Chapter Twenty nine

“Prepare your hearts for Death’s cold hand! prepare
Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth;
Prepare your arms for glorious victory;
Prepare your eyes to meet a holy God!
Prepare, prepare!”
~William Blake

February 16th. 0600hrs underground.

Jared woke instantly, Jill lay half across his chest, Nibbler had forced herself between his legs and lay curled up. He gently moved Jill then sat up looking around and saw Ori was up and getting a heater fired up.

He somehow managed to slide out of the sleeping bag with out waking Jill or the dog, which was a miracle no matter how you looked at. He pulled on his boots and walked over to Ori.

“”We need to stack some boxes and make a wall to reflect the heat,” Jared said as he headed for a stack of Cardboard boxes that were loaded with office supplies. “preparing for the end of the world and the government invests in Paperclips and Manila envelopes.” Jared said shaking his head as he looked inside one of the boxes.

“Sir, I realize your entire family was eaten, your home was burned to the ground, but We still require you to fill out these 28 forms in triplicate, and we need copies of your Drivers license, birth certificate for you and your family members, and your marriage license.” Ori said sotto voiced. “I’m sorry you don’t have them, before we can process your claim we need you to bring the necessary documents to this office.. Thank you, and I’m sorry for the delay in processing your claim.” Ori shook his head in disgust. Then chuckled before he said. “Be thankful, they could have stocked Easter German Porn and Nuclear weapons.”

“That made no sense” Jared commented.

“You know East German female power lifters and putz frua’s” Ori said sighing heavily.

“Ori, you… oh never mind” Jared said fondly then laughed.

“So what’s the plan for today?” Ori asked after a moment. he placed a box in the stack then wiped his hands on his pants.

“We eat then we start scouting, assuming its safe to do so.” Jared said.

“You know Jill is not going to like that plan right” Ori said as he grabbed another box.

“Yes, Neither will Nibbler” Jared said with a tired smile there was something in his eyes that bothered Ori, resignation maybe, Ori wasn’t sure but what ever it might be it was bothering Jared.

“need to talk about something?” Ori asked.

“No, why?” Jared replied.

“Because you keep getting that constipated Possum look, you think no one notices” Ori said. “Jared I have known you for a long time now, in fact you’re my Oldest friend, so I think I know you a lot better than any one even Jill. And I can tell your bothered by something, what is it another dream?”

Jared stood there for a moment then shook his head, “No, not really just pre combat jitters you know how that crap works.”

“your so full of shit your eyes are brown” Ori said in a serious tone. “if you change your mind Jared, I’m here, wake me up if you have too I don’t mind.”

“I will Ori, now how about we stop worrying about me and start worrying about what’s going to happen out there.” Jared said.

“Sure but I cant wait for you to explain your plan to Jill, who is now awake” Ori said looking past Jared.

“There are times I think you really enjoy watching her chew me a new ass” Jared said as he placed the box he carried in the box wall they were building.

“just to clear up any confusion on your part, Yes I really enjoy watching you get reamed by your wife.” Ori replied with a grin. Totally unaware of just how that simple word could be twisted to produce a whole new, and pappy approved, meaning to his sentence.

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

1645hrs

Ronny checked his pack for the thousandth time, then the saddlebags that had been added to the dirt bike. “Are you sure you want me along on this?” He asked Jared who was strapping that home made bladed staff weapon he had made, to his dirt bike.

“As long as you want to go along on the mission” Jared replied, as a frowning Jill walked up and handed him two extra quivers that Jared quickly secured to the saddle bags on his bike.

“I just don’t to slow you down or get any one killed because I cant move fast enough” Ronny said.

“Ronny, volunteer or nor. If something happens, I will carry you out on my back if I have to. As far as you endanger us, how many times have you and Ori risked your lives to save my dumb ass. Turn about is fair play.” Jared said with a tense smile. “ first thing we need to do is set up the Antenna’s and repeater out in the construction yard, then we scout around this area. Once we finish with that we move outward, if we find a decent vehicle we can get started we will use it, if we run into to many undead, we haul ass and try not to lead them back here.”

He turned to Jill who stood silently behind him., Taking her hands he smiled at her, “I know you want to go, but if this fails, we are going to have to try and use the tunnel to enter buildings and I want you here and ready to take charge, besides some one has to watch Nibbler and I don’t want Sarah thinking she is only the dog sitter.” He said then lowered his voice. “I love you, and I’m going to be okay. I promise”

“You had better be, you made me a promise this is edging into breaking it” Jill said just as softly.

“it might seem stupid but it needs to be done. And no we have already argued about this, I’m not letting any one else do this instead of me. So suck it up Jill” Jared said then glanced at Daws who was prepping his people to find a way to scout inside Union Station with out getting every one killed.

“Are we going to have a repeat of our last fight” Jill asked.

“Why? So you can watch me go to Jansen for advice again” Jared asked with a grin.

“Oh next time, his advice want get you out of trouble.” She said tartly, desperately wanting to tell Jared the whole truth. But she couldn’t not now, not with him about to go out into a city full of undead where the distraction could get him killed. Blaine had tried to talk her into telling Jared last night, he didn’t understand her fear or maybe he did. Regardless she hadn’t told Jared. So instead, she tried to banter like normal, refusing to show her worry and fear even thought Jared knew

“Figures, I blew my only get out of jail free card” Jared said then leaned close and kissed her lightly on the lips.

“Get out of the dog house card you mean” She said when he pulled away. She gave him a smile and a soft touch on the cheek then turned and walked away.

“Jared my man, I almost envy you.” Ronny said as he stuffed several extra MRE’s into his pack.

“Mary been spanking you too much?” Jared asked smiling.

“Is there such a thing” Ronny replied. “I haven’t said it before, didn’t need to. But Just wanted to get it out there, I’m happy for you Jared, she is a good woman. Not real bright to have married you but still a good women.”

“Nimrod” Ori called out.

“You ready Darius” Jared asked, the cowboy who nodded.

“Lets get a move on” Darius replied.

“ All right Reese lets get that door open,” Jared said turning to gaze at Reese and the soldiers who stood ready to put down any undead that might be outside the door. According to the cameras, the yard was empty, but there was no point in taking chances.

They had spent an hour working grease into the doors sliding track, hoping it that it would keep the double sliding doors from making noise to draw undead to the fence around the construction site.

At Reese’s orders, the doors were pulled silently open, letting grey light and damp chilly air flow in. They waited a few minutes just to make sure that no undead appeared out of the camera’s blind spots, then Jared and the others wheeled their bikes outside and up the ramp to the surface.

The ramp was actually inside a large shed whose doors stood open allowing daylight stream in. they pushed their dirt bikes up the ramp following the tracks to the door and looked out into a gray rainy day, that was much warmer than they had entered the Tunnel at Mount weather.

The tracks from the shed ran across the construction site and joined up with the main track that had five spurs branching off into five new tracks that ended at either the Rail house or repair platforms.

The construction site, Jared realized with surprise was actually a Train Repair yard, they had been rebuilding the train shack where the major repair work on engines and cars were done. It was about half finished with scaffolding up one wall of the large building. A crane was parked near by, I beams, dripping water, still hanging below the boom.

A supply truck still loaded with building materials still sat across one set of tracks, near cement mixers and other equipment. Train parts were stacked on side of the train house; construction supplies were on the other.

“I think mounting the antenna and the signal booster on the top of that Crane is our best bet.” Ori said as he jogged back down the ramp and retrieved the gear they needed. While Spacey and Cooper played out a line to set up the other end of the system so that calls could be received inside the access room to the Tunnels.

It only took a few minutes to set up a climbing rig and hook the bag holding the radio gear to a rope then Ori quickly climbed up the crane boom.

“Jared, I have both good news and bad news” Ori transmitted ten minutes later as he sat with his legs dangling from the crane boom.

“Okay good news first” Jared said over the radio as Ori began pulling up the rope that the bag with the radio gear hung from.

“Well the good news is we are in DC” Ori said “the bad news is this yard isn’t attached to Union Station.”

“What, where in the hell are we” Jared asked.

“near as I can tell to the north east of the Station and the capitol building.” Ori stated. “I’m guessing that tunnel just before the one we used links up with the underground section of Union Station, This is where they put the trains into the tunnel and worked on them. And Judging by the room down there where they loaded supplies too” Ori said as he pulled the bag up beside him and began too hook up the Antenna and signal booster that would increase their range considerably.

