Chapter 25

“ Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers and tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.”

~E.A. Poe

The Hurricane was far from the storm of the Century, but the damage it wreaked was far beyond what it would have done in hears past. Storm surge rushed up rivers and inlets, forcing water to spill out of its banks and flood the towns along the waterways. The rain fall from the Hurricane itself couple with the rain from the storm bands that had already pass thru added to the flood waters, in the worst hit areas, roads buckled and came apart as water undermined them. buildings already weakened from damage and storms of the last year buckled, in some cases collapsed.

On the outer banks, Near nags head, it was the worst, the storm surge washed completely over the islands, in some cases sweeping away homes and business. the undead caught in its grip were born along with the debris and surging waters to wash up on the mainlaind. The bridges that connected the outer banks to the Mainland, battered by the waves and high winds, finally toppled over into the sound, leaving only the ragged stumps of the supports sticking up from the white water.

Sean, walked nervously down the stairs, his hands over his head. reaching the bottom he stopped and then blinked as bright lights erupted in his face. he tensed waiting for a bullet. There was no reason, for these people to keep him alive. His only regret was that he didn’t have a way to get Sandra, Natalie, Daryl and the others out.

After a second the lights moved out of his eyes, but leaving the stair well lit. “don’t shoot” he repeated, his voice almost breaking with fear. He hoped that leaving his pistol with Sandra, was a smart move, if not, he was totally screwed.

“I have no plans on shooting you” a man replied, his voice was deep, level and full of confidence.

A second later the speaker stepped into the light, he was built like a gymnast, and wore full military gear, a hand rested on the grip of the rifle that hung down his chest. His red hair glowed in the light. “gotta name”he asked.

“Sean, Sean Connelly” Sean replied, his eyes widening slightly as he saw a woman dressed in Leathers, a Military assault rifle in her hands, and sword at her side, step up to stand next to the man. Two pistols were holstered low on her hips. He blinked in surprise as her lips quirked, almost as if she were about to smile.

“Well Sean, you can lower you hands. I’m Jared Stone,” the man said and then grinned slightly.

Sean slowly lowered his hands, making sure he didn’t move to fast and alarm the man and his friends. He turned his head slightly as he heard more voices down the hall, a lot more voices. His shoulders slumped, he doubted he could convince them to leave he and his folks alone, or let them keep their food.

Jared watched the younger man for a moment, In a way Sean Reminded Jared of a younger Ori, they were both lean and muscular. Both had wavy sandy blonde hair kept short, but Sean had affected a Van Dyke, that he had managed to keep neatly trimmed. They both had the same fixation judging by the logo on Sean’s T-Shirt. “ free the boobies” was a slogan Ori would back a hundred percent.

He knew what was running through the younger mans mind, and he didn’t blame him. There were enough shit heads out there ready to rob and rape at the drop of a hat. Civilization had only been thin cover over the savage in so many peoples hearts. People like those in the Militia units, or Simms. With no law, they were free to do what they wanted, until they were put down like rabid dogs.

“Listen close Sean, because I don’t want any misunderstandings, we aren’t here to steal your stuff, to push you out, or to rape any women you may have up there. We needed to get out of that damn storm, and this place looked perfect.” Jared said. “ lets do some talking and see if we can reach a deal, otherwise, your going to be very unhappy till we leave, which will be in a couple of days.”

“why should I believe you” Sean asked, determined not to show his fear.

“you don’t have to, but the fact we didn’t just shoot you down and head upstairs, should at least earn us a little trust” Jared replied.

Sean thought about that for a moment, the man had a point, there was no reason they couldn’t have done that, or at the least secured and bound Sean and then searched upstairs.

“how many are in your group” Sean asked, deciding to push things and see what happened.

“To be honest Im not sure, we took on a lot of new folks in the last 24 hours, at a Guess around seventy or so.” Jared replied, “ and how many do you have here?”

Sean gawked at the red head, seventy or so people still alive, he hesitated for maybe a heart beat, then shrugged, if this guy was willing to share he would too.

“13 counting myself.” He admitted, “ Eight of them are, well Handicapped, Downs syndrome and stuff, they were students here, in a program to learn how to live on their own. That’s pretty much out the window these days.”

Jared studied Sean intently for a moment, long enough for Sean to start worrying, then Jared stepped forward and extended a hand. Sean took it hesitantly, as the Man smiled at him.

“you have my respect for doing the right thing” Jared said simply as they shook. “ now go get one or two of your friends and come on back down so we can talk, and Ill even trust you to bring your weapons.” Jared said.

By the time Sean returned with two women, Jared had gathered a few of his people in a classroom by the stairs, while the rest of the group unloaded gear and supplies, and under Mai Lin’s supervision got rooms set up for occupation.

Jared stood next to a chair in a class room looking at the man, Sean who had just spent an hour telling them how he and the others had survived and forted up this building, Sandra, a cute, brown haired woman of 24, had been the student teacher of the Special needs students, had barely spoken during Seans telling of their story. Jared had gathered between the lines there had been more special needs students at one time, and Sean was eaten up with Guilt at their deaths, and that was something that Jared could relate to.

At first there had been almost eighty survivors stuck on the campus, watching the highway out front, that had been bumper to bumper with traffic, knowing their odds of getting onto the road were slim they had opted to stay. Then the Guard and State Troopers had come through on the third day, and started clearing dead and abandoned vehicles, with a way open, many of the people sheltering there, had opted to try and get home, Sean and the others had never seen them again.

Sean and his people had been lucky, very lucky all things considered.

The door to the class room opened suddenly, Eric, easily larger than any of the other men in the room, walked in with Nibbler right behind him as soon as the dog spotted Jared the she ran over and slid to a stop dropping her butt on the floor to sit next to him her tail sweeping the floor.

“ you have a dog, “Natalie the dark haired former drama student exclaimed as she slipped out of her seat, smiling and trying to coax nibbler to come to her. as she leaned forward, she unknowingly flashed a view of some impressive cleavage that Ori tried not to look at.

“Beth will kill you” Jared whispered without even looking at his Best friend.

“there are times I hate having you as my best friend” Ori muttered, then chuckled .

Nibbler rose and trotted over to the woman, as Jared looked at Sean “ so let me get this straight Sean, you managed to save these folks, keep the green house going, and have been trying to show some results from the biofuel project you and the others had been working on before the zombies. All while trying to teach the folks upstairs how to stay safe, grow food, and kept them busy with chores like mopping and waxing the floors. I’m not even sure that impressed is the word that springs to mind” Jared told the younger man.

“better watch it, when he gets like this he likes to hump legs” Ronny warned Sean who looked as if he weren’t sure if Ronny was joking or not. “don’t worry, just shake your leg and he falls off.”

In the hallway outside, the sudden sound of children’s voice could be heard, Jared glanced at Eric who tapped his watch. “Twenty more minutes and we will have all the supplies we need for a week brought over the wall, Rob is hooking up the medical shelter to the 88’s boom and is going to lift it over and place it near the door. the Generators are already in place. Ed wants permission to cut a gap in the wall to drive in a fuel truck to keep the Generators topped off.” Eric informed him.

Sean rose to his feet, fear flitting across his face. “ don’t tear down the wall, that’s the only thing that has kept those things out.” he protested.

“you heard the man, see if the 88 can lift the tanker truck, if not, well we can park the tanker trucks next to the wall and run lines over it to fill the tanks when we need to” Jared said, then glanced at Sean. “ how much of that experimental bio fuel have you got?”

“ six or seven hundred gallons at the moment, it will combust, just not sure how efficient it will actually be. I was only helping on the project, not a researcher, but it was part of the ag program so I learned a lot about how to operate the equipment and the basics on how to test it.” Sean told Jared.

“well I guess we can test it on a Generator. One of our small ones, that I don’t mind losing.” Jared remarked.

“ did I understand him to say you have a medical clinic” Sean asked.

Jared nodded his lips quirking in a quick smile. “ fully stocked complete with qualified Medical personnel.”

“and it will only cost you one billion dollars or a……” Ronny said looking at Natalie, then stopped talking as Jill gibb slapped him already suspecting exactly what he was about to say. “a look at her boobs”, which wasn’t all that hard to figure out since he was staring at the woman’s cleavage., where Nibblers head lay as Natalie scratched the dog behind the ears.

“it will only cost you letting us spend a couple of nights here, and we will share some of our supplies with you” Jared said casting a glare at Ronny who wisely kept his mouth shut. “most of us will be gone before Dawn, we have places to be and bad guys to kill” Jared added in a matter of fact voice.

“only if your people stay downstairs for now, the students, well they aren’t to trusting after what they have seen.” Sandra, the former Teacher, said with a shake of her brown haired head.

“might be hard to keep the kids down here once they feel a bit safer” Jared informed her.
”but we will try”

She looked at Sean who shrugged.” Okay then, that will have to do, its , I cant allow them to get traumatized any more than they already have been” she said softly.

Jared was tempted to ask her what they would have done if the undead had gotten inside, but he decided he really didn’t want to know the answer to that question. Taking care of those folks had to have been trying and enough to send her into tears often.

“Ill Let Blaine know he is going to be busy as soon as the clinic is set up. He can check you out upstairs with out the clinic of course, but if he needs to do xrays or anything else he is going to want you in the clinic module “ Eric said, then stepped out into the hall to call Blaine over the radio.

“theres nothing we can do stop you from staying here” Sean said slowly, that he was wiling to piss off Jared and the others spoke volumes about his integrity and bravery. “ and I don’t mind, believe me I don’t mind, but if your in some kind of fight with another group, at least tell us whats going on so we know what your dragging us into.”

Jared looked at Jill who nodded her agreement. “well this is going to be hard to explain, unbelievable really”

“you mean more unbelievable then dead people getting up and eating anything that’s alive” Sandra asked, shivering at some unspoken memory.

“you might think so after hearing it” Jared told them. “ it all started last year in Nashville.” he talked for almost two hours, with out being interrupted.

Finally he finished and looked at Sean and the two women, Sandra had a strange look on her face. “ tell him” Sean said after a moment nudging Sandra.

“one of my students, Naomi, has been telling me about dreams she keeps having about dead people coming to visit, friends and family mostly. But she’s also dreamed of something else, something that shows up in her dreams pretending to be a family member, and wants her to do bad, but other times its just a shape in a dark room with another creature, that wears a hat.” she rose suddenly. “ hang on okay” she rushed from the room, leaving Jared and the others to stare after her.

Sean shrugged but didn’t say anything when Jared looked at him.

A few minutes later Sandra returned a sheet of paper in her hands, “ one of the things I have them do is to paint and draw usually for stress relief. Naomi drew this when I asked what the things in her dreams look like” Sandra passed the paper to Jill, who stared at it then passed it to Jared, who found himself looking at what every one who had seen it knew as Bowler hat.

Ori looked over his shoulder and frowned. “ don’t that just flog the shit out of a dead horse” he muttered.

“when you described that thing your people had seen, I knew it had to be the same thing, and your telling me that its some how controlling this other group?” Sean asked.

“influencing maybe, if its controlling any of them its only one or two, but I don’t think that’s what it does, it seems to latch on to one person and then uses them, or they agree to be used by it like Mikhail. I think this Simms is another Mikhail.” Jared said then saw the look Jill gave him and added. “ or someone close to Simms is working with it. I think it cant really control people, that people have to agree to work with it. there are rules as ive been told repeatedly, and they seem to hinge on free will. If it can destroy our hope, what we hold up as good, it wins. Or maybe its something even simplier than that, I have no clue. Its just my opinion, but the truth is if Simms or who ever is working with it, gets its hands on whats in that Terminal its pawn can do some damn serious damage to any survivors.” Jared said looking around.

“I’m a twenty four year old Ag student, and your telling me we are all caught up in a battle between good and evil” Sean said shaking his head in denial.

“I tend to call it light and Dark, but what ever you want to call it, it does seem to be a battle and one side fits every definition of Evil I can think of.” Jared answered.

No one spoke after that, they were to busy thinking it over, outside the storm seemed to be fading in intensity.

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

the FMTV, bounced as it went over a curb, Mary sat in the back, clutching her rifle to her chest, trying to draw comfort from Chad, and his team. In a way she wished Ronny hadn’t assured Jared that Mary could fly the plane with out him. She wasn’t so confident now, not that she was going to let on to that fact to Chad and his people who would providing cover while they got the hanger open. It would take twenty minutes to get the floats mounted, and then all they had to do was Taxi out and take off. Assuming no huge crowd of undead happened to be in the way she was pretty sure she could take off, landing might prove to be a problem, but she had spent so much time in the cockpit with Ronny taking off and landing on rivers and lakes since they had secured the Duck last year, and Ronny had constantly told her what he was doing and why even back then, so that she was fairly confident she couldn’t manage it. if not, chances were she wouldn’t live long enough to regret it.

at least the storm had pass through, and hard cold stars glittered overhead. The trip back to the airport didn’t take as long, as it had before. there was some additional damage on the route as they back tracked, but a little more flooding, and bands of undead, that Chad was certain were following the convoy. He relayed that information on to Jared, hoping it got thru but the range on their radios was pretty limited all things considered.

