“The strength of twice three thousand horse
That seeks the single goal;
The line that holds the rending course,
The hate that swings the whole;
The stripped hulls, slinking through the gloom,
At gaze and gone again —
The Brides of Death that wait the groom —
The Choosers of the Slain!”
The wind had picked up outside, setting the trees to swaying side to side and the first drops of rain had started pelting the vehicles, Jill climbed from the Custom RV Motor home, into the beginnings of the storm, the tan and white pitbull on her heels. The dog hesitated on the stops looking at her then with something that looked like Resignation leaped down and trotted at her heels.
Chad, stood by her ELSORV, waiting with another man. The stranger, a heavily muscled older man, wearing woodland cami pants, a black tshirt stretched taut across his thick arms and chest, he wore an old style Combat harness.
“Glad to have you back” Jill said to Chad, as she surreptitiously studied the Stranger.
“Glad to be back, Jill Id like to introduce you to Major Scott Campbell, US army, Special Forces, Retired.” Chad said.
“Maam” Campbell said holding out a large scarred hand, her slim hand almost vanished into his.
“Jill Stone,” She said introducing herself. Campbell nodded absently as they shook hands. He held on to her hand for a moment running the finger of his left hand r along the side of her hand, and then turned her hand palm up and did the same across her fingertips and palm.
Chad, started to bristle, thinking the man was being an ass, then Campbell spoke, “ Martial artists, aren’t you” He asked letting her hand go. “ you can Relax, son, the lights dim, and I was checking her hand for callus’s” Campbell told Chad.
Chad subsided; that he was willing to stand up to a man that could most likely break him into tiny pieces, spoke volumes about Chads character as far as Jill was concerned.
“since I was a child” she told Campbell.
“at least you’ve kept up with the training,” Campbell remarked. “ you wouldn’t happen to be related to Eric Stone would you”
“I’m his sister in law, and I see Chad relayed the message Eric wanted delivered.” Jill said, with a smile.
Campbell grinned, making him look twenty years younger. “Yes he did, and I will tell you what I told your man there, I’m alone, but there’s survivors scattered through out the Uwharrie and all across the entire area we used to exercise in. close to a two hundred. It would take me weeks to hunt them down and get them organized.”
Jill nodded, it didn’t matter at this point, she looked up at the sky, where lightening danced across the Swollen black clouds. The need to hurry was on her, and she wasn’t going to ignore it.
“Major we don’t have the time to waste, your more than willing to go with us, but Ill tell you flat out, we are heading into zombie infested areas, and a fight with a group of raiders” Jill told him.
“Chad there told me all about it, and I’m willing to help. Ill be frank, if it wasn’t for Eric Stone, I probably wouldn’t, I don’t know you people from Adam, but I do remember him, good soldier, tough and smart.” Campbell said, then patted the side of the ELSORV, “nice vehicle, I had heard a few things about them last year,”
“well major you can ride in the ELSORV with me and see how you like it, and we can talk on the way” Jill said. Campbell nodded in agreement and scooped up his Ruck from where it leaned against the tire.
While he loaded his gear, Jill made a quick pass around the camp, making sure everything was packed. She was headed back to the ELSORV, when the alarm was sounded. Some one had spotted the undead, She raced to the ELSORV and climbed into the passenger seat. the rain began to fall in earnest, a wall of water that obscured sight..
“Mai Just reported seeing a mess of undead “Mike told her, tapping the radio with a finger.
“Great timing on their part, Lets blow this taco stand” She told Mike who nodded and gave the ELSORV gas.
The ELSORVs led the way, followed by the Styrker and the LAV, with long practice the circle of vehicles dissolved into line of vehicles that followed behind the Lead Elements. Right into a swarm of zombies that had been staggering down the road towards the camp.
If they had stayed the night, or delayed even two minutes longer, they would have been stuck in place, fighting for their lives. Mike glanced at Jill, who looked surprised, “ I guess that’s the reason I was told to ….” Her voice trailed off, as she shot a look into the back where Campbell sat quietly, his Rifle across his knees, a pistol in his hands.
“Daws you and Ed take the Lead, plow the road for the rest of us “ Jill said, motioning for Mike to slow, and let the LAV and Stryker pull past them.
“you people have been doing this for a while” Campbell observed, it was pretty obvious this group were used to working together, and he was to say the least impressed from what he had seen so far, they were holding up under the stress better than he would have expected.
“since June 2010” Jill commented, as she reached down and patted Nibblers head, the pit bull encouraged by the attention clambered up into Jills lap and leaned against her.
“we set up a base, but staying on the move tends to cut down on the numbers you encounter, unless you drive into citys or large towns.” She chuckled with out humor for a moment. “ Neo Nomadic tribalism, I could write a thesis over that.”
“how many degrees do you have” Campbell asked, it wasn’t much of a guess, she struck him as highly educated.
“four, only two have proven to be of any kind of use now that the world has ended.” Jill said dismissively.
“I hate that sound” Ronny muttered, glancing up at the roof of the hangar in apprehension. The storm was raging outside and the wind was battering at the hangar, which creaked and groaned under the lash of the wind.
Mary sat between his legs, her head tilted back against his shoulder, she smiled and squeezed his thigh. “don’t worry, this band of storms should pass shortly, and then we can get out of here.” She said soothingly.
Jared sat quietly, off to one side, the laptop he carried in his pack on his knees as he typed away. His face lit by the glowing screen. “you writing anything interesting” Ori asked as he opened a power bar, the smell of oats and raison filled the air. “ don’t even ask, scavenge your own, you greedy bastards” Ori muttered looking around at the other men, whose mouths had begun to water at the smell.
Jared looked up, then shook his head. “ just making a journal entry, Today Ronny whined about the weather, again.” he said with a grin.
“you don’t keep a journal” Ronny said smugly wrapping his arms around Mary.
“I started one a while back,” Jared said, with a slight smile. He actually wasn’t lying, he had started keeping notes on the daily things, Then had gone back and added in as much as he could remember since things fell apart.
He wanted Mark, Steve and any one else he cared about to be remembered as he saw them, and knew them. it was the only real tribute he could give them. and Jill, god no one in the group really knew exactly how much she had contributed, half the time privately, she didn’t like attention.
“I’m surprised he can actually write” Eric commented with a weak laugh, barely heard over the hammering sound of Rain that beat on the hangar.
“I added pictures for you” Jared responded as he saved what he had written then shut down the lap top and slipped it back into the shock proof case then returned it to his Pack.
They sat in silence after that, listening to the wind moan, the thunder shook the building and the rain fell. And then, it stopped. Sam, the stranger sat with his back against a toolbox snoring softly, apparently he wasn’t worried about any of them killing him or leaving him behind.
Mary climbed to her feet, as the silence sank in “ if we hurry we can get airborne and get to Lumberton, and be waiting for Jill and the others to show up tomorrow morning.”