“Looks like there are no tourists around here ” Ori remarked. “its only fifteen or more blocks further

“Well isn’t that just peachy” Reese said cutting into the conversation on the open channel. “do you want us to go back down the tunnel to the next one and check it out.”

“No not yet give us some time say a day maybe two to check out the area around the station. I think we need to take a little more gear with us maybe some of Ori’s crappy music players and draw as many undead out of the station as possible.”

“A day or two” Reese repeated. Then was quiet. “Ill talk to you when you come back down.” He said a few minutes later.

Jared briefly considered sending Ronny or Darius down for the additional gear. But he suspected none of them were stupid enough to face Jill when Jared was available for her to dump her anger out on. And she was going to be angry to find out Jared was not only going to spend a couple of days out there, but cover fifteen or more block just to get to the first area he wanted to scout.

There is an attractiveness to cowardice at moments like this Jared thought as he turned and headed down the ramp.

By the time the sunset swept over the city, Jared still smarting from Jill’s furious tongue-lashing was ready to go.

The area the train yard sat in was huge and mostly filled with warehouses surrounded by large open areas that were covered by parking lots and tracks, lots of rail tracks.

The stench of the undead filled the city air, it was a background stench that came and went with the wind. They walked slowly and silently down the rain slicked 9th St. Ne then turned on to New York Ave NE pushing the dirt bikes as they wove between the abandoned cars that littered the road, to the north of the road were Tracks and a huge open expanse of ground. Jared could make out roofs of homes and business’s to the left rising above treetops and the steeple of at least one church.
Jared’s eyes swept from side to side, thankful they had working Night Vision goggles, the NVG’s were the only advantage they had and he planned on using it for as long as it lasted.

Which was as long as the batteries could hold a charge, the solar charger system he carried in his pack would let them recharge the batteries during the day, so they could keep scouting at night. Which was the safest time to scout at least as long as they had NVG’s to use, the undead they had discovered were as much a disadvantage at night as the living.

Ori who was walking point, held up a hand, then pointed to the left. They quickly moved to the parking lot on the left and mingled with the cars that had sat there since the day the city had died.

From the west undead came lurching down the street, a parade of rotting flesh that slipped and slid. Tourists, shopkeepers, nurses, business people, the homeless, every walk of life was represented, all of them ravaged and decaying finally equal in undeath.

Get down under the cars, some of them are spilling into the parking lot and heading this way, Jared signed. Ori and Ronny quickly slipped off their packs as Jared turned to Darius, silently pointing to the undead at the far end of the parking lot then at the car. Darius nodded and reached for the door handle of the car beside him. Jared tapped him again and shook his head. Darius frowned then saw Ori sliding underneath the SUV and realized what Jared meant.

Jared stayed low and out of sight, till he could slip under the closest car that turned out to be the same one Ronny had chosen to hide under. To say he was nervous was an understatement. Jared’s stomach was rolling and his blood felt cold. He lay there beside Ronny, controlling his breathing as he heard foot steps shuffling up to the vehicle then past, then more footsteps. If they were caught under here, they were dead it was that simple he thought and there was nothing he could do about it.

He began to grow cold the rain water soaking into his clothes, he ignored the discomfort. Discipline was all that mattered. He flexed his fingers to keep them from becoming stiff and affecting his trigger finger if he needed to start shooting, if that happened he was dead anyway but being able to take a few to hell with him was appealing.

Finally, the flood of undead slowed to a trickle then faded completely as the horde moved away. Jared waited another twenty minutes then slowly crawled out from under the car and rose to his feet. Seeing nothing waiting he peeked up over the car and looked around. The Parking lot and the street were empty again.

Ori crawled out from the vehicle he had hidden under then signed. That had to be a couple of thousand.

A Thousand at most, Jared replied.

It was one to damn many in my book Ronny said joining them

We keep going till we hit the tracks again, then follow them all the way to Union station, Jared told them. Jared wished Darius knew the sign language that The team had developed years ago it would make things easier.

They reached the tracks five minutes later with out incident and started south, following the three tracks that led towards the Station in the distance they could see the Capitol dome a darker shadow against the sky.

Ronny limped along, his leg hurting watching the dead that shambled about the parking lot of a Micky Dees. The pole holding the Golden Arches, had been hit by a Semi and was leaning badly, it would come down the next time a heavy storm passed through the area.

As they walked Ori pointed to a building to the west, not far from the tracks and signed ATF it might be a place to check out later Jared thought

Can you imagine how many zombies there will be around that place, Jared replied.

Not as many as there are around the entire city Ori commented as they walked under a Railroad signal bridge. Which was nothing more than a metal frame work span that stretched over the tracks. To the east there was a fence that separated the elevated tracks and 2nd St. NE. Beyond the fence and across the street they could see a building with a odd looking roof that looked like a barrel on its side with ribs. Just south of there were a series of burned out buildings.

Undead stumbled through the ruins of the burned out buildings. The tracks passed over L street and They could see more burned out buildings to the east of the tracks and a line of police cars, swat vans and barricades that had been erected across L Street before it crossed 2nd St. NE and entered the tunnel that ran under the tracks to the west side..

Probably in an attempt to keep the undead isolated in the area, had to be early on before they found out the undead were not infected and were popping up all over the city. Poor bastards, but at least they tried Jared thought as he kept walking noting the new set of tracks that swept in from the northwest and ran parallel to the tracks that Jared and his friends were scouting.

They passed a metro station to the west of the tracks, and more burned out buildings to the east. Finally they reached an area where the tracks began to split into multiple lines, seventeen in all, spreading out over a much wider area once they were past the throat.

In the middle of throat between the tracks was a narrow two-story building, the second floor rose out of the center of the first floor and looked like some one had dropped a house on the roof of the first floor. What it had been used for they had no idea. Overhead electrical lines crisscrossed each other, like a giant spiders web anchored to the many poles dotting the area.

Two trains were parked on the tracks to the far left, covered in shadows they sat silent and empty. The tracks ran on, passing under an elevated roadway before finally reaching the Union Station that loomed over the area.

The tracks ran forward passing under an elevated roadway and into the platform area.

On one track, on the east side, a Train had derailed just short of the destination platform, its cars lay on their sides, crumpled and crushed. It was hard to tell from this distance but it looked like another train had actually jumped the stops and crashed into the Station.

What he was certain he was seeing were the undead that shuffled aimlessly around the wreckage of the derailed train, and among and along the Platforms.

His eyes drifted across the station fixing on the Parking Garage on the west side of the Station where tracks appeared to go under the garage. The idea of using the station as a base of operations was looking like a no go at this point, far to many undead outside and if he had to bet just as many of them of them inside.

I think staying out of the station might be a wise choice, Ori commented echoing Jared’s thoughts on the matter.

Jared nodded, he had only seen the station the one time when he had been in DC and hadn’t remembered it being this massive. There could be thousands of undead inside, trying to clear it with less than a hundred people was insane. He checked his watch and saw that it was close to midnight.

They would need a place to hole up in during the day and that small two story building looked good enough, might as well clear it now then report in to Reese over what they had seen so far. Then with a secured place to fall back to they could scout some of the streets along the tracks.

Lets clear this place, before we do anything else, Jared said pointing to the building.

Securing the dirt bikes, they moved to the door. Jared felt the all to familiar pre entry jitters that he ignored as he drew his Khurkri and Tomahawk. Even with NVG’s the building looked dingy, like years worth of trash and dust had settled into buildings surface making it look pitted and worn. Ronny stood ready to open the door so that Jared and Ori could enter, Darius would enter after that then Ronny would bring up the rear.

He nodded to Ronny, who stepped to the side of the door then pushed it open. Jared went through and into the arms of a zombie that stood in the narrow hallway. He tore free throwing himself against the wall. a Rotting hand grasped his shoulder as Ori came in hard swinging the Machete in his hand, Jared drove the his Tomahawk up under the things Jaw slamming its mouth closed and pushing its head up as Ori brought the Machete down on the top of its head.

“holy crap” Jared muttered, shaken at the close call. He shoved the body aside as Darius and Ronny entered the building and shut the door.

“You okay” Ori asked in a whisper seeing that Jared looked shaken.

