With the war against the Whisperers closing in, Rick must ensure the readiness of the community's newly formed militia while also dealing with various conflicts within the walls of each community, including the escape of a dangerous prisoner.
The volume begins with Rick and Dwight training a group of people whom has volunteered to be part of the communities new militia. During training the group draws out a sizable pack of zombies for practice. For a moment it seems they may have overreached but Dwight assumes command and gets them out of the situation. Rick meets with Dwight afterwards and compliments him on his military instincts and implies that he wants him to become a leading figure in the militia. Dwight complains that he left The Sanctuary to avoid having to be a leader but Rick tells him it's too late and that they need him.
When they return to Alexandria, Maggie is getting ready to depart for The Hilltop. Rick asks her if she has decided how many people she can send to join the militia. She tells him that because Paul has decided to stay she could probably send ten but possibly more. Rick thanks her and tells her to inform Andrea, Carl and Lydia that they can come back. Rick heads home but Vincent catches up to him and thanks him for keeping him around. Rick assures him that killing him would only serve to rob him of the opportunity to make up for his one mistake and do more good. While talking to Vincent about this he suddenly stops to think and heads to Negan's cell. Negan wonders what he can do for him this time but Rick tells him he's just checking up on him, much to Negan's delight. Arriving at his home Rick discovers Gabriel waiting on the doorsteps. Gabriel tells him that having served as Alexandria's official reverend is something he is grateful for and feels he's been good at. Nonetheless, he has decided that protecting peoples souls aren't enough for him anymore and asks to join the newly formed militia. Rick agrees and says that he can start in the morning.
Going inside his house he finds a sleeping Michonne who awakens upon his arrival. She tells Rick that she is going out on the boat again with Pete but Rick argues that she shouldn't anymore and that he needs her at the The Kingdom to assume the vacant leadership left by Ezekiel. Michonne tells him that she saw this coming and admits that the people there need her to lead them but herself needed someone to push her in the right direction to actually commit. The conversation then turns to the Sanctuary which also lacks leadership since Dwight left. Rick asks for Michonne's opinion and she tells him she'll think about it and asks how old Carl is.
Elsewhere in Alexandria Eugene has been fiddling with the radio trying to make contact with whomever might be listening. He eventually starts to cry because no one responds when suddenly someone calls out his name. Eugene is stunned.
Eugene and the radio survivor have a deep conversation, and promise to each other not to talk to other survivors about them.
Rick meets Brandon, and tells him he is sorry about Morton. Brandon attacks Rick, but Rick knocks him over and states he has to behave or Rick will kill him. Michonne catches the two and Rick leaves. Later, Brandon steals the keys to Negan's cell, telling him they could escape. Negan says he'll think about it.
Paula informs Rick that the keys to Negan's cell are gone. Rick and Michonne run to the basement and see an empty cell.
Paula rushes to the gate and finds Siddiq and Annie at the gate. They both ask her what she is doing at the gate, however she does not respond. Rick and Michonne come up to the gate and wonder if Negan escaped with Maggie and the Hilltop.
Dante leads a group back to the Hilltop.
Brandon sneaks away from the Hilltop group traveling on the road, and gives Negan his old clothes. They then start to argue and Negan pushes Brandon, telling him to take him in the right direction, then they both walk off.
Michonne and Aaron talk with Rick about going after Negan. Aaron tells Rick that if Negan was smart, he would just leave and never come back, but Rick tells Aaron that Negan will probably try to hurt Rick and the rest and destroy everything they have. Michonne and Aaron then leave to try and find Negan.
Eugene is talking to the Radio Survivor about his trip from Texas, the Survivor gets the idea that Eugene is from Texas. Their conversation is cut short when Eugene hears a gun shot and runs outside to investigate.
Marco gets shot in the leg, Jesus grabs the man wielding the firearm, Eugene grabs the gun from the man. Jesus states he is a Whisperer. Eugene and Jesus take Marco the infirmary, as they leave the shooter seems stunned about what he just did.
Dwight leads a team out in the open. Vincent almost gets bit, but Dwight saves his life, then they all kill the roamers that attacked them.
