Chapter Eleven

“Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
― Abraham Lincoln

“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right, even though I think it is hopeless.”
― Chester Nimitz

Plans, as people should know never work out the way you want them to. The plan to leave on the 5th of December fell apart as temperatures dropped, and the previously melting snow refroze, creating sheets of treacherous ice that was quickly buried by the snow that began to fall from the Dark clouds that swept in.

The Crowd of people in the bunker took it in stride but the stress and anxiety that had been riding their shoulders was steadily growing worse, even as guards reported the absences of undead which should have been treated as good news.

The conference room was stuffy, the dehumidifier seemed to be malfunctioning and the heaters were stuck at the top setting. Which left the three occupants of the room, two choices burn up or remove the minimal amount of clothing to be comfortable in.

Jill, her long dark hair pulled back in the customary pony tail, wore jeans and a Tshirt, something she had rarely done since the dead rose. She sat at the conference table listening to Ed and Thor Debate on the best way to proceed, writing notes to herself of the questions she wanted to ask when Ed and Jansen finished. she had barely offered an opinion on the plan, to be honest she had little to offer.

Occasionally she caught her self tapping the pen against the notebook, and had to consciously make herself stop, earning an amused look from Ed.

Ed frustrated at getting nowhere sat down, just as Cooper and Spacey appeared pushing a cart with food on it. it smelled so good, that Jills mouth watered. All of it might have come from cans and sealed pouches, but the Hotel chef who had survived had worked miracles with it.

“I vote to break for lunch” Jill said, as she picked up fork.

“I second that vote” Ed said eyeing the steak, that had to have been dehydrated. What ever its former state, it lay on his plate looking as juicy as any fresh off the cow steak he had ever seen.. of course after so long his recollection of how steak should look might be faulty. Jansen just grunted and sat down to eat.

“The problem with all your suggestions” Ed said after a few minutes of eating the miracle on his plate. “is your thinking about this wrong. Think about these guys as regular criminals not combatants or spies.. they have one basic desire at the moment to get out. I’ve watched those guys, every one of them except maybe Tyler has spent time in Jail, you can tell just by the way they act, and the tattoos on a few of them. Which means they are nervous now, they aren’t dealing with the system they are used to gaming, so they hope Jared will be a soft hearted liberal and let them live so they can try and escape later or more likely he will just order them executed. I bet they are thinking more about execution, because they wont see Jared as a Cop or a regular civilian but more like Kronnen. A warlord.”

“How can they see him as a soft hearted lib, if they see him as a warlord.” Jansen asked almost but not quite rolling his eyes.

“I said they are hoping, Jared has a large well armed group that didn’t hesitate to raid their camp and kill most of their friends. That’s not something a softhearted liberal does, but Tyler has probably been telling them all about how soft Jared is which is why they might be hoping he is soft. If we push a little and let them think that execution is looming right around the corner.”

“They will rush to escape” Jill said suddenly.

“Yes, I think they will” Ed said.

“Why don’t regular criminals try to escape more often” Jansen asked.

“They do.. or rather did a lot more often than you ever heard on the news. Usually they were caught pretty fast, I can think of five prison escapes that lasted a week with out it ever making the news. But people in the towns around the prisons would see SORT teams entering abandoned buildings and the sudden appearance of roadblocks to check insurance. The ones that made the news were usually the Violent ones, or the ones that happened in a court room or during a transfer where there were witness’s that didn’t work for the Departments or prison.”

“Shouldn’t surprise me that they lied” Jansen muttered. “they wouldn’t want the public screaming for blood because they screwed up or having their jobs jeopardized.”

“Okay this is all well and good, but how do we get them to escape with out helping them.” Jill said.

“Simple, we tell the soldiers who are guarding the area, let them do it, we just don’t tell them it’s a put on, let them bitch and moan about being stuck guarding the prisoner, and how Jared shouldn’t waste a rope or a bullet one the prisoners but should just leave and shut off the power letting them starve to death in the cells.” Ed said as Jansen nodded.

“But what if they get weapons and start killing people” Jill asked.

“One of them already has a weapon, I can promise you that” Ed said

“like a shank or something” Jill asked thinking about the movies she had seen.

“No a real knife taken from a display case in the room Jared first secured them in.” Ed replied.

“What!” Jansen exclaimed.

“Jared locked them in that bunker Museum room when they were first brought down. There’s a display of an old survival kit, which included a old Survival knife. the knife is gone.” Ed said. “what do you expect, if they hadn’t found a knife they would have found a way to make one or steal on, or worse overpower their guards and take the weapons. A knife they will keep hidden unless a single guard shows up instead of the squad.” Ed explained.

“and you didn’t say anything” Jansen said surprised.

“I told Jared, who agreed with my reasoning for acting like we didn’t know” Ed replied, then continued “ I think we should proceed by letting it be known they are going to be executed in two or three days.. we start by killing Mac and then…..” Ed said outlining his plan, this time Jansen didn’t argue he just listened nodding his head in agreement.

Time slipped by with out them really noticing as all three of them worked to refine the Plan that Ed had devised. Finally Jansen rose from his chair. “we aren’t going to make this thing any better than we have right now. I’m going to go talk to Jared so we can get it into motion.” Jansen said then picked up the old notebook he had been making notes in and headed for the door.

Jill rose as Jansen vanished out the door, but Ed placed a hand on her arm stopping her from following.

“Yes” she asked curious at the serious look on Eds face.

“You realize he likes you right?” Ed asked.

“What makes you say that” She asked her smile faltering.

“Please Jill I’m gay not stupid.” Ed said. “its in the way he looks at you, the way his voices changes when he talks to you. It gets a little deeper a little sexier”

“Sexier” She said laughing, “you like him don’t you”

“Who wouldn’t” Ed said flashing a grin as he sat on the edge of the table. “hot, wears a uniform, and his shoulders.” He shook his head to clear the other images. “and good try on changing the topic. Does Jared know”

“I haven’t discussed it with him, so I have no clue” Jill said, though she was pretty sure Jared was aware of it, he didn’t miss much. “Ed, he has never once hit on me, he goes out of his way to make sure he never acts inappropriately and Jared said he was the one that suggested a third person to help with our little scheme and Thor picked you”

“Probably so you two wouldn’t be alone in the same room together to avoid temptation and gossip” Ed said and if that was the reason for Eds inclusion that said a lot of very good things about Jansen in Eds book.

“I would never cheat on Jared” Jill said, fire flashing in her eyes.

“I didn’t say you would, I don’t believe you have it in you, at least not where Jared is concerned.” Ed replied then grimaced at how that sounded.

“at least not…meaning if I were with another guy I would.” Jill said dangerously.

“shit I guess I have more in common with straight guys than I knew, I cant talk to women either” Ed said with a smile. “That was supposed to mean, I doubt you would love another guy as much as you love Jared, “ Ed paused then grinned ruefully “ and I think that came out wrong too.” Ed said, shrugging resigned to just upsetting her.

“Ill take that as a compliment Ed, since I understand what your trying to say, but you really need to access your inner gay for future conversations. Instead of bumbling verbally around like Jared does” She said then actually laughed. “Thor and I bonded during our escape at the munitions Terminal, I.. he is a good friend, a very good friend but not like that. and I know he is as good a man as Jared where it really counts.

