Chapter 28

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul”

~ William Ernest Henley

Cross had never been a defeatist, not even now . when the trucks from the Docks entered the storage and loading Yard again, with the full intention of picking up every one still in the yard, Cross had stood slacked jawed in the back of the Deuce as he looked north and saw the thousands of undead emerging from the Stacks.

The general channel on his Radio was alive with chatter, most bordering on panic as the men and women who had fled the wall and the gate, stopped long enough to pick up any one on the ground, warning every one that the undead had were behind them to the west and would be here any moment.

“Did we get all the booby traps emplaced like I wanted” Cross asked, looking at Vega who rode beside him.

“at last report yes we did First Sergeant” Vega replied, the burly Hispanic grinned weakly. “ claymores, det cord, IED’s, all capable of remote detonation.” He replied.

Cross nodded thoughtfully, as they approached the Ops building, there was no point in Dispatching half the trucks to the clinic, with the sheer number of undead the trucks would never be able to force a path through them to reach the building.

“and we have our scorched earth policy” Cross said in a low voice. then shook his head, no point in considering suicide at the moment. “ Get on the horn, and tell Sergeant Tillson that I want him to start detonating the traps, but hold off on the IED’s till we run out of everything else. If we can kill a lot of them in the stacks, that will make it easier to deal with what’s out here in the yard.”

“Roger that” Vega said turning away, flipping his radio to the reserved frequency for Tillson their Demo man, speaking quietly into his boom mike.

“ Jansen this is Cross, have you secured the perimeter of the Ops building” Cross transmitted.

“Roger, all Hostiles are down or surrendered, it got hairy for a moment when they breached the building. But the building is secured” Jansen responded, he didn’t have to add the obligatory “ for the moment” it was a given in this situation.

“We are almost there, Reports are that there are zombies behind you to the west, that should be reaching your position in moments, so have every one ready to get the hell out of there when we arrive. “ Cross said.

“Roger that, we have already started getting every one downstairs, but if the undead show up, the windows are shattered the door is gone making us butt ass naked to an attack. Over and Out” Jansen replied.

“Stand by, and be ready to board the moment the trucks pull up. Cross out” Cross replied, for a second visions of the last days of Fort Jackson played through his mind. For the second time, he faced a horde of undead and had people to evacuate under the gun so to speak

damn it was good to have competent people under his command, he thought with a slight smile. Jansen was a good soldier; if there was still a command structure he would have put Jansen and many others up for promotions and awards. This days it was all field promotions, which meant nothing to any one outside the Military units that still survived.

Of course the total idiots and the damned unlucky had died pretty fast when the zombies had arrived, and there had been a few billion Darwin Awards handed out the first three months. Those who had survived this long were either really lucky, really good, or both.

There appeared to be a fire fight still going on just to the north of the Ops building, a few hold outs were sheltering in a single story brick building that was barely ten by twelve feet. But it looked like even that was winding down as the hold outs realized they were heavily outgunned.

“I want trucks against the windows of the ops center, and back a truck up to the doorway, get people loaded as fast as you can.” Cross transmitted. “ I want three trucks out there picking up the people on foot, and the wounded. Lets move it people “
the column of trucks split up and raced to their positions, four minutes ticked by, and that’s all they had. “ contact west, the count is way to fucking many” some one called out on the general channel.

“trying to fight this horde is fucking stupid” some one else said, Cross thought he recognized the voice.

“Identify last caller” Cross demanded, determined to make a point about comm. Protocols, there was a long pause

“I said this situation was fucking stupid First Sergeant, not that I was fucking stupid” the man replied.

the men with radios in truck with Cross chuckled, Cross hid a smile and let the matter drop. It was worth the breach in protocol for the moment of humor that might keep morale up past the oh shit oh shit line.

But later if they survived he was going to have a talk with his people about maintaining professionalism, it might seem stupid, but tradition and professionalism was the Hallmark of the US military, and all they had left.

“ Vega, Get on the horn with Ferraro, I want him to start dropping Mortars to the west behind the Ops center. If we can slow them, keep them from merging with the others from the north, we can get the time we need.” Cross ordered.

Vega nodded, consulted his chart, then called in the coordinates for the fire.

Cross watched the LAV and Stryker charge west past the Ops Center, their main guns opening up on the Undead that were sweeping from the stacks.

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

Jared running for the Ops building, saw the pale stumbling horde sweep past the LAV and Stryker, there were just to many for the weapons to slow enough of them to make a difference.

The LAV Pumped out another Flare, and then whipped around and raced back to the open ground, stopping to pick up the Men closest to the horde. They scrambled up to the top of the armored vehicle barely in time. With lurch the LAC took off, racing to pick up six more men, who were standing their ground firing into the advancing horde, trying to buy time for the trucks behind them to finish loading.

The Bush master traversed back and forth across the horde, the 25mm rounds blowing zombies apart. Mortar rounds HE’s set to proximity began to fall along the line of undead from the west, blowing huge holes in the horde, but even time on target firing that essentially doubled the number of rounds per strike was not enough with only two tubes.

Unlike movies, books and popular opinion, bombs, mortars and artillery shells did a great job of crippling and even destroying undead, but not in the huge numbers that had been expected, saturation strikes could and did destroy everything in the impact zones, of course it usually took a lot of guns or bombs to achieve that effect.

In a way it was ironic, they had enough 120mm mortar rounds at their disposal to literally clear the terminal down to the bedrock, and enough mortars to make it easy, what they didn’t have were the crews for the those weapons.

Jared slid to a stop, Nibbler barking wildly to the east, he watched an over head crane in the stacks take a direct mortar hit, Metal beams, and parts rained to the ground, as it collapsed crushing who knew how many undead below.

“son of a ….” Chris gasped reaching Jared’s side and holding his side. all this running was taking its toll on him, he wouldn’t admit it to any one, but he really should have taken a longer to recover. Now he was paying the price for it.

Jared looked to the north and grimaced, the horde that had swept past the Clinic were closer now, there was no way he could make the three hundred yards to the Ops building, with out meeting one or both groups.

“your wounded” Chris yelled as they ran across the storage and shipping area, Jared nodded, ignoring the pain, he was becoming a master at that. at least Ill end with some cool scars he thought trying to find some bright lining to the otherwise crap colored clouds.

To the north undead were swarming out from behind the Clinic. To the west, ahead of them, they could see the fire fight was winding down, the LAV and the Stryker with infantry support had struck the fear of god into the Amateurs playing soldier.

The technicals that the enemy had used in the assault on the Ops Building were totally trashed, seeing the arriving infantry and armor the Enemy had stormed the building in an attempt to escape, Jansen and his squad had entered on their heels the fight had been a short and vicious the few enemy who survived had tried to retreat to the Second floor only to be cut down by the defenders on the second floor.

Five trucks and both ELSORVs had burst onto the scene, moments later, fleeing the undead who were sweeping south through the stacks on the west side, They had given up the wall, and the gates knowing their only real chance in surviving this was to reach the docks.

Jared was only halfway to the Ops building when things went to hell in a hand basket. He should have been used to it by now, God or who ever was up there, loved screwing with him. by then the undead from the north side were almost on top of him, and he knew he couldn’t reach Ori or the Ops building before the undead swept over him..

“be with you in a minute” Logan transmitted, Jared could hear the thumping of the undead on the vehicle, over the radio as Logan tried to start the Technical he had commandeered out side the clinic.

