“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”
The Raiders thought it would be easy, snatch five of the six well fed people they had come across and hole up in a smile town up the coast from where the interlopers had come from. They sent the sixth man back to tell his people, hand over food and water and their people would be release unharmed.
They had thought wrong, as they were soon to discover. Their first clue a black hawk helicopter that fly over the area a few times, then a small plane that circled the Town before heading back south just like the helicopter.
Awendaws on highway 17 north of Mount Pleasant South Carolina, wasn’t much of a town at least not from the highway. The bulk of the town was situated to the east of the highway behind thick woods, but along the highway a quarter of the town was scattered.
over the last year and a half the town had suffered through the coming of the dead, firefights, storms and hurricanes. Its only important at the moment was the due to the Raiders who were camped there with their hostages.
Leo, the leader of the large band of raiders stood on the roof watching as the chopper vanished into the distance, he was only partly excited to see an aircraft. But his excitement was based on the fact that they had to be from the group his hostages were from, and that meant they probably had more supplies, fuel, even vehicles he could bargain for.
If he had actually followed that line of reasoning out to the end, that who ever it was probably had a lot of weapons and possibly people, he might have avoided what was coming but his greed kept him on the wrong course.
“maybe we should let them go” one the men beside him muttered.
“don’t be a fool, it only means they probably have a lot more stuff we can take. And that helicopter didn’t have weapons. What you think, its going to fly in and soldiers are going to air drop down on us.” Leo said then laughed at the absurdity of the idea.
In the last year, the taking hostages and demanded supplies tactic had never failed.
And the Danger was usually minimal since they had found most groups were rarely larger than six people, once they had encountered a group twenty five, but not wanting to risk getting their people killed in a gunfight the Group had given up the supplies that had been demanded.
No these people might have a plane and a helicopter but it only takes one person to fly a plane or a helicopter. They might have twenty people, maybe even thirty, but he doubted it and all of his people had training and had been in the survival business for years before it went mainstream. What few average people had survived had been lazy sheep, used to being pampered and taken care of by bosses, the Government, the Cops every one but by themselves.
They couldn’t run a ten mile hump with a hundred pound pack, even the so called fit people who had hiked the country before the dead had thought twenty five pounds was far to much. Those pussies cried and gave up if a pack weighted thirty pounds, no that type of people had survived because those with the strength and will to survive had carried them, and for no other reason. They had done nothiing more strenuous than drive down to McDonalds to use the drive through to get dinner.
That he had never ran a ten mile hump in the entire time he had been in the Navy was not the point he could do it, had done it a few times since the dead came. He had been prepared and that’s all that mattered.
The way Leo saw it, by taking their supplies they were forced to get off their McDonalds loving asses and actually get out and risk life and limb to get more supplies and learn self reliance at long last.
And with Sixty men and two women at his back, He always got what he wanted and needed for his group. it was a Dog eat Dog world as the zombies had proven, and he wasn’t going to just sit back and die because some one else had laid claim to land or resources. “ screw them, if they aren’t strong enough to hold it, they deserve lose it” he said, and my people were trained for this he thought with pride.
Most of his Core group were Veterans from every branch of the military and varied occupations. They had all been survivalists long before the prepping rage had started sweeping the country, and had laughed at what the white-collar preppers spent their money on. Five gallons of food in a bucket, easy to carry my ass, I didn’t see any of those folks running down the street carrying a bucket in each hand as they fled the undead.
Faced with what bugging in meant, the slow steady pounding on the walls of their cheaply built homes before the undead broke through the cheap siding and inch think Styrofoam insulation panels, Most so called preppers fled abandoning their horded food and supplies, taking only what fit in their cars, Trucks and SUVs barely escaping the hordes of undead that were overrunning their towns and cities.
And most not being truly prepared only owned two wheel drive vehicles designed for urban life, or the cheap half assed massed produced 4×4 that might take you across a wet lawn. With being out of shape and having crappy vehicles left them to find hiding spots the undead could reach as easily as they could. .
