Chapter Thirty

“No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all —
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?”
~Kipling

Ed woke drenched in sweat, his nightmare still clinging to him like the claws of some foul beast. Even dead, Jasper brown still haunted him. He looked around the dimly lit room, and saw every one but the guards were asleep. Sitting up he reached into his pack and pulled out the only thing that still meant anything from the old world.

The badge shown like dull gold in the dim light, he had been proud to be a cop, one of the youngest detectives on the force, and dedicated to helping his community even if he had had to hide who and what he was from them. It wouldn’t have matter how well he did his job, if he had been out while on the force. He would have been let go even after catching Jasper Brown, one of the most notorious serial killers in American History when the FBI couldn’t.

Jaspers decade’s long run of killing had ended in an empty apartment in the same complex that Ed lived in, where the Sick twisted bastard had been hiding to spy on Ed. That Brown had escaped from jail just before the dead had come back and returned as something more and yet less than a zombie was like being slapped in the face.

“Even after I killed him or his corpse at the terminal, he is still running around in dreams” Ed fumed as he gripped the badge tightly.

“You okay” Mike asked from beside him as he propped himself up on his elbows.

“Yeah sorry, didn’t meant to wake you up” Ed whispered trying not to wake up any one else. Mike shook his head.

“Its okay, I wasn’t sleeping well anyway” Mike said. Now if any one had been screwed over by the thing that Jasper brown had become it was mike, Ed thought. Poor bastard lost the woman he loved, Jasper pretty much erased her mind when she was in a coma and created a whole new psychotic Bitch in her place. How in the hell do you fight that.

“Dreaming about Carrie?” Ed asked.

“Maggie” Mike replied, Maggie had been what Jasper had created in the mind of Carrie, a loathsome bitch who lived to torment Mike and ultimately tried to kill him. Mike refused to consider Maggie as Carrie. “no one has normal dreams since the dead rose”

“I’m taking a walk” Ed said slipping the chain that held his badge around his neck. The powerfully built former cop climbed out of his sleeping bag.

“Give me a moment Ill go with you, no one is supposed to be out by them selves” Mike said as he climbed out of his sleeping bag and pulled on his boots. The two men gathered their weapons and carefully made their way through the mass of sleeping people and out side into the construction site and walked along the parked vehicles.

“So what’s up” Mike asked pulling his coat tighter about himself as a chilly wind that still smelled of rain blew over the area.

“Aside from Bowler hat dancing around in my dreams, I keep having this feeling that there’s something coming. Something big, like the feeling I had just before the dead rose.” Ed replied.

“I don’t think I even want to imagine what could be coming next” Mike replied.

“Neither do I” Ed said. They walked in silence till they reached the end of the convoy and found themselves in the shadow of the Train house. Ed didn’t think that’s what rail road people had called it, but since no one here really knew Train house was as good a name as any. “I also think think I know who killed Max” he said suddenly. “that woman he had been dating, and I think she might be the one that’s killed the others too.”

“Why haven’t you told Jill and Reese” Mike asked.

“I talked to Jansen about it earlier, he is going to deal with it. he doesn’t want Jill involved because the women is also the one that was spreading rumors about Jill having an affair with Jansen.”

“Which Jill doesn’t know about either” Mike pointed out.

“No she doesn’t, no one wants to tell her out of respect. But Jansen is ready to chew nails over it” Ed replied. “ and Jansen suspects Julie may have help and wants to see if we can figure out who that might be.”

“The only thing is it makes no sense, I mean what’s her goal. Does she even have one” Mike asked. “All she has done is create some chaos, half the people she has killed, we have kept under wraps. “

“I think that’s the whole point right there” Ed said turning to face Mike, wearily running a hand through his thinning blond hair. “If she is the bride, and Thor thinks she is, then death and Chaos is all she seeks.”

“So why not stop her now” Mike asked quietly looking around.

“Because Jansen thinks that who ever blew up our trucks back on Mt. Weather might actually be working with her, and they might have slipped back into our camp during the confusion.” Ed replied.

“Okay what leads him to that theory.”

“Because some one had to cover for her a time or two, some one had to help her slip unseen into the tunnel to push Max off the wall. And some one helped her carry a body, Ori found two sets of tracks one male, one female. “

“Any idea of which it might be?” Mike asked,

“Chris thought it could be three different men,” Ed replied then fell silent, He knew Mike, trusted him, but in this world with the way the dark was able to twist and turn good men into something else you could never tell.

No Jared was right when he said if we stopping trusting each other the dark wins. “Chris was the one who found out Julie was spreading the rumors about Jill and Jansen, that’s what set off alarms bells with Me, Jansen and Daws. Because she was sleeping with Max, and all the men murdered were friends of Max’s. Out of the very few suspects we had for the bride, she was the only one with links to all of the victims. With that idea in mind Chris started asking around about who she hung out with, talked to, trying to see if there were any men besides Max and his circle that she talks to. But Chris got sick and that ended that for now. ”

“I like Chris,” Mike said “I hope he pulls through, Jared hides it well but you can tell it hit him hard.”

“Well the problem is Mike, Chris didn’t get sick. Blaine is pretty sure he has been poisoned.” Ed said taking a chance by telling Mike something that only a few others knew. “That’s not general knowledge so keep it to yourself.”

“With all the guards out on the vehicles and in the sleeping area’s that should put the stops on any plans she or her partner have, shouldn’t it” Mike said after a moment.

“Maybe but we cant count on it. there’s people loading stuff, unloading stuff, helping lee work on the vehicles that can give some one a chance to plant bombs or booby traps the vehicles. I can think of ten different ways to slip poison to some one with out being caught. No, guards and camera’s don’t really stop some one from doing something if they put a lot of work into getting around the guards and camera’s” Ed replied.

“What are you going to tell Jared when we link back up with him” Mike asked.

“I don’t know” Ed replied. “ But when he finds out , I suspect Julies days are numbered if she is still here.”

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

February 17th 0700hrs

Bedford walked slowly down the hall, not even noticing the slowly deteriorating bodies slumped against the walls and across the floor, or the bullet holes and dried blood on the walls. His attention was fixed on the doors ahead of him.

He had walked the hallways of this building for several years as part of his job, but today was the day he had been waiting for. He trembled with anticipation as he approached the once polished wooden double doors.

He pushed them open, rifle at the read his men covering his back. The room was empty he smiled as he stepped into the Oval office of the president of the United States. Other than being dusty, it looked as it always had. He strode across the room and reverently touched the resolution Desk, then with a smile of triumph he sat behind the desk.

This is where he had belonged for so long now, but the office had been occupied by lesser men, Filth who should never have been elevated to higher office. They had brought this disaster down on the world.

They had lied, killed, cheated, manipulated and callously passed laws that destroyed lives and families, they had in their arrogance wasted Good men and women in uniform for momentary political gain and proclaimed it the duty of the military and thought handing out purple hearts and silver stars posthumously made up for wasting Gallant lives. Well no more They had brought the wrath of the almighty down on the world and now He Nathaniel Bedford was where he should have always been.

“Sir, we cant stay here for very long” Captain Ethan Wiley said from the doorway.

“Nonsense, close the gates then make sure the doors are closed, we can use the tunnels to get about this part of the city.” Bedford replied. “its time the White house was occupied again.”

“Yes sir” Wiley replied not very happy but orders were orders.

“I also want you to get a team out, Kronnen is supposed to have scouts out in this area and I would l like to know where they are.” Wiley nodded and left the room leaving Bedford alone to enjoy the office he had claimed for himself.

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

Julie sat in the back of a truck that was serving as an RV, sewing up tears in a shirt with deft sure fingers. Thankful she had learned the skill from her mother, there had been few moments of bonding with either parent, but sewing still brought back a one of the rare memories she cared about.

The other men and women who shared the personnel carrier with her were off doing what ever chores they normally did leaving her to do seamstress work. They didn’t much like her and the feeling was mutual.

