David just watched what was happening between Lana and the man John. Apparently Alcatraz was a point of contention between the two, and as an outsider, he could see how it made a sort of divide in the group. David didn't realize how much his coming here would have made this much trouble; he was expecting a little bit more cohesion, especially considering how well Lana and Sara seemed to work together and agree with each other.
When Sara commented it was like watching parents fight as they walked, he nods. [+1d7c50 “Its understandable, though. Alcatraz was hard for me to believe as well until I got there... And there seems to be a lot of stability here too, which I know is important these days.”] That brought back an awful memory.
It was when he first heard of Alcatraz, and his original group—which was much smaller and less sustained than this—were divided on staying or going. He didn't have a helicopter then, so he couldn't just go and check it out, and to him, this wasn't the first time a group of bandits got crafty and promised the world over the radio. It didn't help that the transmission was garbled, either. However, they remained divided on the matter, and before they could come to a conclusion, it was too late. Nearly everyone was wiped out by a herd, and with nothing left to lose, David decided to try this proverbial Shangri La, and when he got to the docks, he's stayed with them ever since, doing what he can for people who might be in the same situation he was in all that time ago. And it was just plain old luck they had a helicopter and David could fly it.
For the most part, the small mob that had gathered upon their arrival slowly filtered back to what they had been doing prior, only leaving a few people remaining close-by to stand guard. [+1d7c50 “Its sort of amazing to me that something like this exists outside of Alcatraz. I've never seen this many people in an encampment before. How long have you guys been here now? This must have taken a lot of time and effort.”]
Its been a long time since Lana had interrogated anyone. Not since Delta Force. And in the U.S. Armed Forces, they had a lot of interrogation techniques, very few of them being moral... But moral wasn't something Lana had really been, maybe in some choice situations, but definitely not after the apocalypse.
[b “Move.”] Lana says harshly, shoving the bandit in to the farm house. She leads him in to what would have been the living room, but like basically every room of the house, it had been stripped of everything but the bare necessities. She brings him to one of the load-bearing posts and backs him up in to it. [b “On your knees.”] She commands, and he does as he's told.
From her pack, she takes out a bit of rope and manoeuvres herself around the post, and quickly swings it so its around the bandits neck. She ties it tight, but not enough so it'd choke him; she just wanted him in a stress position so interrogation would be easier. But who knew, maybe this would be easier than she was thinking it'd be. Being resistant to torture wasn't a skill most had.
When the knot was tight enough, Lana stands back up, but doesn't move to be in front of him. The room was dark, save for some of the natural light that filtered in from the pulled down blinds, but it did its job making the room look gloomy, the stripped room adding to the effect. [b “I'm not a very patient woman, so I'm going to ask you questions, and I expect answers to them. For your benefit I'll make them simple. First up; How did you know where to find me? The radio?”]
It takes a few seconds longer than she'd like, but he did answer. “Yes.” Was all he said, but that was fine by her. It appeared he thought of what to say or if he was going to say anything, weighed the consequences, and then answered. And considering how tight his answer was, she'd say so far so good.
[b “Good. Now why were you and your pals gunning for me? Why am I wanted alive?”] And again, silence hung in the room, Lana giving the guy time to think, but time quickly ran out. She knew when she wasn't going to get an answer, swinging around the post, Lana was suddenly in front of the guy, and crouched down so they were at eye level. Despite the poor lighting, she got a better look at him; no older than thirty, and only hardened by circumstance. He wasn't a soldier or a cop or anything that might have toughened him up before the end.
Out from her boot, Lana pulls a combat knife and holds it in front of the bandit's face. [b “Do you know what this is?”] And he tries to look away. With her free hand, Lana grabs him by the chin and forces him to look at her. [b “Its a Yarborough knife. I got it when I graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course, and its been my best friend ever since. Up close, I'd rather have this than any firearm; even if your hands weren't tied behind your back, your neck to a post, and you were locked and loaded, I'd still rather be me.”]
Lana's hand suddenly grasps behind his head, and she jerks him forward as far as she can despite the rope, and violently places the knife's blade just under his jaw, the tip at the back of his ear. [b “I could slit your throat before you even got the chance to fire on me. The longer you talk, the longer that doesn't become a reality.”] She pulls a little harder so he was choking on the rope. [b “Answer my fucking questions!”]
He was gasping at this point and Lana lets go, and lets him catch his breath. It takes him a moment, but he levels a death glare at her before answering. “We were told to.”
And she scowls. [b “By [i who]?”]
Sara herself couldn’t even remember the last time she had something close to a girlfriend or a boyfriend for that matter. She was never the type to fit into the box that society tried to create. Heterosexual, homosexual…that didn’t matter to her when the world hadn’t gone to shit and it sure as hell didn’t matter to her now. In her mind, people were free to choose who they wanted to be with and it just so happened that Sara had chosen to spend most of her adult life alone. That decision carried through into this new world well and in some ways, her lifestyle had made it easier for her to adjust but that didn’t mean that there were times she found herself thinking about what it might have been like to be with someone again. After all, sex was also part of human nature, just as much as every other emotion.
Sara cleared her throat and glanced towards Lana in the mirror, smirking to herself as she joined in on her joke. She then glanced to David and pat his leg nonchalantly, lowering her voice to a whisper. [b “It seems your dick is safe…for now.”] She smiled and looked away, examining his handywork with her leg and made sure to thank him for helping her with it. When she was satisfied that her leg had been well tended to, she turned her attention to their bandit prisoner and thought to herself for a moment before pulling rope out of her bag and using it to ensure that he would not be able to free himself from the knots she had formed. She also gagged him so that he couldn’t whine about much for the rest of the journey. From that point on, the journey back to the encampment was pretty quiet.
As they drove past the scene of survivors she found her heart grow a little heavy. It was difficult to see survivors be taken so easily after managing to make it this long without being bitten or killed by bandits or whatever other monsters lurked in the shadows. It was always harder to see these things when there were children involved. Sara remembered how she used to think that the world was not a good place to bring children in to, but now, she knew that she was right about that. Although, children born into this world did tend to survive a lot better than most of the adults when they got to an age where they could protect themselves. Any dreams of having a normal childhood, something all new parents wished for their children, were gone.
It wasn’t much longer before they arrived back at the encampment and she braced herself for John’s anger once more. She could already see a small gathering, waiting in anticipation and whispering about whoever the newcomer might be. Lana had not been the kind to bring newcomers into the camp but over the last week or so, she had brought in Sara and now David. The bandit hardly counted, since she imagined he would not remain alive for much longer. Lana had the aura about her that told her she was prepared to hurt and kill to protect the lives of her encampment but in order for her to protect them, she needed to protect herself.
It was Lana’s voice that brought her attention back to the people in the jeep. She didn’t know when Lana had started including her in the number of residents of her encampment, but she was no longer filled with that familiar dread that she usually felt at the prospect of belonging. Sara didn’t waste any more time and climbed out of the jeep, keeping close to David as she moved towards the gathering crowd of people. She could also feel the tension in the air as David tried to offer a friendly introduction that did not seem to be taken too kindly by any of the other residents. Now all she could do was stand and watch Lana and John go at it with their figurative boxing match. There was no point in getting involved, she didn’t exactly have any authority to do so and she knew that they were going argue about this quite fiercely over the coming days.
