Authors: Joseph Picard
OK,” Regan said, “I’m
Regan and Alisia took some time to get
used to their remote control zombie-bodies, practicing a little
with a short zombie slap-fight.
Silly bitch!” Alisia said,
slapping Regan’s zombie with a cheerful tone.
Aha! The claws come out at
last, huh, leesha?” Regan retaliated with another slap of her
I am not Alisia! This is a
male zombie.. I am....AL!” Another slap punctuated her
Hey, dipsticks.” Kris’
voice came over the com. “Don’t slap those things apart. We need
them, don’t we?”
Yeah.. well.. one more
thing.” Regan staggered back and came forward with an attempted
roundhouse kick which resulted in her zombie falling flat on its
Ow?” Brock asked, looking
rather concerned for a moment that somehow the system had fed back
pain to Regan, even though he knew full well it
Well... it sounded
painful.” Regan said.
Yeah.” Alisia agreed,
putting Al’s hand out for Regan’s toppled zombie. “Come on. Get up,
Reggie’ took Al’s hand, and
started to pull himself up. “You should have heard it from here.”
Let’s get moving.” Alisia
said, looking around with Al’s eyes. “Parker, we’re looking for
hostages, so um... can you see maybe a gymnasium or something where
they might be held... and hopefully a route that keeps us away from
other zombies as much as possible?”
Yeah... um... I picked
zombies more or less as far in as I could, so.. er... I don’t
really see a whole lot past you...”
Captain Taylor to the
rescue.” Kris chimed in dryly, “I already have Meston’s map loaded
up, and if Brock will allow I’ll stick a VTag in your display for
you to follow.”
Of course.” Brock said,
having spent an extra hour putting the Vtag feature in. A “go here”
VTag icon appeared on their displays, seemingly pointing out a
building obscured by several others.
Ok, Kris, where is this
we’re headed?” Alisia said, starting Al walking down the street.
“And how far?” Slap fights had gotten easy enough, but walking with
any useful speed without falling over, proved a bit more difficult.
“Well, now I understand zombies a bit better.”
It’s a pharmacy.” Kris
said, referring to the VTag, “Alisia said she wanted some
moisturizer.” Regan rolled her eyes, but was cut off before she
could come up with a comeback. “Eh, really though,” Kris continued,
“It’s a high school. It’s got a big gym. Seems like a good place to
keep a lot of people. It was one of the first places the Storms had
intended to check out.”
And so, Al and Reggie staggered down
the street in the general direction of the VTag. “Frig, I could get
out of the airlimb, actually walk there myself, and get there
before the zombie.” Regan complained.
Yeah, and get skewered by a
rail-propelled iron girder or zombified y-“
Alisia was cut off by the sound of a
little scream from behind a garbage bin they were passing. Al and
Reggie turned to look and saw a young lady with long dark hair,
perhaps a bit younger than Regan and Alisia. Alisia held out Al’s
hands in a calming gesture and said “It’s ok, we’re not ... uh..
not bad zombies....”
She can’t hear you Major.”
Brock said, “We couldn’t pull that trick off in the time we
Bah.” Alisia looked around
and made Al grab a rock from the ground, and walk over to the wall.
The lady flinched as Al got close, but was blocked from escape by
the garbage bin and Reggie’s presence. Alisia started scraping a
message into the wall with the rock. “HUMAN CONTROLLED ZOMBIES.
HERE TO PLAN RESCUE. CAN’T TALK. CAN LISTEN.”
Al stood back, and pointed at the
message. The young lady read it, and looked back and forth between
Al, Reggie, and the message. “You’re kidding...”
Al shook his head no.
You’re.... ew, that’s
Well... um... I’m Erika.
Um.. nice to meet you?” She motioned to shake hands out of habit,
then changed her mind.
Alisia took Al back to the wall, and
wrote more. “WHERE HOSTAGES?”
Oh! Oh, yeah, I can help!
Follow me!” Erika said, a little excited. Al nodded, and Erika
started a brisk walk down the sidewalk. After a bit, she looked
back to see the two zombies trying desperately to keep up. “Wow,
you guys got cruddy ones, huh?”
Reggie stopped walking for a moment to
nod, (doing both at once would almost certainly result in falling
down,) while Al maintained its pace.
This is tiring!” Alisia
called out aboard the airlimb. Convincing the dead flesh to move
required a lot of strain against the restraints.
Yeah. Hey leesh, this
Erika... a brunette running around in a city of zombies... remind
you of anyone?” Regan said. Reggie caught up to Al, and grabbed
Erika stared. “Um.. gay zombies,
Regan nodded while Alisia tried to
figure out what Erika was talking about. She turned Al around, and
slapped away Reggie’s hand. “Uh... supposed to be working here,
Regan.” Alisia said.
Aw, come on, leesh, when do
I get the chance?”
Like you haven’t
Yeah... well... this time,
I can’t feel it when you slap me.”
Alisia reached her hand to the side
straining against the strap, and poked Regan’s hand with her
Can we get going
The three of them walked along for some
time, eventually nearing the gymnasium and its VTag.
As Al passed some wreckage, Alisia made
him pick up a pair of utility goggles, a lot like the kind Regan
had once used like security cameras in Autar. It wasn’t on, but it
was operational. Being in a ‘borrowed’ body, Alisia didn’t have the
option of bringing her usual equipment, so she took it along and
familiarized herself with the settings and buttons as they
Erika opened the door of the gym to
show Al and Reggie the crowd of people inside. It looked similar to
a scene you might expect after a natural disaster like flooding,
when evacuated people can’t stay in their homes. Well, except for
the patrolling zombies wandering around. The people looked at
Erika, Reggie and Al.