I’m not worried about his stepping over the line or about Jared’s reaction. In fact I honestly suspect Jared knows” Jill said and it was true, she did believe it, little comments and other things he did told her as much. But to bring it up to her would be like accusing her of something or at least it might look that way so he avoided it. “so you have done your bit as my friend, lets leave it there and go get something to eat.” Jill said holding out her arm for Ed to take. As Ed took her arm Jill said innocently” I hear Bridget has offered to have your child”

“Where did you hear that?” Ed asked chuckling as they left the room.

“Oh a little bird told me” Jill replied.

“I crown you queen of Gossip” Ed laughed.

***************************************

Jared walked across the yard, thankful they had finished hauling out the supplies they were taking, because with the Two motor homes from Darius group there wasn’t enough room for a packet truck to fit through, there was barely enough room for Ori’s scout to be parked Lee was under the hood checking the motor preparing it for tomorrow.

Jared wasn’t thrilled but it had been the best decision he could make, Ori who stood off to one side looked excited knowing he was going to be heading out tomorrow.

“Ori” Jared said striding up

“Who are you saddling me with tomorrow” Ori asked.

“Jeb, Jorge and Zoe” Jared replied.

“Jeb I don’t mind, the man has skills. But why Jorge and Zoe, both of them are good people but they don’t know shit about scouting or creeping” Ori said.

“so someone is at the vehicle and can come rescue your ass if you go off on foot and get stuck somewhere” Jared said.

“Never going to happen” Ori said crossing his arms over his chest.

“Did you forget the Tiger already” Jared asked, refusing to show how worried he was about this.

“Okay, Ill grant Jeb and I needed help that day, but we still took care of it before you got there.” Ori stated.

“Barely Ori, what if there had been two tigers, or a swarm of pus bags had shown up.”

“Okay, okay I see your point, just don’t expect me to be real happy about having baby sitters sent along”

“If I had wanted to send baby sitters, Daws and a couple of his men would be riding with you.” Jared said with a crooked smile.

“And I promise.. I will not just run off to Knoxville with out you. But Jared you had better be on the move in the next two or three days or I will recon right into the city while waiting.” Ori said determined not to back track and have another week or two added before the search for his wife started.

“I wont Ori, even if I have to leave this entire damn thing in Daws or Jansens hands. Not even the weather is going to stop me from leaving, so you just scout out the two routes I plotted, then meet me at the Rendezvous point in three days.” Jared said.

“now lets get back inside, I have a man to kill and then we can eat dinner.”

“Who are you killing today’ Ori asked knowing Jared wasn’t being serious.

“Mac, having him hauled out of his cell and executed, after that he gets dinner and waits for his two buddies to be killed then the three of them are going to be taken out and dropped off with a truck and a couple of weapons so they can head to Canada.”

“I wish I could agree with you on this, I do, but as far as I’m concerned if a man works for Kronnen he should be put down like a rabid dog.” Ori said flatly.

“I know Ori, but he has given me a lot of info on how Kronnen and his men operate the type of places they try to find to hole up in, how they set up camps, what kind of training Kronnen has been putting his men through, weapons and vehicle types, all sorts of stuff, add that to what Darius has shared and the picture is grim but much better than it was before.” Jared said.. “I hope dinner is good, bcause after that I get to have a talk with Tyler, oh joy.. the little shit, I should have let Ronny kill him”

*********************

Tyler, hands bound behind his back was escorted into a small room, where Jared, The Hunter and Jansen were talking, they fell silent as he entered. But not before he had heard something about Norfolk. By long habit he filed that away in his mental file cabinet along with all the other little tidbits he had overheard. If he managed to escape all those things might actually give him something to pass on to Kronnen.

He refused to look anywhere but straight ahead, but he was worried about the absence of Jill, she was the calming influence on Jared and when she wasn’t present it was usually because Jared was going to do something she wouldn’t like, say executing a few prisoners which Tyler happened to be.

“I have a few questions” Jared said, standing with both hands on the table top, the muscles in his arms bunched and trembling.

“Ask but I have nothing to say” Tyler said with a malice filled smile.

“Why are you so damn loyal to Kronnen, did he do you with a kiss or what” Jared asked leaning forward aggressively Tyler just looked at him with no expression on his face.
“You know what I want, give me the information about Beth and the kids and I will let you walk.” Tyler remained silent,

Jared rose to his full height and Tyler smiled, no way was Jared going to beat on him, not if he wanted to stay married. Jill wouldn’t put up with it.

”Fine,” Jared said heading for the door, Thor Jansen was right behind him. Jared paused halfway out the door looking back at Tyler. “Darius has a few questions he wanted to ask privately” the smile of satisfaction on Tylers face vanished, before he could protest or do much more than open his mouth Jared was gone.

The Hunter sat there for a few minutes just watching Tyler with stone cold eyes, barely glancing up as a Soldier, James Daws, entered the room with a cart that held a pan of water, a car battery and jumper cables. Tyler and Daws had actually been sort of friends before this, now anger glittered in Daws’s eyes when he looked at Tyler.

The Hunter rose from his chair. “ Id like to ask you a few things boy and Id like honest answers. Question one… where is Kronnens main camp?” Darius asked as he pulled off his shirt. “I hate getting good shirts bloody” he explained to Tyler as he slowly and neatly folded the shirt then placed it on the table.

Tyler stared at the battery and jumper cables as Daws sat them up on the table, “get his shoes and shirt off it works great when his feet are in water, or we dump water on him. learned this in Iraq” Daws said with a smile that promised he was really going to enjoy this.

“I wont talk” Tyler promised though he wasn’t so sure watching as Daws hooked up the cables then touched the clamps in his hands together and there was a loud crack.

“Oh you will talk trust me,” Daws promised. “ you will do a lot of talking and screaming before I’m done”

Tyler didn’t doubt Daws believed it. no matter how nice Daws might be, he could be as cold as ice when necessary. But this, Jared didn’t allow this kind of thing, not now not ever no matter how much he might have changed lately.

“you wouldn’t dare Jared doesn’t torture” Tyler said as Darius advanced on him.

“Jared is in the S1 bay by now, he wont know till I am done.. you see Tyler, Lee is my friend, Ronny and Mary are my friends and Beth and Ori are my friends. And you, well you’re a worthless piece of shit who betrayed my friends, and tried to kill two of them.” Daws said as he sat aside the cables and picked up the pan, tilting his head towards Tylers feet to indicate he was ready to get started. .

Darius was wide shouldered and all ripped corded muscle under the scarred torso, he reached out and grabbed Tyler by the neck and to tylers surprise lifted him off the ground. “don’t worry I plan on working you over before we get to the shock treatment.

Tyler hung there gagging, his feet inches off the ground when the door opened.

“ What in the Hell are you doing” Jill snapped at the soldier moving in to the room like a storm front. “ Darius put him down, NOW!” Jill stone ordered angrily. Darius looked around the dangling Tyler at Jill for a moment then dropped the traitor to the floor. Kicking him once in the side.

“ Touch him again, and your ass it out of here” Jill warned Darius who backed away from the furious woman.

“Copper, Spacey get the prisoner back to the Holding cells.” Jill snapped at the two soldiers just outside the door. As Tyler was being carried from the Room he heard Jill tearing the hunter and the soldier a new ass. He managed to smile.

As soon as Tyler was gone, Jill sank into a chair and gave Darius a shaky smile. The cold menacing look he had worn had been replaced with a one that was just short of friendly. Darius pulled shirt back on. “good job” she told him. Darius shrugged

“you should have let me beat him half to death. Or let your man there shock him a few times. He would have down worse to your friends or to you.” Darius said as he rolled up his sleeves.

