Chapter 26

“Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
~ Blake

Simms stood at the window watching the horde of undead that surrounded the building. From the second floor he could see nothing but bodies in all directions, a sea of bodies with waving arms and clawing hands. Like some totally silent crowd of fans around a concert stage.

The two remaining vehicles, a truck and a Humvee . As close as they were, they were still to far to be reached, surrounded as they were by the undead. He turned and headed down stairs. With the supplies they had up here on the second floor, they might last a week or two. Might. But it was a given that the first floor was going to be lost, what with all that glass.

He also wasn’t worried about another bomb on either of the remaining vehicles. Sheamus was a terrorist by inclination and personality, if there had been one they would have gone off by now.

He Probably hopes Stone will come through weapons blazing to finish us off, assuming the undead don’t do the job of course, Simms thought acidly as he came down the stairs.

He looked around the large office space, and saw that all the supplies they had barely gotten out of the truck and Stryker had been carried upstairs already, a quick glance at the long window that ran the length of the office, showed cracks already developing in the glass from the weight of the undead pawing and leaning against it. The window wouldn’t hold much longer, he thought

“are the demo charges set” He asked over the radio, anxious to have the stairs wired, the undead could be inside in minutes.

“Roger, Adjutant, they are set.” He wasn’t sure who had answered, it sounded like Wiezbeki, as long as Sheamus hadn’t some how find a way to decrypt the transmissions Simms wasn’t to worried about eaves dropping. Not that it really mattered at this point.

“Door secured on alternate” Simms asked, wanting to make sure they hadn’t forgotten to secure and spot weld the emergency stair case door shut.

“ Roger, Alternate secured, and rigged, just in case” Simms was certain that it was Wiezbeki talking.

“all right every one upstairs, don’t leave a damn thing down here.” He ordered, men scooped up their packs and gear bags and rushed for the stairs, which would put a little more distance between them and the undead pawing at the windows and doors.

The men he had inherited from Hanson looked scared, it had been a long time since they had seen even close to this number of undead, with out a means of escape.

As Simms reached the stairs, glass shattered, looking back he saw zombies tumbling over the low window frame. Out of the corner of his eye he saw something fly from just behind him, arcing gracefully through the air, shit he thought as he whirled around and saw a Militia man still holding the pin to the Frag Grenade. “ you dumb ass.” was all Simms got out before the grenade detonated, shattering the remaining long window and the glass door that had so far been holding out against the undead onslaught.
A few zombies stumbled and went down as they entered, but those were a drop in the bucket, compared to the others that poured thru the doorway and tumbled through the window,

At least the idiot had thrown it far enough that neither of them had been caught in the zone, Simms thought as he chivvied the man up the stairs resisting the urge to fire back at the zombies, there was no point in wasting the ammo anyway. Reaching the second floor landing, he turned and looked back down the stairs and saw it was wall to wall undead on the staircase as they followed him up. He stared in sick fascination for a moment.

A nurse half her face and side gone staggered up the stairs beside a pimply faced High school kid in a blood stained and filthy JRTOC uniform. There was a cop, a firefighter, office workers, two cheerleaders, what looked like a drag queen. Construction workers, a gym rat, mall bunnies, every type of occupation, color and clothing style were down there, And every single set of cloudy dead eyes were fixed on him.

Simms stepped back, “blow the stairs” he said calmly. “Fire in the hole” Wezbeki shouted. The explosion sent dust and debris billowing up the into the hallway, Simms stepped back as a Torso with a head still attached landed at his feet.

The woman’s teeth began to snap as she tried to reach his boot. Ivan, stepped forward, and drove his trenching tool into the things skull and ended it. “ thanks” Simms said, looking at the body with distaste, Ivan only nodded. “now lets see if we cant come up with a way to get to the truck and hummer with out getting killed.”

Simms turned to the man he had pushed up the stairs, he looked pale, realizing just how bad he had screwed up. “ Next time you think about throwing a grenade, think you idiot, we might have been able to deal with the numbers that could come through the one window, but not thru both windows and the door. so keep your hands off the grenades, Kids time is over.” Simms said, there was no anger, no real emotion in it, but that made it sting even more to the Militia man.

Simms cocked his head, listening, then nodded to himself as he smiled grimly hearing the big diesel motors in the distance. Simms walked to a south side window, trailed by Ivan and a few others. “ I think Stone has arrived” he commented to Ivan as he gazed out a window trying to catch a glimpse of Stones convoy.

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the LAV 25, its big Detriot 6V53T growling, rolled over and pushed thru the masses of undead. Eric stood in the hatch, watching the surrounding buildings. it was a typical base set up, Personnel, Finance offices, a supply office, post office, a barracks building for the on site military police unit, another for those of the 59th Transportation unit that ran the Terminal, and other odds and sodds that the military just couldn’t seem to be able to live with out.

He glanced back at the Two ELSORVs that followed the armored vehicles and the FMTV gun truck, Jared had lost it, of that he was certain. There was no way his brother would have come up with such a lame ass idea, as this one. but at least it gave him time to try to figure out how to achieve his orders, keep the terminal from being blown up, and not betray his brother.

He had no way to authenticate his new orders, and no one in his normal chain of command had responded. Which left him to question whether they were legal orders or not. They had come over the dedicated channel for Central Command authority, and the likely hood of some civvies getting in to the secure location and taking control was slim to nil.

His orders as issued when he and the others were deployed at the FOB had been simply, go out into the world, scout, locate survivors teach them what his team so could to continue to survive, locate resources vital to the US military to begin taking back rural then Urban areas. Top on that list was the case he had retrieved at the Airport in Elizabethtown. With that list there was no reason for the US military to issue the orders he had received via sat com. To sieze and secure the Munitions terminal and deny civilian access to the materials inside. Till reinforcements arrived to take over.

What re enforcements, the only semi intact army units left on the East coast that Eric knew of were right here and down on Sullivan.

And this General Bedford, seemed to forgot, the whole purpose of the Army was to protect the citizens of the US, If Eric followed these Orders he might as well just spit on Jared and every one else that still survived, maybe open the door himself to let the Undead in to eat them. In truth he would be betraying not only his brother but all those who followed Jared, who needed this stuff to survive.

The other issue in all this was, the civilians. It was his duty to protect them, train them and help them survive, taking away a resource like this was tantamount to killing them.
It was important to him to determine if these orders were legal. Why?, a small voice asked in the back of his mind. So you don’t have to make a hard decision, it’s a simple question really where does your duty lie.

Duty, good question that, where does his duty lie now that the world lay in ruins. It wasn’t a clear cut issue not any longer. Or was it?. It was absurd really to worry about legal orders, he thought, considering the world lay in ruins haunted by the undead.

There was no real law, no legalities, it came down to Honor and duty, to either his Brother and the people out here or to some faceless command that had hidden away to stay safe. It wasn’t a choice he wanted to make, but he was going to have to make it sooner or later.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the scream of a ricochet of the Glacis, he looked in the direction the sound had come from and saw the barrel of a rifle sticking half out of a second floor window. Amateur., a real sniper would never have stuck a barrel out the window, Eric thought as he shifted his rifle from ready, to action, he had no desire to waste the ammo of the pintle mounted machine gun.

He shouldn’t have bothered, Fire was already lancing out from the FMTV and the Stryker, the concentrated barrage of fire shredded brick, shattered glass. the sound hammered at Eric’s ears as he pulled the trigger of the M203, and sent a single 40mm grenade arcing thru the window he had seen the sniper in. it was going to suck to be the sniper in a second, the thought was fleeting.

The grenade entered the building a small charge detonated sending a fine mist of metallic elements into the air that spread outwards mixing together in a deadly combination, a hundred milliseconds later the post anaerobic detonation occurred igniting the first stage fireball, milliseconds later the third and final explosion occurred, sending a an overpressure wave out that collapsed the walls of the room and damaged walls for twenty meters. The fireball flowed outwards in its wake following curves, and corners sweeping through the half of the second floor of the building, the sniper was dead in less than a heart beat, his body, broken and charred black, was blown out of the building with every window on the second floor, even some of the third floor windows shattered throwing their glass out to rain down on the undead.

Eric grinned, awestruck by the fireball. Like most men he loved things that went boom, and those damn Thermobaric rounds were a showstopper. I really should have grabbed more of those things from the Cache. He thought as they rolled past the burning ruined building, already loading another 1060 round into his launcher. Today he wasn’t playing nice with others.

