Chapter 27

” The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
“Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming — it’s the Army of the Dead.”

They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,”
~W. Service

“almost ready” Wiezbeki said as he rummaged through the last case to retreive what he needed. Simms only nodded, he had no doubts about Weizbeki’s skills, or Ivan’s. if those two believed they could pull this off then they would pull it off.

He looked older Wiezbeki thought, casting a quick look at Simms, a little more silver in his hair, a few more lines at the corners of his eyes. But he still exuded that confident, no no nonsense air about him. He could never explain it to any one outside their unit, but he would follow Simms to hell and back if that’s what the man wanted. Simms was a father, friend and brother all in one to the men who had followed him for so long. Well except for Sheamus, who wasn’t long for this world.

“lets get it done then. The sooner we are out of here, the sooner I can hunt down Sheamus” Simms said, his voice rocky and cold, it was Abbadon’s voice.

“Why not let Stone do it for you, we should just get out while we can adjutant” Wiezbeki asked politely.

“Stone might get him, but I want to make sure that Sheamus is dead, really dead, not just one of the mobile dead.” Simms said pausing. “ and if we can put a crimp in that hat wearing shits plans Im all for it.”

Wiezbeki nodded, he knew there was no arguing with Simms when he was like this. Besides on one level he completely agreed, he wanted to see Sheamus dead for his treason.

“Copy that, I’m back to work” Wiezbeki said, walking out of the room, Leaving Simms alone with the Ten men from Hansons force.

“you understand what’s going to happen and what your supposed to do” Simms asked.
the men nodded, though every one of them looked nervous, he didn’t blame them, the plan bordered on suicide, he thought as he eyed the explosives placed strategically on the wall.

Wiezbeki and Ivan had used almost every single bit of explosives they had, but if this worked, they would be able to reach the vehicles and get moving.

“Your leader may even be alive” Simms added, then pointed at the packs, “ make sure everything we need is stowed, once we leave we aren’t coming back. And remember when the order is given, move do not hesitate, no matter how scared you are, if you hesitate you will be killed by those things.” The men nodded and moved to check their loads, while Simms walked from the room to stand at the head of the now destroyed stairs to look down at the undead massed below.

He squatted, watching them with interest. They were so still, that bothered him. they were never still, especially not when the living were so close. “whats the matter, you folks just smart enough to realize you cant get to us, or is it something else “ he asked the horde that only stared up at him, with lifeless cloudy eyes. “ maybe your waiting for the dinner bell.”

Behind him, judging by the sound of the footfalls, Mulligan was approaching. “ready “ Simms asked.

“almost, Ivan says once we start the process, we have to leave or we will die in here, with those things” mulligan replied. “I have the relays set, we can be down, and halfway to the trucks before the undead even know whats happening.”

“good,” Simms said, still watching the undead below. it bothered Mulligan, but he had no fears that Simms was losing it.

Simms gazed at the undead for a moment longer, then rose to his full height and spit on them. “lets be about it then” he said turning away from hideous crowd.

The plan such as it was, involved one of the most complicated precision demolitions that Wiezbeki had ever seen much less tried. In some ways it was more akin to a Hollywood plot than anything that a professional demolitions expert would try. Simms hadn’t hesitated when it had been suggested, outside of jumping out the windows into the crowd of undead and hoping they could reach the vehicles, it was the only plan that offered them a chance of escaping.

“Warning, time to detonation, three minutes,” Wiezbeki shouted from the third floor. Simms got Hanson’s men moving into the rooms on the opposite side of the building, ignoring the worry and fear on their faces.

The first warning the undead had, was the sudden boom and crack of explosives, dust shot out from the third floor. the undead that covered the ground around the vehicles looked up, silence filled the air once more, then suddenly a crackling ripping noise broke the silence as the third floor wall ripped away, and toppled outwards. It hit the ground crushing the majority of the undead below and clearing an area as wide as the buildings.

Simms, Mulligan and Ivan ran and leaped out the side of the building into the dust that billowed around out there. using the momentum to cover almost the entire distance to the trucks as they roping down into the rubble.

“damn wall clipped the truck” Mulligan shouted as he unhooked and ran for the truck. Simms nodded, but didn’t really care that bricks had landed on the canvas top, Ivans FAMA was already firing on the undead that were pouring into the gap created by the falling wall. “Hummer” Simms shouted, as he crossed the distance quickly only having to shoot down three zombies. Ivan turned and ran after him, slinging his rifle he drew his trenching tool as a zombie rose from the rubble, Ivan ran past it, crushing its skull, with a casual back handed swing.

Simms dove into the passenger side and scrambled across into the drivers position even as the undead started swarming around the front and backside of the hummer. He stabbed the starter button and the engine roared to life, even as Ivan clambered inside slammed the door before climbing into the Gunners position. This had better work Simms thought as he drove the Hummer out of position followed by the trucks, they rolled over undead, crushing as many as possible after a few minutes, the undead had completely covered the rubble from the third floor wall again.

Ivan raked fire across the advancing undead, at waist level bowling them over. “All right Wiezbeki, phase two.” Simms transmitted as both vehicles turned and faced the building.

The sound of the motors and machine gun muffled the next series of explosions. The second floor wall already weakened, tumbled outwards, crumbling as it fell, but it was more than enough to clear a route to the vehicles. “move” Simms radio and both vehicles bounded forward as Simms people roped down first, hitting the ground firing. They fought to keep the lane cleared as Hanson’s men awkwardly came down next. e

The hummer rolled up onto the rubble and came to a stop beside Weizbeki, crushing undead as it did so and cutting the undead on the this side off from his men. the fire fight was growing in intensity, as the men on the ground fought to stem the tide while scrambling into vehicles. In seconds the hummer was packed, and the last five men were scrambling into the back of the truck as the undead flowed forward into the machine gun fire Ivan was laying down.

Ivan showed no real reaction as one of the Hansons men was grabbed from behind by zombies as he tried to scramble into the truck. they tore the screaming man apart in a spray of blood, Ivan pulled his pistol and shot the poor bastard in the head.

“go go go” Miles was shouting, Mulligan threw the truck into gear, almost spilling two men out of the back. Simms pulled away from the building tires throwing broken brick and dirt, plowing through the undead, who didn’t stand a chance against the heavy vehicle.

Behind the fleeing vehicles, a series of explosions rippled through the second and third floor of the building, dust boiled into the air as the building collapsed inwards, for a moment it looked as if the first floor would hold. Undead were pouring out of the door, but the floor already weakened, finally collapsed with a hollow boom. Burying those still inside.

the two vehicles turned east, where smoke and fire rolled into the sky from a fire to the north, as the sun began to set.

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

It wasn’t possible, she had thought, but it was. That was Carrie that she had seen shutting the door behind Mike. Ily had rushed to the door, in time to hear the locks engage and hear the gunshot.

She stood there trembling with anger, then tried the door, shouting for Carrie to open the door.. Ed, Paddy and Ronny Hearing the gunshot and the shouting rushed up the stairs, leaving the four soldiers to hold the lobby and office area downstairs. Amy joined them a second later.

“whats going on” Ed asked glancing towards the stairs. Ily rapidly told them what she had seen, as Ed tried the door.

“Don’t even try to open the door, I have a bomb rigged to it,” a woman’s voice called out from the other side of the door.

Down stairs the sound of gunfire picked up as the few remaining soldiers downstairs and the two still trapped outside, engaged the enemy.

Ed grimaced, she knew he had to get back to defending the building or they were all dead, the math was easy, leave some one to cover the door, even if Carrie killed Mike she had to leave, either through a window or through the door. if she left through the door, she would be killed.

“was she carrying anything” Ed asked Ily, who had seen the woman.

“Just a rifle it looked like, no pack or anything else that I saw” Ily replied. barely able to see Ed in the darkness, oh hell save the man Ed decided, two more guns downstairs wouldn’t help much.“ Ready” he asked,

“Ready freddy” Ronny replied triggering the light mounted on his rifle. The others did the same, the darkness in the hallway was almost oppressive.

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

Mike stood there in the old office, watching Carrie as her finger started to tighten on the Trigger of the pistol, she held in one delicate looking hand.. “wait” he said, holding up a hand. Carrie or Maggie what ever you wanted to call her hesitated.

“What, do you want to beg for another minute of life” she asked, obviously worried that at any moment the door would bust open and her moment of revenge would be stolen from her.

