Hell's Bells
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As with much of what Rick attempts to accomplish these days, the wait & rescue mission does not go as aimed.

Outside Woodbury / Woodbury Street

"…"

It's apparent when the gun shot goes off that something's gone amiss within Woodbury's walls, for the group of Rick and two women pressed uncomfortably against a car outside its tall, barricaded, boundaries. Even more apparent than several minutes ago when they realized Michonne was missing. Again. A nasty habit overcut now by the urgency of the far-away shotgun blast. Above them and around the blue Civic's rear lights, the guards on the roost mutter and pace, unable to leave their posts but infected with the jitters of the shot's echoing remnants. One swoops a flashlight out into the, seemingly abandoned, yard just to have something to do. The light reflects powerfully off the smashed plastic shards of the dependable vehicle's bumper.

Rick slides a stitch away from the vehicle at the sound, his body tensing like a deer stalked by a hunter. Around Woodbury, this crew needs to be ready and able to run at the drop of a hat. He slides slightly down the length of the car, aiming to take a small peek with just his peripheral vision— thank God that's still intact. He squats against the vehicle again before turning his attention back to the women with him. Seriousness levels his entire expression as he whispers, "Definitely from inside— " His heart thumps heavier in his chest as he slides just a stitch more.

Every muscle poised to follow Rick’s cue, on the verge of cramping instead – as cramped as her position between him and Maggie — Carol’s concern was rising by the second – it was certainly boosted by the gunshot. “You think—Andrea?” No way to know. The three of them feel mighty vulnerable behind this car and that’s just a car, not the open space they’re gonna have to face. She’s staying strong, however; concern doesn’t mean she’s wavered a bit.

Maggie's eyes don't leave the barricade that they've been trained on since Andrea left them by the Civic. The shotgun blast doesn't startle her, but her hackles are raised. Mimicking Rick's movement, she pulls out her gun and prepares herself. "Either that or…" she stops, wanting to spare Carol's feelings. The second option is Daryl. She knows how close the two are and she finally does glance to her side. Instead, she finishes her sentence after a pause as, "…could be just a misfire." The suggestion sounds lame and she knows it. "No good goin' in now if the whole place is'n an uproar. They'd be on us in under a minute."

Sounds from inside reel in the guards' attention and, briefly, their section of the wall goes unguarded.

That's when Rick notices that he's standing not ten feet from someone else.

It's not Michonne.

The town lights reflects in odd ways off the inhuman round plugs of a gas mask, its entirety obscuring the face below so that it, too, could be unnatural; there's no way to tell, even between male or female, as the huskily dressed figure stands in the middle of the road with an eerie confidence.

A shhht and light blazes. It streams upwards to show new definition in an unholy red and orange of the bottom of the gas mask before a quick arc sends it flying over the top of the distracted guards on the wall, and into Woodbury. A clink and burst; flames leaping abruptly towards the nearest building as voices raise in higher cacophony. Yelling, screaming; someone's barking at the two men who quiver between investigating and helping — one chooses help while the other stands, feeling useless and restless, on the wall.

The figure has taken two steps back and faded into darkness, but clearly left its mark.

Rick actually rubs his eyes, the light from the figure's efforts causing him to question its continued presence. A glance is given back to the ladies, but with only one guard left, and all pandemonium breaking lose, he gives a brief glance towards the ladies before skulking a stitch further along the wall. Slow, quiet movements and maybe, just maybe they can take this guard out without attracting much (or any) attention. Knowing what's going on inside Woodbury could make the difference between getting allies out and never seeing them again.

In the corner of his gaze, just outside his periphery he can sense something else is there. Slowly, his head turns. There's nothing there, just the darkness carrying on at infintatum.

What in the hell: that’s one wide-eyed look Rick sees looking back at him in that instant. He’s not seeing things; Carol’s not seeing things; she sees the light of sudden fire from Woodbury as plain as day. Good timing or not, she doesn’t trust it, but she has to trust Rick. Her faith and purpose set her to following him along the wall, each step wary and marked by a look up to the guard.