He turned his attention to the ocean that lay a couple of miles to the east past the trees, wondering if maybe they shouldn’t find a boat or two and head to the Bahamas or down to the Antilles chain where it didn’t get below sixty and there was plenty of sun and sand to enjoy. Maybe after they had taken what they needed from this group they could consider it. he liked the idea, there had to be woman still alive on those islands, women that had been on the beach and escaped the undead in nothing but a bikini and were now moving from place to place almost naked over a year later just waiting for men to come and save them.
Definitely an idea to consider, he told himself as he climbed down and headed for the headed for the small wood framed restaurant he was using as a Base and a place to hold the hostages.
He stepped inside straining to see in the dimly lit building after the bright light outside, but he could see the hostages sitting against the back wall. Hap smith, a Former Marine and the closest thing to a friend and second in command stood near a window occasionally looking outside checking for threats.
“Its been almost a two full days, maybe they don’t care and aren’t coming” one of Leo’s men muttered losing patience with the wait.
“Are you stupid, why would they send a plane and helicopter to look things over if they weren’t coming” Leo asked the man who reddened with embarrassment. “ Maybe they had to wait for the undead to clear out from around where every they are hiding at, maybe they are holed up on the other side of Charleston and its taking them awhile to get here who knows, but they are coming.” Leo said he hadn’t been surprised that that his hostages had been vague about where their people were hiding at. But that plane had been the biggest clue, the airport, and there was one just down the road according to the road map. The other one was the Major airport in Charleston and he doubted any one could live there and survive.
From the corner he heard the woman sniffling again, as she fought not to cry. One of the male prisoners leaned against her offering her the only support he could with his hands bound behind his back. The muscular heavily tattooed man just watched Leo walked across the room to stand before them a scowl on his face.
“shut the hell up” Leo snapped “I bet you cried and screamed when the undead showed up and some one else had to risk their life to carry your dumb ass out of danger” he said drawing back a leg to kick her.
The man beside her sprang to his feet ramming his head into Leos stomach knocking him back away from the woman and almost taking the air from Leo’s lungs. Leo growled angrily, and stepped forward ready to stomp the defiant fire out of the mans eyes. “Don’t touch her” the prisoner growled
“Leo, cool it man. If we hurt them, their friends might not agree to do what we want” Hap said quietly, the former Marine might not like what their lives had become but he was by god going to survive and was usually the voice of reason when Leo lost his head, like he was about to do.
Leo, drew his pistol and pointed it that prisoner, “ back on the floor or I wont care what your friends might do.” He said coldly.
“Lew, do what he says, Don’t get killed, Kate needs you” the woman said to her defender.
The ‘Hero’, Lew sat slowly, but the fire in his eyes never flickered. “tie their legs too. Since they aren’t smart enough to just sit there” Leo ordered, keeping his pistol pointed at the prisoners in case they tried anything
“your really going to regret this” Lew said as a cold and amused smiled played across his lips.
“if you want to be gagged keep talking big man” Leo said, now that he felt more in control, and the pain in his torso was fading.
The man glared up at Leo and remained silent, but that damned annoying smile stayed in place.
“Leo, I need to talk to you outside” Hap said. Leo turned and followed the fifty year old Marine and former owner of a plumbing company outside. They didn’t have to check for undead the men hidden around the area keeping watch would have let them know if there had been danger.
“see that place” Hap said pointing to a building that had been badly shot up some time in the past. They had looked it over along with the burnt out RVs and vehicles when they had first arrived finding evidence of grenade explosions and heavy fire fight.
The building was so badly damaged it had mostly collapsed, its bullet riddled walls no longer able to support the roof.
“what if the people who did that weren’t the guard or army trying to fight off the undead back in the last days of the world, what if the people we are holding inside are part of the group who did this.” Hap said quietly.
“I doubt it was, no one we have met yet has that kind of firepower, and the few militia units that were that heavily armed are gone now. Or at least no one has seen them in while.” Leo replied.
“if the zombies didn’t get them, someone better trained and better armed took them out. And has their weapons” Hap pointed out. “and this group has a plane and a helicopter, which means where ever they came from, there are no zombies to get in the way of taking off and landing. So why don’t we show a bit of caution and leave this folks unharmed no matter what they say or how they act at least till we know for a fact if we want to mess with them or not.”