“no I want to know, what happened to Carrie, and why you hate me so much” he said, with a shrug that looked much more casual than he felt.

“there is no Carrie, she left, how many times do I have to tell you.” She snarled.

“it seems to piss you off every time I suggest she might come back” Mike said, then looked her in the eyes. “ answer my question, why do you hate me so much”

For a moment Maggie hesitated, a memory surfacing of Mikes face hovering over hers, smiling down at her, and then their lips…. No…. no Mine. She could remember the dreams, when she floated with in the darkness with no name, no existence. And he had come, told her, her name, told her of Mike who had abused her, who had used her for sex, he had shown her the memories that she could no longer remember. He had filled in the blank that had been her life and given her purpose.

She hated Mike for so many reason, He had forced her to be Carrie, the weak, simpering, stand by your abusive man Carrie, well not Maggie, she had embraced her new life, and her savior. That mike had never even spoke a foul word to her after she had woken, didn’t matter, there had been others around he had to act decent. That he had risked his life time after time to protect her, meant nothing either. She was his sex toy he couldn’t lose that now could he.

Mike watched the play of emotions cross her face, hoping, that maybe finally some part of his wife would shake loose and come back. The pain from the gunshot wound to his thigh and arm, was spreading, and soon he would be dizzy and weak from blood loss.

“you don’t really know why do you?” he asked. “ memories that make no sense, hatred that has no root and no purpose other than to kill”

“what would you know, You let a bus load of kids die, when you could have stopped it from happening” she retorted angrily.

“no I couldn’t, and you know that, but that’s not what that thing in the bowler hat tells you is it.” Mike replied, no longer worried, or even caring if he died. this was what he had been wanting, a chance, one single chance to get his wife back. “Think Maggie, you knew our house, you knew me, no matter how twisted your memories might be. You are the woman I’ve loved, you are carrie. Just put down the pistol and lets talk.”

“Nice try Michael, have you been practicing that little line with that Puerto Rican whore” Maggie said, her eyes smoldering with hate.

“if there isn’t a part of Carrie still in you, why didn’t you just kill me when you shut the door, why talk to me.” Mike said, knowing he was probably pushing to much. He could hear people in the hall, and the gunfire out front was growing louder and closer.

She punched the pistol towards him as if to emphasize her words . “ I can fix that right now” She said, the pistol rock steady in her hands. “could Carrie do this” she asked with a tight smile.

Mike saw it coming, part of him longed to let it happen, but the trained, side of him, the side that sought survival got him moving. He lunged to the left, throwing himself on the floor, even as he drew his pistol, Carries weapon boomed, once, twice, blowing divots in the table top, and shattering the window behind the table.

Time seemed to slow, Mike hit on his shoulder and rolled onto his back drawing his pistol, but Maggie, had a bead on him and there was no mercy in her eyes.

Hearing two more shots from inside, Ed drew back a boot and slammed the door next to the knob, Ed was not a small man, even now he was still easily twice as big as any survivor. With the full strength of his leg, coupled with his weight, the door flexed and the latch popped out of its receiver. The door swung open and crashed against the wall. Ily saw the silhouette of a woman standing about ten feet into the room, her weapon up and pointing at Mike.

Amy terrified for Mike, pushed past Ed into the room.as soon as the door opened, the only light was from the flashlights in the hall and what little light from the night that came through the now shattered window.

She saw mike on the floor raising his pistol, and Carrie standing over him, her pistol pointed straight at Mikes head. Amy had never admitted it, would never admit it, but she loved Mike, partly as a father figure and partly more. The way he had stood by his wife, loving her despite all that had happened, and how he had tried to bring her back had touched Amy, she knew most men would have given up after so long but not Mike. He deserved to be happy, and She did feel a little bit of jealousy for what the old Carrie had experienced while being married to Mike.

And now Amy had to do the one thing that would cause Mike to hate her. The thoughts flicker through her mind like heat lightening. She pulled the trigger, three times, watching Carrie stagger as the heavy rounds struck her. the older woman fell to her knees, and then slowly slumped to the floor, her pistol falling from her hand. Amy felt something in her curl up and die, as she watched Mikes face crumble in the glow of the flashlights, the Pain in his eyes was almost to much for Amy to deal with.

Mike managed to get himself upright, and moved to Carries side. “Carrie” Mike said as Placed his pistol on the floor and then lifted Carries head into his lap. hoping, god he hoped that at the last moment she would be here. He brushed a lock of hair out of eyes.

“fuck you,” she coughed, mike could feel something wet splatter on his hands. And knew she was coughing blood. there wasn’t going to be any last minute miracle that brought her back and saved her body so they could continue their life together.

Sadly he even realized, that some where along the line, his love for her had faded like the memory of his teen aged summers on the river.

“I’m sorry, for what happened to you Carrie. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, and I’m sorry that you came to this end.” He said, as he felt a hand on his shoulder as Ily came to stand silently beside him.

“not Carrie, I’m Maggie” the woman on the floor said, almost pleaded, as if she needed to be recognized as being real at her death. “Maggie” she whispered and fell silent.

Suddenly as if a spell had been broken, the rest of the men and women in the doorway approached, the lights mounted on their weapons swept the room, just in case. all but Amy who still stood by the door, clustered around Mike and the Fallen woman.

Mike heard the breath rattle in Carries chest, and then she was still. I carried her out of that damn hospital on my shoulder, I did every thing I could to save her, and you let this happen, he thought as he glared up at the ceiling. You …. Words failed him. but it would be a long time before he forgave god or what ever was up there watching this farce, if he ever did that is.

“Mike we have to put her down” Ed said gently not sure how mike was going to react. Carries body was already beginning to twitch. She would be rising in moments, and he was worried Mike might actually just let it happen, let her attack him out of some weird sense of Karmic pay back.

“Ill do it” Mike said as he moved carries head to the floor retrieving the pistol he had dropped beside his dying wife. . He leaned forward and placed the pistol against her forehead, remembering all the good times, the way she had laughed, the sun in her hair as they danced on the banks of the river on her birthday. The love and sympathy in her beautiful eyes every time he woke from that damned nightmare.

He knew, she couldn’t have survived in this world, she had been to kind, to gentle. Maybe that’s why Maggie had shown up. Maybe she would have shown up with out that Bowler hat wearing freak, Maggie could have survived, but what ever the reasons, Carrie had never woken up from the coma she had been in. he waited till her eyes snapped open, and saw the murky orbs in the light, then pulled the trigger, tears streaking his face.

Ed placed a gentle hand on Mikes shoulder, his eyes resting on Amy who still stood in the doorway, to scared to approach the man whose life she thought she had destroyed. With a nod to Ronny and Paddy Ed headed back downstairs, there was a battle still to win. Ronny hesitated as he gazed sympathetically at Mike for a moment longer, for once no smart assed comments, or attempts to lighten the mood came out. Ronny knew exactly how he would have felt if that had been Mary. Ronny silently left the room with Paddy to go help Ed.

Ily watched mike stand slowly and holster his pistol, Amy still stood by the door, she hadn’t moved or spoken, just stared at the sight before her, she had done it to save Mike. And she would do it again but she wasn’t happy about it, she had faced so much since this started, and she had thought she was tough, but tonight she had become an adult in world ruled by death.

“I tried, God I tried” Mike said to Ily, finally shaking his head. He knew he had to push this away for now, men were fighting and dying right now downstairs, he could mourn later. He smiled crookedly at Ily, a heart breaking smile whether he knew it or not. At the moment there was something more important to do.

He walked slowly, limping, to come and stand before Amy, who trembled as she waited for him. He stood there for a heartbeat, not sure what to say. then she burst into tears. “I’m sorry Mike, I had to. she was going to kill you” she said her voice threatening to break, as tears ran down her face. .

He hugged her tightly for a moment letting her cry into his shirt, “I know Amy, its okay.” He lied. It wasn’t okay, but it also wasn’t her fault. Carrie, Maggie, what the fuck ever had chosen her path and death had been at the end. He didn’t, and couldn’t hate the Teenager any more than he could have given up on Carrie. “ I’m sorry too. But Honey now isn’t the time. I want you and Ily to get up to the roof and wait. A fire fight is not where you need to be” Mike said determined to keep them both safe.

Amy pulled away, wiping at her face, and nodded. There was no relief in her eyes at Mikes acceptance of what had happened. And he knew better than most how this would haunt her for years to come. But he would help her deal with it and move past it.