She looked up as the door opened and felt her stomach do a quick nervous flip flop as she saw Ed, and Reese enter the Carrier. Oh why couldn’t it have just been Ed I could have killed him then gotten the hell out maybe leaving a bomb or two as a parting gift.

“Are you Julie” Reese asked, lantern light gleaming off his clean shaven head. She had to admit that body wise he was hot, she would even grudgingly admit that Ed was as well. both men were powerfully built, even under bulky winter coats you could tell they were pure muscle.

“Yes” she replied with out stopping her work. If she just stopped it might appear that she was nervous and she wasn’t going to give them anything that might be helpful if she could help it.

“We are trying to figure out who might have set the explosives that destroyed vehicles and killed our men back on Mt. Weather and wanted to ask you a few questions about what you remember” Reese said. Ed remained quiet, but his eyes never left her.

It was the look Cops were good at, that icy I’m superior and going to catch you look, daring you to lie so they could pounce, sadly for cops they were no better at catching good lairs then the average person, she thought. That look told her a few things, one no matter what Reese had just said, they were after more, they had suspicions or they wouldn’t have come to her. two, they had linked her to something but couldn’t quite prove it. Mikhail might have been right, Killing Max had been a mistake,

What I find hard to believe is they are still tying themselves down with the whole due process must have evidence thing. If it had been her, she would have just hauled the person out and killed them. But she wasn’t going to complain that they were giving her a warning.

“I was asleep, I woke up as the explosions were going off, I rushed outside like every one else and started putting down the dead, and helping haul the wounded to the Medical RV.” She said. “I think I remember seeing Lee come back to the camp but I’m not sure if its just not something that some one told me or if I actually saw him .” she shrugged “it was kind of hectic at the time.”

“That’s all you remember” Reese asked probing.

“That’s all I remember at the moment, I really didn’t get too involved in the hunt for the bomber. Once we knew we weren’t under mass attack, we had to deal with the dead before they could rise.” She replied. “that’s what I did, and helped with the wounded.”

“I have just a few other questions” Reese said.

“Sure anything I can do to help” Julie replied, wondering if they were going to bring up the rumors she had started or Max’s ‘accident’ which had been particularly satisfying.

“Is there any one you might have seen ….”

She listened to each carefully worded question, seeing them for exactly what they were. She feigned confusion, irritation at not being able to remember and expressed her regret at not being able to answer the questions. She knew neither man believed her, which was fine. they did how ever suspect she was working with some one else and that was the whole point to this little charade. Which meant her days here were numbered. Tonight might be the last chance she got to kill Ed and do some real damage to this convoy.

But she could not ask Mikhail for his help, she believed his threat and the moment he found out they were snooping around asking questions about who she knew he would be ready to kill her. Just as she planned on killing him if given the chance. At least he had been a very good lover, she would always have those memories.

They thanked her for her time and left, leaving her to finish her sewing and her planning.

“She did it” Ed said when they were far enough away.

“Cant prove it” Reese pointed out.

“No, but this isn’t the old days either” Ed said angrily, he hated the thought she might get away with all she had done because they had no proof.

“Ed, you know Jared is determined not to come off as some piece of crap dictator, he even had you set up the rules and the guidelines for the police force that is going to be formed on Sullivan. We cant just drag her out and shoot her.”

“And what happens if we don’t catch her in the act, she never confesses or just simply disappears.” Ed asked.

“She will disappear and soon, she knows we suspect her so I’m thinking in the next couple of days she will try to kill some one else or get her accomplice to blow some shit up and then she is gone. She’s to arrogant to just slip away with out giving us the bird as she does so.” Reese replied.

“Then we need to get every one to keep on eye on her” Ed replied.

“We cant Ed. She is already going to suspect that every one is, and if she see’s any hint that shes right, she will be gone. And we cant do a thing to stop her from leaving if we cant prove she did any of this.” Reese replied. “and for damn sure we cant let Jared or Jill with in ten miles of this, or it might look like revenge for the rumors she spread.” Reese said stopping by a light pole that jutted up into the sky from a clunky cement base. “we either do this the right way or we don’t. and the right way is catching her, or finding proof. Just believing she did it is not enough.”

Ed nodded in agreement, but Julie getting away with murder didn’t sit well with him either.

“I’m going back in,” Reese said.

“I think Ill stay out here for a little while, I need to think” Ed replied.

“Don’t do something stupid Ed” Reese said watching Ed closely.

“Don’t worry about it, I wont.” Ed replied. Reese nodded once then headed to the storage room where the main camp was still set up.

Ed stood there looking up at the gray sky as the mist swirled around him. there was something about her, something that reminded him of Jasper. God I’m so sick of this, Of jasper, of the bowler hat, of the memories and the nightmares it brings.

“I want her gone and it dead” He said aloud.

“I think I can help you with that” A gentle voice said from behind him.

Ed turned to see the Priest and one of his dogs standing there, the priest wore a grim look his hand rested on the pommel of the sword he wore at his waist. “ How?” Ed asked.

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

February 18th, 0900 hrs

it was quiet, Eric thought as he slid out from behind a dumpster parallel to a building to run to his next bit of cover. Reaching the wrecked car wedged up against a building wall, he quickly scanned to area for any undead that might be on the ground then certain he was alone he sent a two click signal for Parks to move up.

In a way, dealing with the undead was no different in an urban environment than regular combat. With a few adjustments to procedure it movement could be effected with out to much problem, assuming the streets were not full of the undead at least.

They had taken the SUV as far as they dared then dumped it and ran as undead had begun to stumble from buildings and side streets. Barely escaping with their lives they had continued on Mission.

It had always puzzled them why streets were so empty some times, even accounting for the roving bands of undead, there were times the streets were just to empty. As if the city really were devoid of the undead.

They hadn’t seen more then ten zombies in the last three miles, but a couple of blocks over he knew there were a huge numbers of the things around Union station,

Now they were heading south, past Judiciary Square, and the national Law enforcement memorial. Where several armored cars and police units sat abandoned. Eric and his men searched the vehicles for anything of value but found nothing, the vehicles had been stripped clean long ago.

Seeing a few undead had noticed them and were stumbling towards the team, they moved quickly and quietly away from the area, leaving the undead to stumble around confused trying to locate the living who had escaped them.

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

It had been daylight for almost an hour when Alyssa walked up on to the roof where Jared and two of his men were practicing hand to hand, and weapons combat.

She stood quietly listening as he helped the cute dark haired one with the leg brace learn to work around his bad leg.

“I’m telling you that hurts” Ronny muttered.

“oh stop whining, you ran for miles through the woods on a mountainside in deep snow with a fifty pound pack, then fought off undead you can take this.” Jared said.

“that was different, I was busy trying not to crap my pants” Ronny replied. “I didn’t have time to notice how bad my leg hurt.”

“do it again” Jared said stepping back and snapping his clenched hand down. A black metal rod telescoped out.

She watched them spar for a few minute impressed at the skill. Thought it became apparent that Jared more extensively trained than his friend. The fact that Jared was holding back also seemed to really annoy Ronny. Who cussed him every couple of seconds for not being aggressive enough.

Before the dead she had never really been around men like this. The men she had been around had been nerds, Metrosexuals and other new age men who were for the most part good guys, but had no clue how to do much of anything outside of games and their jobs. Of course she and they hadn’t realize that at the time, it had taken watching the world die around you and finding out watching movies and playing games really didn’t prepare you for violence and gore or really teach you how to fight and survive. She missed the safety of the old world, but in this new one she felt alive for the first time.

Jared blocked another thrust from Ronny and stepped back “keep practicing that move” he said as he turned to face Alyssa. “Something I can help you with” he asked, totally at ease like he wasn’t camped with a group of strangers who could be dangerous. That kind of confidence was a turn on to her.

“I thought you might want to discuss what the city is like or where your people could move to for safety.” Alyssa replied, trying not to look at his bare torso that looked like it had been carved from stone.

