I’m not scared of the Maos and the Stalins and the Hitlers. I’m scared of the thousands or millions of people that hallucinate them to be the “authority” and so do their bidding, and build their empires, and carry out their orders. I don’t care if there’s one looney with a stupid mustache. He’s not a threat if the people do not believe in “authority.”
Skull Island, South Pacific, 11 June 2011, 2215 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 19 days
Steve Mountain’s eyes snapped open as the alarm klaxon blared through Zombie Strike’s headquarters. Steve swallowed four ibuprofen tablets with a swig of an energy drink. This had better not be a drill. The team was already on the ragged edge from the past week. Steve almost slipped the entire team some sedatives just so everyone would get some rest. The alarm stopped mercifully as Steve snatched his go-bag and sprinted down the stairs. The new command center was laid out similar to the old one. The field team had a glass lined conference room in the center with intelligence and command stations surrounding them. Dozens of large flat screens were hung around the room showing everything from satellite feeds to CNN. Kenn Blanchard, Zombie Strike’s commander, was already in the conference room. Dr. Jacobs, Zombie Strike’s chief medical and science officer, was wrapping Kenn’s ribs while Kenn clenched his teeth in pain.
“What’s up, doc?” Steve said as he strode into the room.
“That stopped being funny the second time you said that Mr. Mountain,” Dr. Jacobs said firmly. The doc was definitely a hottie, but she needed to find a sense of humor. “As to your question, Mr. Blanchard suffered some bruised ribs at the hands of Giant.”
“The Steve wants to know when you and Giant faced off,” Steve said to Kenn.
“That’s a good question,” Chief Stahl said, storming into the conference room. The rest of the team trailed behind the imposing former warrant officer.
“Gather round and take a seat,” Kenn said, waving his hand. Zombie Strike’s field team filed into the room and sat down. Their faces were a mix of careful neutral expressions and wariness. All except Billy. The wolf pup just sat at Jess’s feet. Billy was a cool dude.
“About ten minutes ago, Giant snatched Mateo off the north dock,” Kenn said. He held up a hand to forestall the immediate outburst from the team, “He dragged Mateo into the water. Right now, all of our aircraft are taking off, and we’re going to be doing a full search around the island. We also sent a message out to Task Force 11 and to Mackenzie and Winston.”
“How did Giant get on Skull Island?” growled Chief Stahl.
“Gunny’s looking into it right now,” Kenn said.
“C’mon dudes. There’s so much construction going on right now, it wouldn’t exactly be hard to slip through security,” Steve said. “What The Steve wants to know is where’s Giant taking our fearless leader.”
“We don’t know, but we’ve got every intelligence asset and analyst working right now,” Kenn said. “As soon as we get a tickle, we’re wheels up.” Eyebrows were raised around the table. Kenn was planning on tagging along for this little op. The chief started to say something, but a sharp look from Kenn stopped him.
“Any way we can get Tredegar’s plane turned around?” Quentin asked, “We could really use him on the analyst side.”
“No, but we’ve got a team of M&W’s best on a fast jet here,” Kenn answered. “They should be here in a few hours. Thank God, they were doing some work over in Sydney. Quentin, I need you and Jess working on those prophecies. If the Truth snatched Matt because something in the prophecies told them to, I want to know as soon as possible. The rest of you need to prep the fast jet so we can move as soon as we know something. Are there any questions?” Jess looked around the command center before raising her hand.
Somewhere in the south Pacific, 12 June 2011, 0200 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 18 days
Mateo Cortez groaned as he woke up. He felt like his entire body was out of sync. His limbs and head were slow to move. He was probably shaking off the last bits of being drugged. He looked around. Mateo was lying on a fold-away cot in a metal room with a single fluorescent light blazing away. Other than the cot, the room was empty. The air was cool, but smelled of oil. Mateo felt a thrumming in the floor as he stood up from the tiny cot. It had to be a ship. Mateo remembered Giant dragging him into the water back on Skull Island, but nothing after that. Wherever he was, they’d taken his clothes and gear. He was dressed in rough khaki pants and a blue t-shirt.
Mateo silently walked along the walls of his cell looking for two things – monitoring devices and something he could use as a weapon. The walls were smooth and light gray with a faint smell of new paint. That drudged up an old memory. Mateo’s father spent a good deal of time aboard ships as a Marine. Mateo complained once about having to paint the house, and his father gave him a three-hour lecture about the constant chipping and painting that Chief Petty’s always seemed to find for underperforming sailors and Marines.