Lana turned to her and asked her to stay with David, to which she nodded straight away, content with the responsibility but it wasn’t until John spoke again that she realised what Lana’s intentions had been. The cop inside her was screaming to make sure that it didn’t happen, that she couldn’t possibly allow this woman to torture another human being, yet she was able contain her dismay and chose to push it aside for now. She turned to David and used her head to gesture that the two should take a walk. When he started to follow, she felt the tension in her shoulders begin to disappear with the distance put between them and all the negative energy.
[b “I feel like I’m watching my parents argue with those two!”] She said, trying to lighten the mood.
Lana wasn't really one for joke, but she had to admit that Sara fucking with David was amusing. And her deadpan delivery and David's reaction to the joke got Lana to smile softly as she continued to drive them back to the encampment. Dick jokes aside, the word 'girlfriend' sort of made her think. It's been a long time since she's experienced any romantic feelings for anyone. She had sort of felt like something was budding with the Viking enthusiast Damien, but she had the distinct feeling she wasn't going to be seeing him again. That seemed pretty typical though; there wasn't any room for romance during the end of the world.
[b “Don't worry, David,”] Lana begins. [b “I'm not going to chop your dick off. You came all this way to see little old me, after all.”] She says as they near the encampment. This was going to be a bit of a tough one to deal with when they got back. John thought Lana was crazy for thinking Alcatraz as a safe haven existed, but here she was with living proof of it. She had hoped this would come to pass and perhaps they could work out some kind of deal or arrangement, but with the emergence of these bandits gunning for her, and her [i specifically]... Lana knew they wouldn't just stop at the airport, they'd come after her until they found her, the apocalypse giving everyone literally unlimited free time, and that put everyone else at risk. If it came down to it, she had no doubt they would use someone she cared about as leverage... Fortunately for her that was a short list, and seemed to grow shorter by the day.
The ride back was pretty uneventful as usual. They passed a flipped Chevy with about four survivors who appeared to have recently been torn to shreds their recently turned fifth member. It was an easy scene to play out in her mind; the rocker blonde had secretly been bitten and turned during the car ride, causing hysteria, a crash, the suburban to flip, and then the infected woman to feast on her former comrades... It was just too bad about the little girl in the back.
Pushing on, they get back to the encampment, passing through the arch of trees that afforded them concealment, and then on to the farmland themselves. Someone was waiting for them at the gate and opened it to let them in, and unsurprisingly, John and a few other began to gather. She rolled her eyes a little as she parked next to the other vehicles in the encampment.
David looked around, sort of surprised. [+1d7c50 “You have a lot more people here than I had thought.”]
[b “Sixty-three.”] Lana says, but then hesitates, doing a little basic math in her head. Minus Ben, Samantha, Chris, and Bran, but with the addition of Sara. She shakes her head. [b “Sorry, I meant 'sixty'.”] She corrects and gets out of the jeep, and goes to the back, grabbing hold of the bandit that someone had bound and gagged at some point on the ride home. With the help of David, they drag him out and across the ground towards their welcoming committee.
John didn't look happy. [+red “The Hell is this?”] He didn't sound happy either.
Waving a hand at David, [b “This is David. From Alcatraz.”]
[+1d7c50 “How you guys doing?”] There's no response.
She then motions to the bandit tied up and on his knee, eye-balling everyone around him. [b “No idea who this is, but him and a bunch of others attacked us.”]
[+red “You went to a bandit camp?”] John asks, and this is where it gt tricky... Jesus Christ, it was like three days ago all over again.
[b “No. I think these guys heard me when I radioed Alcatraz and paid us a visit... They were looking for me. [i Specifically].”] She let that sit there for a moment before continuing on. [b “So I brought this guy back to interrogate. I'm going to find out what I can and why they want me... But, for the time being, I'd like you to treat David with respect and show him some hospitality. Once I've come up with some information, I'll be able to make a game plan for the group.”]
[+red “Of what? Moving our camp to Alcatraz? Lana, we couldn't possibly move everyone.”]
[b “I'm not saying we move everyone; just those who want to go. Now will you give me a minute with our next bandit friend?”] She then turns to look at Sara. [b “I'll be a few, so if you can maybe take care of David or do some busy work? I'll come find you after I'm done. This is something I need to do alone.”]
John takes a step forward, looking a the bandit on his knees and then back to Lana. [+red “You can't be serious... We don't torture people, Lana.”] And Lana jerks a finger in his face.
[b “[i You] don't torture people, John! You don't know a goddamn thing about me! If you don't like it, stay out of my way; that's always been the rule.”] She says, and then grabs the bandit by the shoulders and hauls him up. [b “Everyone; stay the fuck away from my house.”] And with that, she shoves the bandit towards the farm house for interrogation.
Sara did not expect David to offer his help but then she remembered him saying that he was a medic of some sort while they were being shot at. She looked at him for a minute and bit down in the inside of her lip. He had killed some of the bandits to help them get out of there and it would be beneficial to have someone with medical experience help her clean the wound properly but it still took her a moment to let her guard down so that he could help. When she saw that he had a medical bag, she thought it best to allow him to clean it properly. An old rag and water were probably no match for what he had in his bag. She nodded her head and moved the material away from her leg, readjusting herself so that she could grant him better access to her flesh wound. [b “Thanks, I appreciate it.”] She offered him and smile and glanced towards Lana who was telling David that they had antibiotics should they need any. [b “I don’t think it will come to that.”]
Sara watched as the two made eye contact and she smirked to herself. It was only a little under a week ago that she had met Lana for the first time and she was only just beginning to feel as though Lana was letting her guard down with her a little bit. She trusted her and the two of them had been through quite a bit together over this last week. Sara had fought by her side to save some of her people and have travelled into the city with her to radio David and his camp. Along the way they had lost the boy and now they had been attacked by bandits and through it all they had each other’s backs. She could only hope that would continue however, she still found it amusing to see how Lana weighed up everything that David was doing. She certainly didn’t trust people easily and that was entirely understandable. Sara only put her trust in him because he had lost men and killed others to ensure they all got out of there alive. She judged people on their actions and at this moment in time, she was satisfied that David would not harm them. For now, he would be an asset to them.
Sara chuckled quietly when David commented on Lana’s intensity and nodded gently before watching him pat around his pockets as if looking for something. [b “Sorry! Nasty habit. I never did pick that one up.”] She observed yet another awkward interaction and then David asked her a question. She supposed that it was entirely valid question since the two women had been out there alone and she had seemed quite concerned when she got shot, and now that David was helping her clean her wound, Lana seemed to be eyeing him over and little more regularly as she drove the jeep. Sara leaned forward and lowered her voice.
[b “Last time a man touched me...he lost his dick.”] Sara kept her expression as straight as possible so that she didn’t give away the humour so quickly. She watched the confused expression pass over his face for a moment as he quickly retreated his hand from her leg.
[I “Oh...oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean...I was just trying to help.”] When he seemed to fumble over his words she laughed and shook her head as she glanced towards Lana.
[b “I’m joking...well I mean I’m sure Lana is capable of removing a man’s dick but I can assure you it’s never been something she has done on my behalf. No...no she is not my girlfriend.”]