Ily looked angry, at being sent to safety. Mike didn’t care, his feelings for her had grown over the months but with the body of his wife laying there cooling on the floor he wasn’t about to discuss how he felt about Ily.

“Ily, don’t argue, we will talk later. Just survive this so we can” mike said, as he limped towards the door. He waited to bind his wounds till he was half way down the stairs, knowing that Ily would insist on helping, and he didn’t want that. this was his penance for believing he could change things and bring his wife back.

Amy had to pay enough for his arrogance, in believing he could have changed things, he could live with the pain and blood loss, he had earned it, and what ever arose from it. even if it killed him.

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

it stood in the darkness, unseen, by the few living who rushed around trying to keep the attackers from getting in.

it had felt the Death of its tool, Maggie, it felt anger at her death, it had spent so much time, leading her to what it had wanted her to become, it had enjoyed the blank slate her mind had been, in life he had used flesh to create works of art, cutting away the dross to reveal the beauty within. But with her, he had created a person, she had been one of the greatest works of his existence.

Jasper had reveled in replacing love with hate, compassion with intolerance, Mercy with cold blooded murder, she had become his love, his bride, his greatest achievement, and she had been taken from him by a teen age girl.

He would deal with her after he dealt with Ed once and for all. He had a promise to keep after all, had he not promised that he would kill Edward Stanton. There was no malice in the act, Ed had been the only one , the only cop who had even begun to understand Jasper in life. Ed had been his arch rival, or nemesis he supposed.

Ed had been part of his destiny, just as He was part of Edwards destiny. But Edward was reaching the end of his story, and Jaspers was just beginning, he would wade through the blood of the world, and Become the Viceroy of the Dark, and rule over the ruins of humanity. he had known this since he was a child when the shadow, that had been his only friend and mentor had whispered to jasper in his bed of destiny and death.

It slipped upstairs, less than a shadow, unseen but not unnoticed, a very short red head shivered as if something cold had passed him in the darkness, something cold and hungry

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

“I think they are going to Ram the building,” Ori said taking a quick peek over the window seal, spotlights and fog lights on the trucks outside were switched on were all pointed at the building.

“well that’s a novel way to charge, unless you have a dump truck” Jared replied.

“Id kill for that dump truck right now.” Ori said, “I’m down to five magazines for the HK, three for the glock.”

“wheres your sniper rifle” Jared asked, watching Ori wince in the light that bled in from outside.

“its in the ELSORV,” Ori replied.

“nice place for it, its probably right next to My m32.” Jared said as more bullets raked the front of the building.

“the one time I would really love to see that huge honking weapon, you leave it in a vehicle.” Ori replied half joking.

“well if you want to run out to the gate, and bring it back, I don’t mind” Jared replied as he thought about using the last Frag grenade he carried.

“no, I think Ill just sit here and give you shit about it, if you don’t mind” Ori said. “the natives seem a might pissed out there”

“Stone, this is Cross, we are going to be heading your way in another five, can you people hold out till we get there.” Cross’s voice said in Jared’s Ear bud.

“I don’t see we have a choice, bring Pizza, and some cold beer.” Jared replied, Ori gave him a look. “ and an order of spicy Buffalo wings for Ori, even though they give him the runs.”

“ bite me Jared” Ori said, almost laughing.

“what, its true, Remember Germany.” Jared said.

“that was that nasty cabbage crap they served, you ass not chicken wings” Ori said, Chris smothered a laugh from his position on the other side of the door.

“Way I remember it, it was the four dozen chicken wings you downed trying to win Free beers on the house.” Chris added.

Ori shook his head in denial, but his stress levels had dropped some. He flashed Jared a look of thanks.

All of them ducked as close to the floor as possible as a Ma deuce mounted on the technical opened up, punching holes in the walls, covering them in dust and debris.

“now that was rude” Chris commented from his position under a desk.

“no this is rude” Jared said as he drew his pistol and popped up.

“oh hell” Ori commented.

Jared could see ten men scattered in various degrees of cover, but it was the fifty gunner who drew his attention, the man was already swinging his weapon back towards the now Visible target of Jared.. To slow buddy, Jared thought as he sighted, fired twice and dropped back to the floor, certain that gunners body had hit before jareds butt was back on the floor. It had taken literally less than an eye blink for Jared to draw, sight, shoot and fall back to safety. In point of fact it had taken, .0143 seconds for him to draw and get off two shots. Years back he had gotten involved with Cowboy shooting and Fast Draw competitions, during the military he had kept it up, and his commander had many times allowed him to take some additional time off because it might be good publicity.
Jared wasn’t a record holder but was damn close.

“don’t tell me you got shot” Ori said, as the enemy fire shattered the last of the glass, that fell glittering like diamonds around them..

“two grazes, nothing serious,”Jared replied. “ took them by surprise. Now If I can do that twenty more times.”

“youll be lucky to piss in a corner with out being shot now” Chris remarked as the men outside shot the hell out of the building. “ they seem awfully determined to kill us .”

“we could talk them to death” Ori suggested. “to bad pappy isn’t here, half an hour of listening to his ‘no shit there I was with a Hooker, trying not to piss my depends’ stories is enough to drive any one to die.”

Chris started laughing, a deep belly laugh, there was more than a touch of nerves to it, but that didn’t matter. Jared started laughing with him, and in a seconds the every one in the room that knew pappy was joining in.

“they are what?” Sheamus asked, staring at the handset for his radio.

“laughing” Toby replied, he was the closet to the building, having low crawled up behind a stack of boxes unseen.

“why are they laughing” Sheamus asked, puzzled.

“how the hell should I know, but they find something funny as hell” Toby shot back.

Sheamus glared at the building, for a moment. the man who had just shot Sheamus’s gunner had to be stone, Maggie and Williams had both mentioned several times just how fast deadly stone was with a pistol.

“Boss, the two armored vehicles are inbound” the call from the observer Sheamus had left in the stacks, almost took him by surprise. Sheamus was glad he had stationed the two sentries,. Stones people were responding faster than he had anticipated. He needed all the warning he could get. All that meant was he was going to have to with draw sooner, even if meant leaving stone alive. On the bright side, the tidal wave of undead that should be sweeping into the Terminal would probably kill Stone. And if that didn’t the last little surprise Williams had set up would. And Sheamus wanted to be far away when that one went off.

“Joey, Carl get ready company is coming” Sheamus transmitted to his ambush team. The two Armored vehicles were in for a surprise. He turned his attention back to the building where Stone was holed up.

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

“hold up” Eric ordered, the LAV and Stryker slowed then stopped. Sheamus wasn’t as well trained as say Simms, but Eric knew the man was trained well enough to sat up a rear guard, and depending on what Sheamus had removed from the three open containers Eric had observed, they could have a nasty surprise in store for Eric’s folks. Sheamus knew about the LAV and the Stryker, and would be worried about them showing up. it only made sense he would take precautions.
\
Eric didn’t want to place men on the ground, not with the few thousand zombies coming up behind them. but he really didn’t have a choice he thought as he chewed on the inside of his cheek, and mulled over the situation. For the moment the vehicles were hidden in the stacks, which meant any one left behind to watch for and attack the two vehicles would have to be on top of a Containers, and he had gotten nothing on Thermal, so the ambush had to be set for the moment they rolled out of the north side stacks and into the open behind the Clinic.

Which opened up a lot of potential places they could be hiding, and depending on the weapons they might have, popping smoke wouldn’t help much, assuming the ambushers knew how to use them. Javelins and AT’s were pretty much stupid proof.

Cant sit here all day he thought, we have maybe five minutes before that horde catches up to us.

“Martinez, Castor, dismount, I want you to scout out ahead, just out side the stacks. We don’t have a lot of time before the zombies reach us.” Eric said.

“your thinking ambush” Martinez asked. Eric nodded

“pretty much” Eric replied, Martinez grabbed his kit, shrugged it on and joined Castor at the hatch.

“after you take care of the ambushers, wait to be picked up, don’t come back here. The Ambulance chasers will probably be right on our ass.” Eric told them.

Ryan Castor hit the ground, and tried not to breath through his nose, the stench from the undead filled the air, almost making him gag. “ lets do this” Martinez said, the two men ghosted forward, thankful that they had, had the chance to charge the batteries for their NVGs.