By five am they were pulling onto the grounds of the airport, which seemed empty of all undead, flames still flickered in the wreckage of the hanger that Jared had used as a distraction to Lure Landry’s people and the undead away from the groups hiding place, the APC’s scattered across the field made chad think of pictures of old World war two battlefields.

The Damage from the storm, wasn’t as bad here as it was closer to the Coast. The vehicle came to a stop in Front of the Hanger where the UV had been hidden.

“Mary you keep your ass in this Truck, while we clear the Hangar” Chad said as he rose, then lifted a finger to stop her from argueing. “ not because I think you’re a wimp, Hell I know better than that, but because, you’re the pilot and I wont risk you, and because, to be honest I like your happy ass, so sit tight.” He said then leaped out of the back of the FMTV into the false dawn.

Mary sat there fidgeting, her hand gripping the pistol grip of her Rifle, Jared had given it to her, he had called it a Mini 14, and insisted that it was so idiot proof even Ronny could hit the broadside of a barn from the inside with it. as tense as she was, a smile quirked her lips at the memory. If Jared wasn’t giving Ronny crap, Ronny would be lost.

All she had to do today was, get the plane in the air, fly out to the Terminal, report what she saw, then land on the water, where Chad and his team would disembark to help Cross, hold the terminal, till Jared arrived.

She was tired of this crap, zombies were bad enough, but now having to fight a war, to keep some SOB from attacking the only Safe haven for a few hundred miles, for that matter it might be the only safe haven on the planet, Eric couldn’t get any of the official Government relocation centers on his Sat Comm. So they might be gone now as well.

At least Jared was willing to blow the entire Terminal off the map, and lose all munitions than to allow it to be taken by a mercenary like Simms, and his Militia buddies.

What losing all that might mean to Sullivan Islands people in the future, Mary wasn’t sure. But if there was one terminal there had to be more, and sooner or later some one would find it. As long as it wasn’t someone working on the other side. she wouldn’t be upset about it.

Why couldn’t this be just a nice clean zombie apocalypse, not a battle between good and evil, because I sure as hell don’t want to see that bowler wearing monster in my dreams again, she asked her self silently.

“Maam you alright” Sheldon Lyn asked, he was new on Chads team, and had been left to guard Mary.

“Yes, Yes, I am” she replied, looking up and smiling at the man.

“that’s too bad” Sheldon replied, “but you wont be for much longer.” He said as he lifted his rifle, his eyes pools of inky darkness in the sockets. Marys smile froze, as the temperature in the FMTV plummeted and a horrid smell filled the air.

Chad’s head Jerked up as he heard gunshots from the FMTV, he started running for the truck trying to raise Mary or Sheldon on the Radio, the rest of his team following behind him, their boots pounding on the Tarmac.

Oh god let her be all right Chad thought as he saw no undead in the area, the Driver of the FMTV, was out of the Cab, his pistol drawn, seeing Chad he pointed to the Passenger Module on the back of the truck.

Chad nodded and approached the Door, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach threatened to swallow him, as he reached for the latch.
j

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

Jimmy lay there in the darkness, wishing his mother was there, he missed his mother. Ms. Sandy didn’t believe him when he talked about his mother visiting in his dreams, but she did. He had been happy at first, his mother had told him she loved him, and that he was to mind Ms. Sandy. But tonight, his mother had been scary, she had told him of that the strangers were mean, and that the red headed man was evil and was going to do nasty things to Ms. Sandy and then Hurt Jimmys friends.

his mother wanted him to do a bad thing, a very bad thing, but she promised that it was the right thing to do to save his friends, he liked his friends. He climbed to his feet, slowly then carefully made his bed, it wasn’t a real bed, but he had to make it look nice, that’s what normal people did. And Jimmy wanted badly to be normal.

When he finished making his bed, he walked to the door, and opened it just enough to look out into the hallway, Ms. Sandy and her boyfriend were asleep, all the normal adults were asleep, they trusted Jimmy and his friends. Would they understand why Jimmy was about to break the rules, would they believe him when he told them his mother had told him to hurt the bad man..

He didn’t like the thought of disappointing Ms. Sandy and the others, who had been kind to Jimmy and his friends, keeping them safe from the monsters outside, but if he did this, his mother promised that he would finally be normal, and Jimmy wanted desperately to be normal. If he was normal he could protect his friends and Ms. Sandy from the monsters.

He stepped into the hallway, breaking the first rule of the night, they were never to leave their rooms unless Ms. Sandy or another Normal person, was there to accompany them. it was for safety Ms. Sandy had told them.

He walked quietly to the stairs, and saw that his mother had been right, a shiny silver pistol lay on the top step, it was just for Jimmy, he was going to be normal. Normal people used guns.

Picking it up he tucked it into the waist band of his stretch pants, just like normal people did in movies. He started down the stairs, pausing at the landing to peer around the corner to see if any of the new people were watching the stairs, they were normal people too, but would do bad things to his friends, he had to stop them.

he stopped at the foot of the stairs on the ground floor and frowned, in the dim light from a lantern he could see that the floor he had worked so hard to shine was scuffed from all the people walking on it and dragging their things. Normal people did things like that, and Jimmy always had to fix it, when he was normal he wouldn’t make his friends do extra work. he wouldn’t walk on the shiny floors.

Down the hall towards the door to the outside, the he saw a shadow move across the hall and come to a stop by a door. he smiled happily, his mother had promised to show him the right room. he waved to his mother, and wanted to smile but he felt bad for what he was about to do.

he started down the hall, moving quietly thru the shadowy hallway, then stopped in front of his mother. She smiled, but it wasn’t like the smiles she had once given him, but that was because she was worried, about Jimmy and his friends. When he was normal she would smile like the sun once more.

He opened the door and took one step into the dark room. his mother had told him not to go any further into the room or they might wake up.

he wished that the windows were not covered so he could see better. He pushed down the little leg on the door corner to hold it open, that allowed a little of the light from the lanterns scattered down the hallway to spill into the room. a wedge of light that barely pushed back the clinging shadows.

He could see two people sleeping on top of a large sleeping bag, a man and a woman; he thought with a thrill of excitement, he had wanted Ms. Sandy to sleep beside him many times, so he could feel normal. He felt bad that he was about to hurt them, but he had too.

He drew the pistol and held it out, his hand shaking, dead wasn’t good, Dead was bad, he thought, But his mother had promised him it was all right. His eyes widened as a tan and white dog rose from beside the man with fire hair, it stared at him, its eyes almost glowing in the dim light from the hallway.

Jimmy loved dogs, Dogs always treated jimmy like he was normal. Except the mean ones. the dog stepped over the sleeping man then stood straddling him, its tail wagging slowly, its head cocked to one side, as if asking if Jimmy wanted to be its friend.

But Jimmy had to hurt the dogs man, he had to his mother had told him it was the only way to save his friends. He stood there confused, not sure what to do.

“save your friends Jimmy, it’s the only way” his mother said behind him. The dog stared past Jimmy and a growl that set the hairs on Jimmys body standing, filled the room. Why didn’t the dog like his mother he wondered.

“Kill them Jimmy” His mother stated. “ its okay, this time it’s a good thing”

The dog growled again, and Jimmy saw the man stir, he tried to pull the trigger, but couldn’t dead was bad. “Kill him Jimmy, Kill the bastard and you will be normal” his mother said her voice suddenly cold, and hard like ice. Shock held him motionless, his mother never cursed.

The dog suddenly rushed at Jimmy and knocked him down. Jimmy shouted in fear, the pistol falling from his hand and went off. He managed to sit up, but only barely the dog stood over his legs, facing Jimmys mother, its growl vibrating thru Jimmy then Jimmy saw his mother, her mouth was twisted down into a horrible sneer, her eyes were no longer full of love, but dark and dead.

“You will never be normal, you’re a waste Jimmy and Ill come for you, I will come for you and eat you” His mother said, as she seemed to twist and change, till something stood in the doorway, something with hunched shoulders, its long arms dangled by its side, the white skin of its face was stretched tight across its skull, and the cloudy eyes that peered out from the deep sockets locked with Jimmys, its lips peeled back from shark like teeth. Jimmy began to scream, not even noticing the man and woman had woken.

Everything had happened so fast, Jared had awoken, when the door had opened, Nibbler had stood, was shaking like she was wagging her tail, for a brief second, he thought it was Ori or Eric checking on him, or about to wake him with news. But then Nibbler had growled., he had heard a voice, cold as the arctic say something so low he couldn’t make out the words, and then Nibbler had sprang away from the sleeping bag, even as Jared snatched up his pistol, and sprang to his feet.

The pitbull slammed into a chubby man with a round child like face even as Jared’s sights centered on the mans forehead, the man fell, the pistol fell from his hand and hit the floor going off with a boom, that sent it skittering across the floor.

Nibbler stood over the sobbing man, a deep basso growl rumbling up out of her chest, as she stared at the doorway. the man on the floor rolled over and sat up, then began to scream as he stared at the doorway. Confused at Nibblers actions, is almost seemed like the dog was protecting the Handicapped man, Jared moved towards the doorway, kicking the pistol far away from the man as far as was possible, Jill dressed only in a pair panties and a half shirt, rushed to the man whose screams of child like terror struck deep at her mothering instincts, she wrapped her arms around him, trying to calm him.

For a moment, a split second really, the thought that, that must have been how Billy Thornton had screamed as he was strung up by Mikhail, screamed and screamed for Jared to save him. The fury, surged up once more, setting him to shaking. Would he ever stop feeling guilty for what had happened to the boy. Part of him hoped not, to lose that guilt would be to become too Callous.

Nibbler suddenly stopped growling, then turned away from the door, the shot had woken everyone one and shouted question’s filled the early morning as people spilled out of their rooms, armed to the teeth.

Jared stood there for a moment watching as Nibbler licked the Mans face, almost as if she were trying to calm him down. then the dog leaned against the Handicapped man, and licked his cheek.

Jimmy lay wrapped in Jills arms rocking back and forth shaking, “not real, hat man, not mother” he chanted, those large innocent eyes locked with Jared’s. “ only wanted to be normal” the man wailed, then it was if a switch had been thrown, he fell still and silent and began to suck on his thumb.

“You are normal” Jill told him softly, then looked up at Jared “ hat man?” she asked, still holding the man and stroking his hair. She looked at Jared probably hoping that her first thought was wrong.

“I am going to find that thing and rip its rotting head off its shoulders, then shove it up its ass.” Jared grated, his anger skyrocketing at the thought of what that thing had tried to do to the handicapped man in Jills arms.

It would have shattered his mind, and it would all be my fucking Fault Jared thought, If I hadn’t been here it would never have even messed with him. I bet it would have been just as happy If I had shot the kid. He eyed nibbler who watched him calmly, Jared had the oddest feeling that Dog had knocked the handicapped man down to keep Jared from shooting him.

“what the hell is going on in here” Eric asked from the door as he stepped inside, followed by half the group, all of them asking a million questions, and then Sandra and Sean burst pushed past Jared’s people, fear on their faces, Sandra seeing the pistol in Jared’s hand gasped then turned to sick horror for a moment as she saw Jimmy in Jill’s arms.

“Oh my god” she said starting forward, only slightly calming as she saw Jimmy sucking his thumb. “you didn’t shoot him did you? He is harmless you dumb ass” She snapped at Jared.

“no he wasn’t shot” Jill assured her. Sandra started to push Nibbler out of the way, but Jimmy’s arm lashed out and drew the dog closer, holding the dog tight his free hand stroking the dogs’ fur. .

“then who was doing the shooting” Sandra asked, as she knelt beside Jimmy.

“He dropped a pistol that went off when it hit the floor” Jared said.

“Impossible we don’t let them have firearms” Sandra told him, almost accusingly

“They never leave their rooms with out asking either Sandy” Sean said softly. He spotted the pistol and walked over and picked it up, then turned it over gently in his hands as he looked at it. “he must have gotten it from one of your rooms, we don’t have a Revolver.”

“Eric, you and Blaine help her get the kid up to his room, Ori find out who owns that weapon.” Jared said waving a hand at towards jimmy, he was still shivering with the adrenalin and cold fury that flowed thru him.

“he isn’t a kid, he is 26 years old” Sandra said hotly.