“Probably, no I’m sure you are right. But that’s not the plan,” Jill said, watching Darius and thinking about what Kate had told her last night about how much Darius had changed over the last year and half.

“no its not, but understand me on this Mrs. Stone, this man works for and supports a man who enslaves men, women and children, he kills people who refuse to join up with him and hangs their bodies from light poles.. I’ve seen whole familes dangling at the end of ropes, right down to the babies.. I really don’t mind or even feel bad about beating scum like that half do death.”

“Is Kronnen really that bad” Jill asked quietly.

“Worse really. Kate said he treated her decently but only after he made it clear he would rape her, and then let his men rape if she didn’t cooperate and tell him what he wanted to know. She did and I don’t blame her and that was his being nice.. I don’t even want to think about what he might do to your friends wife and those kids once he gets his hands on them..” Jill shuddered hoping that they could get to Beth before Kronnen got to her.

Jill could only hope that the plan worked, and that in the end Kronnen would be fooled. But no matter how badly she wanted to believe, she suspected that Kronnen wasn’t going to fall for the plan

***********************************

Mac lay on a bunk in his cell looking up as the steel door at the end of the hall opened up and six soldiers entered. One headed straight for his cell door covered by four soldiers, as the last man announced “Mac, you have been charged with Spying, attempted murder..” the man continued to announce charges as the door was unlocked and two soldiers entered grasping the stunned Mac by the arms, he didn’t resist as he was pulled off the bunk.

“… you have been tried and found guilty and sentenced to immediate execution.” The Soldier announced. Mac’s face fell, Stone had lied to him not that he should have been surprised Kronnen would have done the exact same thing.

Not really even caring any more he didn’t protest or even look around as he was dragged from the cell. Defeat poured off him in almost tangible waves.

The other prisoners looked uneasily at each other, as the steel door slammed shut behind the soldiers. “looks like your wrong he isn’t going to go soft on us” one of them said to Tyler who didn’t respond his eyes were locked on the Door at the end of the hallway.

“so, you want to go to Canada” Jared said as Mac was dragged into S1.

Mac looked up at Jared who sat on a crate, then nodded rapidly.

“let him go” Jared said, the soldiers who held Mac let his arms go and stepped back.

“your…” Mac couldn’t make himself finish the sentence afraid if he did it Jared would only dash his hopes of a reprieve.

“not going to have you killed” Jared finished for him. “To be honest I thought about it, But no we had a deal and you kept your word to me.”

“then why this” Mac asked not looking back at the armed soldiers behind him.

“Because I needed Tyler to believe” Jared said simply the fury he felt at the betrayal carefully hidden from view.

“What about Todd and Wilmont” Mac asked referring to the men who had helped him,

“Don’t worry, I gave my word on letting all you leave, I will keep it.” Jared promised then looked at his watch. “now if you don’t mind, I have things to do.” Jared said then turned to the soldiers. “Keep him out of sight, and remember you have an hour forty five minutes before you have to get Todd out.”

****************************

Tyler couldn’t believe it when the third man was dragged out of the cells to be executed. What ever Jill might think and want, Jared had obviously stopped worrying about being nice and was determined to execute every one of the prisoners .

He had noticed Jared had seemed harder on this trip out, but Tyler hadn’t though the man had gone this far over, but that only made Jared a bigger threat to Kronnen not less.

Hearing voices echoing down the hall as the soldiers approached, they were bitching about Jareds new orders D.C. and Norfolk were far to Dangerous to be exploring. As the soldiers opened the door at the end of the hall they fell silent.

The soldiers didn’t speak as they slid trays of food through the gap and left leaving the prisoners to eat the bland food.

Tyler ate quickly then sat watching the others for a few minutes “ I think we might want to escape and soon.” He said “and I think I know how we can”

*****************************

By sunset Mac and his two friends were driven away from the Bunker, they would be dropped off with a pack of supplies for each one and given the truck that had followed them out.

Left standing there in the gathering gloom, Mac watching as the Men of Sullivan island drove away leaving him and his fellows standing beside a battered ford. Around them undead stumbled out of the woods heading towards the sound of the idling engine.

Reaching into the back of the truck he pulled out one of the M 16s and a belt with ammo pouches and then climbed into the truck, his friends did the same. In a minute they were pulling away heading north leaving the slow stumbling undead Each man wondering why Stone had let them go, Kronnen wouldn’t have.

As the light faded from the sky plunging the world of the dead back into Darkness Mac silently wished Jared Stone Good luck.

December 6th 0340

Jared woke suddenly his hand on the pistol he kept close by, Jill muttered something and rolled over. He searched the darkness but saw nothing in the gloom. Sitting up, pistol in hand he tried to ignore the mental images of undead lunging out of the darkness to rip and tear, blood spraying across the sheets as he died.

Not yet, its not my time not just yet, He told himself as he slipped out of the bed and pulled on a pair of pants one handed with that done he made his way across the room and out the door into the hallway, where the timer had reduced the lights in the hall to twilight gloom.
He looked up and down the hall but saw and heard nothing that might have woken him up.

Still shaken he turned and walked back into the room and froze, a woman stood by the bed, she wore a dirty white dress, lank hair fell almost to her waist. She turned slowly till Jared could see the dark Orbs that peered out from the tangle of hair that hid her face.

His hand snapped up pistol rock steady and on target, only years of dealing with fear in life and death situations allowed him that control.

“What are you” He asked, knowing deep down what ever this was, dream or reality that wasn’t a person.

“dead” the voice was a whisper, barely audible. “your all dead”

Jared didn’t have a clue what to do, he couldn’t even find words at the moment. then the girl or what ever slowly faded from sight.

He woke again gasping for breath as he looked around and saw no one standing beside the bed. “Thank god” He muttered.

“Thank god what?” Jill asked sleepily.

“Nothing go back to sleep” Jared said softly as he gently touched her shoulder and felt warm flesh.. “I love you” he said but her breathing had changed as she slid back into sleep.

He sat beside Jill for the rest of the night, watching the digital clock over the door as it showed the hours ticking past. Around sunrise he rose and dressed quickly, wanting to be top side to see Ori off. He woke Jill, kissed her then rushed from the room.

**************************

The snow was still falling as the sky to the east lightened, it promised to be one of those dark dreary days, with long reaching shadows and dim light.

Ori looked up into the falling snow for a moment then placed the flat pack fuel container into the rack in the back of the scout, watching Jeb stow his pack. yes he was excited to finally get started looking for Beth, and he even looked forward to working with Jeb again.

Jeb Hollings, was an experienced Scout, who had earned his spurs with 1st Cav just like Ori had, the man was muscular, with short dark hair and brown eyed. Most women found him handsome Ori knew, he had been pretty popular with the ladies on in the convoy till he had shacked up with Mai linn.

If he had a few more scars now then before it only added to his character, Ori thought spotting the tigers claws that dangled from his dog tag chain, Ori had a matching set in his pack.

Hearing some one speaking Spanish Ori turned to and watched the Hispanic guy and the woman with him that Jared had saddled him with. That how ever he wasn’t thrilled about, not that he had a single thing against Jorge or Zoe, but they would probably get in his way.

Jared had insisted that Ori take a couple of people to back him up if needed and at least guard the IH Scout If Ori went ahead on foot for some reason.

