"He tried to kill Gregory... and me," replies Rick, "What was I supposed to do?"
Paul Monroe pleads with Rick, informing him that he doesn't fully understand the situation. "I can explain," Paul says to Rick, "Things aren't as... simple as they might seem."
When they point their spears at Rick, he raises his pistol and aims it towards them. "I don't think I will," states Rick, challenging them.
"Everyone just CALM DOWN!" demands Paul, "Put your weapons away."
The guards look on angrily, before Rick informs them that they, "have more pressing concerns".
The medic who is watching over Gregory exclaims, "We need to get him inside. I can't stop the bleeding out here--I need my equipment!"
"What can I do to help?" asks Rick.
"Put the gun away and let them handle this on their own," requests Paul Monroe, patting Rick on the shoulder, "You've done enough."
"What about him?" questions Rick, looking down at Ethan's corpse, "He's going to turn, y'know... Could happen soon."
Paul responds; "We have a process. We'll take care of it."
Andrea turns to Paul and asks if Rick will be in trouble for killing Ethan. Paul tells her no, but also explains that the people of the Hilltop Colony are not used to seeing such primitive violence and killing. Paul tells her that "this kind of thing doesn't usually happen here".
Lowering his head in sorrow, Pauls responds, "If Negan has Crystal then she's already dead. There's nothing we can do for her", and then he continues, saying, "There's a lot you don't know. I'll... fill you in. But not here."
Paul then leads the group off the street and away from the eyes of the Hilltop citizens.
Later, in the barrington building, Paul holds a meeting with the survivors. He makes sure that the subject matter will not scare Carl before commencing the rendezvous.
"The simplest way to put it," Paul announces, "is the Hilltop has enemies."
"I think we gathered that much on our own," says Glenn.
"Almost as soon as the walls were built, Negan showed up," resumes Paul, "He's the leader of a really nasty group of people he calls 'The Saviors'. He met with Gregory, made a lot of demands and even more threats. Gregory is not exactly good at... confrontation. I'm not going to lie to you, he's not the leader I would have chosen, but the people like him. He struck a deal with The Saviors."
Rick and his group listen intently, as Paul goes on, telling them; "Half of everything, our supplies, our crops, our livestock, belong to The Saviors... We make regular deliveries and they keep the area relatively clear of the dead. That's the deal. Near as I can tell, they're a roaming band of maniacs on an unending killing spree... Word is they've killed thousands of the dead already."
"A guy showed up, made some threats, and now you give him half of everything?" questions Rick, seemingly disgruntled by the news, "How many people are in this group--The Saviors?"
"Nobody really knows," answers Paul, before admitting how screwed up the situation is.
As the meeting goes on, Rick and his people begin to learn exactly how horrible The Saviors are.
Paul tells them; "If they don't feel like they're getting half, or they just want to send a message, sometimes they'll beat up the team we send to their drop point. Sometimes worse. Like today. Everyone here is too scared to stand up to them..."
Carl interjects into the conversation, which shocks Paul.
"If we kill all these bad guys, will you give us half of your food and stuff?" asks Carl.
Rick appears to be in favor of this idea, but mentions that they probably wouldn't need half of Hilltop's stuff--just enough for all of his people.
"You're serious?" asks Paul, considering the offer, "That seems like something that could be arranged."
That night, the citizens of Hilltop surround a bonfire and hold a ceremony to burn Ethan's corpse. Some of them are seen crying or looking distressed, when Rick arrives on the scene.
"Hey!" one of the citizens, Samuel, addresses him, "Why are YOU here?! This is a private ceremony! You've got no right to be here!"
Samuel punches Rick across the face, repeating the words "NO RIGHT!"
Rick collapses to the floor and Samuel starts to yell; "Ethan was a good man! He didn't have to die! He was scared and--"
Just as before, Paul Monroe steps in to settle the altercation. He shouts; "Back off, Samuel! I don't care how much we loved Ethan! He was trying to KILL this man! All he did was defend himself."
Paul helps Rick up to his feet and speaks to the Hilltop citizens once more, saying, "Until you can convince me NONE of you would have done the same--Leave him alone. Ethan did a bad thing... and he died because of it."
Paul begins to carry Rick away on his shoulders, again speaking; "Mourn him because he's GONE. But don't pretend he was anything more than a coward who attacked us. He DESERVED to die."