They were old hands at passing unnoticed, and using ever shadow and bit of cover to remain undetected. And they usually had time to do it right. But tonight they had enemy ahead and undead behind. And being shot was the lesser of two evils, when the other option was to be eaten alive.

They moved up slowly and eased out of the stacks, the Clinic was forty yard beyond the stack and to the east a little bit, directly to the right of the clinic almost opposite the two men was a small Maintenance building and another two story building. the area between the stacks and the buildings had a few broken down vehicles, pallet stacks, barrels and other odds and ends scattered across the area providing some cover.

Castor knelt and brought his rifle up, flipping on the thermal option of his scope and slowly panned it across the area.

Joey, wanted to be in on the assault on the building, that’s where all the real action was, not sitting here in the back of a broken down military truck. waiting for an armored vehicle to appear. Like some he had grown disillusion with Sheamus, the man was a nut job, but not half as bad as that woman. She was as nuts as she was hot.

he listened to the gunfire, knowing that it was going to draw the undead, who had to be entering through the gap that had been made in the container wall. And the last thing he wanted to do was to sit here and risk being left behind. But if he abandoned his post, Sheamus would shoot him down.

Leaning forward he peered through the slit he had cut in the canvas cover, the Container stacks were just black squares in the night, he couldn’t see anything. I wish I had some of those night vision goggles, bet none of them work any more. No batteries, he thought in passing, Hoping that he would be able to see the undead before they got close enough to keep him from escaping.

He touched the weapon that Sheamus had taken from one of the containers, running his hand along its deadly length, hoping he remembered how to operate it if the time came. The instructions printed on the weapon were great, if you had the light to read them. which he didn’t. he gazed out for a moment longer then let the slit close and sat back, never seeing the two shadows that moved as a team across the apron directly towards the truck he was hiding in. using the very technology that he believed no longer worked.

Castor Knelt by the side of the truck that the thermal sight on his rifle had revealed a man inside. the second man of the ambush lay on the roof of the maintenance shed, a single silenced shot had taken him out. he grasped the canvas ready to pull and looked at Martinez who gave him the go signal.

Castor slipped the canvas open, Martinez his weapon at High ready engaged instantly, the weapon making a coughing noise, as he first killed the poor bastard then put a round into the mans head to keep him dead.

As soon as the Tango was down, and Martinez recovered the AT, Castor knelt and lifted his sniper rifle to his eye and scanned the fire fight raging ahead of him. from the looks of it, two squads were pushing into the ops building, another two squads were pinned down outside the Clinic, two of the trucks at the clinic were burning, another was a bullet riddled mess.

But that still left three with add on armor that looked more like a Veteran had up armored the thing as opposed to a civilian.

“Two Tangos Down, no others in position to intercept” Martinez reported.

“Roger, Strike force proceeding,” Eric replied.

a moment later the two armored vehicles rolled out of the stacks, silent dark shapes that advanced like predators towards the rear of the closest enemy force outside the clinic. The LAV stopped only long enough to pick up the two SF men.

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

The stacks, like the container wall, were placed around the loading field in what amounted to a large U. the clinic sat closest to the north side stacks and the gap that had been blown in the container wall, the ops building lay dead center of the loading and storage yard, and was being assaulted from two sides.

the undead didn’t know the lay out, and didn’t care, but whether guided by some things hand or pure luck, spread out moving through the labyrinth of the stack unerringly, approaching the fight from two sides.

The soldiers who were late in abandoning the Sentry posts along the wall, and the gate, ran straight into the horde of undead, the men on foot put up a fight but were quickly overwhelmed, a few managed to escape but were quickly trapped.

those in Vehicles plowed through, trying desperately to reach the few men on foot who had managed to climb onto Straddlers, or onto container tops to escape the undead determined not to leave any one alive behind.

The larger mass of undead didn’t seem to care, they ignored the stranded men, drawn to the sounds of gunfire and the occasional explosions that announced the presence of the living. They flowed forward, sweeping through the stacks, from both the west and the north and in moments they would emerged and begin to feast.

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

Ily waited a minute after Mike had left, not sure if she should feel some hope for things working out between them, or worrying that what had been growing between them was dead and buried before they had even fully explored it.

She watched the door for a moment, partly because she had no desire to turn and look at the body of Mikes wife.

“you okay” she asked Amy, who had stopped crying, god knows how badly this is going to mess her up Ily thought. Dios Mio, were things are screwed up.

“yeah,” Amy said as she replaced the magazine in her pistol. Jared had hammered it into her head to always make sure the magazine in her weapon was full.

“I miss lights” Ily remarked as they stepped into the dark hallway, downstairs they could hear gunfire, and the occasional shouted comment by Ronny. What little light spilled from the open doorway, was only slightly less dark then the hallway.

Ily nodded and pulled a chem Light stick from the cargo pocket of her pants, popping the stick, she shook it and then tossed it down the hallway, before pulling another from her pocket. Jared had lately been hammering at people to preserve batteries as much as possible, and when they had found a Semi truck on the highway with thousands of chem. Lights, he had insisted that every one carry as many as they could and use them instead of flashlights when possible.

She only used three sticks, which did nothing to really light the majority of the hallway, but it at least there was enough light to make out shapes. Leading the way she made her way down the hall to the fire door, scooping up the last light stick and carrying it to the door, then hung it on the door handle. Now at least any one retreating up stairs would be able to find the door easily she thought.

Opening the door, revealed a pitch-black stairwell. She stepped inside, while Amy held the door open while she turned on her flashlight and swept the beam of light around. ignoring the prickling of her skin, as a feeling of being watched swept over her.

Her foot steps sounded echoed softly as she walked the short distance to the stairs that led up, then leaned over the rail and shown her light down into the cloying darkness but saw nothing on the first floor, where the door had been spotted welded shut sometime in the past.

“its clear” she told Amy, who stepped inside and let the door swing shut. The woman and teen aged girl moved slowly up the stairs, some instinct making them try to stay as quiet as possible.

they reached the third floor and Ily still using her flashlight had Amy open the door, she moved through pleased with her self that she had actually learned something from how to do things right from Jared and his friends.

The light revealed a pale grey hallway, that still had Military approved pictures hanging on the walls, food and candy bar wrappers littered the floor. Darkness clung to the open doorways placed along the hallway.

She idly wished that Cross had taken the time to clear the barricade on the main staircase that blocked the third floor from the second, Will Grant the only survivor of the Terminals staff, had put in place over a year ago as a security precaution.

If she could have taken the main stairs, she and Amy would have been only ten feet from the door that led to the mechanical room where the hatch to the roof was located. But fire stairs placed them on the opposite side of the building from the room they needed. The windows rattled as something exploded outside, and dust fell from the ceiling tiles. A picture of the Terminal fell from the wall, the glass shattering when it hit the floor.

She couldn’t shake the feeling they were being watched, so instead of using the light sticks, she kept her flashlight on, feeling some what safer having real light. “Stay close” she whispered to Amy and set off down the hall.

It watched from the darkness of a room as the woman and teen aged girl passed, the woman was lovely, it decided, golden brown skin, wavy dark hair, the perfect body. And buried under the flesh a work of art waited to be exposed, it felt a long forgotten stir of excitement, that had nothing to do with sex. Its passion had been death since childhood, and dying had set it on the bloody road of Destiny.

The girl would normaly have not interested him, being to young. But she had killed Maggie and would have to pay. That she was pretty by any normal mans standars, meant nothing really to Jasper either, except she could be used to bring him something he wanted or as food.

his mind was clearing again, the clouds that obscured his thoughts fleeing before the drive to be about his business once more. These two could bring him Ed, and the one that Maggie hated so much.

It didn’t bother him, that his once clear, precise thoughts were foggy most of the time, nor did it bother him that he had to use others as tools so often. For him it only added to the amusement he felt at corrupting others, especially those who thought they were so pure and fighting the good fight.

But People like Edward Stanton and Jared Stone, did annoy him, they, by virtue of who they were, were almost untouchable by those like himself. they believed in what they preached, and that made them not only almost untouchable, but dangerous.

They spread hope, the cursed word that even now at the end of the world kept them on their feet fighting back against the darkness that was swallowing their world. And even worse Inspired others to fight back, to hold on, not just to survive but to thrive.

He watched the girl for a moment longer, then as soon as she had drawn even with the doorway, he reached out, his thin lips spreading in a quivering smile.