Leo thought about that for a minute then nodded, it wasn’t likely they would be outgunned or out matched, but Hap was right that there was a chance. But in the face of starving then he was going to by god take what they needed to stay alive and screw the sheep who thought they could hog it all. “if they have plane and helicopter, I bet they have a lot of other stuff too.”
The day faded away as the moon rose into the still blue evening sky, the temperature had hovered around fifty five all day began to drop, as the sun sank towards the horizon casting fingers of Darkness across the ground. The Trees swayed gently in the cold ocean breeze their limbs rustling.
Dark gray storm clouds piled up to the east rolling in chasing the sunset, and lightening flickered on its crest. Leo was actually enjoying a can of stew when the cb in the corner came to life. “ got a truck coming,” Fabio reported. “one man inside”
Fabio had gained the nick name only because of his waist length blond hair, in the looks department only a drunk desperate woman would consider him attractive, and only then in dim light and half blind.
Leo rose and grabbed the microphone. “ let him go by don’t let him know your there” he said. Then grabbed the M16 he normally carried and walked out the door slinging his rifle. One of the things he liked about this place was the lack of undead. He and his people had only seen a ten in this small town, and being on the coast and so close to tourist destinations it should have had a lot more than Ten.
Hap joined him looking uneasy, his eyes sweeping the area intently as if he expected men to spring up out of the brush and from behind the scattered buildings.
The Truck a beat up Ford, tricked out for off road fun pulled up and stopped twenty feet from Leo and Hap, its head lights on. What an idiot headlights drew the undead thought.
“ Turn of the damn lights idiot” He snapped, not the best way to start the negotiations but it beat having lights shine in his eyes.
The man shut off the lights, and then stepped away from the door of the truck, leaving it running. wasting gas too, god these people don’t learn. He was tall, Red haired and even with a coat on looked muscular the only weapons on him was some odd looking knife, half of the blade was bent at a 35 degree angle, and a pistol in a tac holster on his right thigh.
“ Take the pistol out and set it on the hood of your truck” Leo said letting the man know he was in charge.
“Get bent, Im not disarming myself outside with undead around. If your that stupid please do drop your weapons and Ill wait till you get eaten”
Leo gaped at him for a moment. “ I don’t think you understand, I have your people and I make the rules” Leo said feeling like a total idiot and growing angry at having to explain how hostage negotiations were supposed to work.
“No, you ask or you demand and I decide if I want to play this game with you” The man said casually stepping forward, his hands far from his weapons. At least that was something Leo thought but god this man was an idiot.
“so this is supposed to go something like this, my Name is Jared Stone and your holding some of my people.. oh please don’t kill them. Right “ he said, “and then you go, we demand food, water and all your ammunition. Or we kill one hostage an hour till you hand it over to us.” Jared said the ghost of a mocking smile on his face.
Hap shook his head, every instinct he had said this man was not only not scared but playing for time. Leo how ever was not only surprised by the other mans behavior but growing angry. This wasn’t how it worked, the victims were supposed to be scared and worried, and this man not being on script knocked him off balance.
“ then I’m supposed to say. Oh please if you take all that we will starve, or get over run by the undead. Followed by more begging then you have all the men you’ve hidden around here show themselves and their weapons, I, intimidated cave in and you get to take our stuff. That’s about it right”
Hap couldn’t help but find this amusing, but if what he suspected was true just shooting this guy wasn’t going to do much more then start the killing early. “that’s about it “ Hap agreed placing a hand on Leo’s shoulder trying to get him to think, but former Navy man wasn’t having a bit of it.
“your leaving out the part where you get shot and we go in and take it away from you.” Leo said nastily.
“oh, your right I hadn’t consider that part. Namely because I don’t see how you could do it. but I have been wrong before.” Jared admitted with a to casual shrug.and his hand was far closer to the butt of the pistol, not close enough that he could grab and draw before hap shot him but it was still closer.
“Okay here is how this is going to go, Im still recovering from the last few battles, so Im not in the mood for this, bring out my people and let me see them. And then I will consider giving you food and water, but only because my wife thinks helping you folks out a little, is better than killing you and leaving your corpses here to rot. Which was my first choice. She is a good influence most times.”
“what the hell do you think this is a comedy movie” Leo asked angrily.
