Chapter Twenty one

“They traded with the careless earth,
And good return it gave:
They plotted by their neighbour’s hearth
The means to make him slave.

When all was ready to their hand
They loosed their hidden sword,
And utterly laid waste a land
Their oath was pledged to guard.

Coldly they went about to raise
To life and make more dread
Abominations of old days,
That men believed were dead.

They paid the price to reach their goal
Across a world in flame;
But their own hate slew their own soul
Before that victory came.”
~ Rudyard Kipling

Jan 8th

Jared walked out of the Bed and Breakfast, Nibbler trotting beside him. turning up his collar against the icy rain, he watched the Twin otter line up on the Runway they had beaten down in the field, men ran along both sides of the runway lighting the oil cans, till two lines of burning cans marked the edges of the runway for the plane as it approached.

The plane came in quickly touching down as gently as possible on a rough field, it came to a stop at the end of the field then turned and taxied around and parked beside the UV.

“Come on dog” Jared said walking along the path that had been beaten down by the HET. The high dead weeds on either side creaked and rattled with each gust of wind. He couldn’t help but smile as he saw the hatch open and a wide shouldered dark haired man in ACU’s stepped out, a Green Beret covered the familiar dark hair he kept High and tight.

“I Swear Nugget you get uglier every time I see you” Jared said as he stepped up and hugged his Brother.

“I will hurt you if you call me Nugget again” Eric said laughing as he hugged Jared back. “and we both know the truth, the reason you haven’t wanted me around is that you know that your wife will dump you for my handsome self if I spend to much time around her.” Eric said releasing his brother and pulled him off to the side as more men and a woman climbed out of the Twin otter.

“you surely wish that were true” Jared said, his smile fading. “what was the situation on the island when you left.”

“Good actually, we blew the crap out of their mortar nests, and snipers, and the base they had sat up in that amusement park. I don’t think more than forty survived, but reinforcements showed up the next day.” Eric said with a shrug. “ They must have some 60mm knee mortars, because they dropped a few along the marshes, before we left.”

“I wish you had stayed to help them, as much as I need you, the Island needs you more.” Jared said.

“don’t worry about it big brother, Simms was in bound when we left, and I can promise you that Kronnen’s men will not like meeting Simms. Major Campbell was going to link up with Simms north of Mt. Pleasant. Those river rats that work with you were going to carry them up river. So don’t you worry about Sullivan” Eric said, then noticed Jared Looking at the former Civilians who were all wearing either BDU’s or Acu’s and wore Green Berets.

“Lew?” Jared said shaking his head “ you brought Lew”

“Don’t give me that look, Boom Boom is a good trooper, still green but learning. “ Eric said.

“Boom Boom” Jared asked raising an eyebrow.

“long story Ill tell you later, we asked for volunteers to train for a new unit on the island, Me and Campbell took the best of them, and trust me when I say we put them through hell in the time we had. So now they are learning OJT style.” Eric said.

Jared eyes widened as he saw Chad, the Former college football player had become incredibly valuable to the group during the trek Sullivan and taking the Terminal. “Chad, son of dog, its good to see you” Jared said stepping forward and extending a hand. Then did the one armed hug . “still got your cricket bat I see “ Jared said with a grin seeing the handle stick up above Chad’s shoulder. “and the hell is it with Mohawks lately” He asked seeing the narrow strip of black hair on top of Chad’s head.

“ You would be surprised at the hair styles springing up on the island. Mohawks are getting popular.” Chad said smiling as Jared clapped him on a broad shoulder.

“The apocalypse must be coming to an end soon , if people are back worrying about hair.” Jared commented. “its really good to see you again.”

“If your done humping my guy’s leg Jared” Eric said

“if you get sick of him, I have an opening in a new team” Jared told Chad with a smile.

“all right, you maggots get your gear stowed in the building, and you meats break out the books and study.” Eric told his people, not a one of them grumbled, Jared wouldn’t have expected the SF men to no matter what, but Lew and the others, just nodded and headed for the B&B.

“Chad is not a bad guy, once he finishes his training, I seriously thing he should be placed in charge of a team.” Eric said, “Now why don’t you show me what you have on this camp, and your initial plans so I can decided how best to use my men.” Eric said. “ Depending on how fast you want to do this, the Second South Carolina and Jareds irregulars will be here in three days”

“The What?” Jared asked glowering at his brother.

“Do not blame me, I tried to talk them out of it. told them that was like begging to be beaten up in elementary school but they decided that’s they name they wanted.” Eric said with a shrug.

“who the hell are they and for that matter who is the Second South Carolina Regiment.” Jared asked a smile breaking out, he knew the history and it was fitting, all things considered. The 2nd Sc Regiment had been the men who had not only built the first Fort Moultrie but had held Charleston harbor for ten hours of British Bombardment and siege in 1176, during the Battle, as the legend goes, the Flag, later called the liberty flag, was shot away and fell to the ground, Sergeant William Jasper ran out into the open and hoisted the flag back up Rallied the troops and turned the tide of battle against the Brits.

“Well, the 2nd are the twenty volunteers we trained for the Island, and led by Adam Crenshaw, he was the one that talked to his men who voted for the name, then told Ashton to get bent with the fourth platoon idea.” Eric said .

“Adam Crenshaw, that was the guy that fought with the Wrinkled Rangers wasn’t he?” Jared asked.

“the very same. Those old men changed his life that day to hear him tell it.” Eric replied as he stomped his feet, “ Lets get inside Jared, no point in standing out here in this crap.”

“Jareds Irregulars.” Jared prompted..

“Well you know Cade Ross?”

“Yeah, he was with me at the Bunker, nice guy bu….. Your telling me he didn’t go back to the island.”

“Not just him twenty other men and women stayed to help you out.” Eric said as he grabbed his ruck and headed towards the B&B, “stop staring, close your mouth and followed me to the building. I know mom always told you to get out the rain. ”

****************************
Mt. Pleasant, S.C 1200 hrs

“I wished the damn movies had been right” Richard Mars snarled as he turned to face his Lt. Who had just delivered news that in no way could he believe was good..

“What movies?” The Lt. asked puzzled.

“the end of the world movies where only forty or so people ever seemed to live, because this little area of the apocalypse is damn crowded” Mars snapped.

In all the months of traveling with Kronnen, the largest concentration of survivors he had ever seen in one spot was fifty, in some of the cities there were more, but they were scattered all over the city in groups of two to ten people. never concentrated together, but here.. there were at least a thousand on the island or that’s what the four scouts that had returned claimed and a couple of hundred people holed on that old Air craft carrier as well. And more of them running around north of his position, four of the ten scouts he had sent to check out the island had survived, no returned, it was possible a few had gone over to the other side.

But not one of the ten he had sent north had come back, whether killed by the undead or killed by who ever was lurking out there sniping at his guards at night he didn’t know.

He couldn’t get men into place to snipe at the carrier because they had snipers up in the superstructure, they had spotted every attempt he had made to get snipers into position and the other side with the superior height advantage, had taken five of his snipers out. He had given up on that option, the best he could hope for was to keep them pinned in on the carrier and let them starve to death.

