Chapter 23

“This is the midnight-let no star
Delude us-dawn is very far.
This is the tempest long foretold-
Slow to make head but sure to hold

Stand by! The lull ‘twixt blast and blast
Signals the storm is near, not past;
And worse than present jeopardy
May our forlorn to-morrow be.

If we have cleared the expectant reef,
Let no man look for his relief.
Only the darkness hides the shape
Of further peril to escape.

It is decreed that we abide
The weight of gale against the tide
And those huge waves the outer main
Sends in to set us back again.

They fall and whelm. We strain to hear
The pulses of her labouring gear,
Till the deep throb beneath us proves,
After each shudder and check, she moves!

She moves, with all save purpose lost,
To make her offing from the coast;
But, till she fetches open sea,
Let no man deem that he is free!”

~Kipling

Jared stood out of the way, watching as the 88 placed the last car in the semi circle in front of the hangar, trucks moved back and forth, running from the various operations buildings and back to the Hangar, where more and more of those vehicles would enter the hanger and park.

He glanced across the rain shrouded airport grounds to the distant , still unmoving lights of the enemy. He hoped they were able to see some of this dog and pony show. As vehicles parked in the hangers, the driver would slip out the back of the hangar, and be taken by one of the ELSORVs to another vehicle, at the moment there was an ambulance, stripped of all its goodies, a ¾ ton truck, two package vans, a fuel truck, and an RV found in the parking lot.

The main part of the airport was roughly v shaped, with the terminal and parking ramp at the point and the hangars and other operations buildings, like the fire station, maintenance, frame and power shops spread along the limbs.

The only section the Hot springs, assholes could see, was the arm of the v the ran west. And the terminal of course.

Why they had given him almost an hour to prepare was beyond him, but there it was. The storm had actually weakened the rain had fallen to a drizzle but the wind had barely fallen, during that time, only to grow in strength in once more.

He stepped back as the second fuel truck this one empty, rolled past him and entered the hanger. He hoped they didn’t have to use those trucks, but if they did, then it would be well worth it to make the deception work.

the 88 finished placing the car, turned and trundled back towards the Terminal where it would take station to cover the gate.

He was about as ready as they could get at this point, the LAV anchored the west end of the vehicle wall, the Stryker the east end, the Beast backed into the hangar, ready to roll out and help defend the center where Rob had mounted his Flame thrower on a tripod.

He glanced at the terminal, where Eric had set up an OP, with Garret as his radioman, not that he need one, but the boy, Jared shook his head, no lets face it that the kid has became a man after all this time, had insisted he wanted to help. Jared had placed him up top with Eric, as spotter and Radio, which would Leave Eric free, to engage the APCs with that damn awful package weapon.

The men assigned to the Defensive wall were taking their places, Daws had dismounted his team, on the east end since the plan didn’t call for maneuvering. Ed and his team were on the west end.

From here they had a clear field of fire, across the field, but visibility would cut the engagement range down greatly, unless of course the other side left their headlights on when they advanced.

I’m tired, damn I’m tired Jared told himself, watching Ronny as he talked quietly Mary, they embraced and shared a kiss, then Mary headed back to the hangar, where the convoy waited.

If this works they will be safe, Jared told himself, and if we die, they should still be safe, and once Calloway and his goons have gone, the convoy can rush back to Sullivan.

He looked up as the thunder cracked overhead and a curtain of rain swept back over the area, reducing visibility once more.

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

Calloway could barely make out the Vehicle that drove slowly perpendicular to the fence line, maybe two hundred feet out from the hangar where it appeared most of the people and vehicles were gathered. It was hard to tell, the rain blurred things up, and it several of their large trucks were driving around in front of the hangars.

He knew they were up to something, but what they were up to was the real question, Landry had insisted on their waiting to attack, he claimed another vision, that god would aid them, Calloway wasn’t sure what to think about that, considering that not a single new undead had shown up looking for a meal, since they had dispatched the sixty or so that had been at the gate when they arrived.

That alone was odd, with all the vehicles sitting here idling with lights blazing the undead should be every where. He shrugged, not really caring, it allowed him to go thru the gates, dismount his men and advance across the airport, using the APC’s to shield his ground fighters.

The other side had no tanks, but they still had that big fucking gun that had shot holes in two of his vehicles, back at hot springs. Hopefully they had little ammo for the damn thing.

His plan such as it was, was to use the three remaining Strykers, to go far east inside the fence line, using the storm for cover, while the remaining six M113s advanced laying down fire from their .50 caliber machine guns, he would risk using up the limited ammo for those weapons, he could get more from the same place they had recovered the vehicles, once this was over.

Landry had discovered the Cache site in an old mine tunnel, there had been no real question who had placed it there, the US military, there had been Rv’s, cases of MRE’s, APC’s, weapons, ammo, body bags, hand tools, anything and everything that could be used to retake and rebuild a major city, had been locked behind a massive wall, with a huge steel door in the center of the wall, hidden deep in the shaft. The shaft was wide enough to allow two big trucks to drive side by side

The place had been unassuming, just another abandoned mine, behind a fence to keep the curious separated from the supposed dangers inside. the Property was marked with danger signs and no trespassing.

Judging from the age of most the equipment and material inside, it must have been started during the cold war, and barely added to over the last twenty years. That cache had been the miracle they needed to build Hot springs up.

He glared at the distant enemy, all the work he had put in, the hundreds of clearing missions on the train, the supplies, gathering survivors, his power, had been mauled by those people over there. Well he was going to kill them, and take everything they had, and maybe spare the women, the rest would die. With their supplies, he could recoup the loses they had inflicted.

“Officer Calloway, you can proceed now” Landry said over the radio. Calloway smiled as he started issuing Orders.

The chain on the gate was cut and one by one his vehicles pulled onto the airport grounds. His infantry, nervous but determined, spread out in a skirmish line behind the APC’s, the trucks holding spare munitions would stay back, only rushing up when it was safe for the troops to reload.

Arthur, stood in the rain, clutching the old M16, a battered shot gun slung across his back, he didn’t want to be here. But it wasn’t like he had a choice, his wife and daughter were essentially hostages, but thank god safe from being raped or abused, so far their safety was dependent on his doing what he was told.

He wasn’t alone in that situation either, all ten of the men, in his so called platoon were in the same situation. They had spent many nights, discussing it in whispered conversations, if any one heard them, it would mean harsh punishments for their families.

he hated that he had survived and protected his family only to fall prey to that bastard Calloway. He should have stayed in the one semi safe place they had found. He snorted, found my ass, a soldier on the road told you about it.

at the signal he doubled checked that the gate was closed, then joined his platoon and started walking forward, he had no real choice, his family like the others were in RVs parked three miles from here.

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

“ They are through the gate” the Teen aged boy next to him said. Eric nodded and lifted his scope to his eye as he touched a button activating the thermal feature.

“Looks like six APC’s and a line of men behind them, some are clustered behind the APC’s, the rest of the infantry are behind them spread in a skirmish line, three vehicles are heading east, probably in an attempt to flank.” He said, listening as the kid repeated it over the radio. “Tell Parks and Martinez, to prepare a reception for our friends sneaking around back.” Eric would leave it up to them to deal with, in the quick planning session, they had already decided to use, Parks, Martinez, and Jills team to deal with any one trying to come up from the east behind the hangars.

Eric didn’t really need a radio man, but the Kid, Garret had insisted on helping out. From what Eric had heard, Garret was an incredible shot with the bow he carried. He would almost have rather hidden the entire group of Teens from the archery club out there to snipe off the ground personnel, but he hadn’t been sure the bad guys would dismount their foot. And even if they did, the second some one spotted those kids, the heavy weapons on the APC’s would have eaten them alive.

Not to mention that Eric rather doubted a bow would do much good in this weather, he found himself, mildly amused at the thought of arrows whipping around 180 degrees Driven by the wind and flying for a mile or so before some poor family of squirrels found themselves under attack.

The enemy had given Eric and the others far to much time to prepare, not that he wouldn’t have appreciated another hour or two. Now it was down a matter of waiting for the first shot, and it would come as soon as the other side had a clear view of the hanger, Eric was certain of that.

Jared crouched behind the semi circular wall of cars The rain stinging as it hit his face, There was little else to use for cover out here. His biggest worry had been the main gate to the public side of the airport, but the last thing the 88 had done was too pull two cars in front of the gate to block it. Assuming all the other gates remained closed and that the fence wasn’t knocked down, no undead should be able to get inside and screw things up.

“Well they are coming” Ronny said, popped his head back below the car he sheltered behind. “ And these cars aren’t going to do shit to stop a .50, or do much to slow down a SAW.”

“True, but every little bit helps, remember as soon as they open up, hug the damn ground and let Ori, Castor and Eric deal with the threat.” Jared told him, Ronny grinned at him and grabbed his crotch.

“No problem got to keep Mary’s toys safe you understand” Ronny laughed.

“You are the weirdest man I have ever met” Jared replied with a ghost of a smile in the rain.