Bullets flew and hit the back of the vehicle for a bit, but after a couple of moments and Lana seemingly swerving on to random back roads, it appears they lost the bandits. [i 'For now.'] Lana thinks to herself with a frown. There was much for her to think about now. She didn't think things were going to be moving this fast and was hoping to at the very least establish a rapport and communicate with David and his Alcatraz pals... But with the emergence of these bandits wanting Lana, and wanting her alive? It complicated matters and left lots of questions buzzing around the air for her, and she remained mostly silent, humming in thought occasionally, but she remained fixed on the road. She was trying to compile all five W's to figure out... Well, the five W's, obviously... Lana rolls her eyes at herself.
[+1d7c50 “I'm sorry, too. They were good men and deserved better.”] David says, but clearly considering the world they lived in, he wasn't a stranger to losing people or comrades. That said, it still sucked and he needed a distraction, and when Sara began to clean her own wound, it was the perfect opportunity. [+1d7c50 “Here, let me help you.”] And from his own bag, he pulled out a medical kit he put himself together for missions like this. [+1d7c50 “It might just be a flesh wound, but you don't want it to get infected. That's a death sentence these days without anti-biotics.”]
[b “We have anti-biotics.”] Lana injects, fixing the rear-view mirror to make eye contact with David in the reflection. [b “Just a fun fact.”]
He sort of nods at hr and then goes back to helping Sara's wound; it was mostly just cleaning it and keeping it from being exposed, but it appeared David was skilled enough where his hands just glided through the steps. He looks up at the rear-view mirror to see Lana's eyes on the road again and then looks back to Sara. [+1d7c50 “She's a little intense, huh?”] He says quietly with a small laugh. Some kind of realization dawns on him and he pats his jacket, but makes a small disappointed noise when it seems he didn't find something. [+1d7c50 “Does anyone happen to have a cigarette?”]
[b “Got gum,”] Lana's eyes appear in the mirror again. [b “But you're not having any.”]
[+1d7c50 “Understandable; gums hard to come by nowadays, even harder than cigarettes.”] He chuckles again, nervously, and turns his attention back to Sara. [+1d7c50 “Are you like her girlfriend or something? I don't think she likes me touching you very much.”] It was going to be a [i long] ride back to the encampment, apparently.
Sara appreciated the fact that Lana was at her side, but she agreed with David. She had been shot at plenty of times to know the difference between a fatal wound and a superficial one. However, in this world even superficial wounds could become fatal if they were not treated properly. At least when they got back to the encampment she knew there would be the relevant supplies for her to be able to clean it up and prevent any kind of infection. It would scar, nothing more.
[b “He’s right. It’s nothing. Stings like a bitch but I can manage!”] She smiled towards Lana and then nodded when he suggested they stay together. That made sense and it also meant they were less likely to lose each other in the airport or even leave themselves vulnerable to the bandits. After all, they were looking for Lana and wouldn’t risk killing either of the woman and as long as David was with them too, it might be easier for the three of them to made it out of here alive if they stuck together.
Soon enough the chaos started once more after their brief relief from gunfire and she forced herself to push through the pain as they made their way through the airport, gunning down any bandits that came their way. The ease with which they shot them down filled her with confidence that they would make it back to the encampment before the bandits had the chance to find out which one of them was Lana.
When they were outside she took a moment to look around, holding her gun up in front of her as she swept the area, but it seemed the only bandits left had made their way inside which gave them the time they needed to get away. For a moment, she thought that Lana only kicked the bandit in the face to disorient him enough to forget about his weapon but when she asked David to bring him along she figured that she planned on questioning him for information about who the bandits were and why they were looking for Lana.
She got back into the jeep, with the support of Lana and watched the airport slowly disappear from sight at they drove back towards the encampment. She breathed a sigh of relief and looked towards David. [b “I’m sorry, about your men.”] She said genuinely before she started to move the burnt material around her wounded leg so that she could inspect the damage. She pulled a bottle of water out of her bag and a lose bit of material she kept in there just in case she needed a make-shift bandage and wet it so that she could wipe away some of the blood.
As they moved through the airport, Lana was trying to conceive a plan that could get them out of this mess. Sitting and waiting wasn't an option. It was doubtful that there were more of these goons sitting somewhere else as back-up, but if this took too long and they accrued too many casualties, the bandits might call in back-up if they had some. They all could try and sneak passed the bandits, but they didn't have the element of surprise, and they had their vehicle surrounded and under watch. Leaving on foot would spell doom. So really, it seemed the only option was to take the fight to the bandits, thin them out and create an opening.
Lana turns to answer Sara's question, but reacts instead when the woman is shot. The three of them all light the bandit up, and Lana is immediately at Sara's side to look at the wound.
[+1d7c50 “Its superficial.”] David says and Lana gives him a stiff look. [+1d7c50 “I was a helicopter paramedic. Seen plenty of wounds to know the difference.”]
Explained why he could fly the helicopter then. She turns to Sara again. [b “We'll stick together. Its more confusing and we're less likely to get overwhelmed.”] She tells her. And not a second later, one of the doors bursts open, two more bandits coming in, Lana and David gunning them down. Shouts come from down the hallway and Lana moves in the opposite direction. [b “We have to keep moving!”] She says, kicking a door open. More bandits, but they killed them after a brief exchange of gunfire. It appeared that the frequency that they were running in to these bandits were increasing, which meant the plan was working, albeit faster than she had expected. That was okay though. They could work with this.
Lana leads them out of the airport and in to the parking lot, he bandits from earlier appeared to have moved inside, leaving their wounded man on the ground. He doesn't react to them at first, still focused on his wound, but once he hears the quickening footsteps getting closer, he looks up just in time to get a boot in the face. Quickly looking back at the airport entrance, Lana could see lots of movement from behind all the panes of glass and hear all the bandits shouting at each other, trying to communicate. The roof was clear of the earlier snipers as well, but that was already evident since they weren't dead or wounded.
[b “David, be a dear and pick up that bandit and toss him in the back of my jeep.”] And the man nods, tossing the bandit in the back as Lana quickly goes around, putting a bullet in a tire on each of the six other jeeps. The bandits got their shit together at the sound, but Lana quickly got herself and Sara in their vehicle while David hopped in his. They wouldn't be long gone by the time the bandits go to their jeeps, but good luck keeping up!
Sara had learned to always be prepared for a fight in this new world, but that didn’t meant that the events that transpired now were not a major inconvenience. Things should have gone a lot smoother than this. They should have simply exchanged conversation but instead they were exchanging bullets and fighting for their lives yet again, only this time they were fighting were the living rather than the dead. Sara had learned a long time ago that the living were far more dangerous and unpredictable.
When they reached their vantage spot she took a moment to look down at the vehicles below them. Six jeeps could mean that they were dealing with any number of bandits. There could be twenty of sixty of these fuckers. They were completely outnumbered either way. Men with guns were far more dangerous than a heard of undead. Sara took their momentary relief to check over her weapons and ensure that she was completely loaded in case she needed to start shooting again and she had no doubt that they would. Sara listening to Lana carefully as they both checked and swapped their weapons over and she shook her head.
[b “It can’t be them! You took a whole lot of them out, there is no way that enough men to fill six jeeps would have made it out of there and to know who you are…it doesn’t make sense.”] She said thoughtfully before watching Lana take up position with David crouched beside her. She didn’t think about the radio but that had to be the only explanation. How else would they know exactly where she was going to be? The only thing that didn’t make sense is why it took them so long to get here. Had they been watching the entire time?