“no” Jared said, suddenly. “ we don’t have that kind of time, we need to fly straight to the last LZ, and get in place, then you and Ronny can fly back and Meet Jill. I think Simms will try to head to the terminal as fast as possible. and I want to make sure we beat him there.”
Ori nodded, even though he would have preferred to have more people at his back but like Jared he expected Simms to try and beat them to the punch. “ Lets move then, Mister submissive wants back in the air” Ori said, with a grin, then frowned at the lack of response. “what, It was funny”
While Ronny and Mary climbed into the plane and did a quick preflight, Eric and the others cautiously slid open the hangar door, checking for undead. Nothing was visible at the moment, but that didn’t mean a damn thing. Ori quickly woke Sam and got him into the plane. For once the older man didn’t give a lot of lip.
The wind was still gusting, but it wasn’t as strong as it had been, Jared worried that it would cause a problem on taking off, or in flight. If any one up there is listening, don’t let that damn box with wings, fall out of the sky, he prayed silently.
Jared stood easily, his fears of flying not visible to the others, at least not at the moment. He carried his rifle at Low ready, his eyes sweeping the lines of planes on the ramp and along the Taxi way for threats. He was sick and tired of all of this, tired of losing friends, tired of constant threats, tired of Bastards like Simms that thought attacking others was a badge of honor.
As far as he was concerned this was going to end at the Terminal, and Simms was in for a shock when Jared sprang his little surprise.
No sooner had the Engine of the plane kicked over, than undead began to appear from the small main building, several staggered out from between planes by the taxi way.
Jared heard Martinez shout out “contact” and the sharp crack of weapons fire.
Jared held his fire for the moment, there were no undead with in a hundred yards that he could see, and no sense in wasting ammunition at this point.
The plane emerged from the hangar and swung around to taxi down the cleared lane between the parked craft to the taxiway. Its lights cutting a swath through the night.
Ronny had a white knuckled grip on the stick, he really didn’t want to take off, but they couldn’t sit here much longer either. Well if we die, Jared will be the one screaming all the way to the ground he thought with humor.
From the looks of it there weren’t a lot of undead out there to get in the way of his take off, which was great, it was going to be a bitch with out worrying about zombies.
He slowed letting Ori and Parks Climb aboard, then rolled forward again, as Jared, Eric and the rest jogged alongside the plane as security.
There were more zombies than he would have expected between the aircraft lined up out there, but none posed a problem. The wind how ever did, the plane shuddered and even bounced a couple of times, reaching the Taxi way he crossed over onto the runway, there was no point in using the Taxiway, since there would be no other flights coming in for a landing or taking off.
He turned and lined up, checking the windsock, then his instruments, thumps and curses came from the back as the last of the men boarded.
“Mr T. don’t fly, some one sedate Jared” He called into the back, with out really looking, he didn’t need to see to know that Jared was flipping him the bird.
“Id like to be sedated” Bailey muttered as he strapped in and crossed himself.
“shut it” Eric replied, as he shut the hatch then went and sat beside his brother who was already sweating nervously. He had given Jared crap over the years for his aversion to flying, not that Eric blamed him in the least, but it took a hell of lot of guts, for Jared, to climb into an aircraft, time after time and face down the kind of fear that would have left many catatonic and drooling on the floor at the very thought.
“Just saying” Bailey said, then glanced at Jared who had that look of grim faced determination of a man faced with something he had to do but hated.
“Every one strap in, this is going to be rough” Ronny said, for once not cracking jokes, which told any one that knew him just how nervous he really was about this.
The undead drawn to the lights and the noise were filtering down through the parked aircraft towards the lights of the UVt, Ronny could see them, shadowy lurching shapes in the darkness, occasionally thrown into stark relief by flashes of lightening.
They moved to slowly to reach theo the runway before the plane was airborne, so he dismissed the threat. “I’m going for a short take off, the sooner we are in the air the better off we will be” Ronny told Mary who nodded, ready to assist if necessary.
Faced with the dangers, Mary leaned over and placed a hand on his arm, “ Just in case, something happens,” she paused for a moment “ I love you” She whispered.
“I love you to, now lets get this crate into the air” he replied, trying to sound jaunty.
He glanced at the tattered wind sock then consulted the flight computer to calculate the crosswinds, satisfied that he could take off, He stood on the brakes, applied full power, and let the RPMS rise to 2200. he checked carb heat, then engaged the fuel boost. He let the Rpms drop and then released the brakes and the plane began to roll picking up speed quickly, Ronny used every bit of knowledge and skill he had been taught and what he had acquired over the last year, his eyes sweeping the instruments, even as he judged the flight environment by the feel of the plane. Ronny set flaps to one, Trimmed the elevators, while his feet working quickly to correct any yaw the wind imposed, keeping the plane rolling down the center line.
the plane shuddered and shook around him, he pulled the nose pitch up to 15 degrees, Mary shouted something about zombies, but he was to focused on taking off.
Mary watched sickly, as a dozen zombies staggered onto the runway, right into the path of the plane. She felt the plane pitch up, shuddering, the engine screaming. The prop must have missed the heads of the zombies, but something struck the underside of the plane, She heard a muttered “fuck” From the back.
Ronny felt the collision, and coupled with a gust of wind the plane, bounced and started to roll to the left. He fought it, his arms aching, using rudder and Ailerons to regain control, he no sooner had the plane righted, and applied right rudder to keep from slipping left, than he saw the approaching trees, “oh lord, bless those as truly stupid as I am for flying today, please keep the Celestial ass kicking for another day, and bless my shorts that I do not soil them. Amen” he said in a low voice.
The plane struggled against the wind gaining altitude but it was going to be close, Ronny gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to pull the nose up any higher than it already was, the last thing they need was to stall and fall to the ground, where trees and undead waited to greet them with spread limbs. Pun intended he thought, as he turned the plane into a banking climb, and breathed slightly easier as the maneuver worked.. thank you he thought as the plane climbed over the trees.
“great Job lover, there will be a reward for you later” mary said as she checked the weather radar, she fell silent chewing on her lip for a moment as what she saw sank in. out over the ocean just on the edges of their range 124 miles more or less, the cloud cover swirled steadily, the color range indicated heavy rainfall. There was only one thing that looked like that, a hurricane
“I think we need to make some serious last minute plans” She said after a moment, “theres a hurricane out there”
Shadows cloaked the tree shrouded road, as the line of vehicles drove slowly, the Massive 88, leading the way, grinding fallen limbs and leaves under its treads. The Driver using the bulk of the vehicle to push any fallen trees out of the way for the convoy that followed.
The night sky was pitch black, covered by dark clouds were lightening flickered. And the wind gusted heavily, sending a years worth of fallen leaves up into the air, obscuring sight. They were ten miles out of Lumberton, thunder rumbled overhead, causing windows to vibrate. And then a wall of water swept over them as the rain finally came.
“I cant see a damn thing” Mike complained, Logan dropped down inside the ELSORV and closed the gunners hatch, soaking wet from his waist up.