“Face it, every man with a woman, is owned, most just refuse to admit it. Me and Mary are honest about it.” Ronny said grinning.

Jared shook his head again and looked back over the car, the burning pile of bodies was flickering now, as it began to die, the stench of the burning bodies was thankfully carried away from them by the wind.

“Never thought Id be burning bodies,” Jared muttered as he ducked back down.

“Never thought Id be hunkered behind a car, at an airport in America, waiting for a fire fight in a world full of flesh eating zombies” Ronny said leaning his back against the car and double checking his weapon out of nervous habit. “But here I am, soiling my tighty whiteys waiting to be shot at”

“Well as Birthdays go, your having a hell of a time, ” Jared said, Ronny looked surprised.

“What’s today” He asked,

“Well its after midnight, on the 27th, your birthday” Jared said.

“I be damned, and a BBq to boot. I haven’t even thought about my birthday, since, well since this shit began” Ronny said.

“Keep your ass alive and I have a present for you, spent days shopping around for it” Jared said.

“Oh hey, the plane is the perfect gift, for the man who has the world to scavange” Ronny replied. “Oh man,” Ronny said suddenly excited, “that means birthday spanking, tonight is going to be fun”

Jared laughed for a moment, “you my friend are twisted.” Jared commented.

Over the wind and rain Jared heard a fifty open up, “ down, down down” He shouted grabbing Ronny by the shoulder and hauling him down to the pavement were the water was an inch deep already. “and don’t fucking drown on me either”

“Your sounding more and more like pappy,” Ronny said, bullets ripped huge holes in the car just above their heads.

“got your pappy right here you disease infested, pole riding Austrian whore” Jared said imitating Pappy, the men down the line of cars, turned their heads to look at Ronny, who started laughing loudly. They shook their heads, some few grinned their tension dropping a notch.

“don’t you mean Korean” Ronny asked with a grin.

“Naw I thought I spread the insults around some” Jared replied.

At least the idiots over there had bought our little stage show Jared thought, as .50 caliber bullets hammered at the wall of cars, metal ripping like tissue, glass shattering and raining down around them. As long as they didn’t figure out that the hangar they were attacking was mostly empty, things should go good.

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

Eric watched the Advancing APC’s through the thermal sight, then placed his cross hairs on the heat bloom of the APC at the furthest end of the line. he fired a heartbeat later.
The 25mm HEDP round, ripped thru the wind and rain, and punched through the Aluminum body of the M113, blasting a huge divot in the engine. The vehicle died, clanking onwards for a foot or two then stopped the men inside clambered out, all of them but one, the man who manned the .50 cal. Eric left him for the others to deal with and picked his next target.

Ori lay on the roof of a small hangar, being a sniper had never been something he wanted to do, no matter how good he was with a weapon not when his friends were down there in danger. But a sniper was needed and Ori was one of the best shots in the group, and he could do something about that danger up here, he thought as he settled his sights on the head of a man firing a 50 cal. And smoothly pulled the trigger, the mans head jerked back, the hair and bone blowing back behind him. The body slumped over the weapon.

“Roll the Duece” Jared said over the radio, praying that none of his people had been hit. And knowing that it was futile, with this much fire there had to be wounded, even possibly dead.

The old Deuce affectionately called the Beast by the Group, rolled out of the Hangar, the Saw mounted on its roof, firing down range as soon as it was clear of the hanger. Instantly there was return fire, as the two of the Remaining enemy .50’s opened up. One was not on a vehicle Jared saw, following the tracers back to their point of Origin. They had set up a machine gun nest. Some one was on the ball over there he thought.

The heavy slugs tore into the Armor Rob had installed, last year, ripping away the metal louvers, smashing thru the metal plates. Dylan who manned the SAW, went over backwards, whether hit or just getting out of the line of fire, Jared didn’t know, the Beast suddenly veered out of control and smashed into the cars placed around the front of the hangar.

Jared hoped like Hell that Robs boyfriend wasn’t the Driver, but at least he knew Rob wasn’t driving tonight, he had made sure of that, Rob had turned out to be incredible valuable to the group, and Jared wasn’t going to risk him unless he had too.

Jared already had the MK 32 up and sighted by the time the Beast hit the Cars, taking into account the wind direction and its speed, he angled his shot further east of the position, then fired, the sound, normally fairly light, was lost on the wind.

His first grenade detonated five feet short of the target, the second landed just three feet past the target, which didn’t mean all that much, as both grenades detonated with in two seconds of each other. Bracketing the gunner and the men sheltering with the gunner, in the overlapping kill zones, twin fires bloomed for a moment then were gone, but the machine gun fire stopped from the hastily set up weapons pit.

He hated the rush he felt as they died, but they chose to attack his people, they set the rules by being wanna be warlords in his country, so fuck them, he thought angrily.
“is it over” Ronny asked from the ground, he laughed for a moment out of relief.

“no its almost time for you to join the party though” Jared said, as the line of APCs continued onwards trying to protect the men behind them with their bodies, after the third replacement gunner had been shot down, they had given up on manning the weapons on the pintle mounts, with the APC’s teeth pulled, there were no real threat.

Jared, could finally see the enemy foot, not clearly no, but well enough, half followed behind the M113’s, the squads, for lack of a better term, were staying in the ruts left by the tracks. Another line of what looked like two platoon sized elements advancing in a skirmish line.

The M113’s trundled past the invisible line they had decided on twenty feet from the edge of the last Taxiway, and up on the Terminal roof, Garret triggered the explosives.

The Propane tanks, stripped from baggage handling carts and two forklifts, had been set out quickly by Martinez and Blaine, supplemented by the ten Rob already had built and stored weeks ago.

Each propane tank had a C4 charge with a remote detonator, courtesy of the SF, attached, and had been placed in a pattern that Parks and Ori had worked out over the Hood of the ELSORV.

All but three charges detonated just behind and to the sides of the APC’s. one detonated in the middle of a squad, another went off under an APC, a third detonated in sound and fury but out of range of anything. The shrapnel from the improvised bombs might or might not punch thru the thin walls of the M113, and might even do some additional damage, the whole point was to strike at the attackers moral, explosions were great for that normally.

The men using the APC’s as cover, were shredded, an unintended consequence, but not one Jared was going to feel bad about. About eight survived unscathed, and were running back to the Skirmish line, they left behind scattered bodies of the dead and wounded, Jared couldn’t tell exactly how many, from here, and the ones that still lived, in that pile of tangled and torn bodies, were going to start screaming in a few minutes as the corpses of their buddies sat up and started feasting on them.

by luck more than anything else, one M113 lost a track in the explosion of a nearby propane tank, the driver of another panicked and tried to turn and flee, smashing into a second APC with a crunch and a grind of metal on metal. The two vehicles stopped, The rest came on, still trying to shield the remaining men behind them.

The men inside those APC’s piled out and came on, laying down a hail of gunfire, moving forward in leaps and bounds.

An M113 rolled up onto the taxiway, and stopped as something exploded in the motor. A third, clanked to a stop as its driver died from a 25mm HEDP round, the troops inside leaped out and began to try and flank the Hangars defenses.

The Final APC, turned on the Taxi way and raced away leaving the men on foot, to their fate, it only made twenty five feet, before two HEDP rounds disabled its motor. Bursting into flames as one of the explosive rounds detonated its fuel tanks.

The men on foot were no better soldiers than those found in the Middle East, but they were the most gung ho, and highly dedicated to Landry and his new religion, they felt fear, but it was secondary to the glory of the new god.

Or rather as Landry put it, the original god that had been replaced by a warped version in the old world, Where evil had influenced the founders of the old religion, erasing the truth about the end of the world, in its attempt to stop the sword of God from being unsheathed against the undead and the apostate till it was far to late.

They laid down a wall of fire, as they advanced, most crouching, not out of training but instinctively to try to present a smaller profile, in the hopes they might not be shot.

Their fire wasn’t accurate, but there was so much of it, that their odds of hitting some one was much higher than it might otherwise be.

A bullet ripped past Jared tearing a bloody furrow in his cheek, he fire off two more HE Rounds, and ducked back down. All he needed was to get close with the grenades , he was counting on the shock of real combat scaring the hell out of men used to facing zombies and armed civilians.

“your hit” Ronny said, kneeling now that the machine guns were out of play across the field.

“its nothing” Jared said as he loaded WP rounds into the M 32, they had plenty of white phosphorus rounds, since they were of little use against zombies, but great on people and for setting fires. Jared generally despised them, but since the whole point was to get the enemy to break and run, WP would do the job, it all boiled down to not having enough in stock of the other rounds for the grenade launchers. Not if he wanted to have enough to engage Simms on something like equal footing.

Jared could feel the hot blood flowing down his cheek and was glad Jill wasn’t up front to see it, last thing he needed was for her to pop up and starting hosing the area with weapons fire, like Princess vespa after getting her hair shot. his smile of humor turned almost instantly into a wince of pain from the wound on his cheek.

“Ready?” He asked looking at Ronny who nodded, Ronny popped up with the SAW placing it on the hood and began to lay down withering covering fire. Jared, the M32 against his shoulder rose and pulled the trigger, walking the rounds across the area.