Amy, barely registered the movement to her left, she only saw long arms, lash out of the darkness, as the stench of death washed over her. a bony rotting hand clamped down over her mouth as the other hand clasped her throat, but not before she got off one strangled scream, and then was snatched into the darkness.

Ily whirled hearing the scream, and saw Amys weapon laying on the floor, amidst candy bar wrappers. Her breath came hard and fast as fear flooded her system.

“Amy” she whispered, “ Amy” she called out a bit louder. Hearing nothing she stepped towards the weapon on the floor before she noticed the slight cloying smell of rancid meat, the smell of the undead.

Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, as her mind raced to show her every grisly image it could conjure over Amys fate. She concentrated trying to hear the sounds of the undead eating. She heard nothing, which made no sense to her, not if one of the undead had grabbed Amy. Of course it should have been hunkered over the girls body right here in the hall, instead of dragging her off. Not to mention, how in the hell did a zombie get inside in the first place. And one of them had to be in here judging by the smell.

“Amy” a voice said from behind her, it was a mans voice, cold and dry, and mocking.

Ily whirled but saw nothing, “Amy” the voice said, again from behind her. She spun around once more, but still saw nothing.

“Mike, Ed” She screamed, hoping they could hear her over the gunfire.

“to late by far ” the voice said in her ear. Ily screamed and lunged forward to escape the hands she knew must be reaching for her, then spun around weapon leveled. But saw nothing.

Radio, I have a radio she realized and reached for it, only to find it was gone from the holster on her belt. Her eyes widened in surprise, and the sudden cold sibilant laugh from the darkness chilled her to the bone.

“you cant escape, your mine, you’ve always been mine” the voice said from the darkness of the doorway to her left. She turned and shone the flash light inside.

Run, damn it run for the stairs, the thought was wild and panicked, but Ily couldn’t leave Amy here. This was a man, zombies didn’t talk, they didn’t stalk their victims for fun.

“brave man hiding in the dark, snatching teen aged grirls.” She called out moving away from the doorways and placing her back against the wall behind her. the fear was ebbing but only slightly.

There was only silence, Maybe who ever this man was, was trying to figure out how to get to her now that she had moved away from the doorway. she should run downstairs and get Ed and the others, but if she left, the sicko would have plenty of time to kill Amy. Assuming he hasn’t already, she didn’t want that thought, hated it actually but it was true.

Out of the corner of her eye, to her right, she saw a shadow flit across the hall from one doorway to the next. It was man shaped, with hunched shoulders and long dangling arms, an odd looking hat perched on its bulbous head, then it was gone. She turned and shone her light directly on the door he had entered. And started to take a step forward, when she remembered hearing Jill and several others talk about something they called bowler hat. They didn’t know what it was, other than it had once been a man.

Oh my god she thought, as she stared at the doorway it had vanished into. the temperature in the hall seemed to drop, becoming almost chilly. The sounds of the battle outside, had become muted, distant. She started to step back, but remembered that the voice had come from a room behind her. it used tools, Jared had said several times, and she was damn sure one of its tools was behind her. but how….. Carrie, that bitch must have let the thing inside, maybe even let in who ever was working with it. it didn’t really matter, as fast as the thoughts flickered through her mind with the realization it was just a moment too late.

“Surprise” a voice said in her ear, as a hand tore the rifle out her hands. A fist smashed into the side of her head, sending her spiraling down into darkness.

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

“we cant hold this place much longer” Ed said, as a SAW ripped fire across the front of the building. the enemy were advancing steadily under the cover of the Full auto fire.

“No shit” Ronny replied as he fired his weapon over the sill of a window, and was rewarded by a scream.

“we retreat up stairs then “ Ed said. “ we can hold them at the stairs.”

“that SAW will just cut through the walls upstairs till it runs out of ammo” Ronny said, a look of determination on his face. Ronny wasn’t any braver than the next man, or some sort of Rambo, but some one needed to take out the SAW and he was the only one available at the moment.

“don’t be stupid” Ed called out, as he saw Ronny slide a 40mm into the breach of the M203.

“its not being stupid Ed, its got to be done” Ronny said calmly. As he closed his eyes for a moment and sent a prayer winging up to who ever might be listening.

Ed watched Ronny for a second, he knew he couldn’t talk the other man out of this, and he knew Ronny was right too.

“All right Ill cover you” Ed said, ignoring the stairs that promised at least a temporary safety. “on the three count”Ed said.

“one” Ed called out. Ronny judged the distance to the main door, it was the best postion to shoot from, at the same time he was considering the timing of the SAW gunners sweep.

“two” Ed said, Ronny knew that the if he showed so much as an inch of his head, where the fighters outside could see him, they would let loose most likely leading him,so when he reached the doorway, he would be gunned down before he could get the shot off. He wasn’t Jared, he was good, but not that good, he needed every advantage he could get when he hit that doorway.

“three” Ed shouted as he popped up and went to full auto, spraying out the window, purposely making himself a target. Ronny scrambled forward in a crouch, fear driving him to faster speeds than he would have believe, he was halfway to the door, when the return fire began to hammer into the room.

now Ronny thought the SAW gunners pattern shifted, as the fighter brought his weapon to bear on the window that Eds fire was coming from. Ronny throw himself into the perfect home plate slide. the force and speed he had built up took him through the dust, dirt and glass fragments.

Ed grunted in pain as a bullet from an M16 slammed into his armor, the SAW gunner didn’t quite have a bead on him if that had been the SAW he would be bloody hamburger meat on the floor, he thought as he saw a desk disintegrate under the machine guns fire. He watched the fire shifted and flowed towards him, chewing through chairs and books, paper spun into the air, chunks of wood ripped past him.

Ronny slid on his knees into the doorway, he had one shot, one chance, he saw the Gunner in the back of a Dually, the tracer rounds were coming so fast it was a steady pulse of light.

Ronny’s weapon slapped into position, his mind raced with calculations, mental arrows of light tracing trajectories, till his mind settled on the perfect firing angle and point. His finger squeezed, and the boop of the 203 was lost in the gunfire.

Ed saw the SAW fire reaching for him, he threw himself down, not sure if he had enough time.

The Grenade arced up, rotating as it flew towards the truck, at 18 revolutions it armed itself. It slammed into the Cab of the dually, and detonated.

Glass shattered, the thin metal of the cab ripped and shredded adding itself to the explosion, the gunner died instantly, his weapon flew out of the truck to land in the darkness. The cloud of fragments expanded outwards, killing six more men who were five meters from the impact point, crippling and wounding three others at the ten meter point.

Ronny slid past the doorway and slammed into a desk. Bounding to his feet, he raced back to Ed, who lay on the floor. the gunfire that had fallen off began to pick up again, but there weren’t as many weapons this time.

“Ed you dumb asshole, you had better be alive” Ronny said kneeling beside Ed. Who lay there still and silent.

“ I don’t have an over whelming urge to take a bite out of you so, yes I think I’m alive” Ed muttered.

“asshole” Ronny replied, helping Ed sit up.” you okay”

“My chest feels like a mule kicked it, I rammed my head into the floor and it hurts like hell. And I have wood now. Otherwise I’m great” Ed replied.

“ and they call me a masochist” Ronny said, as he waved paddy over. “ help him get upstairs. he will be fine”

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

The only way to win this Jared knew was coordination and communication. And with the Radios dying one by one as the batteries caved, coordination was going to vanish.

“Eric, I want you to come in and lay down fire on their technicals, peel off the Stryker to deal with the Technical’s at the ops center” Jared transmitted, “Jansen, are you in position yet?”

“Roger, but Jared we have a shit load of undead coming right up our six, we have maybe three or four minutes, and then things are going to get dicey as hell.” Jansen responded.

“do what you can, just keep them pinned till we can hit both forces at the same time with accurate fire, Sheamus might be good as a soldier but he sucks as a tactician.” Jared replied and that was the truth, Sheamus should have hit the Clinic with every thing first, then moved on to the ops center, but he had gotten cute and split his forces.

Jared planned on rolling up the north side of the attack at the clinic and then blowing through the assault force at the ops center.

“Ed, I need you to stand ready to assault from the building, when Jansen strikes. Do you copy” Jared said, waiting for a moment for a response but his radio remained silent.

“Ronny? Do you copy?” Jared asked starting to feel a thread of unease at the lack of response. There were people defending the ops center, that much he knew.“ No smoke people, we have undead coming and I damn sure want to be able to see them, when they arrive.”