Jorge was just shy of five ten, with a shack of close cropped dark hair, with a skin tone that was much lighter than average for Hispanic from Mexico. His family line had descended from Castilian Spain, where the native people were far close to Caucasian than Hispanic.

Zoe how ever, was a looker, Dark haired with classic good looks, and the natural curves of a fit woman. Ori liked her because she didn’t talk much and when she did it was always worth listening. She and Jorge had escaped from Charleston not long ago leading a group of survivors out of building they had been hiding in since the dead rose. Most of the group had died in the escape, which had hit Both of them Hard.

“Halo, Ori, Como Este usted” Jorge said with a grin, he liked picking at the hillbilly as he sometimes called Ori.

“hostile burrito, Jorge” Ori replied with a slight smile.

“so Jared tells me, that we are to work with you two to scout out the road ahead.” Jorge said deliberately making his accent thicker than normal, while Zoe stood there silently.

“Yeah” Ori replied.

“Any details” Jorge prompted.

“We have two routes to scout out, we need to check road conditions, looking for rock slides, bad bridge spans stuff like that plus Id like you to be able ……”

Zoe listened as she loaded her pack in the Vehicle, not really caring about scouting the route out; she was going because of Jorge and a chance to kill undead.

“…. So that’s it, you two stay in the Scout, mostly to guard it if Jeb and I go up on foot, and worst case if we need a pick up, you two are here to come pick us up if needed.” Ori finished explaining as Jorge tossed his own pack into the back of the scout.

“I thought for the longest time Jared would keep Zoe and I as guards on the convoy and nothing else” Jorge said, “we came along to pay back the debt we owe you for helping us escape the dead there at the docks and for taking us in.”

Ori shrugged, “ I don’t try to figure out why Jared does something’s, sometimes I think he just crosses his fingers and hopes for the best’

“when I’m not flipping a coin” Jared said walking up behind Ori. He smiled at Jorge and Zoe for a second, it was a half hearted smiled but still friendly.

“I wanted to see you off” Jared told Ori. “do not do something stupid brother, two days out, then come back, we will probably meet on the road anyway.”

“two days” Ori echoed not happy about it.

“Two days then you meet us at the Rendezvous point.” Jared replied, as he gazed across the yard to the snow covered hedges, and the dark shadowy trees beyond. “be careful Ori” Jared said not revealing the unease he felt.

“Ill try” Ori said as he climbed into the scout.

Jared stepped back as the vehicle started, feeling the vibrations of the heavy Diesel engine in his bones. He stood there till the scout had rolled out the gate and vanished from sight then headed down below.. there was a lot to do today.

*************************

Nancy drawn by the sounds of wood and metal smashing together peered into what was normally a large empty room to see Jared and his wife trying to beat each other to death, he was using a staff while his wife was using to long metal rods.

Jill was spinning and flipping around, the rods she held were a blur as she lashed out only to be blocked by the staff that moved impossibly fast. Nancy watched as Jill flipped and twisted into a series of strikes and spinning kicks that her husband barely blocked.

Dripping with sweat the two finally separated, bowed to each other and ended their practice, Jared picked up a towel from the back of a chair and began wiping down his torso. Spotting Nancy in the doorway, he gestured for her to come. In.

“Something we can do for you “ He asked in as friendly a tone as ever. He didn’t even sound winded to Nancy, if she had just been doing all that she would be laying on the floor panting for breath.

“No.. I .. uh heard you fighting or what ever you call it and I was curious.” Nancy said her eyes constantly shifting to Jill. She tried to like Jared but it was impossible to forget he led the men who killed her father.

“Okay,” Jared said as he gathered up his gear “well if you have a question or need some help, you can talk to me Or Jill. Probably Jill would be easier to talk to than I am” Jared said as he stepped past her.

Nancy stepped into the room looking around, not really even sure why. She hadn’t come here to talk to anyone. But part of her wanted to now that she the chance, Jill had been nothing but kind and sympathetic since they had met.

Jill watched as the girl walked across the room to where Jill’s gear and weapons sat on a table, Nancy touched the sheath of the Katana with a finger just staring at the weapon for a moment. “is this thing real” she asked, as Jill walked over to stand beside her.

“yes” Jill replied watching the trouble girl. “I saved up for years to have it hand forged by one of the last traditional sword smiths in Japan.” Jill told her.

“I never thought a girl could fight like they do in the movies” nancy said looking at Jill.

“Most men cant fight like that either” Jill said with a smile. “do you want to learn” Jill asked.

“I don’t think I could.” Nancy replied, as she picked up the Asp collapsible batons and looked them over.

“as my Brother in law would say.. there is not Think only do” Jill said.

Nancy looked up at her in surprise then laughed “Yoda, I loved those movies.”

“movie or not that part is true, if you want to learn and try hard you will learn.” Jill said.

“if I could fight like I just saw you doing, I… “ her voice trailed off and a tear ran down her cheek.

Jill knew what she had been about to say. I could have saved my dad or something along those lines. Which wasn’t true Nancy would have died.

“ I can train you” Jill said suddenly. “teach you some of the basics, and set you up a sparring partner.” Maybe teaching her martial arts, or at least showing an interest in the girl might help Nancy deal with her grief and her situation, or it might just give her the courage to attack Thor and the others to avenge her father, Jill thought but refused to change her mind.

Nancy gave Jill a speculative look then slowly nodded.

“okay then lets get started” Jill said leading her out into the middle of the room. “ let me start by showing you the blocks”

**************************
Dec 6th 1100hrs Ingleside W. Va.

It had taken longer than Ori had anticipated to reach the Town of Ingleside,

Jeb moved forward as silently as the wind that gusted fitfully around him, the wreckage of the Air Force C-5 lay in the just ahead. Dark holes gaped in the fuselage of the Air Force plane, it lay in the trench it had plowed when it crashed into the town, tumbled and breaking into three pieces, breaking buildings and scattering abandoned vehicles before it finally came to a stop across the highway.

The fuselage had been fire blackened in places were both air craft fuel and fuel from the vehicles it had crushed had burned hotly for awhile.

Up ahead Jeb could see four zombies standing in the road, snow gathering on their shoulders and head as they just stood there like tourists at a memorial to the dead.

Suddenly the zombie closets to Jebs position staggered then fell slowly to its knees, an Arrow sticking out of its skull, then fell over into the snow. The other three turned slowly as if searching for who ever had shot the arrow, but hearing nothing that indicated the living they stopped again cloudy eyes staring off into the distance with no life what so ever behind their gaze.

He couldn’t spot Ori which both impressed him and annoyed the crap out of his professional pride.

This time Jeb could hear the hiss as an arrow flew through the snow, taking down a zombie that in life had been a teen age boy dressed in jeans and a Tshirt. The body went over like it had been pole axed. Leaving the final two to mill around in the snow, another hiss as another arrow was sent flying, but this one missed as its target slipped and fell in the snow.

Ori put down the zombie still standing and notched another arrow as he saw Jeb appear from behind a car, gliding forward an E tool in his hands the sharpened edge glittering in the dim daylight.

Jeb lifted the E tool and brought it down with both hands, Ori could hear the thunk as the blade of the tool clove through the skull of its target. Ori, bow still in hand moved from his hiding place and moved silently through the rubble and tumbled vehicles that the C-5 had scattered when it crashed.

Jeb knelt beside the corpses waiting till Ori stood beside him. They could have just driven around the wreckage Jeb thought, but Ori had been right there might be stuff inside that could be of use.