“I take it you don’t want my people to come here” he asked with out any trace of emotion.

“I don’t mind, and Brody doesn’t either, but some of the others are scared your people will take over, take our food and supplies.” Alyssa explained,

“Don’t blame them” Jared said “we wouldn’t but you don’t know that and have no reason to trust I’m telling you the truth. So lets get down to brass tacks where would be the best place for my people to go.”

“I don’t honestly know, I mean there are several buildings that I know are empty, we cleared them, but calling them safe I wouldn’t” she said shaking her head. “and I cant help but think your meant to be here.” she added giving Jared a look of appeal.

“do you have any one that’s sick here, or needs medical help?” Jared asked suddenly.

Alyssa nodded, “a few yes.” She said, as Jared pulled on his shirt then his coat.

“how about you show me around the place, Ill leave my rifle with my friends. Because if I can convince your people to like me, you get access to our Medics and medical supplies.” Jared said. “Ronny, Ori watch my HK. Alyssa is going to show me around the place.”

Alyssa pursed her lips for second then nodded. “if you will follow me then” She said, half liking his take charge attitude. She wondered if he was that way with women too.

The place was huge, Jared thought an hour later. As they entered the room Alyssa’s group were using as a dining hall. people stared at him as he followed Alyssa over to a steam table that some one had rigged to work with propane and propane burners.

“we use it off and on as something other than a table” She said as she grabbed a bowl and ladled hot soup from a pot into her bowl.

“You have a lot more food than I would have thought” Jared observed as he followed her to a table, he pointedly pulled out a chair so she could sit before he sat across from her with a bowl of his own.

“Aren’t you going to eat” she asked

“Already ate, we have about five days worth of food in our packs.” Jared said knowing that those sitting nearby could hear. Silently thanking her for setting him up for that comment to make a point. “enough to last us till we get back to the convoy.”

“You said you have doctors in your group” Alyssa asked between bites.

“One officially, he is back at the farm. We have a former nurse who he has been training, she is back on Sullivan island with the rest of our people” Jared said, hiding a smile. Alyssa knew exactly what he had intended to do with is little walk through, smart girl he thought. “we have a paramedic with the group we left at the bunker, and two medics with the convoy here in the city. One of them is Special forces medic who is also trained in dentistry, as well as being trained as a trauma doc even worked in ER’s when not deployed to keep his skills sharp.”

“Bunker?” Alyssa asked curiously

“We came across a list of COG bunkers last year, Continuity of Government, each of them filled with supplies, food, Medicine, Building materials, fuel, weapons, equipment. All if it was placed there in order to help rebuild after a major disaster or Nuclear war.

The one Cache was attached to the Green Briar bunker, so we left some of the survivors we ran across and some of our men including Justin a paramedic there since it has power, running water, heat and a small hospital facility” Jared said, ignoring the whispers and murmured conversations sweeping the room behind him. “I think all told we have something like 1400 survivors now scattered across the farm, The island and now the Bunker.”

Alyssa looked dazed for a second. “that island is the one I saw in my dreams?”

Jared nodded, “yes, its cleared of undead. we have limited power to some buildings have set up a phone system using an old switch board and old hand crank phones we found in a museum and other places.”

Jared turned his head suddenly and looked at a table of men and women. “where they just speaking Klingon” he asked almost laughing.

“um.. yes” she said.

“That is to funny” Jared replied with real humor, not the mocking sarcastic humor that had once been so prevalent with people when faced with the peculiar nature of Nerd culture.

“Actually not a bad thing to speak when talking on a radio if you don’t want others to understand what your saying.

To be honest I’m impressed with what your folks have managed to do, here, bicycle chargers to keep lights and radios running, solar panels, and other gizmos and gadgets you folks have done good” Jared said sincerely.

“Not all Nerds lived in their parents basements with no jobs, I would bet very few actually did. The people here were Engineers, IT and computer types, scientists, some were lawyers, most were professionals of one type or another.” Alyssa said proudly.

“Well no need for lawyers any more and hopefully it will be a few hundred years before we have need of them again’ Jared replied knowing he was probably wrong. He didn’t look up as he heard some one walk up and stop beside him.

“Excuse me” A woman said, she was in her early twenties and very pregnant. “you said you have doctors” she was a pretty woman, with ash blond hair and a turned up nose, with that glow that only pregnant women had.

“Yes” Jared said not smiling, hook, set and bait.

“Do you think, that is I.. I mean” She fell silent not sure how to continue.

“You want our doctor to do a check up on you” Jared asked as she nodded. “Ill have to talk with Alyssa and Brody about that, but you have to understand any traveling back and forth between your place and ours will just lure the undead to both places so it might not happen.”

The woman looked upset but she manage to give Jared a trembling smile and walked back to the table and sat with her friends.

“you are a clever man” Alyssa whispered.

“No not really just ask my wife” Jared said with a grin.

“Where are you from? And how did you end up here” Alyssa asked. Suddenly. “my dreams only told me a little.”

“Well I am from a town near Nashville, how I ended up here is one long story.” Jared said. “but the story starts in a Gym back in June of 2010.” Jared said settling in for the long story.

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

1130hrs roof of the National Museum of Natural history.

Eric Stone rolled over the edge and onto the roof of the main building on the edge of the east wing in a second he was up in a crouch his weapon ready eyes sweeping the area.

To his left a structure rose up another story over the east wing, its windows overlooking the roof, to his right the roof rose up in a truncated one story pyramid. Other than skylights, pipes, vents, condenser units, and other semi arcane items the roof of the east wing was empty of life and the undead.

Looming over the entire building was the large Brown dome that rose up from a black pitched roof of the Rotunda that was the south entrance.

As his team joined him on the roof, he sent the new team members to look into the windows of the structure, while he led the old timers around the room sweeping it for threats and peering into skylights and the windows below the dome to see how many undead might be inside.

Lew peered into a one of the east wing windows and saw what looked like some kind of lab, not the mad scientist kind of lab which was disappointing. “they don’t open” Melody said.

“Oh they can open, but you cant close them once they are open” Lew said as he turned to look across the main buildings roof and didn’t see the SF men. Not surprising with all the things cluttering the roof.

“I hate it when Eric gives us make work” he said.

“Till we get better and can slot in with the rest of the team, we will keep getting this kind of shit. Jared was the same way, till we got up to speed” Chad said joining Lew and Melody. “I didn’t see any undead in any of the offices I looked in.”

“Neither did we” Lew said, DC was a hell of lot more nerve wracking than Nashville had been. But with over five million people who had lived here, that made for far more undead than Nashville.

“Here they come” Melody said, as Eric and the rest of the team reappeared.

“Every thing looks clear inside” Lew reported.

“Well that’s a nice change from what we saw” Bailey said. “there’s even an entire undead class of eight year olds gnawing on a stuffed wooly mammoth. Down there”

“God your twisted if you think that’s funny” Melody snapped.

“Cool it” Eric said. “Boom Boom, you and Chad get one of those windows open, quietly, once inside seal the door to the hallway, we will use which ever room you pick as a camp.”

“The Hallways is clear, I could see it through one of the windows” Chad said.

“Doesn’t matter, we aren’t going to be going any deeper into this building than one room. There are way to many undead inside to take on with hand weapons and gunfire will just draw down more undead and alert any one nearby to our presence.” Eric said.

“Parks get the com gear set up and see if you cant raise Jared and the convoy, tell them we are in a good position and see what if anything Jared wants to do or is he just winging this.”

“Do you think he is winging it” melody asked.

“yeah, oh he has a plan but its not concrete, he likes to call it fluid planning. But its still winging it. Besides, there’s a chance that Kronnen might even be stupid enough to just go around us.”

Seeing the puzzled look on her face Eric shrugged “if he does we can come up behind him and kick him in the ass repeatedly. You never leave an enemy at your back.” Eric said.