“Yeah, fine” Jared whispered back. Just too close, I guess I’m losing my edge he signed reverting back to silence.

Almost two years of surviving, its not surprising Ori replied.

Darius tired of the sign language thing pointed down the narrow hall, where another zombie in coveralls had appeared from behind a metal box.

Ronny stepped in front of Jared and Ori, and lifted the crossbow he carried to his shoulder and fired, aiming instinctively. The Bolt hissed down the hall and slammed into the Zombies skull sending it falling to the floor,

While he cocked and reloaded his Cross bow, Darius strode forwards tired of being the odd man out on this screwed up scouting mission. He entered the room at the center, and just barely leaped back as a legless zombie threw itself off the stairs. It crashed into a metal case attached to the wall and fell to the floor where it started to drag itself towards him.

Not today, he thought as he kicked it in the jaw shattering the bone with a loud snap. He drew the confederate artillery short sword from the scabbard riveted to knee-high lineman boots he wore and drove it into the things face. Black ooze and dark fluids oozed out of the wound.

“got this” Jared said moving past Darius and heading up the stairs to the second floor.

The room was filled with consoles that sat under the dirty, streaked windows that lined every wall. Like the outside, the inside looked grimy after years of use. Thick dust covered every surface of the room.

He walked the length of the room making sure there was no where one of the undead could hide then headed back down the stairs where the others waited. Lets finish clearing the other side of this place, then make secure any entrance’s.

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

Thor sat across the room watching Jill as she worked with a small group on improving their martial arts skills. none of them were even close to Jills skill level, but they were all competent enough after steady training.

He didn’t see the busybody who had spread the rumors that he and Jill were frankly ignoring. It had taken some work to talk Jared out of dealing with the whole problem, Chris had told them he was going to deal with it then he had gotten sick and the whole issue had become something that wasn’t all that important. Not that he was going to let the matter lie for much longer. He didn’t like Julie, there was something about here that just rubbed him wrong, and not just because of the rumors but since the first time he had met her.

He knew Max had dumped her over the rumor issue, so that pretty much had pushed her into outsider status in the group. That could also cause more problems depending on how she ended up reacting to it.

“Ever wonder where the power to run this place comes from” Daws asked as he sat down beside Thor. “am I interrupting”

“no, just thinking about things, like why the security system in there is showing some of the streets around Union station. Wondering why Jared suddenly became so gung ho about-facing Kronnen here in DC, when it would have been wiser to do it outside of the city. You know stuff.”

Daws frowned slightly but Thor suspected it wasn’t directed at him. “I take it you don’t really believe in the whole dream thing?” Daws said after a moment.

“It’s not that so much” Thor said then shrugged. “Look Daws I’m a professional NCO, I make decisions based on the Tactical situation, not goat entrails or tea leaves, so it bothers me that we are in the middle of heavily infested city to fight a battle because of a dream.” Thor said. “don’t get me wrong I trust Jared or I wouldn’t be here, but it makes me uncomfortable.”

“join the club” Daws said, his attention now fixed on Melody who was about to spar with Jill. “chick fight, that is so hot” he said with a grin.

“you like her don’t you” Thor asked. “Melody I mean.” Daws nodded.

“yeah, but I’m not saying a thing till this is over with, I figure if I tell her one of us will die.” Daws said.

“she’s probably tougher than you” Thor said with a grin.

“Jill is tougher than Jared, and he doesn’t mind” Daws pointed out. “but it doesn’t matter till all this is over with.”

“what if it never ends” Thor asked, that thought had been rolling around in his head for a while now.

“then I will hang up my uniform and become just a normal shmoe on Sullivan, I need a break Thor, I …”

they both looked up as Reese was called to the security office where the comm. gear had been set up.

“Guess Jared is finally reporting in” Thor said as he rose to his feet, he and Daws hurried over to the shack to get the latest news.

“Your kidding me” Reese was saying as they reached the door. They couldn’t hear what Jared was reporting since Reese was wearing a headset. But Reese didn’t look happy. “ Jared your insane, if there are that many in the area, trying to scout the side streets is just plain stupid, on foot or on a dirt bike.” Reese paused listening. “NO you can tell Jill, I refuse to have my butt kicked by your pissed off wife.” He paused again. “you coward” he barked trying not to laugh then pulled off his head set. “I cant believe he just cut me off like that.”

“You did call him a coward” Daws pointed out .

“Yes I did, he wants me to tell Jill that they are planning on staying gone for three to four days now, and we are to stay in place till they can find a place we can use for a base.”

“smart man, she is going to skin some one alive for that news” Daws said turning to Jansen. “I think you should tell her”

“I thought you liked me” Jansen protested.

“I do, she is least likely to kill you than me or Reese.” Daws said as Reese nodded and laughed.

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

“what we need to do is get to the roof of one of the taller buildings, to get a better look at the area” Darius commented as he opened a can of Dinty moore stew.

“it’s a good idea, but how exactly do we get to the roof with out being eaten alive” Ronny asked.

“we could climb” Darius said not thrilled with the idea but he was determined to explore any option.

“how would you get up there?” Ori asked as his finger nervously tapped the side of the Rifle he held.

“I could stay here, or I could try it” Darius said, he had not been a climber in the past, aside from trees as a kid or a trellis to get into an ex girlfriends window in high school.

Jared sat there thinking as he listened to them debate quietly on whether Darius’s idea was smart or not. there was a way he thought with minimum risk, well as minimum as it can get in a building probably filled with undead. they could do what they did in the hotel on Sullivan use the elevator shafts, which would keep them from having to risk a stairwell that might be filled with undead.

“the elevator shafts” Jared said, “ we pick a building, enter at night and climb up the elevator shaft. With the NVG’s we can see any undead that might be in the lobby, if there are not a lot we clear them out as quietly as possible then enter the shaft and climb up to the roof. Or if the roof is blocked we exit on the top floor and find the mechanical room which will have access to the roof.” Jared said. The others stopped talking and looked at him, then all three of them nodded in approval. “ the thing is we have to do this soon, The Dark knows we are here in the city, probably exactly where we are too, sooner or later I think the dead are going to swarm the area. Maybe I’m wrong and the rules prevent it from doing that, but If I’m not we wont last long being surrounded by half a cities worth of undead.”

“you really know how to make me excited to go outside” Ronny commented.

“well if it makes you feel better the reason I picked this place, was we can see the undead coming with enough time to get the hell out of here. and that though is the reason I wanted each of us to carry one of Erics grappling gun just in case.” Jared said. “now I think its time you went on guard duty Ronny, the rest of us need to try and get some sleep.”

With out another word Jared wrapped himself in his sleeping bag and closed his eyes.

Ronny shook his head and gave a half smile as he went and sat in one of the old beat up chairs so he could look out the windows where the night was giving way to lead grey light as the sun rose.

An hour before nightfall, Jared was awake and on watch. From what Ori had told him, there had been sightings of groups of undead wandering through the area but none had seemed to know they four men were inside the switching tower.

What they need to do was find a building over looking the National mall, where they could see the capital buildings as well as the Smithsonian. The whole point was to draw Kronnen into the city, but would the other man believe Jared was looking for a bunker under the capitol building or the Smithsonian, or should he choose a spot like Fort McNally in south DC or a move over to the Pentagon both locations might be more believable. Of course it was possible that Kronnen is so pissed after the Ambush in Knoxville and then taking his base camp he will just attack us where ever we end up and everything I want to check out in DC is right there by the capitol building. So why not just use that location so we don’t have far to go.

Make a decision and stick with it, Jared told himself sternly, otherwise this scouting mission was just an excuse to bumble along from place to place while risking life and limb. Well we are already here, and If I’m right and Kronnen is more than willing to kill us no matter where we might be then the Mall and surrounding area is as good as any where else to fight and die. Then the mall and the Capitol building it is.

“you look like you’ve reached a decision” Ori said as he sat up and stretched.

“yeah, I think I’m going to keep Jill” Jared said jokingly.

“if you didn’t you would be a complete idiot. She is probably the greatest thing that’s happened to you.” Ori said.

“she is that” Jared acknowledged then signaled for Ori to be quiet for a moment then Jared lifted his binoculars to his eyes and looked north down the tracks.

“what is it?” Ori asked as he climbed out of his sleeping bag and picked up his weapon.

“thought I saw a person” Jared said.