“Mother of god” Logan muttered as the ELSORVs passed the building, where fires started by the Thermobaric grenade now raged. “remind me not to piss him off”

“I told him to save those for clearing the undead out from around the wall.” Jared commented, not bothering to call Eric on the radio, his little brother would make sure they had enough to clear a space to get inside the wall, he was to professional to just go on a building destroying spree, even though it was really cool to watch.

If there were any more snipers along this stretch of road, they must have been suitable awed at the destruction of the first sniper and the building that had sheltered him, because they didn’t open fire.

The buildings became spaced further apart the deeper they went into the terminal. The buildings separated by greens and small copse’s of trees between them. The road they followed crossed six, side by side, railroad tracks that ran deeper into the terminal, then cross the main road that ran the same direction as the tracks. That road was fill with undead heading east, deeper into the grounds. The lead armored vehicles smashed through the human flotsam, leaving red ruin and crushed bone behind it.

as long as the ELSORVs stayed close behind the Armored vehicles and the Gun truck, they didn’t have to deal with the undead slapping and beating on the sides of the vehicles. When the dead did manage to get that close, Logan had to just focus on the back of the Stryker ahead of him and kept driving determined to ignore them, or he would start screaming and never stop.

They crossed over an overgrown field, skirting two large tan buildings that had seen
better days, the huge crowd of undead were stumbling past those buildings to another building behind them where smoke rose into the sky.

The convoy rolled over a curb and onto a weed chocked section of land, heading for the tree line, giving them a good view of the Red brick building behind the tan buildings, a building surrounded by the undead, its ground floor windows shattered.

The open ground between the Red brick building and the two tan buildings was packed with undead, shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall dead flesh that was trying to push forward to get to the living inside that building.

The undead at the rear of the huge crowd heard and saw the Vehicles, turning and trying to swamp them through sheer numbers, the rest of the dead were concentrating on the building where some of the living had to be hiding.

“Some one is alive in there” Jill commented, getting no response from Jared she poked him in the shoulder.

“I heard you, and I don’t really care” Jared replied. “Those people are out to kill us, in case you have forgotten”

“What was it we talked about earlier, about how Simms might have been manipulated into attacking us. Like some one tried with Drake and others over the last year.” Jill pointed out.

“Doesn’t make him a good guy” Jared said dodging her point.

“Doesn’t make him a bad guy either” She replied, frowning.

“Your not going to let this go are you?” Jared asked, it wasn’t really a question he knew she wouldn’t.

“Not a chance lover” she said with a smug smile. “ but your learning. Besides didn’t cross say that one of the Militia commanders had surrendered with what was left of his men, after their vehicles had been destroyed by bombs leaving them on foot, and that according to this Hanson guy, Sheamus was the one that sniped Steve, and that Sheamus, some guy named Williams, and a woman named Maggie are the ones who have been pushing constantly for attacking us.”

Drake and his people had been tricked by a guy named Williams too, Jared thought as he studied the building for a moment, a John Williams who had tried to frame Jared and his people for the attacks on Drake, and then went on to murder several of Drakes people before slipping away.

“ Head into the woods, behind that Red building, the undead cant mass together as much with the trees.” Jared said. “and Jill prepare to keep bringing it up, I cant just let what this man has done slide.” Jill gave him a look that promised she wasn’t done just yet, but she kept silent. Knowing Jared wasn’t willing to listen just yet.

And what exactly has he done?, Jared asked himself, if what Cross had reported was correct, that Irish shit Sheamus was the one who against orders shot Steve. The only thing Simms had actually done was the attack on the towers in Nashville, Simms hadn’t been directly linked to anything that had happened to Jared’s people. The militia units yes, That Irish asshole yes, Landry hell yes, but Simms, Jared had to admit he wasn’t so sure.

“Look at that” Logan said as the rolled far enough that they could see behind the red brick building, Logan pointed towards a huey Helicopter, that sat in the overgrown grass behind the building. Nearby sat a Stryker, apparently it had hit a mine or something, smoke still billowed from its engine compartment, a Humvee and a M935 sat near the building completely surrounded by undead.

“Some one is in deep shit” Jared said, ignoring the glare Jill tossed him. maybe he shouldn’t have sounded so satisfied.

“Jill, I love you, but there are times that mercy and being fair can get you killed dead, Steve pointed that out a lot, and this is most likely one of those times. We have to reach the wall, get inside and then figure out what to do next, then we can worry about Simms.” Jared said as the vehicles entered the wood line, and turned east towards the marsh.

Jared switched over to the private encrypted channel he had sat up so that he and Eric could talk, and keyed the transmit button.

“I want you to see if you can raise Simms, you knew him in Afghanistan, talk to him and see what you can find out. I need your opinion on this Eric” Jared said, not trusting himself for an honest evaluation, and Eric would have a better chance of catching the Legionnaire in a lie since he knew the man and his training would no doubt aid him too.

“see making an effort” he told Jill as he switched back to the general encrypted push, “ when we reach the marsh I want the LAV to cross the Marsh, the rest of us will go to the along the bank till we reach the road, we will have limited Artillery support. Two tubes so I’m told, firing mine clearing rounds that seem to be good at clearing undead. hold your fire till we are in sight of the wall, we have a lot of undead to clear, before they can open a gate for us to enter.”

They emerged from the gentle swaying trees, to see the glittering waters of the marsh, where stands of trees on mounds dotted the water that could be inches deep to feet deep in places. Saw grass, and other marsh plants covered large areas of the marsh. To the south they could see the road that crossed the marsh, burning wrecks littered half its length.

Undead were everywhere, all the vehicles except for the LAV turned and raced down the edge of the marsh tires throwing up mud and water, as they crashed through the zombies that lined the banks.

Reaching the Road, Daws turned onto it, and at a reduced speed wove thru the burning wrecks, and undead. the road was covered in zombies, a whole host of undead, many were mangled wrecks, their bodies shattered by the earlier barrage of mine clearing rounds, they dragged themselves forward with blooded minded intensity, as far as the eye could see in both directions of the road, were undead.

Bones crunched and snapped, and flesh shredded as the tires rolled over the corpses. Zombies vs a 16 ton vehicle was a losing proposition for the undead. Logan grimaced as goo and gore splashed on the hood, and windshield, Mike dropped back inside the vehicle donning goggles and a scarf that he wrapped around his face and mouth.

“laugh if you want, I’m not getting that shit on my skin or in my nose, mouth or eyes thank you.” Mike said seeing the amused Look Jill flashed him.

The LAV trundled through the water, its propellers pushing it across the open areas, it would roll up on a rise water dripping, then roll back down into the water. Finally it rolled up onto the bank on the other side, and turned towards the bunkers. The undead were not as thick this far from the road.

The rest of the Column waited till the LAV had rejoined them at the bunkers, undead pawing and slapping at the sides of the vehicles, with its arrival they rolled past the bunkers, pushing through the undead, leaving a trail of slime and crushed bodies behind them, ahead out of sight but not far the walled section of the compound waited.

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

Williams crouched keeping as low as he could, he didn’t want to silhouette himself against the sky. He glanced at Maggie who gave no sign of how she felt, he almost smiled at that, wondering if she was as tough as she acted. He guess he would soon find out.

They moved across the top of the Containers till they reached a straddler, something like a four legged, motorized frame with an overhead crane mounted at the top, used to move containers. hey climbed down one of its legs to the ground.

He could hear the thump and whistle of some kind of artillery, mortars, the name came unbidden to his mind. Stone must have finally arrived, judging by the explosions joined by machine gun fire off towards the road.

“ What now” she asked.

“We set a few surprises for Mr. Stone and his friends, they think they are safe inside here. I think its time to show them they are trapped inside with me.” He said, Maggie didn’t even blink at the odd trace of an accent that appeared in his voice, she was used to it by now. “ I know you seek payback, but it will have to wait till things are set up.”

“I’ve been waiting this long, I can wait a little longer, and then… “ her voice trailed off but the anticipation that gleamed in her eyes spoke volumes.

He smiled coldly, the once violence shy, Liberal with the good of the world in his heart, was gone now. a tiny piece of the old William’s still existed, hiding deep in the twisted hate filled mind, weeping at what he had become, but it went unnoticed.

He dropped his pack and removed two cordless drills, wires and other items. Handing Maggie a drill he pointed to a container. “ Start there,” he said then explained where he needed holes drilled. They set to work, the sounds of a battle drowning out what little noise they made.