The island on the other hand had food, and were sending boats out to fish from the ocean side, and there was nothing he could about it, his predecessor had tried to send boats out to stop them only to be fired on and sunk by some big ass coast guard ship the island was using.

There was only one way, and that was to blow through the gates, and bring along a vehicle to plug the hole once his men were on the isle of Palms, if he could keep the undead off the isle or keep the numbers that followed him in low enough they could clear them out and fight conventionally , only having to worry about the men who died coming back. and it would be damn nice to fight on the ground with out fear of the undead pouring out every building, hole and dark spot.

He was going to have to order the attack before he took to many more causality’s from the group to the north.

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

Kronnen sat quietly on his couch, listening as Proctor finished reporting the fly over.
“you say when he was first spotted he was heading north, then came back to fly over our camp before flying north again,” Kronnen said in a normal conversational tone that bothered Proctor.

“yes” Proctor replied, knowing just by the tone Kronnen wasn’t really interested in what Proctor had to say.

“Then I suspect that Stone is no position to attack our camp” Kronnen said dismissively. “he is in or near D.C. and was trying to see how far behind him we are and his plane stumbled on our camp.”

Proctor opened his mouth, closed it then opened it again. “we don’t know that for a fact Sir, he might have doubled back using one of those back routes he likes so much. He could be in position to attack our main camp, and we can not risk losing those supplies. If we do it will seriously impede our ability to take the fight to Stone.”

“true” Kronnen said with a satisfied smile, that worried Proctor, apparently Proctor had said something Kronnen had hoped would be said, which again made Proctor wonder exactly what was tumbling around in Kronnen’s brain lately.

“ I think you have a very good point,” Kronnen said as he opened the atlas that lay beside him. “the problem being we have yet to locate a suitable location for the next camp, so I don’t want them just rolling around wasting fuel. Another problem we face, as you well know, the next camp will be much closer to D.C as well as other heavily built up areas which increases the odds of being over run by the undead. So it is critical we find the best defensive spot we can for setting up our camp.
I have three scout teams out working hard to find a suitable location, but it may still take several days to locate the appropriate site.

Kronnen was silent for a moment then cast a glance at the bedroom door of the motor home. “Considering the potential threat to the main camp, I would like you to take Eklof’s squad to escort my new woman back to the camp and then assume control of the camp till this business with stone is finished.” Kronnen said still with that feigned distracted thoughtful tone. And just yesterday he was going to send both women back Proctor thought I wonder why he is keeping the pregnant woman with him, could he actually give a damn. “Just to be safe I want some one I trust implicitly in command.” Kronnen said.

Proctor didn’t let his emotions show on his face, for Kronnen to send him away meant he had fallen much further out of favor than he had thought and Eklof was definitely on the do not trust for active operations list these days, Eklof had made some noise lately about when rebuilding was going to start and why were they wasting resources and lives going after a group that had not attacked them.

And Eklof knew damn well that the only reason Stone had attacked them in Knoxville was because of the kidnapping of the woman and those kids., he had been against it from the beginning which consequently was the beginning of his fall from grace.

Proctor had tried to be Kronnen’s conscious, to keep him grounded. Like the ancient world where triumphant generals entering Rome to be honored by the Senate had a friend or slave ride behind the general to remind the General he was only a Mortal man. Proctor had tried to curb his old friends worst excesses, and had succeed about half the time, but once Williams had come on the scene things had changed.

The problem really was in the beginning every one was desperate and scared, Kronnen had taken over leadership, he had presented his ideals of a rebuilding and making a society where strength was praised, and you earned your keep. What few things that were objectionable like breeders had been justified away by the harsh conditions of the times and telling each other at least they had volunteered and were fulfilling a needed role, but as things leveled out, as they became more secure, the fear had faded, they had began to looked deeper, and found that not all the breeders were volunteers, some were forced into it because one of Kronnen’s favorites like Tyler was attracted to a particular woman, or in rare cases a man who had been taken in a supply run. Kronnen had tried to distance the Guard from his Inmates, to keep to much of the story getting out to men he knew had been and were still basically decent people. .

To many had vanished, to many had slipped away in the night, not to be noticed. It was well known what happens to those who fail Kronnen, and Proctor had finally convinced him at least for the short term to curb his slaughter of those who failed him but it had been to late, the Guard and some of the, if not all of the civilians had grown apprehensive of Kronnen’s excesses and his reliance on the worst of the inmates, men he gathered around him.

The majority of the guard had been regulated to protecting the Main camp and a few of the installations that Kronnen had seized. Those guardsmen he still trusted had been kept with the advance force, Eklof had been one of them till Knoxville.

“Any orders on how to proceed if the camp comes under attack” Proctor asked, nothing of his thoughts and fears showed on his face.

“Do what is necessary to protect our supplies:” Kronnen said, not protect the civilians or the breeders, not even his new woman, just the supplies.

“very well, Ill do all that I can to make that happen” Proctor said refusing to ask for clarifications, that would give his ‘old friend’ an excuse to curtail any actions his vague order didn’t cover, like breaking camp to try and get away from any attackers.

Kronnen didn’t say anything else so Proctor turned and headed for the door, only to stop as Kronnen cleared his throat. “I wanted to say thanks, you’ve always been a good friend to me. No matter how this turns out, I wanted you to know what” Kronnen said.

“you too Nathan” Proctor replied surprised at the admission. For just a moment a sliver of time, he saw his old friend sitting there, the man he had drank with, gone on double dates with, the man he had spent hours talking about world events and solving all the worlds problems while BBqing, the man he had known before the dead had risen. Then that man was gone, the hard glint back in his eyes, the sardonic knowing smile flickered across his lips.

“I will have my new Breeder sent over to you in a short while, Id like to sample her goods again before I send her to the main camp” Kronnen said with a dark smile “and you are to make sure no other man breeds her Proctor, no one, not even you.”

“Of course not” Proctor agreed, happy to be able to get the girl away from Kronnens descent into even deeper levels of madness.

Proctor hadn’t been banned from taking his own RV, which meant he could at least get the two women that had been living with him out with the new girl.

Once he was at the camp, the best he could hope for was there was no attack and he could find a way regain the trust that Kronnen had lost in him, he owed it to the friend Kronnen had been to try and help the man from going to far down the path to hell, but he was afraid it might be to late, far to late. And then what do I do, he asked himself. He had no answer for that.

The B&B camp Virginia , 1400 hrs

“How long do you think we have before this force moves on” Eric asked.

“I have no idea anything I come up with will be nothing but a guess” Jared said glancing at Darius who shrugged.

“to be honest Jared I don’t see us pulling off a raid on this camp” Eric said.

Nate started to Protest but a sharp look from Darius and he settled back in his chair looking at Eric angrily.

Darius shook his head, Nate had almost come to blows with Jared earlier over the whole civilians and what if any casualty’s Jared was willing to accept for the civilians in the camp. Nate wanted them all dead, Jared, well Jared didn’t see it that way. Darius respected that, any man that wanted to find a way to keep from killing people was okay in his book.

Nate knew as well as Darius than many of the civilians in Kronnen’s group had no where to go and no way to get there if they did have place to go. Once you linked up with Kronnen you were in for the long haul or you died.