“you mean undead” Ori asked

“no it looked like some one moving fast and keeping low crossing the tracks and heading west. Might have just been shadows” Jared said worried that it could also be one of Kronnen’s men scouting the area.

“a survivor out looking for food and supplies maybe” Ori said. “we can go look once the sun sets”

“no, if I actually saw some one, they could be hiding anywhere and we stand to great a risk being eaten by just opening doors to look than we do just leaving it alone.” Jared said Outside the shadows deepened then slowly spread across the dead city plunging it back into darkness.

“okay folks lets get up, get some food then blow this taco stand.” Jared said pushing the still sleeping men with his boot, while wishing they had more dirt bikes, he have loved to have Jeb, Zoe and Jorge along on this, Especially Zoe and Jorge both of whom had survived by scrounging for supplies in Charleston.

Darius sat up rubbing his eyes and glaring at Jared, “ you had better have brought coffee”

“great idea, so the zombies can follow the smell of the holy bean and eat us on our way out the door. No.” Jared said chuckling. “save the anti coffee anger for the dead, remember they are the reason we have to do with out.”

“so where are we going to check out tonight” Ronny asked as he climbed out of his sleeping bag heading for the stairs and the bucket they had placed down there to use as a toilet.

“we are going to sneak around the Station then into the Senate park to the south of Columbus circle, we can go all the way to the capitol building and the mall avoiding the buildings and what ever on the streets as well as the undead that are going to be inside those buildings and cars and what not. then I think we will find a way up on to the roof of the national Gallery of Art where we will be able to get a good look of the mall the western face of the Capitol building.”

“sounds good, but zombies don’t just stay out parks” Darius pointed out.

“no they don’t, but there are bound to be a lot fewer of them in the park than say along a regular street that is lined with condos, and business’s. “ Jared said.

“so how do we get to the roof of the art museum” Darius asked. “I kind of doubt there will only be a few undead in the lobby of that place.”

“we use the grapple guns and the powered belay’s.” Jared said as he donned his NVG’s and packed up what little he had removed from his pack. “that way no one has to worry about climbing.”

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

Brian sat in his SUV, feeding Old guy and Eddie some of the weenies from the MRE called the five dicks of death by most soldiers, even the dogs were not thrilled but it was better than the dry dog food.

“do you dream” he asked the old beagle, who wolfed down a weenie, sighed then broke wind. “good god, that would kill even the undead” Brian moaned as he cracked the door open.

The beagle didn’t even have the good grace to look embarrassed but he sure looked satisfied with himself.

“I was about to ask you guys if you ever had weird dreams,” Brian said as the air become less toxic. “Because I have been having some really odd ones lately” Brian said casting a mock glare at the beagle who looked like he was smiling. “not that you care, but its always about that woman Julie,” this is what I have come to talking to dogs, Next I will find a church round up dogs and bring the word to our canine brothers and sisters. Oh how the mighty have fallen, he thought with a slight smile.

The humor wasn’t much by any standards but it lightened the mood that last nights dreams had left him with. Tossing the dogs the last of the weenies, he beat a hasty retreat before old guy could blast him with what only some one with no nose could call breaking wind. As good a dog as he was, he could have been employed as a chemical weapon.

Brian retrieved his sword from against the side of the SUV and strapped the sword belt around his narrow waist. He was heading for the blast door to rejoin the rest of the group in the lighted room, when music blared to life, he only recognized it as lady Gaga thanks to Ori playing it to annoy Jared.. He found it rather annoying himself but apparently a lot of people had liked it. But right now what Lady Gaga at full volume was, was a danger. The music was echoing down the tunnels, and bound to draw every zombie in range

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

Mikhail stood on the back of one of the trucks to look over the barricade they had erected across the tunnel. He had volunteered for guard duty to gain more trust and hopefully access to some of the explosives and heavy weapons, so far it had resulted in a few more people being friend to him.

Now if only Proctor would stay the hell away, since they had arrived and set up camp Proctor and his remaining men had begun to leave the confines of the Van Variant M939 they had been riding in. Proctor was the only person in the camp that might actually recognize him, though with the scarring and missing eye it was possible Proctor might not realize who he was. Mikhail refused to leave anything to chance at this point, which of course meant he had to consider Julie, who seemed even more unstable than he had first thought. whether that instability was due to Bowler hat in her dreams or was just natural to her he didn’t know but she was a wild card he did not need.

He would have to kill her eventually, he knew, good sex or no. Because sooner or later she was going to do something that would jeopardize his plans or expose him and that he wouldn’t tolerate.

His thoughts were interrupted as very loud, very bad American music erupted with out warning. Julie, he thought angrily, you stupid bitch as he looked around for the source of the music but with only very dim blue lights to guide them along the line of vehicles, he couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

Daws ran down the ramp of the Stryker and started moving down the line of vehicles, following the sound, this was no accident of that he was certain. Finally judging by the sound he was right below the CD player, he scrambled up onto the cab of the Deuce and a half and crawled out onto the canvas top thankful the thing was full loaded so the canvas only dipped low enough to touch the top of the cargo instead of sagging far enough that it ripped and dumped him inside.

Reaching the CD player he grabbed it and threw it against the tunnel wall. the music died with Gaga stuttering the word poker. The damage was already done, and he knew it, the undead in the tunnels would be heading this way, which left them with the options of hoping there were only a dozen or so zombies, or getting the vehicles out of the tunnel and up into the fenced in area around the Train house that had been under construction.

“Stand by to get the vehicles started and moved” Daws said, hoping that Jared could find a good place to hole up before this place got surrounded and there was no escape.

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

General Bedford smiled as he looked out the window of the Commanders office of Fort Meyers. Things were going well at this point, contact had been lost with yet another facility that housed military and evacuated civilians. he preferred to be optimistic and think that they had finally fallen to the undead instead of thinking they might just be experiencing Technical problems.

In addition, the Satellite feed that that he had accessed from the lap top showed Kronnen was in position and about to cross the Potomac. He might have to call his “ally” and warn him about the bomblets and mines that had been used to block the bridges; any degradation of Kronnen’s fighting force might allow Stone to defeat them. Kronnen was necessary to taking out the Scribe, who was proving to be more of a challenge than had been thought but if Stone wasn’t removed first, Stone could interfere, no he would interfere.

That humanity was doomed he didn’t doubt, but as Lucifer had said, better to rule in hell than in heaven. Bedford was determined to rule over the ruins in humanity’s last days and enjoy being the last God Emperor. He had fucking well earned it over the years

It was a far better option than to have to continue on under the incompetent, greedy, short sided leadership that had ruled not just the US but the world. Never again would morons like the US Congress be able to shit on one General Bedford. Uneducated, morons whose only claim to fame was cheating their way through college and being able to lie well enough to constituent dimwits to get into office and stay there. Well no more, To rule by force was the only form of legitimate government and the Liberal pansies and crying hippies could kiss my ass just before they were burned at the stake.

Kronnen would in the end sit at my feet, when the real army that I have carefully horded and protected rolled out of their underground bases and smashed through the ill trained and led groups like those of Kronnen. Stones people if still alive might actually be able to survive for a day maybe two, but with the air power, artillery and the Navy units that I can call up to recover the Homeland, Stone wouldn’t be able to survive two days.

His smile grew wider as he thought about the letting Kronnen know where the only exit from the tunnel system was that would allow Stone to bring up his vehicles. If Kronnen hurried he could be on site before Stone arrived and blow that red headed asshole into eternity as they rolled up out of the tunnels and into the Ivy city Rail yard. Yes, that would work out quite nicely; let Kronnen’s people take the brunt of the fighting and dying before I use my own men to finish off Stone. Assuming of course that Kronnen failed, which was not all that far fetched.

Yes, it was time to use Kronnen again, let the Warlord take the risks that what he was there for in the first place. Bedford turned away from the window and walked over to the Short-wave set up he’d had his men place on the desk. I promise you Stone, if you live through Kronnen you will not live through what I will bring down on you.

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

H Street was buried in darkness that would have covered the undead if not for the small Groups NVG’s. Which allowed them to see the undead who were scattered along the street standing between abandoned vehicles that lined the street. Some of the vehicles were tangled up in wrecks; others parked haphazardly up on curbs and sidewalks, doors standing open to the weather.

Some of the vehicles still had supplies and personal possessions inside. Beside other vehicle were pile of suitcases; boxes and bags sat where who ever had searched the vehicle had dumped them.

