Authors: M.D. Massey
Tags: #dystopian, #werewolf, #shapeshifter, #horror, #vampire, #vampire hunter, #post apocalyptic, #zombie, #werewolves, #werewolf hunter, #zombie hunter, #apocalypse, #post apocalyptic books, #Zombie Apocalypse
Unfortunately, it looked like a simple rescue operation would be out of the question. The alternative was just as risky, but it would offer a greater chance of success over time, as well as the opportunity to collect a great deal of intel on this group in the process. It looked as though infiltration would be my only option. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to putting this plan into action.
Once I decided on a course of action, I headed back to the Facility to let Gabby know what I was going to do. The last thing I needed was for her and Bobby to show up trying to rescue me and spoil all my fun. And, at some point I’d probably need their help to get the doc out, so it was imperative that I kept them apprised of the situation. Of course, this could all end up with me being shot, but I chose to look on the sunny side of things when it came to the risk of my imminent demise. Living under the constant threat of species extinction will do that to you.
By the time I got back, Bobby had returned and he and Gabby were sacked out on the roof of the building we’d found earlier. Not wanting to get clawed in the face or shot, I tossed pebbles at them until they both woke up, and called up to them in a stage whisper. “What the hell are you two doing, sleeping without someone on watch?”
They both rubbed sleep from their eyes, and then looked away. Finally, Bobby spoke up. “There’s nothing around for miles, boss—not even a single deader. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s like somebody sprayed some sort of undead repellent around here that’s keeping them away.”
I considered that information for a moment, and tucked it away for future reference. “Well, regardless of the lack of undead around here, there’s a paramilitary group patrolling and searching the area just south and west of us. So, you two need to keep watch no matter what when you’re not in a secure location—especially when I’m not around.”
I raised an eyebrow and waited, knowing that at least one of them could see me. Finally, Bobby answered me. “I got it. Will do, boss.”
Gabby spoke up then. “What’d you find out? Is Captain Perez okay?”
“As far as I can tell. The thing is, there are too many of them for me to just break her out, and besides that they’re too well organized. I count at least thirty to forty inside the compound, and they may have more out on patrols and recon teams. They keep three men on their perimeter wall at all times, plus a gate guard, and they run patrols inside the perimeter on an unpredictable schedule that changes every hour.”
I could hear Gabby rustling around in the dark. “Just let me get my gear together and I’ll go with you. I can create a distraction, and then you can go in and get her.”
“Uh-uh, no dice. These guys aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely stupid. Somebody halfway competent is giving them orders and keeping them together as a unit, and I doubt a simple distraction will cause them to drop their guard or shift personnel enough to leave a hole in their perimeter.
“So, I’m thinking we need to take an alternate tact. Meaning, this is going to have to be an inside job. I’m going to get myself recruited into their militia and then formulate a plan to get the doc out once I’m inside and in their trust.”
Bobby whistled softly, “That sounds pretty risky. I don’t know if I like it.”
“Me neither,” Gabby whispered.
“Well, it’s the only plan we got. Now, Bobby, I’m going to need you and Gabby to take turns observing their compound, because when I give the signal I’m going to need you to make a delivery for me...”
- - -
he next morning, I was standing inside the tree line within shouting distance of the gates to the camp, and wishing I was anywhere else but here. There were three ways this could go: they could shoot me before I got in the camp, shoot me after I got in the camp, or take me in as a new recruit. I hoped like hell they were in the recruiting mood.
I walked out from the trees with my rifle held over my head. “Don’t shoot!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. I saw the gate guard and two wall sentries perk up and shoulder their rifles, aiming them in my general direction.
The gate guard yelled back, “I don’t know who you are, but you’d best turn around and head back the way you came. We don’t take in strays, and we don’t do handouts.”
“I’m not looking for a handout—I’m looking for work. I have my own gear, and experience, of the sort an outfit like yours might desire.”
One of the sentries eyed me more carefully. After a moment’s consideration, he yelled back, “Hold there.”