He looked west his eyes following the trench the plane had dug and the swatch of destruction and saw a wing sticking out of the side of a building, there an engine lay in the middle of the ruins of a day care.

“lets check it out then get moving again” Ori said so quietly Jeb almost didn’t hear him.

Quietly they entered the trench on the look out for the undead, but saw nothing moving but falling snow.

The cock pit had torn free ten feet in front of the wings, the rear of the craft was by far the largest intact section had torn free just behind the wings and sat at angle. Boxes, crates and pallets most scorched or burned were scattered along the trench half buried in snow.

Ori headed straight for the rear of the aircraft that lay twenty yards behind the middle section he made his way carefully past the ragged edges and stepped up into the wreckage pushing dangling cables and wires out of the way.

Inside they found a few remaining pallets of supplies, mostly spare vehicle parts. Everything else it had once carried were spread out over half a mile along the trench.

They searched the all but the cockpit for the next twenty minutes and found nothing worth the time it would take to strip. As Ori prepared to step out of the wreckage Jeb looked up towards the cockpit. “aren’t we going to take a look up there” he asked.

“No reason to, the crew is either gone, or they died and are still up there. Either way I don’t care” Ori said stepping out into the snow and the bitterly cold wind.

“Time to pick up us” Ori transmitted. Far in the distance he barely heard the motor of the IH Scout come to life. Three minutes later the Red and Black Vehicle pulled up beside the Wreckage. Ori strode around to the drivers door, as Zoe wiggled into the back joining Jorge. Maybe Jared sending them along wasn’t such a bad idea after all Ori thought as he passed his bow into the back and climbed inside enjoying the warmth that poured from the heater vents. As soon as Jeb was seated, Ori put the Scout in gear and headed south.

*******************************

COG Bunker 1400hrs.

Jack sat sipping a bottle of water watching the monitors, wandering if Jared might have to give up his idea of letting the spy escape with information to spoof Kronnen into thinking the convoy was going to on to another location instead of straight back to the coast.

“Long day?” Sergeant, formerly PFC, James Daws asked as he entered the security center.

“You can say that.. Sitting through American Idol would be more entertaining” Jack said.

“Not a fan of American Idol” Daws asked as he sat down beside Jack.

“hated it. there were so many other things people could have done with their time than sit in front of a tv rooting for people they didn’t know and would never know.” Jack said frowning at events that were long past and no longer relevant.

“Join the club, I hated it too” Daws said with a grin. “not for the same reasons but I did hate it.”

“did you even watch TV” Jack asked.

“not much to be honest, unless it was porn on a DVD” Daws said with a laugh. “honestly I was usually to busy, training, guard duty, exercises, and deployments. When I did get some down time, I played cards. Gin Rummy mostly. Never was good at Poker, which every one else loved about me when I could be talked into playing”

“I have some cards around here, if you want to play later.” Jack said.” Especially poker I’ve been trying to find some one I can beat easily. I need the ego boost.”

Daws smiled but didn’t look away from the monitors. “looks like Tyler and the boys are trying to figure out how to open the cell doors” he commented. “I’m surprised they are being so bold with a camera above them.”

“don’t be, they don’t know. Lipstick cams were installed all over the tour route for insurance purposes and all” Jack replied. “in case some dumb ass threw themselves on the floor or locked themselves in to a cell and tried to sue later.”

“I really do not miss those kind of people” Daws said. “people that stole or vandalized for a thrill, or would try to use the system to steal from other people through law suits.”

“they didn’t deserve to be eaten to death” Jack said.

“Maybe they did, Maybe some of the survivors are right, this is a payback for being shit heads, and if we become better there’s a reset, if not we are gone.” Daws said.

“That is far to deep for me, to my way of thinking, people are people, some good some bad and everything in between.” Jack commented watching the screen.

“Have you wondered how all this started, I mean seriously thought about it” Daws asked.

“Every night since it started, and I know I will never know the answer.” Jack said shrugging. “not that it matters, not now.”

“Yeah, your right” Daws said as he reached for his radio “might as well get my squad ready, I have a feeling Tyler and crew is going to escape here soon”

********************************

Nancy wandered the halls, angry at herself and at her mom, who seemed not to care that she had no problems working with the men who killer Nancys dad, her husband. Even worse she had been talking with Jared about some sort of position in a college or something that rumor had it that Jared wanted to set up for the future.

What made it worse, was Nancy did not want to go back to hiding in a hotel or some home living off what they could find, hiding from the undead and freezing during the winter and that only made her angrier because she was to weak willed to strike out on her own.

Determined to get in a better mood, she headed for the Barracks room where Darius’s people were staying. She had been thrilled to find four girls her age, in Darius’s group, which gave her someone to talk to that understood her, not like her mom or that stick in the mud Diane. She knew she could talk to Jill but she just couldn’t make her self do it since Jill was married to Jared.

She looked into the Barrack’s room but saw only a few people, then hearing people talking across the hall she walked over and looked into a large open room.

Inside she found a small group of people sitting around the Chinese girl Ai, who was sitting in a chair tuning a violin. Nancy waved to Laurie and Jennifer the two girls she would actually call friends and walked over to sit with them.

According to the sign beside the door the room was a conference room, and it was different than the rest of the bunker with its very expensive and to Nancys mind tacky wall paper, and old fashioned art work on the walls. As expensive as the hotel was supposed to have been she would have expected it to be better decorated she thought with all the knowledge and arrogance of a teenager.

She vaguely remembered reading something that had said this room and and a couple of others had been open to the public for use long before any one figured out that they were part of a hidden government bunker that was accessed through a hidden door.

‘Whats going on?” She asked as she sat down with the two girls.

“Kate and a few others talked Ai into playing her violin, she’s supposed to have been in some big symphony. Who cares its not Katy Perry” Jennifer said quietly. Nancy nodded in agreement.

But when the woman with the violin began to play they fell silent, amazed actually. Oh it started off as some kind of traditional Mozart kind of thing, but then it became something else.. almost like rock or pop with a driving dance beat. Ais fingers flew as she formed chords, her other arm flowed back and forth sometimes a blur other times slow. Her eyes were closed as she concentrated but she never stopped smiling, she was in the music, letting it flow through her like some Oracle sharing a glimpse of a hidden universe.

Nancy wanted to say she hated it, but she couldn’t it had been so long since she had heard any music she sat enthralled and by the time the Chinese woman finished and smiled shyly at the applause, Nancy was crying softly with Joy she couldn’t ever remember feeling about Music before and vowing if she lived she was going to get that woman to teach her how to play a violin.

She talked with Laurie and Jennifer for a while after that, mostly about boys they had known, things they had used to do. All of them ignoring the fact that those boys were probably walking dead and that the malls were closed, Guicci would never make another purse and Prada shoes were no longer something any one in their right mind would wear except in a safe bedroom with their husband or boyfriend, hiking boots, and sneakers were the fashion the living preferred, something you could run in.

She looked at the clock over the door and realized she was late, she had promised to be back in two hours and it was going on three hours now. She excused her self and regretfully left, casting a look back at Ai who still sat in her chair looking lost and alone now that her little concert was over and the others were sitting around talking in small groups.

For a moment she felt really sorry for the small delicate woman, whose family had died in front of her so far from her home and people. at least everything I see is familiar to me, Nancy thought as she left the room and headed down the hall worried now that she was going to be yelled at.