They walked quietly eye-sweeping left to right hoping to spot any threats, rain splattering their faces. Tension ratcheting higher with each dark doorway they passed. Jared looked down as his boot struck something and saw a child’s doll.

Determined to ignore it, Jared kept walking refusing to think about what, the child that had dropped it might have suffered there at the end.

Reaching North Capitol St. they turned south past the dark and dead building that had been the Government Printing Office. Jared stopped abruptly as a zombie stepped out from behind a bus that had crashed into bus stop.

It stood there, head swiveling, maybe it had heard something, maybe it had smelled them. Jared didn’t know or care why he carefully leaned the bike against the back end of the bus then waited for the pus bag to walk towards him.

Her face was gone, leaving only strands of muscle and bone, she wore a evening gown and jewels that screamed wealth. These days they were worth nothing, and it would probably be years before they were worth anything again if ever.

She stumbled towards him, the few strands of long hair that remained on her scalp floating in the wind. Six feet from him her head shot up, her mouth yawned open. Jared drew the Knife he carried on hi web belt and rammed it into her mouth, angling it up to enter the brain pan and kill her. the thing that had once been female rose up on it toes, Jared twisted the knife and pulled it free, catching the falling corpse with one arm he lowered it quietly to the street.

He looked around thankful that the others had his back. Seeing no undead he retrieved his bike and started walking again. there had been some argument about taking the bikes, Reese and Daws had thought it would be far safer if they just found a vehicle to use, but Jared had pointed out that there was no guarantee that they could get one started, and if the undead were swarming towards them they were not going to have time to work on a vehicle and get it running to escape. Using the bikes allowed them to carry extra gear and allowed them a fast escape if needed. It wasn’t a safe escape, but it was better than trying to run.

Finally they saw the National Postal Museum up ahead, the white stone walls almost glowed in the darkness. It was one of those neo classical buildings that had been so popular in the late 1880’s up to the 1920’s in the US, a combination of Roman, Italian renaissance, French and Italian Baroque styles.

If Jared remembered the map correctly, and he usually did then Capitol St. NW was about to cross Massachusetts’s Ave NW. Which placed union station just to the east, hopefully they were just far enough away from the station to avoid the crowd of undead that seemed drawn to the Station, maybe there were people holed up somewhere inside, or it was just another oddity in the behavior of the undead.

He stepped out onto Massachusetts Ave. and looked east. Oh hell, he thought seeing the horde that was bearing down on them. He turned around and headed back down Capitol with his friends, as they reached G St. Nw, Jared looked back and saw a flood of undead turning and coming up Capitol St.

He pointed down G street and the small group moved quickly their hearts beating faster hoping that the horde was just randomly following streets.

As they moved quickly to the west along the printing office, G St. split one lane curving north around the huge parking lot of the Printing offices turning into First St NW, while another lane turned off into the massive intersection where Massachusetts ran north west from south east across New Jersey Ave that ran north and south

One glance showed Jared that there were undead coming up Massachusetts Ave and coming up from the south on New Jersey. “I think we have been spotted” he said quietly as he pointed at the undead that were emerging from the doors of the printing office and staggering across the parking lot.

Well if we haven’t been spotted something has them stirred up, Ori signed grimacing.

“ I think its time we started the bikes and put some distance between us and that huge crowd behind us.” Darius said as he stopped and swung a leg over the bike.

“Which way do we go” Ori asked as he climbed on the bike watching a zombie crawl out from under a white government van about eighty feet from them.

“North for the moment, Figure it out was we go, You and I will lead.” Jared said as he mounted his bike and started the motor. If there had been a chance the undead hadn’t seen them, it vanished the moment the bike’s motor came to life.

The bikes raced up 1st, drawing every zombie for a couple of miles with the noise, to the left of the First were parking lots beyond that was new jersey they shot across H street past another huge parking lot on one side and a huge construction site on the other.

Crossing I St. Nw they saw undead swarming out into the street ahead of them Jared swung West ripping into what might be a park, in a second he realized it was just a landscaped area around the parking lot of a dark building up ahead. He threw dirt as he changed direction and rode around the parking lot.

Ronny gunned it, trying to stay up with Jared and Ori. Who were hauling ass, to fast as far as Ronny was concerned. The Bike shuddered as he hit something and the handlebars were ripped from his hands. He found himself flying through the air, somehow he got his arms up and over his head just before he smashed into the ground, and slid several feet across the slick grass into a tree..

Darius saw Ronny crash and slammed down on his brakes throwing the bike into a turn that sent dirt flying. Night vision wasn’t the best in rain he decided, since the rain seemed to reflect more light back into the system washing out details, Darius thought, add in the headlights reflecting off the rain and it explained how Ronny hadn’t seen the zombie covered in mud, leaves and crap that had been laying on the ground and was now crawling towards the dazed man.

Darius shoved his goggles up on his forehead then twisted the throttle shooting forward, only half aware that Jared and Ori had turned and were coming back, he hit the brakes and slid to a stop not three feet from the crawling zombie, which turned and started towards him. Darius drew the Sawed off shot gun holstered on his thigh and put a slug in the things head, shattering it like an over ripe melon.

Ronny sat up and saw a dark shape stumbling through the trees towards him. it broke into a slow jog, arms outstretched its teeth snapping in anticipation. He heard Jared’s HK firing, from behind him and the zombie fell over, half its head gone.

“Ronny get on your bike” Darius yelled as he holstered his sawed off shotgun and drew the Glock17 he carried and fired at the second shape that was behind Ronny in the trees. It jerked but kept coming. Darius fired twice more, then a rifle cracked and something hot burned across his cheek. “holy shit” he bellowed, only then seeing the zombie that fell over beside his bike, and four more where maybe ten feet away. Ori’s rifle cracked four more times and a zombie fell over with each shot.

Ronny moved as quickly as he could, limped over and picked up his bike, he swung a leg over the bike just as a zombie stepped out of the trees no more than four feet from him, He pulled up his P90 and cut it down then tried to start his bike which had flooded and stalled out.

Where in the hell are they all coming from?, Jared wondered as he shot down five more undead. the rain had cut down on the distance they could see with the NVG’s and there had been far more undead close by than he had thought, all it had taken for them to be able to become a threat was the delay when Ronny went off his bik.

Darius turned and fired at two more zombies, that had appeared amongst the trees. He pulled his goggles back down over his eyes and saw beyond the trees more undead, a lot more undead. he looked south to I st. and saw even more that were heading towards the headlights, gunfire and running motors.

“Got problems, they are coming out of the buildings behind us, “ Ori said turning and facing the buildings on the west side of the parking lot.

“Shit” Jared muttered, as he focused on the zombies closest to the group, but if they didn’t get a move on, there would be no escape, as it was south, and east were pretty much closed to them.

Jared couldn’t see through walls but if he could he would have been able to see the massive number of undead on the western side of the building that were now streaming north and south along the building seeking a way around to the sounds that meant warm living flesh.

They poured around the building, coming at the Four men from the north and joined with those already to the south. Ronny’s bike finally started but it was to late, they were surrounded.

The undead still to far off to reach them but the ring was tightening down, and there wasn’t a way out that Jared could see, if they tried to ride through the crowd, they would be pulled off the bikes and ripped apart, if they stood here for too long they would die as well.

Ronny, seeing there was no escape lifted his P90 firing into the closest undead.

The walking corpses weren’t close not yet but in a minute or so they would be. “Whose bright idea was it to use dirt bikes?” Ronny asked in attempt to hold the fear he felt at bay.

“Mine and we wouldn’t have gotten four blocks before being swamped by undead if we had driven a vehicle” Jared said as he fired at undead, suspecting that he would run out of ammo before he ran out of undead.

“True, but they couldn’t eat us with out opening doors” Ronny called back.

“Bitch moan, bitch moan, you would bitch about free sex too” Jared said as he tried to figure out a way to escape the slowly tightening ring of undead. But they were coming from all directions now, almost as if Jared and the others had been herded into a trap.

“Just the way I wanted to die” Darius said sarcastically as he fired the last round in the Winchester 30 30, and slid it back into the scabbard on the bike then pulled the M-4 from his back and began to fire short controlled bursts. Like the others he was scared of what was coming but resigned that he was about to die. the only thing that truly pissed him off was not being able to die knowing Kronnen was dead.

