Skull Island, South Pacific, 25 July 2010, 0100 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 6 days
Owen Thomas, better known to his teammates as Slim, was manning the command center as the Zombie Strike field team and support elements worked to determine the extent of the damages caused by the saboteur. How could one person cause so much damage? How could Collin have done this? Slim banished the thought as soon as it came into his head. He watched as the techs talked with the teams on scene. Jaclyn Dekker, the lead tech, quietly moved between her team. Slim had been surprised when the petite woman stormed into the command center. With assured confidence, Dekker organized Zombie Strike’s response. Slim was carefully nudged aside to let the support folks do their job. Slim knew his father would never allow anyone to even appear to undermine his authority. Another thing the Colonel got wrong. If there was one thing Slim learned in his time with Zombie Strike, it was to let the professionals do their jobs, regardless of their rank.
Slim looked down at the tablet in his hands. At least the internal network was still up. Slim flipped through the most recent damage report. All outside communications were gone. They had internal phones, WiFi, and portable radios. Unless a ship got within ten miles of the island, Zombie Strike was cut off from the world. Slim asked about the few planes, helicopters, and boats at the airfield and docks. All of them were disabled. There was a bit of good news there. In his rush, the saboteur screwed up his charges on the vehicles. The vehicles were broken, not destroyed. Still, the best estimate was twenty-four hours before they could hope to get a plane in working condition. Gunny walked into the command center. The hardened former Marine strode up to Slim. The flinty calm on the head of security’s face bothered Slim.
“Slim, what’s the status of the armory?” Gunny asked. The question caught Slim off-guard. He fumbled with the tablet as Gunny waited patiently.
“Gone,” Slim answered, looking at the most recent report, “All of the weapons, explosives, ammo, and gear are unrecoverable. The engineers sealed it up and are just letting it burn itself out.” Gunny’s face went dark.
“We’re going to need everyone to scrounge up every weapon they have,” Gunny said tersely, “Those explosions have brought in a huge horde of zombies.” Slim flipped to a perimeter camera. The horizon was crammed with staggering zombies.
“That doesn’t look right,” Slim said as he looked at the display, “Did we pull every zombie on the island?”
“Slim, there’s more zombies bearing down on us right now than this island has ever had,” Gunny said.
“Where did they all come from?” Slim asked. Gunny just shrugged in response.
“Better start thinking on how we’re going to repel all of those without any heavy weapons or air support,” Gunny replied quietly.
Washington DC, 26 July 2010, 1900 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 3 months, 5 days
Mateo Cortez kept his face neutral as the new FBI agent walked into the interrogation room. This one was average height, but skinny and bookish with a long hooked nose. He carried a stack of files under his left arm. Mateo wanted to call him Ichabod. The agent’s face was a professional neutral, but there was an odd fire in the man’s brown eyes.
“Mr. Cortez, I am Special Agent Tredegar,” the man said as he sat down. The folders were meticulously spread in front of Tredegar. The FBI agent leaned forward on the table.
“I am very sorry about your friend,” Tredegar said. The words sounded flat to Mateo. Less from lack of sympathy than lack of practice.
“Thank you, but I’m not giving a statement until I see an attorney,” Mateo said coolly, “Who I’m still waiting to call.” Mateo leveled the words as a challenge. Tredegar didn’t seem to notice. He opened a folder and pushed a large photo across to Mateo.
“Do you recognize this individual?” Tredegar asked. Mateo picked up the photo, glanced at it, and then looked over at Tredegar. The FBI agent’s anticipation was barely contained.
“You’re not on Nigel’s case, are you?” Mateo asked.
“No. I work occult cases,” Tredegar admitted, slightly surprised at Mateo’s question.
“And why do you want to know if I recognize this person,” Mateo asked, tossing the picture back on the table.
“Maybe because your team fought him in Wyoming about six months ago. Maybe because unofficial interviews with Army soldiers describe someone who could bring down a Blackhawk with an energy beam shot from a knife. Maybe because I think Zombie Strike isn’t telling the American government what it knows about these people.” Tredegar dramatically spread several photos across the table.
“Special Agent Tredegar, you really don’t know what you’re messing with,” Mateo warned. “I don’t know what you think–” The sentence died as his eyes locked onto one of the pictures.
“You don’t know what Mr. Cortez?” demanded Tredegar. “What are you hiding?” Mateo didn’t answer. He stood up from the table and walked to the door. Tredegar awkwardly leapt up at Mateo. In one smooth motion, Mateo had the FBI agent pinned to the wall.
“Tredegar, if you want to find out so badly, then you can tag along,” Mateo growled into the agent’s ear. “But you’re going to do what I tell you to do.”
“I am a federal agent,” Tredegar protested weakly, “Attacking a federal agent is a serious crime.” Mateo let out a low, evil chuckle.
“One of your suspects is dating my ex-wife and right now watching my daughters,” Mateo said, “Do you really think assaulting a Fed is that high on my list?”
“I’ll drive,” Tredegar replied.