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

“…. So we ended up here a couple of days ago, and the rest you pretty much know.” Jared said to the crowd that had gathered as he spoke.

“you really have that many people” a thin dark haired man wearing a Red Starfleet uniform shirt asked.

“Depends on how you count them, the Farm and Cherokee aren’t really part of the Safe zone, They are allies, and have around three hundred or so people maybe more, Lloyd had mentioned more survivors had drifted in over the last year, especially during the spring and summer. The River rats, are their own group but allied with us I think there are close to a hundred of them, I know for sure they have fifty people, I’ve met that many. The Yorktown has a couple of hundred.

So if you count our allies, there are two thousand people in or associated with Sullivan, give or take of course.” Jared said deliberately keeping the numbers low. They were probably closer to three thousand when it was all said and done.

“your telling us you’ve traveled around what three, four states or more since all this happened.” A woman asked, she had thick Black framed glasses, her brown eyes were set in a round face with thin lips. “what about the dead, I mean they have be everywhere”

“Yes they are and no they aren’t” Jared said shaking his head. “we don’t understand it our selves, some places are damn near empty, actually a few were empty, completely empty, others seemed empty for a little while then suddenly the dead come pouring out of no where. Its like here, we saw a horde the first hour, after that we didn’t see a lot till we got near Union station and then later the ones we ran into that you rescued us from. Its like that out there. and then some places there are so many on the roads heading into a town or city, you cant even enter the area. Kind of like whats outside DC right now, every road and area into the city we checked out was wall to wall undead.”

“How many women.. .”

“Do you have toilet paper?”

The questions came hard and fast and Jared answered every one of them truthfully with out asking any of his own. It went on for two hours Before Alyssa rose and chased every one away. “ Enough people, the man has answered enough, besides he and his friends need to get back on the roar here shortly if they are going to make it back to their people before sun down..”

She led him out of the dining room and back to the office where his friends waited, “Thanks for showing me around” Jared said as he entered the office.

“It was my pleasure, I hope your little plan works out” She said.

“It might or might not, but I think its time we headed back to our bikes and got out of here.” Jared said as he strapped on his combat vest and weapons then picked up his pack.

led by Alyssa they made their way back to the delivery area, “I hope we meet again” Alyssa said as Jared and his men began strapping saddles bags and gear to their bikes.

“oh we will sooner or later” Jared said as he strapped the last of the gear to his bike then dug a radio out of his pack and passed it to her. “if any of your people can figure out how to boost the signal you can contact us on the channel its already set on.” Jared said

she nodded and clipped the radio to her belt. “we will, we are supposed to help you” she said.

“maybe Alyssa you already have, you did save our butts. Besides what we are going to be doing here shortly is going to be dangerous, its not something you folks need to be mixed up in. Storm trooper armor wont stop bullets or bombs. Thanks for the help” Jared said signaling the man beside the door to open it open.

Alyssa stood quietly watching as Jared and his friends checked to make sure the way was clear then walked their bikes out side heading towards the street. she had to talk to Brody then see if Rory could make this radio work.

“So we have been thrown out of another place” Ronny said quietly

“After all these years I would think your used to it by now” Jared replied.

“Wasn’t he tossed out of a whore house in Germany” Ori asked,

“As a matter of fact yes, the only person I have ever known to be tossed out of one, and that’s including Pappy. “ Jared said in almost a whisper. Ronny shot him the bird .

Darius shook his head, partly wishing he had friends this tight. he suddenly pointed to the five zombies that had just come around the corner up ahead.

Got it, Ori signed one handed then leaned his bike against a light pole. With practiced ease he strung his bow, notched drew and released. The first arrow hissed down the street striking a teen aged zombie in the forehead.

‘you really need to learn how to shoot a bow like that, ronny signed to Jared as Ori quickly put down the rest of the undead. .

Bite me, Jared signed back.

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

1325hrs

Music blared as four rows of men fifty wide, six deep advanced in lock step down the street, carrying riot shields and hand weapons. On each flank a squad of men covered door ways, putting down any undead that stepped out of doorways and from between buildings.

The pumper trucks advanced the water cannons spraying over the heads of the shield wall, bowling the zombies off their feet making it easier to put them down, but it also complicated matters as well.

No matter how well coordinated they were, the men were growing exhausted, while the undead just kept coming. Every once in a while a man would over extend his arm or stumble and the undead would pull him down, while his partners would step up and fill in the gap.

Kronnen stood atop his RV as it crept forward, watching the fight through binoculars not happy with what was happening. To many men were going down, the new tactics were great, but not enough. Not against this many undead.

‘send the vehicles up to push the undead back and pick up the men, we aren’t not going to be able to make into DC this way” he ordered angrily. he had lost ten so far, he could lose them all if they kept advancing and that would not help him destroy stone or go after the Trinity. He would lose some being picked up, but that was better than losing them all.

There had to be another way. “I want Grant to take the Chopper up, I want him to fly along the river and see if he can spot a clear bridge, ferry boats, something anything that can get our people and vehicles across, tell him to start along the Navy yards and then fly south following the river.’ Kronnen ordered over the radio.

“Sir the behemoth could get through.” Toffler said .

“ Yes but the rest of our vehicles cant, they would just get swamped by the dead and stuck in place by sheer body weight.” Kronnen said and it was true, a thousand or so undead wouldn’t do much to stop his armored vehicles, but there were five times that number that he could see. Stone might be trapped in DC, but Kronnen’s men were kept from entering.

As soon as his men were picked up, they would head south again to put distance between the growing numbers of undead and his unit. There was that Army base they had passed on the way here the area had been almost empty when they had passed through and it was far enough back it was probably still empty. There should be fuel on base, hopefully enough to replace what they were going to burn. They could regroup and make more plans once they were there.

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

it was a clear day, with only a few ragged clouds marring the blue sky. The weak late winter sunlight shown down on the dead city, giving it touch of life. a light wind stirred the trees and overgrown parks. Whistling up the steps of the Lincoln memorial and stirring up the trash yesteryears leaves sending them swirling around the legs of the former president. His legacy as dead as the country he had fought to save.

Eric lay on the roof peering through his scope watching the over grown mall. For being a dead city it was a pretty busy place, he thought watching two men look through a Styker that sat parallel across Jefferson drive in front of the Air&Space Museum. Six other men guarded them taking down the zombies that wondered up using silenced weapons.

He had to smile, he almost missed the people that used to think they were experts and would proudly announce that silencers and suppressors didn’t make a weapon quiet. They would have been right back in the 80’s even the early 90s, but since then the technology had come a long way.

MP5SD5’s with their built in suppressors were damn near silent, the moving parts and the brass hitting the floor were louder than the gunfire. add on suppressors to weapons like the M4 or HKs made it damn to hear the weapons. He did miss civilians, even if they rarely knew a damn thing they thought they did.

Along the mall were various military and police vehicles, the largest number were clustered up at the capital building where they had tried to block the massive stairs and entrances.

A steady thumping drew his attention to the skies, he looked up to see a Large soviet helicopter, an MI 17 he thought moving along the river as if searching for something.
It moved slowly disappearing into the distance, till even the sound of its blades was lost.

He made a note in the small note book he carried, then returned to watching the mall, where the small group had finished removing what gear was left in the Stryker and loading into the Prius parked nearby.

The men who had looted the Stryker spotting several undead entering the mall, quickly boarded the two Prius’s that had brought them here and left the area silently heading south.

Eric checked the time then slid backwards. “Castor your up, do your mama proud”

“I got you mama” Castor replied as he slid up beside Eric.

“When it gets around sunset use the thermal scope on the package system, lets see if there is any one hiding nearby, we cant see with plain old Mark one eyeballs.’ Eric said as he slipped back and sat against a condenser unit. He could have gone around the dome.