It was then that Lana’s impatience came out. Rather than sitting still and waiting like most people would have done, she intended to take the fight to them and that was something Sara had grown to admire about her. She would have made the same decision if it had been hers to make. Sara nodded towards her and glanced towards David briefly before making sure that she was out of sight. She placed her hands over her eyes and shielded herself from the shattering glass, although most of it blew outwards anyway.
She didn’t even take a minute to observe what was happening outside before she started to move behind Lana. She nodded and scanned the roof for whoever was shooting at them but they managed to avoid getting shot, for now at least. [b “Are you thinking that we split up or stay together?”] She asked, wanting to make sure that she was clear of what Lana wanted to do before the three of them made their escape. Within a matter of seconds, a shooting pain shot up her leg. A bullet grazed her but did not penetrate. Blood spat out of her leg and she hiss in annoyance as she turned to shoot down the man who had managed to shoot her. She had trained her mind to press out through pain and since she knew it wasn’t exactly going to kill her that’s exactly what she did.
This as definitely a lot more action than Lana had been expecting this day. She was prepared for a shootout with the Alcatraz crew, but she didn't anticipate getting in to a firefight with a small army of bandits... [i 'My mistake, I guess.'] Lana thinks to herself as they move from their cover. The key was to keep moving or find somewhere more defensible to hunker down, and it seemed Sara had already divined that part.
They ran in to another bandit which Sara promptly killed, and when she asked Lana what this was all about, a bullet ricocheted off the wall. Lana's gun comes back up and she puts a hole through another bandit, prompting the trio to keep moving through the airport. They backtrack a little, but it was mostly so Lana could get a good view of what the hell was going on around here. They stop on the second floor in front of the big glass wall overlooking the front of the airport, Lana quickly spotting where they parked. It appeared David had parked pretty close to them, but now there were several jeeps that had fanned out in the lot, and a group of five bandits standing around Lana and David's vehicles.
[b “Dammit! They have our escape surrounded... I count six jeeps, which means we're dealing with a whole bunch of these guys.”] She says. It appeared they had a momentary respite, and Lana holstered her pistol, and kneels down to quickly take her rifle from the strap, checking the chamber and magazine. Once she's done that, she looks up at Sara. [b “And to answer your question, I don't [i know] what I did. I'd say it was those bandits we fought the other day, but there's no way they know who we are.”] She taps the glass in front of her. [i 'Reinforced...'] Lana shoulders the stock and aims down the scope in to the parking lot despite the glass. She's made this shot before; she'd just have to compensate.
David crouches down next to Lana, looking in to the lot with her. [+1d7c50 “Maybe they heard you over the radio.”] He says, and she hums in agreement. She had figured that, it was the most obvious explanation considering they knew her full name, and where and when to find her. She aims at the bandit closest to the passenger side door and sweeps to his closest comrade.
[b “That doesn't explain why they want [i me].”] She sweeps back to bandit on the passenger side of their vehicle, lowering her sight to his leg. [b “We'll have to ask... Get ready to run.”] And with that, she pulls the trigger, and the bullet rips through the glass and sheers through the bandits leg. A through and through; no bone and nowhere near the femoral artery. Quickly the bandits jump up, shocked, looking around for the shooter, and Lana blows another one's head off. They quickly scatter, leaving the injured man on the ground holding his wound. He'd be the one they asked questions.
Quickly Lana is to her feet, strapping her rifle, unholstering her pistol, and gets them on the move again, further in to the airport building. [b “We need to cut their numbers down so we're not sitting ducks in the parking lot. We have the advantage since they want two out of the three of us alive.”] She points out. Plus, they were in close quarters, and that split second hesitation was all they needed to kill whoever got in their way. She was mainly worried about the people who were taking potshots at them on the roof, but if they caused enough havoc, they'd no doubt come down to try and cover their comrades. By then, they'd be making their escape back to the encampment, and at that point she had a few more decisions she needed to make...
It really does never fucking end.
[center [b Two years ago...]]
[I “Sara, I don’t think he’s going to make it. We removed the leg before the infection got the chance to spread to the rest of his body but we didn’t get him back her quick enough. I don’t think he is strong enough to survive the procedure. If we had more blood…” Apparently that was all the woman needed to say to her to coax Sara to offer her arm out to her. The woman shook her head and looked back up at her. “It will kill him…we have no way of…”]
[I “I’m o-negative. I’m not going to let him die today. Do what you need to do.” She said, thrusting her arm in front of her once more, encouraging the medic to transfuse her blood. The procedure was not as pleasant as it had been before the world went to shit. It was far more painful and the blood had to run straight from her into Derek, the male she was trying to save. They did not have the luxury of medical equipment, even though they had managed to find settlement in a hospital. The place had been ransacked for anything of use some time before they found it and turned it into some kind of home for the group she had come to settle with. When the medic was satisfied that the tube was secure, she went about find some supplies that would help clean up her arm when they had encouraged enough blood from her veins.]
[I Sara had not been expecting someone to rip the tube out of her arm and when it happened, she gasped in pain, her hand instantly going to incision that was now seeping with blood. “What the hell – “]
[I When she looked up she saw the leader of their settlement stood over her, his face fierce with anger. “You don’t get to make the decisions about who lives and who dies here. What permission did you have to authorise an amputation, especially of someone who had been bitten? You are bringing the infection inside our walls and I will not stand for it.”]
[I “There was no time to bring Derek back here and get permission, we acted on instinct. We stopped the infection from spreading. I thought you wanted us to survive out here.” That earned a hard fist to her face. No one answered back. Anthon had saved every single person here in this settlement and so he considered himself to have the only say on who got to stay and what they did with their time. It was oppressive in many ways but many had survived because they listened to him. Sara on the other hand, was only here because of Derek. He had needed medicine two years back and Anthon provided it in exchange for her services. Her job had proven useful to him but it also meant that she was sometimes a little too spirited when it came to doing the right thing.]
[I “You do not answer to anyone but me. I’ve told you time and time again if someone gets bitten out there, it’s their mistake. We leave them behind. No exceptions.”]
[I “You may live that way but I won’t. If that means that I jeopardise my place here then so be it. I would prefer to try my chances of surviving out there alone, than watching people die unnecessarily. Derek is just a kid. He’s barely eighteen, he deserved a longer life than that one that had been dealt to him and I gave him that. You gave him that when you saved his life two years ago. Do you really want that to count for nothing?”]
[I The sound of a shotgun ripped through her and her eyes widened as she watched Derek’s face distort as the metal morphed it to an unrecognisable state. “No! Why would you…” She moved to his side, tears staining her cheeks already. Derek had been the closest thing she ever had to a family in this new world and now he had been taken from her…taken from this world in such and unjust manner.]
[I “I make the rules here. He was meant to die – he dies. Now I would suggest that you get out of here before I kill you too.” Sara looked up at the man who had now proven to be a monster in her eyes and she walked past him. “And Sara, if I see you again, I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in between your eyes.”]
[center [b The Present...]]
Her eyes fluttered to the scar upon her arm for a split second, now that it was on full view from her extended arm. She blinked several times, following the gun instead of looking at the scar that threatened to stir a memory she didn’t want to think about. She turned her head slightly upon hearing Lana and nodded, knowing that it was probably for the best that the two of them were here now. Perhaps it was simply perfect timing. She kept her gun trained on the stranger, right up to the point that Lana nodded for her to lower it. It seemed the scout had arrived.