“He acts like a kid, has the innocence of a child, so he is a kid to me. That’s not an insult Sandra” Jared replied as Eric and Blaine came forward. Blaine injected Jimmy with a sedative while sending Blair to get a stretcher, by the time the Sedative had kicked in Blair had returned with the stretcher, the three men got Jimmy on the Stretcher, and then followed Sandra who led them up to Jimmys room.

Jared began to dress, it was almost time to get up and underway, so no point in going back to sleep. As he buckled on his weapons belt, Ori returned. “ no one remembers ever seeing that pistol” Ori said with no preamble. “ Rob said, its possible it was in a case or something and he just forgot about it, but rob rarely forgets a thing, especially not weapons. and I checked the last inventory list, we did, and theres no Colt python on the list.”

“Your telling me that this pistol just appeared out of thin air” Jared said, shaking his head.

“no Jared, I’m suggesting some one had that pistol and isn’t admitting to the fact, which make s me wonder how exactly how that Man got his hands on it.” Ori said heavily, he hated the thought of yet another traitor in the group.

Jared watched the door for a moment, thinking he had seen nothing at the door, but he had heard something speaking, and Nibbler damn sure had seen something, and somehow, the Mentally challenged man, just comes across a pistol that no one admits to having, all this after Jimmy talking about hat man, and wanting to be normal.. His fury if anything redoubled, but he kept it under control.

He could easily see that thing, tempting the poor guy into believing his wildest wish could come true if he just did this one little thing, for the good of man or friends or what ever it was that Jimmy loved.

“ we have to get moving here shortly, but I want to talk to Arthur Miller and the men he trusts before we leave, so they know to be on their toes, in case who ever it was is left behind, Id hate to come back and find this place burned to the ground.” Jared said thinking of what Mikhail had done to Cole’s group before they had run across Jared and his people.

Jared dressed quickly, as he clipped the HK to the sling to dangle down his chest, he saw Sean step into the doorway.

“Yes” Jared said tersely. Not wanting a scene, he didn’t need it with the guilt he felt for what happened.

“I wanted to tell you that Sandra got Jimmy to talk to her, From what he told her, he was tricked, and now he is scared that the Hat man is coming to eat him” Sean said, watching Jared closely. “ I don’t understand what the hell is going on, do you really think this thing is real, this hat man” Sean asked.

Jared nodded, “we told you what we’ve seen and experienced Sean, yes its real. but what exactly it is I don’t know. Can it be killed yes, can it get in here, not unless someone lets it in.” Jared said then sighed and sat on the edge of a table. “this is my opinion not fact, but I think most of the time, its not real, or rather its only a presence, but what we see is in our minds. But it is real too, His name was Jasper Evan Brown, a Serial killer, who died in Nashville on the 23rd in front of a motel after escaping from Jail. Which means his corpse is out there walking around, just as real as we are, and I think if we put that corpse down, we put him down.” Jared said, for the first time really explaining what he thought, some of it had been suggested in Gayle’s book, he was just extrapolating the rest but it made sense, and maybe he was just dead wrong too.

He had thought for a while now, that Bowler hat existed in some sort of weird duality, spirit and corpse, Mark had hinted as much, as had Gayle. Gayle had been the one to suggest some sort of Evil trinity that opposed the Trinity of man. But Brown, or Bowler hat as pretty much every one called it, could only act thru its tools, and maybe its own corpse. The rest was an illusion, a way to fuck with your mind, that’s how it could appear out of nowhere pull some terrifying stunt and then vanish as soon as you lifted a weapon. or maybe Jared was just plain wrong, what the hell did he know about the supernatural anyway.

“you telling me you have to find one corpse in the city of Nashville and put it down.” Sean asked incredulously.

“No, I think its waiting at the terminal to kill me, Ed and Jill, if it does kill us then it might show up here.” Jared said as he pulled his pistol ejected the magazine, Jacked the slide, catching the Round in midair. He slipped it back into the magazine, and then returned the magazine to the weapons well, before charging the weapon. “ and I’m going to kill it, assuming Ed doesn’t beat me to it” Jared added as he holstered his pistol. Sean stared at him, with no idea what to say.

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

the light wind blew over the tarmac, as men ran splashing thru the standing water to the FMTV. A few beams of moonlight Spilled thru the ragged clouds, the storm was finally clearing out. the gun shots still rang in Chads head as he reached for the latch, taking a deep breath praying that it had been a misfire, he opened the door.

Mary sat on the bench her rifle still held in her hands, as she gazed at the body that lay at her feet in a pool of blood. She shook her head then rose to her feet all business, determined not to let it show how much it affected her to kill.

“ lets move, I need those floats on the plane, we don’t have all night” she said leaping out to stand next to Chad.

“you heard Her” Chad said, closing the door. “ get the lead out.” the men rushed off, they had been assigned their jobs before they left the campus. Mary leaned against Chad for a moment, wishing Ronny was with her. She wasn’t military, she was a former office worker, a case manager. She almost laughed at the absurdity of standing here on the ramp of a deserted Airport, about to fly a plane to scout out an area for a possible attack on an Enemy she hadn’t even met before.

when this is over, We are flying someplace with white sand, ocean breaches and hopefully no zombies. She thought still shaken, if her assailant hadn’t hesitated for hair, mary would be dead right now, that slightly hesitation, coupled with her nerves, was the only thing that had saved her.

her moment of weakness over Mary straightened up. “ thanks for the shoulder now lets get this over with” she said and started jogging towards the plane, where men were busy getting the floats reattached.

A ground crew might have been able to do the job in twenty minutes or so, the men with her managed to do it on forty. As soon as they were finished, all but chad and his team went out and swept the area around the hanger.

Mary dropped into the pilots seat, and ran thru the checklist. She was being anal, but she was determined to do it right.

Chad made sure the hatch was shut, and his men strapped in before he climbed into the copilots seat. watching her silently as she prepared the plane for take off.

He wouldn’t tell her, but his testicles were in his throat ready to leap up and kick his brain in the ass for putting them here in this plane with a woman who wasn’t a pilot. Granted Ronny said she was ready, but Ronny wasn’t a licensed pilot either.

“Ready “ she asked Chad, as she fired up the engine. He nodded mutely, if he spoke his voice would probably be a few octaves higher than normal.

“don’t look so scared, you look like your crapping your pants’ Mary remarked.

“I’m about to” He admitted.

“don’t worry about, I’ve done this a few hundred times now” she said as let off the brakes and the plane began to roll towards the open hangar door.

“a few hundred?” Chad asked, not believing her.

“well ten times for real, about ninety on the flight sim program on Ronnys laptop” Mary said, with a straight face.

“Flight Sim?” Chad said turning pale.

The plane nosed out of the hangar, into the dawns light. “ its really surprisingly realistic” Mary replied. As she turned down the Taxiway. The men guarding the outside of the hanger ran and climbed into the FMTV, which pulled out and paced them. if a horde appeared the FMTV would attempt to clear the runway, at the worst they would clear a space large enough for mary and the others to retreat back to the truck.

Chad’s throat worked for a moment, “flight Sim” he repeated.

“I’m just yanking your jewels. Calm down” Mary said as they reached the turn to the Runway, the truck pulled ahead of them, shooting forward to run down five zombies staggering down the runway towards the plane.

She fed the plane power, and it began to roll down the runway picking up speed.

“I really hope I haven’t forgotten something” Mary remarked, then burst into nervous laughter at the look on Chad’s face.

“Worst case, we crash on take off, and all die. Best case we fly, and then have to worry about landing later” Mary said.

“God I hate flying” Chad muttered, as the landscape outside whipped past.

“then calm down we aren’t flying yet” Mary said, as she prayed she knew what she was doing, and began to pull back on the stick.

Suddenly Chad felt lighter, and the noise and vibration in the plane quieted as it lifted off gently from the Airstrip. He looked down and saw the FMTV still following but growing smaller as the plane flew higher and pulled quickly away, and then the truck was turning and speeding for the gate, their task was done, they would return to the Campus and wait.

Mary checked her heading and altered course, nodding to her self when her heading matched up to the one Ronny had plotted out for her. “ well that was the easy part” She remarked.

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

The sun was rising as Simms finished his Breakfast, just dehydrated eggs with a ton of Tabasco on them, one of the French men he had served with would have been gagging at that, being a French cuisine snob, he disliked anything not French, but really hated the American penchant for dousing food in hot sauces and other things. Well guess the jokes on you, the only French cuisine left in the world are the surviving French men, and the zombies don’t like sauces either, Simms thought with morbid humor.

He turned to Mulligan who manned the Radios at the moment. “ any word for LeCleric yet” he asked. light flashed on Mulligans bald head as he shook it.

“not a Peep, Abaddon,” Mulligan replied.

Simms sat there for a moment, and realized he no longer liked that nickname. Not one damn bit. “call me Cal, Simms, Adjutant, or make up a new nickname if you have too, but don’t call me that any more” He said suddenly, Mulligan looked up silently at Simms, then nodded.

“Gotcha, being called the dark angel of the abyss, during a zombie apocalypse might not be the best choice” Mulligan agreed.

“so Dark helmet, what are your Orders” Mulligan asked.

Simms found himself chuckling, Mulligan might be a hard case, but he did have a sense of humor and a fondness for comedys and spoof movies.

“Right now, Id settle for having the Schwartz with us,” Simms replied.

“only if your Schwartz is bigger than the other guys” Mulligan said, the humor on his face faded after a second. “I haven’t said much about it Cal, But I have a few problems with this whole thing, and especially with Sheamus.”

Simms eyed Mulligan for a moment, the man rarely offered up opinions, and when he did Simms tended to listen. His eyes drifted to Ivan whose blank face gave nothing away, but Simms knew the Russian was paying attention, as was every man in the Stryker.

“And what would be your problems with all this and Sheamus to boot” Simms asked, “ the fact that Sheamus seems to have become unstable, and pushed us into a confrontation with Jared stone and his group, and that somehow Jared stone acquired information about our route, the location of the terminal, and seemingly our old Radio frequencies.”

“That about sums it up Cal, but your leaving out the dreams, and …” Mulligan fell silent for a moment gathering his thoughts and trying to choose the best words. “ and that thing, dressed in old fashioned clothes that used to caper around the shadows of our dreams, till Sheamus left.” For Mulligan to reach that far into the belief of the supernatural was enough to give any one that knew him pause. Simms had honestly believed for a long while he was the only one that had been having the dreams, but as time went by and he overheard whispered conversations, the had begun to doubt it, then Sheamus during the meeting had stated he had the dreams and knew simms had as well, and that had been the final nail in the coffin of Logic that Simms had tried to hang on to.

“ you think we should just leave the Terminal alone then” Simms asked, wondering if maybe that was exactly what they should do.

“hell no, we need the ammo Cal, but I think Sheamus has other plans for us and the Terminal, and I think that maybe we might want to reconsidering attacking that island.” Mulligan said, meeting Simms eyes in a challenge.

Simms sat there for a long moment, all his reasons for wanting that island were valid, except maybe one, maybe it didn’t matter if he controlled it. but at this point in the game, there was no way Jared stone was going to make nice, after Simms had linked up with Militia units that Stone had already fought with, and to top it off, Sheamus had shot and most likely killed Stones Best friend.

For a moment his mind went back to the mad dash across Kabul as the undead over ran the city, he could smell the cordite of the US Air base defenders, hear the shouts of Soldiers as they fought and the planes roaring as they took off for secure destinations trying to get as many as they could away from the carnage, he could really remember the US Marines who stood their ground, calling in arty strikes and pouring fire into the avalanche of dead flesh as the undead tried to reach the base and the living who were attempting to flee, he especially remembered an F 22 pilot out of munitions and probably out of fuel, crashing his plane into the crowd of undead, the tumbling burning wreckage blotting out hundreds of undead before it came to a rest, it was a totally random memory or maybe it wasn’t, he had given up on trying to figure out the weird things.

Hero or villain, Duty or power, life wasn’t that simple Simms thought, or maybe it was. Enough of the moral philosophizing he chided himself. you have people to keep alive regardless of what you decide about your future ambitions, that was his duty at the moment, and to keep them alive he had to get to those munitions. After that he could figure out what, if anything he was going to do about that island.

But far back in his mind, a small voice had to ask, what would your former hat wearing friend really want, and do you want to do it.

Mulligan suddenly placed a hand against his earpiece and then smiled. “ LeCleric, reporting in, they are preparing to lift off, and join us shortly.” Mulligan announced.

“good,” Simms replied, then switched to French so the few Militia soldiers in the Stryker wouldn’t understand. “ and I want all of you to keep on your toes with Sheamus around, I don’t think we can trust him anymore. Or that whore Maggie”

there were nodes of agreement from his men, “ we move out when the Helio is on station,” he announced.