He gazed up at the dome that dominated the center of the Neo classical building, remembering the last time he had been in DC, to attend an awards ceremony that had never happened for an event that was on no record. He, Martinez and Blaine had visited here, along with the Air & Space museum across the mall.

Most people assumed that the Smithsonian was one building, in fact it was a complex of 19 museums, eleven of which were here flanking the national mall, nine research centers, a Zoo and god knew how many affiliate museums scattered around the world.

He had loved this place when there had been people, with the undead around he wasn’t eager to go explore the exhibits. Being killed trying to look at dinosaur bones, or mineral collections was not the way he wanted to go.
Which of course made him think of Jared’s idea about setting up a college and university on Sullivan by stripping, museums and libraries and bringing the everything not nailed down back to Sullivan. It was a great idea but not all that realistic, this one building alone covered an area of something like 1,320,000 square feet and if he remembered correctly something like 140 million specimens. It was on the face of it an impossible task, but knowing Jared, he had a plan ready to go. Besides who was likely to loot a museum during the apocalypse? Other than his older brother.

If it were me, I would set up a colony here, to strip the city, and maintain the mall, the museums, the monuments and the capital building for future generations, so something would remain to remind people what they had once been and hopefully would be again with out all the BS that had come before. Now your sounding like Jared, Eric told himself with a grin.

Hidden in the shadow of the dome, he reached into his pack and pulled out the book he had found in the bedroom of a boy that had been a lot like he had been at that age.

Another Relic of Better times. “The Hobbit” the raised letters on the cover read. He ran a finger of the letters for a moment then opened the book and pulled out the pictures he had slipped inside its pages.

He gazed at a picture of his team, smiling as he saw Martinez’s face again. he missed the man, who had been like a brother to him. he sorted through pictures, stopping at the one of his parents taking just after Jared had graduated Basic, his dad beaming proudly as he stood in front of the parade ground. his mom was smiling but had that pinched look at the corners of her mouth that she got when she was worried.

He gazed at the picture for a long moment, thankful neither of them had lived to see the dead rise. His mother, a strong woman, would have had a hard time dealing with this life. he missed them, had missed them through all the long years since they had died in the crash.

He sorted through the pictures again till he found picture of he and Jared, the day after Eric had graduated from high school. Jared was beaming as happily as any parent with his arm around Erics shoulder. Eric had been smiling into the camera, eager to get on with his last summer as a kid before heading off to college and the military.

“You were a handsome kid” Melody said sliding in to sit beside him.

“Thanks, as a kid I was always jealous of Jared.” Eric said softly, then grinned. “I kept trying to steal his girlfriends.”

“Did you ever succeed” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I plead the fifth.” Eric said with a grin.

“You were a dog weren’t you”

“What’s with the past tense” Bailey asked as he hunkered down to eat an MRE. “ I can tell you some stories”

“Lies all lies” Eric replied.

“Contact’ Castor said with out using the radio. “I don’t think they are Kronnen’s men either”

Eric returned the pictures to his book then belly crawled over to lay beside Castor. ‘down by the botanical gardens.” Castor said.

Eric using his binoculars patiently studied the area around the botanical gardens with out seeing anything at first, then finally saw a man in camouflage move slowly from one point to another.

“I have another one, in the stand of trees by the capitol reflecting pool.” Castor said. ‘center tree, two feet to the left in the deep shadows, by the wrecked Ford fiesta.”

Eric found that one with out much of a problem, he was moving slowly, though to be honest snails moved a little faster. “Ballsy guy with the undead around.” Castor had spotted him moving for cover otherwise he might have remained unseen.

“look at his weapon” Castor said.

“L85, British, bull pup configured, standard British issue, 5.56, 400mm effective range” Eric stated. “Probably an L85A2 since the guy is using a EMAG.” He thought that over for a little bit. That was not a common weapon for civilians and especially not for US military. The fact the man was wearing military cami’s didn’t mean a thing; he could have gotten them from anywhere.

Eric studied the man, whose concealment was actually pretty damn good, better than average in fact. The man, still on his belly moved to his left towards the wrecked car and seemed to vanish into the dead weeds and trash. The entire encounter had lasted thirty seconds.

“I think your right, those two are not part of Kronnen’s team, or if they are, we are going to be in serious trouble.” Eric said, troubled by what he had seen. .

“I think we are in trouble regardless of who they are with. From the looks of the comm. gear I saw on the guy over by the gardens, I think at least one if not both of those men are tier one types.”

“That’s called jumping to conclusions,” Eric pointed out. “we will have plenty of time to keep on eye on both of them and any buddies they may have. Unless of course they spot us and start shooting.”

“Always the optimist’ Castor muttered then both men fell silent watching the ground below.

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

“so this is another fine mess, you’ve gotten us into” Ronny said as he lay on top of the train car looking at the undead clustered around the construction sight. “Any ideas on how to get inside”

“I was thinking we could build a ramp and jump the dirt bikes inside” Jared said.

“Tell me he is kidding” Darius said.

“of course he is kidding we don’t have the plywood to build a big ramp, but we could use that car hauler trailer we saw.” Ronny said quietly.

“keep it down, we have company” Ori whispered, seeing four zombies stagger into the aisle between the two trains parked on this side of the yard.

All four men fell silent; any sound could draw hundreds of undead trapping them up here.

Jared slowly rolled over onto his back looking up, overhead thick power lines crossed the area, several crossed over the construction area. He was pretty sure that those lines could hold their weight one at a time, but it wasn’t ideal.

The best bet would be to move along the top of the train, till they were close to the corner of the construction site, then use the grapple guns to hook to the crane or the unfinished train house, then trolley across into the construction site.

He inched over beside Ori and lay there watching till the undead staggered out of sight. “Ronny, Darius cover us while we get the rest of the gear off the bikes” Jared said.

As soon as both men were in place, Jared and Ori quickly climbed down and began removing saddle bags, and weapons, passing them up to Ronny. “company” Darius hissed spotting five zombies.

“Got this, Ori finish getting the gear up top’ Jared said quietly as he drew his hand weapons.

The zombies were not grouped together which made this even easier, Jared thought as he strode forward, watching as the pregnant zombie stumbled towards him, he forced himself not to think about the baby she had been carrying in life.

She broke into an unsteady slow jog as she drew close, her lipless teeth snapping together in anticipation, as she reached blood stained hands out ready to rip and tear.

Jared flowed into the attack, breaking her knee cap with a side kick, as she tumbled and went down, he twisted and brought the Khurkri down on the back of her neck, the heavy blade, designed for just such bloody work cleaved through flesh and shattered bone, severing her head from her shoulders.

Sickened he turned and took two running steps forward, and brought the Tomahawk whistling around to smash into the side of a teenager’s head pulping it. He ducked backwards out of reach then lunged forward, head tucked leading with his shoulder and slammed into the chest of a silver haired man, dressed in a suit with so much force that ribs snapped and the zombie was hurled back.

He spun under out stretched arms, slamming the tomahawk into the belly of the next zombie, the blow wouldn’t hurt or kill the thing, but body mechanics still worked, the force of the blow made the zombies upper body bend over the haft of the tomahawk, and the Khurkri slammed down on the back of its head shattering bone . A hand grasped on the back of the neck. Jared used a back kick knocking the thing away, then turned seeing the suited zombie lurching towards him from the off side, the zombie he had kicked hadn’t fallen and was staggering towards him. Jared didn’t hesitate he hurled the tomahawk at the suit, then torqued into a roundhouse kick that shattered the jaw and snapped the neck of the zombie he faced.

Suit zombie was rocked back on his heels but not down for the count, the tomahawk was stuck in its throat. Jared reached out grabbing the handle of the tomahawk and pulled the zombie off balance. As it fell to it knees, the Khurkri ended its second life in a spray of bone and gore.

He wrenched the tomahawk free and found himself facing ten more zombies maybe ten feet away, for maybe a second the dead stared at him with cloudy dead eyes. Then mouths yawned open, revealing broken and blood stained teeth, and the came for him. behind the ten new zombies more undead appeared and started towards the living. .