She cut through a section of bunker that no one was using hurrying knowing her mom was going to be freaking out. She turned a corner and ran full tilts into the worst smelling man she had ever met in her life, he was dressed like some reject from a stoner movie, a leather vest, over a concert Tshirt, stained and faded jeans and body odor that would drop a Rhino in its tracks.

“oh sorry” she said starting to go around the man, who grabbed her managing to get a good breast grope in the process. She started to shout but a hand went over her mouth and suddenly she was very worried about more than being late.

“take her with us, if we run into Stones men a hostage might be a good thing to have another man said, his longish blond hair hang limp and dirty around his round face.

She struggled to get away but quieted instantly as the man who held her pressed something against her throat.

“gonna have some fun with her when we get out of here” the man muttered as he copped another feel “a lot of fun” he said with a leer that made her sick to her stomach.

Tyler frowned at his fellow escapee but said nothing, to be honest he could care less if the man raped her. rape wasn’t Tyler’s thing but then again he didn’t really care any more, the world was what it was these days. If some one couldn’t protect themselves Rape was the least of their worries and the price they should be willing to pay for being weak and allowed to live. She was cute, he thought, to bad she probably wouldn’t leave through the attention Kronnens muscle would give her.

Nancy was half carried half dragged down the hall, for the first time in her life hoping her mom had over reacted at her being late and that people were now looking for her. all she wanted to was to be rescued, she wanted her father.

Tyler had chosen this particular course from the holding cells because it passed through one of the bunk rooms where there were no cameras. What he didn’t know was that modern security cameras had been installed to keep an eye on tourists. In fact he planned on passing through many more rooms, all of which had multiple doors into the halls around them. It would at least cut down on the chances of being spotting on or off camera.

“oh shit” Jack muttered, causing Daws to look up from the Book he had been reading.

“what?”

“Found that Girl” Jack said, Daws looked at the monitor Jack was pointing too and rose to his feet.

“1st squad, meet me at the A3 intersection. Our boy has a hostage” Daws said running for the door.

“Ill guide you over the radio” Jack called out.

Daws pounded down the halls till he reached the intersection where his squad waited.

“where is he” Daws asked Jack over the radio.

“A-9 moving through the a congressional meeting room, head to A 5 then turn left, go four halls then turn right on B-2.” Jack said.

Daws nodded and led his men down the hallway. “ where is he going?” He asked Jack, there was no way the route Tyler was taking would get him anywhere near the bays and the vehicles that waited there.

“I don’t know nothing is in that area but unused rooms …shit” Jack said suddenly “ and the escape hatch that Jared used to get into the hotel.”

That was the only thing that made sense to Daws, Tyler must have overheard the location of the escape hatch from Jared or one of the others who had gone with Jared.

“oh damn” Jack said.

Doug Harris had survived a lot in his life, a house fire, the death of his wife from cancer, a car wreck that should have crippled him, and the coming of the undead. he dreamed of the day the dead fell over he was going to open a restaurant on the island.

Bored and nervous he had started walking the deserted sections of the bunker to get away from people and give himself time to sort through his thoughts and feelings. He turned down a dimly lit hall and as he passed an open door, a man leaped out on him, there was a flash of pain that started under his jaw and then white light as it reached his brain and then he was falling.

Tyler rose from the corpse leaving the piece of metal he had used to kill the man stuck in the corpses head and pulled the pistol out of holster on the dead mans belt. then took the spare magazines, he let one of the others take the rifle slung across the dead mans back.

Survival of the fittest buddy, you were careless Tyler thought as he looked at the body, he had no idea who the man was, he had come in with Darius’s group. Not that it would have mattered.

“Leave it” Tyler said as one of the men started to drag the corpse into the room.”there’s camera’s out there, the security center already knows” he said gesturing at the camera in the hallway ceiling. “so lets move it, times running out.”

“See that girl” Tyler said “I will do the same thing to you if you resist”

Nancy just hung in her captors grasp as the men took off running across the hall to the next room. She was too scared to do otherwise, but as she was carried across the next room to the next door, she wished she was as strong and as well trained as Jill Stone, then she would have a chance to kill at least one of these men before they killed her.

“ Just up ahead, they are going to come out of the door into your hallway” Jacks voice said in Daws’s ear. Daws signaled his men to spread out, a couple took cover in the few doorways the rest could only hug the walls, and hope training and brass balls would see them through.

“Daws this is Jared, I’m on my way, the girl is priority, to hell with letting that Scum Tyler escape if it means the girl gets hurt or killed got me” Daws nodded.

“Roger, Ill do what I can to keep her safe, Daws out” Daws looked back at his squad and hoped they all made it through.

“they are at the door” Jack said over the radio.

Before Daws could respond, a man, with long shaggy hair and a beard barged out into the hallway, with the girl in his arms a knife to her throat, he shouted in surprise seeing Daws and his Squad, and the knife drew blood, the girl shrieked in fear but thankfully the scum didn’t kill her out of reflex.

“nobody move or I kill her” The escapee shouted a wild light in his eyes.

Daws gritted his teeth, his rifle was at High ready a slight move and he could be inline and on target and fire, maybe a second and half and more than enough time for the man to slit the girls throat. This was the kind of thing that could go either way, desperate the man could kill his hostage, which meant Daws and his men could shoot them down, it all came down to a bluff really the escapee’s were banking on Daws and his men not wanting the girl to be hurt.

She was a pretty girl he saw, elfin thin with delicate features, fear danced in her dark brown eyes along with the instant hatred as she recognized him.

Tyler stepped out into the hallway a pistol in his hand he was joined by a man with a FN. The rest of the escapees poured out of the room and ran down the hall towards the room where the escape hatch waited.

“this doesn’t have to be any uglier than it already is” Tyler said as he took a step back. “you folks just stay right where you are and the girl will be fine.”

“screw you Tyler” Daws muttered but he didn’t move.

“That’s the Daws I know” Tyler said grinning mirthlessly. “at least your tougher than Jared, but not tough enough. Your letting one little girl, a pretty one at that, Stop you from killing us.”

“yeah well that’s the difference between you and Me, Tyler you don’t give a shit about any one but yourself, and you’re a big enough coward to hide behind a little girl” Daws replied.

“oh please Daws. You cant provoke me” Tyler said as he and his men walked slowly backwards down the hall. “I’m smarter than that”

“Really, your so smart that Ronny tased you in the balls repeatedly even though you had the drop on him.” Daws said, forcing himself to sound casual. He couldn’t take his eyes off the girl. If Tyler reached that door, she was dead once they were inside, he would do it just to fuck with Daws and Jared.

A swift furious look flashed across Tylers face as the men with him finally heard how he had been captured. “that’s right fellows, the guy your trusting with your life, got taken by surprise by a man with a crippled leg and naked woman who over powered him. some survival of the fittest example” Daws said laughing in contempt.

The man with the knife shifted his gaze towards Tyler, and in that moment of distraction. Spacey fired twice putting one round in the mans shoulder the other in his throat. The knife came away from the girls throat as the man instinctively tried to grasp his wounds and stop the flow of blood.

Daws wanted to scream at Spacey to stop, but he didn’t have time and it was far to late, Daws was moving even before the second shot He ran the ten feet and dove at the man who had held the girl as Gun fire erupted from both sides.

Something that felt like a hammer slammed Daws in the shoulder and head, the strap on his helmet snapped and his helmet flew off his head, as he slammed into the dying man, wrapping his arms around the girl at the same time Dawsgrunted in pain as something struck his back, side and arm but he had her, they hit the floor and slid into the wall.