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

Mike stuffed extra magazines into the pouches on his combat vest, trying to ignore the case of nerves he felt, he hadn’t slept well last night, hadn’t slept well since Carrie had vanished. And having to avoid Ily, on a daily basis was getting harder. Well bright side if I die today I don’t have to worry about any of it any longer.

The truth was, He loved Ily, a lot, and he still loved Carrie. He felt like he was betraying his wife and vows, but in all honesty, his wife had never woken up from that coma, the woman in that body was a total stranger. And Ily had been there for him the entire time. She had even been trying to give him his space. Sooner or later Mike old pal, she is going to get tired of waiting, she is a pretty woman, and most of the single guys have been sniffing around her for a while now.

Mordicai had been right when he told Mike that hanging on to His love and duty to Carrie was noble, but there was a point he would have to move on, or be miserable. He didn’t think he was any where near that point yet, but maybe he should be.

“about Ready” Amy asked from the doorway. she was decked out in some kind of teen aged fashion version of combat gear he noted, with a slight smile.

“almost” he said as he made sure he had everything he might need, Amy slipped out of the room with a nervous smile and when Mike looked back, Ily was walking towards him.

She was a vision he thought, slender, shapely, long dark hair framing a delicate, sensual face, that wasn’t so much pretty, or cute, but striking, Elegant really. For a second the mental image of taking her in his arms and kissing her floated before his minds eye, then he shoved it away.

“Mike, before we head out, I need to talk to you for a moment’ She said, the slight accent made her sound as exotic as she looked.

“no need Ily, I…” He said, then fell silent as she laid a warm slender finger across his lips.

“I love you Mike, and I’m willing to wait, but I wont wait forever. Carrie may not ever come back, and you shouldn’t spend the rest of your life loving a memory. I’m here, and I’m real and I Love you. that’s as real as it gets”

Mike stood there, want to refuse, wanting to deny his feelings, but walls long standing, cracked, his resolve weakened. He slipped his arms around her, and kissed her on the forehead. That was as close as he could come at the moment.

“I, I cant just yet Ily, I know its stupid, but I just cant bail on her, not yet. When, If, we end up together, I don’t want there to be any doubt, that I’m ready for it.” He said, tilting his head down and resting his forehead on hers.

Amy peeked into the room and smiled happily, then withdrew. Mike had better damn well, get a move on, Or I will hunt down some date rape drugs for Ily to use on him. Amy told her self with a smile.

“is he ready yet” Jill called out spotting Amy as the older woman headed for the walled in yard.

“Almost, he, um, has a few things left to do, another minute or two okay” Amy yelled back. Smiling sweetly at the people in the hallway that turned and looked at her annoyed at her yelling.

“aint this a motly crew” Jared observed, as he climbed up onto the wall, Ronny was limping from his wound, Steger moved gently from the bruising he had taken thru his armor. Jared’s own injuries were minor, but he hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, either.

At least Jill had made him a very happy man earlier, hopefully they would be making each other very happy this evening. She flashed him a patented sexy smile, which set Ori to rolling his eyes.

“Maybe we should wait till Tomorrow, so you two can work this out of your system” Ori commented.

“Next time remember to bring your wife and you wont be so cranky” Jared responded with a laugh.

“Bite me spanky” Ori said as he climbed up and looked out over the parking area, the rim of the sun was just climbing over the edge of the world, in a haze of gold, rose and pink.

A few undead wandered thru the bent and broken trees, heading towards the sound of idling motors and the sound of mens voices, there weren’t many of them, but give it a bit of time and the area would end up being overrun with them.

Jared leaped down, and strode to the ELSORV, as he opened the door, he heard shouts and wild barking, he turned in time to seen Nibbler scrambling over the wall, as soon as she spotted him she leaped to the ground and streaked towards him tail wagging.

“Guess the dogs coming” Ori remarked as he climbed into the back seat.

“Guess the Major is too” Ronny said pointing to the wall where the Retired SF Major was climbing over.

“Unless he turns out to be a traitor, I have to admit that makes me feel a bit better about what’s coming” Ronny said, poking a nervous looking Ori in the side before Ori could shut the door.

“Are you going to stand there talking till you get eaten or are you going to get in” Jill asked as she slipped into the ELSORV and shut the door.

“The Lady has a point” Jared said, as he opened the drivers door, the Pitbull jumped in and then climbed into Jills Lap. “ at least she now gets along with Jill” Jared remarked as he slipped into the seat, and shut the door.

the undead were about forty feet away now, Lany, and her friends, on the roof began picking them off with arrows. There was something almost unnerving to see a Head or eye socket suddenly sprout a feathered shaft Jared thought.

Eric and his people were ready in the LAV, Daws and his Team were already pulling the Stryker around. Ed, Logan and the others were piled into a FMTV and the second ELSORV.

“Is it me or has Ed and Paddy been spending a lot of time together” Ronny asked suddenly from the back seat.

“Good god Ronny, what are you trying to become Gossip central or what”Jill asked.

“Just an Observation, and speaking of which, Mike and Ily looked awfully damned comfortable around each other as they were getting into the FMTV.” Ronny said with a grin.

“he is your friend deal with him” Jill told Jared who shrugged.

“you remember how well that worked when he had that ten foot pole made of chopsticks and was poking undead to see what they would do don’t you” Jared reminded her.

“the end of the world and your only friends are idiots” Jill said, as Ori spluttered a protest.

Jill laughed softly, ignoring the carnage beyond the Window as Jared pulled away running down the undead and assumed the lead. She wasn’t going to let her nerves get the better of her, not now. but she couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to change after today.

They swung out onto the highway, running down the undead that were staggering down the road. Here and there trees were down, or leaning where their roots had been pulled partially from the ground. Most of the debris, were from homes. Old drapes ripped out of smashed windows, cushions, from chairs and couches. Toys, clothes, books and a ton of other things.

Just outside of Bolivia, NC, they saw a trail three hundred yards wide, that headed south west, the trees had been ripped up and tossed about, many had been reduced to large splinters, a GMC Pick up, sat in the middle of a completely empty foundation, undamaged, with a zombie still locked inside its cab.

.”Tornado,” Ori commented.

Bolivia, was a small town, once boasting 148 people before the undead, which also probably explained why Sean and his people had seen so few undead around the school for awhile now. Bolivia was more or less a quaint town of maybe five major streets. including the district 13 and superior court, building.

They drove into the town, past damaged buildings with shattered windows, overturned vehicles, toppled signs and power poles. the marshes to west of town had flooded spilling over into the town, leaving five inches of water standing on the streets.

If there had been anything here worth taking it was probably ruined now, Jill thought as she saw a zombie impaled on a weather vane, atop an old home. it wiggled around waving its arms and legs trying to pull itself off, but was getting no where.

“now this looks like a town at the end of the world” Ronny remarked, as they drove past a late 1890’s home, that had served as a bed and Breakfast, its door gone. In a few years, with no windows or doors to keep out the wild life and weather, The home would start to collapse, in a way that really bothered Jill.

it hammered home just how well off they had been before, and how little they had realized it. there were thousands of homes like that one, old, well maintained, a piece of their history, for anyone to live in. and now all that history, across what had been a nation, would fall apart and fade away, taking with it the history of the people who had built a Nation, bled for a nation.

There would be no memorials to the fallen, no history that would record their names, and nothing they had done in their lives mattered here at the end of the world. three hundred plus million gone, as if they had never existed. That bothered her more than anything else, the thought of nothing and no one to remember the names of all those who had died. it was just wrong somehow.

Jared placed his hand on her thigh and squeezed lightly, he always seemed to know when she was heading into depression, she thought giving him a sad fond smile.

They turned and started down George II highway, passing a burned out Laundromat, where a two police cars and a Ambulance, were parked. Jill looked away from the sight, not even wanting to think of how they had died.

They exited the town, passing from old damaged buildings, to a tree lined highway, here and there power lines lay across the road. but the damage here was less than in town, only a few trees had been blown down, and only one lay half on the road.

Ori ignored the school bus in a flooded ditch, its accordion door stood open, and there was what looked like dried blood on the windows. It wasn’t the only vehicle in the ditch but it was the one that really hit Ori hard.

Just outside of Boiling Springs Lake, they passed the remnants of a Guard Check point, sandbags and cement dividers created a funnel for Traffic to pass through, and a Deuce and half still stood sentinel, as did a burned out Peacekeeper. The hood on the Duece was gone, and it looked like some one had stripped the vehicle for parts.

Other than the shredded remaints of a GP Medium, there was nothing else at the Checkpoint.

“from the looks of it, some one looted the place well before that storm” Ronny remarked, then craned his head, to look up at the sky as a familiar droning noise reached them.

he grinned with relief as he saw the UV fly past, waggling its wings.

Mary couldn’t stop smiling as she saw the six vehicles down below, at least she knew Ronny and her friends were close by she leveled the plane and in moments had left the vehicles far behind.

The town of Boiling springs, looked intact from the air, but appearances as she was aware were sometimes deceiving. In spots the town had flooded, and she could see some power poles down. and not a single undead, was it even possible that they had been blown away during the storm. Now that was a cheery thought she told herself, as she passed out of town, over the area that Ronny had thought might have been an old airfield in the woods between George the II and 133, just beyond was the Terminal.

She could make out a column of vehicles in the distance weaving between stalls and debris, making their way towards the Terminal. In moments she was sweeping over the main gate, and flying along the fence, line heading towards the water.

“oh shit,” Chad said, pointing down.

Mary banked to get a good look, and her blood ran cold as she saw zombies, five deep strung along the acres of fence line, they were in the woods, and the marsh out of sight from any one on the road, but no more than two hundred yards or so from the main gate.

She could see them looking around trying to pinpoint the source of the noise.

She leveled off, Jared and the others couldn’t just bust in now, they had to be able to close and secure the gates behind them, and as soon as the vehicles approached the undead would hear them and start heading towards the noise, and the gate.

As she started to report, she saw the Huey Helicopter, its side door open, and a man was pointing something towards them. Mary slammed the throttles forward going nose down then pulled up and rolled away, the inter coastal just ahead.

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

The US Military Munitions Terminal, wasn’t all that small of a complex, all things being equal, it was huge easily larger than Ft. Bragg, or Camp Lejune.

The Entire complex easily covered, 16000 acres, with somewhere around, 212,000 square feet of Building space. Divided in half by Marshland, the temporary Munitions storage areas, and the docks were on the east side, with berms scattered along the Marsh, to absorb and deflect the energy of any accidental explosion to protect the communities to the west, north and East from the blast and shock wave.

During Desert storm the terminal shipped out 2.1 million tons of munitions on 186 cargo ships, carrying the munitions from some 27 thousand rail cars. Which meant, that when Benton was rousted out of bed with the rest of his squad, and sent to patrol now that the Hurricane was past, that patrolling meant in vehicles, the complex was simply to large to patrol on foot.

During the previous week, three humvees and a Deuce and a half had been fixed, which is how Benton found himself ridding in the gunners mount of a Hummer, wishing the damn thing had a remote gun installed, like the ones he had ridden in, in Afghanistan. Instead of his happy ass standing up here exposed to god and the universe.

Just after dawn they rode away from the Docks and the wall of containers that provided some safety to those inside the area, and into the area where the temporary storage bunkers were located. The damage from the storm was negligible here, just some branches and limbs and huge standing pools of water. the Rail yard was about the same, really there was little the storm could have done to the massive engines that squatted on the tracks.

Will had been pretty busy over the last year, Benton thought as he eyed the Truck and the containers strapped to flatbed rail cars, behind the number one engine, the man had, set up about ten different ways to escape the terminal depending on what happened.

From what Sinclair had gotten out of the man, every month Will had tested the engines, pulled the basic maintenance that the PM manuals laid out, and loaded any extra supplies he had decided on.

As they pulled out of the Rail yard, heading to the main road, the only road, that crossed the Marsh to the Administrative west side of the Terminal, he heard a distant thumping.

Benton’s brow furrowed, as he considered the sound, then it hit him, Chopper.

“got a Chopper out here, no visuals yet” Benton reported over the Radio.

At the ops building, the message took a minute five to reach Cross how was busy in another building, the moment the message reached him, he instantly started rattling off orders to get his people moving to preplanned positions.

Benton scanned the sky, and finally saw, a Huey helicopter moving north to south, apparently the chopper spotted the Hummer and the Deuce, as it changed course and dropped out of sight.

“ Well that was down right unfriendly” Benton muttered, then relayed his sighting, as the two vehicles pulled out onto the main road and turned towards the marsh. A minute later he spotted a plane, “ got more air traffic, this time a UV, Military markings, Looks like the one Ronny was flying when he brought Steve in”

and then things went wonky, as Jansen liked to say, the Huey shot up, and tracer fire ripped out towards the Aircraft, which instantly dove towards the ground gaining speed before it pulled up and rolled away.