Shit! Jared thought as he sheathed his weapons and ran for the ladder on the side of the rail car..

Ori having finished had climbed up on to the rail car as he saw Jared running towards him, undead close behind. Ori dropped flat half hanging off the Car reaching down. “ Ronny, Darius hold me” he yelled. Hands grasped his legs and belt.

Jared leaped grabbing at Ori’s hands, Ori twisted grunting with exertion and some pain as he swung Jared who twisted and threw his own weight into Ori’s swing, till he slammed half on and half off the top of the rail car. Darius grabbed Jared’s belt one handed and pulled till Jared was safely on the rail car.

“I really hope you have a good plan.” Darius said while Ronny pulled Ori back up. He looked down at the rapidly growing crowd of undead that strained to reach them.

“Well it is better than being eaten” Jared said, “first we need to get all this gear stowed in or strapped to our packs.”

“then?” Darius asked.

“Then we are going to be getting off this train.’ Jared said.

“I hate it when he gives no details” Ronny commented as he began to strap his saddle bags to his pack.

“Means he is winging it” Ori said with a nod of agreement. “you know how he is”

“I am standing right here.” Jared said.

“Stop standing and get to work” Ori said with a anxious smile.

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

“This is Alpha one Six Actual, we are at the back door, and might need a little assistance in a few minutes, stand by” Reese said then turned to Jansen who stood in the doorway. “go get your squad, sergeant and let Jill know her husband is outside looking for a way in. as Jansen left the room, Reese donned the headset “Alpha one six actually his is Bravo one Actual, we can send a vehicle to pick you up”

“that’s Negative, Bravo one actual, there are a lot of pus bags out here, if you open the gate, a lot of them will get inside.” Jared replied. “I have a plan, its not a great one but it’s a plan, stand by!”

“Command… I mean Bravo one… I have them north west of our location, they are out of danger at the moment.” Steger announced from his sniper nest on the cranes boom.

The minutes ticked by, Jill entered the security room pulling her hair into a pony tail, she looked worried, he knew why, the worst usually happened on the home stretch.

“Okay here is the plan Baker one,’ Jared said suddenly. “we are going to be hooking on to the frame of the unfinished building,’ Jared said referring to the train house, he was probably being vague in case someone was listening.

“Then we will come across, pulling our gear on a hand trolley”

“Why did I marry a man who can not do anything easy?” Jill asked trying to joke to keep from worrying as Reese turned away from the Radio.

“I could answer that, But I don’t feel like getting my butt kicked” Reese told her then held up a finger to silence her as he transmitted. ‘roger that Alpha one six actual, I will have men waiting to assist if needed.”

He turned to Jill, “all I can tell you Jill is after what I saw him do when we first met on Mt. weather, he can get out of most situations at least as long as there are no clowns to distract him.”

“That’s more like waving a red flag in the face of a bull” Jill pointed out. “I’m going to go out there in case they need help.” She added.

“Be careful Jill, the walls around the construction site are not as solid as I could wish for.”

“I will thanks” She said stepping out of the room.

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

Julie was finally ready, she had snuck out all the food and equipment she could and had hidden it along with Max’s pack that no one would miss. She had abandoned her plan to finish off Chris, she would not risk being caught killing some one who was worthless in the scheme of things. No today Ed would die she thought as she worked her way across the yard, using the construction equipment and Trian parts to conceal her movement till she was safely inside the half constructed Train shack. She had no idea why so many people were clustered over on the northwest side of the Yard and didn’t care. It kept their attention away from her, and Ed and Jill were there as well.

Once inside she waited a few minutes to make sure no one had followed her, when no one entered the building after her, or shouted an alarm. She retrieved the rifle she had hidden.

She had no idea what kind of rifle it was, she had taken after hearing some one say how good a rifle it was for sniping and that was exactly what she intended to use it for.

She found a gap in the wall and lifted the rifle to her shoulder, unlike in the movies she didn’t stick the rifle barrel through the hole. that would just make it easier to figure out where the shot had come from. All she needed was a couple of minutes of confusion, and she could slip away into the storm drain using a hole in the floor here in the building and then she was home free to continue with Jaspers work.

She settled her sights on the Tall muscle bound former cop, her finger tightened on the trigger.

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

Mikhail worked his way across the yard following Julie. In the long pauses behind cover, he saw something fly over the fence dragging line behind it to land on the frame work of the Train house, then another one, finally four lines were hooked to the building and Julie apparently didn’t notice since she was moving again, faster now that the building blocked her from the sight of the people that had gathered .

He started to move again then stopped as he saw a man step out from behind a train car not twenty feet from the Gap in the building wall that Julie had just vanished into.

A black leather coat, almost a duster swirled around the mans legs in the wind. Sunlight glittered off the blade he carried in his hands. The Priest, Mikhail thought recognizing the man.

He watched as the Priest strode towards the building, with the large black and tan colored dog trotting at his side. I may not have to kill the Sooka after all, Mikhail thought with a grim smile. But if she manages to kill the priest, then I can step in and kill her and claim I showed up to help the Priest as she killed him. with that decision made he started after Julie again.

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

Ed watched as Ori made it across the fence pulling his pack that was attached to a hand trolley. It only took him a second to free his pack and lower it waiting hands then unhooked himself and dropped down onto a Truck that had been pulled up for that purpose.

Ed stepped forward to help as Ronny and Darius cleared the fence, and then all hell broke loose as a gunshot rolled over the area and something warm and wet splattered his left side as Jill shouted in pain.

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

I fucking missed, Julie snarled angrily, Why did that ass hole have to step forward just as I pulled the trigger.

She started to chamber another round, only to stop as she heard the deep rumbling growl of a dog behind her, she whirled around, working the bolt of the rifle and saw the man people had started calling the priest advancing on her with a sword.

The bolt slid back, brass glittered as it spun up and out of the breach, she slammed the bolt forward chambering a round and lifted the rifle.

She fired as the large dog slammed into her, teeth snapping closed on her arm, flesh ripped and tore, teeth grated on Bone. She screamed in agony dropping the rifle and fell on her butt. Blood flowing from her mangled arm.

The grim faced Priest advanced on her his cold eyes darting to the dog that lay whimpering beside her. behind him she saw Mikhail peering through the gap in the wall, the mocking smile on his face told her he wasn’t about to save her.

She managed to get to her feet, as the Priest stepped around a stack of Metal Train wheels. With her right arm torn up she couldn’t draw the pistol she carried on her right hip.

She stumbled backwards, “you cant just kill me” she said defiantly. “didn’t you take vows against Murdering people.”

“bonus nocet quisqus malis perpercit” he said as he came on. “I am not a priest any longer.” He added and it was true, he didn’t know what he was, but all his doubts all his confusion about life and his beliefs were gone, there was doing right and Justice it was all he had left in the hell that the world had become and it was enough for now.

She slammed against the wall, almost tripping over a coil of steel cable, how could this be happening, Jasper was on her side, Jasper would protect her. she could see him there in the shadows, watching, he would stop this Priest. He had to.

“your nothing but a child molesting freak” she snarled as she tried to slide along the wall towards the hole in the floor only to come up against a stack of train parts that blocked her way.

Brian said nothing to that he didn’t need to he only lifted the sword he carried “Fiat Justitia” he said as he brought the sword slashing down. She screamed Jaspers name, and then nothing.

Brian stood over the corpse looking down at the young womens body, then turned to face the area she had been staring at when he killed her. there in the shadows, peering out from behind a stack of supplies, he could see the head and shoulders of a man wearing a bowler hat. Dead eyes, set in an oddly shaped head, glared at him from under the brim of the old fashioned hat. It was indistinct, hazy more shadow than substance. “your time is almost over” Brian growled as the stench of rotting blood filled the air around him.