It had been quite some time since someone had referred to her as an officer. She had renounced the title a long time ago since the police no longer existed but it seemed that regardless of the lack of army, Lana still held on to her title. For now she remained out of the conversation, simply standing by as David and Lana exchanged words with each other. She was intrigued by the place and Lana was too, but they both had to be cautious so she hoped that they understood why they had not given them the coordinates of their encampment. Just when it seemed that they were going to meet the rest of David’s crew, this began to go pear-shaped and she found David’s words prominently echoing in her mind.
[I “It never fucking ends, does it?”]
Everything seemed to happen quickly and before she could say anything the three of them were running through the old airport, bandits in pursuit of them. That’s when she heard that they were looking for Lana specifically. What could they possibly want with her? She glanced up at him as she ran next to David. This was far more action than she had come across in the last year or so. Her first year alone had been difficult and she found herself facing off against many bandit’s some hoping to steal whatever she possessed and some wanting to use her for other things once they realised all she had were the clothes on her back. It was a dark time but she had not allowed any of that to taint her mind. To survive, one couldn’t be weak and she would not allow anything to make her feel weak…not again.
[b “If they catch up to us, you don’t give yourself away. We will have more time to formulate a plan. If they don’t know which one us is who they are looking for, we have every chance of getting out of this alive.”] She kept running, holding up her gun to shoot at a man running straight for them. [b “What the hell did you do anyway?”]
[i Well... This was exactly the shit show I had been expecting since we got here.
Every bit of personnel they could spare they tried to place as many in defensible positions in the major cities of America. Keep the peace, keep everyone alive. Montana was supposed to be easy, but this plague, or virus, or whatever the fuck it was called, spread quicker than wild fire. And the panicked civilians didn't exactly help either.
The Billing's radio station was deemed the most defensible position, and they had taken it under orders, and fortified it, but after that... Orders didn't come. We had been without any contact with Command for weeks, and the situation there was getting worse.] Way [i worse. The rioting stopped only because the infection finally swept through, and fortunately they were sheltered by the blockade in the way. The undead seemed more interested in the civilians trying to flee the city and escape in to their homes rather than the people sent here to] protect [i them. Hiding away behind concrete blockades and high windows. The front-line defence in the city was wiped out and rest of us weren't exactly interested in stepping outside after that.
As a result, tensions were high, moral was bottoming out, and supplies were starting to run out. The only thing they weren't short on was ordinance... Hope was running out and it seemed everyone's humanity started to go with it. I don't know if it was because I've only been serving in the Army for a little over a year, but I was starting to feel like I was trapped in a cage with wild animals armed to the teeth.
But that was until a crackle over the radio sounded. There was someone on the other end, and finally it came.] Orders. [i It was addressed to all military personnel to evacuate and retreat to] Washington. [i Apparently that's where America was making its last stand. Could you fucking believe that? I couldn't, and apparently neither could half of the people I was trapped with. How the Hell were they supposed to get there? Fucking] Washington. [i And why? To die? But that's what started this mess. An argument over whether we should all go or defend our position. I myself wanted to stay; being in here was better than out there being torn apart by the infected or a crazy civilian. Washington was a trek and their survival wasn't guaranteed. Call me a coward if you must, but they made it pretty fucking clear over the last few weeks they didn't give a shit about us until they needed extra bodies. I wasn't about to go out and possibly get ripped apart to] absolutely [i get ripped apart in Washington. Obviously everyone had their opinions about it, but either we stayed and tried our best to survive or ventured out at the cost of losing their station. It turned in to a screaming match.
I don't know when the first shot went off, but when it did, it hit the guy next to me. Spattered my face-piece with blood. And after that, everything really went to Hell. Everyone began unloading on each other, and in close quarters, nearly everyone was getting ripped to shreds. Luckily for me I was near a table and flipped it over, provided myself some cover as I blasted the people I called 'comrades' seconds prior.
Someone began yelling my name, and I looked. They had opened the door to the main studio, beckoning me to come, and so I did. It wasn't far from where I had been in cover, but when bullets and shit were flying passed you, it felt like miles. But I made it, and it was a miracle I didn't get hit, but it looked like my luck was in short supply.
Someone lobbed a fucking grenade in to the room while the door was held open for me. The explosion blew apart the guy holding the door, and took me off my feet, blowing out part of the wall and the window overlooking the city. I flew across the room and slammed my face-piece off of the main console, shattering one of the protective lenses on my mask. I only had a second to react, picking myself up and aiming my assault rifle for the door, two soldiers coming through and I tore through them with the rest of my magazine.
The silence was deafening after that, my ears were ringing, and other than that, all I could hear was my heavy breathing. I couldn't hear anything from the other room. I waited a moment before venturing to the main office only to see that everyone had killed each other, and by some divine intervention, I was spared the same fate. I never would have thought that being thrown from my feet would be my saving grace, but it was. However, I didn't take much time to think about it before I got myself moving again. Despite the chaos outside, this was bound to attract unwanted attention, and I had to get myself the fuck out of here to somewhere safe. Out of the city, out of the state for all I cared! Fuck Command! Fuck Washington! But I couldn't leave my brothers in arms behind like this. I didn't much understand the outbreak or the virus, but all I knew was that people who died came back to life as monsters. Was it airborne? Waterborne? It could've been an STD for all I fucking knew! I didn't care. All I knew is if I was laying on the ground dead, I'd want someone to blow my brains out and not take the chance I'd get back up. I didn't want to come back as a monster.
So that's what I did. I took my sidearm and I put a bullet in everyone of my comrades heads before I left, taking what ammunition and supplies I could carry with me. It might've taken time I needed to get out of there, but I knew I would sleep much better knowing my friends, my comrades, my brothers in arms, wouldn't come back trapped in bodies that weren't theirs anymore. And I knew that I would feel much better thinking that someone would do me the same favour.
I got out of the building as fast as I could, and it was just as a tidal wave of infected came crashing towards the blockade. They saw me and I ran the other way, hopped in to one of the Humvee's and got myself the Hell out of there. The undead followed, abandoning the radio station, but I outran them, and I kept going until the vehicle sputtered out of gas. By then, I was far far away. And I was alone. No undead, no living, nothing. That was fine with me though... I was still alive after all, right?]
When all was said and done, Lana went through the encampment, disappearing for a while, before returning to the farmhouse to sequester herself in her room for a few hours. Despite violent death being commonplace these days, she still gave herself time to wallow and feel feelings. Her and Ben didn't talk much up until recently, but he was always close-by. He was almost like a light in these dreary times, somehow making the best of everything.
A few hours later, there was a knock on her bedroom door. Lana was sitting on the floor in a corner hugging her knees to her chest, glaring at the door. [b “What?”] It came out just as bitterly as she wanted it to. She wasn't to be disturbed during her quiet time.
“We're looking for Ben's locket.” A voice comes through the door. “We were going to bury it tonight and he didn't have anything else we knew that was important to him. Do you know where it is?” And Lana scowls at the door and looks at her knees, bringing one of her hands in front of her face. She opens her clenched fist, to look at the small oval shaped piece of metal that hung from a thin chain.