Ori was the first to hear the music it was symphonic but something modern like a movie theme it was damned familiar to him. Du DU DU dum dumdum, he had no idea where it was coming from and the undead didn’t seem to care. Then over the music he heard motors, he turned to north in time to see three large package vans enter the park like parking area, the music came from loudspeakers mounted on the roof of one vehicle.

The delivery trucks swerved from side to side plowing down the undead; the bodies that didn’t vanish under the wheels of the trucks were sent cartwheeling through the air.

Jared laughed as he recognized the music was from Star wars he wasn’t sure it what it was called, Eric would know, but Jared thought it was Imperial something or other. The trucks burst through the undead and came to a stop, then rear doors opened up, ramps were run out as floodlights mounted on the roof came to life bathing the area in bright light.

Jared stopped firing looking on in disbelief as Storm troopers armed with M16’s M-4s, swords, some kind of crescent moon shaped weapons that looked like Klingon weapons he had seen on episodes of Star Trek and a variety of other bladed weapons from every movie and TV show ever made. He started laughing as some one dressed like Darth Vader leaped out armed with a Katana and led the storm troopers into the Undead clearing a path. While another truck circled them running down the undead, that got to close.

Over the music, some one began to talk over the loudspeakers. “ hey guys, don’t just sit there get moving while we hold the way open, go west on K street we will catch up.”

Jared slung his weapon, he didn’t care who these folks were they had plowed a path and he was going to take it.

The undead from every other direction were almost close enough to be a danger now to all but the Storm troopers in their plastic armor. Yes I really thought that, He gunned his bike, waving his friends towards the gap the Storm troopers had opened. I never thought I would be rescued by Darth Vader, Jared thought laughing as he shot forward with his friends blowing past the men fighting the undead, and out into the clear. They hit the street, and turned west which was really the only way to go, the undead were thick to the east and closing in.

They had to weave around clumps of undead that were still coming around the building that were late to the party, but in moments Jared and his friends were past the bulk of the undead and accelerating away.

There were far fewer undead the further west they went, after five blocks Jared slowed then stopped in the middle of the street, seeing only ten or so zombies scattered along the street ahead of them.

They didn’t have to wait long, the Package van appeared two minutes later slowing only long enough for a guy to stick his head out the window to tell them to follow the delivery trucks.

“Any one else feel uneasy about following Darth Vader” Ronny said as they started after the vehicles.

“Your just worried he will do some evil Jedi mind trick and abuse you.” Ori said

“I hated that movie” Darius said, ignoring the surprised looks the others gave him. “it was boring” he said defensively.

Ronny laughed at that but kept any jokes he thought of to himself as they wove through mostly empty streets till they finally pulled up behind a huge building into what looked like some kind of delivery area. One set of large doors in the wall rolled up letting lantern light stream out casting a warm welcome splash of light The Delivery trucks pulled inside, Jared hesitated then shrugged and led his friends inside. They parked and killed the motors looking around the huge room, only partly filled with boxes, milk crates loaded with parts and other gear, and garbage bags. The doors closed behind them sealing them in from the dark city beyond.

Jared climbed off the Dirt bike noting the twenty men scattered around the room, all armed with edged weapons. He left his HK slung across his back, as he stood there watching as the back of the delivery trucks opened and men began to climb out, most carrying their helmets under their arm, revealing sweat soaked hair. most of them looked to be mid twenties, a couple were wearing birth control glasses.

Darth Vader was the last to step out of the truck that carried him, he walked over and extended a gloved hand. “I am not Darth Vader,and I am not your father” he said then laughed hoarsely “ Brody Martin, Welcome to the Convention center and you are”

“Jared Stone, and I’m taking it you haven’t met or dealt with too many people in the last year or so.” The idiot was to trusting, to have dealt with more than a handful of people.

“if you mean out there, no, if you mean in here, well we have more than a few in here” Brody said a he pulled off the helmet and mask. Revealing a square jawed face with deep set brown eyes, a narrow nose with a scar across the bridge of his nose, and sweat soaked Brown hair. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days. Not that shaving was high on the list of priorities in the apocalypse.

“Now for the Sixty four thousand dollar question, why did you help us” Jared asked, not bothering to hid his suspicion.

“To be honest it was our fault you got surrounded” Brody said shaking his head regretfully.

“Your fault?” Jared asked raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah sorry man, see when we go out to scavenge we send out a small group first to lure the undead out of the area we are going to be scavenging from. It never gets them all out, but it gets most of them out of the area and makes it safer to gather supplies. We had been luring them into that area for the last two days, when you came roaring in, one of our guys who had been watching radioed to let me know what was going on. I couldn’t just let you get ripped apart. So we came to help. it wont be safe out there for a few days so if you want you can stay here.”

“Your making the assumption that one, we can be trusted and two that we will trust you” Jared pointed out.

“Yeah, true. But honestly we are willing to take the chance. But Ill let Alyssa explain why later.” Brody said “why don’t you get your gear and Ill show you where you can sleep. Besides they are starting to unload our haul”

Jared nodded not showing any of the apprehension he felt and quickly retrieved his saddles bags and extra weapons from the bike, as more men and women entered the cavernous room and began to offload boxes and bags from the trucks and stacked them off to one side.

As soon as Ori and the others had gotten their gear off the bikes, they followed Brody, who carried a LED lantern, through wide halls made of cinder block, two men still dressed in Storm trooper armor, sans helmets, with M16s casually trailing them.

Smart move Jared thought, but Darius and Ronny could probably drop both of them before the troopers could get their weapons into play. That following Darth Vader and being followed by Storm Troopers felt surreal was a given but Jared took it in stride trying to hide a smile as he thought about how much Eric would love this.

Brody led them through double metal door into one of convention halls, every where Jared looked were tables and Booths loaded with books, DVDs, and Movie memorabilia from Sci fi and fantasy movies. The room was dimly lit with scattered lanterns, leaving pools of darkness covering many areas of the room.

“I guess this explains the Star wars armor and some of the weapons” Ori said actually chuckling. “you folks were having a Con when the world went to shit.”

“Yeah, we were having a blast too,” Brody said leading them across the room, here and there Jared saw a cluster of people sitting and reading, or talking quietly. “then the world ended. We thought it was really cool, till we saw what was really going on . for a few weeks we even believed the Military would come charging in and rescue us,clear out the city and life would go back to normal. Then the power went off.” Brody said his voice dropping as he remembered the fear that had finally taken hold of the people who had remained at the con.

He led them out into a wide carpeted hallway with a soft pastel wallpaper and pictures of the convention center on the walls. “Once the power went out, we finally realized how deep the shit we were in was. I guess that’s what drove so many to finally try and get home, or just give up and walk outside. There were two thousand some odd folks here after the third day, we are down a lot today.” Brody said as he led them through hallways and into an office section. “We cleaned out the offices a while back, so you can use any of them or just one its your choice.”

“What would the guards prefer?” Jared asked almost laughing at the embarrassed look on Brody’s face.

“I’m sorry man, but we don’t know you,.” Brody said

“Don’t apologize, I don’t blame you, as long as you don’t try to screw us we will get along fine.” Jared said with a hard smile. “to make things easy for the gaurds we will use one room, we aren’t used to having a lot of privacy or space any more anyway/”

Once they got settled into the biggest office, Brody left them with the lantern and went to talk to his people while the storm troopers stood in the hallway, it was obvious they had no clue how to stand guard outside of what they had seen in movies.

Ori sat down on his sleeping back and began to clean his weapons. “well the fact that they didn’t try to take our weapons says either they are trusting or scared if they did try would shoot them. Bright side is, if those guys out there are like the Storm troopers in Star Wars, they cant shoot the broad side of a barn from the inside so if we have to fight out way out it should be easy especially if we carry metal pipes”

Darius looked puzzled by that last remark. Ronny and Jared only nodded. “ its in the movies, come on that was funny.” He said then sighed. “in the movies if there was a metal rod, pipe or bar in a hundred feet storm trooper would hit it a dozen times each so the characters could get away. I bet Brody would have found that funny.”

“The man dresses like Darth Vader, he is a nerd” Ronny said. “ just say the word booby and he will laugh.”