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Sheamus glanced at his watch, then at what was left of his vehicles, they had lost six crossing the marsh on the north side, but all the heavy duty off road vehicles, built for and by the men in his unit back before the end of the world for mudding and playing in areas just like the marsh had come through with flying colors.

The undead were sparse on this side, he thought as they passed through a large open area with rows of evenly spaced bunkers, most of the ones they passed stood open, he suspected that most of not all of them were empty, some one had stripped this place, probably the military back in the beginning, Simms had been wrong after all, or at least not entirely correct, the military had already taken some of the materials here, what remained was behind that wall of containers that some one had set up.

If Williams really did know what he was doing, then in another forty minutes a gap would be blown in the north side of the container wall, and his men could roll in, it would take time for the bulk of the zombies to show up and enter, but the several hundred already on this side would cause some serious problems for Stone and his people.

He knew some of his people weren’t happy with his screwing over Hanson, and Simms but they were bastards enough not to care since they would be reaping the rewards of the terminal. Well Simms, I hope your enjoying your little stay, you wont be leaving Sheamus thought with real humor.

It had taken Maggie a while to finally convince him that he was going to have to take out Cal, but he had resisted till their meeting at the store, when he had seen exactly how little his former Comrade Trusted him, and the storys Maggie had told him of, about Simms plans to become a king, and how Cal really felt about his men, cemented his opinions, Cal was a danger, no better than the English, and Sheamus would take him out.

The only person that gave Sheamus pause was Ivan, The former Spetnaz trooper was as Deadly as Simms, and had never liked or trusted Sheamus. Sheamus knew he could play Simms, at least to a point, but Ivan, Ivan was a different story, Ill have to snipe his butt before I move in Simms, Sheamus thought, then smiled. That would be satisfying, shoot him in the heart and watch him come back so that Simms was forced to put him down.

He glanced at his watch again, then ordered his people to park behind a long low warehouse like building. in case the containers held munitions, it would take the brunt of the pressure wave and protect the trucks behind it. for all of sheamus’s experience at bombs and bombing, he didn’t have the slightest idea just how massive such an explosion could be or how much damage it could cause.

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

the five vehicles raced down the road, the LAV, FMTV and Stryker forming a wedge with the Two ELSORVS riding just behind the three armored vehicles. Ahead in the distance, they could see a wall of Shipping containers, two high, here and there some one had stacked them three high. Only one spot had a single container and as the vehicles approached a boom Crane was waiting to lift the single container so they could speed though.

The number of zombies was increasing, and the vehicles speed dropped as the crowd thickened. “ Weapons Free” Jared ordered, he had already hammered it into every one to keep from shooting at the wall if at all possible.

“Fire support Incoming” a voice called over the Radio.

A minute later explosions rippled through the ranks of the zombies, crippling most of those in the twenty meter kill zone, and killing a few of the undead. The mine clearing rounds, were at least effective in clearing wide swathes, but it didn’t kill many of the undead. it did remove the arms and legs of quite a few in its direct impact footprint, but not much more beyond that.

The Mk 19 pintle mounted on the FMTV began to fire, sending HE Rounds into the crowd, blowing a path through the bodies. The Bushmaster and Coaxial 7.62 MG on the LAV opened up carving a bloody path of destruction, the 25mm round of the bushmaster actually passed through four or more zombies at a time, tearing huge holes, and even crippling those it passed through.

The Stryker added its own fire to the mix, and the undead went down in heaps as the .50 swept across the undead at waist level. They didn’t need to die, only to lose mobility, that was all that was important at this point.

Eric stood up in the hatch and sighted carefully, then let fly a 1060, he was reloaded and aiming the second round before the first Thermobaric grenade had detonated. Outdoors it wasn’t as impressive, which isn’t to say its not impressive, just not as impressive as when used in a confined space like a building. there were some he supposed that would ague that an explosive device couldn’t do much to zombies, since the pressure wave was what did the damage, normally rupturing internal organs and such, but that wasn’t entirely true, in this case. Thermobaric devices were a whole new animal in the annals of destruction.

As an instructor had put it, a pressure wave from a 1060 or Draco, or for that matter any Thermobaric weapon, compresses, stretches, rips and disintegrates human tissue, the fire ball does the rest. Which meant those undead closest to the center of the blast zone would, if not destroyed outright, would have their brains cooked right in their brain pans or sucked out of their ears.

Air screamed inwards drawn by the vacuum created by the device, then the overpressure wave and fireball smashed outwards in a circle, bones were shattered, skin charred and split, fluids boiled, the clothing not ripped off by the pressure wave ignited, as did skin and hair. The zombies with in twenty meters of the detonation point were gone,

The second grenade added to the holocaust, then a third. The Conex container that served as a gate, lifted by a crane, began to slide upwards. Grass and brush on the edges of the blast zones were burning, black smoke billowed upwards obscuring what lay beyond the carnage.

“Oh my god” Jill muttered watching the fireballs bloom ahead of them, the sight of bodys tumbling through the air, some on fire sickened her.

“is this the kind of stuff you saw in combat” she asked, awed at the destruction

“no not really,” jared said seemingly unfazed. “unless there was an arty strike near our position. And the enemy didn’t normally mass together in the open with no weapons either.” Jared replied, having to shout as Mike opened up with the fifty sweeping the area to the right of their ELSORV.

Nibbler whined at the noise but didn’t rise from her place at Jills feet. “one question?” Jill asked, “ once we get inside, how are we getting out” She asked. Jared tossed her a grin, but didn’t reply.

The area before the gate was mostly clear now, but the undead coming up from behind were leaking past the vehicles and plodding towards the gate. Men in sandbagged positions on top of the container wall, fired down on the crowd. But if the convoy didn’t hurry an awful lot of undead were going to get inside.

The container had now been raised almost halfway past the second level of the container wall, and had stopped. “now” Jared said. At the order the LAV Peeled off to the left, and the Stryker went Right. As they raced around in a circle in front of the opening in the wall, the FMTV charged thru the gap, down a hundred foot passage formed by a row of containers on each side.

Men stood on top of those containers shooting down at the undead that had managed to follow the FMTV inside, the first ELSORV followed the FMTV, rolling in crushing undead, and then the Last ELSORV, with Mike in the Gunners position firing to the Rear.

The ELSORV rolled to a stop on a broad paved area, Jared leaped out his M32 in his hands, zombies were coming down the passage even as the LAV and Stryker swung around to enter.

A zombie spotting Jared and staggered his way, its left side was scorched and still smoking, a tire track decorated its face, and the back of its head was covered in mud. Jared leveled his M32 and fired off a shot gun round. The zombies head, vanished in a spray of red and grey. Two more spilled out of the passge heading towards him, ten more were heading at the second ELSORV, he fired again, shredding two more zombies, then suddenly Ronny, Ori and Jill were beside him, firing into mass that suddenly began spilling out of the path pushed forward by the LAV and Stryker as they rushed inside the wall,

The zombie horde behind the two vehicles surged forward following, they Spilled into the gap, the men on the walls poured on the lead, brass glittered in the light as they were ejected out of the weapons, to fall like rain onto the container tops.

Jared slung the M32 and grasped his HK, dropping into a combat crouch, he began to fire, his weapon moving side to side, almost mechanically as he serviced his targets.

Jill had no idea how many zombies had gotten inside, all she knew was they filled her vision, grasping hands, snapping teeth, the stench of rotting flesh, filled the air, and for every one they shot it seemed like two took its place, and they were drawing closer with each step.

The blocking container was slowly descending, but far to many undead would reach and enter the wall before it was in place, Cross looked up at the control cab for the boom lift, “ drop it, drop the damn load now” He bellowed over the radio.

Eric cursed slightly as he pulled himself up and out of the turret of the LAV, to stand on top. the Bushmaster was empty, which sucked, nothing beat sending 25mm bullets down range into the enemy, even when the enemy was dead already.

Martinez passed up his weapon, Eric knelt on top of the LAV. shouldered his weapon and shot down two undead, only to look up as shouts of alarm filled the air.

Metal groaned and then a cable screamed as the emergency release was used, the container that served as the gate, fell guided into place by the containers on either side, it struck the ground with a boom that echoed over the area, crushing zombies under it.

There was a ragged cheer from the men along the top of the pathway and the wall, at the closing of the gate but they continued to fire down into the mass below even as they cheered.

