Author: Derek

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 9 Chapter 88

Skull Island, South Pacific, 2 July 2011, 0800 hours local; Countdown: 5 months, 29 days

Steve Mountain couldn’t muster his normal cheery smile as he walked into the command center. Steve could feel the tension as the intelligence techs poured over hundreds of field reports looking for the tiniest hint of where the Truth had taken Mateo and Robyn. Everyone in Zombies Strike was on edge. It made sense. Zombie Strike’s field commander and M&W’s liaison had been abducted twenty-two days ago from the very place the team should have been the most secure. So now, the entire operation was running itself to the ragged edge to compensate for a collective guilt and fear.

Steve kept his entrance quiet. A field team member was always on duty to assist the intelligence folks and to get the ball rolling if something developed. Inside the glass-walled conference at the heart of the command center, Chief Stahl paced. Stahl carried a mug of coffee in one hand and reading off the tablet in his other. Steve walked in to join the chief. At least working for one of the largest and oldest global insurance firms had its perks. The coffee was much better than the paint thinner substitute he’d endured in his days with the Army.

“I guess it is that time,” Stahl rumbled as Steve entered the conference room. “Take a seat, Mountain.”

“What’s up, chief?” Steve asked. Stahl’s eyebrow arched up in surprise when Steve didn’t correct the name.

“I think we’re fiddling while Rome burns,” Stahl said, cryptically. “You’ve been on this team the longest, and you’re a former soldier, so I want to run this by you first. I think we need to get back in the field. Tredegar sent us a report on a minion Task Force 11 caught sneaking down from Canada. His little team backtracked the minion to Hong Kong. We have other information that the Truth has a major base in Hong Kong.”

“So you’re thinking we should be hitting Hong Kong and forget about searching for Matt?” Steve asked. His tone was light, but his brown eyes were cold.

“I’m saying the field team needs to get back in the fight,” Stahl said, “We’ve already turned down two priority taskings from TF 11 and the Australians.”

“The problem, dude, is this is not a military unit. If we were back in the teams, or in the Rangers, then I’d be all on that,” Steve said, “This team just doesn’t roll like that. General Allen knows it. That’s why he didn’t get really upset when Kenn told him we couldn’t deal with that mess in Santiago.” Stahl started to say something, but was cut off by one of the Triplets banging on the conference room door. The two field team members shot up right as the diminutive Korean burst into the room.

“We may have found him,” Park said, vibrating with excitement. The Triplets were MacKenzie and Winston’s crack data intelligence team.

“Where?” the two men chorused.

“Cape Town,” Park answered, “Maybe a week ago. One of Toyota’s car carriers reported seeing an unknown submarine rendezvous with a yacht, the Beautiful Truth, about a hundred kilometers south of Cape Town. According to the Chinese, that yacht came back into Cape Town harbor and very discretely unloaded several individuals.”

“I didn’t know we were sharing information with the Chinese,” Stahl said. Park quickly went still and proceeded to stare intently at the floor.

“We’re not. We offered, but the Chinese want to do their own thing,” Steve said.

“You hacked Chinese intelligence?” Stahl asked incredulously. Park visibly gulped and continued to stare at the floor. “Damn, that’s good work. Go clean up any footprints and tell your partners to pack up.” Park looked up confused. Stahl simply smiled as he pressed the recall button on his tablet.

“It looks like we’re going to South Africa.”

Truth compound, South Africa, 2 July 2011, 1000 hours local; Countdown: 5 months, 29 days

Mateo Cortez watched Robyn Adams as she slept. It had been another bad night for Robyn. Between the pain from her injuries, and the nightmares of the beatings, Robyn only slept in fits and starts. She’d finally relented and let Mateo give her some of the drugs the Truth’s doctor provided. Mateo knew Robyn was ashamed that she was the anchor the Truth was using to keep Mateo from trying to escape. She was trying as hard as she could to stop being a liability. It wasn’t her fault. The Truth was smart. They knew Mateo wouldn’t leave her behind or do anything to endanger her.

Mateo’s head snapped up as Robyn moaned painfully in her sleep. The Truth hadn’t just beaten her. They’d crippled her. Knees and ankles were destroyed and barely treated. Rachel could barely hobble around the small apartment on crutches. For someone who loved to run, it was beyond cruel. Frustrated at the thought, Mateo shot up from the chair and stormed over to one of the large picture windows. He looked down on the Truth’s soldiers training in the main courtyard and desperately wished he had his rifle.

A knock came at the door. Mateo took a deep breath and forced the grimace from his face. He slowly walked over to the door of the apartment, using the brief time to contain his rage. A round, petite woman in a business suit walked in carrying a professional leather folder. Her gray-streaked brown hair was tied back in a professional bun. Her brown eyes sparkled behind thick glasses as she surveyed the apartment.

“Good morning Mr. Cortez,” Cassandra said, opening the folder, “Is Ms. Adams still in bed?”

“You know she is,” Mateo said, gritting out the words. The day after they’d arrived at this compound, Cassandra showed up at their door. She introduced herself as their concierge with the duties of making their stay as enjoyable as possible, under the circumstances. She’d said the last part so nonchalantly, Mateo nearly punched the tiny woman.

“Please, Mr. Cortez, I am only trying to be courteous. We have a very good orthopedic team being flown in to take care of Ms. Adams’ injuries.” Cassandra paused to give Mateo a neutral look. Giant had been very clear on that point. Robyn would be taken care of as long as Mateo didn’t attempt to escape. If anything, the Truth seemed intent on keeping Mateo and Robyn in a gilded cage until it was time for him to fulfill his role in their prophecies. The apartment was more like a luxury suite in a five star hotel.

“I have the lunch menu for today,” Cassandra said, pulling out a folded paper and setting it on the writing desk. “If you could please ring the kitchen within the hour with your selections, we would appreciate it. The maids will be in here after lunch for cleaning, and we’ll do the security check at that time. Is there anything else you would require?”

“No, thank you,” Mateo said as politely as he could. Cassandra smiled pleasantly and bustled out of the room. Mateo resisted the urge to destroy something. He picked up the menu. As he scanned the choices, he noticed something odd. The number listed wasn’t the number for the kitchen. It was probably just a misprint since it was only one number off. Just to be contrarian, he dialed the number on the menu. It rang twice before someone picked up.

“Don’t say anything Mateo. Just listen,” a hushed male voice said, “I’m a friend. We both work for the same firm. Right now, just focus on getting Ms. Adams healthy enough to move. I’m trying to get your team here. I’ll keep contacting you this way, but it may be sparse for a bit.” The man hung up. Mateo stared at the phone for a moment. It could be just a plot to keep him in line. If they made him think rescue was coming, Mateo should be less like to try something himself. It was possible, but something in the man’s voice made Mateo think otherwise. For the first time in a long while, a real smile crept across Mateo’s face.

[Zombie Strike Part 9 Chapter 89]

Friday Quote- Larken Rose

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.”

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 9 Chapter 87

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.

“Where’s Robyn?”

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]

Quick Link Post

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.

Where Did August Go?

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.