"Well, now, maybe I was wrong about 'em bein' all over us inna minute." Maggie watches the fire burn with wide eyes. She's not quite blood thirsty, but she's not exactly sorry to see part of Woodbury go up in flames. "Should somebody follow that guy? If he's lightin' Woodbury up, he might be on our side. Or she. She might be on our side. Couldn't get a good look." She looks over to Rick. "What should we do? Should we still wait for Andrea and Michonne?"

"Fuck, man— fuck!" The guard at the post is muttering, sidling back and forth; dying inside not to be assisting his fellow townspeople as flames pick up with alarming rapidity. There's more than fire in what was thrown: accelerant bites into the flammable material of housing and the barricade, itself. Cars making up the inside steps light up with squeals and the distinct smell of rubber.

There's shouting and noise now everywhere. Rick could stand up and sing Broadway and chance not getting noticed.

But still no sign of a friendly face. Or even a plastic-covered one.

No, but to Rick's peaked ears there's this: the sound of a voice. Shouting about terrorists and calling for the people to rally: a leader, if that's what you call a raper of women and torturer of men.

Rick's head snaps back to his crew and then towards the commotion. His brain is working as fast as he can manage it. "We need to get our people outta there— " His chin lifts as he stares up at the guard who is panicking on the barricade now. His lips press together contemplatively, and then he's signalling for the woman to move out.

With a simple waggle of two fingers, and a motion of his hand, he's directing the woman out from their hiding place. Finding Andrea, Michonne, and Daryl is tatamount. Otherwise their reasons for even coming lay in question. The former Sheriff casts a quick glance to the guard before he's scaling the wall, using one car as his initial leverage point. He waves a hand to Carol and Maggie— he'll give each a boost in turn, and then maybe they can help him vault up after.

With her attention split and heightened in several directions, including beyond Woodbury's wall, Carol follows suit. Serious eyes flash with concern for the unknown when it seems she's up first, but she grabs onto their leader so he can help spring her up; there, she crouches to lend aid to Maggie and Rick, not taking up much space, seeming so far unnoticed by the guard — it won't last. 

Finally able to use some of that pent up energy, Maggie follows after Carol and Rick. After a moment of hesitation, she uses the boost from Rick and a pull from Carol to balance herself on the small section of wall. She's as silent as possible, though a bit jittery with adrenaline. Once next to Carol, she extends a hand downward. Hopefully with the combined effort of the two of them, they'll be able to get Rick up without much noise.

An empty food can — contributed by some person clearly trying to help but not understanding the purpose of a barricade — shifts with a clink. Innocent enough, but the guard on the wall's already on edge and, jumping, he slinks forward to investigate only to, as he goes, be drawn to staring at the flames as one crackles especially high.

The shift in noise and the guard gives Grimes pause. But it's just for a moment before he (with the help of the ladies) is up on the top of the wall. The two receive nods of acknowledgmenet in turn. Well done. Slowly, as quietly as he can manage, he slides towards the guard to reach around his throat with his arm— a choke hold to bring down the guard as quietly as possible.

Gurgling in desperation and surprise, the guard paws for his side, for where he's packing a pistol.

The guard's desperate hand catches Carol's attention and she acts — not without thinking. It's calculated, her quick rush in. The long-bladed knife she's brought in addition to her rifle sheath — those are meant to be for walkers, not the living — is shoved in it's makeshift, sewn sheath and she makes a hard grab for the guard's weapon. Her fingers dig and scrape off of his knuckles until she's gripping the pistol in her hands. Then both her hands. She points it steadily at him until Rick brings him down, a flame shining in eyes that are already blazing with a danger made of shock and determination. 

While Carol and Rick bring the guard down, Maggie slips down the barricade - planting her feet firmly on the ground. They don't need three people to knock him out. Too many cooks in the kitchen and all that. Realizing that it's not good to leave an unconscious guard high up there where anyone can see him, she puts her arms out and gestures with her hands to lower him down to her. They can stuff him in one of the abandoned cars that is helping keep this side of the barrier up.