The M32, was able to put all six rounds downrange in two seconds, Jared had often dreamed of having a huge magazine for one, but six shots were more than enough. There was a smattering of return fire, and both he and Ronny ducked back down, 5.56 rounds at fifty meters could usually penetrate the side of a vehicle, but lost enough force it was unable to punch through the other side.

The fight was intensifying, the enemy foot, were pouring it on. Mostly spray and pray, either they had way more ammunition than Jared’s people or they didn’t care.

“ BBQ up” Jared shouted over the radio, a second later a line of fire ripped out from the center of the defensive wall and began to sweep back and forth, rain turned to steam, Jared had purposely called it in while most of the enemy were just out of range, but not all of them were. Screams tore the night, as the six men were engulfed in flames. Jared shuddered hating himself for what he had just ordered, but by god if it broke their moral and sent them fleeing, he could live with it.

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

Ori lay on the roof of the control tower, watching as a pale faced man, injured badly, tried to crawl away from one of his buddies who had developed a sudden interest in human flesh. Ori settled his sights on the zombies forehead, and pulled the trigger, the zombie lurched, the left side of its skull blowing out and then it toppled over.

Good luck Ori wished the wounded man, as he shifted to another target. He didn’t mind killing his enemy, but he would be damned before he let those his own people had killed eat the wounded.

He ignored every man running, or crawling back towards their trucks, he had no interest in killing those who had no desire to fight. Spotting another man who was crawling on his belly, away from three crippled zombies, Ori shot the zombies down, then shifted his sights to a man who was trying to rally ten others into a charge against the wall of cars.

Should have stayed down and invisible Ori thought, as he lined up the shot, consulted his BORs made the adjustments and then pulled the trigger. The man had no sooner hit the ground than six of the ten turned and began to run back towards the trucks.

That’s it boys, you just run home so we don’t have to kill any more of you than necessary Ori thought, as he sought out another target and saw a man laying in the grass, he couldn’t see him distinctly, not in this storm, but he could see him well enough, another shape loomed up in the rain behind the prone figure, moving with a familiar jerky gait.

Ori lifted his aim up and lined his crosshairs up on where the head should be and pulled the trigger.

Arthur was shaking, with fear, he had some how made it thru the explosions, and had crawled back towards the trucks, he was scared, damn scared. he had never even touched a weapon till the day the zombies came, hadn’t even owned a weapon. If the man who had saved Arthur’s daughter hadn’t given him the shot gun slung across his back, they would have died that day. and now he was in a war, a fucking war at the end of the world. He would have given anything to be an Office manager again.

But what choice did he have, he asked himself, it was either fight or have his family suffer.

Up till the time these people had rolled through Hot Springs, the only thing Arthur and his platoon had been used for was scavenging, and Guard duty, occasionally some one would take shots at them, and they would fire back. But that had been the extent of it, till now. Calloway had been furious at the attack on Hot Springs, calling it cowardly, craven and a ton of other things. Never mind that Calloway had done worse, much worse to the other groups he had found out about.

As gun fire cracked over his head, a body fell across Arthur’s Legs, he choked back a scream and kicked his way loose, waiting to feel hands ripping into him, and teeth chewing thru his skin. It took him a moment to realize the corpse was dead, and in a flash of lightening, he could see the white, blue tinged skin and the bullet hole between the milky eyes.

his mind raced, and he shuddered as he realized just how close he had come to dying, and if he died here, his wife and daughter would be thrown into the pool for the surviving men, and if he did live and they lost here, his family would probably be killed or taken with the men who ran.

Free of the zombie corpse, he wondered for half a second why the enemy would actually be killing the zombies, saving the men they were fighting. He didn’t understand it, but he was damn thankful for it.

His thoughts jangled to a halt, as glowing white clouds of smoke began to erupt one by one, the smoke was quickly spread by the winds, he heard a few screams, and some one shouting “put it out”. he had seen stuff like that on the military channel nasty stuff, but considering what Calloway would do to any survivors, Arthur couldn’t blame them.

Bullets plucked at the grass nearby as some one behind that line of cars fired at Daniel Bliss, Bliss screamed and fell prone, sobbing, loud enough that Arthur could hear him over the storm. “Hang on and stay still, “ Arthur called out to Daniel.

He lay there in the mud and rain, with the wind moaning over him, and watched as people died around him. Several had broke and ran, where they planned on going with so few vehicles and zombies outside the fence he Arthur didn’t know, he only knew that no matter what he did now, his wife and daughter were probably dead, or would be raped.

. He tasted the ashes of failure, all that he had done since that damned day, had been to protect them and save them, and he had ended up failing them. around him the storm raged almost as strong as the sense of anger and failure in his heart.

Then the enemy machine guns opened up, creating an interlocking web of fire, they were firing so fast, the tracer rounds looked like laser beams sweeping across what was left of the Prophets men.

Arthur wasn’t the only one grabbing grass, and praying, about half of his platoon were doing the same thing, no one wanted to die for the insane men that controlled them. but they faced more threats than just bullets, men who had just minutes before been alive, were now sitting up, the wounds that had killed them, hadn’t been in the head. the screams of the wounded, doubled as their former friends started to feast.

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

Parks, poncho snapping in the wind, popped the door to the brick maintenance building, Parks had chosen it because it allowed him to see both ways along the North arm of the V, and keep an eye on the gate near the Terminal, “stay sharp,” He told the tall slender Dark haired man in a yellow rain suit.

They didn’t have much time to get into position but Parks was dammed if he was going to rush and end up getting teeth in his butt, because he didn’t take the time to check for undead. .

He stepped in side, the light mounted to the pictaney rail on his M-4 sending a bright beam of light spearing ahead of him.

Dale nodded, already scared spit less, the weather was bad enough, but this kind of weather and zombies was enough to make the twenty year old, expect to see ghosts, and vampires out there too. It was as bad as any horror movie he had ever seen, with visibility cut down to twenty feet or so.

The door closed behind them, and only the drum of the rain on the roof, and the wind slapping against the building remained.They were in a break room, a doorway to the right, led into a locker room, which was empty.

The door straight across led into a short hall with six doors, three to each side. Dale grew nervous as parks opened each door, looking inside. Two bathrooms blessedly empty, and four offices, also empty. At the end of the hall was another doorway beyond they could see shelves and work benches.

“We only need to use the office with the window” Dale said quietly as they moved quickly checking down each aisle.

‘True, but would you prefer to have a door blown open and find out the hard way there’s a zombie in here.” Parks said even quieter, then held up a hand. Dale crouched down and turned to cover their rear, just in case.

a zombie stood near the loading dock door, it didn’t seem to notice Parks who drew his combat knife and glided closer, as silent as a cat.

He was on top of it, before the zombie finally sensed him, it turned faster than he would expected its mouth yawning open. Parks slammed his knife up through its jaw, and into its brain. He yanked his blade out stepping to the side as the body collapsed.

Outside they could hear the distant fire fight, “lets finish this, its not going to be long now” Parks said as the checked the last aisle and then looked into the caged tool room.

As soon as they were sure the place was secured, Parks ran to the office that gave a view of the access road , he couldn’t seen much with this weather, but that was okay for the moment. .

Dale knelt and slipped off the Duffel bag he had been carrying, and opened it up and began pulling out the weapons inside.

There was a double click on the radio, telling Parks that Martinez was in place. Hope fully this little ambush would work, if not, well, he was screwed. As he set up his hide, he waited for an indication that Jared’s wife was in place. In his opinion she was the weak link in the plan. But if Jared and Eric were willing to trust her, then he wasn’t going to complain.

Dale pulled on the combat vest loaded with magazines, he smiled grimly, terrified of what was coming, when he had left Drake and the group, he had know that things were going to be dangerous, but till now he had never faced a battle with actual people, and he was scared, you could see a zombie coming, well most of the time, but bullets you couldn’t see, till you were on your butt and your life was leaking out.

He checked his Berretta to make sure it didn’t bind in its holster, then slung the Siago shotgun across his back, before picking up the AR. He was about as ready weapon wise as he could be, bravery wise was yet to be seen he thought as he tried not to look at his shaking hands.

“take the safety off,” Parks said, pointing to the AR. Dale blushed and set the weapon to fire. “don’t worry, youll do fine” Parks assured him. “ your only job is to cover my ass, Ill do most of the shooting”

Dale nodded opening his mouth but didn’t speak as the Radio clicked three times. “Jills in position” Parks remarked. They sat quietly for a few more minutes then a rapid double click a pause and a single click, the Targets were moving into the ambush zone. Parks slid open the window, there he thought he could see three shadows moving towards the Terminal, he pulled his head back into the room and readied the Javelin.

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

The plan was a good one, Calloway had thought, the three Strykers, had charged across the airfield out of sight of the Enemy, and then swung west following the fence line till they reached the last hangar on the north end.