“Fall back “ Jared shouted, as the zombies got to close, his team turned and ran, Ori, stumbled and face planted on the ground.

Stunned he lay there slowly shaking his head, Jared swore, and ran to Ori’s side, a zombie seemingly faster than most of the others was now eight feet away. Jared Scooped Ori up, tossing him over his shoulder. “ this doestn mean I love you” He said, as he ran.

Jared ran back twenty feet and rejoined his Team, sitting Ori on the ground behind them, before turning and firing into the mass of undead.

The flow of zombies, began to dwindle, finally tapering off and then finally stopping. Jared ejected his third spent magazine and inserted a fresh one, as he looked around at the low wall of bodies in front of his team.

“ next time you save me, could you make sure my face isn’t bouncing off your ass” Ori asked.

“that had to hurt Ori, he has a tight butt” Jill said, laughing as Ori blushed and sputtered trying to find a come back.

Seeing the look on Ronnys face, Ori groaned, he knew there were jokes going to be made for years to come now.

Cross was already sending a hummer to scout between the stacks of containers just in case some of the undead had managed to wander off into the maze.

“well we are here” Ronny said, he looked pale, and was sweating. “what now” He asked then broke into a huge grin as he saw a familiar figure walking towards them, followed by others.

Jared smiled as Chris damn near lifted him off the ground in a bear hug, “ Damn brother its good to see you up and around” he said as Chris damn near squeezed the life out of him. Chris dropped him to Jared to his feet, and for a second Jared thought the other man was going to kiss him, then Chris moved aside and Jared found himself wrapped in arms and even legs, as Shelly leaped on him laughing and crying.

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“So Cal, are you still alive” Simms sat up, he had been sitting with his back against the wall, at the sound of Sheamus’s voice in his ear piece. “I hope so, though I don’t mind if my little surprise took you out”

“Still here, Sheamus” Simms replied, ignoring Ivan who looked like he was about to burst a blood vessel. “you missed”

“Doesn’t matter really, your obviously in a building, along with some of the men, which means your trapped. Slow way to die Abbadon. Starving to death surrounded by the undead. Starve or get eaten, not one of the choices in the Congo was it.” Sheamus said with a cold laugh.

“the whore did a real number on you didn’t she, Sheamus. Why the betrayal she wasn’t that good in bed.” Simms replied.

“don’t even pretend you don’t know what this is about, you set out to be a king, you were using us Cal, every one of us so you could play games with our lives, but then some one offered you an alliance, help, and you betrayed him. that’s what doomed you more than anything else, he wants you dead, all of you. I tried to save you, I gave you a chance at the store, but I knew then you weren’t willing to give up your dreams of power, and you weren’t going to help out the walker. And that was when I regretfully decided to kill you and the others.” Sheamus replied, to Simms it didn’t make much sense, in fact it sounded like something he had memorized.

“Walker?, you mean the thing in the dreams Sheamus, the thing that pretends to be something its not, that ally Sheamus. The thing that gives you dreams of blood and death. Your welcome to serve it Sheamus, it suits you. I make my own choices in this life.

And one of those choices is I promise if I ever see you again Sheamus Ill will kill you slowly.” Simms said, with so much conviction that Sheamus paused for a long moment before replying.

“we wont be meeting again Cal, at least not with you alive. Though once you’re a zombie, I might bolt you to the front of my Truck or something” Sheamus said then laughed, there was an edge of madness to the sound. “Sheamus out.”

Simms strode to the window and looked out at the undead that surrounded the building, they just stood there staring up at the windows, like the ones on the ground floor were just standing there looking up the stairwell, as if they were waiting for something.

“what Dreams?” Mulligan asked quietly a moment later. Simms looked from man to man, meeting and holding each of their eyes. They had fought for each other, bled for each other, and they had stuck by each other at the end of the world. They deserved to know the whole story.

“it all started back before we Arrived at Fort Campbell.” Simms said after taking a deep breath. “ I had a dream…..” he talked for half an hour, with out interruption.

There was silence for a few minutes after he finished, then Weizbecki cleared his throat.
“so, your telling us, that these weird ass dreams weve all had are real, and yours have been haunted by something other than ghosts? And that’s how you knew where to find Maggie, and how you know Williams, and all the other stuff.” Weizbecki asked incredulously.

“that’s the long and the short of it, yes” Simms said, feeling some relief at finally telling his men what had actually been going on. “ and it was alive at one time, it died with the world on Jun 23rd, don’t ask me how to explain it, I cant, but I know that it was a man, that it was a killer, and that its very real outside of the dreams.”

“and it wants us dead,” Miles commented, for the first time in the years that Simms had known the man, he saw fear glimmering in the backs of Miles eyes.

“yes, but it can only use tools like Sheamus or Maggie to get its way.” Simms told them,

“I’m not being insulting Adjutant, but how could you possible know that.’ Mulligan asked.

“I don’t, but I think if it could, it would have already have killed us, hell it would have already killed Jared stone and his Friends, so its limited in what it can do.” Simms commented. There were nods from his men, who accepted the logic of his observation.

“now lets get to figuring a way out of here.” Simms as he settled back down, dismissing Sheamus from his thoughts, all that mattered now was to get to the vehicles, replace their spent ammo and supplies, and then get the hell out of here.

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

Cross-had given Jared and the others a quick tour of the walled in portion of the Yard, which was actually huge. It included two warehouses, an emergency clinic, an operations building, a maintenance building, and three other buildings. Down closer to the docks there were hundreds of containers stacked in massive blocks three containers high

How two men, had managed to do all this was mind bending really. Will grant and his friend must have been really worried that the undead would sooner or later make it through the fence line to go to this kind of length to make the place secure.

Jared eyed the cranes, straddlers and massive container fork lifts, at least they had all the equipment to do the job.

“there was a small green house on the roof of the ops building that the hurricane destroyed, and a second larger one over by the Supply building. its more or less intact” Cross said as they walked back towards the ops building.

“What about that transport that’s docked” Jared asked jerking a thumb back over his shoulder to indicate the massive vessel.

“None of us really know how to operate the damn thing, much less know where the deep water in the intercoastal is to keep from grounding it. I have two of my men working on a tug, and theres a barge I’ve already had loaded with Mobile shelters, and other supplies, theres even room for your vehicles.” Cross told him.

“so you still want to blow this place” Jared asked, not happy with the idea.

“we don’t have a choice Jared, we don’t have the manpower to clear the undead out of the place, and there’s a lot more ammo in bunkers and such out there beyond the wall, and even if the attack by this Simms person is over, there will be more sooner or later. Ive already sent boat loads of stuff back to Sullivan, before the Hurricane, we should be thrilled with that and take the rest of this shit off the game board.” Cross explained.

Jared looked around at the stacks of containers that surrounded the huge yard, hating the thought of losing all the stuff stored here, and not all of it was munitions, as Cross had discovered, clothing, tents, body armor, medical gear and supplies, it was one huge military supply store. But did they have the right to deprive others of all this stuff. Not a good argument Jared, He told himself, you plan on keeping it for your people, and sooner or later there wont be enough to share.

“how much did you get sent down?” Jared asked, Cross stopped and turned towards Jared, standing almost at parade rest.

“I concentrated on Food, Ammo and Medical, in that order how much is hard to say, it was a lot Jared. hell theres a whole train over in the yards, something like thirty fully loaded flat cars, it was supposed to be heading for Ft. Bragg. And I cant get men over there now to get it out of here.” Cross told him. “ I had planned on sending it out today or tomorrow, but now… not a chance.”

“ We can use the Stryker and the LAV to get men over to the Rail yard if we have to” Jared replied, turning to look towards the dock.

“if we open the wall again, we are going to have more of those things get inside and that’s to dangerous. And we cant climb over the wall and make a run for the train for obvious reasons.” Cross said, “the safest bet is to do the bug out boogey, blow the place and head back to the island. This place has already cost enough lives Jared.”

he was right, how many people have died on the way here, Jared asked himself. how many more are going to die now that we are here, its no coincidence that a few thousand undead show up at the same time we do.
Cross let the silence between them hang for a moment, then nodded towards the ops building. “ we should have scrounged up enough ammo for your vehicles and enough supplies to get you all the way back to Sullivan by road if you need to.”