Benton tripped the trigger on the .50 and walked the tracers towards the Helicopter that suddenly spun around and dropped behind the trees again. he wasn’t sure but he might have hit it.

Cross watched as the Yacht pulled away from the dock, and headed south. moving towards Bald head island, no matter what happened here, the supplies and Munitions aboard that yacht would help Sullivan immensely, especially combined with the boat load he had sent down two days before. The rest of the terminal, was going to be lost, of that he was pretty certain.

“ This is Mary, I’m south of your positions and coming in low over the water, we have some damage but nothing serious.” Cross jerked for a second at the womans voice in his ear then nodded.

“Roger, Mary, Hope you have room on board” Cross replied.

“not really, I have six aboard, and a can carry a maximum of Ten passengers.” Mary replied.

Cross finally spotted the plane low over the water of the intercoastal, in moments it was skimming low, flared out and settled into the water, throwing a sheet of spray to either side. then slowed and at moderate speed, headed towards the dock.

Cross, turned his head to look at Vega, “ get Castle and Burns, and head to the last boat, I want you as far from here as you can get” in the distance, they heard an explosion.

“what about you, top?” Vega asked,

“I have a lot to do here Vega, Jansen and his squad are out there, Jared and his people are in bound, and Chris and his team are out there just itching to link up with Jared, and of course, I have a munitions terminal to blow up on top of every thing else” Cross said, “ now get moving Vega, we don’t have a lot of time”

“ Yes First Sergeant” Vega said, turning and running for the ops building. Cross had brought these people this far, they had kept each other alive through the end of the world, he would be damned before he let them die for this kind of shit. Jared might want this terminal, but Cross had other plans.

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

“E’en now their vanguard gathers,
E’en now we face the fray —
As Thou didst help our fathers,
Help Thou our host to-day.
Fulfilled of signs and wonders,
In life, in death made clear —
Jehovah of the Thunders,
Lord God of Battles, hear!”
~Kipling

Under a blue sky, the Column passed thru the storm damaged landscape, rolling down 113, towards the main gates of the terminal. Hanson sat in the commanders chair of his personal Stryker, gritting his teeth as another IED went off, this time, to right side of the lead Stryker, which rocked up and then down, its tires shredded, its side scorched and battered by debris, sparks flew as the rims chewed up the pavement.

The two remaining tires, one at the rear and the second set from the front slowly re inflated, lifting the Strykers remaining bare rims off the pavement. There was no way that the remaining tires could be repaired, but the central inflation system would at least keep those two functioning till they could stop somewhere and transfer the people off the damn thing. Hopefully there would be spare tires at the motor pool, assuming the terminal had a motor pool.

“I’m not sure this is fucking worth it boss” Lt. Lance Grim, muttered. Grim was one of Hanson’s oldest friends, and had been in the militia unit for years before the zombies came. “Hell we cant even raise Malone on the radio and he should be at the north side gate by now. Well with in range.”

“I know, Lance,” Hanson replied, not happy either. They should have arrived here with almost a hundred men, not counting that prick Sheamus’s troop of Idiots.

“we have been bleeding men, for days now, Sir, ten went AWOL last night for god’s sake” Lance replied, looking around at the others in the Command Stryker.

“are you suggesting we leave?” Hanson asked casually. Lance shrugged.

“I’m not suggesting anything, we need the ammo, we have spent way to much of it on the way here, and now we need parts, tires and food too. And all that maybe sitting right there.” Lance said motioning towards the Terminal “ its just that I cant shake the feeling, that all hell is going to break loose on us.”

Hanson, leaned back in his seat, thinking about last Christmas, when they had attacked the Farm where Jared Stone had been wintering. More to the point his thoughts turned continuously to the mysterious Michael, who had apparently set Hanson and his men up before slipping away into the snow storm, leaving Hansons men to pay a heavy price, against Stone and the massive horde of undead that had just came out of the snow storm as if they had been waiting for Hanson’s men.

He glanced at the screen that showed the icons of the columns vehicles, where Tate, who was a former soldier, and familiar with the Strykers systems, had also added a scarlet icon that marked John Williams jeep. Just like Christmas, an Odd stranger just shows up, in this case two if he included that woman, and again things are going to hell.

“pass the word to the men, if I call for a bug out, they are to haul ass out, pickup those they can safely pick up with out a delay. Tate, Grim, work out the best escape route you can and upload it to the other four Strykers, and make sure that the route is passed to the other non Stryker vehicles. if we have to run like hell, I want as many of our people getting out as possible.” he said then turned back to the screen that showed him the outside, all he wanted at this point was to get in, load up and get out, he didn’t care if they attacked the Island after this or not.

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

Simms stood in the hatch, looking back at the burning IFV, his face set in a frown, that could have been carved in stone. If that Dumb ass Sheamus hadn’t started after Jared Stone back in Nashville, this might not have happened. But once Stone had an enemy, he went after them with a vengeance, simms thought. He wondered how many other booby traps he had avoided that stone had probably spread along his old route, when he had figured out that somehow Stone had gotten a hold of Simms projected route.

His unit was down to four Strykers now, three of them under Hanson’s control, and Simms own Stryker. Granted they could find more just laying around later, but that didn’t do a damn thing to help him out here.

He turned to the gate, that two of Sheamus’s Men were opening. Simms didn’t trust them in the least. Mulligan and the rest of his people had a point about not trusting Sheamus the man had become a loose cannon since Maggie had arrived.

The First truck through the gate, went up in a ball of fire as it rolled over yet another IED. Maybe Stone hadn’t set the IED’s outside, he thought then dismissed the idea, Stone had probably placed people inside the Terminal to secure it, days ago. He didn’t want to think about how much they could have gotten their hands on and moved before now. but at least he knew they hadn’t moved crap yesterday.

He hid a smile as he watched Sheamus’s people hesitate now, they weren’t eager to rush in to die.

“Lets get rolling, as soon as we are through the gate, get off the road and swing west, we are going to stay off the roads till we have use them” Simms said over the intercom.

The Stryker lurched into motion, skirting Sheamus’s vehicles that were still strung out before the gate. The Stryker moved in behind the burning truck, and then pushed it clear of the gate, before going around the wreck, Hanson’s column, all ten vehicles followed, As Simms Stryker turned off the road and onto the grassy expanse to the left of the gate.

“Adjust the tire pressure to about ten pounds, that ground is soggy” Simms called out. that was one of the great things about the Stryker, you could adjust tire pressure for terrain changes, from inside the vehicle with out stopping.

He did not miss the inferior French IFV’s, regardless of nationalistic hype, the US did have superior military Vehicles, and competent crews to use them. or had the competent crews he silently amended.

They splashed across the grass and mud for almost two hundred yards, before Simms had them turn north. There was no way Stone and his people could have covered every possible route, they hadn’t had the time to build a large amount of IEDs, even with all the Munitions at the Terminal. so they would have used them on the most obvious routes, namely the roads.

“The Huey is under fire” Mulligan reported, shaking Simm’s out of his thoughts, He looked up to see the bird turn and race for safety, tracer rounds following it. Grimson and LeCleric almost made it too, but just as they dropped out of the Gunners line of sight, smoke began to flow from the cowling of the Heuy.

“ lets go pick up our people.” Simms ordered, as he picked out the best route to the Helicopters location, that would keep them off streets as much as possible.

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

the Huey fell slowly, on auto rotation, as the engine died, only the whistle of the wind thru the open doors could be heard, then the Marine on the Door gun, began to pray softly but it was still to loud in the now silent helicopter.

LeCleric crossed himself as the saw tree limbs reaching up for the bird, then the branches were slapping against the understand, there was a cracking and breaking noise as branches were ripped off by the skids, somehow how Harald managed to keep it mostly under control as they broke thru the trees and into a grassy area behind a large red brick building. the Chopper landed heavily Jarring every one aboard, LeCleric unstrapped and scooped up his FAMAS.

Harald swore softly in Norwegian, as he gathered his pack, and weapons then switched to French for LeCleric. “ looks like our plans to get out of dodge are on hold for now.” he said.

“For now, My Friend but there are Helicopters and planes all over for us to use to get back to our escape plane.” Lecleric said. Escape plane, Harald thought, there is no Escape, its just another plane to take us deeper into hell.

Davis, the US Marine, was already on the ground looking around Nervously, expecting to be shot or to see a wave of undead at any moment. In the distance, they heard vehicles coming closer.

“Calvary is on the way” Davis said as LeCleric joined him, forgetting that LeCleric spoke no English, or maybe refused to speak it.

“I hate being on the ground “ Harald said in English as he leaped down, and then shrugged on his pack. “ to easy to get bitten or trapped on the ground”

“to easy to fall a thousand plus feet in the air” Davis said with a tight lipped grin. He was still grinning as his head exploded, splattering LeCleric with bone and brain.

Harald dropped to the Ground Cursing heavily, trying to grab and haul LeCleric down with him. there was another shot, and LeCleric joined him on the Grass, a large hole in his chest.

Harald scooted backwards under the huey, who ever was shooting was doing it from that red bricked building. he realized, he lifted his rifle and aimed at LeCleric who was starting to Twitch as his body began the process of Reanimating. Harald, put two rounds into the man and finally killed him a second time.

A bullet ripped into the Huey, thankfully missing Harald. Then another. The smell of fuel began to fill the air. No He thought panicked, realizing the shooters intention. Harald scooted backwards out from under the helicopter, a bullet striking close enough to his face to send dirt into his eyes. As soon as he was out from under the bird, he rose into a crouch, keeping the helicopters body between himself and the shooter. Not that a helicopter offered much protection.

How did the enemy just happen to pick this one building out of all the others to place a sniper, he asked himself as he prepared to make a run for it.

The Stryker came around the corner of the red brick building, kicking up dirt and debris as its rear slid out in the tight turn, Harald took off running, weaving side to side for all he was worth, a shot rang out kicking up dirt near his feet. Then behind him he heard the hammering of a .50 cal. And the distinctive sound of brick and glass shattering.

Harald through himself into the waist deep weeds, and then rolled away from the spot he had landed just in case. the sound of motors grew louder, and then He saw the Stryker rolling thru the grass, like some sort of Prairie boat. it came about and the ramp dropped, revealing Simms in full combat gear, “get in” he shouted.

“ I need to get the last of my gear from the Bird, then I can leave” harald called back, as he jogged up the ramp and into the Stryker.

“Take us back to the chopper” Simms told the Driver over the Radio. “ and park so the ramp is facing the helicopter, lets make sure the idiot has some cover.”

Harald grinned at Simms, and a moment later was back down the ramp and pulling the last of his gear from the Helicopter. including the massive Axe he loved to use against zombies.

“ Wiezbecki take two men and sweep that building I want to make sure that bastard is dead” Simms ordered, as the closest thing they had for a medic, checked Harald Grimson out.

“ Hanson, detach the Off road trucks and send them forward as scouts, hold the rest at the quad.” Simms ordered, “ and have a squad sweep the buildings, we lost two men on the chopper to a sniper.”

He barely heard Hanson acknowledgement, he was to busy watching the surrounding area for the enemy. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Stone had posted snipers, Pay back was fair play after all. Damn Sheamus to hell, but now that he had plenty of time to stop and think about things, all his problems had started with the Arrival of Maggie and Williams.

The ever confusing Williams, Ivan had commented several times, that Williams muttered comments in Russian sounded native born, in fact he sounded like he had been born and raised around the black sea. Simms had even begun to suspect that Williams might be responsible for Stones discovering the Existence of the terminal and maps or other documents that gave the Man, Simms route.

He glanced at Ivan, who sat stone faced and silent. Williams bothered the hell out of Ivan, who had never fully explained why, but he had pointed out, several things that were puzzling, like the bomb Diagram that Williams had drawn out for Malone, the wiring diagram was distinctive, it was Spetnaz, Ivan had explained how high ranking Agents in the KGB, and GRU, were Trained by Spetnaz in Demolitions, as well as hand to hand, knife work, and other close in forms of Carnage and Mayhem.

He had even talked Williams into working out one morning, and came away convinced, that Williams had at the very least been Trained by a Former Spetnaz or KGB agent.
But something Williams had said in russian to Ivan a week or so back, had shaken the unflappable Russian, who refused to let Williams get anywhere near Simms, alone.

He hadn’t told Simms what the comment had been, only that Williams was bad luck, and not to be trusted.

His eyes swept back and forth across the stand of tress and brush behind the building, a part of his attention focused on his thoughts.

Maggie was the one that really puzzled Simms, there were times the woman seemed damn near nice, and other times, she was the closet to a bitchy hooker you could ever meet outside of Vegas.