“not when we are standing out side waiting for the undead to show up.” Jared replied with that smile flickering across his face. “ of course you’re the one that’s standing with your mouth wide open and arguing, let me see my people and then we talk about food and water. “
“Just do it Leo, I think that might be the smartest thing.” Hap said with a sinking feeling watching Leos’ face and knew this was going to end badly. And if Stone was telling the truth it didn’t have to.
Leo didn’t argue, he wanted to, but he listened to Hap. Lifting the walky talkie to his lips he said. “ Bring them out, but keep them between you and the guy.”
Jared stood there watching the skinny asshole, the man next to him looked fit, but was slowly going to pot. His once dark high and tight had a bit of silver in it and he struck Jared as a former Marine, just judging by his hair cut and Bearing. As he waited he idly wondered who cut the Mans Hair.
A moment later the door to the building opened and he watched as four men and a woman shuffled out into the fading light. None of them looked to bad and they were angry he could tell that from here. Especially Lew who kept glaring at the skinny asshole.
“How you doing Lew?, every one okay” Jared asked pissing off Skinny dude even more.
“Pretty good Jared, yeah we are pretty good so far. Sorry but as you can see we got a little side tracked coming home what with the kidnapping and all. But other wise a great two days.” Lew replied, his eyes glued to Leo who had no clue what was about to happen to him.
Leo was tired of this, these two were standing here talking like he wasn’t even here, well if Mr Red head thought Leo was bluffing about having men and how deadly serious he was, he would just have to take control again and prove it
He grabbed the woman by the hair and pulled her close, drawing and ramming his pistol into her side. “ Enough, you’ve seen your friends, and now to prove my friends are real. Light it up” he called out, a second later two laser dots appeared on Jareds chest.
“friend you really want to talk, trust me” Jared said apparently unconcerned . “Im going to give you a chance here, send them back inside and we can talk, or.. well its not going to be pretty.”
Leo nodded more than willing to talk now that the man seemed to understand just who was in charge. “ Take the men back inside, but Ill keep the woman out here to remind our friend here, who sets the rules.”
He waited till the men had been taken back inside and then smiled nastily at Jared. “ your going to give me two weeks worth of food for seventy men, and an equal amount of water. and if that strips your supplies to bad, you should have thought about it before you came out here acting like a dumb ass in a movie. This isn’t a movie Mr. Stone, Me and mine have survived by being the strongest, and the meanest, you want to run around talking and thinking words can save you fine, go talk to the undead and see how long that protects you.”
“two weeks worth of food and water for seventy men. That’s it. nothing else.” Jared asked almost meekly. “I thought you would want a few hundred gallons of fuel, or maybe Tina Turner to open thunder dome or something.” The man said the meekness gone and that smile was back.
“Im not fucking around here Stone.” Leo snapped, barely noticing that Hap had stepped to one side opening the space between them preparing for the fight he saw coming.
“Neither am I, last chance let her go, right now and Ill share some food, only what we can spare. No more and you get to live another day.” Jared said, his hand hovering ten inches over his pistol, like he was some sort of gunfighter Leo thought.
“Leo” Hap warned as the last of the day light fled the sky, leaving only fire and a deep almost black blue on the horizon that vanished suddenly.
Jared reached and drew, neither of the men in front of him had ever known or taken seriously fast draws, it was some thing you only saw in movies, in real life people cant draw and shoot in what amounted to less time than it took to blink. It not only was possible but Jared had competed on an irregular basis in both fast draw competitions and cowboy shooting, and Jared was maybe two tenths of a second slower then the Record holder, which was far faster than any one with in half a continent of him, his pistol slid out of the hostler, leveled and fired twice, the first round struck Skinny guy in the shoulder, knocking the pistol out of line of the women he held, the second shot followed so close the sound of the two shots overlapped, the .45 slug punched a hole between Skinny’s eyes, blowing out the back of his head.