“Thanks Ben, you may be right. No let me be honest, you are right, this place has already cost a ton of lives, on both sides.” Jared replied,

“I shipped back enough stuff Jared that we are set for a long while. But, and listen closely to this, if we hope to get things started again, with enough people to do all the jobs we need, we cant afford to be losing a lot of people even for a treasure trove like this.” Cross said.

“ I said you are right,” Jared repeated, then frowned slightly “ we need to get as much as we can packed up and out of here in as short of time as possible.” Jared said, finally giving up the dream of holding the Terminal.

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

The sun was sinking lower in the sky as the day edged towards night, a gentle breeze blew in of the intercoastal, bring the scent of salt and water.

The activity inside the walled area had began to drop, as they burned through the limited supply of fuel using all the trucks and forklifts. They had only loaded about half of what Cross-had set aside for shipping

Jared stopped and rubbed his aching back, then looked around the room. they had managed to remove all but these last six boxes in thirty minutes. What amazed him was that one man had managed all this by himself, four buildings completely stocked with food, water and other supplies, just in case Will Grant had become trapped in a building.

He glanced at Shelly who was removing one of the last boxes, and then shifted his gaze to Ori, who looked more worried than usual. The Bombshell news that Shelly had delivered at the gate, had Ori excited, worried, and eager to get back to Sullivan. Shortly after they had left Sullivan, Beth, Ori’s wife, had discovered she was pregnant.

Jared regretted, now more than ever, he had let Ori come along. Not that he could have forced Ori to stay behind, but if they had waited just a couple of weeks to leave, Ori would have been there when Beth had found out she was pregnant and would have stayed behind in the Safety of the Fort, not out here risking life and limb with his dumb ass former Sergeant.

Nothing to do but make sure he gets back, make sure all of them got back safely, Chris, who had no business being here when he should be recovering, Shelly because she wasn’t going to let Chris wander around on his own, Jill, Mary, Ronny. And Jeff, good god Jeff Sloan had hauled his ass out here because of Jared. No matter what happened to him, they had to get back if at all possible.

“We have the first and half the second floor of the ops building cleared, loaded and on its way to the docks” Ed Reported. Half of Jared’s people were over there with some of Cross’s men, While Jared, and the others worked here in the Emergency clinic.

The more supplies they could get down to the barge, and back to Sullivan the better off the people on the Island would be.

“The fearless leader is screwing off” Ori remarked, as he heaved a box at Jared, who snatched it out of the air easily, grinning.

“like any good leader I’m supervising, you slacker” Jared said, as Ori picked up another box, together the two men headed for the door. lowering his voice Jared said. “ I’m really happy for you Ori”

“Thanks, again,” Ori said, “you want a kid don’t you?”

“for a little bit I actually did, then common sense set back in, so no not while this shit is going on, I have enough people I love to worry about with out adding another” Jared replied as they stepped outside, and loaded the boxes into the back.

Ori didn’t say anything to that, and Jared hoped he hadn’t added more shit for Ori to stress over. Ori glanced towards the docks where Mary and Jill, were helping guard the escape craft, particularly the plane. At least one of Cross’s people had gotten the tug running, or they would have had to leave the barge and all these supplies.

“wait to long, brother and you might not have a chance” Ori said, then saw the look on Jared’s face. “no sorry didn’t mean Jill might leave you or anything, just that, well we both end up in fire more often than any one else, you wait to long and Jill might become a widow before you two can start a family.”

Jared nodded in agreement and turned back to the building. “your right, but Ori, I cant, not yet, maybe not ever. Jill and I have talked about it. she knows my reasons, and shares them to a point at any rate, and….” Ori never found out what that and was.

An explosion went off to the north, then secondary ripple fired milliseconds later, dark smoke and fire rolled up into the sky, Ori gaped as he looked up and in the distance saw a container sailing through the air, before plummeting towards the ground.

Jared whipped around, and stared north as fire and smoke bloomed into the early evening sky. His first thought was that Cross’s bombs had gone off, but if they had he knew he would be dead and not standing here wondering what the hell was going on.
Jared was already on the radio, contacting Eric and Daws, who had the armor up by the entrance to the walled off area.

Ori could hear the Diesels of the armored personnel carriers already, but those weren’t the only motors he could hear. Off to the north he heard several other motors, and they were growing louder.

Confusion broke out over the radio as multiple voices overrode each other as people tried to find out what was going on, the few reports were almost drowned out.

“ clear the damn net, assholes, all Sentrys report” Cross’s voice cut across the babble, that cut off abruptly.

“ Sentry post 12, reporting, half the damn containers on the north side, just went up. I can hear motors over that way. But don’t have a visual,” Private Larry Jones, reported as he stared at the flame wracked area from the control booth of the crane. Beyond the stacks he could see containers scattered around from the explosions. Some lay canted, half on other containers, the explosion had taken out a huge stretch of the wall there, and the shock waves had knocked over several of the huge stacks of containers closest to the wall.

a few of the containers were spilling smoke out, and he worried that it might explode as well. the sound of small arms munitions cooking off could be heard even here.

Jones headed for the door, if he hurried he could make it back, and bug out with the rest. He damn near slid down the ladder in his haste to get out.

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

The explosion, expected though it was, still took Sheamus and his people by surprise. Expected yes, hours earlier, Sheamus thought as he crew excited at what was coming. The shockwave, bowed the trees around them and set the trucks to rocking. Even this far out, they could feel the heat from the fire balls.

“lets go” Sheamus called out excitedly, his Driver, a burly balding Redneck, grinned like a maniac, and popped the truck into gear. In seconds they were hurtling forward towards the wall of fiery debris.

Sheamus felt a bit of tension as his driver aimed for an open spot in the flames, and floored it. the truck howled forward, the driver ripping out a rebel yell, as they entered the gap, fire roaring to either side of them.

The truck emerged fire swirling behind as if it were trying to reach for the escaping truck to drag them back in. they raced between tumbled cargo containers, the rest of Sheamus’s unit followed, only one truck failed to appear out of the fire, whether they had fled at the sight or had been swallowed by the fire sheamus didn’t know, and didn’t really care.

In moments they were clear of the wreckage and into the remaining stacks. Each stack had a sign mounted on a pole with a designation number. Sheamus consulted the map he had made, Williams for once had proven very useful, scouting out the area and relaying back things of interest. He had been surprised when the little bastard had appeared at the trucks two hours ago, handing Sheamus a notebook with two maps and notes on where needed equipment and munitions were stored. Sheamus had redrawn the crappy maps Williams had supplied adding in the locations of the materials he wanted to recover.

“ We might only have minutes, every zombie inside the fence line will be heading this way,” Sheamus said. “Next aisle turn left,” he said, Williams had located Ammo and Grenades while planting bombs, and recovering that was first on Sheamus’s list. He knew that Stone and his people would be heading this way, but if he were really lucky , Stone and his people would be heading down to the docks, to bug out, and the big surprise that Williams had promised would take them all out at once.

“there, that’s it” Sheamus said spotting the ID numbers on a container.

The truck skidded to a stop, the rest took up positions blocking off the aisle, men leaping down and taking positions to guard the men who ran forward and opened the doors, revealing pallets of 5.56. While a second team moved to the other container, that held grenades, and other items.

Sheamus was grinning like a school kid, pay dirt. Take that Simms you shit head, he thought as men lined up and began to pass cases of ammunition from the container to a truck.

He glanced at his watch, then looked up to make sure his men had posted look outs up on the containers, seeing the two men, he smiled again. “ lets hurry it up, we don’t have long.”

He waved at the men he had chosen, they had finished equipping and reloading from the containers supplies, Sheamus pointed to their trucks, he would leave a group to load supplies, the rest he would lead around to the side till he could attack the buildings that Williams had reported to him. Stone was out there some where and wasn’t going to leave here alive today. After that he would find Stones wife, and kill her too.

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

the undead, having massed at the gate, where earlier the vehicles carrying the living had vanished through, turned slowly towards the smoke and flame that rose to the north, they didn’t notice the burning debris that plummeted back to the ground, nor would they have cared if they had. Fire meant the living, and that was the only thing that drove them. more than half the horde turned north and as one began to stagger, lurch and stumble towards the fires. Flowing along the wall of containers, as they reached the corner, the whole group split to go around containers that had been knocked out of place by the explosions.

It didn’t take long for them to find the long gap in the wall created by the explosion, fires burned out of control in some parts of the gap, in other parts smoking debris lay scattered, but the fires had gone out.

