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So, a story idea I've had for a long time is set in an apocalypse (cause not explained), and the two main characters are vastly different.

Tyler is 20 years old, he watched his parents killed in horrible fashion, and turned into a hardened, cold, and rugged survivor. He also is highly skilled in fighting and scavenging.

However, Lucy is 7 years old, and suffers from low-functioning autism. This makes her a savant (this is a central part of the story.) Her parents lived as comfortable as they could, and made Lucy's life as comfortable as possible.

Lucy's ability attracts a local warlord's interest, and he orders her captured for her talent. Tyler happened to witness her escape, and had to fight his way out.

So, why would Tyler save Lucy, when she can barely use the restroom right?

closed as off-topic by Lauren Ipsum, Galastel, Cyn, Ash, erikric Nov 21 '18 at 13:24

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    I'm not sure whether this is on-topic or not, it feels like a "what to write" question. I'll hold off on close-voting for now, since it's late and I'm drowsy from Tylenol. – F1Krazy Nov 20 '18 at 22:23
  • I think it's on topic, as I'm not asking what to write, but rather to give a reason of why a character would drag her around until she displays her talent. – Kale Slade Nov 20 '18 at 22:31
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Even in the direst of circumstances, do humans really need an 'excuse' to care for the vulnerable? Especially if said vulnerable person isn't harming anyone in their existence, humans (especially 'stronger' humans) tend to feel a protective instinct for these kinds of people.

Is cynicism so 'in' that people need an objective, rational reason to do these things? If Tyler is a protagonist that people are supposed to see as... well, human, it would make sense that no matter how rugged he is, his protective instinct still exists. If anything would go against his humanity, it would be a later heartwrenching scene where he discusses (internally) the rational, yet instinctively abominable possibility that he'll have to leave the child for dead to preserve himself.

Not sure if you know anything about evolution, but human evolution doesn't favour lone wolves or every man for himself. It favours co-operation and protection of children. Humans are extremely fragile while young and take way longer than most great apes to reach an age where they can survive independently. Protective instinct doesn't happen despite survival instinct. It happens because of it.

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Love. Connection. Attachment. A sense of duty.

I feel like, if you were to dig a little deeper, Lucy might remind Tyler of a time before he was so damaged and jaded. There's a part of him that longs to return to wholeness and peace.

If you want to see a similar example of how this might play out, and some of the feelings and motivations behind it, check out the Miguel and Penelope storyline in the recent The Purge TV series.

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Because he witnessed her escape, he knows she has value of some sort. He also noticed that the warlord saw value in her so has corroboration of sort. The movie LadyHawke had a similar reason for the cursed knight to take up with the thief.

Depending on the state of the population, he could also see her as important to the future of the species simply due to her gender.

I would ask Tyler why he chose to help her - seven is rather young to be useful to a survivalist character as you describe. Does she remind him of someone he once knew?

Perhaps rather than being completely dead inside, he could be hard and maybe not even understand why he takes this brat under his protection.

He knows life is a gamble and this girl is his way to hedge his bets as he might be able to trade her for something useful.

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