Something other than fear for his wife was eating at Nate and Darius had no clue what it might be. what he did know if Jared was bad news to take a swing at, his brother was probably worse and Nate was just angling to get his ass handed to him.

“Okay Nugget, why not” Jared said rubbing his eyes, it had already been a long day.

Eric glared at him but said nothing about the hated childhood nickname. “ the undead, we cant sneak in, and we cant get enough men close enough to attack with out being either heard by those in the camp or swarmed by the undead. our options are one, blew the package van they are using as a mobile gate and rush the wall with the Stryker, HET and maybe the ELSORV or two some how slip inside and attempt to seize the camp.

The problem with one is, once the package van is removed the undead around their camp will swarm inside, and we risk losing men the moment we have to dismount to seize their fuel and supply trucks. The problem with two is, even if I could come up with a way to get men inside with out alerting the men on guard, it wont be enough men to take the camp, and we cant just move the package van and allow you to charge in because we are back to the undead swarming in and then we have to deal with both Kronnens men and the undead and that raises the risk of our men dying.” Eric said as he studied the pictures Ronny had taken with the UV’s cameras.

“I take it you have an idea” Jared said watching his brother’s face, not for the first time he realized just how lucky he was that he still had friends and family, where so many others had lost them all.

“Yes, I do, and its insane and totally unexpected. The problem is will they pack up and move before we can get ready.” Eric said thought fully looking at the picture of the I 64, where Kronnen’s advanced team had cleared vehicles off the road, creating a corridor lined with abandoned vehicles.

“Do I have to ask, maybe kick you, to get your idea” Jared said his patience running low.

“Sorry just thinking it through” Eric said. “ I think we need to do a HAHO,”

“Your kidding right” Jared said staring at his brother like he had stripped naked and smeared himself with fire ants.

“No, I’m not, who would expect it” Eric said with a grim smile. “Ronny what is the ceiling of the UV?”

“25,000” Ronny replied.

“What about the twin otter?” Eric asked.

“25000 to maybe 28000, but she sucks a lot more fuel and is louder too.” Ronny said.

“The UV is fine,” Eric said “we usually jump much higher and have our chutes deploy at 27000 feet, it just means we deploy chutes faster, and will have less then thirty miles to navigate to our target”

“your seriously suggesting parachuting six men into their camp to rescue the prisoners and take over the camp.” Nate snarled “that’s the dumbest damn thing I’ve heard/ You’re a damned Idiot like your brother.”

Before Darius could intervene, Eric turned a icy gaze on Nate.

“Mister, I don’t know you, and I can say I don’t like you. Sit down and shut the fuck up or I will put my boot so far up your ass you’ll be spitting leather for a month.” Eric said flatly, Nate’s eyes darted to the thick arms and shoulders and the calm assured manner, Eric wasn’t making a threat, he was stating what was going to happen and knew he could do exactly what he had said.

“Nate don’t make a bad situation worse” Darius said. “do like the man says and sit down for a bit.”

Nate slowly sat down, but his gaze slid away from Eric Stone, he was furious and embarrassed at having to back down. Darius was praying Nate would pull his head out before he did something he couldn’t take back.

“What about gear and how will you know where to land “ Jared asked.

“I think you might have enough insulated coveralls for six in all that stuff you’ve collected, oxygen we can get from a fire station. My team will need oxygen, and the pilot. But that should be simple enough to find. Ambulances should have it, and I think we can use the breathing systems fire fighters use.

We can find the rest of the stuff we need, some of it we have. As for knowing where, I plan on having Boomer deploy a drone that will lase the target for us, so we can ride the beam right down”

“You realize that Kronnen might be on his way back right now” Jared said.

“Maybe.” Eric admitted. “its also possible that Kronnen thinks your ahead of him and there fore in no position to attack his camp.”

“Guess work” Nate growled but fell silent when Eric gave him a look that promised pain if he spoke again.

“Yes it is, but look at this” Eric said tossing the picture he held in front of Nate. “that’s I 64, notice how its been cleared of abandoned vehicles.. Kronnen could have been back at his camp in an hour no more than two, and that’s if he was in D.C., so where is he. Ronny flew over the route Kronnen would have had to take to get back to the camp and there was no sign of vehicles on that road, just some undead.”

“so he could be there right now, waiting for us to attack.” Nate pointed out.

“I think Eric may be right” Jared said. “ Ronny came in from the north and headed north again on his way out. Its possible Kronnen thinks we are north of his position, its even likely that he plans on the camp staying where its at, and we cant count on our opinions being valid. We need to get eyes on that camp, today if possible. If they leave we find a way to stop them, or at least slow them down. If they stay in place then we try Erics Insane plan.”

“a HAHO is more insane than Frogman Ori leading a band of aquanauts on a secret mission to seize a light house and strike the enemy from behind when you arrived.” Eric asked.

“Yes only by 25000 feet” Jared said, his fear of flying was no secret. “but if you want to throw yourself out of a plane during the middle of the zombie apocalypse, be my guest but if you die and come back I will let your walking corpses live as a warning to all the others who think sky diving is a fun and cool thing.”

“umm I kind of think if they die while falling, they will really end up being the oozing dead, or maybe the boneless dead” Ori said with a grin that faded as no one laughed.

“Ori if you try a knock knock I will hit you” Jared warned with a crooked smile.

“Sergeant First Class stone is right, no one will expect an air insertion.”

“I have a question” Jill asked, with that husky burr that really got Jared where it counted. “Do you have to jump from that high?, why not lower than that.”

“Ill avoid all the pretty military speak, simply put the higher we jump and deploy chutes the further we can glide. And opening low means there is a chance that who ever is down below us will hear the chute opening, from the ground you can hear a chute open at 5,500 feet, its even louder when you open lower.” Eric said. “ we want distance, so the camp doesn’t hear the plane, if they hear the plane they will be looking to the skies. If they hear chutes they will be looking to the sky, the higher we deploy the better it is for us”

“how long will it take for you to find what you need.” Jared asked, to be honest he couldn’t see any way to get past the undead and enter the camp silently, and blowing a hole in their vehicle wall just let the undead inside the camp and alerted the entire camp they were under attack so that was pretty much out if they were going to seize the fuel at the very least.

“all night, maybe part of tomorrow.” Eric admitted. “if you have a better idea, then I’m more than willing to hear it.” Eric said sitting back. there was silence around the table.

“Okay get on it, that’s plan B. will you be taking your entire team on this little treasure hunt?” Jared asked.

Eric shook his head “ I had thought to position the civilian augmentee team members near the camp.”

“good.” Jared said. “Ori, Jeb, Jorge and Zoe, I want you to get your gear, you folks are going to scout out around that camp, assuming they are still there. Erics Augmentee troopers will go with you, to do what ever it is my brother thinks they need to do. And Ori you can share some of your wood craft skills with them so they get some OJT.”

“lovely always wanted to be a teacher” Ori muttered sarcastically, “you realize that Kronnen might have left men at the Gap to delay us.”

“you and Jeb are the trained scouts, scout” Jared replied. “I trust you to get it right.”

“I feel so much more confident now” Ori muttered again but he was smiling this time.

“If I’m plan B, what is Plan A.” Eric asked.