He had wanted to see what if anything this Jared person might have been doing up on this end, since he had seen what looked like trucks heading north along the ramp, not finding any thing obvious, they headed towards the terminal, where he planned on using the access road and striking that asshole from behind.

.

And of course his plan, fell part, as they moved onto the access road pausing long enough to dismount the troops in Calloways Stryker, and then advanced south.

Calloway’s first mistake had been turning off the Radio to escape Landry’s incessant preaching, as a result he had no idea that the men and APC’s he had left to draw attention away from the Stryker’s were being routed, and that Jared had already dispatched his LAV and Stryker, along with two trucks to gather survivors and the wounded. The few combatants still attacking were isolated and being put down quickly and efficiently.

It also kept him from hearing Landry’s shouted warning, as a rocket flashed from a window of the brick building they were just passing, it wasn’t till debris began raining down around his own vehicle that he began to turn the turret around and flipped the radio back on.

Landry was shouting something about the enemy and the turret to his Stryker was already rotating around to fix on a brick building, then it opened fire.

Dale had never seen anything like this, hell he had never been involved with anything like this, he was still gawking at the wrecked and burning Armored vehicle, when Parks talked him and took him to the ground, “ what the hell man, I’m…” Dale shouted then his mouth snapped shut as huge holes appeared in the wall, glass shattered and blew over them, dust and shards of brick and cement whined thru the air. Parks gasped in pain as a splinter of wood six inches long pierced his bicep and a brick shard punched into his thigh.

The cap Dale was wearing was snatched off his head, and what ever had taken it left a bloody furrow across the top of his head.

“Holy shit” he yelped then seeing the blood pouring down Parks arm and leg, he grabbed parks by the collar of his combat vest and began to pull him towards the doorway, he gawked for a second at the half of door that remained, then Parks pulled him down to the floor as the a storm of gunfire tore into the wall and the room beyond.

Calloway swore and climbed up into the gunners hatch, and grabbed the handle of the machine gun mounted there. He squeezed the rocker trigger and added his fire to Landry’s, amazed as the wall around the window was pulverized.

His second mistake, was not paying attention to his surroundings, he focused only on the immediate threat.

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

Jill crouched by the rear door of the hangar four, tense but ready. She could hear the fire fight outside, it sounded bad, but she had faith that Jared would make it through what ever was thrown his way.

Mike was pale, he still suffered the shakes prior to any kind of fight, but the hesitation that had afflicted him for so long was a thing of the past. His mouth was a tight grim line, but the hands the held his AR were steady.

Logan looked bored, she smiled slightly, he was good at putting on a solid front, but she knew the Handsome younger man too well, he was just as nervous as the rest of them, this was the same young man that had managed to gather thirty some odd College students on the UT campus and gotten them off campus at the height of the zombies sweep across Knoxville.

The rest seemed about as nervous and just as determined not to show it. the weakest one on her Team tonight was Thomas. He was brave enough certainly, but he just wasn’t as physically tough as most of the People in the convoy. Jared usually wanted him on Watch, he was good as a guard, but tonight Jill had picked Thomas so Jared could keep Jeb with him out front.

The sudden signal that the Enemy had appeared in the target area and dropped troops, took her by surprise, she motioned every one to be Ready, and then opened the door, and the team slipped out into the rain behind the hangar.

They moved forward slowly to keep from splashing in the water collecting on the Pavement. Jill could hear low voices just ahead, and held up a hand. She said a quick prayer, and waited for the signal. She wasn’t supposed to do a thing till Parks or Martinez started the ball rolling.

The explosion of the first Stryker took her and the others by surprise, but only for a moment, with a wave of her hand she led her team forward, nervous as hell, with out Jared by her side, she didn’t need him to be there, she was more than capable of doing this job, she just wanted him by her side. Focus, woman focus, she chided her self.

Jill moved forward in a combat crouch, her weapon tucked up against her shoulder as she hunted for a target, there she thought seeing a man just ahead, kneeling his back to her. she couldn’t make out details, not at this distance, in this weather and at night, lightening made for shitty observations she thought.

The sound of heavy weapons fire was loud in her ears, making her nervous.
She lowered her NVG’s and looked around, but could only see four men, she hated doing this, but they were out to kill her and every one she cared about. She looked serene to any one watching, but inside, her emotions were jagged, and sharp, .She triggered a burst, and saw the man stagger but not go down.

He turned on his knee, his weapon sweeping up to his shoulder. total amateur she thought, as she sent a burst into his chest, letting the muzzle climb so the last bullet took him in the head.

The man should have had his weapon already in position, especially with people shooting all around him, she thought as she led her team forward. Martinez had hammered it into her head, she wasn’t supposed to get to far from the hangar she had been hiding in, not till the Strykers were down, but she wasn’t going to risk these men escaping either and coming up on Jared from Behind.

She had her team spread out in a skirmish line which might not have been the best choice, but she wasn’t a soldier, no matter what she had picked up from Jared. after the first shot they received return fire, most was far off the mark, but not all.

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

Martinez, crouched in the shadows, between two hangars, as bullets ripped into the maintenance building a Javelin in his Hand, any one who looked at him would have seen a man calm in the face of the destruction raging around him. He wasn’t immune to fear, he simply buried it under duty, and training.

Once he fired the Javelin, he would be down to one AT-4, which should do the trick. he carefully leaned out, and laid his sights on the closest Stryker, goodbye asshole he thought and fired.

**************************
Jill slowed and then stopped as a man appeared out of the rain, and this ones weapon was up and ready, he was looking for a threat. he must have heard or seen something, he turned quickly right at Jill, shouting something she couldn’t make out over the wind.

Almost immediately gun fire roared out of the rain as the remaining enemy troops opened up.

Jill saw the barrel swing at her, but she was faster, she dove tucking into a roll on her right shoulder, dropping the commando in the process. Bullets ripped thru the air above her. she came out of the roll on the balls of her feet, ready to do what she could, but hand to hand against a fire arm didn’t leave many options, it was all down to speed. She spun into a foot sweep certain she was about to die..

Mike staggered as a he took a round in the side, he cursed but his weapon was already on Target, he hesitated for only a fraction of a second as he saw Jill evade with a roll, losing her weapon in the process, then launch an attack as she rose in a crouch. The mans M16 was already swinging down and lining up with her head.

Oh hell no Mike though his mind racing, his arm seemed to take forever to reach position, his sights lined up, time seemed to slow, his finger tightened on the Trigger.

Jill saw the bore of the weapon at the last moment, she had few options, she was out of position to use any parry or block she knew, she couldn’t dodge or catch a bullet, but she could do this, the thought was instantly translated into action, as she used the torque from her movement to twist into a side roll, lashing out with a leg, her foot connected with the receiver of his weapon and knocked it up and to the right away from her.

His head snapped back suddenly, as two holes appeared in his forehead, two in his chest and his throat more or less vanished as another bullet or bullets struck it. he toppled over backwards. Jill flipped up onto her feet, and retrieved her weapon, the amount of return fire was minimal she realized, “ lets clear them out” She said over the radio, and led her team forward.

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

Calloway was laughing as he fired, enjoying the moment, as the wall came apart under the pounding of his and Landry’s weapons.

Those bastards must be pissing their pants by now, he thought, well fucknuts, this is payback you don’t mess with me. He chortled silently.

The night suddenly lit up with fire, the Stryker jerked under him and a giant fist slammed against him, the next thing Calloway knew he was laying on the wet pavement, his Stryker burning behind him, Lighting the rain around him with a flickering orange light.

He staggered to his feet, body aching, he patted himself down automatically, the only weapons he had on him was his Glock 40 and the sawed off pistol grip 12 ga holstered on his left thigh. He stood there for a moment, stunned, not thinking clearly then looked around for the men who had attacked his Stryker and his ground troops but saw nothing but rain and pavement in the intermittent flashes of lighting.

There wasn’t a thing to hide behind, no crates no planes, no vehicles, his thoughts trailed off abruptly as the wind shifted parting the curtain of rain for just an instant, just as Lightening lit the sky and Thunder hammered the ground, he just happened to be looking in the right location, between the brick building and a Hanger, beyond maybe seventy feet, he could see the fence line and his blood went cold at the sight of hundreds of zombies just beyond the fence, standing there in the rain with out moving. The rain closed in over the undead again, and the light faded, hiding them from view, Calloway
knew he had to get out of here.

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

Jared slung the M 32 over his back, and lifted his HK, the remaining fighters, those not cowering and hugging the ground, were advancing, and shooting as they came. He saw Paddy fall to the ground blood flowing from his shoulder, Logan was bleeding from his thigh, Steger, took two shots to the chest, knocking him on his ass, but the ballistic plate in his body armor saved his life.

“Grenade” some one shouted down the line, as one of the Prophets men ran forward and threw something, Men ducked along the line, but the wind blew the grenade off course, it landed near an overturned baggage cart and exploded, the man never managed to fumble another grenade free, a round from Ori sent him as head over ass to lay still on the pavement.

Ed was running towards Steger, when he stumbled his arms flying out, as his helmet was torn from his head, He face planted on the pavement, and lay still.