“My time is just beginning” a cold dead voice hissed from everywhere and no where. “destroy my tool, another rises. That is the nature of man, they crave evil and chaos and there are always more to replace those who die in my service.”

the shape flowed forward scuttling over equipment and supplies like a large insect vanishing behind a stack of Steel I Beams.

The smell slowly faded away and Brian heard the sound of boots pounding towards the building. He sheathed his sword and ran over to Eddie and scopped up the wounded and bleeding dog in his arms.

“I don’t know what to believe any more, But if your listening, who ever you are. Don’t let my dog die” Brian whispered as he headed for the gap in the wall. leaving Julies head to snap at the air in futility unable to follow the living flesh it could smell, with out its body.

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

Jared dropped off the line and rushed towards Jill, as Jansen and his squad rushed towards the train house.

Jill sat on the ground with Ed kneeling beside her his weapon ready her was face covered in blood but it couldn’t have been serious since Haslom was kneeling beside a body behind Jill, administrating a coup de grace before it could rise.

“you okay” he asked sliding to a stop beside her.

“just a graze” she said as blood oozed down her race.

“if she had been an inch taller she would be dead right now” Haslom said as he rose cleaning his knife blade

Jared gently examined her scalp finding a bloody furrow across the top of her head. “your going to have a nice part” he joked.

“kiss my ass” Jill muttered.

“Gladly, but later okay” he said then knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her holding her tightly for a moment then released her and rose to his feet. “What happened.” Jared asked.

“not really sure” Ed said, “I was going to help Ori, there was a gun shot and Dwayne went down and Jill was yelling.”

‘well at least we know its not Proctor and his people” Haslom pointed out as proctor and the last of his men climbed out of the back of the truck and stood there watching. “the shot came from the train house,”

“I will be right back” Jared said as he drew his pistol and started towards the train house. Leaving others to get his gear down from the trolley.

He was half way to the building when he saw Brian carrying his dog and walking towards the convoy, Jansen and his men following.

Reaching Brian’s side Jared saw the blood dripping from the dog, and saw the pain in Brian’s eyes. “What happened?” Jared asked gently as he fell in beside Brain.

“I killed the girl Julie after she fired on our men, she shot Eddie before I could stop her” Brian said.

Killing was something that had to bother the former priest Jared knew, but he had to wonder why Brian had been so close, no one in the group hung out around the unfinished building. “Blaine, got a patient for you, it’s the four legged kind, don’t argue just get out here and help” Jared transmitted.

By the time they reached the line of vehicles, Blaine was waiting with his med kit as Brain eased the dog into the backseat of the SUV he drove, the old beagle curled up on the seat beside the wounded eddie and gently licked its friend.

“Brian I know this is a bad time, but I need to know.. “

‘Jared, I think I can answer your questions” Ed said as he walked up with Jill. “Brian was keeping an eye on her because we had begun to suspect Julie of killing Max and his friends”

“Max is dead” Jared asked, he hadn’t liked Max but he hadn’t really disliked him either.

Jansen quickly explained what had happened as well as why it had been kept from Jared and Jill. Judging by the anger that flared in Jared’s eyes at the gossip Julie had spread told Thor it had been a wise move not to involve Jared.

Jill was equally angry and hurt, but she placed a hand on Jared’s arm keeping him calm. “they thought they were doing right by the group Jared, and they were probably right.” Jill said softly.

“so poisoned Chris and she tried to kill Jill, is that what you are saying.” Jared finally said, chilled at how close Jill had come to being killed.

“I think Julie was aiming for someone else, most likely Ed who is taller and had been standing between Jill and Dwight.”

“and now she is dead and we still don’t know who she might have been working with.” Jared said flatly. He saw Brian flinch every so slightly at the words. It wasn’t as if Brian should have just ignored her killing someone so she could lead them to her accomplice. He had done exactly what needed doing. “its not your fault Brian, you did the right thing.”

“I am going to get Jill settled in to rest, then we need to seriously considering getting out of here.”

‘I don’t need to rest” Jill protested. Jared looked at Haslom who shrugged.

“I am a US Army medic, we always prescribe plenty of fluids, motrin and rest.” Haslom said. “in her case.. definitely. I cleaned the wound, she says she is not dizzy but its possible she could have a concussion, which means rest no sleep.”

“I am fine” Jill insisted.

Jared ignored her protests as he gently took her arm and led her towards the truck with the Personnel carrier they were calling home for the moment leaving only when he had Ronny inside watching her to make sure she didn’t fall asleep.

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

Mikhail, had watched from the edge of the small crowd as the full story was finally revealed to Jared. Julie used to dealing with the wide open world, had badly miscalculated how to deal with a small group like this. He had tried to warn her, but she had refused to listen and had paid the price. Attacking Chris had been risky and would have led to her discovery eventually but killing Max had been the one step to far. He would miss sex with her, she had truly been fun in bed but he was glad she was out of the way and could no longer hinder his own plans which were evolving each day.

He had access to almost everything he needed to cripple the convoy but with Julie gone he had a little more time to strike when it would hurt them the most.

He didn’t step back or change his behavior when Proctor joined the group. He stood there brazenly as Proctors gaze slid over the assembled men and women, not even hesitating when he looked at Mikhail before moving to the next person. Jasper I don’t know what changed in you when you died but the meticulous planner and emotionless killer you were became something else and you are your own worst enemy., he thought.

Then kill him, Mikhail, kill Stone and redeem yourself. A voice whispered in the back of his mind.

Mikhail didn’t show any reaction, nor did he pay any attention to the small voice that came from deep inside that protested, warning him it wasn’t too late to save himself.

He didn’t even smile when they carried Julies body out of the building, along with all the gear she had been prepared to flee with. He would have done far worse to her, and enjoyed every moment of her pain.

*******************************
1650 hrs. Ivy city Rail yard.

“You know she is going to be pissed come morning” Ori said as he sat on the lowered tail gate of his scout.

“Probably but at the moment she has a headache from hell.” Jared said as he broke down his HK to clean it.

“She is lucky to be alive” Ori said with feeling, if it had been Beth he wasn’t sure he would have been as calm as Jared. “Blaine thinks that Eddie will survive”

“Eddie, that’s the dog right” Jared said, Happy that nibbler was curled up with Jill.

“Yeah, he said he cant be sure, but there didn’t look like anything vital had been hit. And the dog should make a full recovery. That Blaine is one nice guy, most Doctors would have refused to work on an animal. I guess he could tell how much Brian loves that dog.”

“I guess, or maybe he knew I would at least try to break his legs if he refused.” Jared said.

Ori chuckled softly, Jared might be all modest about his ability’s, but Ori was almost certain in a fight between the SF trooper and Jared, Jared would probably win by the skin of his teeth, at least what teeth were remaining and a several broken bones, but he would win.

“Think Alyssa will contact us” Ori asked changing the subject.

“Maybe, actually I think its likely. When is the question” Jared said as he watched men dragging rail ties and metal pipes over to where Lee was welding. Jared, tired as he was, had let Reese and Jansen talk him into staying here. they were positive they could keep the undead out, at least long enough for every one to mount up and roll through the fence and escape. He wasn’t thrilled with the waste of fuel to run the generator that was powering the welder to add to the defenses around the yard or the noise being made as men hammered, cut and welded to reinforce the fence.

Reese had been right, they had no where to go, Jared’s scouting mission had been a flop and Eric hadn’t spotted anywhere they could go as of yet, and wasn’t likely to since Erics mission was to watch the Mall and he had apparently spotted suspicious activity and observed a helicopter.

The most they could hope for at this point was to gain a few days here, then break out and head to where ever it was they could locate or think of. Hopefully Brody and Alyssa would contact them tonight or tomorrow before the number of undead grew to large to fight through.

What ever happened happened. This city was where things would change for them, Jared could feel it deep in his bones. When they left here, if they left here nothing would be the same.

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

February 19th.