“Plan A, is simple, at dawn I’m taking 1st and 2nd squads and Team one through the gap, if the camp is still in place, we will set up an ambush site about ten miles east of the camp on I-64 in case they try to leave during the day, if they have been reinforced, we wait till they leave and ambush or go with your plan and hit them early around 0400 hours or so.

If your seize the fuel trucks and bust out, its likely they will pursue, so we will have an ambush site already set up for you to head to. If they don’t pursue, well having that site set up could benefit us no matter what happens. Okay lets get down to the nuts and bolts” Jared said.

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

“You want me to fly you where?” Ronny asked in disbelief.

“Fort Pickett, its just to south east of here” Eric said. “or cant you fly in the dark”

“I can, mostly, but how exactly am I supposed to find a dark base, at night, more to the point how am I supposed to find the landing strip in the dark.” Ronny asked not about to admit that he wasn’t a fan of flying in the dark not when there was not a single light to be seen on the ground below, that’s when the reality of the world really hit him hard.

“GPS, you just plug in the coordinates and instant location. Besides if we leave now we can probably be there as the sun is setting. So all you will have to do is take off in the dark” Eric said.

“So land on a airfield that is probably covered in zombies so you gung ho specials forces types can run and do what ever is your going to do, while fighting off zombies then take off again avoiding the hordes of undead that are probably covering the place.”

“no we stopped and took a look a few days ago, there were not a lot of undead, and the place had been stripped.” Eric replied.

“and you think what ever you need is there.”

“it is on one would have taken it, who would think to grab parachutes and other gear, when they need and weapons.. other than my brother at any rate. The man was a pack rat as a kid to drove our mom nuts.”

“how far is it” Ronny asked.

“maybe forty minutes by air, no more than that.” Eric replied.

“let me get a couple of men to fly with us, Ill need guards for the plane while your playing Rambo. And there had better be fuel there too.”

“Cant promise, what about the reserve fuel bladders I gave you.” Eric asked.

“they are in the plane, but I still need more fuel, unless there’s a switch on them that you flip to magically fill them up with fuel.” Ronny said.

“I swear Ronny if you weren’t so damn old Id put a boot up your smart ass.”

“What wimpy SF guy cant take on an older crippled grunt.”

“hell no your wife would beat me up” Eric said laughing.

“Probably, keeps bullies from messing with me” Ronny said with a grin. “get your gear, if we are going to make it before the sun sets, we need to leave now.”

Mary watched from a window, one hand nervously cupping her belly as Eric and the others boarded the UV. It started up a moment later and taxied out to the rough runway.

She could see Ronny double-checking everything in her mind, when he finished he applied power and stood on the brakes. She watched him in her mind, wishing she was sitting with him in the plane as it began to roll down the rough strip and then finally shook off the bonds of gravity roared into the air heading south. She watched till it vanished from sight. Telling her self it was going to be okay.

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

Ori stood beside the drivers door of the scout, looking at the mountains to the east, thinking of home and his surviving family wondering if they were still alive. when this was over, he was by god going to locate fuel for the plane and some one was going to fly Him, his wife and his kid to meet his family. They would press him to stay, but that wasn’t going to happen.

Maybe his son or daughter might want to go back there someday and stay , but Ori had no desire to live in the holler.

Putting the cart before the horse aint you, he asked himself, you have to live through this first and then you have to get back there and find out if the family is still alive.

He turned his head as the Black Hummer they had picked up in the Bunker pulled up beside the scout.

“I know old folks get forgetful and all Ori, but we need to get the lead out if we want to be through the gap before the sunsets.” Chad said with a grin. “you know head east, I can show you the way.”

Ori just shook head. “Chad you have trouble finding the zipper on your pants with out help” Ori said.

Jeb burst out laughing from the passenger seat of the scout. “I don’t believe it, that was actually funny. I need to write that down along with the date and time so this moment can be preserved for history.”

Chad chuckled “come on old man,” he replied. “getting tired of hitting the woods.”

Ori climbed into the scout and started the motor with out saying a word, Eric had asked ori to Teach them woodcraft, Chad was going to learn a lot and painfully Ori decided, a slow lazy smile spreading across his face.

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

shadows were creeping towards the UV, sweeping over the undead that were slowly stumbling towards the plane. the pump chugged happily as it sucked fuel from the inground fuel tanks up into the Plane.

fire lined the tops of the distant mountain as Night loomed over the land, the time of the dead was at hand. Ronny hated nights in the land of the dead, it gave those silent stinky assholes plenty of cover to sneak up on a man.

“how long” Max asked, nervously.

“a couple of minutes” Ronny said.

Max didn’t say anything as he shot down another zombie that had gotten to with in a hundred feet of plane.

“might want to hurry” Jayden called out.

Next time Jared is coming with me Ronny decided, hearing the note of panic in Jaydens voice. I want someone that stays calm at my back.

“its all good Jayden, those things are still to far away to be a threat” Ronny pointed out.

Jayden nodded trying to clamp down on his fear, reassured by Ronny’s calmness.

Ronny was how ever far from calm. If Eric and his people took to long they might not be able to escape. He checked the runway where some undead were staggering up the tarmac towards the plane, like all the others they were spread out but that wouldn’t matter if…..

His thoughts stuttered to a halt as he heard motors in the distance.. a few moments later he heard Ethan Wells on the other side of the plane calling out contact. “five vehicles, one looks like a SWAT van.”

“aint this just damn great” Ronny muttered, at least the main tanks were full, now to top off the bladder tanks. He could hear gunfire and the crunch of bones as the approaching vehicles took down the undead between them and the plane.

“are we ready yet” Max yelled.

“pretty much, but the more fuel we have the better off we are.” Ronny replied.

“screw the fuel. Lets go” Max shot back.

he probably has a point Ronny thought. He reached over and shut down the pump, “Stow the pump, I will get ready to take off” Ronny called out, as the men piled into the plane. Ethan was the last one into the plane remembering to remove the chocks

“Hollywood, if your ready, now would be a very good time” Ronny transmitted “is that pump stowed”

“yes” Ethan called out. “Chocks are removed, zombies approaching, alls well”

“Sounds like a normal day” Ronny called back as he applied power and swung the plane around heading for the hanger. The vehicles sped up and turned to cut him off.

“Hollywood, if you can hear me, your going to have to get us out of this.” Ronny said turning the plane again smiling to himself as a sigle vehicles changed direction again speeding up to get in front of him.

“take off” Max bellowed.

“cant” Ronny said

“what the hell do you mean you cant’

“if we do, Eric and his people will be stranded here and have to deal with these guys alone.” Ronny said, and he doubted he get enough speed and distance to actually take off.

“Ronny, take the fuck off now, those Special forces guys can take care of themselves” Max said, thinking of the last guys that got stuck on the ground with Ronny.

“Max, Its my plane, now you can shoot me, but I don’t think you can fly a plane. so unless you can, or you want to run cross country, sit down shut the fuck up.” Ronny said as he turned the plane around again and saw the Two trucks and the Van spread across the Taxi way between the UV and the Hanger, the other vehicle a Humvee came up behind him blocking the UV in.

“besides they have us right where I want them” Ronny said as he shut down the engine. The light from the setting sun faded through the spectrum to purple then went out as the Dark reclaimed the word.