As one the horde poured thru the gap, many walked straight into the flames, some made it out, walking fiery scarecrows, that staggered on till their brains cooked and burst in their skulls.

The huge crowd had no real direction, till gunfire and a new explosion drew their attention, heavy gunfire. Driven by hunger they advanced, a silent deadly crowd, that would sweep over everything in its path.

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

Jill stood at the entrance to the dock, furious that Jared had left her down here, She held her weapon ready, knowing that the undead would be pouring through the gap in the wall, any minute. Cross was getting his people together up by the ops building, and would be heading down here as soon as they were ready.

“you know he didn’t plan on leaving you out of the fight Jill” Mary said coming to stand beside her.

“I know, but that doesn’t make me feel any less angry at him. He stuck me down here, to keep me close to escape” Jill said, Mary chuckled but there was no humor at all in the sound. She was worried about Ronny.

“Stay here, if it gets to bad, we both retreat to the plane” she said softly after a moment, knowing that Jill was considering the idea of heading up to the buildings beyond the strip of woods.

Jill had no illusions that it was going to get bad, there were to many undead out there for it to be anything but bad. Part of her wanted to protest, started to say she wouldn’t leave with out Jared, but she knew if Jared hadn’t reached the dock by the time she and Mary were forced to leave, Jared would be either dead, or had found a different way out and would link up with them later.

Behind her the Men Cross had put here to load, finished tying down the cargo on the Barge. With the tug repaired they were golden as Jared would say. The tug was being moved into position where it would be tied off and ready to pull the barge out of here.

A line of trucks came into view, carrying supplies from the buildings being cleared, and Jill peered at them hoping to see familiar faces in the backs or cabs. Damn it Jared let some one else be a hero for once, she thought as she saw no one from the teams.

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

“Ed finish stripping what you can, this is going to be the last load, when the trucks return, load it up if possible, if not get on board and high tail it back to the Barge.” Jareds voice said in Eds ear.

Ed glanced at Ronny who stood at a window watching the smoke and fire to the north. “Jared wants us to finish this up”

“I know, I heard” Ronny said tapping the ear bud in his ear as he turned away from the window, “ the undead are going to be swarming inside soon, so we might as well hurry” he put words to action and grabbed a box.

Paddy, glanced at Ed, then at Ronny shrugged and grabbed a box too, Ed wished he had sent Paddy down to the dock with the last load, and gotten him out of what might become a death trap.

Paddy at least had become a fairly decent shot, and what ever ghosts haunted him, he seemed fairly stable. He would do okay, But Ed had lost too many since this had started.

Ronny saw the look on Eds face and hid a smile as he walked out of the room, Ed must think no one realized that he and Paddy had become pretty close. Ronny wasn’t sure how close and didn’t really care. But he understood the sudden fear Ed was feeling, he felt it every time things went to shit and Mary was around.

He stepped outside and place the box on the ready pile, when the trucks returned from the run to the barge, it wouldn’t take long to load this stuff, and then they could all get out of here. He turned and headed back into the building as a shot rang out.

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

Williams watched the soldier fall, his chest a red ruin, he swung his rifle slightly and took aim at another soldier who was trying to shelter behind a forklift, he put his bullet right between the young soldiers shoulders.

He scooted backwards, and then slipped away, moving quickly to the next spot he had chosen, he knew where Ed was now, and the red head, and neither of them were close to their armored vehicles. As Long as Sheamus played his part, this would be the last day that red headed bastard spent on planet earth.

Williams quickly reported Stones Location to Sheamus via the radio, describing the building so Sheamus was certain to pick the right one. so far he had been lucky, no one had spotted him yet, or if they had they had assumed he was with Stones group.

He reached his next hide and clambered up quickly, into the hiding spot. And frowned. Maggie wasn’t waiting for him. no, the stupid bitch was going to ruin everything. she was supposed to wait for Williams to finish sniping, then they would slip in and she could get her revenge on the man she hated so damn much. But noooo, the whore just had to rush headlong, and now his plan might be in jeopardy.

His face set in a scowl, he raised the scope to his eye and scanned the front of the clinic, come on you little blond bastard, I want to put a big hole in you, Williams told himself, he saw some one appear on the roof, and settled his sights. Then froze, what was she doing here, he asked himself as he laid eyes on Lany, for the first time since Clarksville.

She was still as pretty as ever, he thought, watching as she walked to the edge of the roof and looked north, she carried a rifle today, but her bow was slung across her back next to the large quiver of arrows.

Seeing some one else emerge, he shifted his sights and put a bullet into the soldier who stepped out, the man fell back into the access hatch vanishing from sight. Lany whirled, her rifle up. “ I’m going to let her live”, he told who ever was listening, “if she dies by some one, or something else fine, but I’m not killing her. I want her for my own.”

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

the problem with having so many new people, is that no one realizes your not supposed to be here, especially if your not shooting, Maggie thought as she crouched and looked out a window as if she were ready to defend the place. she had already seen a couple of people that might recognize her, but she had kept them from getting a good look at her. as she had joined a line heading inside, she had helped carry out several cases of MRE’s before she had slipped away and hidden.

she was tired of all this, she wanted revenge, and she was going to get it. to hell with Sheamus, her Friend completely understood her passion her drive, he had even encouraged her, so now here she was, she watched the hallway out of the corner of her eye, and saw him, the man she hated above all others, he entered another room down the hall by himself. she rose and slipped down the shadowy hallway, and stepped into the doorway, he was crouched down and stacking boxes below the window and didnt look up.

“ Help me finish getting this in place, its better than nothing” he said.

she stood there for a long moment, then stepped fully into the room. “ Hello mike,” She said, he looked up his jaw hanging open.

“Carrie?” his eyes were full of shock, and a sudden flare of hope, that totally infuriated her.

“Carries dead, you dumb bastard, I’m Maggie now, Ill always be Maggie” She snarled at him. in the hallway she heard some one shout her name, that stupid bitch from Puerto Rico, figures she would be closing by pining after this sorry excuse for a human being. Maggie shut and locked the door, a cold smile on her face.

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

Jared was angry, maybe angrier than Ori had ever seen him before, he knelt beside the badly wounded soldier, Looking up as Lany came down the ladder like a squirrel.

“ They slipped a sniper or two inside, before they somehow blew the wall” Jared said coldly. That Sheamus and some of his people were inside wasn’t news, but a sniper had to have come in earlier, probably more than one. They had scouted out the area, so don’t Count on Sheamus not knowing what buildings to strike, Jared told himself.

“Are you all right” he asked the ashen faced teen aged girl as she stared at the wounded soldier.

“it could have been me,” she said softly. “it should have been me, I was already up on the roof”

“The sniper probably used you to make any one following you feel it was safe” Jared told her. “its what I would have done.”

“is he going to live” she asked, Jared didn’t answer, and that was all he needed to do, her eyes teared up.

“I’m sorry” she told the man, who smiled at her with bloody teeth. She didn’t know it, but he was a father, had been at least before the zombies, his daughter would have been a three years younger than Lany. He placed a hand on her knee, and tried to talk.

“I didn’t hear you, I’m sorry” she said, not sure why this mans death was hitting her harder than all the deaths she had already seen. maybe this one, was the last straw. Maybe all the grief and anger she had hidden away couldn’t take it any more.

“don’t be…” the wounded man got out. ”get to see my family now”

the tears suddenly came hard and fast, and she found herself sobbing. Faces paraded through her mind of her family and friends that had died.

Jared wrapped an arm around the shoulders of the girl, who pressed against him shaking with each sob. He didn’t know what to do, or say so he just held her, letting her get it out. Ori left them so he could go downstairs and keep an eye out, Sheamus and his people would be arriving any minute now.

The Soldier patted her knee weakly, leaving a bloody hand print, then closed his eyes, a slight smile spread across his face and he died.

Jared gently moved the girl, and drew his pistol. “ I’m sorry its got to be done” he told her, waiting till she had turned her eyes away. She flinched at the gunshot, but seemed to have gotten control of herself, she flashed him an embarrassed look.

“its okay, trust me the first time I feel truly safe and secure, I’m going to lose it too.” He told her.

she only sniffled, and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. But gave him a look of thanks for being understanding.

“stay off the roof okay Lany, lets not add another death to that snipers count.” Jared said as he climbed to his feet, and led her out of the maintenance room. he left the body with all its gear. Some one some day might strip it, but he wasn’t going to. Jared thought.