Magna and her group get into an argument, with Kelly, Connie and Yumiko about whether or not they should stay in Alexandria, Magna decides to stands by Alexandria. Magna tells Connie and Kelly, that they're doing this for Luke and for them, then Magna and Yumiko walk off.
Rick asks Paul, the man who shot Marco about what had happened. Paul tells Rick he was scared and that he feels responsible for what had happened with Alpha. Rick then walks away, while Paul gets worried about his future.
Michonne and Aaron continue their search for Negan.
Negan and Brandon both end up at The Whisperers border, Brandon starts thinking about his mother Tammy who's head was one of the ones on the spikes that made up the border. Brandon starts to cry prompting to Negan tell him to stop being a pussy. Negan then feels bad and gives him a hug. Brandon then states that he wants Rick and Alpha to kill each other, Negan tells him that's the plan. "Or Rather..." Negan says, as he stabs Brandon fatally in his chest, "... that was your plan". He then walks alone into The Whisperers border.
As Andrea patrols outside Hilltop, she runs into Maggie, who has gone ahead of her convoy to get a break from Hershel. Maggie tells Andrea it is now safe for Carl and Lydia to return to Alexandria, but Andrea notes that Carl will likely want to stay at the Hilltop.
As Aaron and Michonne approach The Whisperers' border, they find Brandon's body. Aaron volunteers to keep him from turning and bury him, but Michonne insists they retrieve Negan first, and bury Brandon afterwards.
As it begins to grow dark, Negan grows annoyed as Brandon did not retrieve a sleeping bag for him. Noticing movement, he draws his knife and orders anyone following him to come out, prompting the Whisperers following him to reveal themselves. Negan is impressed by their suits, but also notes how hard it must be for them to tell each other apart from normal zombies. When questioned, Negan claims he is simply passing through their territory, but is interrupted by the arrival of a large Whisperer calling himself "Beta". After a short confrontation between the two men, Beta orders the rest of the Whisperers to bring Negan to Alpha.
Back in Alexandria, Eugene informs the Radio Survivor of the Whisperers, and recent developments since their attack. The survivor is surprised to learn that Eugene's group allows its members to freely carry guns, and Eugene explains that the group's usual restrictions on guns have been taken away in order to train soldiers to combat the Whisperers. The survivor notes that hard it is to live in the open, and that her group tries not to pass judgement for on others for what they've done to survive. However, after learning that Eugene's girlfriend was one of the victims, she apologizes and tries to appease Eugene by revealing her name to him: Stephanie.
While Carl is working, he is informed by Earl, who had just arrived from Alexandria, that it is now safe for Lydia to return to Alexandria. As he is going to inform Lydia, Carl is stopped by Maggie, who tells him that Rick wants him to return to Alexandria, but Carl tells her that he intends to stay in Hilltop.
As Andrea arrives back in Alexandria, she is happy to greet Siddiq, but her mood is soured at the sight of the numerous "SILENCE THE WHISPERERS" signs set up around Alexandria. Andrea angrily goes to Rick to find out what has happened, and is horrified to see that he has suffered sever injuries in her absence. When she tries ask what happened to him, Rick tells her that he has become a "better leader".
As they advance deeper into Whisperer territory, Michonne tries to suggest that Aaron pursue a relationship with Paul Monroe, but Aaron insists that he isn't interested. As they talk, they hear people approaching, and prepare to defend themselves. As Beta and a group of Whisperers approach, Michonne orders them to stop their attack, and explains that she and Aaron simply want to retrieve Negan and leave. Beta reminds them of Alpha's order and attacks Aaron, stabbing him in the stomach.
As he arrives at the Whisperer's camp, Negan jovially talks about the type of skin suit he would like after joining them as he is taken to Alpha. Alpha demands to know who he is, and Negan introduces himself, before declaring that he is in love.
Michonne is fighting Beta, telling Aaron to hold on. Eventually, she gets the better of him, however a Whisperer sneaks up on her and she manages to kill it, albeit giving Beta a chance to get free. She chops off the Whisperer's hand and kicks him towards some walkers, which devour him. Beta gets the upper hand on her again, and just as he is about to kill her, Dwight appears with reinforcements.