[b “No.”] Lana answers, stuffing the locket in to her pocket and continues to brood. Soon enough, her eyes shot open and she was picking herself up from the floor, and out of a drool puddle. She had accidentally fallen asleep on the floor, but quickly shakes it off. Waking up meant brooding was over and there was work to be done. Despite Ben's death weighing heavily on her like an iron weight, the world still turned. Maybe she didn't give herself enough time for bereavement or whatever, but she got up and went about, preparing for their next mission.
It was relatively simple to prepare for this one. They were just meeting with a scout, which meant one person or a small group if they were smart. She didn't want to appear too threatening, but she still packed in case there was trouble. It was over two weeks of travel by foot to San Francisco, and if these people were coming in three days, it meant they probably had a helicopter and no doubt some pretty nifty ordinance. They probably were packing in case Lana was a bad apple as well, but it seemed there was some good will in their group considering they were making the trek over a spotty radio communication.
Either or, friend or foe, Lana packed as if it were for foe. And this time she made sure to pack a few grenades. For the most part, it was a pretty basic kit and it didn't take Lana very long to assemble two of them for her and for Sara, it was mostly just busy work. Waiting the time for them to head out and meet with the Alcatraz scout was the hard part for Lana. It wasn't just the tension that her and John's argument created either, and it made her want to pull her goddamn hair out. She managed to tough it out, but in the end she caved to herself, and the two women ended up leaving a few hours early ahead of schedule. It wasn't exactly a bad thing either, and it gave them more time to survey the area and set up.
When she had first contacted them, she was pretty nondescript, and in a hurry; essentially she had told them 'the airport'. Well, the airport was a pretty huge place with a plethora of hiding spots, and that wasn't even mentioning the inside of the airport building itself. There were grounded planes, abandoned vehicles, a warehouse attached to a hangar, the control tower... Lots of things to keep their eyes on, but at the same time it was so open she'd feel like a sitting duck if they just went and waited on the tarmac They parked the jeep in a pretty obvious place, but not close to where they would be camping. They stayed close to the building where the planes would have hooked up to the building for boarding passengers at the back. It gave them a good view of the place and at the same time provided them with a bit of cover.
She was pretty eager just to wait, but upon Sara's suggestion to survey in shifts, Lana agreed that would probably be more advantageous. They took turns sitting on ground level and then looking around, keeping in touch with walkie-talkies if required. And after one of her shifts, she began to walk back to be relieved by Sara only to see her on her feet, gun pointed. Despite not seeing the danger just yet, Lana pulled her gun out and plastered herself against a car, peeking through the windows as the person approached. [b “I'm here.”] She warns, letting Sara know she had back-up. Lana just wanted the element of surprise.
Soon enough, the man got closer, his own pistol drawn on Sara, and he stops a safe distance away, having a bit of a stand off with the former police officer. The man was tall and muscular with dark bronze skin. He was bald, but had a bit of facial hair, and he wore simple jeans, a jacket that didn't do anything to hid the bullet proof vest he was wearing underneath. Other than the pistol he was holding, Lana couldn't tell if had anymore weapons on him... it was always good to assume they did.
[+1d7c50 “Are you the Major?”] The man asks, and Lana whirls out of cover, gun raised and letting him know they had him outnumbered. However, she was also assuming that he probably had backup.
[b “Depends who's asking. Who are you?”] Upon her appearance, he didn't make any sudden movements, but his gun lowered a fraction.
[+1d7c50 “I'm David, I'm with Alcatraz.”] He says, and Lana nods, lowering her weapon and then nodding to Sara to do the same. And as she does, she approaches David, taking an arm and spreading it, patting him down. Fortunately she didn't find anything except for a knife in his boot and a radio on his belt.
Taking a step back, Lana nods to the man. [b “Sergeant Major Lana Cutler.”] She motions back at Sara. [b “Officer Sara. Where's the rest of your crew?”]
[+1d7c50 “Where's yours?”] He challenges and Lana smirks at that.
[b “I asked first.”]
With a sigh, David nods his head, pointing a little off to the side at a corner of the building. [+1d7c50 “They're around the corner waiting for my signal or if things go bad. We've run in to some bad apples on this call before and we learn from our mistakes.”] That was good. [+1d7c50 “Where are yours?”] Lana smiles again and a look of surprise crosses his face as he looks between the two women. [+1d7c50 “Its just you two? What about your encampment? We thought we were gonna have to air lift a bunch of you out.”] And that confirmed her suspicion that they came by helicopter.
[b “This is a general inquiry. I contacted you from the radio station in Billings and I didn't have much time for a back and forth.”] The memory gave her a small chill. [b “We were overrun and had to make a hasty exit.”]
David nods his head at that. [+1d7c50 “I can't say I'm upset you called us here for a conversation. Its been a long time since someone's called us over that radio channel, and honestly? We're looking for more capable people on the level... We've been having major issues with bandits attacking the coast and docks in to the city.”]
Not exactly appropriate for the situation, but Lana laughed her girlish laugh. David seemed surprised at first, but then smiled a little bit. [b “It never fucking ends, does it?”] And David shakes his head. [b “Call your people over. I'll bring you back to my place and we can figure something out.”] And David does just that, taking his radio from his belt and giving his people an all clear. They turn to look in the direction they were coming in from, and about five other men rounded the corner, beginning to jog in their direction.
[i Blam!] and one of the scout's coming towards the threes head exploded. It took her a moment to react, but when she did, she grabbed David by the arm and shoved him towards Sara as a hail of bullets rained down from the top of the airport, David's friends to shreds. [b “Move! Move! Move!”] Lana shouts, as bullets begin to rip up the tarmac on their way back in to the airport. She kicks the door open, two surprised bandits standing in the hallway, and Lana promptly kills them with her pistol. She keeps the other two moving with her in to the waiting area of the airport, stowing away between the many seats that made up many more rows. She couldn't tell how many of them there were, but a few of them entered the area, quickly breezing through—probably towards where they heard Lana shoot their comrades—but it left them with a little bit more information on the situation.
“Remember not to kill the girls; we don't know which one Lana Cutler is.” One said as they sped through the waiting hall... They were looking for her? [i Fuck.]
Sara’s breathing was heavy by the time they got to the car, barely making it out of there before the two of them would have been squashed into a pile of blood and flesh like Ben had only moments ago. It was as though she had been holding her breath for the entire time they had faced off against the hulking beast and her body was now desperately trying to fill itself with the much needed oxygen that she had been deprived of since she watched Ben’s body being ripped apart from limb to limb, his remains being chewed on as though he were some kind of dog toy.
She did not even try to talk to Lana, knowing that there was no point in doing so. Both of them had been responsible for Ben’s presence among them, which meant that they were now equally responsible for his death and while she was sure Lana had grown used to losing people, she was confident that [I neither] of them had seen such a gruesome demise. Back when the world was not so decayed, the most gruesome death she had seen had been at the hands of some sadistic psychopath who had chosen to dismember his victim with precision. This had been animalistic and far from predetermined and it was something that would stay with her forever. She had a thick skin and a strong stomach but there was nothing that would stop her from being violently sick the moment she was alone. Even having Ben’s blood and bits of flesh on her body seemed to prove that his death was her fault; a reminder that he had been there because [I they] had decided to take him along. She had already grown attached to the little shit and now he was gone. In the blink of an eye.