The thought stopped Mateo. He hadn’t thought of his father in years. Both of his parents were long dead – father from cancer, mom from a drunk driver just after. Mateo remembered his mother anytime he saw his daughter Mercedes. The little girl looked so much like his mother. A loud clanking snapped Mateo back to the present. The wall opposite the cot slid into the floor revealing another room separated by thick iron bars. On the other side of the bars stood Giant and another man dressed in robes. The new man wore a brilliant headdress of feathers and gold, which pegged him as a sorcerer. Mateo fought down the urge to snarl and kept his demeanor as casual and neutral as possible.
“You’re getting much better at that Mateo,” Giant said. “The first few times we met, you just radiated anger.”
“What do you want Giant?” Mateo asked.
“I already have what I want. You,” Giant answered, pointing a long, thin finger at Mateo, “You’ve come too close to dying these past few months. It’s past time to secure you to prevent you from harming the prophecies.”
“Not very prophetic if I can thwart them so easily,” Mateo said.
“Be quiet Blasphemer!” the sorcerer hissed, “The Prophecies are the word handed down by the Flayed One. You are not fit to speak of them!” Mateo looked over at the sorcerer and then back at Giant. Mateo’s nemesis shrugged and then backhanded the sorcerer hard enough to send the man flying back. The sorcerer crashed into deck several yards behind Giant. Mateo wasn’t sure if Giant managed to kill the sorcerer until he saw the slight rise and fall of the sorcerer’s robes.
“They get on my nerves sometimes,” Giant said, as if in explanation, “Now, where was I? Ah yes. We have decided to keep you safe and under our control until the time comes for you to play your part. Now, after fighting against you for some time now, I know you’re trying to figure out how to escape and kill as many of my people as you can in the process.” Giant paused, waiting for Mateo to agree with the statement. Mateo just stared at Giant.
“To keep you from doing something stupid, I will tell you now that you are on a submarine some four hundred meters under water. We should be aboard ship for the next couple of weeks before reaching our destination.”
“Diesel or nuke?” Mateo asked flatly. Giant eyes widened in surprise at the question.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Giant asked.
“I just want to know how bad I’m going to pollute the ocean when I sink this boat,” Mateo answered.
“That might not be your best option,” Giant said. The tall man motioned to a hatch behind him. A hulking man walked into the room carrying a large sack over his shoulder. The man was built like Quentin and dressed as a minion. Giant’s whip snapped through the bars, forcing Mateo to step to the back of his cage. Bars slid into the floor forming an opening just big enough for the minion to come into the cage. He carefully laid the sack on the deck and walked out of the cage. As soon as the minion was through the bars, the wall slid back into place. Mateo opened the sack. It was all he could do to control his rage. He yanked the sack off and carried a bruised and battered Robyn Adams to the cot. For the first time, Mateo didn’t want to kill Giant. He wanted to make the twisted man suffer for all eternity.
[Zombie Strike Part 9 Chapter 88]
All available boats, this is the United States Coast Guard aboard the pilot boat New York; anyone wanting to help with the evacuation of Lower Manhattan report to Governors Island.
If you want a good documentary on the boatlift, take twelve minutes and watch this.
Thanks to reader David for introducing me to this band.
Nearly every war has started in the last fifty years has been a result of media lies. The media could have stopped it if they had searched deep enough, if they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda they could have stopped it.
I have three quick links for everyone.
First, to the surprise of no one in the RKBA world, Reason reports that the CDC is looking at researching “gun violence” as public health This kind of bullshit “research” is what got the CDC bitch-slapped by Congress. However, even with the USSC slapping them down over the eviction moratorium, the CDC is still feeling its Wheaties. The sad thing about all of this? The CDC could help with “gun deaths” if they’d quit politicizing and help with research in preventing suicide.
Second link today comes from The Firearms Blog. FN has decided to upgrade its civilian SCAR lineup with non-reciprocating handles. There were two reasons that I didn’t seriously consider the SCAR 16 for my “non-AR AR.” One of those was the reciprocating handle. The other was the hefty price tag. At least they fixed one of those.
Lastly comes news that Hasbro has licensed out GI Joe, Transformers, and Power Rangers to Renegade Game Studios for making new role play games. According to the Polygon article, these new games will use a new Essence20 system rather than the 5E from D&D (which Hasbro owns). I’m interested, and would be more interested if I had a gaming group where I live.
So, the blog’s been pretty quiet, and there’s a good reason for that. My father-in-law has dementia. It progressed rapidly in August. Bad enough there were a couple of incidents. My mother-in-law couldn’t continue to take care of him. So, the end of August was spent finding the right facility that could take care of him.
Unfortunately that kind of care is not cheap. It looks like in the next couple of months, my MIL will sell her place and come live with The Wife and me. The good news is the Florida real estate market is still running hot, so she should get a good price. The bad news is that the Florida real estate market is still running hot, so rents are high and in short supply. Especially in less populated areas around here.
It’s been showing up in my rotation lately, so I decided to share.