They must think we’re
zombies that found Erika wandering around.” Regan said.
Fine,” Alisia said, putting
on the goggles. “Kris, walk me through this. Let’s see if I can
find any nanite servers here. It we find one, maybe we can disable
all the zombies in this area, and get these...”
As she put the goggles on Al’s face,
they were in infra red mode. “Oh shit.”
What, what now?” Regan
Alisia made Al look around the room
with the goggles. The people, Erika, and of course the zombie
guards, and themselves. “Regan... no one here’s giving off any
Although this conversation was unheard
in the gym, Erika turned around to see Al with goggles up to his
Aw darn.” Erika said. At
that moment, her eyes grew lifeless, and every body in the room
started walking towards Al and Reggie. Erika, the guards and the
‘hostages’. All dead, and approaching for attack.
Regan turned her head away from the
Reggie monitor, and looked to Brock. “Hey Doc, the jig is up, may
as well un-strap us.”
As Brock walked over, Regan looked back
into the monitor and over at Al. Alisia had chosen to fight. Al’s
arms flailed wildly at the crowd. Alisia yelled out, forgetting
that her voice wasn’t coming out Al’s mouth. “I came to save you,
you bastards!” Tears erupted from Alisia. Regan looked back into
her monitor to see that Reggie had already been ripped to shreds by
Al was doing a bit better until the
crowd got a hold of one of the wild swings and ripped Al’s arm off.
Alisia saw it come loose and screamed. “My arm!!”
Regan was half freed from the table,
and snapped at Brock. “Go shut this thing off! Now! Alisia! Forget
it! Ignore it!” Brock ran to power down the terminal, and Regan
strained over to loosen a couple of Alisia’s straps. As soon as she
could, Alisia grabbed onto Regan and trembled. “There’s no one left
to save in there. Everyone in Meston, all dead.”
While Brock undid their ankles, Regan
held Alisia and tried to comfort her. “You’re alright, leesha. Just
a video game.” Regan was a bit rattled too, but she was becoming
increasingly glad that she had the opportunity to be a support to
Alisia for a change, instead of the other way around.
Erika...” Alisia mumbled.
“It was Erebus. The hostages never survived the initial attack.
They were just kept better preserved... they’re decoys. The zombies
weren’t meant to be an attacking force this time. They’re just
by-products. Like fallout.”
Then... there’s nothing
protecting him. Let’s go see about getting him nuked.”
Chapter 57: Got Wood?
Aside from Parker, who kept watch on
Meston through his scope, everyone on board met in the ops room.
The General was on the screen.
Well that does make things
simple then. I’ve already recommended a slow-burn carpet bombing.
The planes are on the runway now.”
Sir?” Alisia said, “How do
we know there aren’t other living hostages in Meston?”
There’s been no attempts at
communications, and no sign of resistance since the initial
invasion. We didn’t know why till now. We just assumed that the
zombies were just that effective at occupying the city. Still, it
explains a lot. If he still had live hostages, he’d be parading
them to us right now. Do you see any real possibility of there
being anyone alive there?”
Alisia paused. There was doubt in her
mind, but the slim chance that there was a living human left in
Meston seemed so small, especially next to the threat of Erebus
expanding to other places. “No, Sir. The slow burn is the best
Come on home people, it’s
Regan and Alisia wandered out while
Kris and Brock compared some notes.
Leesha..? What’s a slow
burn?” Regan asked timidly.
It means.. the bombs will
leave behind napalm. It’ll probably burn for days. The same thing
was used at Autar. It makes sure no nanites will
And if there is a human?”
Regan regretted asking it as soon as she finished. Alisia stopped,
and looked at her feet. “The initial explosion would easily kill a
normal human instantly. They wouldn’t suffer. Not any more than
they already have.”
Regan stared at Alisia for a few
moments. “You’re still blaming yourself for Meston’s fall, aren’t
you?” Regan leaned in for a soft hug, and to kiss Alisia on the
cheek. Alisia just sort of stood there, eyes a little glazed,
staring forward. Regan let go, and pointed a finger at Alisia.
“Stop it. You know you did all you could.”
Alisia slid back a bit out of her
trance and forced a little smile for Regan. “Alright.”
The comm sparked to life. “Folks?” It
was Parker. “Meston’s aiming something at us. It’s uh... it’s a big
What the hell?” Kris
matched her view to the location Parker had just marked with a
VTag. “It’s a big log!”
That’s what I said. A big
log! In one of those rail cannon things!” Parker sounded almost
bemused with disbelief.
That’s stupid, a log can’t
be fired with magnetics!”
At that moment, the log shot forward
towards the airlimb.
Ohhhhhkay, I’ll just stop
talking now.” Kris said. “How about I move us out of its
Sounds good.” Parker said.
The airlimb did indeed move out of the way of the log’s trajectory
in plenty of time. It was moving a lot slower than the iron girders
Erebus had been launching before. But it was arching. An arched
trajectory is nothing new for improving range, but Erebus had not
used it before, instead relying on sheer velocity to attain the
range he had been getting. It occurred to Kris that this was a
tactic to lure targets in closer until he found a target he really
wanted to hit. But a log?!
As the log began to come down near
them, the front end of it exploded. It was a log with a warhead.
The wood splintered out in almost every direction, and six beams of
metal were revealed as the log unraveled. The beams spread out a
bit like a shotgun blast, and all were relieved to see that they
had not spread wide enough to hit the airlimb.
The wood on the other hand, spread much
wider. The airlimb resounded with a pangs and bangs as a few chunks
of wood and a hail of splinters struck the hull, and bounced around
inside where the open bay door allowed them in.