Williams watched the battle through his scope, not able to tell who was winning. Not that it really mattered, in twenty minutes his second surprise of the day would go off and with the horde of undead, there was no way the people down there could escape in time. No way in hell. He smiled at that turn of phrase, hell was exactly what was coming.

He gave up waiting on Maggie, she knew the plan, and he wasn’t waiting around to die with every on else. No sir he wasn’t, he had already picked his means of escape and now that it was dark, he could steal the small boat and be long gone before the munitions loaded transport became a bomb that would wipe out the entire terminal and every one in it. Sheamus should have listened when Williams had told him that they had only half an hour max to take ammunition and supplies, before they had to escape. Sheamus must not have believed him , or was bogged down in an attack he should never have launched.

Williams shrugged, either way Sheamus was just as screwed as the rest of them. with that cheerful though, Williams slipped off the container and made his way east, into the band of trees that separated the huge storage and operations area and the Docks.

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

the biggest problem with the Tactics that Sheamus had decided on was they were geared towards a standard terrorist attack, storm an area, shoot it up anyone not fast enough to get to cover or escape, blow up a few things, and then run like hell before the police arrived, Sheamus with the experience he had gained from the legion had modified it some, but not really enough, and what tactics that his men knew looked more like something you would have learned from an infantry operations Manuel from the seventies.

Danbury, one of the two heavy gunners, had set up his position, and was being covered by his squad, whose weapons make up was nothing to be proud of. Danbury lasted all of three minutes before a grenade landed in front of him, and sent him and half the squad straight to hell.

His men still reeling from that, had rallied around the single heavy weapons squad, and the one armed technical, Stones return fire was sporadic but precise. Sheamus knew he needed to get his men advancing on the building, but they were hunkered down, behind cover, to scared of the return fire that was slowly whittle them down. at least the survivors were starting to listen to the advice Sheamus had given them about not peering over the top of their cover, but around the side. it was hard paid lesson, but they had seen to many of their friends shot in the head for making that mistake.

“looks like they are advancing” Ori remarked, as he pulled his head back from the door way.

“ let them,” Jared remarked. “ in a few seconds things are going to get really rough for them.

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

Sheamus’s plan had been foolproof as a terrorist attack against a civilian target, against decently trained men and women used to combat and fighting to survive, it was far from adequate and it fell apart in minutes. The Men he had led, were not competent, the military training they had, had originated in the seventies. And it showed.

The LAV glided out of the dark, main gun blazing, it targeted the Technical with the M2. The truck bounced and shuddered, as metal shredded and glass shattered.

Men broke and ran, as the Stryker erupted into their midst, Ma Deuce blazing. Sheamus dove out of Dennis’s Truck , screaming over the radio to get his men to rally. Realizing as he hit the pavement, that the AT still lay on the floorboard right where it would do the least good.

He scrambled behind an abandoned truck, and took stock. The Stryker kept moving heading towards the Assault force Sheamus had sent to attack the other building, and would take his force there from behind. The two men had he had left to ambush the armored vehicles had failed, and he was pretty sure he knew what had happened, as the LAV came to a stop and men leaped out pouring fire into his panicked men. Even as the people who had been trapped in the Clinic rushed out throwing down suppressing fire.

Sheamus had like so many before him chosen his men, based on all the wrong criteria, they had little experience fighting other men, especially well trained soldiers fighting with communications and coordination. Now he understood, how Bubba and his men had gotten the stuffing knocked out of them the last time they had assaulted Stones people.

Dennis’s truck rolled to a stop, as bullets smashed through the windshield, Sheamus saw the door open and Dennis’s corpse slid out onto the pavement. Stones people were sweeping forward, clearing Sheamus’s men out with brutal efficiency.

The LAV had already taken out the other Technical, Sheamus’s only chance now was to fall back and have the one truck that remained come and pick him up. at least it was full of munitions and supplies.

He started to slip back into the darkness, ready to radio the Truck the moment he was clear of the fight. but he saw Stone and the blond guy advancing, and knew he had a chance to take out one or both of them.

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

Jill watched silently as the Soldiers worked quickly offloading the supplies on the trucks and transferring them to the barge, while another group were busy prepping the trucks to return to the storage area that had turned into a combat zone.

She watched as Cross and a Hispanic soldier named Vega opened several cases and began to pull out oblong slightly curved green blocks, she recognized them as claymores. That she knew what they were called by sight, told her just how much she had changed since the ZA. Or just how much of an influence Jared had been on her.

Cross and Vega handed the clay mores out and men sat to work attaching them to the fronts and sides of the trucks using hundred mile an hour tape and wire. She wanted to scream at them to hurry, Jared and the others were in danger, but she knew that screaming and throwing a fit wouldn’t do Jared any good, or get Cross and his people moving any faster. They were already working as fast as they could, and she wasn’t going to act like a spoiled scared bitch, these men didn’t need that.

She turned away from the scene and walked towards Mary who was just as worried and impatient as Jill. Thank God Sharon and Bridget weren’t here, the Amazon squad would already be on the way to kicking ass and taking names, using their not so secret power of PMS to Kick the enemies ass. she snorted a laugh at that, her amusement at the thought must have shown on her face, as mary gave her a quizzical look as Jill came to stand beside her.

“Just thinking about Ori and the comment he made about us, last year, remember the whole you girls deserve your own comic book. your like the Amazons of justice using the Power of PMS to kick male ass.” Jill said, Mary grinned slightly in response.

“he is such a dork sometimes” Mary replied, then fell silent knowing that the dork in question was in the thick of the firefight they could hear down here at the docks. “here comes Cross”

Jill looked back and saw Cross approaching with six soldiers, including Vega. Her hand dropped to the hilt of her katana, resting on the pommel casually.

“Ladies” Cross said, and smiled slightly. “I’m not going to even try to get you two to take the plane and leave, so relax.. I’m leaving these men with you to hold the entrance to the dock. I’m not worried about the assholes up there shooting up the place, but the undead are going to be showing up any time now, and I want to make sure the docks are held till every single person that can reach them, is down here and on the barge or in your Plane Mary. But … if the time comes and your Husbands and the others aren’t here, my men have orders to subdue you and get you two the hell out of here if they have too. Jared, Ori and Ronny can take care of themselves if push comes to shove. And I want you both alive to meet them later. Rather than have to explain to him and Ronny how I left you both here to die.” Cross-said, then smiled softly at them. “ good luck to you both, I only hope one day I meet a woman almost as stubborn and brave as the two of you.”

he turned and strode away, while they were too surprised to speak. “ damn him, he got the last word in” Mary said, then cast a glare at the soldiers who started laughing.

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

Chris had only spotted the man to their left by accident, and only because the LAV its lights now on had turned and the beams had swept across the man kneeling with a rifle. “Contact, nine oclock, thirty yards, one man” Chris shouted and fired off a burst at the man in the distance. Knowing he probably hadn’t hit the his target but the man had no doubt taken cover instead of being able to snipe who ever he had been aiming at.

The fight was winding down here and Jared already had every one sweeping forward securing the few men that surrendered, and shooting down those who still fought.

Jared hearing Chris’s shout, had turned in time to see the muzzle flash and see Chris drop behind one of the shot up technicals. As Chris’s target fired back but thankfully missed.

“Ori, take over, get to the ops building “ Jared shouted as he ran forward zigging and zagging. He only covered short distances, between cover, any thing further apart, he would become one nice large target.

Jared fired on the run, seeing a shadowy figure darting towards a massive forklift with a container on its forks. The man stumbled, hit or just clumsy Jared didn’t know, but he doubted it was from a hit. Chris was twenty feet behind him, throwing down suppressing fire.

His radio crackled to life suddenly. “ Stone is that you” Sheamus voice said in his ear. “I’m betting it is.”

Jared grinned tightly, finally. “Didn’t realize you could see out the back of your head, you piece of running shit” Jared said, not even breathing hard.

Sheamus fired over his shoulder as he dove around the fork lift. Chris sped up and went to the right to cut off any attempt by sheamus to come around the other side of the forklift and get a bead on Jared.

Jared peered around the last bit of cover between his position and the forklift, then fired a burst under the forklift, hoping a ricochet hit the asshole.

“you’re a dead man Stone even if you kill me, I have a friend that’s here, paying a visit to some cop on your side, when he is done he is coming for you.” Sheamus shouted.