Torelli Family Farm, 300 miles East of Wichita, Kansas, 10 June 2011, 2000 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 20 days
Evan Torelli hobbled into the recliner with the help of his cousin Stacy. His uncle didn’t let anyone sit in his favorite chair, but he’d reluctantly let his nephew. Evan understood how proud his uncle was to even make the gesture, and he was humbled by it. He just wished he felt like he’d earned the man’s respect. With difficulty, Evan lowered himself into the leather chair. Even with all the pain meds running through his system, his body ached. Evan knew he should be in bed. If Dr. Milkens saw him up and about, the old man would’ve had a fit. There were just some things that a family needed to witness together.
The President of the United States was walking to a podium somewhere in the White House. His face was grim. He looked tired as he stood at the podium. His lips pursed tightly. The president didn’t seem afraid of what he had to say to the nation, but with the reluctance of a doctor about to tell a patient he just lost his leg. He took a deep breath and started to speak to an anxious nation.
“My fellow Americans, five days ago one of our great metropolises saw the largest outbreak of undead this nation has ever seen. We were forced to watch as tens of thousands of our fellow citizens were killed in the streets of St. Louis, only to rise again as the walking dead. Yet, even as we despaired for those people, we saw the true heroism of our fellow citizens. We all watched on as brave soldiers and Marines charged in to save every living soul they could. We watched as our fellow citizens fought off undead hordes to protect each other. I was as moved as any of you as I watched Dennis Jones fight off dozens of the undead to protect his stranded family. I mourned with this nation when he was pulled down just moments before a Marine convoy came on scene. Dennis Jones’ family is safe in a Kansas City hospital right now, and I’ve been told, they are in good condition.” The President paused as if letting the nation mourn for a moment.
“Through all of these brave and selfless actions, over two hundred thousand people were brought out of Saint Louis and evacuated to cities all over the Midwest. It has been heralded as America’s Dunkirk. The Miracle on the Mississippi. I can only be humbled by what those men and women, military and civilian accomplished. We have thousands of our own. We will mourn them and pray to God for His blessing upon the fallen and the survivors.”
“Yet in the face of this Miracle, I am forced to make an unenviable decision. By our nature, Americans want to rebuild in the face of such tragedy. Not just repair the damage and go on with our lives. No, we need to make it bigger, stronger, better. We need to prove to ourselves and the world that no matter what is done to us, we will not just recover, but become stronger for it. Unfortunately, this will not be the case with Saint Louis. After consulting with my military advisors and cabinet, I am declaring a quarantine zone of a fifty mile diameter around the City of Saint Louis to be sealed off by the Armed Forces of the United States. I am federalizing the national guards of Missouri and Illinois to assist. Any ships that must transit this part of the Mississippi river must do so in convoy under the protection of Navy and Coast Guard ships.”
“I did not take this step lightly. This is a necessary step, but only a temporary one. At this time, there is no method by which to remove all of the undead from St. Louis. We will keep patrolling the city, looking for survivors. Until we have the forces or the technology to eradicate this horror from our lives, we are forced to take drastic measures. I will be meeting with members of Congress in the coming days to determine how the federal government can best serve those who survived this terrible and horrific tragedy.”
“Thank you, and may God protect us all.” The President left the podium with reporters yelling questions at him. Evan’s uncle turned off the television. The room was deathly quiet as the family absorbed the president’s words. Evan never considered St. Louis his home, but he was still crushed by the president’s decision. Not go back and help? Maybe he should have accepted Mateo’s offer.
Evan still wasn’t sure how the team had made it out of the building. The noise of the explosion drew every zombie for two miles down on them. All of the fighting was a blur of gunfire and explosions. Evan knew he’d been out of ammo for his shotgun when the Marines finally showed up. He nearly shot one of the Marines with his pistol. It was in the LAV he’d finally broken down. His last reserve gone, Evan quietly wept as the Marines evacuated him outside of the quarantine zone. Somewhere along the line, Evan managed to bust up his ankle, a couple of ribs, and had dozens of cuts and bruises all over him. Mateo had come to Evan’s bed that night, and offered the teen a job with Zombie Strike, sort of. It was the same speech he’d given Evan back in the hotel. You should go home to your family, but if you want to come along, there’s a slot for you. Evan turned Mateo down. He’d seen enough. Mateo actually seemed happy about that.
As far as Evan’s family knew, Evan had joined up with one of the small bands of armed citizens that fought to rescue civilians in the two days after the outbreak. Jim drove the teen back to Kansas and told everyone how brave Evan had been. In the small town, Evan was now something of a celebrity. Not that he could enjoy it much. The doc said it would be weeks before he was healed up. Evan got up and hobbled over to the telephone. His family looked at him strangely as Evan dialed one of the phone numbers on the back of a business card.