Jared leaned back against the wall and smiled at Ronny. “I would love to see you explain how nerdy guys like Brody are to Eric.” Ronny fell silent remembering hearing about Eric, as a teenager, having a Star fleet uniform he would wear to the small cons and events he went to. “I’m pretty sure as a Special forces nerd, he will find that funny”

Two hours later, Jared looked up at the knock on the door, then the door opened and Brody entered with a woman following him.

“Jared, this is Alyssa” he said indicating the long legged, dark haired woman. She gave them a cautious smile, nervously brushing a lock of hair away from her face. She had the olive complexion that pegged her as Italian or possibly Greek descent. . her face was slightly squared , dark eyes looked out from behind stylish glasses. Ronny licked his lips but wisely remained quiet, his eyes slid up and down her taut trim body.

“Its good to meet you again” She said in a voice like velvet.

“Again?” Jared asked.

“The other times were dreams” She said “you were on an island, dancing with a woman in a wedding gown on the walls of what looked like a fort or something. And now you’re here to fight the Warlord” Jared didn’t know what to say, but Ronny did.

“Well that figures another good looking woman dreaming about Jared. I cant win for losing.” Ronny muttered.

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

2230hrs Tunnel System.

The undead came slowly and silently staggering up to the barricade that blocked the tunnel. With no more need to hide, lights were turned on revealing the undead as far back down the tunnel as the light would reach, a sea of Death pushing against the barricade.

Daws grimly looked over the scene then turned to Spacey. “ Tell Reese we need to get these vehicles outside, when this barricade comes down we will lose any vehicle still in the tunnel.”

As Spacey raced off Daws looked at Cooper, “pass the word, if the barricade starts giving way, I want every one to run for the door. We can get more vehicles and equipment later.” Cooper nodded in a agreement and turned and told the next man.

Reese must have agreed with Daws, five minutes later he heard motors starting up at the front of the line, the sound of the HETs diesel channeled back down the tunnel shaking the air.

At the sound of the motors the undead began to push up against the barricade pawing and slapping. Daws could only pray that the damn barricade would hold up against the weight of the horde long enough for the vehicles and the men and women holding the line to get to safety before it came down.

He jerked around as he heard a scream and saw Max falling from the barricade to land on the dead below. “Sweet Jesus” some one moaned as Max shrieked in agony, blood sprayed into the air as hands tore at him and teeth ripped. Daws’s weapon snapped into position. He sighted with a ease born of natural talent, through the scope he saw the fear and pain in Max’s eyes as he was torn apart. Daws fired once putting his round between Max’s eyes. He lowered his rifle, and looked down the line where every one looked shocked at what had happened. “Get down, Down off the barricade. Move it NOW” Daws shouted as he leaped down.

“What do we do now Sarge” Cooper asked leaping down beside Daws.

“We are going up to the door, if the barricade comes down, we will keep the undead out till the last vehicle is through and the door is shut. “ Daws said then triggered the light on his M-4 and walked quickly over to the men who had been standing on either side of Max.

“What happened” He asked

“He was just standing there looking down, and then fell forward like he had lost his balance or something “ Private West said looking sick, and wiping at the blood that had sprayed across his face.

Corporal Perry nodded in a agreement, “I only looked when he was screaming and going over the wall. but he was wind milling his arms around like he was trying to catch his balance.

“Get to the door and standby” Daws said harshly, Max’s terrified face haunting him.

Daws stood there for a moment eying the barricade, made from tin and portable walls and shook his head, he turned and started towards the door only to stop as his foot hit something that rolled away. Shining his Tac light down, he saw a long pole laying on the ground.

His eyes narrowed as he turned his head and looked back up to the narrow walkway they had built using empty crates and cases. He mentally judged the distance at about ten feet from where he stood, then at the 12 foot pole on the ground that had come from the stores truck. Standing right here, some one could have stood right here in the dark unseen by any one standing at the barricade. With the motors running and every ones attention on the screaming man no one would have heard that pole hit the ground as who ever had used it had slipped away into the darkness. And since none of the vehicles had head lights on and the only lights that had been on were facing away from the vehicles, who ever it was could be anywhere along the line or possible even back in the lit room on the other side of the blast door.

Word spread quickly about Max as the vehicles rolled through the storage room and up into the construction area, for the moment the story was Max had suffered an accident, the only one who knew Daws’s suspicions was Reese who seemed to agree.

As the last six vehicles began to roll up and out of the tunnel, a section of the Barricade fell in with a crash allowing the dead entry the rest of the barricade creaked and groaned, its integrity broken the rest would come down any time now.

“hold your fire for the moment” Daws said the undead had a lot of tunnel to cover to reach the door, and he didn’t want to waste ammo. The last ve3hicle would make it through the door before the undead and that’s when they would have to start shooting, the door was slow to close and that would allow the undead a chance to get inside.

the MEV the last vehicle in the line rolled past the door and Daws hit the button to close the door. It began to move, faster than one would expect for something its size and weight but it still seemed to creep along at a glacial pace as the undead advanced.

“ All right, you know the drill slow and steady, don’t waste ammo.” Daws said as he lifted his rifle to his shoulder. “Open fire” he called out.

Bullets slammed into the undead, 90 percent of the weapons fire found its mark dropping the undead that were targeted, 10 percent missed the mark and took a second round to finish off the targets. Bodies began to pile up, but the undead kept coming, staggering over the corpses on the ground wading into the gun fire soaking up precious ammunition. It was like watching the ocean roll in, each wave got a little closer. However, every second of delay allowed the door to move a little more.

“Grenade” Daws called out as he shifted to the 203 mounted on his rifle and sent a 40 mike mike sailing down the tunnel where it exploded, the shrapnel ripping through arms and legs crippling and maiming the walking dead, four actually died as shrapnel struck them in the head.

“Grenade out” Cooper hollered as he tossed a Frag into the tunnel.

“Save the grenades for Kronnen’s men” Reese bellowed as he came up to the door adding his fire to the other fighting to hold the dead back. “they don’t kill or cripple enough to make a big difference.”

As the gap narrowed between the door and the doorframe, fewer men could fire into the advancing dead, allowing more undead to draw closer. Daws stepped to the side, popping the spent mag out of his rifle allowing Spacey to step into his place, while Daws reloaded.

The undead swept closer, over the bodies of the dead that had come before. They came at a slow jog as if realizing they had to beat the blast door. But it was too late for them, they were till five feet away when the door finally closed with a boom, then the sound of the bolts slamming into place.

“all right people, I want everything packed up and ready to move out, the moment we get the word.” Reese said turning away from the now sealed door. “any undead in the area will have heard the motors and will be heading here. so our time here is limited no matter what happens. Jansen see if we have a street map of DC, lets make a back up plan in case we have to leave before Jared finishes scouting out a location for us to head too. Eric, I would like you to loan that Barret with the NVG scope to Steger who is going to be climbing up on that cranes boom and keeping an eye on the guests who show up. Steger take rappelling gear so if you have to abandon the post you can get down in seconds.” Reese continued to call out orders .

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

Kronnen sat in the small living room of his RV staring out the window not really seeing anything because his mind was mulling over the information that Bedford had supplied. He didn’t trust Bedford, no matter how much help the good general had been. No like Kronnen himself, Bedford has his own plans and they did not particularly mesh with Kronnen’s.

But Bedford needed Stone killed just as badly as Kronnen did, so chances were very good that the location he had passed on to Kronnen was accurate. But the route he had suggested might not be the best one to take. He pushed his woman’s face from his lap and rose to his feet pacing the small living room. Ignoring the cowering pregnant woman who had been pleasuring him.

No he would go with the route he had already decided on, it would take longer to reach the Train yard but he felt more confident about it.

He turned hands on his hips and stared down at the woman on the floor, ever since he had found her screaming in her sleep, writhing on the floor she had been different somehow. Not that he really cared, when asked she had only said she had, had a nightmare. That was all she had needed to say, no one had normal dreams or even normal nightmares any more. If they dreamed at all it was either from the light or the dark, and Nightmares were where Jasper Brown walked these days.

“you know this is the way you were always meant to be. Naked, Pregnant and at a mans feet. You and women like you got uppity, brought this down on us.” He said with a smile. She didn’t rise to the bait which annoyed him. he saw her lips move and squatted beside her grabbed her breast and twisted smiling at her hiss of pain. “what was that you said.” He asked coolly then twisted again.