Beta escapes in the heat of the gunfire. Michonne rushes to Aaron and heads out to the Hilltop on horseback. Michonne tells them to hunt Beta down, however when she is gone, Dwight tells the Militia to move out.
Andrea and Rick are arguing in their house. Andrea is telling Rick to take down the signs, to no avail. Rick says the people of the communities need to direct their anger towards someone, and it can't be him. He reveals to Andrea of the plan to hurt Lydia and how he was attacked. He says he ismanipulating the residents for their own good. Andrea says he sounds like Negan, to which Rick responds with silence. He tells her there's something she should know.
Negan is engaging in some "friendly" conversation with Alpha. After a while, she asks how he survived so long. He tells her he was with another group, but they "booted him out". She asks him if he's looking for revenge on these people. He says it's not the kind of thing he'd ask for on a first date. Alpha asks him to stop, but he continues making sexual remarks, leading to Alpha punching him in the face, prompting Negan to apologise, saying "I can tell when I crossed a line".
Beta suddenly appears, pinning Negan up against a tree. He tells them about his encounter with Michonne, Aaron and the Militia. Negan admits he lied, saying "..When I'm scared out of my fucking mind and pissing my pants in the most manliest way possible, I will lie through my fucking teeth". Alpha orders him to explain himself. He doesn't, saying Beta is scary, and to just kill him if that's what they're going to do. Alpha asks him if he's scared, to which he replies "no". He says he lived longer than he expected to. When Alpha asks him why he came, Negan says he has a "hell of a lot to offer" her.
Siddiq is watching out for Michonne and Aaron. Rick approaches, asking Siddiq to tell him if he sees anything. He tells Rick he'll be "the first to know". Elsewhere, Michonne is riding back with Aaron, begging him to hold on.
At the Hilltop, Carl awakes to find Lydia watching him. She tells him she wouldn't be there without him. Maggie and Brianna are tending to a horse. Maggie tells her that she doesn't like being kept in the dark, saying she wants word from Alexandria. They suddenly hear someone yelling to "OPEN THE GATE!". Michonne rushes in with Aaron. She yells at them to get Doctor Carson, telling them Aaron's not breathing.
Elsewhere, Dwight puts down a zombified Brandon. Then crossing back over the border, Dwight tells the Militia to hurry, saying that they are in danger. He says "we engaged with the enemy on enemy territory. This is an act of war".
Alpha and Beta continue to debate on how to handle Negan, with the later stating his disapproval for allowing him to live despite him deceiving the Whisperers of his true nature as an escaped prisoner and that he doesn't understand the nature of their ways. Negan states his willingness to learn but also questions on how the Whisperers recruit others when they trust so little in reference to Beta's attitude towards him. Beta becomes enraged by Negan's statement but Alpha pulls him aside and asserts herself in suggesting whether Beta questions her judgement/leadership and questions if it his time to become Alpha, asking him if he's challenging her. Beta quickly lowers on one knee and apologies for his actions, asking for forgiveness which Alpha grants him before asking him to leave her with Negan. Negan applauds Alpha confronting Beta as "fucking awesome" before bowing down to Alpha himself, requesting acceptance which she grants him. Negan jokes about how the experience gave him an erection as Alpha returns Negan's knife to him saying that he can stay and that he should learn and follow the Whisperers rules, however doubting his survival. When Negan requests a skin suit, Alpha responds he must earn the privilege.
Negan is later seen participating with the Whisperers in various activities such as loading cargo onto carts, feeding horses, sleeping in sleeping bags alongside other Whisperers and shooting a boar with a long bow as the days transpire. After shooting the boar Negan boasts proudly of his achievement which leads him to being reminded by Alpha in being silent and not raise noise. One day as Negan hacks at a fallen tree he is approached by a Whisperer informing him of nearby roamers and that he shouldn't draw any attention so they can pass before passing a group of Whisperers preparing a skin suit.