“we should stop before some one drives off into a river or ditch, last thing we want to do is be outside pulling out a stuck vehicle. And god help us if its that 88” Mike added.
Jill, pushed a stray lock of dark hair out of her eyes, her lips pursed thoughtfully. She finally shook her head then keyed her Radio. “Arthur, reduce speed, if the visibility gets bad enough you cant see the road use the lights.” She said, Arthur was one of the Better drivers they had for that massive military recovery vehicle lovingly called the Clown crusher by half the group, “ we don’t have a lot of time to reach the Rendezvous point, and link back up with Jared at the airport, if we don’t get there in time and clear the airport before they get there, and if we get delayed to much” She said, resisting the urge to look at the map again.
“Major, any suggestions you’re the expert here. You know this area, whats the fastest route to Lumberton” She asked looking into the back seat where the Former special forces Officer sat quietly. He was pretty damn handsome for his age, she thought, and built better than most men half his age. Which said a lot about his commitment to not giving up, even in the face of old age.
“Id stay outside of town, or on the very fringes, but going into town would be insane even with the 88.” Campbell said, “Lumberton, had around twenty thousand odd people in it before this began, Id estimate at least 75 percent were infected or what ever you want to call it. ,” Campbell responded.” The streets will be clogged with abandoned vehicles, your chances of getting stuck even with the 88 are going to be good.”
“we need to reach the airport, that’s where we rendezvous with the rest of our people.” Jill said flipping on a red light and consulting a map. “ once we regroup, we are going to follow the rail line all the way to the terminal, it’s the easiest and most direct route.”
Campbell raised an eyebrow at the word Terminal, but didn’t ask “The Airport is is right off I 95, to the south of the town, two maybe three miles out of town, there is a drive in and subdivision between the airport and the town, mostly swamp on the west side of I 95, theres a church just to the south of the airport.” Campbell told her, Jill nodded, most of that was on the copies of the topo maps Jared had left her. “the rail road tracks, if I remember right, are on the edge of Lumberton, on the south side as well, and only enter the populated east side of Lumberton.” Campbell said. pausing for a moment “ we are what, twenty miles or so from Lumberton,” He asked, Jill nodded,
“ we are near LaurinBurg” she told him, at least she was pretty sure they were close to the town.
Campbell nodded he knew the place “ theres a road we used a lot to transport men and material between exercise areas, its not a major road, but its, rather was well maintained: and will take us all the way to SR 711, it passes thru Pembroke and runs straight down to the Airport. it was never heavy on traffic, and I doubt it will be now.” He told her. then Campbell, leaned over and pointed to a road on the map,” right there, that’s the road we need” he said.
” it is a pretty direct route.” Jill replied absently, as she tapped a delicate looking finger on a spot on the map. Just from the map she would have dismissed the road, it looked undeveloped, which meant problems in the here and now, but if Campbell thought it would be okay, they could shave almost forty minutes off their overall travel time, assuming no real delays, that alone made her decide to take the suggested route.
Mike was only half listening to the conversation, his attention fixed on the road ahead, and the way the Wind hammered at the ELSORV, the thump of the windshield wipers was almost hypnotic, and did little to improve his vision. The last thing he wanted to do, was run right up the ass of the 88.
It was one of those nights, and he half expected for undead to appear suddenly ahead of the ELSORV, but so far nothing like that had happened, and he wasn’t going to complain about it.
Up ahead he saw a light flash three times, and applied the brakes, seeing the signal that the 88 had stopped once more. “whats the situation?” he asked over the Radio.
“Theres big rig jackknifed and blocking off both Lanes, we are going to have to put boots down to clear it.” Arthur replied.
“can we go around or push it out of the way” Jill asked instantly.
Sitting still Mikes vision thru the windshield had improved greatly, and he was half blinded when a bolt of lighting slashed down and struck a tree, already weakened by the wind, and now burning it toppled over and slammed into the top of the 88.
Arthur’s response was lost in the sudden eruption of Cursing and shouting. It took a moment to settle down.
“Every one all right up there” mike asked looking nervously around at the trees, if a tree that large hit the ELSORV they were screwed.
“Everything is Aces, mostly. Jimmy’s hair is burned, and we think is shoulder is dislocated from a branch striking it. but other wise great.” Arthur replied after a moment.
“Standby, we are going to go around and see how bad it will be off road, I don’t want any one on the ground if we can help it” Jill said, Mike smiled, wondering if she even realized just how smoothly she took control, or how much like Jared she sounded at the moment.
Mike eased down into the ditch, more of a creek these days, the ELSORV pushed ahead through the water thigh deep water. Once past the Big rig, were more vehicles scattered along the left hand lane, but mostly clear at least from what they could make out.
“Lets get every one else around the wreck first, and the 88 bring up the rear” Jill said, then relayed her order to the rest of the convoy with a wry unseen grin. She felt stupid for not just issuing the orders. “I don’t know how Jared keeps it together being the leader “she told mike.
“Simple he pretends he knows what he is doing, that’s the real trick of leadership” Mike replied, Campbell snorted in the backseat but didn’t say anything.
“I take it you disagree Major” Mike said with a strained laugh.
“you could say that” Campbell replied. “But I have to assume that Jared, must know something about Leadership and combat to have kept you people together and reasonably safe for so long”
“you could say that” Jill replied with the ghost of a smile using Campbells own words.. “he is former Army, and was a wilderness guide, and survival instructor after the military.”
One by one the rest of the vehicles drove thru the ditch and around the wreck, then pulled onto the road and lined up. The men and women inside scanning the sides of the road for any threat.
Mike parked just ahead of the wrecked Rig, kept a look out of any vehicle that might get stuck so they could be pulled out, but soon all the light and Medium vehicles, and the one Heavy were past, and it was the 88’s turn, Mike turned in his seat to watch the behemoth that was the 88 appear out of the rain on the side of the road. water surged up ahead of the vehicle then flowed around its. The tracks chewed up the soft ground of the ditch, rain water sluiced down its side, washing off the ash and debris from the tree that had fallen across it.
It struggled thru the ditch, then ground its way up out of the ditch and moved along the side of the road, till it reached the head of the column, Mike didn’t say anything when Arthur did something that Jared would have chewed hima new ass hole for, Arthur drove straight over a compact car crushing it under the treads of the recovery vehicle.
At least he didn’t throw a track, Mike thought, but judging from the Look on Jills face, Arthur was still going to get his butt reamed and badly.
Once the 88 was back in position at the head of the line, the convoy started moving once more, the rain almost stopped completely, the wind dropped, but still gusted occasionally. Jill didn’t say anything she just looked out the window, praying that Jared was all right and that she didn’t screw this up so bad she got people killed.
Malone sat hunched in his command vehicle, regretting participating in this whole operation. His arm of the attack had headed straight east and was to swing down and follow the coast, passing thru or around Wilmington if at all possible. so far he had only made it to with in twenty miles of the coast.