She seemed to hate men, but loved sex with them, which must really piss her off. Simms suspected that ever time she had sex, it was act akin to spitting in the face of the man she hated so much. There was nothing special about her, aside from her looks, but she was possibly the greatest damn manipulator he had ever met.

There was something about here, though that bothered him, a deep, dim something that he could never quite put a finger on. What he suspected the tried not to think about, especially considering how close he had come to selling his own sell to the hat wearing bastard.

Which led him straight to why he no longer trusted Sheamus, finding out that Sheamus dreamed of that evil bastard, and apparently had embraced the things goals, meant he was a snake at the heart of Eden. Three sick and twisted people who willingly embraced destruction for destructions sake.

“buildings clear” Weizbecki reported, drawing Simms attention fully back.

“Roger, come on back” Simms said, as he wondered what the scouts had found.

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

Benton slid back using the wooded areas that separated buildings and roads as cover, the Dodge ram moved slowly down the road, two men in the Front, one knelt in the Bed, watching to either side.

Ten minutes ago, three trucks all decked out for off roading had left the stopped column, splitting up they had taken different routes, probably scouting out the best route to storage areas and the docks.

But this one, this was, riding along all fat dumb and happy. He thought as he peered thru his scope leading the target. At least this took more skill than shooting the walking dead.

He stroked the trigger, and almost held his breath as he watched the results. The Dodge ram, swerved right as the drivers body slumped over the wheel, it leaped a curb into the overgrown verge, mud flew, as the off road tires chewed thru the grass into the soil beneath, then with a crash of metal and breaking glass, it slammed into a tree.

One down, Benton thought as he slipped back into the trees then moved locations.

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

“I’m telling you Adjutant, that sniper was one of Sheamus’s men” Weizbecki told Simms as he climbed aboard the Stryker.

“your sure about that” Simms asked, not that he doubted Weizbecki.

“Positive, his face was intact, it’s the same slimy little bastard that sucked up to Sheamus in the beginning when they first started plotting to get rid of Bubba.” Weizbecki told him, a look of distaste on his face. “ I knew we couldn’t trust Sheamus!”

“he wanted the Helo out of action for a reason” Ivan interjected.

“Obviously, but why?” Mulligan asked.

Simms looked thoughtful, Sheamus must have drove down here and dropped off the sniper, no there has to be more than one, he couldn’t guarantee having a man in the right position so he would have had them scatter out, probably three or four of them. Covering areas that could be used for staging or landing.

After that he had driven up to the store then called for the meeting, the little bastard had manipulated the whole situation.

“Check the engine of the Stryker and the other vehicles for bombs” Simms said suddenly, “ every one out and at a safe distance away from the vehicles,” he ordered as he grabbed his pack and an ammo case.

his men, and those few of Hanson’s who rode with them, piled out with their gear and boxes of supplies, Simms pointed to the Building where the sniper had hidden. “Get inside and shelter in place” He ordered.

“Wells, you and Miles check the Stryker first, then the truck, leave the hummer for last” Simms ordered, the Stryker was invaluable to them, the Truck carried supplies, and it didn’t matter if they lost the hum vee or not.

“you really think there are bombs on the vehicles.” Ivan asked Simms in french, simms nodded.

“the only reason to remove the helicopter from the equation, was if you assumed we would be on foot and trapped. And the only way to do that would be to blow the engines. And Sheamus loves to make things explode” Simms said, his voice flat.

“ Sheamus’s people haven’t been around our vehicles, “ Mulligan pointed out

“they could have planted them a few days ago, or when we met them at the Store. Remember most of his people were not in sight, I just assumed they were back there in the darkness of the store. But we don’t have a clue as to how many of them might have been outside hiding, waiting till we went inside, and then snuck past our guards in the storm and then planted the bombs.”

“And you might be wrong about the bombs, but Sheamus has double crossed us, there is no way one of his people just mistook our Helo for the enemy” Roger garret responded, as he pulled on his Green Beret, he had already decided that if he was going to fight and possible die today he was going to do it in uniform.

Simms looked at Garret for a moment and realized the man looked older, his close cropped dark hair had silver shot thru it, he had developed lines at the corners of his eyes and around his mouth, he looked weary. Hell they all felt and looked weary Simms thought, and they were foolish enough to follow me. He glanced at Ivan, who stood nearby watching the men scour the Stryker impassively.

Ivan had tried in his own way to point out the stupidity of Simms plan, they could have settled down in half a dozen places and forted up months ago, hell they could even have joined Stones little group.

But no simms had let his anger and frustration at the old system, the old world, lead him into this shit. And….

“Adjutant, you were right” Wells transmitted. “theres a bomb, a shaped charge to be exact, nasty design, old Soviet design if I’m not mistaken”

Simms glanced at Ivan, who raised an Eyebrow, then nodded, Williams had most likely designed the thing. son of a bitch, I led us right into this, the moment I pulled out of that things plans, it sent them after Me, after my men.

“ can you disarm it?” Simms asked.

“Possibly, this design has three separate triggers, its going to take a while just to crack the case and get at the really important stuff.” Was the reply.

“do your best” Simms replied then turned to the others. “we are going to get every thing off that truck, move fast, and try not to leave anything behind. At the moment Sheamus doesn’t know we know, the moment that prick figures out the game is up he will blow those vehicles. So lets get the supplies inside just in case.”

as Simms started to lead the Men out, Ivan laid a hand on his arm to stop him, but Simms shrugged it off. “ Ivan, I appreciate it, but all of you are here because of me, and I will take the same risks as every one else.” Simms said then turned and jogged out the door. Ivan followed on his heels.

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

Sheamus smiled as he climbed out of his truck, mere days ago he would have been furious to find out that Williams, and some of his own men had been plotting to get rid of Hanson and Simms, he would have in fact warned Simms of the bombs that had been planted on most of the vehicles.

Sheamus knew that it was retaliation for Simms blowing off the thing in the dreams, it was furious and wanted revence, and Williams was its tool. So was Maggie, at least that was his gut feeling. But what part she played in all this hadn’t been revealed yet.

None of it really matter any more, the world was dead, everything that he had believe in lay in the dust of the old world. The hated English were dead, and would no longer control the Emerald Isle, of course there was probably no one left to control there, the sons of Eire, were as dead as the rest.

The only thing he had left was his anger, and the frustrated hatred of those who had ruled the world. Well now he could burn it all down, and cleanse it. and those few who survived would be stronger and never allow the parasites who had once ruled the world to take control again.

Simms could have his out dated Duty, he denied who and what he was, he was Abaddon, the Dark angel feared across Africa and every where else they had been deployed, and now when he could reshape the world, he had turned away from it, claiming Duty and Honor of the Legion. To hell with the Legion, it had its place in the old world. But now it was as outdated as everything else.

Sheamus never stopped to think, never really noticed just how much his thinking had changed in such a short time, even if he had it probably wouldn’t have mattered, he had been touched by something that, dark and it had left its mark. Something that couldn’t directly interfere but it could push, probe and trick a person into its service, and Sheamus had rushed into its arms with out a second thought. Deep down he knew he was damned, but it was tiny voice crying in the wilderness.

“time” Maggie asked hopefully hold up a remote detonator unit.

“not just yet, wait till Hanson has moved out, and engaged, then we can blow the hell out of them.” Sheamus said looking forward to it. Simms should never have turned away from Destiny, but Sheamus wouldn’t, when he was done that Island would be a burning Charnel pit.

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

“Sergeant Jansen, this is Cross, I want you and your squad to fall back to the Docks.” Jansen heard in his ear, it wasn’t a message he was happy about either.

“First Sergeant, we are about to make contact with the lead Elements of the Raiders.” Jansen protested.

“you have your orders Jansen, I’m pulling every one out.” Cross replied. “ and them I’m blowing the place, to deprive them of the munitions and supplies.”

“to Hell you say Cross, Stone is on his way, we can take these people easily.” Jansen argued.

“Son, this place isn’t worth dying over, we have shipped out as much as we could, but if Jared is right, we cant risk these people possibly getting their hands on it. so pull back.” Cross snapped.

“Sarge, I have three Strykers, in view, and a shit load of support vehicles behind them. another group broke off and headed north, towards the downed chopper” Benton reported over the radio.

“Hold five Benton” Jansen ordered.

“Cross, I cant pull my people back with out coming under fire, I’m going to thin their ranks, and you had better have that gap still open when we get there.” Jansen said angrily. “ Jansen out”

“Benton, Slide your ass back but keep them under observation, and let me know if you see any sign of Jared.” Jansen said, as he turned to Townsend, “how many Javelins do we have?”

“ four Sarge” Townsend said, his forehead covered in a sheen of sweat.

Four javelins, he should have loaded a case or two of the damn things on the truck, but too late now.

The bunker systems that had been built to guard the roadway and train tracks that crossed the marsh, were all they had for defense, but it was going to have to do. It beat the hell out of standing out there butt ass naked. Besides Strykers weren’t tanks, so the enemy was going to have a hell of a time digging them out of the Bunkers.

Cross resisted the urge to throw his radio across the room, that was just like Jansen, guts and glory and last stand theatrics.

His entire plan was going to hell, which shouldn’t have surprised him in the least, he turned to Alfonse Ferraro, “ all right, Jansen has pushed the Issue, get the other men I asked you to pick, and see if they can actually hit something with those mortars. And they miss and hit the munitions, then at least the Raiders wont get it after all.”

Ferraro nodded “thanks for the vote of confidence First Sergeant. Ill man one gun, so that one will hit where I want it, but two gun, don’t expect any kind of major accuracy.” The former Mortar man said. “they can at least drop a round with in half a mile of their target” he added with a half smile.

Cross turned at the sound of voices in the hallway, his lips thinning as he recognized, Mary’s and Chris’s, damn civilians playing soldier, he thought grumpily

“First sergeant, she insisted on talking with you” Vega said covering his ass the moment he stepped into the room.

“What is it Mary” Cross said turning to face the woman, who he had to admit was an attractive woman.

“Your not blowing this place, at least not till Jared is here.” She said crossing her arms under the breasts, which unfortunately drew even more attention to them than normal. Cross was too old to be distracted easily, but the soldiers around him obviously were not.

“Maam, get your people back on your plane and prepare to get out of here” Cross said not giving an inch.

“First Sergeant I think you fail to understand me, I am not leaving, your are not blowing the Terminal, and if you think you can resort to force, I will make the first man who touches me eat his own testicles.” Mary said, there was Steel in her voice.

Cross eyed her for a moment, not doubting she was serious, but wasn’t convinced she could do as she threatened, but she damn sure would try, that he knew.

“what the hell is it with you people, and Forlorn Hopes.” Cross asked, giving in.

“a Forlorn hope was living through the first month after the zombies came, everything since then, has been thru sheer force of will, and the application of firepower First Sergeant” Mary stated, a ghost of a smile crossed Chris’s face at her words.

“you have damn sure been around Jared to long if your talking like that” Cross Grumped.

Ferraro chuckled at that, then his face went blank as Cross shot him a look.

“don’t you have mortars to set up” Cross asked, Ferraro nodded and headed out of the room, grinning openly as soon as his back was to Cross, he even winked at mary as he passed.

That is one hell of a woman, He thought appreciatively, great body, nice face, and huge brass balls.

“you were already going to defend the Terminal weren’t you “ she said accusingly. Cross nodded, with Jansen and his squad out there asses in the wind, he couldn’t just leave.

“Yes Mary I was, but I wanted you and your people out of here just in case. I wanted most of my people out of here just in case” Cross said as he picked up his rifle, and slung it down his chest.

“well we are here till Jared and the others are safe.” Mary said.

“I think I have noted your determination in that regard” Cross replied, as he looked at Chris, “ I want your promise, as a Vet, that when I give the order to evacuate, that you will make sure all your people get out of here, Carry her to the plane if necessary” Cross said. Chris nodded, ignoring the challenging look Mary flashed him.

“My word First Sergeant” Chris said, actually during to lift a finger to silence Mary before she could get words out.

“you Mary, will stay down by your plane, like it not, you’re the pilot, your husband, Fiance or what ever is already out there with Jared, if he gets killed, you’re the only one that can fly that bird and any survivors that make it to the plane out of here. and that is a damn sight more important than you being up front being shot at, and possibly dying, got me” Cross said, hoping that appeal would convince her to stay out of danger, it was the truth at any rate.

“there’s two trucks that run downstairs Chris, take them and head up to the defense point and give Jansen and his squad covering fire they are going to need it. Ill make sure he knows your there, so he can step his radio down to your frequency” Chris nodded, then turned on his heel and strode from the room as Cross dismissed him.

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

The Vehicles of Hansons unit gathered in a quad between four buildings, clusters of decorative pear trees sat at each point of the quad. Exhaust filled the air as the vehicles idled.

