The village of Rosca, island of Corsica, 14 August 2010, 0200 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 2 months, 16 days

Collin DuBois dropped the spent magazine out of his M4 and slapped in a fresh one. These buggers were putting up more of a fight than he expected. Bullets splintered the corner of the building he was using as cover. Collin crouched, spun around the corner, and let out a pair of quick bursts. Screams of pain told him he’d at least wounded the gunmen. He darted down the alley. He needed to get his team back together. Collin had just heard the helicopter. Second part of the operation was underway.

The first part of the operation had gone like clockwork. Collin, The Steve, and Slim along with Chief Warrant Officer Stahl and three other soldiers from Task Force 11 jumped into the night sky and HALO’d in. They touched down in an LZ roughly three klicks west of the village three hours ago. Then, came the slow infiltration into the outskirts of the village. It had been a while since Collin did that sort of thing. With Zombie Strike, sneaking was done more for noise control. This was more like what Collin did when he was in the SAS.

As expected, the bloody cultists were all warm and cozy in their little hamlet. Running a proper guard schedule just wasn’t something they thought about. Why should they? They were safe in this village. The team made contact with the village about thirty minutes ago. The minion and some lesser cultists were taken down before they even realized they were under fire. Some of the villagers brought out their own weapons and attacked Collin’s team. They were brought down in short order. Collin was concerned his little group of shooters would plow through the village’s defenses before Matty and his group arrived. Then, the cult’s own shooters arrived.

The firefight that erupted brought back memories of desperate fights around Belfast in Collin’s early days with the Army. Whoever was commanding the Truth’s militia, as Collin started thinking of them, was bloody brilliant. He’d had Collin’s team in a right nice trap. If Slim hadn’t accidentally run into one of the fire teams, all of them would’ve been wiped out. One of the Yanks unloaded his funny-looking grenade launcher. It was amazing how much breathing room five air-bursting grenades could give you. The team was now strung out in pairs along a line of buildings. From the sounds of the firefight, they were dealing out far more than the militia. That would last only as long as their ammo held out. Collin needed to get them back into action before they were killed off one by one. He couldn’t fail. This was his last chance at redemption.

"Dude, The Steve thought you were a goner," The Steve said as Collin slid behind the low wall the medic and Slim were using as cover. It was pretty bad when even the medic’s insanity was comforting.

"The thought crossed my mind a time or two as well," Collin admitted. A hail of bullets cracked into the wall. The old stones held. Slim casually rose up above the edge of the wall and fired twice.

"About six left," Slim reported as he ducked back down an instant before another stream of bullets trimmed the top of the wall. His tone was professional, but his eyes glowed with hatred as they met Collin’s. Slim was not happy with Collin’s command of the assault team.

Collin was surprised when Matty brought him in to help plan the assault on the village. He’d been absolutely stunned when Matty assigned him command of the first team. Needless to say, not everyone was happy with the idea. As far as Slim was concerned, Collin should have been either locked in a dark, dank cell or swinging from a noose. The team sniper only grudgingly agreed that Collin was the best person available when Mateo directly asked him. Slim also made it perfectly clear that as soon as this operation was done, he would make sure Collin faced some sort of justice. Slim had been vague as to what form justice would take, and Collin just couldn’t blame him. As to the rest of his team, well, they were all soldiers. They’d fought under commanders they didn’t quite trust before. As long as Collin didn’t get them killed, they’d deal with it.

"Stahl, are you able to move?" Collin asked over the radio. Collin was really missing satellites at the moment.

"If we can take care of the guys shooting at us, yeah," the warrant officer answered, "Right now, we’re just bleeding them."

"Do you think your group can make it to the butcher shop?" Collin asked, looking at the map on his PDA. The shop was about a block deeper into the town. From there, the Yanks should either be flanking the militia or acting as a blocking force if the militia tried to flank them. At any rate, it would be easier to strengthen their position.

"We could," the warrant officer, his tone making it clear he was also studying the situation. "It might be better if I moved my group to the jewelry store." Collin swallowed his angry retort as the warrant officer’s plan dawned on Collin. Risky and bold, but a bloody smart scheme. Oh yes, this American would do nicely.

"I see what you’re after Mr. Stahl," Collin said, "Will our enemies act as you’re expecting?"

"Already have once, and we wiped out that little group," Stahl answered calmly, "We just need you to catch up with us."

"On our way then," Collin said, and looked over to his two comrades. The Steve understood the plan and gave Collin a thumbs-up. Slim just scowled as he fiddled with the scope on his SR-25 rifle. "Boys, let’s take care of these buggers. I think a Mexico City is in order."

The three Zombie Strike shooters spread out along the wall. Slim kept the center as The Steve and Collin moved to each side a few meters. The militia figured something was going on and poured more fire at the team. This was going better than expected. All three men lifted their nightvision goggles an instant before The Steve tossed a small grenade shaped device into the street. The "disco ball" bounced twice before landing on little legs. The ball rotated towards the militia and opened up like a flower. The small, but powerful LEDs flashed to light. Reflecting off the flower of intricately designed mirror panels, the brilliant white light illuminated the militia’s side of the street. The militia fire stopped as the men were blinded. The three Zombie Strike shooters rose up and took down the half-dozen militia with volleys of hammer pairs.

"Let’s move mates," Collin said, leaping over the wall.

"The Steve was hoping he wouldn’t have to use that so early," the medic said, scooping up the spent disco ball as the team hustled down the street. From the sound of gunfire, Stahl and his men were already moving. "The Steve didn’t bring the European adapter to recharge it."

"At least you didn’t lose the bloody thing," Slim commented, "Thousand pounds a pop, Mr. Cortez would be a bit miffed with you." Collin didn’t join in the banter. For one, he lost the right with his betrayal. For two, he was concentrating on getting his team into place. Chief Stahl’s plan was relatively simple. The jeweler’s shop was at the outskirts of the town, but to get there the Americans would have to advance at the militia and then retreat down a cross street from their current position. The same street Collin’s group was advancing down. From the crescendo of small arms echoing up the street, the Americans completed the first part – hitting the militia hard. The militia was better than the first gunmen the team engaged, but they weren’t professionals. When amateurs got their blood up during a firefight, they had a nasty habit of chasing a retreating enemy. Like the American soldiers retreating back to the jeweler’s shop. Stahl and his boys were leading those militia fighters into a nasty trap. The American soldiers were the anvil. Collin’s group was the hammer – if they moved fast enough.

A pair of stragglers stepped out of an alley. The two men froze in shock as they saw the three Zombie Strike team members. Slim and The Steve took them down without breaking stride. Collin didn’t even spare a glance at the falling bodies. They were less than a hundred meters from snapping the trap shut. Already, he could see black-garbed men advancing down the street in formation. A machine gun opened up. Collin’s ears perked up. That wasn’t the Minimi SAW machine gun the Americans brought with them. That sounded like an FN MAG. Lord knew Collin had enough experience with the weapon from his army days. That bloody thing could tear the Americans apart if Collin didn’t put it out of commission.

Collin took off in a sprint. He’d gone maybe a dozen meters before he slammed into a wall that suddenly appeared in the middle of the street. Collin grunted as he slammed back into the asphalt. The pain was bad enough. Then, the wall moved towards him. Collin’s vision cleared and saw the largest gollum he’d ever seen looming over him. Still stunned from the impact, Collin could only watch as the gigantic monster swung its axe down on him.

Zombie Strike Part 6 Chapter 59