“ bring the column to a halt” he ordered, as the wind battered at the vehicles. Undead had been heavy for the last hour, but for some reason they seemed to be growing thinner, as if drawn off to another location.
Malone opened the hatch and poked his head out, wincing as the stinging, wind driven rain hammered at his face. at least unlike the late lamented Bubba and the still living Hanson, he didn’t have a gaggle of family trailing along behind him. They were safe back at the complex that Simms had helped him secure. And seeing this weather, he was damn glad for that. He eyed the bridge just ahead, then climbed down and closed the hatch, wiping water from his eyes and face.
“lets proceed one at a time, across that bridge.” He ordered. “ We will lead the way.”
Slowly the Stryker pulled ahead, and rolled onto the bridge weaving between the stalled and abandoned vehicles, Malones stomach clinched as he felt the bridge sway, it might have been his imagination, since no one else mentioned it, but he coudnt relax till they were safely on the other side.
“I think we bit off more than we can chew” Alex Hayes, Malones second in command said softly.” I know the man helped us secure the Towers, but this, this is insane”
“I know Alex, but we owe the man, and I’m not about to toss in the towel just yet.” Malone replied, wondering if he looked as old as he felt. He slumped in his seat, listening to each vehicle confirm a safe crossing.
A sudden eruption of shouts over the radio, caused Malone to climb back up and look out the hatch, he turned back to the bridge, even over the wind, he could hear the grinding and screeching of metal and the snapping of concrete, he watched in something like shock as one of the Last 113’s to cross, tried to speed up, and then started to slide as the bridge tilted to one side. the APC slid down the 30 degree slant and slammed against the guard rail, Malone watched helplessly as men bailed out of the APC, dropping into the water below and were swept away.
Two vehicles were still on the other side of the bridge with no way across, Malone considered sending them along a different route, but then changed his mind.
“Brian, Looks like this is as far as you guys you go,” Malone transmitted, Brain had been one of the original militia members, he had been a good man, stuck in a shitty situation, and now Brian was stuck on the other side of the bridge. “ get back to the complex, and look after the others”
it was fitting in a way, that Brian was stuck over there, it was like some higher power had separated one of the few truly decent men in the Unit from the rest, sparing him from what ever was going to befall them. Malone smiled sadly, He knew Brian wouldn’t want to go, but he would, they had been through to much since the End of the world for Brian to second guess him.
“yes sir, and Good luck.” Brian replied with out hesitation.
“thanks, and luck to both your crews” Malone replied, at least the ten men on the other side of the bridge, stood a better chance of surviving now that they were free of his stupidity
there was much to regret over the last year and some odd, but what was done, was done, and there was no taking any of it back. He watched as the two military trucks turned about and headed back towards home, he hoped they made it, and did a better job of things than he had.
“ we aren’t not going to be able to intercept Simms before his rendezvous,” Jared said thru gritted teeth.
“your right, and if we spend to much time in the air, we are going to get knocked right out of the sky.” Eric commented as the plane shot up then dropped back down, rattling and shuddering. “we need to link up with Jill, like we had planned”
of course the plan had called for an ambush at the rendezvous point, then link up with the convoy before setting up at the final ambush site. Jared thought about that for a long moment, he wanted the bastard that killed Steve, and he didn’t want Simms to get the Terminal before he did, but with this storm, Simms would probably be delayed. And truth was he did not want to be on a plane, much less a plane flying straight into a hurricane, or tropical storm or what ever this was.
Eric was watching him, waiting for an answer, almost certain that Jared was going to be stubborn about this, but Jared had no desire to be stubborn, if he tried to go thru with his plan, it put every single one of them at risk, the storm obscured sight and sound, which would help them, but it also helped the undead, and the terminal was to close to two heavily populated areas, one a large city.
He unstrapped and made his way to the front, debating on pausing and puking on Eric’s Lap for talking him into flying. “ head to the Rendezvous point, The ambush is a no go” Jared told Ronny. Jared tried to ignore the fact that Ronny looked worried, and he tried to ignore the weather Radar.
“gotcha,” Ronny said “ now go get strapped back in Jared, this shit is bad”
“don’t need to tell me, being in an aircraft is bad at the best of times. “ Jared said as he turned and headed back to his seat.
“hey, theres someone out on the wing” Blaine said, peering out the window as Jared passed.
“you have to sleep sometime” Jared commented, “ and I’m all out of vasoline and I have Ether, so think on that for a while.”
Eric snorted a laugh at the look on blains face, “ at leasr you can treat yourself for trauma after you wake up”
“ reminds me of a joke” Ori said, as boos and hisses filled the cabin.
“don’t go there or you will learn how to parachute.” Bailey said,
“there are no parachutes on this plane” Ori replied.
“makes it even better” Bailey said with a laugh.
Ronny was worried, really worried, not that he was going to tell Jared, hell no. but he was going to have to land and soon. The winds were picking back up, and if they didn’t land while they had the chance, they would end up flying west to get out of the storm.
At least the GPS NAV system was still up and running, so he knew they were close to Lumberton, the initial plan was to put down in a field just outside the small city. but now, he wanted hard concrete or tarmac.
“this is apocalypse air, to ground, I really hope your down there” Ronny transmitted hoping Jill and the rest had already arrived. He peered out the windscreen but saw no lights down below. part of the plan was that Jill would light the landing area with Vehicle headlights.
The plane bucked, and shuddered around him, he transmitted once more but there was still no answer.
“looks like we are early to the party, so hang on folks we are going to be landing in a few minutes” Ronny said over the intercom, he knew what direction the runway sat, knew its location thanks to GPS, but could he land in the darkness, was the real question.
“do we have to land now” Mary asked quietly.
“yes, I cant keep this plane in the air much longer, maybe Roger could, or a better pilot, but I cant. If we don’t get down there soon, we are going to be landing with out any control.” Ronny replied as he brought the plane around and dumped altitude.
He wanted to be on the ground before the next squall line hit and from the weather radar that was going to be soon. He flipped on the lights, he hated to do it, but he had no choice not if he was going to land.
God let the altimeter be accurate he prayed silently as he watched it spin down, knowing that Jared was probably dropping a load in his pants at the quick descent.
“there “ Mary called out pointing a degree to his left. He adjusted and at one hundred feet swept over the runway, he changed his course and lined up on the runway, noting the bearing on his compass. Then cut the lights as he flew straight away from the runway, fighting to maintain the bearing, he gained enough altitude to be safe, then came about lining up on the runways bearing. He counted down, doing the math, and at what he judged to be a quarter mile out he flipped on his lights again and began his descent.
Jared tried not to grip the arms of his seat, he really did, but the popping, groaning noises and the shuddering were almost to much for him. Flashes shot through his mind, of a cabin spinning for a moment, then silence as the engine cut out. a pilot and his co pilot shouting as they fought to restart, the silence broken only by wind that rushed into the Cabin, and the popping and groaning airframe. God I hate aircraft he thought for the millionth time.