Hap’s rifle snapped into position, but his target had pivoted towards him even as the Second bullet killed Leo. The man was fast, scary fucking fast Hap thought, but once he had drawn that pistol it was just combat as usual Hap decided, but as a surprise move he could probably kill two, maybe three men with that fast draw and Im number two on that list. Hap thought as he pulled the trigger on his rifle ducking down into a crouch, Jareds pistol boomed twice almost at the same time, and Hap felt a rib break as a round struck his vest, the second round missed but it left a deep bleeding gouge along his skull, sending him falling backwards his head aching like a sledge hammer had just struck him. I think I was wrong, he is faster even in normal combat Hap realized as his mind whirled, Distantly he heard rifle fire, a lot of it then someone shouting“ grenade out.”
The Men guarding the hostages had forgotten to tie their hostages legs again, instead they had made them kneel on the floor heads down. Then most of the guards tried to peek out windows, to watch the farce of a negotiation outside. “ get ready to hit the floor” Lew whispered to the men beside him.
“what did you just say” the man still guarding them asked, his weapon pointed straight at Lew.
“ I told them to get ready to duck” Lew said with a smile..
The Guards eyes flitted towards a window just as a .45 roared twice then twice more. The Guard started to turn towards the window then turned back to Lew as rifle fire roared outside. Confused but not scared he pointed his rifle back at Lew determined to kill him first.
While Jared had played for time, two squads, dropped outside of town by helo ealier had maneuvered around behind the raiders positions, which had been pin pointed earlier by Roger flying the plane over head using the thermal sight. Normally Jared wouldn’t waste the limited fuel for the aircraft, but some one taking his people hostage wasn’t normal.
The three snipers were quickly located and silently dispatched, while the squads waited for the signal to assault the raiders positions. When Jared had fired, they hit the raider positions hard and fast, trying to take out the Raiders in the open while pinning down those inside buildings leaving them for the LAV and the HET.
Jeb crouched over the corpse at his feet in the sniper blind watching the muzzle flashes of the bad guys. He laid his sights on the closest and estimating where the mans torso should be and put a bullet into the area. He let the recoil lift the barrel and put another round about where the head should be. Seeing no more muzzle flashes from that location he shifted around and saw two men race from a building a little further back from where the hostages were being held. The two men dove behind a burned out truck and started firing under the wreck towards where they thought the Sullivan fighters were. Jeb laid his sight with care, the cross hairs right on a mans head and pulled the trigger. Night Vision for the win assholes. He thought with savage satisfaction.
Ori sat on top of the old Water tower, his rifle to his shoulder as he peered through the Thermal scope that Eric had given him before he left. Watching the raiders in the building through the walls was childs play with his scope, and when he saw a man standing over four kneeling men, his weapon pointed at them turn away then turn back as the assault began, Ori put a .308 round into the mans head, then began to methodically pick off the six other men in the building even as the real assault began.
Hap lay on the ground, dizzy as hell as Jared moved to his side and tossed Haps M16 out of reach of the fallen man, then turned and checked out the female hostage who lay next to Leo’s body. Hap saw a group of men in Camouflage appear out of the darkness, he was barely able to concentrate his head hurt so bad, but he recognized professionals when they stacked up and then went into the building that held the hostages following a flash bang. There were several short bursts of fire, then nothing.
He tried to lift his head as he heard the rumble of motors, and saw headlights flashing as vehicles approached then peeled out of their column. Oh god he thought as he heard the thunder of a bushmaster and a .50 caliber. We were so outclassed, Leo you dumb ass you should have listened.
A building that had survived the first Ambush of Mikhail, and then storms and a hurricane, died under the lash of the 25mm auto cannon, its walls shredded, the main supports shattered, and the roof crashed down on the interior crushing the few men not blown apart. The wood burning stove that had been providing heat for the men inside, fell over its door swinging up spilling the contents out. The fire began to spread greedily across everything flammable till it reached the supply of lamp oil.
With the building gone and no gunfire coming from the rubble the bushmaster switched targets and began to fire into a second building where hostiles sheltered and were firing from the windows, the cinderblocks cracking and shattering under the brutal pounding of the 25mm. Two men raced out the back door, only to be cut down by the squad known as Jareds red headed Step children who had advanced under the cover of the heavy weapons.
A raider known to his friends as Crack, watched in horrified fascination as an armored Semi tractor with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on its roof, went wide around the building Leo had been using as his holding pen. He stayed hidden watching as sparks flew off its side marking another round that the armor on the cab defeated.