“not going to make it” Chris said, starting to breath heavier than normal. He just hadn’t had time to recover his injuries. Even if Chris could move at top speed, they still wouldn’t be able to make it to the Ops building or do anything to save Ori but Die at his side.

Jared slid to a stop, Nibbler barking wildly at the undead to the north, “over there” Jared said pointing to one of the mobile cranes, that they had been using to move containers onto the two flat bed trucks, the man operating the machine had abandoned it when the wall had been blown.

Chris nodded, it was going to be close, but they could beat the undead there by a minute or two. .Jared wrapped an arm around Chris and half supported his friend, “ lets go, Shelly would kill me if something happened to you.” Jared said, as they moved off as fast as Ronny could move.

“don’t worry about it, the way things look if I die so do you, so your safe from Shelly” Chris got out, through gritted teeth.

“I love your optimism.” Jared said with a panicky chuckl.

The crane cab sat twelve feet off the ground, on a wide tracked platform. Reaching the treads that were almost taller than he was, Jared helped Chris scramble up onto the tracks, then passed Nibbler up to Chris. The Dog protested for a moment, then calmed down in Chris’s arms.

The smell of oil and grease was strong near the tracks, Jared would have normally felt a bit of nostalgia at the smell, which brought back memories of better times with his friends working on their off roaders and rock climbers. But not today. Today he knew the undead were close, he didn’t have to look.

Jared leaped up, and pulled himself onto the tread, only to have a hand seize his foot. “let… me … go” he said emphasizing each word with a kick. Hands were suddenly tearing at his pants legs and boots spurring him on. He scrambled forward as something tugged at his right boot, but he ignored it,. as he lunged out of reach. Cursing a steady stream that would have made Pappy proud, he crossed the tread and climbed up onto the Deck that surrounded the Crane cab. “I hate those damn things “ he said as he looked towards Ori, where the Undead had almost completely encircled the man.

. “ that was a close call” Chris said, as Jared looked at him, chris pointed to Jared’s boot. Where there was a clear bite imprint on the heel of his combat boot.

“son of a Mongolian shit stomper” Jared swore, realizing just how close he had come. “can you operate this thing” he asked changing subjects more worried about Ori than having almost been bitten.

Chris nodded “not well but yeah, we helped Crosses men move containers, while waiting for you, took turns operating the cranes, straddlers and forklifts. Whats your plan.”

“Ori is going to be completely surrounded in minutes, this thing rolls, we need to get as close as we can, and I need that boom extended out as far as it can go.” Jared said as he eyed the 190 foot boom.

“Jared this thing doesn’t raise and lower fast, if your thinking about lowering the container spreader down for Ori to grab and pulling him out, forget it, the zombies will pull his ass off before he is two feet off the ground” Chris told him. Jared looked frustrated and furious, but then his eyes fell on Chris’s Pack and a smile spread across his face, and it wasn’t a happy smile, it was jareds I’m about to do something totally insane smile.

Chris sighed in resignation, and then grinned back. “You have a plan?” He asked. Jared nodded. “then lets go save the little shit” Chris said.

“Ori fall back towards the Crane, east, northeast. It’s the big one that’s moving, keep moving, don’t panic. The undead are thinner to the east, thicker to the north and west. Move as fast as you can” That was the last message Ori had heard before his radio had crapped out, it had already been damaged in the fire fight with the now very dead aggressors. But it chose one hell of a bad time to give up the ghost as it were.

Ori had done his best, but it hadn’t been enough. The undead had finally encircled him, and the crane wasn’t going to be able to push through the growing crowd in time to be of any help, it was just to damn slow.

The space inside the circle of undead had been huge at first, but it was contracting by feet every second, a circle of grasping hands, and gnashing teeth, stained red by the light of the flare that flickered over head. he couldn’t retreat any further, this was where he died.

I will not scream he vowed, he was going to at least die bravely. No matter how stupid some might think that was. “well come on you bastards, come and eat me” He yelled as he spun in a tight circle firing rapidly, his accuracy increasing as they drew closer.

He knew others were helping, zombies were falling in job lots on the southwest side, and where he could see approaching trucks, with men firing in the back. But they wouldn’t reach him in time either. and he bet that who ever was firing from the ops building second floor, had to be Ronny and the others. well Ronny looks like you don’t get to make fun of my jokes again.

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

“ shes hot” Private Anthony Clark, Tony to his friends, Mutt to his squad members, muttered watching the leather clad woman as she talked with another woman. Her leathers sported what looked like high impact plastic medieval armor on the shoulders, arms and legs. He had heard rumors that the Katana she wore tucked into her belt was the real thing and she was supposed to be deadly with it.

all he knew, was she had a hell of a body, long dark hair, and the face of a goddess to match the body. “Id give my right nut for a night with her”

“dude, that’s Jared Stones wife, if she didn’t break half the bones in your body, Jared damn sure would” Specialist Todd Bollinger said, as he placed the ammo crate he carried onto the pile on the barge.

“Never met the man, just heard the storys” Anthony replied, Tony to his friends. “ I don’t believe half of them.”

Bollinger laughed, he had been on Sullivan when Stone and his people had taken the Island away from that Nut Job Parks. “ trust me, there’s not a lot in the way of exaggeration in those story’s.” He commented.

“Didn’t say I was going to hit on her, but man, check out her butt” Tony said his eyes lingering on said body part.

Bollinger just shook his head, returning to the Dock for another Case, both men paused as the 120mm mortars on the gun tracks opened up. things must really be in the crapper for Cross to have called in Mortar fire. Not that two tubes was going to help a lot.

“ never thought those things were that loud” Mary yelled to Jill, then laughed at her own reaction.

“neither did I, I guess I finally get the joke, Ori repeats off an on about the Artillery guy calling in to a radio station to request a song” Jill replied.

Mary grinned suddenly, the worry lines vanishing for a second from her face. “ what do you want to hear Soldier, Doesn’t matter just play it loud” she repeated. They both laughed for a second, then Marys eyes fixed on something behind Jill, “ looks like you have an admirer” she observed.

Jill glanced towards the barge and noticed the dark haired slender soldier who was staring at her.. she didn’t show that she noticed, these days, with so few women and so many men, it was damn near a given that women were going to be the focus of attention whether they wanted it or not.

She turned her attention back to the radio, and the chaos that was sweeping over the channel.

They were getting overrun from the sound of it, she glanced at Mary, who looked sick, nothing had been heard of Ronny for almost ten minutes. At least Jill had heard Jared’s voice over the radio, so she knew he was alive. It must be tearing Mary apart not knowing.

“ Mary, I think you should get on the plane and get it ready to leave, just in case, I think we are going to need to get out of here fast.” Jill suggested, she did believe what she had said, but she also thought it would help Mary to have something to concentrate on , besides standing here and worrying.

“your right” Mary replied, trying to sound assured and confident .”no point in getting caught with our pants down at the last moment.” she started to turn and head towards the plane then stopped and placed a hand on Jills forearm. “ thanks,” Mary said then walked away. As Mary climbed into the plane, Jill headed towards the sandbagged fighting position, that was meant to guard the dock.

“ Run Ori, damn it Run… oh hell …… “ a voice shouted over the radio. Jill froze in her tracks, her mind reeling, waiting, praying for another broadcast to tell her that the message didn’t mean what it sounded like.

There was a roar of voices over the channel, and then suddenly Jared’s voice came through crystal, “Clear the Damn net, NOW” he roared. “ unless you have something important to say, shut the hell up”

The babble of voices dropped to almost nothing. “ Cross I need you to adjust fire, Ori is on foot and almost encircled, clear that area, scour it down to the rock if you have to.” Jared ordered.