Jared’s blood went cold, certain Sheamus was referring to Bowler hat, and that made the lack of radio response from Ed and Ronny more ominous.

“and if you think that the bombs I used to take out the wall were impressive, wait till you see the finale. No matter what happens between us tonight stone, you and yours are not leaving here alive.” Sheamus laughed.

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

Ed made it upstairs, refusing Paddy’s help, and saw the scattered light sticks glowing in the dark. Working as quickly as he could he bandaged his wounds, finishing just as Mike returned upstairs, Paddy helping him.

“Ronny is going to give up the ground floor” Paddy said, as he cleared the stair case and leaned against the wall just out of sight of the stairs. Mike limped over to join him, changing out the magazine in his weapon.

“its going that bad”Ed asked, Mike shook his head.

“not really, Ronny thinks we are wasting to much Ammo, we can concentrate our fire on them when they try to rush the stairs, as he put it like shooting fish in a barrel” Mike replied. “that’s assuming they don’t have explosives, or grenades. Which we are out of”

“we are the only people in the world, who can be trapped in a huge munitions terminal over flowing with everything we need, and run out” Ed commented with a grim smile.

Mike nodded in agreement, “oh that’s not all, the batteries for the mil radios, are dead or dying they didn’t get to charge long enough, and all the charged spare batteries for the NVGS are in the Stryker.” Mike added as he shut down his NVG unit which was damn near dead anyway.

“at least you have some” Paddy commented looking down the hallway, the darkness broken by the soft pale green glow of light sticks. “ this place is creepier than hell with no lights.” Mike nodded in agreement.

They stopped talking as something fell from the landing upstairs to land near Eds foot. Mike’s first thought was grenade, but there was no way that the enemy could have gotten inside. he clicked on a mini mag , the beam revealed a boot, a girls boot.

Ed craned his head out and tried to see up to the railing above but couldn’t see anything but darkness. “that’s Amy’s boot” Ed said softly, there was no reason he could think of that Amy would remove a boot and drop it over a railing. Especially with out saying a word to the men she had to be able to hear below.

Something fluttered down from up stairs, and Mike felt his blood run cold as he saw the bra that landed on the floor. the straps had been cut.

“I’m going up there” Mike said, “ I sent Ily and Amy to the Roof, just before I came down to help” let them be okay God, I cant take any more today, not them too please. He prayed silently.

Ed rose to his feet, not letting the fear he felt show on his face. “Ill go with you, Paddy you stay here, in case they need help down stairs”

Paddy didn’t look happy but he didn’t protest, he nodded silently and watched the two injured men move down the hallway towards the only stairs left that accessed the third floor.

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

Lany stood on the roof of the clinic, keeping an eye out on the stacks of containers to the north of the Clinic, she was using a pair of civilian NV binoculars that Ori had loaned her.

She swept the binoculars across the stacks and saw nothing, on the next sweep she saw the first of the horde appear. “we have company, every one still in the building retreat to the roof.” she called out over the radio. Jared had been insistent on that. if those in the building could reach the roof, shut and bar the roof hatch. And gave no sign of their presence, the undead were not likely to hang out in or around the building, making escape or rescue possible later.

She hunkered down, then gazed up at the stars that glittered overhead, Please let this work. she prayed silently as the hatch opened and the wounded were helped up to the rooftop, then the last of the building defenders followed. Every one else was moving on the ops center with Jared.

She stayed low peeking over the edge of the roof, watching the undead sweeping towards them like a Dark Tide rising to drown the world, she shivered and slipped back from the edge.

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

Militia Sergeant Duncan Levy, had been encouraged when the men defending the ground floor, had retreated up stairs, he had sent half his remaining men inside, and they were the lucky ones, he thought, as the hurricane of fire had swept out of the darkness, wiping away both his trucks, leaving them burning wrecks. His machine gunner had managed to get his weapon around and began laying fire into the approaching men and armored vehicles, but these men were professionals, he realized. they knew how to squeeze every bit of protection out of the cover they found. And their fire was a damn site more accurate he thought. The machine gun lasted all of a minute and half before a 25mm Bushmaster wiped the weapons pit and crew out of existence.

Sheamus was supposed to have dealt with those things he thought as he crawled away from the fight, knowing there was no way they could win at this point. Reaching a decent spot of cover far enough from the fight he rose to his feet, watching as several trucks, some with soldiers hanging onto the sides, emerged from the western stacks and linked up with the soldiers on the ground. Who were taking occasional fire from Duncans men still inside the building.

A spotlight on the Stryker came on and swiveled in the direction the trucks had come from, and Duncan felt his skin go cold at the sight. Zombies were spilling out of the stacks, more than he could count.

He saw men clambering up onto top of the armored vehicles, and into the backs of the newly arrived trucks, Levy looked around, wildly. There was no real choice, he decided as he turned and ran for the docks. He would rather risk being shot down, than being eaten alive.

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

Chris, had been out of it to long. He wouldn’t admit that to Jared, or to any one else. But he wasn’t as fast or as strong as he had been before he had been shot and paralyzed. At least Linda, the Doc, had gotten it right when she suspected that it had been swelling of his spinal column that had caused the paralysis, and had been right about it probably not being permanent.

he crouched his knees and back hurting, covering Jared as Jared advanced on the forklift., determined to keep his friend alive.

Jared wove side to side, crouched, his weapon at High ready as he approached the forklift. Going to either side, was probably going to get him shot he thought as he raced for the steps on the side of the massive forklift.

Sheamus sheltered behind the massive tire, heard running foot steps. He knelt his weapon ready, and waited. Stone was in for a hell of a surprise in just a little bit.

Something darker than the night sky rose above him on the forklift, a slight adjustment and his sights were centered on the Stone who had climbed up on top. He fired once, and saw the shadow jerk, as he started to squeeze the trigger a second time, something growling like a furious buzz saw, slammed into him sending him tumbling to the ground his shot went wild and then Snapping Teeth ripped his pants leg open. Before seizing his weapon and wrenching it out of his hands with a toss its broad head.

Jared leaped to the ground; thankful for the body armor he wore. “Nibbler no,” he shouted. There was no way to mistake the deep Growl of the Dog that had adopted him.
Over head a flare went off casting a flickering hellish red light across the area, illuminating the approaching undead.

As the dog backed away, Sheamus sprang to his feet, far more athletically than Jared would have expected. Sheamus bounced from foot to foot , drawing a combat knife. Jared recognized the movements of a style of martial arts that was rarely seen. savante, a French style that was heavy on leg work.

Jared recognized the challenge and accepted, it was stupid he knew, and Jill would kill him for it later. But he wanted to kill this bastard hand to hand, make him pay for Steve’s death, and for all the death he had handed out before hiding in the legion.

Jared unclipped his rifle from the sling and leaned it against the forklift, as he did so he saw Sheamus move out of the corner of his eye.

Sheamus got the surprise of his life, when Jared spun and blocked Sheamus’s knife attack with a forearm to the inside of Sheamus arm just past the wrist, and knocked Sheamus back with an open palm strike to the chest. He stumbled but recovered quickly, launching into a series of spinning kicks that Jared easily slid away from.

That Jared hadn’t drawn the Knife or the tomahawk on his belt should have warned Sheamus but he was far to confident. He had Jared retreating from the rifle, and he was going to press the advantage. Sheamus leaped up in a front kick, and Jared moved to one side and a hand like iron grasped Sheamus’s ankle and the irishman found himself flying through the air before he smashed into the pavement.

He was back on his feet in a heartbeat and lunged forward, this time a bit more cautiously stone obviously had some martial Arts training.

Sheamus lunged forward with his combat Knife, only to have Jared block, and spin into a round house kick. His hatred for the red head rose, as the two of them spun around each other in an intricate dance of blocks and attacks.

That Jared hated him, as much as Sheamus hated Jared was evident in the ferocity of the fight. Jared took several knife slashes to close and pound Sheamus brutally. They both knew that there was a time limit to this fight, the undead were drawing closer. And neither of them was willing to break and run and allow the other to escape.

Sheamus could feel something grinding in his side, and knew he had at least one broken rib. Jared had blood flowing from slashes to his right arm and chest but it didn’t seem to slow him down in the least.

