The village of Rosca, island of Corsica, 14 August 2010, 0245 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 2 months, 16 days
Mateo Cortez took a step back as a zombie grabbed at him. It was too close. Mateo let his M4 fall on its sling and drew his pistol. The Sig 250 barked twice and the zombie fell back. Mateo slid back another few steps as more zombies lunged from the broken kiosk. Mateo took down the first two with double-taps. The third grabbed Mateo’s pistol. Mateo let go of the pistol. He hated close quarters with zombies. Mateo yanked his fighting knife and jabbed it through the zombie’s eye. Mateo jerked the blade out. The last zombie pushed Mateo to the ground. Mateo rolled, trying to bring up his M4. The zombie lunged down.
Billy slammed into the zombie. With one savage snap, the spirit wolf crushed the zombie’s head. Mateo rose to his feet as Jess ran up to her foster father. She took another half-dozen zombies down with a series of shots. Mateo took a second to survey the plaza. His team was fighting the two hundred zombies that attacked from the kiosks and the fountain. From the echoing sounds of hunting moans, hundreds more were boring down on them.
“Jim, you and Sport fall back to the town center,” Mateo ordered. The tall cowboy slammed the butt of his rifle into a fountain zombie and nodded. “Quentin, Tredegar, get over here!” The team’s close-quarters specialist had his warhammer out and in action. A pile of crushed undead laid at his feet. Quentin decapitated two more zombies with a lighting pair of strikes before retreating back towards the team leader. Tredegar followed the big man eagerly. He still looked in shock at the sheer number of the undead. At least he was firing his weapon.
Mateo needed to get his team together where they could hold out against the zombies. The only place to make a stand looked like the town center – the building his team was supposed to be assaulting. Well, the worse that would happen is his team would get pinned between Truth cultists and a horde of zombies. They’d been in worse spots before. As soon as Jim and Sport were at the front of the building, Mateo ordered the retreat. The four humans and one spirit wolf sprinted to the door. The zombies, sensing their prey escaping, let out a chorus of hunting moans and shambled as fast as they could. The horde grew as smaller groups of zombies joined the pursuit. By the time the team joined up at the front of the town center, the horde easily numbered over three hundred – and that was just the first wave. There wasn’t time to dally. Mateo looked over the door quickly. It was a large steel double door maybe ten feet high by six feet wide. The door lock was a key card type, like the hotels used. Probably too strong for Quentin to knock open. That left one other option.
“Sport, blow the door,” Mateo ordered. The Brit nodded and trotted over to the door.
“Wait,” Tredegar said as he fumbled through one of his bags. He pulled out what looked like a credit card. “Try this.” Sport looked over at Mateo. The team leader nodded. Sport slipped the card into the lock. The metallic click was audible over the ragged chorus of hunting moans. Mateo quickly signaled for Jim and Quentin to clear the entryway. As Sport opened the right door, Jim and Quentin charged through with guns up.
“Where did you get that key?” Mateo asked Tredegar as they waited for the clear signal.
“I found it on one of the guys we killed earlier,” Tredegar answered, referring to the firefight when the team entered the town. “It looked kind of important.” Mateo nodded. This was why he’d brought Tredegar along. The man was almost psychic when it came to intelligence.
“Fair enough,” Mateo said.
“We’re clear Matt,” Quentin said over the radio. Mateo hand signaled for the rest of the team to get into the building. Mateo waited until his team was in before he trotted inside. As soon as Mateo was in, Sport slammed the door shut. Mateo was glad they didn’t need to blow the door. Now, he only needed to worry about the cultists in the building. Getting back out might be interesting, but he’d worry about that later. Worse came to worse, they’d Saigon off the roof of the town center.
The room was pitch black. There wasn’t enough ambient light for the nightvision to work. Mateo turned on his weapon light. The rest of the team followed suit. The lobby of the town center looked more like a bank than a town hall. A row of teller windows was opposite of the front door. There was some kind of work space behind the teller windows. On either side were conference rooms. The team had already cleared those. To the right of the teller windows was a door with a sign in Italian. Mateo didn’t know Italian, but his Spanish worked well enough to get a rough translation. “Village Offices.” Or something close to that.
“That way,” Mateo said, pointing at the door. Quentin tried the handle. Locked. Quentin hit it with his hammer. The door slammed open. Two cultists in badly fitted tactical gear squinted as the white beams of high powered lights hit them.
“Alive,” Mateo growled. Jim stepped into the door and slammed his rifle butt into the right cultist’s face. The man went down without a sound. Quentin’s hammer connected with the other cultist’s knee in a wet crunch. The man screamed in pain. Mateo scowled as Quentin clamped his massive hand over the man’s mouth. The screaming went to a muted noise. Tredegar knelt next to the man and injected him with a pain-killer.
“What are you doing?” Mateo demanded.
“Wait,” Tredegar said, holding a finger up. Mateo bit down his angry retort. Tredegar was a professional. Mateo had to trust him to know what he was doing. The screaming lessened as the drug took effect. Tredegar waited for several long moments. Then, Tredegar talked to the cultist in a language Mateo didn’t know. It sounded similar to Spanish. The cultist replied in slurred Italian. The two exchanged a few quick bursts of unintelligible speech. Finally, the cultist leaned back and went still.
“There’s a stairwell at the back,” Tredegar said, “It’s normally guarded, but most of the guards left to deal with Collin’s team. He didn’t know how many more Truth members were down there, but it should be support staff and leadership. Just the people we’re here to apprehend.”
“Thank you Edgar,” Mateo said, and then looked over at Sport. The Brit walked over to the resting cultist, drew his pistol, and placed two rounds into the man. Tredegar let out a strangled cry.
“We’re not here to bloody apprehend these people,” Sport said, “We’re here to wipe out this base and every member of the Truth on this island.” He casually holstered his weapon and stepped back. Tredegar looked pleadingly over to Mateo.
“Sport’s right, Tredegar,” Mateo said in a low voice, “If we can capture any of the high rankers for you without undue risk, we will. Otherwise, anyone who willingly joined the Truth will not leave this island alive.” Tredegar looked to the others in the team. Only Quentin looked disturbed by Sport’s actions, but he didn’t say anything. Defeated, Tredegar didn’t say anything further. The team crept down the hallway. As they approached the stairwell, light began to filter up from the lower level. The team slinked down the stairs with weapons up.
The lower level was brightly lit with rows of fluorescent lights running the length of the ceiling. As the team came out of the stairwell, they were in a corridor some fifty feet in length. At the end of the corridor was some kind of arch. Shadows hid what was under the arch. The floors and walls were unpainted concrete. There were three evenly spaced, metal doors on either side of the corridor. Mateo motioned the team forward. They had gone only a few yards when a wave of power swept the hallway. Mateo hated the nauseating feeling. A familiar voice echoed through the corridor.
“Seriously Collin, you should be thanking me right now,” Alan said as he exited the arch dragging a wounded Collin behind him. The tall sorcerer for the Truth stopped as he saw the weapons of Mateo’s team leveled at him. He was surprised by the team’s appearance, but showed no sign of fear. A devious smile spread across Alan’s face.
“Oh good, I don’t have to go looking for you.”