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

The trucks emerged from the stacks, and rumbled past the two supply ware houses, as they approached the Terminal buildings from the north east, the Stryker and LAV of the enemy were still hunting for Sheamus near the gaps in the wall.

All but one of the trucks that Sheamus had left to be loaded had already escaped back through the gap, that remaining truck was following Sheamus but staying back far enough that it shouldn’t be in any danger.

As they entered the open paved area, half of his trucks spread out and stopped letting the men in the back jump out, they would advance towards the Ops center, Sheamus was going straight for the Clinic where Williams had report that Stone was located.

He knew that as soon as they engaged the enemy the IMF’s hunting through the stacks would race to the Rescue, but if things went well, it would be over before they arrived, and when they did arrive, Sheamus had a little surprise for them. He patted the ATGM. 4 and smiled. It carried an enhanced Warhead, there had been four in the container, and Sheamus had taken them all, passing out three to men he trusted not to look down the barrels, the US army made most of its weapons idiot proof complete with instructions on the side of weapons like the ATGM’s, so he was pretty sure even his rednecks could figure out how to fire the weapon..

he watched for a moment a the line of trucks and men, he had sent advanced on the ops building, firing as they went. He smiled as he saw soldiers falling. It was going to be a good day he decided, as he gave the orders and his own group spread out and moved against the clinic.

*****************************************
The sniper had vanished shortly after firing two shots, and Ed had gotten the remaining men to finish carrying out boxes, when the next round of gunshots eruptes,
Ronny rushed back to the door, and saw Trucks rolling towards the Building, with men advancing in front of them. two soldiers who had been stacking boxes, never even had a chance.

another soldier went down, and Ronny saw the man was still moving. no way in hell am I leaving him out there, Ronny decided. Regretfully he rushed out of the meager shelter of the building weaving and using every stack of boxes, barrels, and what ever else as cover. a soldier on the ops roof, seeing Ronny, and realizing what he was doing added covering fire, hoping to suppress the enemy. But a machine gun on the back of one of the trucks swiveled around, and the soldier dove for the Deck as the M249 opened up on him. The heavy rounds chewed up the edge of the roof.

Ed was heading for the front door, with the last case from the room he had been clearing, when he heard the crackle of small arms fire and saw a soldier dart out from behind the MULE and run for the door, the man fall to the ground in a spray of blood. eight feet in front of Ed, who dropped the case, and lifted his rifle, watching as the soldier began to twitch. Ed grimaced and put a bullet in the kids head.

Ed slipped to the door and looked out and saw six trucks advancing slowly behind men who were darting from position to position, using what cover there was. Firing as they came, God, you could have given us a day off, you really could have he thought as he saw Ronny dragging a wounded soldier with one hand and trying to lay down fire as he retreated towards the building. bullets were flying around him, but for the moment either the enemy were really shitty shots, or God was actually keeping Ronny safe. Knowing how Ronny was Ed was betting the enemy were shitty shots, his lips quirked into a grin for a moment at the thought.

Ed lifted his rifle to his shoulder and settled his cross hairs on a spot just out from the corner of the forklift where a shooter was hiding, the shooter, leaned out every three seconds and fired Ed had noticed. A fraction of second later, a face appeared in his crosshairs. He fired twice, and the almost headless body of the shooter fell backwards. Blood from its necks stump pooling up around the corpse.

“Daws, we have six trucks, and some gunman advancing on the building” Ed said over the radio. . “at least…” He paused and looked, ducking back quickly as bullets shredded the doorjamb. “ at least three down, two wounded.”

Paddy raced up and stood on the side of the door jamb, “how bad” Paddy asked,

“bad enough” Ed told him, as more gunfire shredded the doorjamp. “ three count we both lay down covering fire for Ronny.”

Paddy looked nervous but dipped his head in acknowledgement.

On three both men began to fire, hosing the area, “Ronny come on, Get the hell in here” Ed shouted, over the noise of his rifle, the sound of spent brass falling like a metallic waterfall not even audible.

Ronny finally reached the door way, staggering as a round impacted his chestplate, Ed grabbed him by the collar and snatched him bodily inside, tossing him to the floor. Paddy leaned out grasping the man that Ronny had been dragging, with both hands and heaved.

The two men fell heavily inside, Paddy shouting with pain, a bullet had punched through his shoulder. Ed Slammed the door shut, not even thinking about how stupid that was, till the glass in the door exploded over them.

Paddy rolled away from the door, clutching his shoulder, Ed relieved that Paddy wasn’t down with a crit, pulled the wounded shoulder to the other side of the door, then knelt and checked the injured soldiers wounds.

“ you should live” He told the man who was half unconscious. “the one on your side, went through and through, no real bleeding, your took one to the bicep, and the one to your chest was a graze believe it or not, you must have turned or something at the lost moment, that probably saved your life.”

“you a Medic” the man asked weakly.

“no just a former cop” Ed replied. then left the man to check on paddy, moving in a crouch through the broken glass from the windows and door. Some one took a few shots at him, but the weapons fire from the roof top and the third floor were balking the enemy at the moment.

paddys wound wasn’t to bad, he decided. Like the soldier, the greatest risk was infection.” Get upstairs and stay down” He told Paddy, “they are going to charge this place any minute now. we can hold them at the stair case.” he helped paddy to his feet, then got him moving for the stairs.

“we are being engaged at the clinic, Ed, Ronny do what you can to hold till the trucks get back, then bug out with the trucks. And Ronny don’t even argue or play hero, get to Mary and live brother” Jared transmitted.

Ronny started to argue, but a sudden eruption of shouts upstairs, and a gunshot stopped him. Ed gave him a what the hell look and the two men raced up the stairs.

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

Eric had the LAV come to a stop and looked at the bodies of the ambushers with no real interest. They were only a distraction, he realized, meant to keep them busy and distracted, and they had, they had known that the LAV and Stryker would try not to fire into the containers. So they had used containers for cover to harass the armor, knowing no one wanted to shoot a bunch of Bombs or Artillery shells.

The ambushers had dodged from one place to another shooting at the two Personnel carriers, occasionally tossing a grenade, anything to keep the Vehicles attention fixed on them.

It had worked for a few minutes, but they had fallen for the small trap that Eric had set, catching them in a crossfire, trapped in between Stacks with an armored vehicle on either side.

The terminal was lost Eric knew that, and didn’t mind at all, it meant he didn’t have to make the decision that he had been debating on.

As more reports rolled in over the radio, Eric suddenly fixated on one from Ed, “ . “ at least three down, two wounded.” Ed was saying to Daws, Eric’s blood went cold, well at least he didn’t have to hunt for the rest of the enemy now. That had been the whole point to the distraction he knew. Way to go genius, way to fall for stupidity.

“lets go, they need help back there” Eric barked, “ turn us around, we have people to rescue.” Eric snapped at Blaine, even though the man was turning the heavy vehicle as fast as it would move. Eric throttled his anxiety, “Daws, you going to join us?” he asked noting that the Stryker was still in position as the LAV began to roll out.

“Roger, we are joining, but you might want to take a look North” Daws replied, “ it looks like the undead have arrived to the party”

Eric turned the turret and looked back, at first he saw nothing down the long aisle, then back by a tumbled stack of containers, something moved, he zoomed the camera in, and saw six zombies stagger out into the aisle drawn to the sound of the LAVS big diesel. Six he wasn’t worried about, but it was the rest that followed that he knew they were screwed. And from the rapid turn the Stryker was performing Daws felt the same urgency he did.

They had to get back relieve those trapped in the buildings, and get every one out of here.
The two armored vehicles accelerated away, putting distance between them and the undead.

The undead swept around the scattered containers, and tumbled stacks, finally breaking free into the still clear aisles. They moved towards the sounds of motors, shouts and gunfire. If they were eager they didn’t show it, they plodded forward, cloudy eyes fixed to the south. knowing that blood and flesh awaited them.

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

if the enemy hadn’t sniped early and then sent it its infantry supported by Technicals, with out a visible target, they might have surprised Jared and the rest.

As the windows in the front and the door, shattered under a hail of gunfire, Jared held Chris back, “I want you to stay up here, you and Shelly. Sorry Brother, but your barely out of the hospital and I’m not going to see you go back anytime soon.” Jared said, “ find a window, stay low and observe, and stay the hell off the roof for now”
Chris wasn’t happy Jared could tell by the look on his friends face. but he didn’t argue either, Jared rushed downstairs, leaving Chris, Shelly and a few others on the second floor.