“Going hot” Steger shouted as he gripped the handle of the flame thrower and opened up again, never in his dreams had he ever thought he would be using a flaming thrower on other human beings, but the enemy broke, the few that were left broke and ran into the storm to escape the touch of the flame and the men who stood against them.

“MEDIC’ Jared shouted as he rushed to Eds side. Kneeling he checked Ed over and sighed in relief. Then rose as Blaine rushed up, “ he is okay, check the others.” Jared said as motioned Ronny over.

“Daws Load your Team, get a couple of drivers out and gather up the wounded and anyone that wants to surrender. If they fight, shoot them” Jared said, as he and Ronny ran to one of the ELSORVs, Ori needed to be picked up.

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

you are losing, My love, Landrys wife said gently. Landry listened to the screams for help from his dying men out there alone in the rain, and nodded mutely, he was failing the lord, and if he lost, he would no longer see his wife again.

“Guide me, tell me what to do” he asked almost desperately,

Cary, one of Landrys true believers, shivered suddenly as he watched the prophet talk to the empty air beside him. The temperature in the vehicle seemed to drop, and the lights seemed to dim just a little.

No one spoke as the crys on the radio become fewer and fewer till at last there were none left, Landry wanted to win, wanted to bring the sword of god to the apostate, but his tools were failing him.

Honey there is a way, use the tools of the evil ones against them Deborah said, Landry gazed at her back as she stared at the computer screen.

“ What do you mean there’s a way, to use their tools against them” he asked. heads turned in the compartment as his followers turned to watch him.

Every where they go, the dead rise from the grave, to hunt down those who live, and then they hide in sheltered places like this, while their tools do the work of the dark one, tear down the fences, tear them down and let the darks own tools devour those who raised them from their graves She said.

Hope blossomed with in him, it didn’t matter if all his fighters died, god would show him the way from the valley of death clutching victory to his chest, his dear wife at his side.

“oh no” Bigsby said quietly, stunned at what he saw thru his slit, he coudnt believe that the lord would allow them to fail. “ Captain Calloways Vehicle is down sir”

“ turn us around, Shelby, take down that fence” Landry told his driver as he crossed his legs and smiling beatifically. He was about the work of god, and nothing could stop him.

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

Calloway, stood there in the rain, drenched and stared in shock for a moment as Landry’s Stryker, turned and raced away into the rain heading down the access road. Calloway waved his arms hoping they would see him and come back and pick him up, then he stopped, Landry’s Stryker turned and was heading straight for the fence line, and it wasn’t slowing it was speeding up.

They had to be able to see the undead on the other side, from that distance, even through the rain. Landry couldn’t be that insane he thought, but he could Calloway realized, he didn’t care that his people were on foot and wounded back there, many of them probably trying to make it back to the trucks and escape. Landry only wanted to escape to from this massacre that Calloway had led them into. Calloway, started running, he had to get back across the field to his trucks.

Martinez had ducked back into cover and grabbed the AT4 when the remaining Stryker raced past his position, he leaped out, but saw it turn between the fire station and a Private hanger, turning he raced towards the opposite end of the Hanger to the access road that ran along the fence line.

He charged out, water splashing with each step and saw the remaining Stryker racing for the fence line. He lifted the AT-4 and took Aim, but it was far too late, the Stryker plowed thru the fence, then swerved and drove along the fence line taking out almost sixty feet before the AT-4 slammed into is side.

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

Landry was smiling in satisfaction, as the Stryker rolled over the fence, Shaitians tools already surging forward, to reap the flesh beyond the fence, he reached out to his wife and touched her cool shoulder, smiling, “ I did it, Honey, I did it, Gods Sword has been unsheathed and the Apostate will die before his fury.”

She turned her head held coyly down, his smile faded as her head came up, and deep black orbs locked with his own brown eyes, his blood froze. “ you did well, you did well indeed.” The voice wasn’t his wife’s it was deeper, neither male nor female, the only human emotion in that voice was a cruel mocking tone.

At that moment he knew, he knew he had been used. Knew his new Religion was false, that what he had served stood before now, revealing itself, the face of his wife, smiled, but there was a stranger inside, a dark, malevolent, Evil stranger.

It reached out and touched him, and he felt his heart jump at the touch, his mouth opened and a scream was torn loose, his faithful, turned shocked, at the almost inhuman scream of betrayal and agony, and then fire washed over them. the Last thing Landry heard in this life was “Welcome to home.” and then agony buried him in oblivion.

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

Martinez dropped the AT-4 and hefted his rifle, scanning the fence line, where the Stryker rolled to a stop, burning madly, he had never seen an AT -4 do that kind of damage before, they must have had fuel and munitions jammed inside, for that kind of explosion and fire he thought.

he was just about to give the all clear, when he saw a zombie appear out of the rain, tinged green from the NVG’s, he held his fire knowing that there had to be more than one, but he wasn’t prepared for just how many came out of the rain, a flood of undead flesh, heading straight for the sounds of gunfire they swarmed down the access road along the fence line, heading straight for the hangar, where Jared and others waited.

“ I really hope you folks are ready to bug out, the fence just got taken out, one hundred feet from the gate, which puts it at one hundred and sixty feet to the terminal, and two hundred and twenty or so feet from the Hangar, and theres zombies coming thru” Martinez transmitted.

“how many do you see?” Eric asked.

“Let me count, one, two, damn many to deal with” Martinez said as he backed down the lane between the two hangars towards the taxiway.

“copy that, a shit load of zombies” Eric replied.

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

Dale, bloody but still alive, helped Parks stumble down the hall, they had hugged the damn floor while the Stryker had tried to level the building around them. Dale had gotten a face full of shattered glass and was lucky to still have his sight. Parks had a splinter of wood driven into his thigh, and shards of cement and brick had ripped open his left arm in places.

Dale reached the door that would let them outside, when he saw a shape appear out of the rain, it moved with a lurch, heading towards the front of the hangers, One was easy enough to deal with Dale thought reaching for the door handle.

“wait” Parks snapped, quietly and pointed. Dale followed the direction of the pointing figure and saw more stumbling, staggering shapes appearing in the rain, with out the lightening he wouldn’t even have noticed them at first.

Dale stepped back towards the hallway, pulling parks with him, the desire to flee this place suddenly gone. “cant go back there, Dale, they can get in thru the hole in the wall of that office.” Parks said, “ get us into that Break room and out of sight. Hopefully none of them will just wander in here with out a reason.”

Dale nodded, and helped the wounded SF man into the dark room, and then helped Parks sit on the bench before Dale returned to the break room, quietly, he pulled chairs out of the way, and then carried a table over and placed it against the door to the hallway, it might not do much, but every little bit helps he told himself, as he returned and then took the another table and the chairs set up a barricade as quietly as he could in the doorway to the locker room then sat down and waited.

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

Jill led her team at a run down the acces road then cut down the side of a hanger to the taxi way. She wanted to get them to the hangar, but that was out of the question. To many undead, as they passed across another gap between two buildings she saw the Maintenance building where Parks and Dale had hidden. Undead were pawing at the door and several were climbing through a hall in the wall.

She looked towards the terminal, then back at the building, then made up her mind. “ lets get them out of there” she said pointing, Mike nodded in agreement, even with the wounded in tow, she couldn’t just leave parks and Dale inside.

“Jared, we need some transport down here, the building Parks was in, has been blown to shit, we are going to get him out.” she transmitted,

“Got something on the way” Eric replied. Jill wandered why Jared didn’t respond but refused to acknowledge the fear that surged up in her. “hang tight, don’t engage till help arrives.”

“Roger” Jill said, watching the numbers of undead grow around the building where “better hurry it up” She radioed.

“ got a problem here” Logan said, Mike knelt and lifted his rifle to his shoulder and began to fire into the undead were starting to head towards them.

“we cant stay” Logan said as he added his own fire to Mikes,

She started to answer, when she heard a motor roaring and the clack of tracks on pavement. Out of the rain the 88 appeared, “ I hear you need a lift” Jeb said over her radio.

“oh hell yeah “ Mike said softly, as the 88 turned and moved down the sidewalk crushing the undead, it brushed the side of the hanger the metal crumpling and tearing as it caught on the 88. as soon as it blocked the space between the two Hangars Jill got her people moving. “across the way move it, we have to get them out” Jill shouted over the radio.

“Jill, get on top” Rob replied.

“Rob get this damn thing moving now, or I swear I will beat your ass” Jill shouted.

Rob grimaced, but backed the track up, and turned ripping away the metal on one corner of the Hanger to Jills left. “ stay close work as a Team, Logan you stay with Thomas. Mike with me,” Jill said, her people instantly fall into a formation that resembled a diamond. Jill and Mike worked point, advancing in a crouch behind and to the side of the 88, crushing clumps of undead. Jill and her people firing slow and steady each team of two taking a specific zone to control.

To say she was scared was an understatement, the numbers of undead were growing and if they didn’t hurry, they would be overwhelmed. The 88 clanked forward, cement cracking and splintering under its tracks.