I could see the two sentries speaking to the gate guard, but I couldn’t tell what they were saying. I remained silent and waited with my weapon held overhead, expecting a bullet in the gut any second. Instead, I saw the guy at the gate peel off and head back toward the center of their camp. The sentries kept their rifles trained in my direction, never taking their eyes off me all the while. A few minutes later the gate opened and four of them came out of the gate, weapons sighted in on my torso. Each was armed with an assault rifle; I noted two AR-15 variants, an AK-47, and an SKS. So, they were armed, but not too well supplied then. Good to know. They quickly surrounded me, took my rifle and sidearms, and began marching me inside the compound.
I looked at one of the goons that took my weapons. “Do I get a receipt for those?”
He pushed me roughly in between the shoulder blades with the butt of his rifle in response. “Just keep moving. The commander will decide whether you’ll get them back.”
- - -
nce inside the compound, they took me to one of the quonset huts and marched me inside. Just inside the door there was an older white male, maybe early fifties, standing behind a portable table that was covered in maps. He was dressed in Army fatigues with full birds on his lapels, which I found rather strange. That might indicate he wasn’t on active duty when the bombs dropped, as Army personnel stopped wearing rank insignia on their uniform lapels after they transitioned to the ACU-style uniforms, right around the time I was hunting terrorists in the ’Stan.
Just for shits and giggles, I snapped to attention and saluted him. I figured, what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound.
The “colonel,” or commander, or whatever the hell he was ignored us for the better part of five minutes. During that time, I studied him to see if I could get a handle on what I’d gotten myself into. He was stocky, perhaps once muscular, but his belly had gone to fat. That indicated these folks tended to eat well, so they were at least well supplied, and I suspected that meant they were commandeering food from the locals wherever they operated. I also noted that his hair was neatly trimmed in the military style, which was quite a feat considering the lack of electricity; it was difficult to get that look without a pair of electric trimmers.
Strangest of all, his uniform appeared to be pressed and starched, if that were even possible. I pitied the poor fool who had to heat an iron over a fire every night to get the creases in those things for this pompous idiot. On top of that, I noticed that he was wearing the old-style black leather combat boots, and that they were spit shined to a high gloss. Honestly, who in the hell worried about such a thing these days? It took a special kind of arrogant prick to bother with looking neat and proper, when most people were just struggling to survive from day to day. Combine all that with the gut and the rank insignia, and I was ninety-nine percent positive I was dealing with a bona fide Colonel Walter E. Kurtz wannabe. It took everything I had not to spit on his boots.
Suddenly, he snapped off a half-assed salute to me and spoke, in a voice not unlike George C. Scott’s version of Patton. “At ease, at ease. So, I understand you want to join up with our unit.”
I dropped my hand and assumed the parade-rest position, then cleared my throat, not out of nervousness, not for this jackass, but because my throat was dry and I didn’t want to sound like an idiot. “That’s correct, sir.” Might as well stroke his ego some more for good measure; it seemed to be working well at the moment.
He looked up at me, taking his eyes from the maps before him for a moment and studying me with a set of piercing blue-grey eyes. I noticed that one eye was weeping slightly, and he dabbed at it with a handkerchief that he pulled from his pocket.
He gestured at the eye. “War injury, took some shrapnel over in Iraq. First war, not the second.” He looked at my eye, the one that was nearly ruined by shrapnel. “I see we share something in common. Did you get that during the Great War?”
I shook my head. “Afghanistan.”
He nodded. “And you were with...?”
“3rd of the 75th.” I left it at that. If he was really military, he’d know who I was talking about.
“Ah. You boys did some fine work over there. Damned shame we didn’t just level the place. Lot of soldiers and marines died, fighting for a people who didn’t want us there, trying to free a people who didn’t want to be free in the first place.”
I simply nodded. He was mostly wrong and partially right. But trying to reduce a complicated situation like Afghanistan into black-and-white and sound bites was like thinking you could reduce American politics to a
cartoon. Good luck with that.
The commander must’ve seen something in my face, as he arched an eyebrow in my direction. “You disagree with me?”