He ducked down low and moved to crouch below a window, looking back, as he heard something hit the floor and saw Ori had flipped a stainless steel table on its side, so that Lany could crouch behind it. Jeb, and three of cross’s men came down the stairs and rushed to positions near the windows.

Ori glided up, as more gunfire tore at the brick building. “you know, we seem to draw a lot of attention” Ori remarked as he readied a grenade.

“True, it must be your jokes” Jared responded, as he cast a look at Lany, the Steel table t wasn’t much but it was better than open air he decided.

“Bite me, there are plenty of people who like my jokes” Ori responded,

“name one, and don’t say the dog” Jared shot back. The others in the room kept looking at them like they were crazy.

“Your wife for starters” Ori said as he lobbed the grenade out the broken window.

“she hates your jokes, she gives you a fake laugh so you feel good” Jared said as he readied his m203, he had been caught with his pants down and only had two HE rounds on him, when this started.

The gunfire outside fell off for a moment as men panicked at the grenade that hit and bounced, before exploding.

“I think that pissed them off” Jared said as the gunfire returned, it sounded like every one outside was firing, and all of them were shooting at the window Ori had thrown the grenade through.

Lany listened to the two men joke, it didn’t bother her, she had heard them do this before, It seemed to keep them calm and focused on what was going on, and she wasn’t about to complain, those two were some of the toughest men she had ever met, no correct that, I don’t think I had ever really met a real tough guy till the world ended.

She peeked out around the table, from here she was able to see at an angle through two windows, and from the other side she could see at an angle through the now shattered door.

At the moment the man running forward, gained all of her attention. she couldn’t make out what was in his hand, but she was sure it wasn’t a gun. So it must be a grenade, unless he was risking his life to pass a note. Which she rather doubted.

Her bow came up, as she smoothly, notched a shaft, drew back and sighted. Any one watching would have been impressed with the speed and total professional stance, she released, the string hummed as it snapped forward, her arrow hissing across the room and out the window.

Sheamus watched as Leroy rushed forward, grenade in hand, Leroy was wanting some pay back and he was about to collect in spades. The redneck rose up cocking his arm back to throw, and Sheamus blinked, as something sprouted from Leroys left eye.

The man stood there for what seemed like minutes, then toppled backwards, the grenade falling from his hand. Arrows, stupid ass Americans would bring a bow to a gunfight he raged, and manage to kill some one with it. The grenade exploded, sending shrapnel screaming as he raged angrily.

“Nice shooting “ Jared called out to Lany glad to see the girl had recovered from her emotional jag.

“Thanks, if he hadn’t been running in a straight line, it might have been a much harder shot” Lany replied.

nice when the bad guys do what you want them to do Jared thought as he hit the ground and rolled into a prone position on the floor behind where the door had been. It took him half a second to get his hand on the magazine, and a finger on the trigger of the M203, another second to spot a small group clustered with in fifteen meters of each other, he pulled the trigger, the weapon making a soft booping noise, then he was rolling back into cover, as some of the bad guys spotted him and fired.

Jared sprang into a crouch wincing slightly, outside the Grenade detonated, and some of the fire fell off.

“Looks like you didn’t escape unscathed “ Ori remarked pointing to Jared calf.

“It’s a graze” Jared replied, ignoring the burning sensation, and the blood that oozed down his calf and into his boot.

“if you live through this Jill is going to kill you, you do know that right” Ori asked.

“if you live through this she is going to kill you for not protecting me” Jared said with a laugh.

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

Mike leaned against the desk in the room, blood flowing down his leg, from where Carrie had shot him in the Thigh. Part of him wanted to plead with her, to stop, to remember who she was. The bigger part of himself wanted to just blow her brains all over the wall.

“what’s the matter Mike, cant believe I shot you, close your jaw, you look stupid like that. I promised myself, I was going to enjoy Killing you and I’m off to a good start” she said, there was something different about her voice, but he couldn’t place it.

he looked into her eyes, and realized that there was nothing of the woman he loved inside there. His hope that she would get better, had been futile, he knew it now. and then it really hit him.

she must have guess what he was thinking, she smiled and nodded at him. “that’s right mike you were always a bit slow. I joined the enemy, well really, they weren’t your enemy till I got to work, and you know how persuasive I can be, especially when I spread my legs. But I’m thinking Carrie wasn’t half as good in bed as I am. The things I could have shown you, if only you hadn’t been such a wimpering tool.”

“Why Carrie?” He asked, the gasped as she shot him in the arm.

“I am not Carrie, you asshole. I keep telling you she is dead, and I’m it, its my body and the only people I share it with are those I’m screwing.” She snarled, ignoring the sounds of people in the hallway.

“Don’t even try to open the door, I have a bomb rigged to it” She yelled, figuring the bluff would hold them off for a few moments, besides, Sheamus’s men were just outside, Mikes friends couldn’t spare to much time trying to save him with out getting themselves killed.

“oh fuck this, just kill me then” Mike said rising to his full height. She could tell he was angry, and the softness, that had always been there under the surface when dealing with the woman he insisted was his wife, was gone.
“in a second Mike, in a second. We have just long enough.” She replied. “ I wanted you to know, I’m the one that helped them attack the group. Radio Frequencies, routes that Jared had mentioned, telling the rednecks who haven’t been laid in a over a year about how many women and girls there are in the group. I hope Amy and Ily survive, some of the men are really looking forward to gang raping both of them.”

Mike glared at her for a second. “what the hell happened to you?” he asked almost calmly.

“He happened Mike. Jasper Evan brown. The only friend I’ve ever had, as close as a lover.” She replied, a sick smile of pleasure rippled across her pretty face. “ your so pathetic mike, you might as well let Stone screw you, you act like such a girl.” She laughed a mad lost sound. “the problem with you Mike is simple, you weren’t upset that the girl and all those kids on the bus died, you were upset because you liked it, you got wood from it didn’t you.”

Mike stared at her, and he couldn’t help but see the old nightmare, feel the sick, helpless feeling as he saw the girl die again in his minds eye.

“your wrong” he said simply,” Jasper Evan Brown is a sick twisted, child molesting, rapist and murderer. That’s what you call a friend, your right your not Carrie, you a twisted whore who deserves to die” Mike said, as Maggies eyes narrowed.

Time to die” She said as she leveled her weapon at him once more, the bore looked huge as he stared down it.

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

The fighting raged across the open area, between the two widely separated buildings. muzzle flashes flickered like manic fireflys in the gathering gloom. A line of trucks were moving up from the Docks, carrying soldiers. Their only mission was to break out those trapped in the buildings, and bug out.

a cold wind blew over the terminal, carrying a carrion smell on its edges. Those fighting down below felt something move around them, past them, a darkness that set their skin to prickling for a moment, as they sensed its presence. A Presence that sat the ancient parts of their brains screaming for them to run and hide.

Jill shivered, not sure why, the hairs on the back of her neck rising as Nibbler rose to a crouch, teeth bared the dog stared west towards the distant sounds of fighting, a deep growl erupting. Then the dog leaped forward, bounding into the gloom. Jill shouted at the dog to come back but knew it was pointless.

She knew the dog was running to find Jared, She had grown to attached to the dog lately she realized as she wiped a tear from her cheek. “you go save him, and bring him back to me” she whispered aloud, as she gripped her rifle, the rifle that Jared had carried for so long, and watching the approaches hoping, praying that Jared and the others would get back here before the undead.

In the shadows of a container, it stood and watched the battle, its thin lips split in a smile that bared shark like teeth. I’m coming for your first Ed, its thoughts were finally clear. How long this would last it, he didn’t know. But Jasper Evan Brown wasn’t going to waste what time he had, his childhood friend, who had guided him, molded him since he was ten, who had first revealed jaspers Destiny, stood behind him beaming with approval.

It was time, all the years of waiting had come down to this moment. he adjusted his hat and walked towards the building where Ed waited. The one useful talent of his life, aiding him again as he passed unseen to the unguarded rear door that Maggie had unlocked for him. Blood was going to flow, he thought as he vanished into the interior.

the horizon was lit with blood reds and pinks as the sun slid below the rim of the world, then night reached out and covered the land, drowning it in darkness.

“This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.”
~ T.S. Elliot

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