“ Roger, but the moment we are ready to leave, I need that fire to blast a path through the undead.” Cross replied.

“I copy, give us what you can while you can” Jared replied. “I’m going to get him out”

Jill went cold, not that she was surprised, she knew Jared would die trying to save his friends. That kind of thing might have been old fashioned and out of style back before the zombies, but not for Jared, never for him. it was part and Parcel of who and what he was. “ get him out and be safe” she said aloud, her voice soft, keep him safe God she prayed silently.

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

on the central eastern edge of the yard, rows of vehicles, were parked, forever waiting their turn to be loaded by men who no longer lived for wars that no longer raged, Gun tracks, Tanks, IMF’s, Trucks, Hum Vees and others.

During the last week one of the things Cross had found and planned on removing when time permitted, were many of the vehicles that the Terminal had been in the process of loading for shipment overseas, among them were Engineer Vehicles, specifically, the new ABV, an anti mine vehicle, based on the M1 Chassis and engine, fitted with a plow blade one of the tools it used to clear mine fields.

Cross had thought that one or two might come in handy at some point and had ordered all the Ammo and supplies for the ABVs to be gathered and placed by the vehicles. Other than to load each ABV with the VIPER cases, the rest of the Spare rounds were still loaded on three trucks.

As useful as he thought they might be to clear undead on Sullivan and its neighbor Pine Island, he had done nothing else to prepare them. the Priority was on food and Basic munitions.

Simms how ever had a different priority, he had noted the rows of vehicles and particularly the M1’s and the ABV’s, after watching Jared run west towards the Ops building for a moment, he had his vehicles turn and rush back to the Tracked vehicle, his plan such as it was, was to use two of the tracks to get through the mass, punching a hole in the horde for the Hummer and the FMTV to follow behind..

They had minutes before the swarm of undead spread far enough east and south, to reach their position, and Simms didn’t want to be here when they arrived.

He leaped out of the Hummer as they pulled up along side the ABV, he paid no real attention to the rows of vehicles, or the flat beds that already contained vehicles. All Simms was concerned with was the ABV was a multi ton vehicle and wouldn’t be slowed by the huge numbers, and that it had a blow that would help them clear a path for the vehicles that would follow.
Wiezbeki scrambled up and into the nearst ABV, and was gone for a couple of moments then climbed out of the hatch, his clothes soaked with sweat, he looked upset. “ we have a problem, Adjutant.”

“what’s the problem?” Simms asked, not surprised, there was always a problem.

“The batteries are dead, its topped off with fuel, both Viper rounds are loaded, but no spark” Wiezbeki said his eyes darting nervously towards the north west where he knew the Horde was.

“get the cover on the NATO adaptor open, Mulligan find the cord on the Truck” Simms said,

Mulligan frowned, but nodded, taking out a flash light and began to check the exterior of the Cab for any place a charging cord might be located. Many military vehicles had a plug port, usually called a NATO Adaptor to jump start Vehicles. All one needed was another vehicle that produced sufficient power, plug its cable into the Port and you were ready to go. Considering how difficult it was to reach the two to eight batteries of many military vehicles, the Port and cable system was a smart and logical choice. When compared to jumper cables

Mulligan was thankful for the times they had worked with US forces, he at least had a good idea on where to look, and a moment later located a box under the bed of the FMTV, opening it he saw two air tanks with lines, probably for the braking system, and to one side a square box. Opening it he saw the cable. “ found it “ he called out, as he pulled the cable out and dragged it over to the ABV.

Wiezbeki took the cable and plugged it in, then climbed up inside the ABV, Simms had no real interest in keeping the damn thing, it was a fuel hog and Fuel for the Turbine engine was going to be hard to find. But to break out through the horde it was well worth the trouble.

he was half paying attention to the almost constant weapons fire in the distance it had intensified over the last two or three minutes, then looked up, as rounds whistled by overhead, a second later a series of explosions could be heard.

“Sounds like the undead have finally reached stones people ” Ivan commented, his eyes constantly scanning the area. The undead could reach their position any time now and he was determined to see them with enough time to mount up and flee.

“Sounds like, I wonder how effective mortars will be on undead” Simms replied,

“I would assume fairly useful, but I suppose we are going to see for ourselves” Ivan replied.

“Clear the rear!” Wiezbeki hollered out the hatch of the ABV.

The few men on the ground moved close to the truck, smiles broke out as the motor started on the second try. It was running rough but should smooth out after a moment.

“lets get a second one going, Ivan pick two men to drive the damn thing, then lets get men to drive the trucks with the reloads.” Simms ordered. Five minutes later they were ready to roll out.

Simms climbed up and settled into the commanders’ seat, Ivan refusing to let Simms get to far away from him, climbed up and sat on the top of the ABV. As soon as four men climbed into the Hummer, Simms gave the order and they moved out of the Vehicle park and out into the open to see the undead sixty meters ahead of them and closing.

it was even worse for Stones people, Several trucks were rushing away from the wave front of undead that approached from the west, while newly arriving trucks had pulled up in front of a building that had been one of Sheamus’s targets. The trucks were barely in position when the undead flowed around the building, heading east, the horde from the north was heading south and east, merging with western group.

More rounds passed over head, Simms stood in the hatch, watching the Blooms of fire and smoke that looked like some obscene flower opening its petals to the sky, then looked back thoughtfully at the Launcher positioned at the rear of the ABV.

“Wiezbeki, can you fire those MICLICs or VIPERs or what ever the US Army started calling them” Simms said, his hand already on the pintle mounted .50 and its attached ammo box.

“Hell yes! “ Wiezbeki said nodding, Simms didn’t respond right away he was looking off towards the Encircled buildings and the horde of undead. “ and we can theoretically reload on the move, the ammo supply trucks have a mechanical arm that we can use to transfer each Reload, only need one or two men on the top to seat them correctly and its ready to fire again.” Wiezbeki said excitedly. Of course US soldiers used to the system could probably reload them on the run, and in decent time, Simms how ever was certain it would take his men twenty minutes or longer to reload, so it wouldn’t matter for what he was thinking about. Four rockets were all they were going to have for a little bit.

Ivan was watching Simms closely, they had served together for a long time now, and Ivan knew him better than any one. and Ivan was certain he knew exactly what his Friend and team leader was thinking about.

“your thinking about helping them aren’t you” Ivan said, it wasn’t a question. Simms couldn’t tell if Ivan approved or not, but if it put a crimp in that Evil little bowler hat wearing shits plans, Simms was all for pissing in the bastards cereal.

You should never have jacked with me, Simms thought, and now your going to pay for it.

Simms nodded at Ivan, he was certainly going to help. As he watched the scene to the west, a Crane started forward, crushing a path through the undead, it was headed due west.

Ivan suddenly tapped him on the shoulder, then pointed to his earpiece, He had been monitoring the non encrypted radio chatter from Stones people.

“Stones on that crane, one of his friends is trying to reach the crane on foot,” Ivan called out. Simms nodded and pulled out his binoc’s, it only took a moment to spot the short blond man, moving east, as the horde slowly encircled him. the poor SOB was shooting and scooting, trying to escape before the circle closed around him.

Simms could do the math, there was no way the blond was going to make it, even if he just turned and ran for it. The man was going to die, badly if some one didn’t get to him first. And there was no way in hell that crane would be fast enough to make a difference.