“I didn’t say anything” she cried, her voice hoarse. She didn’t talk much at the best of times which was exactly what Kronnen liked.

“I think you did say something and I want to hear what it was’ He said another jarring smile that only underscored how much he really like hurting her on every level he could.

He started to squeeze and twist again “I said, Please don’t hurt me” She screamed.

He placed a hand on her swollen belly, feeling the life growing within her. he felt the hunger inside him surge, and a red haze hung before his eyes. He licked his lips in anticipation of the meal before him. then rose abruptly, forcing aside the hunger and looking down on the shuddering woman and smiled mockingly then turned and walked back to the window.

She lay there starting at the dirty carpet then finally lifted her eyes to see Kronnen naked as the day he was born standing at the window. At on point she might have found his corded muscled body attractive, but now all she felt was fear and loathing. The thing , the Ghost had taunted her with her’s and her babies fate, she was under no illusions what lay ahead of her. she looked at the clothes Kronnen had stripped off earlier and saw the hilt of the Knife sticking out from under his shirt.

With trembling hands and a heart full of hate she drew the knife and climbed to her feet, just stab him, and keeping stabbing till he is dead, then drive it into his skull to keep him from coming back. With a scream she threw herself on the man who had reduced her to nothing, who had taken her name, her past and everything she had been and might have been. The knife came down.

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

“…..So when I heard them talking about four men on motorcycles, I remembered the dream I had last night where I had seen the four of you walking down the street pushing motorcycles down the street and along train tracks, I knew the four men that the scouts had spotted had to be you.” Alyssa said softly.

Jared didn’t doubt she had been having dreams like she claimed, nor did he really doubt that one of her dead relatives or a dead ex boy friend had told her about Jared, The safe zone and the Warlord. What pissed him off was the dead only seemed to tell a few people what was going on. Why not just appear to every one left, tell them what was going on, have them pick sides then hammer it out. This whole prophetic dream crap, ghosts and everything else needed to end along with the undead.

“Pretty big stretch to be honest” Ronny said.

“Yeah how many people do you think are pushing dirt bikes around DC right now?,” Ori said sarcastically.

Jared noted the love struck looks Brody gave Alyssa when she wasn’t looking at him, some things never changer undead or not, he thought a lopsided smile spread across his face. “Considering some of the dreams I’ve had, I don’t doubt you.” Jared said hoping and praying that this wasn’t another one of those you have save us obi wan kenobi jobs. He snorted a laugh at the thought drawing puzzled looks from both Brody and Alyssa.

“Sorry thinking about my brother who, if he were here would be trying to find a woman in a gold bikini to fulfill a teen age fantasy.” Jared said not about to tell him his real thoughts.

Brodys eyes flashed to Alyssa, who looked embarrassed, with a flash of intuition Jared realized that was probably the costume that Alyssa had worn and did his best not to smile.

“Ill be honest here, I’m not here to rescue you folks. I can only say that when the business that brought me here is over, if you want to go back to the Safe zone, your more than welcome to. But currently we are low on just about everything, including ammo, food and medicine.” Jared said.

“We were supposed to help you” Alyssa said “not have you help us.”

“I see, well at the moment I don’t need help I just need to contact my people. and let them know what’s going on. And my radio isn’t getting much if any signal in here.”

“Would it work better from the roof” Brody asked as he stepped to the office door.

“Probably” Jared said rising to his feet as he slung his HK across his back.

Brody let him up to the roof, where the rain had finally stopped, then left him alone so Jared could talk freely with only a dim chem. Stick light that couldn’t be seen from more than six feet away. Jared wasn’t sure what to make of Brody and his group. They were far to trusting in his book and that bothered him.

it could be an act but why he didn’t know they would be trying to fool him and his friends especially when they had let Jared and the others keep their weapons. Not to mention saved their lives. So stop being paranoid take it at face value for the moment, if they are planning something nasty youll probably figure it out in time anyway.

“This is Alpha one Actual to Baker three zero.” He transmitted, not getting a response he tried again, then a third time.

He was just about to give up, when he heard a tinny voice, “this is Baker Three zero, Two November Charley One Alpha. Repeat, Two November Charley One Alpha.”

“Roger, Foxtrot echo one niner” Jared replied with the password.

“Cope foxtrot echo one niner.”

“Listen, the signal is weak so here goes. The Station is off limits do not approach. if you have to leave current location, I have no suggestions at this time, but a place might be available by tomorrow, I have to check with the current owners” he transmitted then quickly outlined what had happened having to repeat himself several times as the signal came and went.

When he finished there was silence for a couple of minutes, Jared was just concluding that the signal was gone for good when he heard. “ Copy all, Baker Three zero actual confirms, Tomorrows challenge is jump three.” Baker three zero actual meant Reese was speaking. Jump three meant move up three spaces on the challenge and password generation table that Jared carried. It was the only way they could come up with to set new pass codes with out meeting in person.

“Copy Jump three, God speed Alpha one Actual out.” Jared replied then headed for the door to the roof where Brody waited. Now all I have to do is talk Brody into letting the convoy bunk here till we can secure a better place.

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

Mikhail was furious, That stupid Cow, that Pizda,, I warned her, and still she went and killed the one person that would turn suspicion on her and onto myself by extension. Yobanaya suka he swore silently.

He handed the box he carried up to one of the men in the back of the Truck, wanting to do nothing more than slip away find Julie and kill her slowly and with much pain. Show her the many ways the KGB had taught professionals to kill.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Reese and the man every had started calling Priest, talking to Proctor. Yebat’Vashu Mat. Mikhail casually turned away, heading back to the Storage room for another box of gear, keeping the ruined side of his face towards Proctor.

As soon as I find her I will kill her and claim she attacked me, they will believe that. Your days bitch are numbered, and once you are dead and Jared is back with the group I will destroy this convoy. I can only hope Jared survives so I can kill him with my bare hands.

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

The weather was changing, winter was starting to lose its grip on the world once more, Spring hovered just out of sight waiting for its time. But over it all there was a heavy electric feel to the air, a harbinger of the coming storm, a Storm that the living might not survive.

Men, women, and children in their rotting thousands, Staggered, lurched and crawled, towards the city that had once housed the leaders of the United States. Driven be a compulsion they could not deny, The Dark was on the move and with it came madness and chaos. They were the outriders of the Storm, behind them came Hell.

” Lo, a shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific,
Self-clos’d, all-repelling: what demon
Hath form’d this abominable void,
This soul-shudd’ring vacuum? Some said
“It is Urizen.” ”

~Blake

16 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty nine

  1. Thanks for another great entry Okelly 🙂 A Sci-Fy Con……Classic!

    I wondered about the effectiveness of Storm Trooper armor……The helmets are kinda hard to see out of though.

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  2. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year and a half since you’ve started writing about Jared and his adventures in the AUD Universe. I appreciate how much your writing has actually gotten better (minus the minor grammatical errors which take away nothing from the story) and your storytelling is, bar none, one of the best in this genre. Sorry to see it coming to an end soon, but you and Jared need a long vacation! Thanks again for keeping a lot of people entertained, enthralled, and anxiously awaiting the next chapter!

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    • I think its been longer than a year and half but I might be wrong LOL I do know its been a while. and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

      Thanks Im glad you appreciate the improvement and enjoy the story. That is by far one heck of a great compliment in my book.

      You are more than welcome Sepharich, I am humbled and pretty happy that you and others like you have enjoyed it. Thank you for reading.

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  3. The way you weave the story makes for wonderful cliffhangers. I hate the down time between chapters. I almost want to take a month off and come back and catch up so I don’t have to wait. But then I would be afraid I would miss something.

    Is there any way to get the entire series in one document or grouped by story in one document?

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    • Thanks for reading.. Sorry about the delays, not much I can do about that, I can only type so fast and have so much time to do it in. LOL I could hire a secretary and dictate I guess.

      at this point I only have it assembled in chapters, but when I finally finish the storm my plan is to go back and edit, starting with the Clock Runs down and when that is finished I might publish it as an EBook..

      I haven’t decided yet, personally Id love to Make the first part of the Clock into a movie. But with out a miracle or Brad Pitt its not likely to happen.

      Unless I can find some really great CGI modelers and do it as a animated movie.

      Thanks again for reading, and Im glad youve enjoyed it.

      Like

thanks for reading please leave a reply

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