Rob got as close to the door as he could, but when the 88 pulled past twelve zombies still remained. “cover me” Jill called out as she stepped forward, firing steadily, like Jared had taught her she aimed for the chest and let the recoil walk her rounds up into the zombies heads. Mike sweating, and pale added his own fire to hers and in seconds the undead were piled up in the doorway.

she ran up and tried to door. which didn’t move but an inch or so. She pushed against it again, Mike joined her and shown a light into the window, and they could see a table and chairs pushed up against the door.

She banged on the door and hollered thru the crack they had forced open, “ damn it Parks open up, we are running out of time.” Behind her, her team was firing away, the 88 was turning and moving back to crush more undead,

A moment later Dale appeared in the window, and began to pull the furniture away, the 88 stopped at the end of the building, blocking the undead from the people just beyond. It was only temporary, but it would work for the moment.

“every one climb up on top” Jill said, pointing to the 88, “ move it people” she yelled seeing the hesitation in her people

Jeb climbed out and helped the wounded up and inside the track, while Jill and Mike finally got inside, the Building. Dale, looked scared spitless, but happy as a puppy to seem them.

Parks looked like a bloody wreck as he stood with a wince of pain but little else, Dale rushed to his side, but parks waved him off. “ I keep telling you man, I’m all right, but thanks for wanting to help. Now lets get the hell out of here”

“you could have radioed “Jill said relieved that both men were okay.

“Radio got shattered by something” parks explained as he shrugged on his ruck and picked up his weapon. “ hard to call when the radio is in pieces.”

“ Better hurry it up” Mike said, Dale didn’t need to be told again, he rushed to the door, and looked out side, then waited till Parks passed him then followed closely his weapon up and ready.

Mike gave Jill a look as she shook her head, “don’t ask me.” She said with a shrug.

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

Eric stood on the edge of the Terminal Roof, the 32 pound 109 slung across his back, the undead were pretty close now, and he wasn’t about to get trapped up here. Down below he saw an ELSORV race up and come to a stop on the grass below him, Bailey leaned out. “ any one need a Taxi” he yelled.

Eric grinned, and then motioned for Garret to jump down, the teenager looked nervous but started to swing out and lower himself down. Eric tapped him on the shoulder before the boy could lower himself down. “Jump onto the roof, and go in thru the gunners position, you don’t want to be on the ground right now” Eric pointed out.

Garret didn’t reply, he just stood up straight, a determined look on his face, turned and didn’t give himself a chance to think about it, as he leaped out and down. he landed on the roof of the ELSORV, and slipped and fell, Eric winced, thinking that had to hurt. But the kid managed to grab a hold and not slide off, in a second he had wiggled inside the vehicle and it was Eric’s turn.

Zombies appeared at the corner of the building, and Eric knew time was running out, he leaped and landed bent kneed, and almost fell himself. the added weight of the rifle on his back made the jump harder than it should have been.

He took the rifle off and handed it down to Garret who grunted as he took the full weight, surprised at how heavy the rifle was. Eric slipped into the gunners seat just as another flash of lightening ripped across the sky, and saw a figure running to the east. For half a second he debated on chasing the man down, but then decided it wasn’t worth it.
.
“Lets go” he told Bailey, “ Jill there’s zombies between you and the hangar. So be careful” he said over the radio.

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

Arthur, ran through the storm water squishing under his feet, his arm around Daniel helping the man, determined to get Bliss out of here. “oh my god” Bliss gasped as they saw the trucks suddenly start to move, men trying to climb up on them, most slipping and falling back to the ground, Arthur saw one man fall and get run over. He stopped and stared as the trucks picked up speed, men hanging on the sides. They didn’t even stop to open the gate, the lead truck smashed thru the gate, men spilling off the sides, beyond the undead waited.

“oh Shit” Arthur muttered as he saw the undead swarm over the men on the ground, he could hear the screams and a few gun shots over the storm.

Arthur turned, and started heading back towards the enemy. Bliss was actually sobbing, as the two men moved as quickly as they could, undead behind them and the men who had been shooting at them ahead. He could have headed in a different direction, he could have just given up, he had failed his family, but he also had to make sure Bliss survived and that kept him moving. The men they had been told to kill, had vehicles, and weapons. there was a chance to escape this.

The wind tore at them as they struggled to get away, Arthur made the mistake of looking back and almost fell, as a bolt of lighting showed him the pale crowd of undead behind them, every single one of the undead were fixed on the two fleeing men. Arthur felt his muscles wanting to cramp, his breath was coming in ragged gasps. He ignored it all, Bliss stumbled and lost his footing, Arthur held the man upright, not sure how, but he did.

“Let me go, you can escape” Bliss said into arthurs ear.

“To hell you say, I’ve lost everything else, I’m not losing you. we make it together” Arthur shouted.

He had no idea how far they had run, or how much further it was to the men with weapons, every step they took, he expected to be shot or to feel hands grab them from behind.

Suddenly a Stryker appeared, he felt his blood run cold, it was over, Landry or that psycho Calloway had found them. he stopped defeated, knowing that he was more likely to be shot down right now, then to be picked up. That would be better than being eaten at least. He was gasping for air, tears coursed down his cheeks, wish he could have saved his family. Or at least seen his family one last time to apologize for failing them.

Light suddenly burst into life on the Stryker as the Stryker pulled up in front of him. He saw the ramp dropping, and men running out, weapons up.

A man was shouting at him, and it wasn’t till the man repeated himself that Arthur really heard it. “ Get on board, if you want to live” he stared at the man in a US military uniform and realized that it wasn’t any one from the Prophets forces.

Arthur carried Bliss the last ten feet, into the lit bay of the Stryker, armed men piled in after him and the ramp closed silently sealing them safely inside.

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

“you have zombies directly behind your hangar Jared” Rob said over the radio.

Jared looked over the barricade of vehicles where his vehicles were out trying to pick up the wounded and those who surrendered before the undead got to them. “everyone knows the drill, get moving folks” Jared said as he headed into the Hanger at a run.

He and Ronny ran around the vehicles parked inside, till the reached the back wall.
Reaching the rear door, he beat on it loudly shouting trying to draw the attention of the undead outside. “this had better work” Ronny said, wincing at the pain from his leg.
“well it was supposed to used to convince dipshit that our people were dead, but it will work even better to get rid of huge amounts of undead.” Jared said.

“assuming that it works” Ronny pointed out.

“Ori swore it would, so that’s good enough for me” Jared said as he beat and kicked on the door.

The fumes from the Jet fuel were strong in the air, causing them both to blink rapidly. It was getting hard to breath in the hangar. There was also the smell of gasoline and something else in the air.

“You know this is insane right” Ronny said, as he kicked on the wall.

“Got a better Idea” Jared asked as he pounded once more.

“We could always dress up as zombies and join the crowd,” Ronny suggested.

“You would giver yourself away in two minutes, you cant shut up for longer than that” Jared pointed out.

“Okay plan two, lets just get the hell out of here.” Ronny said,

“Can’t just yet, Eric is picking up Ori and Castor, Jill and the 88 are already heading out towards the fence on the east side, and the other vehicles will join them once they finish getting loaded.” Jared replied as he beat on the door once more.

“Do you think Mary and the rest will be okay in the hangar” Ronny asked.

“I don’t see why not, every one was parked and settled in with the doors shut before the attack even began, and they are on the far north End as far from us and the fighting as its possible to get. They will be fine, tomorrow or the next day they will head for Sullivan.” Jared said, that had been the whole point to all the vehicles running back and forth, making it appear they were picking up supplies and shuttling them back to the Hangar where the defenses were being set up. Each trip one or two more vehicles would park inside the northern hangar, while the others covered the absence.

“Every one is loaded but you two ya hoo’s “ Logan said over the radio.

“Copy, every one loaded, two mikes and we will be joining you.” Jared answered, looking at Ronny. “ You ready for this” Jared asked.

“As ready as I have ever been to visit a proctologist” Ronny replied.

Jared forced a chuckled, “ Remember no firing till we are outside” he said, Ronny tilted his head once in acknowledgement. He had no desire to blow himself to hell.

Jared grasped the knob, took a deep breath then twisted and pulled. He realized as the door shot open, that he really needn’t have bothered to pull, zombies were pressed up against the door. The first few ended up on the floor, but the rest flowed in over them.

He tried to leaped back, but not before a zombie had grabbed his right arm,. Jared shouted and twisted into a wrist break, then with Ronny at his side, turned and ran back across the hanger, the undead spilling thru the door way behind them.

Ahead the main hangar doors stood open, just wide enough for a person to pass thru,.

“Again, do you think this is going to work” Ronny shouted,

“Light a match and see” Jared replied.

“ cant forgot my BBQ sauce, if I’m going to be cooked to death I want to die covered in Sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.” Ronny called back.

“you guys had better hurry they are spilling around the corner of the Hanger “ Logan reported from the ELSORV.

“You had better be parked at the doors” Jared called back. “ because they are coming through the hangar too.”