There had been a time in his life when he would have just left, to hell with them. But now, knowing that not only was there a real battle between good and evil, but that he had been played to destroy people that the Devil or what ever didn’t like, had well and truly pissed him off. He had been duped into believing that Stone was a enemy, and he was certain Stone had been played and set on a course straight for Simms as well. Well Dark Helmet kiss my ass thought grimly amused.

That freakish unnatural monster in the bowler hat sowed distrust, chaos and death like it was candy and loved every minute of it.

The real question foremost in his mind, was, would Stone accept the help for what it was, or decide on Revenge for his friends. Simms shrugged, if that happened, Stone had better kill him with the first shot.

Saving his friend might got a long way to defusing the situation long enough for Simms to explain the situation to Stone and assure him that he held no animosity towards the man or his people. Would Stone even begin to believe that Simms had decided with a whole worlds resources out there just waiting to be picked up, there was no reason to start a war with any group now.

But more importantly, Simms refused to let that thing win, it had set this whole thing up so they could kill each other, and he was just afraid he was going to have to decline the invitation to die, or to kill.

There were trucks trapped up by that building, hemmed in by the weight of the undead, barely able to move forward. there was a man on the ground fighting for his life, trying to escape from a circle of undead before he got ripped apart. And more people trapped on the roof of a building to the north. He thought summing up the problems.

“Tell Mulligan stand by, once we fire these things, I want the Second ABV to escort, read as clear the way for Mulligans truck to the building on the north side, run some ropes up to the roof, and start getting those people off there,” He told Ivan, then leaned down and passed instructions to Wiezbeki.

He never saw the swift smile of approval on Ivans face, and if he had, he wouldn’t have known how to respond. All he knew was he had a course of action, and he was going to commit to it. and that it was the right thing to do, was a good change of pace.

He quickly passed orders to the other vehicles, sending them out of harms way for now, then the two massive vehicles rolled out of the vehicle park.

Simms, maybe better than any one else in the yard, could see explosions going off through out the stacks, his natural assumption were booby traps, probably placed to be used against him. it would have been a hell of a good fight he thought, if there had been no undead to deal with or manipulation of both sides by something that should be dead and rotting in its dumb ass bowler hat.

As the ABV reached position it stopped its massive turret turning, the blast shields rose with MICLICS mounted under them. “ Weapons Ready” Wiezbeki called out.

“ fire” Simms called out, a faint grin on his face as the rockets behind him ignited and then shot off their rails up into the night sky. He watched them for a second then looked to the right making sure that the second ABV was in position., assured that it was where he wanted it. “ Unit Two, status” Simms asked in French.

“Status is Green, standing by” the replay came back in French as well.

“Roger, the Order is given, fire!” Simms said.

“”Legio Patria Nostra” Some one said softly over the open channel.

Simms smiled grimly “ Amen to that, the Legion is our Fatherland, and tonight we have come home” he transmitted, and it was the truth, for too long now he had been so wrapped up in his plans, that he had forgotten the life, the duty and the traditions that the legion had given him and that he had embraced giving his worthless ass meaning, but no longer, From now on, his life, his honor and his Destiny were his own to do with as he chose and the Legion was what he chose.

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

Cross gaped as two tongues of flame erupted into the night sky to the east. They came from the middle of the vehicles that had been parked in rows, still waiting to be loaded for shipment to combat zones that no longer existed. The missiles or what every they were, arced up and then dipped towards the earth.

Suddenly two rows of rippling fireballs rose into the sky from the middle of the horde on either side of Ori, smoke and debris spread out on the pressure wave front. Each MICLIC was designed to Blast a hole through minefields, the Marines had also discovered that they could be used to breach walls and demolish small buildings in Afghanistan.

Simms had seen MICLICS in action in the Stan, had seen how the US Marines used them to demolish buildings and complexes that the Talliban holed up in. He had no doubts his plan would work.

Leaving Vega to watch and call in fire, Cross returned to making sure that the evacuation of the Ops building went smoothly

Trucks, that had raced from the wall, stopping only to pick up men and woman in the path of the undead, had been stopped or even slowed to a crawl by the sheer numbers of undead. suddenly they found the resistance severely lessened or in some places gone, engines roared as they raced forward pushing through the suddenly thin ranks of undead that still stood in their way, bouncing over the heaps of bodies that struggled to get back on their feet.

The trucks that still were at the Ops building, were parked along side windows, or backed up to the doorway. men on the second floor busted out windows and leaped down into the truck beds, the men still on the ground floor climbed out the windows and up the sides of the trucks into the high walled beds. The occasional scream, announced to every one that a few zombies had managed to crawl under the trucks and grab some unlucky bastards leg.

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

Eric, stood in the hatch of the LAV, as the armored vehicle rolled through the horde, the 25mm bushmaster was out of ammo, but the .pintle mounted fifty still had belts of ammo.

He had managed to get the men and women riding on the top of the LAV and Stryker offloaded onto a truck, they were now on their way to the docks and escape.

There were no tactics this night, there were just to many undead, coming from the west and the north The Terminal was lost already half the damned storage and loading area was filled with the walking dead.

The 16 ton vehicle was barely slowed by the numbers of undead, but it was taking a toll on him. he grimaced as three children, who couldn’t have been older than eight or nine when they died vanished under the wheels with a popping crunching noise that he knew would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.

Every where were pale uplifted arms, blank faces with milky eyes, it was a sea of limbs and faces, the entire population of the city to the north and the small towns around the terminal, Eric thought. Every age, every color were represented out there, and all of them dead for over a year.

The Stryker rode to his right, Daws stood in its hatch, hand on the SAW, his pale face tinged red in the light of the flare. Eric wondered if the other man felt as sick as he did.

This was the slowest race to save a life that he had ever been in Eric decided, looking up to check the progress of the crane. From what had been transmitted, Ori was half way across the yard, trying to stay ahead of the leading edge of two merging hordes.

The crane didn’t look like it had moved much at all he decided, resisting the urge to scream at Blaine to go faster. I should have saved the 1060’s or checked to see if there were more stashed away in the stacks.

Light over head drew his attention up, where two streaks of light were reaching their Apogee he could see something streaming out from behind the shells. “Button UP” Eric transmitted to Daws as he dropped inside the LAV and slammed the hatch closed.

“MICLICs incoming” Eric told his men, he had seen enough of them in Afghanistan to know that the Mine clearing rounds were dangerous as hell to people and equipment as well as to mines.

The LAV shook, and shuddered, but seemed to pick up speed a moment later. Looking through the sights Eric could see why, there was a long gaping path now in the horde, and more MICLICS were incoming. He could have ordered Blaine to stop, but he didn’t, some one had opened a path and he was going to exploit it. already trucks that had been almost stuck were taking advantage of the lack of resistance and were speeding into the gap.

Some one must be using an ABV Eric decided as another path was blasted into the Undead, who ever it was it was racing along in a straight line stopping and firing then racing to a new point. Great idea he thought as he considered the amount of explosives and its distribution. Each MICLIC carried 1750 pounds of C4, which would generate one hell of a large explosion. He figured a quarter of the Undead in the weapons path would be killed, fifty percent would lose arms, and legs. And all of them would be knocked over. The usual area of effect when used against mines was a hundred meters long and 12 meters wide per line, in this case the shock wave and blast front would knock over undead twenty meters out from its impact point. And it looked like the ABV was picking their firing point so that each lines area of effect slightly overlapped creating one large open area.