As Negan carries logs of wood he is grabbed by a roamer to his surprise. The Whisperers refuse to help, stating that if he is strong he will survive much to Negan's annoyance. Alpha then promptly drops Negan's knife close to him, requesting Negan to prove that deserves having his property returned to him. Negan is then able to dispatch two roamers with the Whisperers in awe of his skills, however Beta scoffs at his achievement. Later that night, Alpha requests Negan to join her for dinner which notably upsets Beta. As Negan prepares his sleeping bag, Beta orders Negan to sleep on the other side of camp and not with Alpha. Negan mocks Beta under his breath. As Negan looks for a place to sleep he hears out cries for help to which he runs over to and is shocked to discover two male Whisperers attempting to rape a female Whisperer. Negan steps in to protect the female, calling the male pair "sick fucks". Before Negan attempts to murder one of the assailants, Beta knocks him over the head.
Beta defends the men by claiming they were simply "living their lives" and that interference only denies the right for the victim to defend themselves thus proving their strength. Alpha concurs, saying that despite understanding Negan's actions that interference is not their "way". Negan becomes outraged by their reasoning for such atrocities, causing him to be "punished".
Later seen sleeping outside the camp with no protection as his form of "punishment", Negan mutters his disdain for the Whisperers: "Fucking weirdest weirdos ever". Alpha approaches Negan, stating him to have proven himself as an asset and that he has gained Alpha's respect and trust. However, Alpha also fears that Negan doesn't belong with the Whisperers. Negan mockingly suggests that he belongs because they need him as he expresses his hatred for the barbarity that Alpha tolerates and that she should be ashamed of herself for letting the horrors continue. Alpha defends herself by saying if the weak are protected they will never become strong. Negan counters by saying protecting the weak is the basis for civilization and by not doing so makes the Whisperers "animals". Alpha declares that they are animals and that civilization is a myth and Negan must "stare" into the ugliness to see the truth. Negan is unswayed, declaring Alpha's reasoning as "bullshit".
Negan argues hurting people for pleasure as a form of "instinct" makes you a monster that should be executed on the spot. Given Negan's own commitment of atrocities, he defends his actions as being for the greater good and never for pleasure, exempting himself as a monster. "This is nature. Only the strong survive", Alpha declares. Alpha attempts to further her point but becomes emotionally shaken and attempts to leave. Noticing this, Negan orders her to come back and talk to her. Negan says that Alpha doesn't have to worry about displaying weakness by crying in front of him as he doesn't want to assert himself as the next Alpha unlike other Whisperers who would if they noticed and that she has Beta to protect her. Alpha disagrees that Beta protects her to which Negan suggests otherwise, calling her a hypocrite and that she wouldn't survive as long as she has without Beta protecting her. Alpha attempts to assert that her strength and authority is what creates order among the Whisperers before breaking down into tears when she states how the thought of letting Rick's group take her daughter, Lydia, would make her stronger and that there was no other way to live in this world. "I...I miss her so much", says Alpha, finally expressing her love for Lydia.
Realizing how exposed she made herself to Negan, Alpha declares herself as weak and not fit to lead. Negan, surprised by Alpha's emotional outburst, begins to lament on the loss of someone close to him before the apocalypse started and how much it broke him, causing him to lose all sense of feeling. Negan declares his emotional insensibility to be his strength and the reason he has survived this long. Negan claims how this helps in him committing atrocities in order for the greater good whilst not feeling remorse for the pain he causes; "It just is what it is. It's survival". Negan compares his emotionally severed connection to the world with Alpha's facade and argues she's only pretending to be emotionally detached.
Wowed, Alpha suggests that Negan does in fact belong with the Whisperers to which Negan suggests also. However, Negan then proceeds to slash Alpha's throat with his knife before revealing he doesn't want to be with the Whisperers. Alpha falls to her knees as she loses blood. Negan delicately lowers her onto her back and then slashes her throat several more times until he holds her head in his hands. "Wait until Rick gets a look at you..." Negan says to Alpha's head as the volume ends.
- Rick Grimes
- Carl Grimes
- Maggie Greene
- Eugene Porter
- Gabriel Stokes
- Paul Monroe
- Earl Sutton
- Hershel Greene
- Brandon Rose
- Stephanie (Voice Only)
- Hilltop Colony residents
- The Whisperers
- Militia Soldiers
- Last appearance of Brandon Rose
- Last appearance of Alpha (Alive)
- Alpha is the twenty-sixth main character to die.