He could hear Tyler shouting something, but Daws didn’t care he had the girl and she was safe. “gotcha, your safe now” he said weakly curling up around the girl hoping the body armor he wore and his body would protect her. “safe” he said his voice a whisper now. Nancy lay there feel hot blood soaking through her shirt, staring at the man who held her tight, the man who had killed her father, the man who had saved her life.

“ Man down, man down” Cooper shouted. “We need a medic”

Spacey advanced down the hall furious at himself, he shot down the man with the FN putting half a mag in the bastard but Tyler hit at least twice vanished into the room where the escape hatch was. this was his fault all his fault, Spacey thought. . Cooper stayed with him as the moved past the two dead men firing into their heads as they went after Tyler.

Angela pulled off her helmet and knelt beside Daws then pulled the sobbing Girl from the Sergeants arms as Haslom rushed up behind the advancing squad. “your going to be all right honey” Angela soothed, helping the girl down the hall. If she felt ridiculous for being motherly with a girl only a few years younger than she was it didn’t show.

Spacey reached the door, standing to one side, he drew a flash bang as Cooper stood on the other side of the door. He nodded to Cooper who cracked the door open, Spacey tossed the grenade inside. to hell with the plan, he wanted Tyler dead.

Cooper barely got the door closed before the grenade detonated then he and Cooper rushed the room followed by the rest of the squad.

*************************

the hallway was crowded, Jared leaned against the wall watching as Nancy was carried off on a stretcher her mother walking beside her holding the girls hand. Daws had already been carried to the hospital in the bunker. Daws might make it, but Justin wasn’t holding out hope. He said a silent prayer for Daws, in case any one was listening up there.

This was his fault, he knew and accepted it.. He had known from the beginning that there was a risk to letting Tyler escape. Even knew that Kronnen might not believe anything Tyler reported to him. But the risk he had believed at the time, was acceptable. And he would do it over again if he had to because letting Kronnen wipe out the convoy and its life saving supplies was not acceptable.

He hated to say it, but Daws had known the risks, and when Nancy’s life had hung in the balance the man, the soldier had known he might die when he dove in to save the girl. My fault, Jared thought, so much guilt, so many good men and womens blood on my hands. Idiots think being a leader is easy, think its something they want. But they have no clue what a burden it really is.

And to make it worse he hadn’t chosen to be the leader, but he hadn’t argued when every one kept looking to him to figure it out, to make it right and to keep them alive. What a bunch of fools Jared thought but knew as long as they demanded he lead them he would destroy his own soul if that’s what it took to do his duty to the people who trusted him in him.

Shaking his head he turned and walked away, eventually finding himself in a empty room, where he sat down cradling his head in his hands letting the chaotic thoughts race through his mind. After a little bit he realized he wasn’t alone and looked up to see Jill and Ed standing in the door watching him.

“what?” He asked rising, feeling guilty for taking time to pull himself together before going to check on Daws and Nancy. A cold feeling grew in the pit of his stomach hoping it wasn’t more bad news, he wasn’t sure he could deal with it.

“you okay” Ed asked walked up to stand in front of Jared, who nodded.

“fine I was just getting ready to go Check on Daws.” Jared said.

“fine, but I need to tell you something before you do” Ed said. “I know your blaming yourself, and I know no matter what any one says, no matter how logical your going to feel guilt for it. But do not let it eat you alive Jared. We need you, the island needs, and Beth needs you.” Ed said softly.

Jared snorted a harsh laugh. “your right it doesn’t matter what you say about it. I’m drowning in Guilt Ed. The rest of you have no clue….” Jareds voice trailed off.

“no clue, about Steve, Mark, That family on the farm, Billy thornton, and a lot more.. and how many people have you saved” Ed replied. “ how many are alive compared to how many were killed.”

“its not that easy Ed, oh I know that dying is part of the job, and taking risks and sending men and women off to die is something any real leader has to face, has to deal with. But there is always something missed, overlooked that might have changed the outcome.”

“sure there is Jared, sometimes you can hunt for that one thing for years, for your life and never find it.” Ed said waving a hand at Jill to remain silent as she started to speak. She glared at him for a moment but remained silent.

“your not the only one that carries a shit load of guilt Jared.” Ed said softly.

“Ed its not the same,”Jared said.

“to hell its not Jared, every day as a cop I watched pieces of crap put back on the street thanks to the system. And no that wasn’t my fault but I hated and I felt responsible for it. but the one time, I could have changed things, when I could have stopped a greater evil, I didn’t, I played by the rules, made all the right decisions and he went on to kill God knows how many people”

Jared shook his head not really in the mood to argue the point. “my decisions kill people Ed, people that trust me to get it right. You had the law, the rules to live by, someone over you to take responsibility for what ultimately happened.”

“the man I should have killed Jared was named Jasper Evan Brown, I had a pistol to his head, he loved killing, he bragged about it, Hell you could see it in his eyes, and had already killed dozens possible hundreds of people by the time I had him on the floor and I wanted to kill him, I wanted to so badly I was shaking, it would have been the right thing to do, I wanted to say fuck the system but I didn’t I did my duty too Jared, and he went on to kill god knows how many.

It didn’t matter if he was alive or undead he did what he loved he killed and that’s my fault. So don’t every think Jared you’re the only one that carries around a soul shaking guilt.” Ed stated flatly.

Jared studied his friend, for a long moment then wrapped an arm around the big mans shoulders. “ aint we a pair” Jared said softly. “I promise I will not go off the deep end and I will not wallow in guilt. But you have to promise me that you will never try to kiss me” Jared said.

Taken completely by surprise Ed found himself chuckling. “Not even to give you CPR, you have my word.”

Jared gave him a half smile, iron self control back in place pushing the feelings back into the darkness of is mind to be locked away till later.

Jared walked over and hugged Jill, then kissed her on the forehead, knowing she assumed some of the guilt too since she had helped concoct the plan. “Do not blame yourself babe. Not now or ever got me. The buck stops with me, I gave the go ahead, its my fault.” Jared said then kissed her again before stepping back. “it’s not over yet, I need to get a message to the Island, then we need to go check on Daws. And then you and I need to spend some time alone just talking about this or what ever you need to get off your chest” Jared said taking her hand then led her out the door leaving Ed to follow along behind.

*****************************

Nancy sat on the hospital bed, watching as Justin worked on the man who had saved her. She wanted to hate him, needed to hate him but no longer could. He had known how she felt about him and yet had risked his life to save her. would he have done that for her dad if he had, had the chance. She knew he would have and that was what killed the anger in her soul. She had tried to ignore the pain in his voice that day, even when she had given him no choice he had opted to shoot her in the shoulder instead of killing her.

Her mom stood beside her bed, watching as well but Nancy couldn’t even begin to guess what she was thinking.

“Come on Daws, you bastard you can make it” The army medic said as he hooked up an IV.

“I think he has internal bleeding” Justin said.

“shit” Haslom said softly.

“don’t oh shit me, we can fix this” Justin said, hoping like hell he could.

“your going to operate” Haslom asked surprised.

“I don’t have a choice and we are going to operate” Justin said. “he is as stable as I can get him at the moment. so lets get cleaned up and then start.”

Jared entered the bunker hospital twenty minutes later and found the Entire squad gathered there. “where’s Daws” he asked with dread not seeing the sergeant in any of the beds.

“Justin is operating on him to stop the internal bleeding” Cooper said, looking stressed out.