When the next two MICLICs launched Eric’s brow furrowed in thought, there had to be two ABVs out there, there was no way they could have reloaded one so fast.

With the second launch of two Rockets, a total of 7000 pounds of C4 had been sent down range, where it showed every one exactly why the Marines had begun to use them to breach fortified areas.

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

they needed to reload Simms thought but it took at least five to ten minutes for an experienced crew to reload, and that was while being able to stand on the ground with out fear of being eaten. There was no way they could reload here and now, well at least not and save the single man that could make such a huge difference in whether this fight ended between Stone and Simms.

No they were going to have to finish this using the speed and weight of the ABV’s to force their way out.. and they had both in plenty, the 62 ton vehicle could hit road speeds, and there was very little the body weight of a crowd of a few thousand zombies could do to stop it.

\
****************************

The small boat floated further out into the channel, a dark spot against the dark water. Williams peeked over the Transom, watching as flares erupted over the Terminal. and smiling at the sounds of combat.

They were all dead, every one of them. whether they knew it or not, he thought as he dug out the remote detonator from his pocket. He placed it on the deck, then checked the Draganov. He was eager to be about his work now, if only to get it over with. His Friend was occupied else where, leaving him some what alone for the moment.

Williams had no illusions that the thing would track him down and kill him painfully if he failed. He was fully aware that more than just his life had changed over the last month or so. He was no longer who he was, and no amount of wishing from the small dark corner of what was left of his old personality could change it.

One of the docks was lit, and he could see men racing to finish loading a Barge, while a tug boat was being hooked to the barge to pull it away.

It was possible they would escape he realized, not much he could do about that, the little present he had left took time to reach its crescendo. With that thought he picked up the detonator and pushed the first button. Then the second, the third was the final package the one that would finish what the first two started.

Deep in side the Transport, a series of timers came to life, each attached to C4 that had been placed carefully, when they detonated they would blow the fuel lines, allowing fuel to pour out into the passage ways and the holds.

Each of the second set of timers were attached to 16 blocks of C4, which were packed around three 155 artillery shells. Then they detonated it should be more than enough to blow the holds apart, igniting the fumes and fuel and setting of sympathetic detonations of the rest of the munitions packed aboard the Transport.

The resulting explosions should wipe out the docks and kill every one down there, as well as send a shock wave rolling across the storage yard. He wasn’t sure it was big enough to actually destroy the terminal, he would need a ship loaded with fertilizer for that kind of bang for his buck, but the final little present, had been set up Stones people, Williams had just attached his own Detonator to the very professional job they had set up. and that would destroy the terminal. While his own bomb, the transport, would take out the docks and the lower part of the terminal.

His friend, should be able to finish his little job, and escape in time before the big finale, and I should be able to escape with time to spare. he thought as he sat the Detonator back on the deck and set up the Draganov,

Peering through the scope, he saw Stones wife on the dock, with another woman, talking nervously and looking west towards the Storage Yard. “ too bad ladies, your men folk are about to die, but then again so are you” Williams said aloud, then fell silent grinning.

He settled his crosshairs between her breasts, almost regretfully, she was a damn fine woman. But his friend had made it clear, she was going to die. and Williams wasn’t going to let arousal get him killed along with her.

His finger tightened on the trigger, he slowed his breathing, feeling his heart beat, the Russian had been a great teacher even for a dead man. His head jerked up as a boom rolled across the waterway and smoke billowed up from the Transport. Distracted he completely forgot about Jill Stone.

“no, how, it cant happen like that” he protested. He knew men had been working on the transport, but there hadn’t been anything he saw that could have ignited the fuel or its vapors. But none the less something had.

His carefully timed Massive IED was now out of control, he dropped the Draganov, and started the motor. Not caring if those on the dock heard him. he gave it power, and the boat surged forward, riding a white crest of foam south towards Cape fear.

“ theres a boat out there” some one called out. Jill turned away from the now burning transport, a feeling of hope flaring in her. maybe the boats that Cross had sent south three days before were finally returning, and the soldiers on board could help hold the docks. All she really saw was white almost glowing foam of a boats wake as it sped south along the water way.

“ cast the barge off” someone was shouting, Jill turned away from the fiery transport to see a Soldier rush along the dock pushing men towards the hawsers that held the Barge against the dock. “ cut it loose,:” he shouted again. “every one on board”

“Get the plane ready to go “ Jill told Mary then turned and sprinted for the Soldier shouting orders. Men got out of her way as she ran by.

“what the hell are you doing” She shouted as she slid a stop in front of the man, a slender, dark haired man who looked like a lot like Hugh Grant. “we have survivors inbound”

“Maam, if that transport goes, we die. we cant help the people still up there in the yard, the ones that are in route maybe if they get here before we get underway, but if we stay we all die” The soldier explained. “ I’m sorry but that’s the truth” the man said turning away from her to urge the remaining soldiers to drop the supplies they were still trying to load and get aboard.

She bit her lip, furious at the thought of abandoning Her husband and all the others still up in the yard, she wanted to smash the man to the ground, and she could have easily. But that wouldn’t have changed the fact he was right, for any one to survive, they had to get underway. Jared would have done exactly what the soldier was doing and she knew it. Better to save what you could than let every one die trying to save them all.

As if to punctuate the mans argument, something exploded on the Transport, sending a column of flame into the sky that writhed and curled like a living thing before it vanished.

She turned and ran back to the barricade, as the first of the trucks appeared around the corner. Undead were already filtering through the woods, that separated the Docks from the Storage yard, and they were going to need some one to fight them off while the survivors from the yard Dismounted and boarded the Barge. The eight soldiers manning the barricade were going to need all the help they could get.

“Mary get ready to take a few people on board, we are probably going to need to get out of here fast.” Jill transmitted as she gazed west, praying Jared made it out in time.

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

So this is hell, the thought was disjointed his mind felt fuzzy. The last thing he remembered was the undead closing in on him, and then fire and light and a massive roaring noise. and then the ground reached up and slapped him two or three times.

“ You need to get up brother” the voice was familiar, Ori opened his eyes, and saw a broad shouldered thick chested man kneeling beside him, the light from a flare shining off his shaved head.

“come on Hobbit, you can do it” Steve said kneeling beside Ori, “get your little tiny ass up and moving”

“aren’t you dead?” Ori asked. “ shit I got killed didn’t I?”

“not yet, but if you don’t get up you will be” Steve said, white teeth flashing in the light of the flare. “I’m not going to let you die, if I did, then I have to listen to you stupid ass jokes on this side. so get your ass up and moving SOLDIER” Steve shouted the last word.

Ori somehow found himself on his feet, around him the Pavement was buckled, and broken, piles of undulating bodies were everywhere, fires burned in places, sending thick plumes of smoke up into the night sky.

To the west and north, the horde was advancing again, but even as he stood there shaking his head trying to clear it, more and more zombies were getting back to their feet in the cleared zone.

“ I hate to point this out, but if you don’t get moving right now, your little butt is going to eaten off” Steve said, then pointed east, were Ori could see two vehicles racing towards him. he took a step and winced in pain, his shoulder hurt, and he was pretty sure he had a huge knot growing out of the side of his head.

he set off trying to run, but he was barely faster than the undead, his body had been battered and bruised by the MICLICS, he wasn’t even sure how he had survived, but he wasn’t going to argue.