They loaded the last of the gear on the carts and were pushing them to the hangar door when they heard the motors outside and sporiadic gunfire.

“I hope you appreciate what I just did of for” Ronny’s voice said suddenly in Erics Ear. Damn hanger was blocking transmissions till Eric had gotten closer to the door.

Ronny must have left the mic active, Eric could clear hear some one telling Ronny to get out of the plane.

“ Parks do your thing” Eric said as he cracked the hanger door, only an inch no more and what little noise it made, was covered by the idling motors outside

Parks quickly pulled out a small case flipped open the lid then pulled a thin metal coated cable out of one side of the box and slipped it through the crack, the screen came to life as the on board computer shifted to Night vision.

Eric watched the screen for a moment seeing the vehicles parked in front of the Plane, there were maybe sixteen men behind those vehicles facing the plane on the other side. Ronny stood in the headlights hands clasped over his head.

There was no way to open the hangar door with out alerting the men outside, the sound of the motors couldn’t drown out that amount of noise Eric thought. “back door we go around so we can come up behind them.”

“kill or wound” Parks asked as he packed up the case and placed it back in his ruck.

“Kill, we don’t have time to be nice. If they want to surrender fine, otherwise put them down.” Eric replied.

The team slipped out the back door and found only a few zombies along the back wall, their silenced pistols took down the threat quietly, only one got close enough to be a danger and Castor took it out by shoving his silencer between its eyes and firing.

Sliding around the hanger they moved through the darkness as quiet as the winter wind, relieved to find no undead.

Eric stopped at the Corner, his men stacking up. silenced pistols holstered, then they lifted rifles to High ready and waited for the signal.

“Sorry to do this to you, but we are taking your plane” A man said stepping into the headlights of the Truck he had been behind. “move aside, and we will even let you keep your gear, you can pick up your weapons when we are on board and rolling.”

“See there’s a problem with that,” Ronny said loudly to be heard over the motors. “one we have already been hijacked once today and it wasn’t fun. Two., you have far to many men to take out in one flight, My bird only holds ten.”

“let us worry about that.” The man said, he wore tan Tactical pans, with a black jacket, Ronny saw. “I’m offering you a chance to live boy, but we don’t have a lot of time, the Zeds are going to be on top of us in minutes. And if that happens I have no desire to keep you alive”

“stand away from the plane” Ronny told Max and others.. Max was glaring at Ronny, angry at being trapped here, not that Ronny blamed him for it, but he had no faith. The man before him apparently hadn’t thought through Ronny’s comment about being hijacked already. If he had he might have asker where the hijackers were.

Ronny limped away from the plane, hand still clasped over his head. If Eric and his men didn’t hurry they were going to lose the plane and Ronny was going to look stupid as hell for trusting Eric.

The man facing Ronny waved one of his men forward, this one Ronny could see clearly when he got near the plane. Youngish, twenty something, dark hair, dressed like the other man, only there was a badge emblazoned on his black jacket, and the words Sheriff deputy.

“I really wouldn’t “ Ronny said, looking behind him, the undead were closer now, maybe thirty of them, just shambling dark shapes, that were slowly drawing towards the plane and men around it.

“Shut the hell up” The Deputy said as he opened the pilots door and started to climb inside.

Joe Milan, heard something hit the ground beside him and instinctively looked down, something darker than the pavement rolled up and bumped his boot. Puzzled he stared at it for three seconds too long.

Light and sound washed over the men behind the vehicles, they staggered around clutching ears, a few dropped their weapons, others turned trying to focus on the threat that had appeared behind them.

State Police Captian Kenneth Welch, tried to focus on the men that advanced on his position. He wasn’t even sure if the men around him could hear the orders he was shouting. He fired off a burst at the men bounding towards his position, they moved like they had choreographed dance of violent, precise weapons fire taking down man after man.

Something slammed into his chest knocking him back against the SWAT van, as he slid to the ground he saw a man looming over him in the darkness.

Ronny threw himself to the ground, half blinded by his hearing was still okay, the Deputy half in the plane leaped out bringing his weapon up, but he couldn’t see past the headlights.

Ronny rolled into the darkness beyond the headlights bullets chewing up the ground behind him. he couldn’t see the others but hoped they had gotten to safety. he drew the pistol from under his coat, thankful the bad guys hadn’t gotten around to killing or searching him.

He lay there on his belly, pistol up in a two handed grip. He sighted on the deputy, feeling bad really for blind siding the guy. Steve would enjoy doing this, Ronny thought as he put two rounds in the Deputys legs, then a third in his side. The man went down like he had been pole axed.

Bullets slammed into the earth near his leg, throwing dirt on him. Ronny rolled away, and thanked the shooter as he stopped and saw a zombie had been ten feet behind him. he sighted and put four rounds into the zombie, then shifted his sights to the Hummer that was starting to move, leaving two men on the ramp. Ronny sighted carefully at the dark shape beyond the wheel, just as he started to squeeze the trigger, a figure appeared in the passenger seat, a pallid face peered at him seeming to float in the darkness. Then it turned away.

The Hummer sped off to the west, plowing through the undead in its path. Ronny started to shoot the two men chasing it, then shifted his aim to the zombies that swept in on the two men.

He fired till the slide locked back, only to see both men go down as Max and the others having retrieved their weapons cut the running men down. He reloaded, jacked the slide then levered himself to his feet. Only then realizing that Eric Stone was walking towards him.

“we have to go Ronny, get that plane around those vehicles and up to the hangar or all of this has been wasted” Eric said, “come on folks get on board the plane” he yelled to Max.

Ronny didn’t reply he limped to the plane, and waited as soon as Max Jogged up to the Door, Ronny now holding his pistol by the barrels slammed it across maxes face, cutting a deep furrow and knocking Max off his feet. Jared would have been proud at how fast and expertly Ronny flipped the pistol around and had it pointed at the stunned Max and the others. “We are not murders’ he grated, fully aware of the approaching undead and the gun fire from the SF team that was clearing out the closest of the Zeds.

“You shot down two men who were no threat, I should paint the tarmac with your fucking Brains” Ronny snapped resisting the urge to ram his pistol into the others man face.

Max lay there, his rifle still in his hands, but he only stared at Ronny. “ I swear to god If I ever see any of you do that again, I will kill you myself.”

“Ronny either shoot him or let him up we have to go” Eric called out.

“They would have killed us” Max said angrily but he didn’t attempt to lift his weapon.

“They were Running you dick. All they wanted to do was get away.” Ronny snapped then turned and limped to the pilots door. “ Get on my plane and don’t say a word or Ill throw you out at ten thousand feet.” He said, realizing the Deputy was gone, a trail of blood snaked across the pavement into the darkness to the east.

The four men scrambled into the plane as it started to move none of them sure that Ronny wouldn’t leave them behind.

Eric watched the plane start taxiing then walked over and helped one of the wounded men to his feet, every one of the dead wore some kind of police uniform and For some Reason that made Eric feel a little guilty about what he and his team had done. But this was a new and violent world, and they had been the enemy.

“id get rolling if I were you, my men and I will help your wounded get loaded, but if one man tries to attack us, Ill leave you to die right here.” Eric said as he opened the Drivers door to one of the trucks and helped the man inside.