All of the citizens, Samuel especially, are shocked by what Paul has said.
In the morning, Glenn is observing the community when Rick comes outside behind him. Glenn sees the bruising around Rick's eye and questions him about it.
"Couldn't sleep last night, went out," says Rick, "I stumbled across a funeral pyre for that guy who attacked me. One of the mourners didn't appreciate my presence. Big guy."
"Understandable," says Glenn, "They cremate people, huh? That makes sense."
Looking out at the Hilltop Colony, Glenn tells Rick "I know it's been crazy, but I've gotta be honest... I really like it here." He goes on about how there are more jobs in Hilltop and the place seems more like a community than the Alexandria Safe-Zone did, even though it's larger. "This place is great," states Glenn, "Just LOOK at it."
"It's something special," says Rick, "Won't argue with you there."
Andrea steps outside behind them, speaking, "You two seem to have woken up on the right side of the bed. Something good happen that I miss?"
"Nothing in particular," Rick tells her, embracing Andrea and kissing her on the cheek. Andrea seems confused about this behavior.
"Rick?" she asks.
"Just admiring this place," says Rick, possibly justifying his actions, "It's a beautiful day, right?"
Then, Dr. Carson comes over to greet Rick, telling him that, "Gregory would like to speak with you."
Rick goes to see Gregory, who is bed-ridden and in serious pain. After informing Rick that he is in severe agony, Gregory asks him, "You... ever have to deal with something like this?"
"I've been shot... twice," replies Rick, "And I lost the hand."
"Oh," answers Gregory, "I hadn't noticed."
The two of them begin to speak about Negan and The Saviors. Gregory tells Rick that he'd be "very grateful" if Rick's group could "deal with Negan". Gregory tells Rick that the Hilltop Colony has "never been strong enough to face him" and that "over the last few months... things have gotten WORSE."
"I've dealt with his kind before," Rick explains, "My people lived on the road more than off, for the better part of a year. We know how to handle people like that."
Gregory asks; "You saying you'll fight for us? That'd be your contribution?"
"It's an option," responds Rick, "We're dangerously low on supplies, taking something back with me would go a long way to swaying my people to help you."
Gregory thinks on this for a moment.
Later, Rick and his group are packing up their vehicles to leave. They have been given the supplies which Rick requested from Gregory.
"Seriously, thanks for everything," says Rick, "This is more than a generous offering."
Paul smiles at him, replying, "Rick, if I didn't know better, I'd say you're starting to trust us..."
"It's not easy to earn," says Rick, "but once you succeed in gaining my trust, it's appreciated and ALWAYS recognized. This food is going to get us through the rest of the winter. That won't be forgotten."
"When the time comes to go against Negan, you can expect Kal and me by your side... as well as others," Paul assures him, "We wouldn't want you to face them alone."
Andrea interjects; "What is he talking about?"
"We're going to help them deal with this Negan guy," Rick informs her.
"You VOLUNTEERED us for that?" asks Michonne.
"No, I'm going to try and talk you into it, LATER. Not now," answers Rick.
Michonne seems angry with this decision.
"It's the right thing to do," says Rick, just before Andrea gives him an eye roll.
"Well," pronounces Paul, "I'll leave you to it. I suppose we'll be in touch."
"We will," says Rick, shaking Paul's hand.
After Paul leaves, Andrea asks Rick "Are you really serious about this?"
"What, Andrea--About helping these people? Of COURSE I am!" Rick tells her, "You have a problem with it?!"
Rick then goes on to explain; "THIS is what we've been living for. All our struggles and hard work have been leading to this. We've been surviving in order to reach this moment, this discovery. The Hilltop... This is our FUTURE. We can rebuild civilization now. We're one step closer to getting back to the way things were before. We can be at peace again. We can raise our children again. We can love our families again. We can let our guard down again. Whatever hardship comes out of this agreement... it will be WORTH it. This changes EVERYTHING. Can't you see that?"
He reasons with them, pressing onward.
"We can finally stop surviving," he says, "...and start LIVING."
- Rick Grimes
- Carl Grimes
- Paul Monroe
- Harlan Carson
- Hilltop Colony residents
- Ethan (Corpse)
- First appearance of Samuel.
- Last appearance of Ethan. (Corpse)
- This issue concludes the second compendium of the series.