Dawn came with streaks of fire across the horizon, Eric, tired, stiff and cold. Had spent half the night on watch. Counting 18 different heat sources that had crept around under cover of darkness, checking abandoned military vehicles for gear that they humped west across the mall before turning and heading north and out of his sight.

He didn’t move till Castor slid up beside him relieving him from watch. Eric quietly told castor what he had seen, then carefully made his way to the broken window and into the office that they had turned into a campsite.

Lew who had just gotten off watch on the northeast corner stripped to the waist and gritting his teeth against the early morning cold began to wipe his tattooed torso down with wet wipes.

Melody was heating up a can of soup on her Esbit stove, while staring at the still sealed package of saltines debating on if she wanted to open them and save them for some later meal. Eric had no idea how she had managed to carry crackers and not crush them, but he hoped is she opened them she would share a couple.

“Anything interesting happen on your side last night” Lew asked Eric when he had finished cleaning himself.

Eric opened an MRE and sorted through the sealed packages. “ I would kill for an omelet” he said as he eyed the Ham entrée package. “and yes, eighteen people were sneaking around down there on the mall, stripping stuff out of the military vehicles and carrying it off.”

“Probably locals” Melody said as she added black pepper to her chicken noodle soup then broke down and opened her crackers.

“I doubt it” Eric said then shrugged. “ Its possible but I would think if there were ay locals in this area, they would have already stripped those vehicle a long while back.”

“unless its taken this long for them to reach this part of the city, because the dead were in the way.” Melody said.

It was a valid point Eric thought, but he didn’t think that’s what had happened.. He suspected who ever it was were part of the same group as the two men he and Castor had watched for a while yesterday. Who ever had been down on the mall last night had operated like they had been military. They had stripped vehicles in record time, and from the way they seemed unhindered by the darkness, he suspected they were using NVG’s. they were either some very well trained national Guardsmen or regular Army. In either case, he didn’t think they were with Kronnen, but Darius could be wrong and Kronnen could have real combat tested soldiers that he had called up from somewhere else. Making an assumption with no intel to back it up was as good as sticking your ass out to be shot, he thought.

As soon as he was done eating he would call in to camp and report what he had seen.
“Hey share a couple of crackers or I will do something nasty to you” He said to Melody.

“Oh talk dirty to me big boy, but what will Kat say” Melody joked quietly.

“Give him the damn crackers, is what she would say:” Eric replied.

“I some how doubt that” Melody said as she passed him three crackers then gave Lew three as well.

They ate in silence after that, it was going to be a long nerve wracking day.

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

February 19th Ivy City Train yard 1100hrs

Ori sat on a barrel, his rifle laying across his knees as he watched men working hard to fortify the area. Chain link pulled from their supplies were going up between metal post and beams lengths of train track were being welded into barrier that reached chest height.

Track ties, pipes, lumber everything was being used the place was starting to looking like one of the last minute defensive sites the Iraqi’s had thrown up during the war. Jared walked around the site, lending a hand and offering suggestions. Ori wandered how many people here could see how exhausted Jared really was. The man was on the edge, Ori could see it in the way he walked, the set of his shoulders and the haunted look in his eye’s.

I bet he thinks Kronnen is just going to by pass DC and leaving us trapped here to deal with the undead with dwindling food, water, and ammo. Ori shook his head, Jared had a habit of taking far more responsibility on his shoulders than he should.

Ori didn’t react to the sound of foot falls behind him, he was pretty sure he knew who it was jut by the sound. “I take it you don’t have any plans on helping out” Darius said, his Texas drawl as thick as Ori’s hill country accent.

“not a chance,” Ori said with a crooked smile. “To be honest, I’m keeping an eye on Jared. Jill asked me too.”

Unseen behind him Darius nodded. “I get the impression he isn’t dealing with this well.”

“He is fine” Ori said not willing to say anything that could call into question Jared’s ability to deal with the situation.

“Bull shit, the man is used to moving, going on the offense, Not sitting with his thumb up his ass waiting for the undead to pile up outside penning us in.” Darius said

“I take it you have a suggestion?” Ori asked cautiously.

“I do and I need your help, to pull it off.” Darius said.

“and what would thi plan be?” Ori asked turning to face Darius.

“Well I need you, your rifle, your really crappy taste in music, as many boom boxes as you can spare.”

“why does this sound like the beginning of a really bad plan.” Ori said shaking his head. “any music will only draw more undead down on the camp.” He pointed out.

“who said we would be playing music from inside the site.” Darius said with a smile that showed gleaming white teeth. “I scouted a little ways down that Storm Drain or what ever it is, that Julie had stashed gear in. My plan is simple, me, you, Kafil, Quentin and a couple of other volunteers are going to slip out, and lure as many of those things out there away from the site, as we can, while Reese gets a break out organized.”

“there could be undead in the tunnels” Ori pointed out.

“True, that’s why Reese is going to set it up to be blow the entrance just in case, but the fact that not a single zombie has gotten into the building from the tunnels, should mean its empty.” Darius replied. “ Reese said you know how to blow shit up real good, so the plan is you set charges at key points and if we have to fall back, we can blow the tunnel down behind us, and that alone would make enough noise to draw in the undead from miles around.” He paused “ And Jeb said that if I really wanted a top rate scout, I needed to take you along with us.”

Jeb and Darius were both Texans and become pretty tight over the last three months so it was no real surprise that Darius had asked Jebs opinion.

“I take it Jared doesn’t know about this?” Ori asked quietly.

“No, Reese, Daws and Jansen all think Jared has enough of on his plate to deal with.” Darius replied. “but once we are gone, he will notice your not here, and Reese plans on falling on the sword, his words not mine.”

Ori knew Jared better than any one else with the exception of Ronny, Jared would be pissed about not being consulted and especially for Ori risking his life when he didn’t have too. Well Jared, its die trapped in here, or die trying to generate an option to break out. Sorry Brother, I’m going for the break out. Ori thought. and you damn sure need a break brother before you snap. So this time I’m looking out for you.

“Count me in as long as Jeb is going along” Ori said his mind made up. “might as well march into a forlorn hope with good men by my side.” .

“Great we leave at dawn. Bring a lot of explosives” Darius said clapping Ori on the shoulder. .

As Darius walked away a poem he heard years back when he had first became a Scout rolled through his mind.

“Strap up our boots
Kiss out favorite picture
Grab our guns and stand
Waiting for out call
To head out onto the field
Courage in our hearts
Anxiety in our brains
The rush of adrenaline in out veins
One brown boot in front of the other
Head out to scout the enemy”

21 thoughts on “Chapter Thirty

  1. Uckin Fay skippy! The BITCH is dead.

    But you came pretty close to offin a dog. Tsk tsk tsk. I would have to hunt you down, and I’d bring clowns. And Mimes. I’d bring zombie Mime Clowns. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 🙂

    (Awesome dude.)

    Like

    • Sorry for the Delay Zach, I really should post something to explain. My mom has been sick, has had surgery and spent time in the hospital so I havent had alot of time to write lately. I do apologize and Im trying to get 31 finished and posted tonight or tomorrow. If not right after christmas.

      and with that, I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Great new years.

      Like

      • Merry Christmas….prayers going out for your mom…family is more important than our habit…lol…hope all is well.

        Like

      • Thank you Boogity, and thank you for the prayers. Sorry about the wishdrawls Ive inflicted on you and the others. Hope you had a Great Christmas and have a Happy new year.

        Like

    • Thanks for reading Salem, glad to hear youve enjoyed the trip through dimly lit corridors of my mind LOL. thanks for the well wishes and a belated Merry Yule to you and a Happy New Year as well.

      Like

  2. Thank you for all the time effort you put into writing these stories. I hope things start going better for you and your mother. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Like

    • Thank you Zach, and thanks for reading. Sorry for the delay in responding, but I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and have a happy new year.

      thanks for the best wishes towards my mom, I and she appreciate it.

      Like

thanks for reading please leave a reply

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