Simms prediction of snipers scattered around the complex were proven correct when some in 59th HQ building, opened fire when four men dismounted to fuel up the vehicles that were low. Hanson had only lost one man, the return fire from the backs of trucks and the strikers had silenced the sniper.

They only had to wait ten minutes before Carlisle one of the scouts reported the route that would take them across the marsh, that spanned the width of the terminal. Carlisle had come under fire at that point and the call had been lost.

“All right folks lets make this happen” Hanson said not wanting to delay the attack any longer. He had his doubts, but he wasn’t going to share them with his men who had come so far with him. He was mostly concerned with just how prepared the other side was. He would probe first, and depending on the how they responded would decided his next action. To much return fire, heavy weapons or anti tank weapons and he was going to withdraw, there was no sense in losing every man and vehicle in attack that they couldn’t win.

His Stryker led the way out of the quad, the mass of vehicles appeared to uncoil and flow behind him, as the remaining two strikers formed up on either side of Hansons own like a spear head.

The rolled down wooded streets, and isolated buildings with names that gave no indication of their previous function. Sheets of water, and parts of trees still covered the roads, as they approached the turn that would place them on the main road across the marsh, Hanson took a deep breath.

“the Stykers will advance, the rest of the column will follow with the lead vehicle of the column at sixty feet behind the Strykers.” Hanson ordered. “ we will sweep the road, and then secure the other side before we advance towards the Main part of the terminal.”

the attack plan came apart the moment the Strykers started across the marsh. The Stryker to the right of Hanson’s rolled over some kind of Mine, that was either one hell of a mine or it had gone off in just perfect spot, it blew the back half of the Stryker apart. Wreckage fountained into the sky only to rain back to the earth like fiery comets.

Gervalis, Hanson’s Second Lieutenant, backed up then drove his Vehicle around the burning wreckage, pushing through the dark smoke. There was a flash from the bunker system, as a missile rode a column of fire straight into the smoke, following its instructions as it tracked down the vehicle that it had been sent to kill. Gervalis died with his Stryker, as it vomited flaming debris over the road way.

“stop and dismount our men, it’s the only way, those bastards will have to concentrate on either our vehicles or our men. either way we will eat their damn lunch.” Hanson snarled he was down to one Stryker, he knew his odds of escape were no pretty damn low. He popped smoke, to help, between the smoke from the burning wreckage, and his own, his men would be effectively concealed. He didn’t need any one to say I told you so, he knew they had been right.

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

“looks like they are dismounting Sergeant” Benton reported from his hiding spot behind some brush on a low rise in the Marsh.

“Copy, Enemy dismounting,” Jansen responded as he peered thru the slit, watching as the remaining strykers popped smoke.

Jansen mentally counted down, giving the enemy dismounted time to get moving towards him, he doubted seriously they would drop down into the marsh to advance, no most people would use the road. and that meant a nice little kill zone.

“ Gunner engage” Jansen said, as he lifted his binoculars to his eyes and tried to peer through the billowing smoke that covered the road.

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

Danny moved forward thru the smoke, staying in a crouch like he had been told. The few men he could see near him were fully upright. Danny was to impressed with Simms and his foreign legion soldiers, those guys knew their shit and Danny wanted to learn as much of it as he could.

There was an explosion just ahead of his as someone tripped a mine, but Danny didn’t pause, that’s what they wanted, Mines were area denial weapons, and if a soldier paused in his advance, the mines worked. At least that’s what he had gathered, it made sense to him at the time.

But at this moment, he couldn’t help but worry every step would be his last, or even worse, he would lose a foot or leg. In this world being crippled was a death sentence.

He wasn’t more than twenty feet from the Stryker he had dismounted from, when a machine gun opened fire, two mean just ahead of him went down, one had an arm and half his side ripped away, the second was cut in half.

Danny shot them both in the head even as he ducked lower, he wasn’t going to get bitten if he could help it. he looked around nervously, as he realized that he had no idea how many men had just been killed, but if their heads were not removed, they would rise and start hunting for fresh meat, the smoke was both a blessing and a curse he realized, it would keep him from seeing them till they were close

The machine gun swept back and forth across the road, Danny could hear screams in the smoke, and his zeal to impress Simms by steadily advancing died. suddenly out of the smoke, he saw a zombie appear, then another, and then a third. He recognized them all, he stepped backwards, rifle up aiming, his first shot was dead on, he dropped the zombie that had been Michael Wirt, switched to the second but missed his first two shots, the third dropped Liam McNeal, father of two. his hands were shaking as he put three rounds into Sandy Clark, a man who had once had a lively sense of humor and a Daughter who was going to miss her daddy .

Danny turned and jogged back to the Stryker, he only wanted safety, he never heard the whistling noise, but the explosion that tossed him to the ground got his attention in a big way as the Stryker blew up.

.

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

After Parking the vehicles in the woods between 113 and George the II Jared, Ori and Jeb scouted out ahead.

The woods were silent around them, in places the ground was so soaked that water squelched up around their boots. Branches littered the ground, and occasionally they spotted trees that had been half uprooted during the storm.

There were no signs of undead here, which bothered Jared, Mary had reported a shit load of them along the fence line in the woods just east of the gate, but yet there wasn’t a single one in sight to the west.

Reaching the edge of the woods Jared peered thru the brush to 113, and saw a road empty of undead, a Wrecked Stryker, and two Destroyed Trucks were scattered along the road, still smoking. And a Stryker was burning just inside the gate, but still no undead. usually they would have swarmed the area drawn by the explosions and fires. But not today.

He glanced at Ori who nodded in understand, “ remind you of anything” Ori whispered.

“several things actually” Jared replied as he pulled his binoculars out, once he made sure that Jeb was covering their rear, he lifted them and scanned what he could see of the Terminal fence line and gate.

“do you really think something is controlling them.” Jeb asked with out taking his eyes off the woods to their rear.

“I’m not sure, but you have to admit, its odd when they just stand around like they are on guard duty, or follow hiking trails to come up behind defenses, or suddenly congregate ahead of us like they are blocking out path.” Ori replied, keeping his voice down.

“congregate, man the end of the world has been for your vocabulary” Jared said, as he watched a jeep appear from behind a building in the Terminal grounds line and approach the gate.

“I’ve had a lot of time to read a dictionary” Ori said, shrugging.

“he means he was trying to impress Beth who was a school teacher” Jared said with a smile, Jeb stifled a laugh.

Jared fell silent, watching as the jeep stopped at the gates, and a man leaped out, lean, shaven headed, youngish looking , and a slightly guant face that some women might have found handsome.

Jared could see a woman in the Passenger seat, but the window was tinted just enough that he couldn’t get a clear look at her.

The man jogged to the gate, carrying a pair of bolt cutters, and quickly cut the chain that had been placed here for safety once Simms and his men had entered.

“the shit head is opening the gates for the undead “ Jared muttered as he swung his binoculars towards the wood line to the east of the gate, and sure enough saw zombies staggering out of the woods, at first it was only a few then it was a stream, that slowly become a river of death approaching the gate.

Ori pulled out his own binoculars and looked, “what kind of twisted sick SOB would do something like that” Ori asked quietly,

“the same kind that did it to us a few times” Jared replied.

“Im about fucking sick of this crap” Jeb muttered.

They fell silent, watching as eighty yards from their position, the Jeep turned and drove back into the depths of the Terminal, and the undead followed.

“you know there are enough over there that we might not be able to push our way thru even with the Stryker and the LAV, way to many bodies.” Ori commented.

“we will deal with that problem when we reach it” Jared said thoughtfully, truth was they could cut east, drive across a public road over the marsh then turn and drive thru the fence.

“you two keep an eye out” Jared said as he changed frequencies on his Radio.

“Cross, I really hope your at home” Jared transmitted.

The wait seemed to take forever, in truth it was less than a minute, but it didn’t seem that way to Jared.

“This is Cross, authenticate” Cross’s voice said in his ear.

“Your ex wife was a cheating whore” Jared said softly.

“most ex’s are,” Cross replied. “ welcome to the net, You’ve had us plenty worried. I have more than half my people evac’d already, one Squad forward, holding the route across the Marsh. And already taking some fire.”

“Worried is good Buddy, some one just opened the gates and let a shit load of zombies inside.” Jared replied.

“define shit load, Im not up on southern weight measurements” Cross responded.

“a thousand plus from the looks of it, they are still pouring into the Terminal.” Jared told him. He knew Cross’s face was twisting into a frown, and the other man was chewing on his lip thoughtfully.

“that’s not a problem for me and mine, there were some survivors here, they built a wall of shipping containers around a large chunk of Docks and operations area. It is a problem for you though, if you cant get past them to reach us, you cant get inside.” Cross replied.

“always the plane and the water route” Jared said his mind already ticking over options.

“the last time I was with you and you chose a water route, it didn’t work out so well” Cross pointed out.

“I was younger then and plenty stupid.” Jared said as he saw movement to the west down 113. in moments the first of a long line of undead appeared, in the distance.

“well at least your not younger anymore” Cross said,

“got more bad news for you, another huge group of zombies are coming down 113 right now” Jared reported.

“Foxtrot whiskey “ Cross swore.

“more like Tango Uniform, on the bright side, they aren’t carrying a nuke.” Jared commented

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

“ want me to set off the rest of the bombs” Maggie asked holding up the jury rigged detonator.

“ give it a moment I want Hanson to have a moment to realize he is screwed.”Sheamus said with a grin. Six of Hansons men had turned coat for Sheamus and had willingly planted the bombs on the vehicles during their turns at guard duty over the last few days..

Suddenly he jerked his head, “now”

On the road across the Marsh, explosions ripped out from the mostly empty vehicles, men on the ground were tossed away, some landed with a splash in the marsh. Others died where they stood, but their deaths were short. In moments they rose in the smoke and began to search for the living.

The Command Stryker gouted flames out of its engine compartment, its bomb having been planted half behind a panel that directed most of the blast force down and back, the engine was destroyed, but the men inside were shaken, a few wounded, but they were still alive and ran out the already lowered ramp.

Hanson snarled angrily as he saw flames thru the smoke, even the enemy on the other side had stopped firing. No doubt waiting to see just how bad the disaster over here actually was. The smoke was already shredding in the wind and in less than a minute they could be seen.

“oh damn” Hanson said as he saw a zombie appear out of the smoke, he shot it down. “Undead in the smoke, stick together” he bellowed, gathering every man in sight. As a group they moved towards the bunker system. Hanson had no desire to attack them now, his force was gutted, his militia unit had raced here to die. He only hoped that they wouldn’t be shot down out of hand.

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

it was almost time For the finale Williams thought, as he and Maggie hid and watched the seemingly unending line of zombies stagger past their hiding spot. Maggie was fuming, of course, so far Jared Stone hadn’t turned up, that was the only real failure of the day, but when he did, they would be waiting for him, and for all those that rode with him.

He started as he saw a zombie walk by, its over long arms dangling at its sides, it took short mincing steps, and the head ratcheted around, so that the sunken eyes could fix on Williams, they seemed to glitter in the shadows under the brim of the bowler hat it wore.

It looked different somehow, more grounded in reality maybe, gritty, worn down. But the sense of evil that radiated off it was still there, a dark intelligence that lived for carnage. That’s part of what unnerved those that viewed it, whether they realized it or not, there was a personality in those cloudy eyes, they weren’t the blank dead Orbs of the others undead. there was a life in that rotting shell.

A repulsive, sickening life, but a life none the less Williams thought suddenly surprising himself, he ignored the emotions that threatened to rise up an engulf him. It was far to late to run from this. The memory of the last time he had tried to give up, flashed thru his mind, and out there on the grass, the zombie wearing the bowler hat, flashed him a mocking grin, sunlight glittering on the knife blade in its hand. It paused watching him, though he was certain it couldn’t actually see him, then it rejoined its fellows,

He shivered, and almost screamed as Maggies hand fell on his shoulder, “ don’t worry you wont fail it” she assured him as he looked down at his hands seeing the blood that covered them, blood that only he could see.

If he failed at least he wouldn’t be alive to kill again, the thought was bitter and somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard a mocking laugh, he didn’t know if it was his imagination or real, maybe he was Mad, god let him be insane.

Then suddenly as if a switch had been thrown, a cold cool determination to succeed flowed thru him washing away the guilt, the fear and self loathing. He had a job to do, and when he was finished, he would be standing in the blood of that red headed bastard and his slut wife. He silently hummed a Russian lullaby, as he watched the Tide of Undead flow across the terminal.

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

as the sound of explosions echoed off into the distance, Simms waved Wells and Miles into the building. it sounded like Sheamus was blowing his booby traps, and Simms refused to let those two die to save a vehicle.

