Authors: Dave Rowlands
by Dave Rowlands
For the usual suspects...
Year 1 A.Z.
Apocalypse Girl was pissed off. I had told her late last night about Disciple's
that I help him take out the Bosses of the Empire. She failed to see exactly why I should help someone that had abducted, imprisoned and raped dozens of women. She also failed to see that it was not
Disciple that I would be assisting, but the man I had once known, or what remained of him. If anything did. Eventually she relented, however. As long as we took her with us.
That, I'm sorry to say,
found unacceptable. These Bosses, no doubt, would be among the most heavily protected humans left Living. She didn't care, in fact used that exact argument against me. I told her that we would still find the Alice Facility before anything else, so that she had somewhere safe to wait for me, not to mention somewhere safe to have the baby if I didn't return. She didn't
to be safe if I wasn't there, she told me. Infuriating woman. I told her that I would take Sister, Scout as well if need be. She gave me one of
looks, one of the ones that shrivels up everything inside of you, makes you realise that pissing
one off would be worse than all the Dead in the world chewing on you. In the end I relented, telling her that we had so far seen this whole thing out together, and I didn't really want to leave her behind. I only wanted her to be safe, that was all. That, somehow, made things worse. So far this morning she had yet to say two words to me.
Ginger wanted me to give him a hand with some more expansions to the Nest, having been in touch with The Colonel and hearing that a fairly large group of survivors wanted to move up to Coober, figuring that what had once been the incredibly hot centre of Australia would be less Cold than the rest of the world. If it was, we didn't notice it. In any case, Ginger told me he needed space for another twenty. The Colonel estimated that she would have them here within days.
“Seems like your girl doesn't like me much,” Disciple greeted me as I laboured, bolting fresh supports in place. “Hell, it seems like nobody likes me much around here.” I wonder why that could be. His scarred visage grimaced in what might have been a smile. “Anyway, we need to plan this little expedition of ours.” I told him that I was busy, we can plan later. He laughed. “I've heard you're looking for a certain underground complex up at Alice Springs. Well, finding that place is the first part.” He turned to leave me to my work. “There, that's the plan so far.” His laughter haunted me long after he left. Dentist called me for lunch after an interminably long time spend labouring out in the Cold. I hadn't realised just how hungry I had been until I had finished my third bowl of Chef's delicious stew. After lunch, it was back to work with the expansions. Ginger was with me, wondering if the new expansions would be sturdy enough, would be roomy enough, would be warm enough.
Eventually, it became too dark to work any longer, and we retired to the communal area. Apocalypse Girl was reading a story to the children, pausing briefly to look up at me as I entered. Her eyes told me that she hadn't forgiven me yet, but the smile on her lips told me that I was not completely doomed. Yet.
Disciple wanted just the two of us, he and I, to go in alone. I told him that was utter insanity. Apocalypse Girl told him that she went where I went, there was no further need for discussion on the subject. Sister piped up that she went wherever we went. Sonny said he would not be left behind, and Scout, who had just popped in to let us know that dinner was ready, told us that she would be coming as well, if we would have her. Disciple didn't want her, but was alone. In the end, he stormed off in disgust to sulk alone in the newcomers' section. Despite being willing to share a grin of triumph with me, Apocalypse Girl still didn't want to talk, so I asked her for the radio. She handed it to me with barely a grunt and I went outside.
Soldier had little news from The School, apparently The Principal was sick though Doctor assured everybody he'd be fine. Viking and Valkyrie had returned at last, arriving just this morning. The loss of Cyclops was a blow to the remaining Mech-Techs, though the return of their leader was cause for celebration. I asked him what he could tell me of The Empire, their organisation, anything he had heard that might be of some use. He could tell me little, just confirmed that they were led by a triumvirate, three people known as The Bosses. After Soldier I tried to contact The Colonel, resulting in a rather lengthy conversation with The Smart Couple. I told them what Fluffy the
had said about the three alien species vying for control of the planet. Then the pair began asking all sorts of questions, none of which I was remotely capable of understanding, let alone answering. I also warned them of the Dingoes around here, describing one in detail as it prowled about below me.
Signing off, I turned around to see Disciple staring at me. “So, you've actually met one. I had heard some of my friends talking about seeing one of their craft flying low during one of those freaky multicolored lightning displays of theirs, but...” I crouched low, ready to grab him and throw him to the Dingo below if he came anywhere near me. He chuckled quietly to himself. “If you wanted to know about The Bosses, why not just ask me?”
I told him that I wanted some information of my own, so I knew what questions to ask him. Raising a charred eyebrow he gave me a questioning look, then nodded. “We'll talk more about all of this tomorrow. Right now I need sleep.” He said, ducking back inside the newcomers' section.
Year 1 A.Z.
Scout woke me up this morning, asking Apocalypse Girl and I if we wanted to accompany her on a trip to get some fresh supplies. She lay out a map before us, showing the locations of several Meat-beasts that she knew of as well as a building about five hundred metres from the base of tower of the Nest. Apocalypse Girl wanted to know what was inside, Scout telling her that it had been set up as a hydroponic vegetable garden. It had been set up so that it was almost totally self-sufficient, but there was one man that stayed around to keep an eye on things.
Chef had made a huge mess of porridge for breakfast, tasty despite being so bland. Dentist handed out massive chunks of fresh-baked bread beside her and the three of us ate our fill before descending the rope ladder to the ground. Scout vanished for a moment only to reappear behind the wheel of an old Land Rover that had been insulated somewhat against the Cold by blankets that had been stuffed inside the doors.