I shrugged. “Who can understand the hajjis, sir? I just went there to kill terrorists—I didn’t much care what they thought of me.”
“Were you successful?”
“I personally delivered 936 virgins. Sir.”
He seemed to consider that a success, and rubbed his chin with a long exhalation. He gestured at his men. “He’s fine. Give him his weapons back.” Never underestimate the bigotry of men when it comes to clouding their judgment. He looked me in the eye again. “What’s your name, soldier?”
“Sergeant Aidan Sullivan, sir.”
“Ah, a good mick name. But you don’t look like a mick.”
I laughed. “Well, sir, my dad was a mick, but he seemed to like Spanish women. I turned out like this, despite his best efforts.”
That got a hell of a belly laugh from the fat bastard. “Oh, that’s a good one! I bet those spics didn’t know what to make of you—no offense to your mother, of course.”
I nodded and smiled. “None taken, sir.”
“Well, I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Colonel Leakey, of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the Texas State Guard. After the bombs dropped, I pulled together as many of my men as possible and began an effort to provide relief, assistance, and protection to the people of the Great State of Texas.”
Well, that explained a lot. While the Texas State Guard was made up of actual military personnel, their role was mostly disaster relief, law-enforcement support, and admin, not combat.
not combat. These guys most likely were, or had been, military police and medical support troops, prior to the war. And as far as I knew, battalion command positions at the local level were usually filled by light colonels, not full birds. It looked like Colonel Leakey had given himself a field promotion at some point. What a wanker.
I holstered my Glocks and slipped the sling for my HK-416 around my shoulder as the colonel walked around the table. “Since the bombs fell, we’ve been trying to recruit personnel and scavenge munitions and supplies in an effort to fight the paranormals. It’s my hope to one day drive them out of the state and reestablish a new Republic of Texas, in an effort to rebuild a lasting society from the ashes of the Great War.”
He motioned for me to come closer, and I complied, although I noted that the boys who brought me in were still standing ready and giving me the stink eye. As I approached the table, foremost in my line of sight at the top of the pile was a map of Central Texas, with San Antonio and Austin marked off with a grease pencil in black and red, apparently designating areas under the control of the colonel’s forces, and those still under control of the paranormals. It looked like the paranormals were winning, from what I could tell.
The colonel gestured at the maps on the table. “But, as you can see, it’s slow going. We’re mainly limited by the weapons and equipment we can procure, as it’s quite difficult to outfit an army without a supply chain. We’ve been living off the land, and scavenging ammo and weapons wherever we can find them. When we get more weapons, we recruit more soldiers.”
He looked over at me and frowned. “Normally, we’d turn a straggler away, but since you came with your own gear, the offer was hard to turn down. We lost one of our own, yesterday; got shot trying to rescue a medical doctor from a herd of zombies. Nasty business, that. But, we’re fortunate to now have a physician in our unit. To this point, we’ve been getting by with nurses and medics—oh, they’re good, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t let a single one do surgery on me, should the need ever arise.”
I knew from examining the tracks that brought me here that there weren’t any deaders around for miles when they took the doc. That meant the colonel was full of shit, or his men lied to him. Either way, I definitely didn’t like it.
He pointed to a spot on the map. “Right now, we’re here, at Camp Bullis. We know there were plenty of weapons and munitions stored here, somewhere, before the Great War. However, we’ve had minimal success in finding said storage sites. Every armory we’ve located thus far has been cleaned out. So, we’re making one last sweep before we head north for Fort Hood.”
Now I knew he was crazy. Ft. Hood got wiped out when the bombs dropped. All of southwest San Antonio did as well, when the Russians and Chinese hit Lackland AFB. Thankfully, they were using tactical nuclear warheads, instead of strategic warheads. Thus, the damage was limited somewhat. Truth be told, though, no one really knew the full extent of all the damage worldwide, as communications went down almost instantly following the nuclear exchange. And of course, shortly after that we were all a little preoccupied with the paranormal invasion. Being chased by zombies tends to change your priorities.