They burst thru the hangar doors, and ten feet away was the ELSORV, twenty feet to their left were more zombies. Jared ran forward grabbed the door handle of the rear passenger door and yanked it open and dove inside, Ronny joined him a second after almost face planting in Jared’s Ass.

“Hey now, no getting kinky with me you perv” Jared said as Ronny twisted around and slammed the door shut.

“You wish, You know you want some of this” Ronny said, leaning back in the seat as the ELSORV pulled away, taking out a few undead as sped away.

“Eric it’s your show now.” Jared said over the radio.

Eric opened the case at his feet, and pulled out a 40mm grenade, he had two cases of the things and had so far not used them, but this was a special moment, when only the very best will do. He slipped the purple cased round into the launcher and climbed up into the gunners seat.

Bailey drove up as close as they dared get, the crowd of undead in front of the hanger was growing by the moment, Eric sighted, adjusted for the wind, and pulled the trigger, soft boop of the weapon lost in the storm. He kicked the back of Baileys seat, and the ELSORV leaped into motion, pulling away, the grenade, one of the new rounds, the xm 1060 arced out, Eric had judged it almost perfectly, the round was pushed back towards the gap in the hangar doors by the wind, and flew inside over the heads of the undead that filled the place.

Eric was looking back at the hangar, and saw the walls suck in for half a second, then a fireball roared up into the night sky, as the jet fuel tanker, and the gas tanks of the other vehicles inside added to the holocaust, there was a series of secondary explosions from the vehicles, then bits and pieces of metal rained down over the area,

“Holy shit’ Eric muttered, “I gotta do that again”

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

Calloway, slid to a stop, panting. He took a moment his back to the fence to stare around the area. His fury was only tempered by his fear. They had left him, even after he ordered them to wait or pick him up, they had turned and fled, letting even more undead into the airport in the process.

Those bastards, when I get back I am going to kill every one of those cowards driving, I swear I will, he vowed silently then stared west as a fireball rolled into the sky.

What the hell was that, I hope it killed some of those bastards he thought viciously deep down inside, he knew it was over, even if he made it to the rally point, and some one was there, he had lost his most loyal men, all but the ones guarding the women and children in the Rvs.

That was his only leverage, with the familys he might be able to keep control, but only if he survived to get there.

He turned and scaled the fence; he swung over the top and then dropped lightly down to the ground on the other side. He crouched there looking around, nothing moved in the rain swept woods. seeing nothing he strode forward pistol in his hand, the woods, ended after fifty feet of so, in a flash of lightening he saw an overgrown field, beyond that a road, with several abandoned vehicles sitting on it.

His legs were starting to cramp, his back ached, hell his entire body hurt from being tossed into the air and smacking into the pavement. He made his way slowly to the road, where he looked into each vehicle, looking into a Camri, he recoiled as a pale face darted forward, teeth snapping closed in front of his nose, he staggered back, as the zombie struggled to get free of the seatbelt that had held it trapped for over a year.

Shaken he moved to the next vehicle, a jeep, and peered inside, bingo he thought as he saw all the gear packed into the back. He made sure there was nothing undead in the back seat then checked to see if there was a key, of course not he thought a moment later.

And it was a automatic, forget it he thought as he started towards the next vehicle, a Silverado with a slide in camper. Now that might be okay, he decided as he tried the door to the camper and found it unlocked.

He knocked on it, waiting a few moments, then stepped to the side before opening the door, just in case a zombie was pressing against the other side. When nothing leaped out, Calloway climbed inside and pulled out a mini mag, holding it so that it was shielded by his hand so as to cut down on the amount of light he made sure there was nothing deadly inside. Sitting down on the bunk he picked up a towel and began to run it over his head, ignoring the musty smell.

It felt good to be out of the storm, damn good, and as long a no undead saw him on the road, he didn’t think he would wake up to find the truck surrounded by the undead. It would be nice if the truck was a standard too, at least then he could take the camper with him.

He leaned back watching the flashes of light on the ceiling and walls as the it leaked in through the windows on both sides. The drumming of the rain lulling him into half sleep. A crash of thunder so loud it shook the camper woke him with a start.

He felt disoriented, he had no idea how long he had slept. The storm was still raging outside, and the temperature in the camper seemed to have dropped considerably.

Suddenly he wondered if he had locked the door to the camper, he felt a trickle of fear, he had fallen asleep, with out even knowing if he had locked the door. he climbed to his feet, and walked quickly to the door, engaging the lock cursing himself for forgetting something so important.

He turned and froze as lightening flicker outside, the windows lit with the glare, but it was the shadow, cast on the cabinets that made his blood run cold. It was only there for a second, only as long as the light, but it burned into his mind, it was only the head and shoulders of a man, wearing an old fashioned hat. then the light fled once more plunging the camper back into darkness.

He stood there frozen, and then heard something dragging along the wall of the camper. his hands grew sweaty, his grip on his pistol tightened. Something thumped against the door, he could see something indistinct in the opaque window, something like the a hand pressed against the glass, and a head wearing a hat beyond it. Calloway stepped back slowly carefully, and as silently as he could.

During the next flash of lightening, what ever had been there was gone. He peered out the side window, trying to see out into the rain and darkness, but couldn’t see anything.

Summoning up his courage, he walked to the door, hesitating only briefly, then opened it. if there was only one zombie out there, he could put it down safely. He stepped back out into the storm and shut the door behind him.

Water washed over his feet as he moved to the right and peered around the corner of the Truck, there was nothing there on that rain swept road. He moved slowly down the right side, eyes straining in the darkness, his night vision ruined by the strobing lightening.

Reaching the front of the truck, he looked around, and still saw nothing. It was possible that the thing had just looked inside, and then wandered off into the storm, he thought as he moved along the left side of the truck heading back to the camper. he was exhausted, tired beyond belief.

Around him trees whipped around groaning in the wind, somewhere close by he heard something snap, and a crash, most likely a tree going over he thought as he stepped around to the back of the truck again , lightening flashed once more, and he froze as he saw a line of figures across the road no more than thirty feet away, just dark obscured human shapes, standing there, black with no features to be seen.

He could feel their eyes on him, his stomach clenched, and he started to tremble. Another flash and they seemed to be closer. Just shadows in the rain wracked night. he wasn’t about to get trapped in the camper, instead he moved back to the right side of the truck and headed south, he wanted to put as much distance between himself and the zombies he had just seen.

He never saw the figure that peered out from behind the camper, one hand resting on the corner, its sunken cloudy eyes fixed on him, wispy white hair snapping in the wind. Rain ran down the narrow triangular face. Its lips spread in a smile that would have been at home on a shark, all pointed teeth and bloody gums. It started after Calloway, on spindly legs, scuttling through the storm, the bowler hat on its head impossibly fixed in place. Behind it, the undead advanced.

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

Jared sat silently in the passenger seat of the ELSORV, Nibbler at his feet, they had stopped long enough to get the wounded onto one truck where Blaine and Justin worked on stabilizing them.

Jill sat behind him, much to his relief. They had taken a beating on this one, three dead, six wounded, Ed had only been stunned, and his helmet had taken all the damage. Steger was okay, Parks injuries were minor but painful, Ronny had a limp, but insisted he was fine. Mike was hurt but not as badly as it could have been,

And now one of the prisoners, had told Daws a tale of women and children held hostage, Daws had radioed Jared with the story, and had even let the man tell Jared himself. other prisoners had supported the story when the question was asked.

Terminal or do the right thing, terminal or do the right thing, Jared asked himself it wasn’t really a question, he knew what his answer was, he had heard the mens voices as they spilled their stories. They were telling the truth.

He absently petted the dog, the action calming him some what, “ Daws get the location of this RV camp, I think we are going to pay a visit.” Jared transmitted, if they could take the place in an hour, he could still be on the road for the terminal by 0400.

Jill placed a hand on his shoulder, lending her support, which he truly appreciated. He had truly fucked up earlier, they should have just fled, not stood there and waged a war.
It was guilt, pure and simple, Ed could have died, or Ronny, Or ten more, or all of them.

Yes the majority of his convoy were safely hidden in a hangar that had been no where near the fight, and yes they could leave as soon as the sun rose.

“I think we need to make some plans” Eric said over the radio, “ I suggest, we use the men who surrendered and told us about the hostages, Trojan horse if you will…” Eric said , and then explained his little plan.

By the time he finished talking Jared was convinced, it beat the hell out of rushing in and trying to shoot every one that resisted.

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

Robert, was a skinny, pale skinned man, his arms covered in tattoo’s, he sat watching a dark haired teen aged girl, who sat against the wall, dressed only in a pale blue bra, and a thong. She was a real looker that one. he thought, hoping her father died or failed Landry. So he could claim her as his own. A body like that should be used, not horded away from real mean like Robert. But the prophet had spoke, and Robert followed his orders.

She glared at him with hate filled eyes, then reached over and took the hand of a good looking older blonde woman, that Robert thought was her mother. He didn’t really care, both were hot in the outfits he had picked out for them.