“ you got damn lucky, Brother, right place right time, and Simms laid those lines like a Pro, which is why your still alive” Steve said as if reading his mind. Maybe he was, Steve was dead after all, maybe all the dead folks could read minds. Oh god I hope not if my granny read my mind and saw some of my dates and what we did, she is going to whale the shit out of my ass after I die, he thought

wait, what, Simms, the bad guy of the piece.? Ori thought as he realized what Steve said. he let the thought go, he had things to do, and zombies to kill.

A zombie sat up six feet away, Pain or not, training and memory muscle kicked in, Ori’s weapons snapped into place and he fired. The recoil sending pain radiating from his abused shoulder.

He leaped over several bodies, a zombies hand almost snagging his pants leg. He covered twenty feet, then thirty, while around him the undead still able to stand were rising, others were dragging themselves forward.

He fired at anything close enough to grab him, he burned through a magazine, ejected it and slapped in another. As he leaped over a mass of body parts and entrails, he hit the ground and slipped in the gore, almost losing his balance

Just ahead he could see a group of forty undead were back on their feet ahead of him, more were standing up to either side and behind him. Ori fired, and fired again, undead falling like so much trash. He could see the truck and the ABVs were almost there, so was the horde to the north and south.

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

“Good thing we have the flares” Logan shouted, as another flare burst into life above them. Driving in the dark was not his favorite thing in the world. Especially in a truck whose headlights had shattered, the radiator was probably leaking now, and the smell of fuel was growing stronger in the cab, all in all, it was a bomb waiting to happen. All that and he wasn’t even really worried about the grinding sounds coming from the engine, or the smell of burned wiring.

The Truck bounced over corpses, crushing bones, the sound like that of dry twigs and branches snapping. Jared ignored it, long used to the sound, that fact bothered him more than he would ever admit.

Logan raced down the lane created by the AVB, trying to keep up with the armored behemoth even as more undead were swarming into the gap.

“Cross I need fire adjusted, put them right in front of us” Jared shouted over the radio, “ bracket the damn path. Clear us a route”

“Roger stand by” Cross replied, there was a long pause then “ Incoming”

Logan gritted his teeth and gripped the wheel, if he had known what was coming, he might not have needed a change of pants later. As it was he was taken completely by surprise when the world in front of him exploded, or that’s how it seemed to him, as fire bloomed, pavement shattered and chunks of pavement, dirt and bodies vomited into the air. Only sheer screaming shock kept him driving forward, explosions reaching ahead of him, every ten seconds for forty seconds.

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

Cold stars glittered overhead, uncaring about the fate of the man below. the cool breeze of the waterway worked its way off the docks, through the tree’s and over the Storage yard its cool briny smell mingling with and pushing the smell of the undead back west.

The circle had finally closed around him again, and Ori knew he had no real place to go, to his left were shattered and broken crates, beyond that maybe forty feet was a HET, one of the huge off road capable Semi Trucks, a container chained to its flat bed trailer.

The undead were with in twenty feet, arms outstretched, mouths yawning open, Ori spun in circles firing, making each shot count. It was useless he knew but he wasn’t about to give up.

He ignored the thoughts that wondered about how painful being ripped apart and eaten was going to be. he did wish his radio hadn’t been damaged, he would love to pass a message to Beth through Jared. But knowing Jared, he would lie and pass a fictional message from Ori to Beth to make her feel better. So either way she would hear he loved her. Overhead a whistling noise came to his ears. He had heard that same sound to many times in the old days to ever mistake it, Mortars.

“Incoming” Steve shouted as Ori threw himself to the ground, trying to crawl under the pavement and then the world went wild as HE rounds walked forward then around him. the pavement already cracked and buckled in places from the MIC’s, shattered under the pounding.

The ground rocking, dirt and chunks of pavement flying, debris rained down around him. a large chunk of pavement was torn loose and sent sailing through a knot of undead, where it ripped off limbs and shattered bones. Sound battered his ears and then it was silent, most likely because he was deaf.

“get up idiot,” Steve shouted in his ear. Nope he wasn’t Deaf Ori thought lunging to his feet, his ears ringing, driven by fear and the urgency in Steve’s voice. a zombie was sitting up nearby, its legs gone from the knees down, he put three bullets into its skull and ran. “ right, go right” Steve shouted, Ori didn’t think he just reacted to Steve’s warning, spinning right, never slowing. He barely evaded the outstretched arms of a zombie that had risen back to its feet.

“left” Steve shouted, Ori lunged to the left and put a three rounds into the zombie that was sitting up and reaching for him. .

All around him the dead were rising again, Ori fired again and the rifle went dry, he let it go, to dangle down his chest as he drew his pistol. A zombie reared up in front of him, he fired into the zombies mouth, blowing out the back of its head, already shifting targets.

What the hell was taking so long he thought, surely the truck had been closing on him for the last half hour.

“ duck” Steve shouted. Ori hit the ground rolling on his shoulder, avoiding the outstretched arms of the zombie who had tried to grab him from behind, Jared would have been proud, Ori thought as he rolled back to his feet and kept running.

Tango Left, shift shoot, Tango front, Shift, sight, shoot, Ori serviced targets as fast as he could pull the trigger, barreling through the growing numbers like the line backer he had never been. The slide on the pistol locked back, Ori popped the mag, letting it tumble to the ground, slapped in another smoothly, and kept firing with barely a pause.

A bullet ripped past his face burning a furrow in his cheek, he didn’t complain since it struck the zombie that was just about to grab him. a zombie in front of him went down, its head an expanding mist, goo and gore splattered him, more weapons fire ripped around him, zombies were falling left and right. Ori kept his mouth shut, not wanting to risk getting a mouthful of zombie goo.

A hand grasped his harness from behind, Ori tore free, putting two bullets into a zombie six feet in front of him. it staggered then a third round from his pistol took its head off. The slide locked back, and that was it for his ammo. He dropped the pistol and pulled the Combat Tomahawk that he had rarely used.

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

“ almost there” Jared shouted watching as the Gunner on the ABV fire the Ma deuce across the legs and hips of the horde to the south and west, bodies tumbled to the ground, like ice melting before a flame. The man on the Top of the ABV was firing into the growing crowd around Ori. it was a hell of a display of marksmanship Jared thought as he fired over the cab.

Logan was firing one handed through the windshield, like he was staring in some pre zombie action movie.

“incoming fire, on your position” Cross said.

“Roger, pour it on” Jared replied “Logan incoming,” He shouted into the broken rear window, then ducked down, praying who ever was spotting the fire was good. And it was, it wasn’t the fastest fire Jared had ever experienced, but it was by god accurate. HE rounds impacted to the north of Ori who was just barely out of the danger zone. Each round blew huge holes in the undead keeping them off Ori, giving him a chance to live. And then it stopped.

“its all yours Stone, we are out of HE” Cross said.

“how in the hell can we be out in a munitions terminal filled to the brim with things that explode” Jared asked.

“because we never expected to provide Artillery support for a war dumbass” Cross replied. “ good luck, Get him out.” Cross said.

“Roger, good luck to you too Cross” Jared replied, as the truck roared forward, engine protesting, flanked by an ABV, with only eighty yards left to reach Ori.

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

“ over to your left, Brother it’s the only place to go” Steve said pointing. Ori looked and saw a HET with a flatbed trailer attached, it hadn’t faired well in the Mortar fire and the MICs, it was battered and scorched, the glass shattered.

The trailer wasn’t high enough to get him out of reach of the undead, but if he could get on top of the conex that was chained to the flat bed, the undead couldn’t reach him. more importantly at this moment there were few moving undead on his side of the thing. He ran for his life dodging the undead who stood between him and the safety of the trailer.