Sara was sure that the journey back to the encampment had lasted far longer than it had going out to the city but she knew that was more to do with her mental state and the fact that her anxieties about how the encampment would react to their escapades. When they arrived back it was almost evening and she fully expected the crowd of people gathered around as the truck pulled in. Her nerves were on edge and her stomach was flipping over repeatedly. She might vomit right there and then but she took a deep breath, although it filled her nostrils with the disgusting stench of flesh and blood, and tried to calm herself. She looked towards Lana now, who spoke for the first time since leaving the city and she shook her head. Then she accompanied her actions with words, noticing that she was not exactly looking in her direction. [b “I do not answer to them but I am equally responsible for what happened today. I will not be leaving you alone to contend with this.”] With that, she climbed out of the vehicle, presented a united front as the two came to face the angry faces of the awaiting crowd.
John was the first to speak and it did not surprise her. She just remained quiet throughout the exchange. It was not her responsibility or place to speak up, especially when she was just a random person to these people, her purpose was simply to offer moral support. The moment he mentioned Ben’s name her anxiety peaked again and she glanced down at the ground. Hearing the words seemed to make it more real and she wanted nothing more than to get between the two to stop them from arguing, yet she held restraint. Ben knew what he was getting himself into. He was a kid, but he was a kid who had been brought up in a world that was cruel with death around every corner. He [I had] to know that he risked his life out there. However there were words echoing in her head now.
[I “This is war; survival is your responsibility.”] She would have agreed with that before she found the people here. She was alone for that very purpose, but even so, Ben should not have been expected to take care of himself when there were two adults there who should have been more than capable of protecting him. Then there was a sound that made her shoulders tense up. In the world she had once known she would have arrested John right then but this was note the same world anymore and she had no authority over these people. There were no laws and God knew that there was very little humanity left in the world.
John was not the only one who was pissed at the two of them for their actions and it was felt intensely over the next few days while they waited for the scout to meet them in their chosen location. She had considered leaving the encampment and going back to her life of solitude but a part of her believed that she owed it to Ben and to Lana to at least stay until she had met up with the scout as planned. People avoided her when she moved about the encampment and she was sure that John wanted to throw her out on her ass and she didn’t blame him. She was not their responsibility, she didn’t live among them as a resident but the moment never came.
Lana and Sara took it in turns to man the post of coordinates, knowing that no one else would want to be involved in what they had started. She found herself sitting on the ground waiting for Lana to switch places with her on the third day, a bottle of water in hand as the sun beat down on her. It had been a rough few days but she was glad that her skin was no longer stained with Ben’s blood. She had almost used bleach to wash it away but hurting herself was not going to help the situation. A sigh escaped the woman’s lips as she took a sip of the drink and she narrowed her eyes as she saw a figure in the distance. She readied her weapon and rose to her feet.
Her bullets pancaked and ricocheted uselessly off of the hulking undead's taut dead flesh, and soon enough he assault rifle ran empty... and that's when her brain began functioning normally again. It was still hard to think, but fortunately it seemed Sara was still in her right mind, and began shooting at a vehicle close enough where when it exploded, the blast caught the creature enough to buy them some time. Lana was then hauled to her feet and the two of them ran, leaving the confused and agitated creature behind before it got its bearings. By the time it began chasing them, their own vehicle and means for escape were in sight, but Lana still feared the worst. Getting in, and turning on the vehicle took time, and it would be enough time for the the monster to catch up to them and pull them from the jeep like sardine in a can. It was [i just] like earlier.
[i Just like earlier...]
Grenades! As they run, Lana quickly inspects the empty assault rifle, opening the grenade launcher attachment, and, [b “Thank Christ!”] There was a grenade locked and loaded still. It looked like luck was still on their side, even if it was steadily running out.
The second they reached the car, Lana whipped around and took aim, watching as the hulking beast picked up speed, running their way as a group of undead steadily grew behind it. So when she saw her opening, she took the shot. She pulled the second trigger on the attachment and hit the fucker dead in the chest, the grenade exploding on impact, engulfing the area with smoke and fire. She didn't even bother to confirm if she killed it or not, instead she just hopped in to the jeep with Sara and sped out of there as fast as they could, and didn't let up on the gas for a while afterwards to put as much distance as humanly possible between the city and them... But now came the difficult part. [i Home.]
Just like before, Lana was silent for the car ride, but it was a different kind of silence. Not the usual comfortable and disciplined silence that the ex-soldier normally surrounded herself with, but a [i solemn] silence. You'd think with all of her experience, all those years of training, all the [i death] she's seen, the comrades she's lost, the blood she's shed, this wouldn't be something that bothered her. But it [i did]. It shook her to her core and it won't stop hurting. It made her want to vomit. Feeling the blood and gore that soaked her clothes, crusted in her hair, and stained her skin made her want to vomit. The motion of the road made her want to vomit. [i Breathing] made her want to vomit. However, for the duration of the ride she kept her shit together for appearances sake; instead she just kept a deathlike grip on the steering wheel.
When they finally arrived back at the encampment, the sun began to dip from the sky and the sky darkened. They clear the trees that kept the entrance of the encampment partially concealed, but when they did, they had people waiting for them. Right passed the gates stood John and a few others, arms crossed and looking none too happy upon the women's return... This wasn't going to be fun.
Wheeling the jeep to where it was originally parked, Lana kills the engine and pauses for a moment, looking out the window at the small crowds upset faces centred around John. She turns herself back around and places her head on the steering wheel for a moment before letting out a slow breath and straightening up again. [b “You don't have to stay for this.”] She tells Sara, not looking at her. [b “You don't answer to them; feel free to walk away.”] She could do this on her own, Sara didn't deserve to be brought into this hot-button issue, especially since... She grimaces and exits the vehicle, prepared to face the consequences on her own.
[+red “The chicken's always come home to roost, Lana.”] John says upon her approach, taking in her bloodied appearance. He tilts a little bit and while still crossing his arms, he points over to the jeep. [+red “I see you managed to recruit some help too... Dammit, Lana! We talked about this; we don't have the resources to waste on foolish flights of fancy.”] And Lana didn't say anything back. She was just waiting for the hammer to come down at this point. The obvious detail that would kick up this shit-storm in to full bloom. And it finally came when John looked back at the jeep again. [+red “Is Ben hiding in there? Because he needs to hear this too. We can't afford the two of you doing whatever the hell you want.”]
Her eyes moved from John's off to the side and then just behind his feet for a moment. It took a little while longer than she would've liked to admit, but when she finally looked up, the words finally came out. And the reality set in. [b “Ben's dead.”] Lana says slowly and John took a step back, shocked at the revelation. [b “Killed right in front of us by a giant undead.”] The imagery of his brains being smashed out on to the pavement and splattering her played in memory, and she quickly suppressed the urge to gag, suddenly very aware she was still covered in his gore.
When John finally took that in, his face was red and his hands were moving. [+red “How could you let him come with you!? He was just a kid for Christ's sake!”]
[b “I didn't have a choice! He caught me on the way out and I couldn't have him telling you where I ran off to!”] They both took a step forward, in each others face's now.
[+red “That's your excuse?! Ben was killed because he inconvenienced you?!”] He sounded incredulous. [+red “All because of some damned radio frequency!”] His teeth were grit, fists clenched, and breathing heavily. Lana's never seen him this mad before, but she herself couldn't help but feel her own rage boiling over at his words. He was acting like this was just some fun outing she had decided to go on with Sara and Ben. Like it was a fucking vacation.