The plane bucked, it felt like it was trying to shoot straight up, but Ronny held it leashed to his control. A loud creaking noise came from under Jared’s seat, he didn’t make a sound, he just held on for dear life, as Jill’s face floated in his mind.
Suddenly the plane felt like it was sliding to the left even even as it continued straight ahead on course. . Jared waited to hear the sides split open or for the plane to tilt to one side then plummet to the ground, but some how it didn’t.
His ears were popping as the plane rapidly descended, he held his breath, his foot tapping nervously, a steady, one beat tattoo of sound.
suddenly the plane touched down, and he could hear brakes screaming. Jared held onto the arms of his chair, his own feet pressing against the floor as if he could actually help stop the plane. The knowledge that he couldn’t help stop the craft didnt stop him from trying.
The UV lost speed, rocking in the steadily rising wind, then came to a stop. Ronny killed the lights, “ all right folks, we are damn close to the interstate, as in next to it, and the convoy isn’t here, we need to secure a hanger for the plane. Or we might lose the plane. Any suggestions” Ronny asked loudly.
“I’m thinking shoving this thing up your butt might be a solution” Jared called out as he unstrapped. “ lets move it people, every zombie with in miles of this place saw those lights, “
Jared checked his gear quickly, double checked his weapons then moved to the hatch, Eric stood to his left and slightly behind him, ready to fire if there were zombies on the other side.
“Ready?’ he said softly, Jared took a deep breath and opened the door. the wind swirled inside, carrying a light mist but nothing loomed out of the darkness with teeth or hands. Jared lowered his NVG’s and leaped outside, immediately the wind tugged at his clothing, He did a quick check, and saw at least six zombies at a hundred feet coming from the direction of a large hangar.
“ Contact, six, one hundred feet, NE, “ he called out, as Eric leaped to the ground beside him.
The rest of the team piled out, circling the plane searching for nearby threats, seeing nothing they started towards the hanger, the plane following along behind them. not wanting to waste time, and noise not being an issue at the moment, they shot down then undead, and proceeded to the hanger.
The doors emblazoned with a corporate logo were standing open, letting the wind howl mournfully past the doors into the darkness beyond. They entered in a loose inverted v, lights probing ahead of them revealing a dark, dirty, completely empty hangar.
“ Must have evacuated” Eric said as he pointed to the doors that led into the small office section, which ran the entire length of the hangar wall, and was one story tall. Directly across from the office on the opposite wall, was a tool cage, and storage room. “Remember there was a rush at the airports, people thought they could fly out of the infected areas and escape.”
Jared nodded slightly “ I remember hearing it on the news, then the Fed had the Guard move in and seal off airports, trying to stop the spread of the infection.” He said as he moved slowly towards the office section, peering thru the few windows in the structure.
The UV rolled to a stop in the middle of the Hangar, and the engine shut down. Castor and Bailey rolled the hangar doors closed, cutting off the wind as the second round of heavy rain began to fall, drumming loudly on the roof of the hangar.
“Seems like we are right back where we started” Ori said looking around the hangar, which was pitch black beyond the reach of the lights.
“upside is we aren’t in the plane,” Jared pointed out, ignoring the short sharp laughs from the SF men.
“Castor, you and Martinez check and see if there’s any other doors into the place and secure any you find, Blaine, you and parks stay by the plane, there rest of us will clear the office section.”
“Hang on you aren’t going with out me” Ronny said leaping from the UV, he had donned full battle rattle as soon as he had the plane shut down. Mary climbed out and chocked the plane, then joined Ronny, her rifle in her hands. A machete and a Pistol hung on her web belt.
“the only person staying with that plane is Sam, who has no weapons anyway” Mary Stated.
“yes, don’t mind me, I plan on cowering safely in here” Sam called out.
Eric rolled his eyes for a moment as he listened to Mary and ignored Sam, then saw the look on Jared’s face, “ shes steady in a fight, trust me on this okay. “ Jared said, a hint of anger in his voice, he wasn’t happy that Eric seemed to dismiss mary’s value.
“All right then, lets do this” Eric said letting the matter slide, not wanting to get into an argument. “use flashlights for now, lets save the NVG batteries some wear and tear”
Their footsteps echoed hollowly on the pavement, as they walked to the door, shadows flickered at the corner of their eyes, dancing wildly in the swing of lights.
Bailey took position, then knocked on the office door, and waited for a few minutes. Generally that was the safest way, undead were drawn to noise, and would normally bump against the door or start slapping at it alerting those on the other side to their presence.
Jared was at High Ready third in the stack, with Ori as his partner, Eric threw open the door, Bailey went in crouched moving hard and fast, Eric followed swinging left, “ Clear” he called out.
Jared and Ori followed on their heels and took center forward, weapons probing ahead of them. The office, held three desks, a row of filing cabinets against the long interior wall, pictures of various aircraft hung on the wall over the filing cabinets, a chair lay overturned next to one desk, and there was dark stain in the grey carpet next to the fallen chair.
To the left of a desk a door stood open, another door sat in the center of the long interior wall, between the row of filing cabinets. Eric walked in a crouch towards the open door shining a light inside. it was a large storage area, most of the shelves contents were on the ground as if some one had struggled inside, paper, staplers, sticky pads, and all the other types of office supplies lay there covered in dark splotches.
“Door number two” Eric said pointing, Jared nodded and readied himself to go through, Ori flanked him grasping the door handle. While the rest of the team assembled behind them.
Jared knocked twice, waited then knocked again, after hearing nothing, he gave the signal and Ori yanked the door open, Jared moved thru in a crouch, and found himself in a waiting room, a hallway to the left and right, and straight ahead a plate glass door, that gave him a few of the storm wracked night.
In the past, some one had piled up furniture in front of the door, and looped a chain thru the handles and pad locked the door. Jared turned and faced down the right hand hallway, Ori took the left. “Clear”
“Bailey and I, will take the left. Jared, you and Ori take the Right, Ronny your with me, Mary go with Jared.” Eric said as he started down the left hand hallway.
“Mary you stay behind us and cover the rear as we enter each room” Jared said, studying the six doors, three on each side that lined the hallway.
The first room was a private office, the almost skeletal remains of man lay sprawled across the desk, his skull shattered. Jared could only tell it was male by the clothing, especially the shoes, the door directly across was copy room and empty, some one had shot up the copier.
The next two doors were offices as well, Jared entered the fifth door, his mouth tightening into a thin line, anger boiling up but he kept it leashed.
“oh hell” Ori said quietly as Mary cursed from the doorway, then turned and trained her weapon the door directly across from them.
Three woman, naked, bloody, rail thin and badly bruised hung by their wrists from hooks that had been set into the wall. One, a dark haired woman, who had once been attractive opened her eyes, and stared at the sight of two heavily armed men, then sagged in her restraints, tears flowing down her cheeks.