When the door slams shut around the unconscious man's tangled feet, nothing in Woodbury has still stirred to its newest invaders; what townspeople who've managed to leave their houses are fully occupied in dousing the flames, and no one questions if Rick and his women are supposed to be there at all. Columns are fire rise up around a store-house, consuming all of the precious commodities inside with crackles of indomitable hunger: the paradise of a comfortingly familiar homestead has become more than a symbolic Hell.

And, in the center of it, that voice still rings, clear and cutting; past the smoke to the left, the Governor thrives amongst the flames. Once, the muggy grey clears and his features become crisp through the fog before it closes again, as if taunting.

Rick's eye twitches at the sound of the Governor's voice. His lips tighten into a grimace while his gaze crosses the flames and then beyond. "The shadows," he murmurs. Blending may be key here, but so is avoiding the Governor himself if they're to retrieve any of their friends. His steps guide them away from the fire, away from the commotion, and towards a very different place— back near some of the buildings— where they had discovered Maggie and Glenn.

The voice makes Maggie grip onto her gun that much tighter. As she follows Rick through the shadows and toward the alleyways, she is basically on the tips of her toes. The last time she was in this town, Glenn was horribly tortured. Who knows what would happen to them this time should they be captured. She is constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure they aren't being followed.

From around the corner, someone else had the idea to keep to the shadows. However, this person is not being quite so careful. Quickly, the woman turns the corner and is startled by the group of survivors she sees there. The shotgun that she recovered is raised, her knuckles are white from holding it so tightly. But, then, Andrea sees who it is she is about to confront and lowers it. "What are you doing here?" she hisses. "You could have gotten caught." That holds a whole new meaning for her now. "We were supposed to meet outside the wall." Though she is not crying now, the dirt on her face has lines in it. Her eyes are pinkish, but her face is set and cold.

Next to Andrea, a hovering shadow becomes Michonne, stepping up alongside the blonde woman with a former camaraderie. The fire reflects in her eyes an incite that's not in the intent of her words. "We have to go."

Carol's startle is held in, becoming another layer of high-alert. She halts, but she's almost immediately on the move again or, at least, ready to be. She can read Andrea's face, but she can't tell why it looks like the woman's been through anguish. "What happened?" she half-whispers; Rick can answer the questions; she's more concerned with Andrea and keeping moving. The reason they're here.

"We came to look for you— " Rick's gaze turns conspicously over his shoulder towards the fire. "And we took out the guard on the wall." His eyes narrow as he finally looks between the two women that have joined him. His jaw tightens and subconsciously, his hand trails down to his holstered weapon. His gaze shifts to Carol, Maggie, and Michonne in turn, but it lands, and settles on Andrea. "Where's Daryl?"

Maggie keeps her distance from Andrea. Though worried about the woman, she doesn't easily forgive the attitudes and words of earlier. For the time being, she stands behind Rick, anxious to hear of word about Daryl, but not willing to push forward to get it. Instead, she looks behind. "That fire's growin'." It's a reminder that they're on borrowed time here.

Andrea can barely stand to look at either Carol or Rick. He was right. There's no such thing as a safe place in this world any more. Her hope to find one only led her here, a good meal she found out later was poisoned. Instead, she looks at Michonne, the woman who stayed by her through the last winter and then down to the ground. "You were right about the Governor." Her voice is strained. "Daryl's not coming." Unable to stand hearing their reactions, she moves forward toward the wall the others just came from. It's time to go back. And she's going with them.

Brows lowered darkly, making a stern mask of her face hearing the news a second time, Michonne watches Rick a long second as she paces to follow Andrea — it's in this that she manages to peripherally catch the gleam over all their shoulders. She shouts, "BACK!" right before the rocketing piece of flaming debris catapults off the top of a collapsing building towards them and their garbage-piled barricade.

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