A spotlight on the Semi showed Crank the small boutique about a hundred yards from cranks position was falling apart as the machine gun whittled it apart killing the men inside at the same time.
PW as he was called by the other raiders, rushed up to the window his rifle up ready to fight but crank dragged him away. “ what the hell are you doing Crank we have to fight.” PW said,
“ they have machine guns and armored vehicles and are cutting our guys apart, if you start shooting your only going to draw attention to us . So sit there and let it happen and we might live through this” Crank explained.
PW tore free, angry that Crank seemed to be turning against their group, he fired at Crank who ducked away but still took a round in his side. Crank fell to the floor a hand clutching his side trying to stem the flow of blood from the wound.
PW instantly turned and fired out the window knowing he couldn’t see a thing to shoot other than the vehicles, but he was trying to get lucky and hit the infantry he knew had to be out there. Crank threw himself to the ground becoming a smaller target and tried to pull himself under the dirt as the first .50 caliber round punched through the wall of the old, garishly painted store, sending splinters flying. Then another round and another, after that it was to fast for him to count or care about, a hurricane of thumb sized bullets sent a storm front of shattered glass and splinters tearing across the room, PW was screaming and firing into the night, blood streaming from a thousand cuts, jagged pieces splinters were sticking from his arms, chest and even his groin, then one or more bullets found him and his chest and shoulders vanished in fine spray of blood and flesh.
Crank screamed too as he saw the head now detached from the body land two feet from him, it blinked at him and then the mouth opened silently and snapped shut, opened and snapped shut, PW was hungry was his last coherent thought as an explosion ripped into the building and what was left of the structure collapsed burying him with the head of his former friend.
The night was alive with the wink of muzzle flashes, the sound of battle like thunder that shook the Raiders to the core. As they were taken out by groups and ones or twos they couldn’t know it, but their enemy was using night vision, either googles or scopes and the raiders had no place to hide.
Caught like Rats in a trap, decimated and stunned at how fast their world had come apart, the surviving Raiders broke and ran, some tossed away their weapons, but most hung on to them remembering the threat of undead. .
And in the darkness, from every direction the undead drawn to the sounds of motors, shouts and gunfire converged, staggering across fields and roads and deep woods, as lightening flickered overhead, and the wind began to gust fitfully.
“ Got undead in the area” some one called out over the radio. As the first staggering outriders of the horde appeared.
“Roger, and copy undead, send in second platoon to hold them off while we finish up here” Jared said as he looked down at Hap in the flames of the burning buildings, hap saw two soldiers helping the female hostage up and lead her to a waiting vehicle.
“I tried to be nice, but people like you just don’t listen.” Jared said rising to his feet no longer looking at Hap. . “get this asshole up and into a truck he needs a medic”
“Might want to hurry this up” Ori said watching the mass of light blue and white human shapes staggering through the woods towards the dead town. They were only slightly warmer than their surroundings. “there are at least twenty already along the woodline, scattered from the farmers market to the resale shop.”
“Trying to, I’m sending Daw’s to pick you up, so you don’t have to run through the undead.” Jared transmitted as he strode towards the truck that had brought him here.
“thanks I appreciate that.” Ori said with feeling. He had tried out running a horde of zombies once and had only survived by luck and the hallucination or possible ghost of one of his best friends helping him.
He watched through his scope as raiders fled into the woods many running headlong into the arms of the undead, some had a chance to fight most were dragged down and ripped apart. Not once was he tempted to put a single raider out of their misery. While he waited for the LAV to arrive, he passed locations of undead to Second platoon, then watched as they cleared out the small groups. But the larger mass of undead had yet to reach the town. And Frankly Ori did not want be here on the ground when a couple of hundred undead showed up.
“some one call a Taxi” Daws said over the radio as the LAV pulled up to the base of the water tower.
“yeah, and your late, no tip for you” Ori said slinging his rifle and heading for the ladder.
Hap woke in a bed, confused he sat up looking around at the medical equipment, the lights and a thousand and one familiar things that he had thought were long gone, the machines purred and pinged, lights burned and small monitors displayed his vitals. Maybe it was all dream god I would love for it to be all a dream. He thought, the desperate idea dying as a red head stepped into the room.