There was no place for any one else to hide, so Jared called out clear, “Mary get in here and see if you can get them down, talk to them, we cant leave them here.” He called out, and then turned to Ori, “ the bastard that did this is probably hiding somewhere in the building, and I want to find his ass.”
Ori nodded, if anything he was just as angry as Jared, it wasn’t bad enough that the world was being eaten alive, but sick shits like this one, had to run around raping and torturing people.
Mary entered and began softly talking to the three women as Jared an Ori returned to the hallway, “ Eric, we found three women, they have been held against their will, raped and tortured.” Jared transmitted as he eyed the closed door directly across from the room that the women had been held in.
There was a long pause “ Roger, we copy three female rape victims” Eric’s voice replied.
“Lets do this” Ori said softly, Jared nodded and Ori threw open the door.
they gathered in the lobby, leaving Mary to with the three woman, Ori crouched by the lobby doors keeping an eye on the outside, hoping to see the convoy pulling in, what he saw were undead, staggering thru the wind and rain. Looking for the source of the lights from earlier no doubt. Thankfully not one zombie had been in position to see the flashlights when they cleared the Lobby.
Jared and Eric had decided switching to NVG’s for now was the best move, to keep from attracting attention to the glass doors.
“Its not enough that the world has ended, but we have to deal with so much scum too. Its like almost all the decent people died, but half the shit heads survived.” Ronny muttered.
“We cant move them, not till the rest get here, and theres more women to help. Post a guard on that room Eric, the rapist, slaver what ever might still be around, and I don’t want to find he slipped back inside and killed them.” Jared said. Eric nodded, and sent Bailey down to stand guard, Ronny went with him.
“look at that” Jill said pointing to the east, Mike peered out the windshield, and spotted it immediately, lights in the sky. Maybe six or seven miles away, and low.
“That’s got to be Ronny,” Mike said, unless someone else had a plane and was insane enough to be in the air at the moment “ they are early, no one has cleared the airport for them, and those lights are going to bring every damn stinky for miles around.”
“I know, we are going to have to hurry:” Jill said thinking, The 88 even with the governor removed could only do about 40, she made a decision.
“Daws, Ed, Get up front we are going for a ride, we have to reach the airport. Chad you keep the rest of the convoy safe.”
Mike wasn’t sure he agreed, but he couldn’t blame her, Jared and the others were going to need support and soon, and the convoy would only be at the most twenty minutes behind them.
The LAV and Stryker barreled past the ELSORV, Mike pulled in behind them and followed. The second ELSORV followed. Mike let Armored vehicles lead, they both had Thermal and night vision, and could look for and spot hazards that mike wouldn’t be able to notice due to the rain beating on his windshield, the remotes on the Vehicles were much better suited for the task.
Daws looked around the dim lit interior at his men, listening to the jokes fly. You could always tell a military man or women, the more tension the more jokes, it might seem odd to civvies but it was a major stress relief. He knew that not all Soldiers got chatty before an engagement, but most did, some prayed, others read, all but a few put off a calm unconcerned appearance.
He focused on the screen once more, watching the green tinged landscape flow past, the water had risen in the Ditches and Creeks, in places it even flowed across the road. over the last year and few months, there had been no one to clean out ditches, remove trash, or repair buildings. Even if this storm proved to be minor, it would do far more damage than other storms like it.
“ this is Team Two to Apocalypse air” He transmitted, then flipped freq’s to the encrypted Channel that Jared had decided on, “ Team two to Road rage” he waited, wondering why Jared had let Ori pick the Code name for the team.
He wasn’t worried, not really, the Radios could be off, they could be inside a structure that cut down on transmission or reception, or even inside a building with enough metal to completely block their radios.
The number of undead outside was beginning to grow, he noted, almost but not quite smiling when Angela swerved to plow through a large crowd. Four died or were trapped when a tree blew over on top of them.
. The route Jill had picked skirted the city of Lumberton to the west, then cut east using a side road, that was already full of pot holes and washed out in places. a few homes appeared, set back on wide overgrown fields, the closer they drew to the interstate, the more buildings they spotted.
They crossed I95, which was full of empty vehicles, except for a half mile stretch that was filled with twisted metal and wreckage from a large aircraft, that had crashed on the interstate. A shell stations parking lot, at the intersection on the east side of 95, was full of undead..
“ half a mile up then get ready to turn left” Jill said, she was taking them the back way into the airport, no one wanted to risk the interstate, between the crowds of zombies that haunted interstates, and the wreckage they would have been slowed down considerably. The trees were swinging in the wind, reminding Daws of news footage from Hurricanes, the wind was that strong, or at least it appeared that way.
Angela took the turn barely slowing, the Stryker actually slid a foot or two to one side in the mud and rising water. She slowed down after that, as they wove thru narrow back roads, past homes on wooded lots.
“Stop at the gate” Daws said seeing the ghostly fence line of the municipal airport just ahead, on his monitor. “Cooper, Jones, get a spare chain, a pad lock and the bolt cutters. I don’t want any zombies entering from this direction”
The four vehicle came to a stop, the ramp on the Stryker dropped and Cooper and Jones charged out into the rain.
“aint this fun shit” Jones called out to Copper, as a quilt work of lightening flickered across the sky, thunder rumbled and shook the air around them. they were already drenched by the time they reached the gate. Jones tucked his rifle to his shoulder covering Cooper who cut the padlock holding the gate closed, and slide the large metal gate open.
“not in my book” Cooper replied loudly, as the Stryker rumbled past, and then pulled off into the grass just past the gate, the other three vehicles rolled past and stopped.
“Lets go” Jones said stepping past the gate, scanning the area for any threats.
Copper rushed over, slipping twice , to grab the gate. Lightening flashed again, and Jones saw two pale faced apparitions appear, ten feet from Cooper. “ Contact” he called out, not sure if Cooper heard him or not..
Jones fired twice, Copper hearing the shots over the storm turned, and saw the threat, stumbling backwards, he tried to bring his MI16 into play but slipped and fell, instantly he was crabbing backwards away from the threat.
More gunfire rang out as his squad dismounted from the Stryker, covering Jones and cooper. Jones rushed forward, keeping low, and reached coopers side, as the man regained his feet, “ holy shit” he exclaimed seeing, the threat in another flash of lightening. Jones had to agree, there were more than the two he had first spotted, there were at least sixty maybe more, and closing in.
“Get the gate” he yelled slapping rifle to shoulder and beginning to pick off targets.
Daws watching on the monitor, swore and turned the remote turret around, there was now way Jones and Cooper were going to get that gate closed in time, not now. “Hunker down boys” he called out over the radio, and begin to fire.
Jones dragged Cooper down, clearing the line of fire, just as the fifty began to fire. Jones imagined he could actually hear rain sizzling from the heat of the heavy rounds passage, who knew he might actually be hearing it. Bodys jerked, shuddered and fell to the ground, like mishappen marionette whose strings had been cut. The heavy weapons fire stopped, and Jones hauled Cooper up, both men grabbed the gate and hauled it closed in a moment, using the time that Daws had bought them.
