quickly, after that, thundering down the steps and not caring about stealth – this was her best friend she was talking about. She reaches the inside of the cave and looks around, alone, eyes wide and jaw dropped. The girl was gone, as were the chains. There were dots of blood on the floor, and things had fallen from tables onto the ground – weapons removed from where they hung on the walls.

She was ready to scream.

Clarke knew it had been the sky people who had taken her friend, but she couldn’t tell Anya – not yet. She didn’t want that woman to be right about them, and she didn’t want a massacre, just to get Lincoln back. Not yet, anyway. Because, don’t get her wrong, Clarke would have massacred a village for her best friend.

She ran through the woods, jumping over roots and fallen trees as if it were second nature. When she got close to the sky people’s home, she manoeuvred through the trees. She found that they had constructed messy walls around their home – wood and plastic and metal, in a pile that stretched around their camp. And Clarke sat in the trees, straining her ears to hear the conversations.

“We need to ration carefully,” the darker skinned man was saying. She was impressed to find him still wearing his wrist band. A man nearby smirked – he had sullen eyes and brown hair.

“You’re not in charge of us, Jaha,” he said. She looked back to the other – Jaha – and narrowed her eyes. Was he their de-facto leader? Or did he feel like he should be?

“No, I’m not – but with the grounders out there, we can’t go and hunt,” he replied. The other laughed.

“We have a grounder in here!” He all but yelled. “And I bet they wouldn’t kill us if they knew that we’d kill him for it.” Clarke forced herself not to snort – the boy obviously didn’t know the grounders very well.

She sat there through the night, after many of them had gone to sleep, and watched them patrol. They didn’t have weapons – but sticks and knives, hoping they would be enough. Clarke couldn’t think of a solid plan, to get in and out with Lincoln, so she waited and watched as the brunette girl wandered past, telling anyone who’d listen that the grounder was okay – that he had helped her and healed her. Clarke stayed quiet then, too – not wanting to say that it had been her that had done the healing and risk her hiding spot. Lincoln wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a bandage and a salve.

Clarke watched for two days, only moving to relieve herself, pick berries, and try to get a better vantage point. She refused to leave her friend – and wondered often if he was dead. But the conversations between Jaha and different members of the Skai Kru seemed to point to him still being alive. Her blood boiled over them, though.

“They’re torturing him, aren’t they?” Jaha had asked the brunette girl. She had locked her jaw and nodded, and Clarke strained her ears to see if she could try and hear her friend’s cries. But there was nothing. Jaha still stormed into the metal building, though, and she could hear the yelling from the trees.

She watched, a couple of days after he’d been taken, as the boy with long, shaggy hair, was carried into camp.

“He was stabbed!” A girl with dark skin called out. Her hair was up in a ponytail and she wore a red jacket. She had blood coming from her forehead, but otherwise seemed relatively unscathed. She watched as he was dragged into the metal building, and his cries could be heard for hours after. The brunette girl stormed about the place, and the handsome man with olive skin would sigh, watching, calling out to her – “O, come on!” – but ‘O’ would keep marching anyway.

She wasn’t allowed out of camp, it seemed. The man with olive skin wouldn’t let her, and so they swore at each other, and themselves, and O sat and sulked. Over the day, the cries from the metal building worsened – the boy who had been stabbed was getting bad and Clarke was tempted to go in and save him. She had guessed that the blade had been poisoned, and the girl with the pony tail and dark skin only left when the cries quietened for a while.

“I got the radio working,” she said to someone in a hushed voice, sending careful glances towards the olive skinned man (Clarke wondered if he didn’t want this ‘radio’ to work). “Wells is in there now – but it doesn’t look good.” The girl looked on the verge of tears, which surprised Clarke, because she struck her as a girl who never cried. Then Jaha was at the door, calling the girl over – Raven, it seemed.

“I think it’s the blade,” he was calling, and Clarke knew that he’d figured it out. She heard Lincoln’s cries only a few minutes later, and she held in her gasp, biting on her hand. O forced her way into the metal building not long after that, and the sounds of his torture stopped, and the sounds of the boy dying stopped. And Clarke stayed until nightfall, until she watched O lead Lincoln to the wall, dressed in Skai Kru clothes. Lincoln ran from camp, and Clarke glanced at the girl before following and having the reunion hug she’d been waiting for (and to slap him for being such an idiot).

If the girl could be nice to him – did that mean there was hope for the others?

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