Jerusalem, Israel; 6 October 2011, 1515 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 25 days
Quentin McLintock pushed the woman to the street and brought the warhammer down. The zombieâ€™s skull split open, spilling rotten brains on the street. Its companions let out their hunting moans as they turned to their new prey. Quentin heard echoing moans from dozens of throats. Maybe thirty or so zombies were now bearing down on him. Well, no one said the hero business would be safe or easy.
â€œRun,â€ Quentin told the frightened woman. She looked up at him in shock. Quentin pointed emphatically back down the street and barked, â€œRun, now!â€ The woman scrambled along the pavement for a few yards, found her feet, and sprinted back to relative safety. Quentin turned back to deal with the three zombies in front of him. He cursed to himself as he slammed the warhammer into the first zombie. This was not what the team expected when they landed in Jerusalem earlier in the day. Quentin spun and batted away the second zombieâ€™s groping hands with the haft of his hammer. He swept his artificial leg out and knocked the third zombie off of its feet. As it struggled to get up, Quentin slid back out of the reach of the second zombie. He waited for it to take a couple of steps towards him before thrusting. The blow tipped the zombie backwards. As it fell, Quentin smacked its head like a baseball. The zombie stopped moving before it hit the ground. Casually, Quentin walked over to the last zombie still struggling to get up and dispatched it with a single hammer blow. Picking up a discarded newspaper, Quentin wiped the gore off of his hammer.
â€œWell that was nicely done mate,â€ Sport said jogging up the street. The diminutive Brit had his XM-25 slung across his back and was cradling a pump shotgun. â€œThe womanâ€™s fine, by the way.â€
â€œOne good thing, I guess,â€ Quentin said, looking at the four corpses on the street. Hunting moans echoed in the streets as more zombies started their slow shamble to the noise. â€œHave they located Jocasta?â€
â€œNope,â€ Sport answered, â€œSomewhere in this neighborhood. Let me tell you, the Israeliâ€™s are a bit put out by that woman.â€
â€œNot every day that their cultural minister turns out to be working for the Truth and unleashes a zombie outbreak in their sacred city,â€ Quentin said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to find her before the IDF or Mossad does.â€
â€œYeah, yeah, I know,â€ Sport said, clearly not wanting to go over the dayâ€™s events. Quentin couldnâ€™t blame him. It had been bad enough the first time. Sport motioned down a side street. â€œThe boss wants us to meet up a few blocks over.â€ Quentin consulted the map on his PDA.
â€œOkay, follow me,â€ Quentin said. Sport grunted as Quentin started running.
â€œNot bloody natural for someone your size to run like a footballer,â€ Sport grumbled.
â€œI played football in college,â€ Quentin shot back.
â€œReal football, not that corruption of rugby you Yanks play,â€ Sport retorted. Quentin decided to let the little man have the last word. He was going to have a hard enough time keeping up with Quentinâ€™s pace. In a few minutes, the two met up with the rest of Zombie Strike outside an abandoned professional office. Quentin grimaced at the sight of the tight-faced uniformed man standing next to his team leader. So, Mateo hadnâ€™t been able to shake him yet. As soon as he saw Quentin and Sport, Mateo strode over to them.
â€œAny luck?â€ Mateo asked in a low voice.
â€œNo, just a few zombies,â€ Quentin answered in the same hushed tones. â€œOur friend is coming over.â€ The uniformed man stormed over.
â€œMr. McLintock, my government is being very lenient in letting a team of armed foreigners run around the infected zone. I would appreciate you not abuse our trust in you by harrying off on your own,â€ Major David Rabin stated in slightly accented English.
â€œIf he didnâ€™t mate, that lady would now be prowling about looking to eat you,â€ Sport said, trying to catch his breath.
â€œWhile I appreciate your protection of an Israeli, please donâ€™t expect me to believe that was the reason you two split off,â€ Rabin said, clearly not amused.
â€œProve it otherwise,â€ Sport challenged.
â€œEnough,â€ Mateo said before Rabin could respond. â€œWe still need to find the sorcerer.â€ Rabin shot Mateo a sidelong glance, but didnâ€™t say anything. The career military intelligence officer still didnâ€™t believe Zombie Strike about the true nature of Jocasta Cheveny. He was having a difficult enough time dealing with the idea that she raised the zombie horde. The idea she was a mystic in the service of a powerful, but secret cult in the service of an Aztec god was a bit too much for Rabin at the moment. The four men rejoined the rest of Zombie Strike.
â€œSo where do we go now?â€ Chief Stahl asked.
â€œAfter the zombies,â€ Mateo answered, â€œSheâ€™s got to be there somewhere to control this many of them.â€
â€œMatt, what if sheâ€™s not there?â€ Jess asked. Mateo gave his foster daughter a quizzical look and motioned for her to continue. â€œThe question I keep asking is why. Jocasta already destroyed the Levant Scroll. Why didnâ€™t she just leave through one of their portals? Why raise the zombies? What else could she be after?â€
â€œJust for the record, youâ€™re getting too smart,â€ Chief Stahl told Jess. The former soldier looked at his team leader. â€œSheâ€™s right. Weâ€™re looking at this wrong. The horde may just be a distraction to keep the Israeli authorities â€“ and us â€“ busy.â€
â€œHundreds of zombies as a distraction?â€ Rabin asked incredulously.
â€œWouldnâ€™t be the first time,â€ Mateo said, mulling over Jessâ€™s comments. â€œOkay, Jocasta destroys the Levant Scroll in a big, flashy news conference because she claims itâ€™s a blasphemous document to all of the Abrahamic religions. Does so and orders the dead to rise causing a zombie outbreak. Do you think she knew we were in country?â€
â€œShe may know now, but doubtful when all of this happened,â€ Rabin answered, â€œMy people were barely warned before that odd helicopter of yours landed.â€
â€œCould she be after another artifact?â€ Mateo asked Quentin.
â€œI donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t think so,â€ Quentin said, searching his mind. â€œThe Levant Scroll was the only item in Israel that was outside their possession. Nothing in the stuff we grabbed from them mentioned anything else.â€
â€œHow about regime change?â€ Chief Stahl suggested, â€œIsraelâ€™s one of the few countries that hasnâ€™t been subverted by the Truth. What if they have their people ready to take during the fun and games?â€
â€œHow very perceptive,â€ a new voice said from above. The team all brought their weapons up. On top of a five-story building across the street from them, a minion stood. This one was male, dressed in the tight ninja suit that was the minionâ€™s uniform. In his outstretched hands was a golden pyramid. Quentin figured the minion had a shield up. The Truthâ€™s minions learned the hard way what happened when you confronted Zombie Strike without defenses. The minion stepped off the roof and levitated down to the street.
â€œWell, I can certainly see why my fellow Champions are worried about you,â€ the minion said, almost as if praising the team. â€œNone of us expected anyone to figure out what was actually happening.â€
â€œDear God, what they said was true?â€ Rabin said. The minion looked at the major and laughed. The major flushed in shame and anger. He unslung the Tavor assault rifle and aimed it at the minion.
â€œWait,â€ Mateo said, grabbing Rabinâ€™s shoulder.
â€œWhy?â€ Rabin demanded. Mateo wordlessly pointed down the street. The rifle nearly slipped out of Rabinâ€™s hands as he saw the sprinting forms of a dozen gollums.
[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 106]