Daws watched as many of the zombies he had shot staggered back to their feet, the heavy rounds had broken bones and torn away limbs on many of them, but that did nothing to stop them.
Copper slipped the chain around the main post and then the gate, just as pale hands gripped the chain link.
Shuddering with fear and revulsion Copper slipped the padlock thru the chain links and slammed the lock closed. The two men turned and ran thru the rain, dashing up the ramp and into the safety of the Stryker.
“I think I pissed myself” Copper said, almost laughing.
“I did piss myself” Jones said looking down at his soaking wet pants. “ but Just say it was the rain”
There was laughter from the others in the vehicle, as both men dropped onto the bench seat. “ I really need a drink” Cooper said after a moment.
“Ask Ori he always seems to have a bit of moonshine stashed somewhere.” Jones told him.
Daws was busying sweeping the camera around, as the Stryker led the way across the runways, there were few planes here, the ones that remained were parked near the terminal.
He saw no sign of the UV, but there was a large number of undead milling around by the hangars.
“Team two to Road rage” he transmitted.
He was about to give up, when the radio crackled to life, “ Road rage, team two, about damn time.” Eric’s voice said in Daws Ears, “ we have a slight situation here”
“ we see it, we are in sight and south crossing the runways now, hold tight.” Daws said a surge of relief spreading thru him, “ Angela give this lady some gas,”
the Stryker surged ahead, the LAV flanking it on the left, the two ELSORVs with weapons crewed went to the right.
“ hold fire, lets plow the bastards down” Daws said, as they bounced across a grassy median, and then across another Taxiway, the Lumberton Municipal airport was surprisingly larger than he had expected.
The furious sound of the storm masked their approach from the undead, but even they finally noticed the sound of motors, and started to turn just all four vehicles rolled into them, crushing bodies under their tires or sending them flying.
Daws laid a sighting reticule on a knot of undead 35 meters ahead and triggered the Mk 19 walking six grenades thru the crowd, the explosions lit the night for a long minute, shrapnel tore thru the tightly clustered undead, the combined grenades actually wipe d out every zombie in overlapping kill zones leaving steaming hunks of bodies on the ground, ten to 15 meters out, the damage was less sever, but half the zombies in the area lost arms and legs. Cooper whooped in excitement.
Jill slithered into the back, hearing a muttered of apology as Grant received a face full of boob, she grunted and tapped Logan on the leg, “ get down I want up there” she yelled.
Logan dropped back inside, soaking wet, she could tell he was ready to argue but then saw the glint in her eyes, he scooted out of the way, allowing her access to the weapon mount.
The rain lashed at her bare face but she didn’t really feel it, she had to do something other than ride and here she could. She griped the handles, swung the barrel around to point at a group of zombies, and rocked the butterfly trigger. The big gun roared under her touch, and it was like the power of god at her fingertips as the bodies tumbled away shedding parts. She raked her fire across a line of zombies then let off the trigger swinging the weapon around to another loose group of undead dead, Jill smiling like the warrior goddess Ronny had often called her, fired again sending them back to hell.
The movies had it wrong, no surprise really, but a band of people surviving for more than a year, fighting more often than they had down time, became excellent shots, and jelled together as a Team, even when some one did the unexpected in the team, they adapted and flowed with it.
Daws seeing the tracer rounds from the Fifty, added the fire of the Mk 19, to the mix walking HE rounds across the staggering, stumbling mob in the hellish night.
“We are in Hanger three, the Trans Oceania Air hangar” Eric said in Daws ear, “ make damn sure you don’t shoot us, if you don’t mind that is”
“ No problem Jared owes me, a back rub from Jill so I’m not killing him till he stops being a chicken and tells her, I want to see her kick his butt for using her to bet with.” Daws replied,
“He what” Jill said suddenly over the radio.
“Honey I can explain” Jared began only to be cut off by laughter from various radios.
Daws grinned tightly, but it looked like the majority of the undead were either dead and not moving, or crippled and only able to crawl or lay there. The rest were spread out, and could be taken out fairly easily.
“ open the hangar door its clear out here, I’m comi……” her radio went dead, at the moment as a limb born along by the high winds smashed into the ELSORV,
“This is mike, She’s okay, stunned but okay, a limb smacked her, and her radio got knocked out, open those doors” Mike transmitted, as grant and Logan Helped Jill down from the weapons mount.
The large hangar door opened wide enough for the ELSORV to roll into the dark hangar, and come to a stop.
Jared was at the Vehicle door as it came to a stop and pulled it open. Nibbler leaped out, and began dancing around him, tail wagging madly, but Jared didn’t pay her much attention as Logan passed Jill out to him, she grinned weakly up at him, blood running down the side of her head.
“where the hell was your helmet” Jared asked, as he started to check her head, then stopped as Blaine joined him.
“I get helmet head wearing it”she joked.
“ lets get her stretched out and let me check her over Jared” Blaine said, Jared nodded, and together the two men got her laying down, blaine set to work, checking her pupils, asking her questions, as his fingers probed through her thick hair.
“I need to start wearing a helmet more often if you get head for wearing one” Ronny said watching, then grunted as Mary Gibb slapped him hard.
“ you can be such an asshole sometimes” Mary said.
Blaine sat back on his heels and smiled at Jared, “ she will be okay, just a bump and a scratch, probably hurts like hell” he told Jared.
“Probably, I can tell you that personally it does hurt like hell” Jill said, sitting up. “ and what’s this about my owing Daws a back rub, you made the bet you rub his back.”
“I think we need to deal with the undead” Jared said helping her stand, she kissed him on the cheek and smiled for a second.
“how far back is the convoy,” Jared asked her,
“not that far to be honest, ten minutes or so, “ she said checking her watch,
Eric started to turn and head back to the doors to be with his men, when he saw the massive older man with silver and black hair slide out of the ELSORV,
“ I be damned Major Campbell” Eric said striding forward. “How many men are with you” He asked.
Campbell gave him a steely look for a second. “ SFC Stone, unless this is a clown car, or men fly out my ass, I’m alone. What survivors there are, are scattered all over the entire exercise area. And its damn good to see you, last time I heard anything about you where being sent out… someplace on the ass end of nowhere.”
“that was a fun one, we knew it was a shit assignment when they issued us Ky and Hemorrhoid cream before Deployment. “ Eric replied shaking the major’s hand. “didn’t even get a kiss afterwards.”
“Um I hate to point out that there are still zombies outside, lots of zombies” Jill commented. “ Just thought Id bring the topic up, since you two seem really into this talk of men in your asses and KY “
Ori burst into laughter, as he readied his HK and started moving for the hangar doors, where the rest of the SF men stood guard.
Jared checked his melee weapons, then slung the Mk 32 across his back and made sure he had a bandolier of the special 40mm shotgun shells. Satisfied , he moved to join Ori.