It was really like a nightmare, he thought, no matter how fast he was running he felt like he was crawling, the stench was incredible, he leaped a crater, almost stumbling on the other side, leaping a pile of bodies almost got him bit, he had lost his NVG’s some where too, not that he was going to go back and look for them.

A zombie suddenly reared up in his way, Ori having spent years playing football against the most cut throat kids on a field, namely his cousins, had learned a thing or two about getting past a defensive line, granted his cousins hadn’t been trying to eat him alive, at least not literally.

The zombie opened its mouth as it saw the outstretched arm coming its way, only to be flipped end over end as it was clothes lined, Ori didn’t even slow down. Then suddenly he was cutting down another zombie with the tomahawk, and realized the truck was right behind it.

As the body of the zombie fell at his Feet, leaped over the body and swarmed up onto the slightly tilted bed, More zombies, realizing that a unhappy meal was on the other side of the trailer, crawled underneath the trailer reaching out a split second too late to grab Ori’s legs. Zombies were arriving by the moment all trying to reach over the bed to grasp Ori and pull him back. .

“Some help you are” he muttered to Steve whom he didn’t see now. He leaped up and grasped one of the chains that held the Container to the bed, then pulled him self up. Reaching the top he rolled over and sprawled out breathing heavily, then sat up and began checking himself for bite marks. Finding nothing he collapsed back onto the container feeling nothing but relief.

“Thanks Steve, even if I imagined the whole damn thing” Ori said, then rolled over on his stomach watching the ABV crush the undead in their path, heading straight for him, followed by a truck. they were still eighty feet away and closing.

Sighing he placed his head on his arms and tried to ignore the pain that radiated through him. The sound of approaching engines soothing his spent nerves.

“God I hate undead” he muttered.

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

The truck, blue smoke coming from under the hood, and a grinding noise from the motor, pulled up alongside the Trailer, metal scraping on metal, Ori sat cross legged on the container, looking down at Jared. “ about damn time” he shouted.

“Sorry there was a bit of traffic between here and there” Jared replied.

“You aren’t rescuing me in that damn thing are you, its about to die” Ori asked. “ after what I’ve been through I want a Limo or one of those tour buses with a hot tub, you cheap ass”

“Well that was the plan, but the clunker was all they had available at the rental place, now it looks like we are going to have to wait for the crane after all.” Jared replied, as he helped Logan climb out the shattered rear window into the bed, keeping to the side of the truck against the trailer where the undead couldn’t reach them.

Cupping his hands Jared boosted Logan up to grasp the top of the container and scramble up beside Ori, then Jared climbed up using one of the chains, reaching the top he crouched beside his friend, placing a gentle hand on Ori’s shoulder.

“I need to ask, were you bitten?” Jared asked.

“not that I know of” Ori replied, “I’ve already checked, but go ahead and indulge your gay tendencies and look for yourself” He added with a weak grin waving a hand at his pants.

“Don’t tell Jill about this, or she will kill you for trying to seduce me away” Jared said as set to examining Ori for bite marks.

“Kill me, you’re the perv that took off my pants” Ori said, Logan rolled his eyes, how these people could find humor in so many situations was beyond him.

“You know she thinks I walk on water, I just act innocent and your done for” Jared said absently “roll over” he ordered.

“oh sure take advantage of me” Ori muttered as he rolled over. Jared was silent and then suddenly he slapped Ori on the butt.

“ okay get dressed, you have bruises on bruises, some cuts and scrapes, and your still ugly other than that you appear fine.” Jared said as he turned to look at the ABV parked beside the truck, the Second ABV was circling the Trailer crushing undead under its tracks.

Ori eyed his ruined pants with distaste, then finally pulled them back on . “ who is that” he asked struggling painfully to get his boots back on.

“If I’m not badly mistaken that’s the man who may or may not have given the order to Kill Steve.” Jared replied, he wanted to just draw his pistol and blow the bastard away, but he had promised Jill to talk, and honestly consider the fact that the Irish shit bag might have shot Steve on his own. And he had just helped save Ori, so that was a point in his favor.

The man crouched on the top of the ABV with a FAMAs casually pointed in Jared’s direction had to be Ivan. Jared’s mouth twisted into a Feral smile with out his realizing it, you would be just a tad to slow Ivan old buddy, I could draw and put two into Simms and one into you before you could pull that trigger Jared thought, there was no pride in that thought no bravado, just simple truth in his ability with a side arm.

“so your Simms” Jared called out to the Man with the close cropped Dark hair in the gunners hatch. “you helped save a friend of mine, and I promised some one I would listen to what you had to say if we had a chance to talk.. so get to talking.” Jared said.

“you must be Jared Stone” the gunner shouted, he looked about six foot, his dark hair just stubble on his head.

Neither of the men paying attention to the undead the filled the space between them. just as neither one of them acted surprised that the other knew their names, it was almost a given at this point.

“hows your plan coming along” Jared asked sarcastically waving a hand around at the yard and the undead. Chris pulled a first aid kit out of his gear, and starting trying to clean and bind the slashes on Jareds arms.

“hold still” Chris muttered.

“not as well as I would have liked to be honest, but it seems, believe it or not, that I’ve been played for a fool.” Simms responded with a smile. there was a hard edge of steel to that smile. Just from what Eric had shared, and the tone of Simms voice, Simms wasn’t one to be very happy to find out he had been played. “ at the moment I have men over at the building to on the north side evacuating your people.”

“I appreciate that, and I will be blunt, theres two reasons I’m even talking to you” Jared said, Simms watched him, waiting for Jared to elaborate. “the first is my wife asked me to talk instead of just killing you, and secondly, your little MICLIC attack saved my friend here. So talk fast.” Jared said, his hand resting on his pistol. Ignoring Chris, who sighed and sat back waiting till either the conversation stopped or Jared was unconscious from blood loss.

Ivan was tense as he watched Stone, there was something very familiar about him. which bothered Ivan, first there had been something about Williams that had reminded him of some one from his past, now Stone looked familiar. if he had any doubts before this moment that someone or something had manipulated or guided them all to this one point, he had none now.

He was also pretty sure there was a reason Stone had a hand resting on the pistol on his thigh, than on the HK slung across his chest. Cowboy, the word came to his mind stirring up images of gunslingers and shoot outs in the street from the westerns he had grown to love. He hadn’t even heard of westerns till the communists lost power in his homeland. He had seen his first one on a satellite channel and had loved it.

“I wont lie about this Stone, I wanted your island, and everything on it. and I wanted this terminal. which leads me to ask just how you find out about this place.” Simms asked.

Jared watched Simms for a long moment with out answering, Ivan tensed, almost certain that Stone was going to draw the pistol and start shooting.

“Did you order that Son of a Bitch Sheamus to Shoot my friend” Jared asked suddenly ignoring the question Simms had asked and the fact he had used past tense about wanting the island. this was the moment that could make or break it for any sort of Peaceful ending for Simms and his people.

That Jared knew Sheamus’s name as well, told Simms a lot. the bowler hat wearing freak had been playing both sides, manipulating them all towards this point.

“no” Simms replied, rubbing a hand over his sweat slicked head, as another flare erupted over head. “That was Sheamus’s doing, and I suspect a woman named Maggie put him up to it”

Something changed in the way Stone stood, at Simms denial, a slight relaxation possibly Ivan wasn’t sure, what ever else might happen in the future. Stone wasn’t going to start shooting here and now, not unless Simms said or did something that set him off.