Justin wasn’t a doctor, was Jareds first though but he knew the paramedic would do the best he could and hopefully that would be enough.

He walked over to Nancy who sat on a bed crying “are you okay” He asked gently noting the bandage around her throat.

She nodded still crying holding her mothers hand, Diane stood on the other side of the bed looking concerned.

“yes” Nancy finally replied. “is he going to be all right” she asked. “he got hurt saving me, tell me he is going to be all right”

“I don’t know” Jared said refusing to lie. “Justin will do all that he can to save him”

he fell silent looking around the room at the men and women gathered there waiting to find out what was going on. Time clicked by the room silent except for the hum of machinery and the rustle of cloth.

Two hours passed by and then the doors to the surgery opened and Justin emerged, “its over” he said. “barring any complications, he is going to pull through.”

There was a cheer from Daws’s squad as they surged forward and thanked the paramedic. Jared felt his mood shift a little at the news and managed to smile in relief. Daws could still die he knew just like Steve had, but for the moment there was hope and that was all they needed.

*********************************

December 7th 0800hrs COG Bunker.

Jansen sat staring at Jared like he had gone insane. “you did what?” he asked not really believing what he had heard.

“in half an hour four Black Hawks will be arriving with a Platoon and two extra squad that will be assigned to escort the convoy back to the coast.” Jared said again.

“I got that part, but that’s going to put a huge dent in our AV gas Jared” Jansen protested.

“ and we are using it for what” Jared asked. “I’ve been handicapping us to save fuel, well not any more. I need this bunker secure, because Daws and the other wounded are not going anywhere till they are better we need the rest of the supplies here, all of it, not just what we have to carry out now. And the only way to do that is to have the man power to hold it.” Jared said. “ Yes I had planned on having them come by boat after the convoy returned a three week to a month wait for the small group I had planned on leaving here. But we cant risk a wait that long now.” Jared said looking around the table. “two of those choppers will head back, two more will stay here, and when we locate Beth, we will have choppers to either insert by or to haul us out fast if we need it. we can pick up more fuel for the birds around here so that’s not an issue, in fact I plan on sending out men to secure one or more aviation fuel trucks from one of the nearby airports to take back to the island along with the other supplies. So that should make you feel better.”

“but that means another day of waiting” Jansen protested.

“I know, but we can contact Ori on the radio so I can tell him what has happened and explain why we are leaving tomorrow morning as opposed to today.” Jared said.

Jansen shook his head and looked around the table at the others who were gathered there. “also Spacey, your promoted to acting Sergeant to take over the Squad till Daws is back on his feet. Your squad and Jansens along with one more squad will be formed into a platoon with Jansen acting as Platoon Sergeant.”

Jared didn’t point out that both squads were now under strength which meant their project combat power was reduced so they did need a third squad that was full strength.

“uh Jared, I think Reese would be a better squad leader than I would.” Spacey said surprising Jared. Jared had already been thinking about what to do with Reese, the two soldiers who had survived with Reese he had already planned on using to fill out the Gaps in Jansens team till Sinclair and Lane were back on their feet. But Reese was the sticking point.

“he is trained Jared, and has experience in leading squads and a Platoon” Jansen said throwing his support behind Reese too.

“Jared, you have to get past his looking like Steve” Jill said quietly from where she sat beside Jared.

Jill was right Jared thought, it wasn’t fair to Reese that Jared didn’t like being around the man because of how much he looked like Steve and it was a waste of a valuable asset as well. Get over yourself Jared told himself. You can deal with it.

“all right then if your fine with it Spacey, Reese will become Squad leader for first squad. Till Daws is back on his feet.” Jared said, wondering when Spacey and Reese had gotten to know each other.

“what about the civilians Jared, this has never been all military,hell we cant function like this is the army” Jansen asked. The last thing they needed was to cut the civilians out, and make it look like a military take over.

“most of them are going back with the convoy” Jared said not showing the irritation he felt at how many had refused to go back and had insisted on staying to help recover Jared and Ori rescue Beth but also hoped to put Kronnen down.

“and yes you can and will function like the army, but supported by a civilian militia.” Jared said.

“great, just frakking great” Jansen muttered, but only halfheartedly damn near every civilian along for this cluster fuck had seen combat both against the living and the undead, so they weren’t inexperienced just undisciplined.

“Don’t get worked up, most of them will driving and guarding the camp. Not running patrols or leading charges against the dead. And we might need the numbers” Jared said thinking of the trip into Nashville where it had only been he and his friends and had ended up almost dying because they did not have enough people to help drive back the sheer numbers of undead. it had been stupid to take so few people into a major city, a mistake he wasn’t going to repeat if they had to enter Knoxville or any other big city. At least not if he could help it.

“okay I grant you that, but what if Kronnen’s people attack the island, that platoon might be better off there than out here.” Jansen asked.

” we can what if all day long Jansen, but the truth is, the bunker if secured can be the last refuge for the survivors of Sullivan.” Jared replied. “unless you know a more secure place”

Jansen shook his head slowly, other than the island with the Marines, who would probably be less than happy to have survivors flooding their island, he couldn’t think of a single place.

Jared looked around for a moment to see if any one else wanted to add something but no one spoke up.

“all right then, we will be taking My RV, the LAV ….” Jared got down to the nuts and bolts of the rescue operation.

************************************

Near Kingston Tn. 1630 hrs.

A battered pick up came to a stop in the middle of the road, idling loudly, the door opened as Williams climbed out to stand amidst the cars and trucks that were scattered around the road, where they had been abandoned so long ago when the undead had swept down the road.

He ignored the undead he could see that were now staggering around the vehicles that littered the interstate, they were to far away to be a threat at the moment.

Decisions, decisions he thought as he pulled out a map and looked at it. only Americans would make such a confusing lay out of roads he thought. From appearances there were only two ways for Jared Stone and his people to enter the area, I 81 or US route 23.

Assuming that Stone did not have better maps showing old back roads, Williams suspected the Red headed American Pizdi would choose R 23 since he had a habit of using lesser traveled or back roads that would have had less traffic and pass through far fewer communities than interstates.

He smiled to himself he had never been a team player, so he had not expected to work with Kronnen for long. The best he could do at this moment was to avoid Bradleys men for now, and instead lay traps and harasses Stone till they drew close to Bradley, then… He smiled coldly he would blow the woman’s heart out while her husband watched, that would destroy the friendship and he was sure it would destroy Stone who believed all his drivel about Honor and duty.

His smile grew wider as he contemplated the dead woman’s body rising and attacking the children that meant so much to her. oh Yes her husband or Jared will have to put her down and any children she might have bitten and that was a touch of perfection to his revenge.

He was so wrapped up on his thoughts that he only became aware of the zombie when it grabbed his arm. Williams twisted around using a lock that spun the zombie out and away then smashed its face into the side of his truck. He stomped down on the former Highway patrol officers neck and smiled in satisfaction as the neck broke with a loud crack.

He had stood there to long he thought as he picked up his map and slid back into the truck, just as one then another zombie reached the side of his truck. “Even American Zombies are pathetic” he laughed as he put the truck in Gear and started off heading for R 23 and the first of the ambushes he planned on setting up.

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7 thoughts on “Chapter Eleven

  1. I love Ai’s concert. You wrote the way she created the music very well. I heard it in my head.

    Now hurry up and save Daws! And rescue Beth and the kids while you’re at it!

    Like

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