“get em loaded Reapers, any resistance kill them.” Eric said.

Out of the sixteen men, only seven were still alive. what ever supplies they had would last them a little longer now, Eric thought as the vehicles headed away. he turned and trotted over to the Hangar, where Castor and Bailey were loading the Gear, Blaine was bandaging Parks leg.

Eric turned and scanned the area, the undead were slowly approaching but it looked like a huge chunk of them had followed the vehicles.

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

The trip through the Gap had been easier than Ori had expected, The Drone that Lew and Chad had deployed flew from one end to the others, showing nothing but a road cleared of vehicles and the scattered bodies of undead put down by Kronnen’s people when they had passed through.

It had been a quiet trip, through a dark shadowy mountainous area covered in leafless trees that looked as dead as the few zombies that stumbled out of the darkness and in front of the vehicles.

There had been no sign of any one waiting in ambush under the winter bare trees on either side of the road. they had rolled through the band of mountains down to the other side emerging from the gap they had avoided Sherando, Ronny had seen streets full of undead on his fly over.

Kronnen’s camp was actually just to the North of Waynesboro, not all that far from the bunker where they had found Diane, at least as the crow flies.

Situated on a huge open field a half mile off I 64, surrounded by woods, the ground sloped down on the east side.

Scouting the area on foot turned out to be harder than Ori had thought, with the undead drifting constantly through the area drawn to the camp, where engines would start and idle every hour, for at least ten minutes before shutting down again.

Ori and Jeb managed to get to with in half a mile of the camp before having to turn back due to the large numbers of undead in the area. Working their way back, to the Garage where they had set up a post took almost another hour.

“how did it go” Chad asked quietly as soon as the door was closed.

“Never got close to the camp, way to many undead. “Jeb replied.

“Then its time to deploy a drone” Chad said.

Jeb sat down his back against the wall, half enjoying the smell of oil and old lubricates that had seeped inyo the walls over the years. Ori sat down beside him and setting a blue lensed flashlight on the floor Ori pulled out his cleaning kit and got work cleaning his weapons.

Jeb shrugged there were more than enough people to pull watch at the moment, he might as well take the time. he got out his own kit and in seconds was breaking down his weapon.

As he cleaned his weapons, he let his mind wander over things till he finally said. “you know the weirdest thing I’ve seen in my life, was in Iraq” he said suddenly. “we were out on patrol and had stopped to check out an old bunker that had been part of the Iraqi defenses back in 91.” Jeb said then fell silent for a moment as he concentrated on cleaning the barrel of his weapon. “anyway, we go in and are clearing the place. I step into this chamber deep inside the bunker, its pitch black in there, and right in the beam of my flashlight, I see this woman squatting in the middle of the room, her back to me, she was rocked back and forth, dressed in bright clothing like you might see in a movie about the good old Days of Sultans and stuff, I couldn’t see anyweapons not that it mattered she could have been wearing a suicide belt or something.

Just as I take a step towards her, her head snapped around faster than any person I’ve ever known, it was almost predatory.” He shivered but continued. “she didn’t have eyes, I don’t mean she had empty sockets, I mean there was just smooth skin over the spots where her eyes should have been, and then her mouth opened impossibly wide, and she screamed. It was like nails on a chalk board, and then she ran into the shadows on all fours like some kind of crab or insect. That’s when the rest of the squad rushed in behind me, they had heard the scream too. We searched that room top to bottom and didn’t find her, hell we even looked up at the ceiling. There was no way she could have gotten out of the room, there was only one way in and out and we had a man on it the entire time.”

“ I would have crapped my pants” Ori commented as he reassembled his weapon.

Jeb laughed, “almost did trust me. I was the only one that saw her, even the squad was right behind me, but they heard the scream at least. I found out later we werent the only ones that had seen or heard things in the place. An Arab interpreter told me the place was haunted by Djinn.”

“I heard a lot of weird stories around the camps when we were there in 91, never really believed most of them, but a few were down right creepy” Ori said. “but none of that crap ever prepared me for Jun 23rd, 2010.” Ori added.

“Me either” Jeb agreed, in companionable silence the two men returned to clean the rest of their weapons.

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

Ronny was tired as hell, and glad he had managed to fill the tanks at Pickett, the second landing had been on a road where near a wreck, where Eric and his men had recovered tanks of pure oxygen. They had returned to the Camp at the Bed and Breakfast only long enough for Eric and his people to check the chutes and repack them.

Jared and the ambush teams were gearing up to go, when Ronny walked in to the lobby.

“Jared, need to talk to you for a minute” Ronny said.

Jared, finished explaining something to Will and then walked over to join Ronnny in the empty sitting room.

“whats going on” Jared asked,

“I think Sarah needs to fly Eric and his team, she has more experience than I do, and I really don’t want to get your brother killed. I can fly the twin otter and she can take the UV since its already got everything loaded on it for the jump.”

“if that’s what you want to do,” Jared said slowly, wondering if Ronny was having PTSD driven self doubts.

“Jared, we can leave the twin otter here and Ill go in with you, its not that I’m scared or freaking out” Ronny said, seeing the figure in the passenger seat of the Humvee in his mind. “But the more Eric explains what needs to be done to pull this off, I think having a Real, experience pilot flying the UV is a better call

“if that’s what you think is best, Then I am not going to argue” Jared commented as he looked closely at Ronny. “go get some sleep spend time with Mary, you look exhausted” Jared said. “I’m leaving at 0100 hrs, I want every one left here moving at dawn.”

“where are we going?” Ronny asked.

“Remember that Lodge up on Skyline, that’s where I want you to go, and Get with Sarah before you leave and show her where she will be going and where to land.”

“I’ll do that right now, and let her know she will be flying Eric and his team too.” Ronny said.

Jared watched Ronny limp back outside, then shook his head and walked back into the lobby there was a lot to do before they pulled out to join Ori and the others.

*******************************
0315 hrs

the plane droned across the dark cloudy night sky, the temperature was well below zero at altitude. Eric checked his weapons one last time more to keep his mind occupied than any other reason. The odds of pulling this off were far lower than he had led his brother to believe. It all depended on how good a watch Kronnen’s men pulled.

“ Three minutes” Sarah called back over the intercom.

The men nodded quickly switching over from the prebreather that had flushed the nitrogen from their system, to the bottles attached to their gear. They worked with quiet efficiency in the dark plane, this was the most dangerous time if they screw up the switcher over and breathed in any atmo, could allow nitrogen back into their system and result in the bends. If that happened who ever that happened to was screwed Eric thought.

With the switch over complete and every one giving a thumbs up they moved to the door, waiting to hear the go command.

“Papa Sierra, Go no go” Sarah transmitted, hoping someone was listening down there.

“GO” was the only response, and it was all she needed twenty eight seconds later she gave the signal.

Eric slid the door open, centered himself then launched out into the night sky. He arrowed away from the plane twenty seconds later the ADD deployed his chute, he took a quick look at up, Sqaure, good, Lines, Good. Drawers not stained, good. Around him chutes popped, and they maneuvered into a stack with Eric leading the flight.

The night sky was impossible huge, spread out above below and to both sides, it was one part of diving that he always loved. I hope I get the chance to do this one last time on a clear night under a billions stars before the planes are parked for good. Eric thought as he checked altitude, then his direction.