“Look, you have people over there that need help, so I offer a truce, once this is over Ill tell you the whole story, and then you can decided if you want to keep this war going, me personally, I believe it benefits some one else, hell something else to keep fighting you and yours and I refuse to help it out any more.” Simms said, as he pointed to the Ops building.

Jared nodded, thinking of Jill down at the docks. He was ready to end this now, all he really wanted was to spend what ever time he had left in life with her.

“Truce then” Jared replied, finally giving in to Chris and started tending the wounds he had taken already.

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

once the mortar fired shifted back to hammering the area around the Ops building, Cross had tried to speed up the Evacuation of the building, to many of his people had fled the walls, only to end up trapped inside by the undead.

He watched as a third truck backed up to a shattered window, running down the undead between it and the wall before it stopped with dull boom as it hit the wall. “ don’t ram the building idiots, make a hole in the wall and every one still inside are screwed.” Cross-shouted over the radio.

He turned his attention for a second across the yard where an ABV was sitting surrounded by undead next to a HET, where Ori had finally gotten to safety, Cross spent a moment wondering what was going on. He could see men on the Container talking to men standing on the ABV. As the Crane finally reached the HET and stopped.

Off in the distance towards the docks, there was a explosion, Cross turned to look east, and saw fire streaming into the sky.

“Horner, to Cross, the transport is on fire, there has been one secondary explosion, I am going to cast off the barge, if that Transport goes, it could take out the entire dock area.”

Cross-stood there surprised, he shouldn’t have been, not considering everything else that had happened today. But surprised or not, he didn’t hesitate. “give us five more minutes, who ever isn’t on board the barge at that point is going to find another way to get home.”

Vega gave him a look, but said nothing. “ all right people we have one minute to get every one on this truck, anyone that doesn’t make it, needs to hole up and wait for rescue”

Rescue that might not come Cross thought, then looked back at the Small group around the HET, but with Jared around, I’m thinking he would move Heaven and hell to get you people out even if it took a couple of weeks.

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

Ronny urged the last soldiers downstairs and into the waiting truck, then raced down the hallway checking rooms to make sure he hadn’t missed anyone, reaching the end of the Hall, he saw Paddy trying to open the Fire door. Paddy his face green from the light of the Chem stick turned to look at him.

“Hell Paddy I thought you would already have Ed and the others heading downstairs, we are damn near out of time” Ronny said,

“ Some one locked it, or something. I’ve been trying to get it open” Paddy replied.

“Let me try” Ronny said stepping forward as Paddy moved out of the way. Ronny pushed on the door but it still refused to move, then frowning he tried again.

“See what I mean” Paddy said feeling vindicated.

“Its got to be stuck, you cant lock this kind of doors” Ronny said puzzled.

“ Ronny, we are running out of time” Jansen said jogging up to the two men.

“Not my choice, we cant get this door open, try the radio again, some one up there has to have a working radio.” Ronny said pushed on the door again with the same results, nothing.

Jansen stepped up and pushed different places along the edge of the door, Ronny watched silently puzzled.

“Just checking, sometimes you can tell where its sticking by where it gives or really where it doesn’t give. “ He said then cocked his head slightly listening, frowning. “Cross is pulling out in thirty seconds” he said glancing back down the hall.

“That son of a bitch” Ronny said angrily, then stopped himself. He understood exactly why Cross was leaving. “Go Jansen, get on that truck with your squad and get out of here, Ill stay. “Ronny said motioning towards the staircase. There wasn’t any anger in his tone only acceptance of the situation.

“I’m Staying too” Paddy announced, though he looked scared as hell at the idea.

Jansen hesitated, torn. Both men were fucking stupid, once that truck pulled away from the front door the undead were going to come inside. “Benton, I’m on my way,” Jansen transmitted with a look of regret on his face. he dug into his pocket and pulled out a ring of keys and tossed them to Ronny, “ theres another way up in the Mechanical room, some kind of duct or vent or something, check it out. plus side the door locks and the undead cant get through the metal door.”

Ronny nodded, “ thanks Good Luck Jansen”

“You’re the ones that need the luck, but thanks” Jansen said turning and ran down the hallway.

“Well ready to do or die as they used to say” Ronny asked Paddy, “the upside to dying here is Mary wont have a chance to kick my ass for staying.”

“Always looking for the bright side aren’t you” Paddy asked, as the two men ran down the hallway.

“I’m a glass half full kind of guy” Ronny commented, asked as he tried keys in the lock. The fourth one turned.

“it beats screaming oh god oh god, I’m going to die” Paddy said as Ronny laughed and opened the door to the maintenance room..

“sounds like a good night with Mary to me” Ronny commented with a grin as the two men entered the room.

“Ed’s right you are twisted” Paddy said as the door shut behind them.

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

Amy hung there shivering, trying not to let the fear overwhelm her. she could still feel the cold on her skin where that thing had ran its hands over her. she desperately hoped that Ily was alive and safe, but deep down she believed that just like her, Ily hung naked and alone in another room , waiting to die.

There’s no situation you cant change, Her father said, the voice in her mind was so clear she could have sworn he was standing there. He had told her that when she had been trying to work through a problem at school. He had always supported her, believed in her, Just remember angel when you give up you have to accept the outcome, as long as you keep trying you can change the world. God she missed him.

She was only marginally calmer, which wasn’t say much, but she had herself under control. She looked up and began to study how she had been suspended. If there was a way to escape she was going to find. If not she was going to fight for every minute of life she could.

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

it stopped before a window looking out over the storage yard, watching the sea of undead. a smile on its face, so many had died today and many more were going to die. it knew of the fire on the transport and that its main tool had fled south. it would catch him later. Left alone for too long it began to question, to rebel against its master.

Its new tool should be able to deal with Michael and the Girl, but its own revenge would have to wait, its master demanded he head south to destroy the people on the Island once and for all. With their destruction, the trinity would be denied a future ally against the Dark. And heading south would for the moment get him away from that cursed book.

He watched as three armored vehicles headed towards the Building it stood in, its dead eyes fixed on Jared stone who sat on the top of one of the vehicles. You are going to die at my hands, strip of skin by strip of skin, screaming for mercy that will never come. it vowed silently. It needed to leave now, but it had one thing to do before it did. Some one to visit. Triangular teeth glittered in the light of the dying flare outside, it adjusted the bowler hat on its head and then it turned and scuttled from the room, like some loathsome insect.

Jared sat on the top of the LAV, trying not to gag at the smell of the undead. the last of the trucks had pulled away from the ops building, leaving the door way uncovered, the undead had poured in. Jansen had at least reported that Ronny and Paddy were both alive and inside locked in a mechanical room, and would be staying to get onto the third floor where apparently men were trapped.

Jared pulled out his binoculars, and lifted them to his eyes, one of the lenses had gotten cracked, but he could still see fairly well. he scanned the windows, looking for men, and then froze. A pale face seemed to float in the darkness of a third story room, the thin lips peeled back into a predatory smile, the dead eyes seemed to be fixed on him and him alone. The cloudy eyes glittered with a pale fire, a product of the flare, from under the rim of the bowler hat it wore. It suddenly it adjusted the bowler hat it wore to a jaunty angle, and faded back into the darkness, the glitter of its teeth the last thing to fade away, like some hideous Cheshire Cat.

“Hurry up, Eric, its in there,” Jared transmitted as the fear for Ronny and the others flooded into him.

“What’s in there?” Eric asked.

“ Bowler hat” Jared replied.

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