As both men rushed inside, the bomb attached to the Stryker detonated. The shaped charged blew straight thru the engine. Otherwise the damage to the rest of the vehicle was slight.

The Hummer and the Truck didn’t detonate, but there was no way Simms was going to trust them, till he could have them checked out.

“Hanson, I need a sit rep” Simms transmitted, he gave it a few moments then tried again.

“you don’t think that they are all dead do you” Weizbecki asked.

“ might be, but I doubt it, the radios Hanson and his folks use don’t work on the frequencies that ours do. But the com gear in the Strykers could pick up and receive them. with that gone” Simms explained then shrugged, pointedly not looking at the eight men who had been riding in the truck, they were all Hanson’s men. Lucky for them if a single one of them had been Sheamus’s man, they would be learning exactly how Simms had earned the Nickname Abbadon.

“Mulligan, get on the roof, take Wiezbeki with you, I want you on OP, and see if you can raise Hanson from the roof the added elevation might help.” Simms said, “Wells, are you willing to examine the Hummer and that Truck for bombs”

“sure thing Boss, I don’t want to be stuck here any more than you do” Wells said, as he headed for the door.

“Miles, Go with him, cover his ass.” Simms said.

“yes Adjutant” miles replied as he headed for the door, he might not be eager but he didn’t even considering disobeying. They were a team, they would either survive together or die together.

Sheamus had betrayed that trust, betrayed the team. And for that there would be no mercy. Simms smiled coldly as he thought about his next meeting with Sheamus, if he wanted to see the old Abbadon, he was going to get his wish.

“Simms, Adjutant, we have problems” Mulligan reported minutes later from the roof, “ a few thousand of them.”

Simms bolted for the Door knowing he was going to have to help, even as Miles began firing, he threw open the door, Ivan right behind him, and saw more zombies than he had ever seen coming from every Direction.

“inside, get moving” he barked, his weapons slapping into his shoulder, as he began to fire slow and steadily, Ivan at his side, covering the two men as they ran for the building, while Simms shouted orders into his radio.

“get the front doors secured, Mulligan get that Demo kit and rig the staircase, I want to drop the ground floor stair cases. Get some of Hansons men carrying the supplies from the Truck upstairs.”

it didn’t really matter, not that Simms would have admitted it, the zombies knew there were living in the building, they were not just going to wander off.

**************************************.

Jansen, watched as a group of men backed out of the smoke, firing at dark shapes that lumbered forward. They were fighting their own dead, trying to survive, knowing that Jansen and his men would probably shoot them down. something about that hit Jansen hard, some would claim that showing any mercy or humanity to the Militia unit at this point was just asking to be killed in their sleep later on.

But those men were broken, what ever had caused those explosions, had torn the heart out of that unit. He didn’t know, if they had been rapists, or murderers, of preachers and social workers. All that mattered at this moment was they were falling back on his position, with out attacking. If they wanted to surrender, no problems, if they thought they were going to get as close as possible before turning their weapons on the Jansens men, he would tear them apart.

Townsend, leveled his baby and started to trigger the Heavy machine gun, Jansen didn’t think he just reacted, he kicked the barrel up shouting “ Check Fire” ignoring the looks of disbelief on the faces of his squad.

“we are not going to shoot men in the back, not on my fucking watch so deal with it” Jansen snarled. “now shoot down every zombie out there and then we are going to ask the living to surrender, if they say no we can shoot them then. If they turn their weapons on us, we shoot them down. but for now kill the damned undead.”

Hanson limped backwards, he had twisted his ankle leaping out of the Stryker, his pulled the trigger on his AR and nothing happened. Cursing he ejected the spent magazine, and slapped in another. A second later he was back in action, so far Stones people had held their fire, he wasn’t sure why, he was only thankful for it.

Another zombie Loomed out of the thinning smoke, and Hanson bit back a cry, at the sight of the partially burned corpse of Ernie” Boner” Hines, a 17 year old who had joined them last fall, the kid had been so innocent that it had hurt.

Hanson shot the kid down, wishing he still believed enough to pray. But he really didn’t have time, more zombies appeared, some were almost unrecognizable. His weapon Jammed, he just let it drop and dangle by the sling, and drew the Beretta 92F on his right hip and continued to fire.

Then suddenly the weapons behind him blazed to life, he felt the skin on his back tighten, and his butt puckered, then realized they were shooting past his survivors into the advancing undead. he felt a glimmer of hope, they might decided to kill him later, but for now at least he stood a chance of not being eaten, and that was all right by him.

Benton lay on the rise, watching the fight as it started to wind down, now that the smoke was nothing more than a slight haze, he stopped panning his binoculars, his attention fixed on the far side, for a moment his mind refused to actually wrap around the sight, then finally his brain slipped back into Gear.

Even as he transmitted the warning, it was obvious that the Militia unit had realized the danger almost as fast as Jansen in the bunker. The weapons fire had been dropping off, now it increased, tripled even.

Zombies stumbled out of the woods and into the marsh, many became stuck, but others, far to many others kept moving. The bulk of the undead were coming down the road and along the train tracks. They covered a two and half acre arc, and there seemed to be no end in sight.

Benton slipped down off the rise into the waters of the marsh and headed for the far side, eager to put as much space between him and the advancing undead as possible. in fact he was more than ready to Advance to the rear as rapidly as possible to put the shipping container wall between himself and the undead.

He splashed through the marsh, knowing he was drawing attention to himself, but with so many undead out there, going slow would only allow the undead to reach him that much faster.

“Sergeant, we have problems big ones” Benton transmitted unnecessarily

“I Think I noticed that Benton, when you reach solid ground, start heading towards the docks, I’m pulling out when those things reach the halfway mark.” Jansen replied.” We will pick you up on the way. Jansen out.”

Jansen climbed out of the bunker, and hunkered down behind one of the defensive walls that jutted out from the side of the bunker. Watching as the Surviving eight Militia Men finally turned and ran towards the bunker, Jansen tensed, this would be the time for them to open fire, he was only slightly surprised that they didn’t.

He watched as a burly Dark haired man in old fashioned fatigues, looped an arm around a limping older man in BDU’s and half carried half dragged the older man the rest of the way.

“ don’t shoot” The older man said as they crossed the last twenty feet. “ its over for us”

Jansen nodded in agreement, they didn’t have enough people left to assault a troop of Girl scouts, much less his Squad. “ sling your weapons, and approach” he called back, he wasn’t even going to try to ask them to surrender their arms, not with half a citys worth of undead two hundred yards back. That would be just asking them to panic and open fire on his men.

The small group came to a stop, and Jansen was surprised to see not one of them looked angry or hateful at Jansen or his soldier who were still firing into the mass of undead.

“your not going to be able to stop them” one of the militia men commented, as he climbed into the fighting hole breathing heavily.

“no we aren’t, but ever one we shoot here is one less we have to deal with further back” Jansen replied. With the survivors clear of the Townsends field of fire, the Fifty opened up from inside the bunker. They had belts to burn through at the moment, and Townsend was making them count. A crippled zombie, was no real threat, and it was much easier to take off their legs than it was to try for headshots with a heavy machine gun.

“PFC Lane I want you,, Ramirez, and Toliver, go get the trucks, be careful as hell, for all we know a fence came down and there could be undead on this side of the marsh too.” Jansen ordered.

As the three soldiers rushed off to get the trucks, the older Militia man stepped forward, limping. “ I’m George Hanson, Command…. I was the leader of the Free Militia unit, and you are”.

Jansen stood there not extending his hand, “I’m Sergeant First Class Thor Jansen, United States Army. At the moment Ill offer you the very old fashioned term of Parole. But If I even think your about to attack me or mine, we will blow you away, got me” He said.

Hanson nodded, he heard the steel in the other mans voice. For all the man looked like some action movie star, especially with that mustache, he carried himself like a professional soldier. In a way he reminded Hanson of Simms, who was probably dead too. He doubted that who ever had planted those bombs had left Simms vehicles off the list.

“ you have my word” Hanson replied, as he looked at each of his men who nodded in agreement.

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

the undead came in one vast wave of stinking, rotting flesh, sweeping forward, soaking up the fire of the living people ahead of them. they neither cared, or turn aside. All they cared for was the scent of warm, wet flesh.

Machine gun fire raked across them, sending bodies tumbling to the ground, but more stepped into their places, and those on the ground began to drag themselves forward with their hands. It was like shooting into a pond, the undead just flowed into the holes created by the dead and crippled, as if nothing had happened.

Hanson’s men began to run out of ammunition, the Soldiers didn’t even blink, just tossed them spare M4’s or M16s to replace their AR’s there was no .223 ammo in the area, and Jansen wanted as many weapons on the line as possible.

Mines and IEDs were going off in the marsh, sending water and zombie parts flying into the air only to splash down and vanish into the water. but there were always more behind those. And not enough mines to make a difference.

Jansen turned at the sound of motors and saw not three but five trucks pull up, two came from the Direction of the Docks.

Chris leaped from the passenger side of a Deuce and half, as more people poured out and took positions around them.

“lets go” he shouted at Jansen.

Hanson had turned as well, and gaped at the sight, the new arrivals were all dressed in jeans and t-shirts, and armed to the teeth, but it wasn’t their appearance that surprised him. it was the sudden realization of just how many people Jared Stone had managed to gather over the last year and some odd. He had known about the convoy and the farm, and even the community of native Americans near the Farm, but that was only part of the group, maybe eighty people to a hundred people all told. And now here, another twenty some odd, and probably more back near the docks.

They had been fools, in the back of his mind, Hanson had really thought that there couldn’t be more than a hundred twenty people associated with Jared Stone. But he had been wrong.

He doubted Simms had known or suspected it either, the convoy that Stone had been leading around, was only a small part of a much larger group. and for the first time since Z day, Hanson actually believed that the Human race would survive this.

“heads up, Incoming fire” Ferraro said suddenly over the company net.

“Get to the trucks, we are moving out” Jansen began to yell. Urging his squad up and out of position, as they ran for the trucks, they could hear a whistling noise overheard.

Jansen had heard Cross talk about using the Mortars before, but hadn’t really thought that two tubes, weren’t worth the effort, they would need spotters and luck. Now twenty tubes, or a hundred stagger firing, hell yes, but two, nope not worth it.

He was still thinking that, when a series of explosions rippled across the line of undead, shredding them for almost eighty feet to the side, and ten feet into the mass.

Jansen had turned as the explosions began and saw the second Mortar round, coming in disintegrating as it fell, flinging a line with blocks placed evenly out and away from the round, the line fell towards the zombies to the south of the road, as he watched a series of explosions rippled across the undead where that line fell.

The shells kept coming, one after another, one of the guns was firing much faster than the other Jansen noted, he hoped the crew of the second tube, would learn from the other.

Not that it really mattered to Jansen at the moment, he was to busy climbing into the back of the Deuce and helping other in as well.

As the trucks raced away from the Bunkers, the mortar fire tapered off then stopped, the zombies unfazed, and seemingly infinite in numbers kept coming on.

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

“Jared Stone” Jared jerked at the unfamiliar voice with an irish accent in his ear bud. “I hope your ready, boyo. I’m going to kill you, just like I killed your friend, then your wife, and that little blond bastard with the glasses. I might do him after you and save that pretty, big titted, dark haired wife of yours for last, have some fun with that one”

Jared turned hating eyes towards the terminal, and the undead that still streamed thru the gates. It was being broadcast on the general push, he realized as he saw the look of anger in Ori’s eyes that matched his own.

Jill had been right, he realized, Simms hadn’t killed Steve, the one Eric had mentioned the former Irish terrorist had, that smug little murdering shit was almost bragging.

“what nothing to say” the man asked, laughing. “ I would have thought being American you would have some witty comeback like in those stupid action movies. Maybe the undead are to much for you, might have to save our little meeting for that island of yours. Over the bodies of the children there maybe.”

Jared counted to ten, more furious than ever. But he wasn’t going to let it control him, that was the point to this, he knew.

When he finally responded, it was with a voice of steel, cold as the arctic. “I’m coming for you Sheamus Finnegan, not god, not the devil or that sick fuck in the bowler hat will stop me from wiping your sick, twisted, diseased ass off the face of the planet.” Jared snarled, let that Irish prick worry about how I know his name.

A cold breeze, reeking of rotted mean blew across the terminal, as a shadow more felt then seen passed over the people gathered there. In the woods, a zombie stood, watching the fleeing trucks, and smiled as it adjusted the bowler hat to a jaunty angle, the almost in a parody of life adjusted its coat and vest as of it really cared about its appearance. Once the mortar fire stopped, its started forward, stepping onto the road and in its wake more undead came on.

“A presence dark invades the fair
And gives the horses ample scare
Chaos rains and panic fills the air
When something wicked this way comes”
~R. Bradbury

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