A woman, a good looking woman at that, followed behind Jared, dress in leather pants, knee high boots, the armored leather jacket she wore was open to the waist revealing a black tshirt that showed off a lot of cleavage. She wore two pistols on her hips, and a sword was stuck into her belt on her left hip.
“How are you feeling” Jared asked, he really didn’t sound like he cared Hap thought.
“Alive, which I admit surprises me.” Hap admitted. “what happened to my people”
“Most of them are dead, some ran away and are probably dead, or deadish. The undead swarmed the area, and we heard a lot of gunfire in the woods as we were pulling out. Six others lived and are locked up waiting on my decision” Jared said.
Hap couldn’t stop looking around at the lights, and equipment, which were producing a major emotional reaction, a deep grief at the reminder of all that had been lost last year. And the total surprise at seeing working modern devices again.
“Kind of hits you doesn’t it.” The woman said softly stepping forward she adjusted the sword and sat on the bed across from Hap. “you get used to it being gone, and its no big deal after while, and then the lights come back on. And suddenly your remembering friends and loved ones, parties, the internet, being able to walk down the streets with out fear. The scars you built up over the last year are stripped away and you see what you lost and what you’ve become. The problem is the man you have become.” She said, glancing at Jared who frowned but remained silent.
Hap didn’t speak, he had on idea what to say, he hadn’t thought this kind of place was possible. There wasn’t enough fuel left in the country to run generators for hours on end. And when that fuel ran out the lights would go back off. But they had to know that so why waste it even it was an attempt to impress or confuse him, it made sense they would burn fuel on the off chance he would wake up while the generator was running.
“You were married” she said pointing to the wedding ring he still wore. “I bet she wouldn’t like the man you’ve become”
“ Doesn’t matter, I would have done worse to keep her alive if she had made it.” Hap said meaning it.
“Maybe” She said, Hap noticed the look Jared gave her, a look he knew well. He had given the same look to his wife a thousand times, it was silent concern, love and a vow he would do anything to keep her safe. She was Jared’s wife He realized. A part of him angry that Jared still had a wife while his had been stripped from him, it hammered home his failure and the guilt he carried for her death.
“No I would have, and to hell with what you think about it. he understands” Hap said jerking his head towards Jared who didn’t say anything. “look what he did for five of your people. he would do much worse if it was you.”
She looked surprised for a moment then rose to her feet. “he does what he does because he cares, what was your excuse” she said. Hap blinked for a second he heard not the woman before him but his wife’s voice. He had no answer to that so he lay there silently as they walked out of the room.
A blustery wind blew across the valley shaking the trees, and kicking a spray of snow off the ground to swirl in the frosty air. Cans hanging from strings along a fence rattled loudly.
A zombie stumbled from the green two story metal building drawn by the sound of cans, its stringy blond hair whipping around its almost skeletal face. It stumbled to the fence and as the cans rattled under another gust of wind it stared at them as if wondering what they were, then seeing no living meat it turned and stumbled towards the door of the building, maybe drawn by some dim memory of shelter or something else that the living could never know or understand.
There was hissing noise and then the crack of bone as a Crossbow bolt appeared in its head, the zombie took one last step and then fell face first into the snow and lay still.
Out of the brush along the edge of the property line, a man rose to his feet, six feet tall, a toboggan cap pulled down to his ears, ruggedly handsome, or at least that was what many women had told him over the years, with hard brown eyes and crows feet at the corners, he appeared to be thirty to thirty five years old dressed warmly in surplus military winter gear, he calmly recocked the crossbow and placed another bolt on the rail.
Cal Simms, once known as Abaddon, looked around at the snow laden trees and then down the crumbling street. “bring them up, area is clear “ he said the voice activated microphone around his throat transmitting his message to the waiting team of men.
“I miss the winters back home” another man with a Russian accent said appearing from the brush, almost as tall as Simms, and wider in the shoulders.
“You can have them Ivan” Simms replied in French “I prefer much warmer winters. Like those in the tropics. “
“I have always suspected you were soft” Ivan replied,
“you prefer women wrapped in winter clothing to hide their ugliness, I prefer summer, with gorgeous women in skimpy bikinis showing off their bodies. You my friend still long for the almost traditional Russian depression and melancholy which makes you seek out winter weather and ugly women to feel bad about bedding them” Simms said as the sound of motors reached their ears.