“U.S. Army, 11th Task Force, General Adam’s office,” the polite, but tired woman said.
“My name is Evan Torrelli. The general told me to call this number if I wanted to join up,” Evan said.
“Yes Mr. Torrelli, I have your name right here.”
Skull Island, South Pacific, 11 June 2011, 2200 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 19 days
Mateo walked out onto the concrete dock and plopped down at the end. In one hand was a lit cigar. In the other was an unopened bottle of Glenfidditch. Mateo bought the bottle of whiskey for Collin some time ago. It seemed right to drink it now. Mateo Cortez really felt like getting drunk. Just for one night stop feeling all of the pain and sorrow. Intellectually, Mateo understood that any one of his team could get killed at any time. It was the nature of the job. They all rolled the dice and took their chances every time they went out. Jack, Billy, Collin, and Slim did this work fully knowing that they might not make it back alive. That didn’t stop each of their losses from cutting Mateo to the bone.
The rest of the team was asleep. They’d been on the go almost constantly for the past week. Slim’s body had been shipped off to England to be buried by his family. Slim’s father, a former general in the British Army, made it quite clear that Zombie Strike was not to come within a hundred kilometers of the family. As much as it hurt, Mateo abided by their wishes. The team had their own funeral for their friend this morning. Tredegar left shortly after. He’d been recalled to head up the investigative group under the growing Task Force 11. What had been a thrown together mix of army personnel capable of fighting the zombies was turning into a massive combined arms unit with full intelligence services provided by the entire alphabet soup of agencies.
Mateo heard boots clomping on the concrete of the dock. He looked back to see Kenn Blanchard walking down the dock. Kenn was Zombie Strike’s commander, pastor, father figure, and a bunch of other stuff. This morning, he’d officiated the Slim’s memorial ceremony. Now, his preacher clothes were replaced with the more familiar black fatigues. Like Mateo, Kenn had a smoldering cigar in his hand. Slung over his shoulder was Kenn’s newest toy, a Kriss Vector sub-machine gun. Mateo preferred his M4, but he was impressed with the bullet hose’s performance on the range earlier. The running joke was that Kenn now needed to update his Browning after updating his Tommy Gun.
“I was wondering where that bottle disappeared to,” Kenn said, sitting down next to Mateo.
“Seemed appropriate tonight,” Mateo said his voice hollow. The two men silently puffed on their cigars for a moment.
“Where’s Robyn?” Kenn asked, “She usually keeps you from going to those dark places.”
“Jess needed her more,” Mateo answered, “I tried to comfort her, but it’s getting harder. It’s harder to tell her everything will be all right when we see so much death around us. I’m thinking real hard on asking her to hang up her rifle.”
“So why don’t you?” Kenn asked, “You let that kid in St. Louis go back home. Jess could go back to the States and go to college.”
“The father in me wants to pack her up and ship her off to Florida. Maria left the girl enough money in her will to go to school,” Mateo said. Kenn’s eyebrow arched up. Mateo let out a tired laugh. “Yeah, that surprised me too. I didn’t think the two had got that close, but there it is.”
“Again, why don’t you?” Kenn asked. “If we need a sharpshooter, we could approach Sissy.”
“Sissy made her position clear. I did enough to that woman,” Mateo said, “Besides, we need Jess more than just because she’s good with that rifle of hers. There’s a reason Wolf decided to foster one of his pups with her. Some of it may have been because Billy was one of Wolf’s spirit warriors or whatever, but I think there’s more to it. We’re treading on some seriously dangerous ground here, and we’re going to need all the aces we can stuff up our sleeves.”
The sudden laughter caught both men by surprise. Mateo and Kenn spun around to their feet. Standing on the dock stood a seven-foot tall man. His normal tight black costume was replaced with a brown hooded robe. The whip in his right hand danced with anticipation. Somehow Giant made it to Skull Island.
“Hello Mikhail,” Mateo said in a casual tone, carefully setting down the bottle of Scotch and placing his hand on his Sig. Kenn already had his Kriss in his hands. “What are you doing on our island?”
“I came for you,” Mikhail hissed, “Come quietly, and I won’t have to kill your friend.” The two men traded sidelong glances. Mateo gave Kenn an almost imperceptible nod. Mateo’s Sig materialized in his hands. The two men opened fire into their looming nemesis. Giant snarled as the bullet after bullet slammed into his torso. Mateo’s pistol locked back on an empty magazine. With practiced motion, he dropped the magazine and went for one of his spares. Giant’s whip lashed out as the two men reloaded their weapons. Mateo felt the mystical leather wrap around him. Giant jerked upward, and Mateo was in the air.
Mateo heard Kenn screaming his name just before he and Giant went into the dark Pacific waters.
[Zombie Strike Part 9 Chapter 87]