“Man you had better get them dressed, before Calloway gets back you know how he is” Philip said from the drivers seat. Robert shot him an angry look, Philips was always nervous. Even refused to look, when Robert made the women strip and model outfits he picked out. He might not be able to touch them but he could still have a free show, and he doubted Calloway would care. Not that he intended to have that particular question answered.

“there’s headlights man, get them dressed” Philips hissed, Robert frowned but tossed the women’s clothes to them. “ Get dressed and keep your mouths shut” he warned them.

Neither of the women responded, as they quickly dragged on their clothes, while Robert watched with a leer. The vehicles stopped at the gates to the old industrial complex, that had been abandoned years before the zombies. He could see men dismount and unlock the gates, while a squad dispatched the undead that had gathered there. The trucks, pulled into the compound, the squad closing the gates after the last vehicle thru.

Roberts frowned deepened as he saw one truck pull up next to his RV, men piling out the back. Some bastard wanting to get a look at his women probably, He would have to talk with Calloway about how uppity some of those guys were, thinking they had rights and all, till they earned their chops with the prophet, their women belonged to the church.

The door opened and two men stepped inside, Robert saw Phillip stiffen in shock his mouth sagging open, Robert was just beginning to wonder why when two more men both dressed in Military uniforms, and armed to the teeth stepped into the RV, one a muscular red head, the other a dark haired man built like a wall, his fore arms covered in tattoo’s. more men entered behind them, with weapons trained on Phillip.

“I hear that your holding women against their will,” Jared said, noting the teen aged girl, and the woman who sat on the floor beside her. there was something familiar about her, but he couldn’t place it. her eyes suddenly widened, as she climbed to her feet, and then she was throwing her arms around him and crying.

“oh my god, I never thought Id see you again” she cried, then turned to the older woman. “ mom this is the guy that saved me at the coffee shop”

Jared stared at the man before him, the greasy haired rat faced slaver, with the cheap quality tats. He couldn’t even had said exactly what he was feeling at the moment, when Daws had called him on the radio and had one of the prisoners tell him his story about women and children being held as hostages, he hadn’t even thought to ask the mans name, why should he.

“Your dads alive, and sent us to get you out of here, Stefy” he said remembering her name. “ Your safe now” he turned a glacial stare on Robert, who shrunk away before the anger he saw in those eyes.

“but you , you sick fucking freak are far, far from safe.” Jared promised him.

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

Twenty minutes later, Arthur felt trepidation as he entered the RV, he wasn’t sure how his wife and daughter would react at seeing him, he had failed them so badly, but what he found in the RV was beyond anything he expected.

His daughter almost tackled him, wrapping her arms around him and hugging, his wife joined her, and then he saw the Man in BDUs that rose from the couch were he was sitting with two small boys, and a Heavily armed Attractive woman. His red hair was like gold and flame in the lights of the RV. Arthur’s mouth opened but nothing came out as time seemed to stand still, he could feel the weight of the battered shot gun on his back, it had surprised him when the Soldier had given him his weapons back, but now staring at the man who had originally give him the shotgun, the man who had saved his daughter from the undead on the first day of hell, the man who had given him advice that allowed his family to survive for the first rough hellish months, he didn’t know what to say.

Jared grinned at him, his own emotions threatening to break free. “ Arthur, Enjoy your family, I’m glad to see you folks made it this far, now lets see about getting you a little further.”

Arthur was thankful that Jared stone pretended not to notice the tears running down his face. “you’re the guy in charge” he asked, almost choking up. For a moment he really believed there was something more than coincidence involved here, but in the end it didn’t really matter how the one man that had saved his daughter and his entire family once before had just rode out of a storm over a year later and a state away and did it again.

Jared smiled hugely, “you could say that,”

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

Calloway ran for his life, the undead continued to swarm out of the darkness, his pistol was empty, and he was down to only a few rounds for his 12 ga. He fired on the run blowing the head off a zombie, opened the breech and slipped in two more shells. He snapped it closed just as a zombie lunged at him. He blew its face off, wanting to throw up as goo splashed over his own face.

The second shot, took out a woman in a house coat that clung to every ripe curve of her undead body, fumbled out two more shells, dropping one, there was no way he could stop and retrieve it. he go the other shell in the weapon, five steps later he was forced to shove it in the face of another zombie and pull the trigger.

He popped the breech, and reached down, and realized he was out. he didn’t waste his breath cursing, he just flipped the weapon around determined to use it as a club.

Up ahead he saw the numbers of zombies thinning, and raced thru the crowd weaving, between individual zombies, avoiding grasping hands. It was night mare of lightening flashes, pallid rotting faces, snapping teeth and grasping hands.

He had no idea where he was at, where the rendezvous point was at, his panic was only held at bay because he knew to panic was to die.

He pounded down the road, splashing thru puddles, and suddenly realized he hadn’t seen any zombies in a few minutes. That wasn’t enough to slow him down at all, it only drove him on, to put more distance between himself and the undead that followed.

Up ahead, he spotted a building wrapped in shadows, with swaying trees, blank windows glittering in the lightening, under the wrap around porch darkness held sway.

Not seeing any more undead, Calloway ran thru the open gate, and up onto the porch. the front door stood open, water and leaves had blown into the foyer of the old house. He slipped inside, trying not to breath hard, at least he still had his mini mag thank god. He pulled it out, and shielded the beam with his hand, till only a trickle of light leaked out. he swept it around, looking thru the arches into the large rooms to either side.

Old musty furniture in a living room, a broken dining room table and chairs in a dining room, the stair case shrouded in shadows led up stair, and empty kitchen with huge blood stains on the floor by the sink. He stepped to the stairs, hoping, praying that there were no undead inside.

Behind him he heard the front door shut, and the sound of something moving thru leaves and water, a shuffling noise that sent shivers up his spine. He whirled around shining that dim beam of light back at the door but saw nothing, out of the corner of his right eye, he saw a shape glide into the dining room, man shaped, shadowy and indistinct, its over long arms dangled from hunched shoulders, it moved on spindly legs, a bowler hat on its head. he snapped around, in shock, but saw nothing in the doorway. It had to be his imagination. There was no way that thing could have followed him so far, no way at all he told himself.

He moved back to the arch that led into the dining room, and flashed his light around, trying to convince himself that it was the wind that had slammed the door shut, the shape had been in his imagination.

He tried to convince himself of that, but the sense of being watched, the dread certainty that he as not alone in the old home wouldn’t leave him.

Something shuffled behind him in the living room, a thump as something fell to the floor, Calloway whirled now longer worried about the light being seen, he needed more light, like the savages of elder days, that had lived in caves needed it to drive away the evils that lurked in the darkness. Needed it, craved it.

There was nothing there, the room was empty, except that in the arch a book lay open and face down as if dropped. It hadn’t been there a moment ago. His skin prickled painfully, no it had to be there, he told himself. Something moved by the staircase, Calloway didn’t turn towards it, he couldn’t make himself.

No escape was the best bet, he thought as he rushed to the door, and threw it open. Outside, under the trees, shadowy shapes lined the yard, they stood unmoving in the storm cloudy eyes fixed on the house, their clothes snapping around their rotting limbs, he stood there for a second, maybe two, maybe an eternity he didn’t really now, then stepped back into the house, and praying like he had never prayed before, not to landrys twisted new god, no, to the god he had been raised with, the god of his fathers, the god he had walked away from.

A laugh, like jagged broken glass sounded in his ears, “ to late to pray Calloway, to late by far.” a voice said echoing thru the house.

He whirled, so it was a man, he dismissed the odd behavior of the undead outside, he could defeat a man. He stalked forward, ready with the shotgun to bash in some ones skull.

“ but Am I really there” a voice said from the dining room as Calloway reached the stairs, he spun and raced to the dining room, only to hear laughter from the kitchen.

Calloway stopped confused, this couldn’t be happening, “ but it can” the hideous cold sibilant voice hissed in his ear.

He screamed in surprise and whirled only to have a claw like hand, cold and dead grasp his wrist. He stared into the dead face, those cloudy eyes, that somehow seemed filled with an evil twisted life. The huge beaked nose, but his eyes finally, firmly fixed on the thin bluish lips, that spread into a quivering grin, some kind of goo oozed out of the corners of its mouth, as the filed down triangular teeth were revealed. Something clicked in his mind, a mind rapidly descending into madness, a name from the past, a name on a update Jasper Evan Brown. The mouth opened, and Calloway, felt searing pain as his throat was ripped out, his blood spraying as he shook his head in denial.

it fed on its victim till the heart stopped beating, then it let the body fall to the ground, and stood there on spindly legs, one rotted hand adjusting the hat on its head, as if it cared about its appearance, it stood there till Calloways body sat up, then it smiled once more and led its newest follower outside, looking towards the coast, it had a long way to go, the light was interfering, but it still had a chance to salvage its plans.

Don’t worry eddy boy, I’m coming for you, coming for you, the woman and Jared, the thought was disjointed as if it weren’t used to thinking any longer, it stepped out into the storm and headed north east, the undead in the yard, followed in its wake.

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