“I grew up along the black Sea were it is well know for beautiful women” Ivan said.
“they were tourists Ivan” Simms said finally cracking a smile.
“You were from Mini sota were you not”
“its pronounced Minnesota, and no that’s not where I grew up at” Simms said switching to English. A Military Humvee appeared at the end of the road a half mile away, followed by a Motor home, A semi rig pulling a fuel tanker followed and then two pick up trucks, both had been modified with lift kits, brush guards and other off road modifications. One had a slide in camper in the bed, the other truck’s bed was
Simms taking a page from Jared Stone, had picked up the two trucks a week ago when they had stumbled across a parking lot and campground for some sort of off road track, from the signs that still stood and flyers in the office, there had been some kind of off road race event going on when the dead had risen. Like Stone he had picked the diesel powered trucks over the gasoline, better mileage and he was more likely to find Diesel fuel as opposed to Gas.
The Vehicles came to a stop, and his men, what was left of his men after the debacle at the terminal dismounted. He was proud of his men, men ho were like family to him. they were of the legion and the legion was family, and after places like the Congo, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and now the dying of the modern world, they were still by his side Brothers in arms and of the Legion which was the only fatherland and family they had really ever had.
He glanced at his watch another twenty minutes to go before the Supply helicopter arrived. “ Miles, Get on the Radio and send our Coordinates, Wiezbeki, Mulligan and Wellington clear the building. Its probably empty but guessing doesn’t count. That’s the only building on this street we haven’t searched yet” Simms said sliding back into French.
When Stone had suggested that Simms work with him, and rebuild the Legion with Sullivan island being their new home. Simms had agreed more or less, with the plan. He no longer had any desire to fight a war with stone and his people after almost being manipulated by that weird hat wearing undead monster into a fight that had cost him men and a man who had once been his brother in arms.
He had in fact planned on setting up his own community, but after a month and Stone sending a steady stream of needed supplies to Simms who sent back items and materials to help the island rebuild he had altered his plan somewhat. He would rebuild the Legion, he would set up his own community as a base for his Legion but they would recognize Sullivan as their home, but remain semi independent.. Stone had earned their trust, Stone had given his word and kept it and to a man like Simms that was all he needed.
Besides, it would be nice to have a place like the island to return to for some R and R assuming it didn’t eventually fall under the teeth of the undead.
It took only minutes for the building to be cleared and Simms decided to use it as their base instead of the home at the very end of the mountain road. For starters the entire windowless ground floor was a full garage loaded with every tool known to man, secondly it was so heavily insulated that it was warmer inside than out even with out a fire in the wood burning stove.
There was a regular door that the zombie had appeared from and directly opposite the regular door, was a double door that also served as a wall, parked in the garage was a 63 corvette covered in primer and bond, that the owner had been rebuilding.
Who ever had built the place had a hinged ramp leading to the second floor, with a weighted line, if you pulled the lever upstairs the weights would lower lifting the ramp sealing the second floor off from the first floor..
And lastly the entire second floor, just as insulated as the first had three small thermal saver windows, was an apartment with an enclosed patio off the back over looking an overgrown garden and stock pond, there were even apple and peach trees planted back there. It might be a good place to be during the spring Simms thought especially since the entire back yard was fenced in. There was also two and half riks of wood stacked along the side of the house close to the Regular door, so they would have wood to use for the stove.
As his men were carrying in supplies, Simms heard a helicopter, With Ivan at his side he crossed the road and entered the over grown field between a single wide trailer and a Home on stilts that would have been better suited to a beach than Mountains.
He popped a smoke grenade and tossed it into the center of the field and waited.
A minute later the helicopter was settling down in the frozen weeds sending snow flying. A moment later te door to the Black hawk was sliding open, The co pilot, a former cop stepped out gave him a thumbs up, Simms nodded watching as seven men climbed out looking scared and worried. One of them an older man with silver flecked hair, who according to Stone had been a former marine led the other six over to stand before Simms who smiled coldly at the scared former Raiders
“Welcome to the Legion,” He said. “We do not care about your past, this is your one chance to start over, do not waste it.”