No such thing as a fair fight Sheamus thought angrily, as he lunged forward once more, driving the point of his Knife straight at Jared’s heart. Jared snapped to the right, away from the blade, accepting another slash across his chest, then pivoting on the ball of his right foot and drove a kite strike into Sheamus’s side and then twisted himself into a spinning snap kick.

Sheamus bit his tongue as Jared boot slammed into the back of his head, sending him tumbling to the ground, his combat knife falling from his hand and clattering on the pavement. His hand already moving for the pistol holstered on his belt.

The hummer had pushed out of the ranks of the undead, heading for the fire fight when the flare had gone off. Simms had raced ahead of the horde, then slowed as he saw two men about fifty yards ahead, and far from the fire fight, fighting hand to hand.

Simms recognized Sheamus almost instantly, few people knew Savante, and even fewer of them had Survived the ZA. And Sheamus had loved the French style with a passion. The other man must be Stone, Simms decided, and the man was damn good he realized as he watched them fight. “Don’t fire till I tell you” Simms ordered, Ivan was more than likely to cut both men down.

This was his moment, he could Kill Stone and win, but what was the point to it now. he had no real beef with Stone, the Terminal was lost, his own motives were suspect, since Simms knew that the thing in his dreams had tried to influence him and it might have succeeded to a point. And Cal Simms didn’t like being manipulated.

He looked back at the undead and realized they had maybe a couple of minutes before the horde arrived. Simms threw open the door and climbed out. raising his rifle to his shoulder and peered through the scope.

Sheamus had that determined look on his face, he usually got when he realized he had bitten off more than he could chew. Simms ignored him for a moment, as he saw Stones face, there was something familiar about it, something damn familiar.

Simms smiled in appreciation as Jared put Sheamus down with a fast Spin kick, and then Sheamus was rising a pistol in his hand. Simms didn’t think just reacted, his finger stroked the trigger.

Jared blinked as Sheamus’s head exploded, splattering him with blood, bone and brain. Jared had drawn but never got the chance to fire. He looked around and saw the Humvee and truck with a man standing beside the hummer, between himself and the advancing undead, that were now flowing around the clinic building.

Jared recovered his rifle, who ever that was apparently had no interest in shooting him, and Jared wasn’t about to hang around with the undead rolling towards him. “Lets Go chris” he transmitted, tossing a wave at the two vehicles then turned and ran for the Ops building Nibbler running at his side, while he tried to ignore every ache and pain of his body after that fight, limping slightly as pain from his already wounded thigh returned with a vengence.

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

Flickering red light spilled into the room, through the large window that ran along one wall, desks and chairs had been pushed up against one wall, and pictures were stacked against the pile.

Amy’s head pounded, radiating out from where she had been struck, she dangled by her wrists, her arms on fire, her feet a foot of the floor. she was scared, more scared than she had ever been if that was even possible. She dangled there naked, eyes daring from side to side. praying that the chair to her left was still empty. When she had first woken and some one had been sitting with their back to her, the only thing she could see was shadowy head and shoulders sporting a bowler hat.

A soft moan of fear had escaped her, as she remembered a bowler hat wearing zombie in Springfield, and her wild escape from the undead, and the stories that Jared’s people had told.

“I see your awake,” A mans voice said from behind her, she jerked as a hand touched her lower back and slid down, she flushed with shame, but it was nothing compared to the fear she felt staring at the chair where something sat.

“when My friends find me gone, your dead” she said through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the hand that was slowly exploring her body.

“Your friends are going to die up here” the man said with a laugh as he stepped around in front of her. “and then I get to play, with you and your lovely lady friend”

She stared at him, determined not to cry, her mouth worked and the man laughed again “ go ahead and cry it wont matter, I don’t care any more. You women thought you walked on water because you had boobs, well not anymore honey.” He said laughing, She spit in his face.

the humor vanished, hate flared in his eyes, as his face twisted into an ugly sneer. “I’m going to enjoy breaking you.” he vowed.

“wheres Ily?” she demanded, hoping she sounded braver than she felt.

“you should be more concerned with yourself, you shot the woman, and made some one very angry.” The man replied with a smirk. Amy’s eyes darted to the chair, which was now empty. The fear slammed into her with such intensity that she thought her heart would stop.

“that’s right Honey, you pissed him off the Bowler hat wearing man, that was his lady. But he is going to let you have a choice.” The man said, smiling at her, as she shivered in her bonds, tears of fear flying down her cheeks.

Another hand touched her back, it was like ice sliding over her skin.. “soooo pretty” a voice dry with disuse said barely above a whisper. Urine trickled down her legs, and the smell of fear mingled with that of rotted flesh that now filled the room.

“as long as you make me happy, you get to live a little longer, make me upset and…“ the man in front of her said. “ trust me, he loves your body” he said pointing behind her. “ but not the same way I do. I think you might enjoy my attentions much more than his.” there was real humor in his voice she realized.

“Who are you?” she managed to get out, almost shrieking as that cold dead hand fondled her butt.

“oh you wouldn’t know me, my work yes, me personally no. You and the others took my play toys from the airport west of here. But if you really need to know” he said watching as the tears finally came, streaking down her face to drip onto her chest.
“I’m Roger, and you will be lucky to live till midnight”

“Amy, Ily” Amy started, hope flaring as she heard Mike in the hallway. The hands behind her withdrew, and Roger chuckled. “and now the game begins, when I come back beg for me to take you and you might actually live through tonight” he said then slipped out of the room.

She hung there tears falling from her ears, please hurry mike, please hurry

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

Ed could feel something in the air, the moment he stepped out onto the 3rd floor. with Mike at his side, he moved down the hallway, searching for threats. It seemed cooler up here, dark and oppressive. And not a single light stick anywhere.

Mike suddenly grabbed Eds Arm, “ what is it” Ed asked, then looked where Mikes light was shining. A pair of cut up jeans and panties lay in a doorway..

“Those are Amy’s” Mike said, Anger and Fear filled him. “Amy, Ily” He shouted again into the dark. Only silence came back. God no, not after what just happened downstairs.
Ed put hand on Mikes shoulder to try and calm Mike down.

They started moving forward again, “Michael is completely correct Edward,” A voice said from the Darkness. “Those are the young ladies clothes.”

Mike looked confused, but not Ed, he had know this was going to happen sooner or later. Maybe there was such thing as Destiny.

“Its Time I kept my promises Edward, You are going to die, and after that every one you now and care about will die. Especially your new lover, he is your lover isn’t he.” Ed didn’t respond. “ Well no matter Edward, I’m still going to kill him as if he was. So it doesn’t matter what the truth is”

Mike started to step towards the door where the voice seemed to come from but Ed grasped his arm. “ don’t”

“He has her Ed, I cant let him …” Mike said but Ed motioned for him to be quiet.

“he isn’t there, if you think he is in front of you, check your six, if you think he is right look left. Misdirection and Illusion that’s always been how he operates.” Ed explained to Mike, hoping that Mike didn’t lose it and try to rush to the rescue.

“Who operates” Mike asked.

“Jasper Evan Brown” Ed replied.

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

The undead flowed forward silently, a vast silent crescent of putrid flesh, with a hunger that knew no limits

Police, nurses, children, soldiers, house wives, strippers, and every other stripe of the old world, shuffled, stumbled, crawled and staggered forward. in death they were silent and equal, something that they had never been in life, united now for only one purpose, to cleanse the Terminal of all life. To feast on flesh and blood, and welcome the fallen to their ranks.

Men fought till they were out of ammo, some retreated to the armored vehicles and trucks. Others died where they stood, saving one last bullet for themselves, standing and dying so that others might escape. But their sacrifice barely slowed the horde.

Ori had waited to long to retreat he was to far from any building, and found himself surrounded by an ever tightening ring of undead, a quote from a Sun Tzu ran through his mind. The famous general had once said, when in Death ground, Fight, and Ori did just that, he had no other choice. He would save the last bullet for himself, but before that, he would take as many of the undead with him as he could. He hoped Jared got away, some one needed to.

As the ring drew tighter, and the people trapped in the ops center tried to whittle down the undead so Ori could escape, he remembered a poem. Jared was usually the one with the literary bent, but this poem had been shared with him by his Platoon sergeant the first time he had ever gone into combat. His fear must have shown on his face, when he was pulled aside and given a pep talk, he didn’t remember the pep talk but the last few lines of the old poem his Platoon sergeant lived by and shared with him that day was something he never forgot. It had been the death poem of Chief Tecumseh.

“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

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