His training had been as complete as the government could make it over the course of weeks of training at one installation or another. He smiled as he remembered something an instructor had once said. Airborne School crams five days of training into three weeks. He had been quoting Craig Mullaney, Eric had later learned but it was more or less accurate.

Using the GPS on the UV Eric had gotten the way points from Ronnys search pattern earlier, using those he had set up the course on the GPS he carried. It beat using a compass he thought.

He set course for his first waypoint and made himself relax. When they were on final, the Drone would Lase each fuel truck and the com truck if Lew had spotted it. He really hoped his faith in Lew wasn’t misplaced. With those GSP Coordinates they could drop right on top of the vehicles they were after.

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

0400hrs Kronnen’s main camp.

Proctor lay on the couch in his RV, unable to sleep, he kept thinking about the teen aged girl sleeping in the bedroom in the back of his RV with his two women. Clare and Dana, who on seeing the naked bound teen ager had given him a look that made him feel small.

They knew he hadn’t raped her, hell he had saved them from the Breeder and entertainment services. But he was allowing it to happen, which was bad enough.. like he could do much about it.

Kronnen had been a good man before all this, and there were times that man still appeared. Lets be honest he told himself, you had suspected for a while that your old friend was hiding secrets like rape, now he doesn’t hide it from you. Why?

The only answer he could come up with, was it was a test and he had failed or he wouldn’t be here safely out of the way at the main camp, or he does trust me and that’s why I’m here.

And I can go on and one with this circular debate and will end up exactly at the same point, I have no idea. What I do know is that Kronnen is growing more determined to Wipe out this Stone guy, who had so far done little to the army. Proctor suspected Stone wouldn’t have bothered with Kronnen at all if not for the face that Kronnen had been talked into kidnapping that woman and those kids.

It had been a stupid plan, trying to drive a wedge between Stone and his friends, Stone and his friend had blamed Kronnen and rescued the woman and kids, while killing a lot of Kronnen’s men both at the Battle around the hardware store but at the hospital that was supposed to have been their base in the city.

Knowing he wasn’t going to be able to sleep, he tossed aside the blankets and sat up, looking around the motor home that was in truth his home after so long. He flicked on a light and picked up the book he had been reading earlier.

Outside the temperature hovered in the upper 30s, the silence of the night broke by motors that were started and left idling to charge up batteries and to warm up interiors.

Against standard practice they had pulled most of the guards off the tops of the semis and placed them in the vehicle cabs out of the wind and the approaching threat of snow. Even the men left above the gate were spending more time inside the Package that acted as a gate then on top.

With so many undead piled up out there along the walls of the camp, no one was going to be able to sneak up on the camp with out being turn apart or having to shoot their way out and motors could be heard a couple of miles away.

Ray Watts, frowned as he saw the light come on in Proctors RV. He wasn’t happy, to have Proctor in camp, and especially not being placed in command, for what ever reason Kronnen was upset with Watts and that could be lethal for his continued health.

Proctor himself had apologize several times and insisted that Watts retain command and that he, Proctor, would only interfere when it involved issues that Kronnen wanted dealt with. Well Watts wanted to move the camp, failing that he had asked for Reinforcements and all he had gotten was Proctor, a naked woman, and a squad of men.

Well at least if the camp falls, Proctor will take the blame, Watts thought, then shook his head. Kronnen wouldn’t stop there, not by far. If they didn’t die in the defense Kronnen would make sure they wished they had before the end.

He sighed and poured himself another shot of whiskey, that he downed quickly his eyes falling on the picture of his now long dead wife that he had taped on the wall above the table.

He poured another shot thankful that because of his rank he got a motorhome to himself. He glanced at his watch and noted the time was 0425. tomorrow he was going to run out a patrol to see if Stones people were moving in on the camp.

Jamie Atwyler, shivered as he stood atop the semi trailer, staying back from the edge where he might slip and fall into the undead pressed against the vehicle wall. He wished not of the first time that he had stayed at the outpost in New Mexico, it was not near as cold there as here. If I hadn’t left Hawaii to visit friends, I would not have been stuck in Las Vegas when the shit hit the fan, I could be laying on a beach on one of the small islands with how ever many beach bunnies I could have saved and be warm..

Above him something snapped, like a giant wing, or a sail in the wind. He glanced up out of reflex and his mouth sagged open as he saw a dark shape against the night sky, even as he saw it, the shape suddenly broke apart and became six shapes that were dropping rapidly to the Ground, he opened his mouth to shout as he realized what he was seeing, and died as a three silent shots punched out his face neck and chest, his partner died with out every seeing his killers, his body tumbling off the trailer he stood on into the mass of undead below.

Eric landed lightly besides the Fuel tanker, sweeping his weapon around as Blaine landed on top of the Truck. He shrugged off his chute and quickly wadded it up and shoved it against the tires, then climbed up and looked in the cab, relieved to see it was empty.

Quickly gather up his chute he shoved it into the cab, while Blaine covered him then, Blaine handed down his own bundled up Chute. Still amazed that they had managed to land in the middle of the camp with out an alarm being raised, Eric wasn’t about to tempt Private Murphy into showing his face.

“Secured” he transmitted as Blaine climbed down from the trailer.

“Secured” Bailey reported.

Two fuel trucks down, Castor only had to plant the explosives on the Comm van and it would be time to haul ass, Eric thought as he loaded his gear into the cab, then climbed in.

Castor, chute hidden under a truck along with the body of the man who had chosen the wrong moment to step out for a piss, walked slowly past the Package van that had antennas mounted all over the roof. He looked around making sure he was alone and unobserved then knelt as if tying his boot laces just in case. As fast as a stage magician he had the C-4 placed out of sight on the frame of the Van, he finished with is laces then rose and walked casually towards the so called main gate of the camp, dropping off care packages along the way. .

Proctor, sat aside his book and sat up, as heard motors starting shut off, which was normal they wouldn’t be started again till just after sunrise, then they would switch over to Solar, propane and Battery for heat and other uses. It took him a second to realize what had really caught his attention. Two trucks were revving their motors which was unusual. He pulled his boots on and grabbed his coat, then his rifle and stepped outside where it was sleeting again.

“perfect weather for the end of the world” he said softly as he walked towards the edge of the large camp.

Eric, held down the clutch, about to shift the Big rig into gear, when he saw two men walking towards the Truck. Neither looked overly concerned, but that was going to change in minutes, Eric was pretty sure that the as big as the camp was, it wasn’t so big they didn’t know every one at least by appearance.

He lowered the window with is left hand, picking up his weapon with his right. “hey, hows it going.,” he said as he placed the barrel of his weapon across the window frame and fired two bursts knocking both men back. “I guess your having a shitty day” he muttered as he tossed the rifle to the seat. He Put the truck into gear and twisted the wheel, the engine roaring. He clipped a trailer knocking it out of place. As he pulled into the lane the other fuel truck, further down the lane, pulled out behind him.

With a diesel fired bellow the Semis roared towards the gates splashing through the growing mud, sleet striking the windshields the wipers whirring rapidly. Blaine fired at something on his side as the main gate loomed ahead of them.