It was an awkward journey, because bloody Apocalypse Girl was still refusing to talk with me. Scout seemed to find the whole thing amusing, but I just found it painful and annoying. Rather than drive in total silence, however, she turned on the stereo. “Had this installed about a week before the shit hit the fan,” She yelled over the music. It was the first heavy metal, indeed the first real music I had heard since using it to distract the Dead so that Apocalypse Girl and I could escape the chemist in which we had been trapped. “It's the only remotely new thing about this fucker!” She slapped the steering wheel.
We arrived at the first of several Meat-beasts shortly before midday. Scout took out a huge knife and began hacking away while Apocalypse Girl stood watch for any Dead. I drew my katana and joined Scout in slicing away great chunks of flesh from this mutant former cow. After a couple of minutes, Scout declared that we had enough meat from this particular source and we should move on to the next.
The second Meat-beast had clearly been savaged by Dingoes during the night, but there was plenty of regrowth already. Nevertheless, Scout suggested that we move on without harvesting anything from this one. The third was nice and fresh still and the meat cut away easily enough.
The fourth Meat-beast on the other hand... It was alive, still, that much we could determine easily enough, but it had been burnt, scorched in fact, and attacked by something with nasty, sharp teeth. Scout paled, mouthed 'Dragon' and silently insisted that we move on and move on quickly.
We climbed into the Land Rover quietly and drove on, heading to the hydroponic facility. The route that Scout had chosen took us in a fairly wide circle, but it was clearly one that she had travelled many times and knew well. This resulted in us making good time and we were at the hydroponic building about an hour ahead of schedule.
There were several Dead trying to get inside through the main door, which Scout told us was normal and to not worry about them. Instead, she parked the Land Rover around the back of the building and we climbed up onto the roof using our vehicle as a makeshift staircase. From there, Scout showed us to a broken skylight in the ceiling that had a rope ladder descending from it.
The room below was well lit, the man dozing off in a chair, cock in one hand, porn magazine in the other a disturbing centerpiece. Scout shouted a hearty “OY!” at him and he scurried to put himself away while his face turned crimson. He offered to show us around the place once he had regained his composure, which we accepted. He had run a hydroponic shop before, he told us, and didn't only sell to stoners wanting to grow their weed. So, one day, he decided that he would grow something other than marijuana himself, and set up this place. Two days later the first Dead rose. So he barricaded himself inside, trading with the locals up in Coober's Nest for fresh meat and fuel to keep his generators running.
Gardener gave us the supplies that Scout had requested, handing him a sack of Meat-beast steaks that he promptly chucked in the freezer. We then retraced our steps, climbing back up to the roof of Gardener's building then down to the Land Rover, slicing apart a couple of Dead on the way down that had become too inquisitive.
We pulled up at the base of the tower just as the shadows deepened to true blackness from merely being dark. Climbing the rope ladder that had been thrown down to us, we handed over the supplies to Chef, who accepted them gratefully, handing us each a bowl of stew in turn.
Sister welcomed us back, Sonny at her side. Disciple glared from a corner. After dinner my former friend decided that he needed to berate me for leaving without telling him about it. I could have been killed, he told me, then where would we be? He'd not have anyone to help him take out The Bosses, for one thing.
I sat alone with Disciple, asking him about The Empire, though in truth even he could tell me little. He had just gotten in contact with his friends up in Queensland shortly after The Abbott's group had been decimated, who had advised him to join or form a group and pacify Melbourne. The Empire shared a vision with The Colonel, a world with no more Dead.
He only knew one Boss, he told me, and that would be the one we would target first. He had been a reasonably high-ranking member of a group of bikers before, and with the Dead gnawing on those higher than he in the food-chain he moved up to the top spot in short order. It was his order, Disciple reckoned, that had pacified Brisbane. He had found the other two Bosses in the wreckage of whatever organizations they had led prior to the world ending and together, they formed The Empire. According to Disciple, they had things well in hand in the areas under their control, thanks to swift, decisive action from the very beginning. People lived safe, happy lives in The Empire, he said. Who were we to take that away from them?
Year 1 A.Z.
We began preparing to leave this morning, gathering up what supplies we could, making sure we had plenty of clean water if nothing else. Scout had offered us the use of her Land Rover to get us to Alice Springs, though with all six of us crammed inside it was likely to be an unpleasant journey. Everything we were taking with us we had strapped to the roof-rack securely, so as to leave as much room inside the Land Rover as possible.
Apocalypse Girl had decided that she was now speaking to me once more, telling me that trusting Disciple was a bad idea, reminding me that he was not the man I had considered a friend. I knew all that, I told her, but at the very least we needed some information about life within this new Empire. As we had been introduced to them through the depredations of Disciple and his Followers we felt that they were the 'bad guys' but since they had considered the actions of the Followers deplorable enough to kick Disciple off of his throne when they wandered into Melbourne and had since proven to be reasonable neighbours to our friends at The School... More information was needed, I felt, if nothing else. “So you're not even intending on helping me get rid of The Bosses?” Disciple asked, eavesdropping on our conversation. I assured him that I would do as he had asked me. I owed him that much, at least. He smiled his half-charred grin, his one good eye lighting up. “That's good. We're all better off
them in charge, shall we say. After what they ordered in Sydney...”