“ lets move it people, Ronny stop shirking and get over here “ Jared called out, Ronny grinned at him, swept mary into his arms kissed her heavily.
“Ill be right back, then we can finish that kiss” He said then ran over to Jared.
Mary looked at the three men, the last of the Dirty Dozen, framed in the doorway with a storm raging outside, “ you had better come back to me, All of you”she whispered, Jill took her hand and squeezed,
“They will Mary, they will” Jill replied, as she gazed at her husband, then got to her feet, brushing Blaines hands away. “ get over there and help them solider, mary and I can hold the fort here.” Jill said as she retrieved her weapon from the ELSORV.
“Hi Im Sam” Jill turned puzzled at the sound of a voice she didn’t recognize. “I can not believe the day Im having, a plane rescued by crazed men, and now good looking ladies.”
Mary sighed, but a strained smile crossed her face, “Jill meet Sam. Be prepared he is like Ronny only worse.”
Footing was bad for the men, even worse for the undead, and the wind only added to their problems. The vehicles charging around the ramp, were keeping the numbers thinned, but it also added to the number of crawlers, Jared thought as he used his blades, moving thru the carpet of writhing twisting corpses, it was a sickening Job, but it had to be done.
The wind shredded the stench and tore it away, the rain kept the gore from building up, but the lightening, the lightening revealed, the faces of men, women and even children. Faces stripped of all humanity, faces that had once smiled with out blood strained lips and broken teeth, faces that had shown love, hope, joy, even hate, now twisted with a dark hunger that was literally soul deep.
“Crusher to Road rage, entering Combat area from south, stand by for assistance” Jared heard in his ear bud, the convoy had finally arrived. “be advised, contact with force to our rear five minutes ago, took light fire, no wounded.”
”Roger that, welcome to the party’ Jared responded, contact with another force, Damn it, it had to be Simms, if there were this many damn militia units rolling around, he was just going to pack up and head back to Sullivan, it was getting to damn crowded with bad guys.
“I wonder if we can do a time out with the new bad guys” Ori asked wrenching his machete from the skull of a man dressed in scrubs.
Jared was silent for a moment, wondering when they had become so comfortable with this kind of slaughter that it had become normal. Damn who ever was responsible for this, even if we win, our souls are stained for ever. He thought as he watched a child, its legs and one arm crushed by a vehicle writhe and claw its way towards him, its little body dressed in ragged, filthy pajama’s with Calvin and hobbes on them.
He just stood there watching it come, at him, crawling over corpses, its teeth snapping feverishly, its hair plastered to its little skull. “ Jared kill it” Ori called out.
“I’ve killed so many kids since this started Ori, you would think the shock and revulsion would have gone by now, but it hasn’t” Jared commented.
Ori stared at him for a moment, fearing that Jared had finally lost it, Ori started to step towards the child, when Jared put his boot on the kids head and held it in place, the one pale hand pawing at jareds boot.
Jared stood there staring for a moment, thankful that no one could see the sudden tears that tracked down his face, as he stared into the kids chubby ravaged face. “I’m sorry “He whispered, seeing Billy Thornton laying there in his mind. “I’m really sorry Kid” he drew the Mk 23 and fired once. And the old anger, rose up, washing through him, as he thought of all the loss, all the wasted dreams and life. Mark, Steve, Billy, and so many others who died following him.
He gazed out into the Night, and spotted the convoy rolling across the airport, behind them, he saw distant lights flare to life near the fence line, Bring it on you bastards, I’m sick and tired of this shit he thought, then keyed his radio. “ Rob, get your flame thrower out, finish off the crippled, lets have some light to party with.. Team leaders met me at the hangar ASAP.”
the undead staggered toward the airport, following I 95, another huge band swept out of Lumberton across the bridges and thru the subdivision, fire and light erupted in the distance, they all stopped at the airport fence, as the lightening blazed across the sky, the rain hammered their flesh, the wind tore at their ragged clothing.
A silent hungry army, in the darkness, their will subverted by another, who would chose the proper time to send them in against those it wanted dead. Its Lieutenant was almost in place now. the only thing not in its plans was the storm, the storm that shouldn’t have hindered it, but had. The Light moved once more, but It had planned well, this was its time and it would not be denied.
Jill Stood back watching as Ed directed vehicles into the Hangar, outside, she could see the orange flickering light of fire, as the flame thrower mounted on the beast was finally put to use, the burning line of jellied fuel swept back and forth across the writhing twisting mass of undead setting them alight, it didn’t take long for the corpses to stop moving, and jill was thankful the wind kept her from smelling the burning flesh.
The enemy who ever the hell it was, had stopped at the fence line, giving them precious time to get organized, five extra minutes so far, it might not sound like a lot, but it mattered.
Jared hunkered down behind the hastily erected cover, watching the distant lights, he had given up on his NV binoculars, the rain was too heavy to see crap at that distance.
Eric was ready, he had broken out a few surprises, that should rock these assholes back on their heels, the Lav and Stryker were setup to support and he had clear fields of interlocking fire to engage the vehicles. The flow of undead had trickled to a stop, which made things easier for all concerned.
Ori, and Castor had set up their sniper positions, and they were about as ready as they could be given the situation.
Jared, forced his anger back, and leashed it to his will. Now that he had, had a few minutes to think this over, he was almost certain it was one of two groups, either the Group Simms had tailing him, or the idiots from Hot springs, judging by the location the convoy had contacted them, he was betting on Hot Springs.
Well boys, we aren’t running today, its late and I’m tired, here we stand, and not a foot more will we retreat., he paraphrased, not able to remember exactly who had said it first.
Across the dark landscape Landry sat in his command vehicle, his radio off, the men around him uncomfortable as their leader smiled at nothing and welcomed a dead woman to sit with him, Landry didn’t notice, he was to busy reveling in his wifes love, never noticing the jet black orbs where her green eyes should have been.
Over them all hovered the outriders of a Hurricane that was drawing ever closer, on its winds, through the boiling clouds, and cold sheets of rain, rode the Valkyries, the choosers of the Slain.
Excerpt from Battle song of the Valkyries
“Wind we, wind swiftly
Our warwinning woof.
When sword-bearing rovers
To banners rush on,
Mind, maidens, we spare not
One life in the fray!
We corse-choosing sisters
Have charge of the slain.
“Now new-coming nations
That island shall rule,
Who on outlying headlands
Abode ere the fight;
I say that King mighty
To death now is done,
Now low before spearpoint
That Earl bows his head.
“Soon over all Ersemen
Sharp sorrow shall fall,
That woe to those warriors
Shall wane nevermore;
Our woof now is woven.
Now battlefield waste,
O’er land and o’er water
War tidings shall leap
“Now surely ’tis gruesome
To gaze all around.
When bloodred through heaven
Drives cloudrack o’er head;
Air soon shall be deep hued
With dying men’s blood
When this our spaedom
Comes speedy to pass.”