Castor having tossed aside the coat he had been wearing crouched in the shadows beside a dump truck, his pack on and weapon ready, as he saw the fuel trucks approaching he triggered the detonator with is left hand then rose and ran for the trucks.

Proctor, saw a man run out of the shadows of the Dump truck they sometimes used for a personnel carrier, he looked like he was carrying a pack and a rifle.

Hearing gun fire, Proctor’s own weapon came up and he fired at the running figure who stumbled a few steps but never stopped. He triggered off a second burst then the world came apart. As the comm. Van blew up, sending metal shrieking through the air, .more explosions rippled through the camp, as two small fuel trucks blew up, the dump truck, and two personal vehicles. fireball’s bloomed up into the night sky.

Proctor picked himself up out of the mud, his ears ringing, and saw the first Semi strike the vehicle used as a gate, glass shattered, metal crumpled and the Package van was pushed forward as massive semi tires threw mud.

“Close the second gap,” Proctor screamed at the men piling out of campers and vans as he ran forward.. “Close the damn Second gap or we are all dead.” He could see the disaster bearing down on the camp and himself like a dark train, the undead would be inside the camp the moment the second Semi was out. This was exactly the reason the camp was set up in successively smaller squares, so that each section could close itself off if the undead breached one layer, the rest could be safe.

“we cant let them get away with the fuel” Ray watts shouted as he ran from his Semi to a HumVee that had once belonged to the Nevada national guard. By the time he had the vehicle started more men were racing to join him.

Proctor looked back up the lane to the main gate where the last semi pulled out and a flood of undead came in behind it. the alarms were now howling all over camp, and the windows of some of the RVs were sliding open and weapons poking out.

“Go, Get the damn fuel trucks back” Proctor yelled at Watts.

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

Castor hanging on to the ladder on the back of the first Tanker managed to pull himself up to the Top, then tied himself off before he got a pressure bandage on the wound in his thigh, and his arm. His body armor had taken the brunt of the gunfire or he would have died. Behind them he saw headlights appear. Then another set, then a third.

“Contact three vehicles, operation Road Warrior is a success” Castor said as he lifted his weapon, flipped up the ladder sight of the M203 under the barrel of his HK, and sighted.

“ I refuse to be raped by a bunch of Road Warrior extra wanna be’s” he said as he pulled the trigger and sent a 40mm HE arcing up and away. his aim was off, it detonated to the left and almost even with the passenger side of the lead vehicle.

“We need Tina Turner singing something inspirational right about now” He transmitted as cold and sleet tore at him.

“Just shoot them” Eric replied with a laugh.

Castor ejected the spent shell inserted another and took aim again. but this time the Vehicle sped up drawing quickly closer. “makes my job easier” he thought as he adjusted his aim, watching the windshield of the vehicle grow larger. “Bite me assholes” he said as he sent the second HE round sailing straight into the windshield of the approaching vehicle.

There was an explosion and the vehicle veered off the road out of control. “one down, two more too go” he said as he reloaded the 203.

“Check fire” Jared’s voice said suddenly in his ear. “leave them to us.”

the two fuel trucks raced down the road passing the old Mechanics shop in their head long flight.

Watts was furious, the bastards had just taken out Clayton August and his fire team with what he was sure had been a grenade. They had to get even with the Semi’s and climb on to the vehicles to regain control, because there was no way they could pull in front and block the road, the semis would just tear through them.

They had to get those trucks back or Kronnen would start killing people, Watts thought

Suddenly headlights blazed in the drivers window, and Watts had ten seconds to blink in confusion then a 16 ton Stryker plowed into the side of the HumVee and flipped it over where it rolled, shedding parts and gear before it came to a stop on its side leaning against a tree.

The station wagon behind the Hummer fared even worse, the Pintle mounted .50 on the Stryker opened up at close range, the thumb sized bullets punching through the radiator, engine block, windshield then the people behind the windshield before passing out the back and vanishing into the night.

The Station Wagon out of control smashed into the side of the Stryker and came to an abrupt stop, steam and smoke rising from the now dead motor.

“all right folks, move out to the second position, we only have 30 minutes to get there and get set up.” Jared said over the radio.

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

0513hrs Kronnen’s main camp.

the confusion in the camp was quickly sorted out, long used to dealing with the undead, those out side fired into the undead then fell back to their vehicles, the third square was blocked off and no undead had penetrated that deep.

“report” Proctor told the Private who couldn’t seem to decided if he wanted to be angry, nervous or break down.

“only six vehicles didn’t have drivers bedded down inside.” The private began, “ not including the fuel trucks, the drivers were busy getting some at the time. we lost 22 men all told, three in the gate vehicle, one that was killed and shoved under a truck, eight that were shot down during the escape and the rest were killed by the undead. we lost the com van, the Dump truck, two supply trucks, that thankfully only carried clothes and other things easily replaced. We lost…..”

Proctor listened to the report with a totally blank expression, twenty two men dead, almost as many wounded, and the only fuel left in the entire camp was the fuel still in vehicle tanks and gas cans.. that was it.. if Stone had set out to cripple Kronnen’s Army he had accomplished that.

And Watts still hadn’t returned, but men had heard distant gunfire earlier, so it was possible that the twenty two causalities were actually thirty seven at this point. The Camps Moral had taken a hit as well, no one had attacked the camp much less gotten inside the camp in over a year, and in one night Stone had not only attacked the camp, but stolen the fuel and had killed many of the men who were supposed to have guarded it.

There was no way to contact Kronnen, and sitting here waiting to be attack again was pointless, no matter Kronnen’s reaction, he had left Proctor in Charge and Proctor was going to head towards the advanced force as soon as the sun was up. if he left now, the attackers had the advantage. Several of the survivors had seen the men driving those Semis wearing night vision goggles. The only way to level the playing field was to move at first light, and that was another twenty minutes away.

“Private, I want you to go to each Platoon leader, we are moving out at first light, if we can get drivers into the vehicles that do not have drivers good, if not we leave them. I refuse to sit here and let another attack hit us. Tell them I take full responsibility for what happened here.” Proctor said, hoping that would reassure the guards men in the camp, not that Proctor thought Kronnen would care one way or another.. if he was feeling like his old self, he would bitch and moan and that would be that, if he were acting like the new Kronnen he would just kill as many in the chain he felt had failed till he made his point to every one else.

deal with that when it happens, Right now your only duty is to preserve the people and supplies, or none of this will have mattered one bit. He glanced towards the door to the bedroom where here was on very terrified teen ager and two women and for a heart beat wondered why he still gave a damn about a friendship that had died months ago.

Touched by the dark, he didn’t know where that thought had come from, but it bothered him. Enough you have things to do, he told himself as the private left the RV, to spread the word.

13 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty one

      • Hey Man, if you get a chance, I started a story of my own…North Carolina-Almost Hell….Please check it out and let me know what you think. I am sooo new to doing all of this, I wish I knew what I was doing. Bit, I hope to figure it out fairly quickly.

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  1. Caught up!!

    Which sucks…

    O’Kelly, this has been a hair-raising adventure and every bit the high quality story telling I have come to expect from you. You have me at the edge of my seat and I eagerly look forward to 22.

    Like

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