[b “I can't believe how self-righteous you are! I did this for the good of the group! I went because [i you're] too afraid to go in to the cities.”] Lana snaps. [b “For fuck's sake, John, I'm still covered in his blood! I didn't bring Ben along to kill him, so stop acting like it!”]
[+red “Be that as it may, you both literally and figuratively have his blood on your hands.”] John seemed to have simmered down to a more quiet rage. A more dangerous rage. [+red “If he knew he was going to die, what would you have told him before you carted him off? I want to know right now, if one of us, if any of us was staring down the barrel of a gun because we followed you blindly, what would you tell us?”]
And Lana just looked at him, her face returning to its normal stone-like brood as she answered him, her answer already primed. [b “This is war; survival is [i your] responsibility.”] And right then and there, if she hadn't have heard it, she wouldn't have known it happened. A sudden [i smack!] right across the face made Lana's head turn to the side, and shock and anger set in before the pain did. She turns her head back to John, her eyes alight with fury, and it was all she could do not to just jump him and dig her thumbs in to his eyes and tear out his throat with her teeth. John himself was so furious he didn't even see how close he was toting to Lana going ballistic on him.
[+red “This isn't war, Lana! This [i is] survival, and its [i everyone's] responsibility. Including yours. And right now, you're responsible for the death of a kid under our roof. This isn't how we operate and this is [i exactly why] we don't operate like this.”] And it seemed like that's all John had to say about the matter, because he turns his back and begins walking away, the small crowd that had gathered began whispering amongst themselves and dispersing now that tensions seemed to have come back down. They had a member to mourn and jobs to do... But Lana still wasn't finished.
[b “They'll be here in less than three days.”] Lana says to John before he gets too far away. He turns back to face her at the remark. [b “I got a hold of [i them], and they'll be at the airport in less than seventy-three hours whether you like it or not. I'll also be going whether you like it or not.”] She pauses for a moment to let that sink in. He had called her a 'dreamer' for even thinking there was somewhere safe like Alcatraz still around this far in to the end, and now here they were. A way out if they needed it, and considering how many people had been dying and how scarce supplies on the outside were, perhaps this was as best a time as any. [b “We can't stay here forever, that's just reality, so someone needs to be looking out for our group's future. I'm taking the initiative.”] John glares for a moment and turns back away, but Lana takes a few more steps forward. [b “And John?”]
[+red “What?”] He turns around once more. And this time he could see the fury in her eyes that threatened to burn him alive. He could almost [i taste] it.
[b “If you [i ever] touch me again, I don't care how many people are watching, I [i will] kill you.”] She warns, her voice flat but dripping with venom. [i Then] it seemed the conversation was over, John and the group fully dispersing, leaving Lana standing there thinking to herself for a little while longer. When she finally snaps out of it, she turns and looks at Sara, holding up two fingers to indicate the amount of time they had to prepare. She was just assuming the police woman would be joining her because Lana was sure she also didn't want Ben's death to have been in vain.
One way or another, this was going to be a very [i long] few days.
Sara was not usually the type to take to other people. After all, she had been alone for a long time and often found herself lacking in trust when it came to others but regardless of everything she had once stood for, Lana was working her way into her trust and she was beginning to wonder if she [I could] find herself settling with these people. It was obvious that Sara’s skills were useful to them and Lana trusted her. She would not have taken her on this mission if she didn’t and while she initially thought that it didn’t matter to her, she was beginning to realise that she might not have to be alone again. Throughout this whole trip, the two women had each other’s backs. Granted, they also had the annoyance of Ben’s company which had put them both on edge, but she had even started to warm to him.
It was rather silly really. She had only just met the boy, but he had awakened maternal instincts within her that she did not quite understand. Even before chaos swept across the world, she had never shown an interest in having children, never really having a relationship with someone long enough for those discussions to come up. Sara had kept things rather casual when the world was normal, dating men until they wanted to make things more permanent and then she would let them down gently. It was not as though their new situation made her regret any of that either, she was glad that she did not have loved ones to lose because she had seen what that had done to people in the past. The kindest of souls turned cruel while humanity was in demise.
Their pace seemed to slow down when it looked like they were at the edge of the city. The dead had not followed them, and the unexplainable beast had not come into view at any point and she was beginning to think that they would all make it out of this mission alive, then they would just have to deal with John’s anger. That hardly seemed significant in the big picture. Even Ben understood how pissed John would be and she laughed at his words as they approached the end of the alleyway. Their truck was so close now. None of them could have know that their relief would become distress the moment they reached the exit.
Sara was completely startled by the sound created by the smashing of bricks before her. Being at the back meant that she could avoid being knocked over by the impact, but she rushed to Lana’s side and helped her steady herself when she saw her head collide with a hard surface. She was lucky she had not lost consciousness. As soon as her brain started to work again her eyes darted around to find Ben. He was far too close to the creature for her liking.
[b “Ben!”] Her warning came too late because the moment she said his name, his body was launched into the air as though it weighed nothing at all. In the grasp on the undead beast he did not stand a chance and her heart rate was racing fast. He was going to die, and it was their fault for bringing him out here in the first place. [I This] was exactly why she did not allow herself to get attached to other people. Sara wouldn’t be feeling these emotions now if she had not broken one of her only rules. Her shoulders met her ears as the sound of Ben’s body colliding with the concrete echoed around them, both women now covered in the blood of the kid who had been joking with them only moments ago. There was a time when she would have frozen at the sight, unable to move and likely get killed herself, but she had been changed and could not allow herself to feel anything just yet. They needed to get away.
Sara forced her eyes away and looked to Lana who was already screaming and wasting her bullets shooting at him. It was an act of anger and emotion and that was something she had not seen much of from Lana. She was usually so methodical. Even if Sara joined her in shooting the creature, they would not put a dent in him. She had to think fast. That was when she noticed a vehicle just behind the creature. If they could set that alight, it might catch the creature and distract it long enough for the two to make it back to their truck. It was the only option she had. She pulled up her weapon and aimed it at the hood of the car, continually shooting until the bullets penetrated the metal enough to have an impact on the engine. The sound of an explosion replaced the sound of Ben’s body being chewed apart and as hoped, the fire hoped onto the creature, setting fire to its leg.
[b “We [I have] to go now.”] She said, glancing back at the body he dropped to the floor. It wasn’t even a body anymore, just a collection of limbs and entrails. She grabbed hold of Lana’s arm and pulled her with her, climbing over the pile of rubble to slip past the creature. A loud roar could be heard, and the ground started to vibrate around them as it started to chase them. The vehicle was in sight now, they just need to start the engine and get the hell out of there. They had already lost enough today.
It was good that Ben and Sara seemed to be getting along with each other, because Lana wasn't exactly feeling like a people person right now. With all the shit that had piled up today, all she wanted to do was puke and sleep for a week. Despite having gotten in to the radio station and got what needed to be done, she felt surprisingly weary. Even the weapon in her hands felt heavier than normal, and she was used to the weight.
Either or, they saddled up pretty quickly and moved through the building with minimal resistance, quickly exiting out the back. When they had to loop back around the front, they waited a moment, the horde of undead going plowing over the blockade and towards the building. And still then, Lana didn't go and it seemed everyone else was onboard with that idea; waiting for the undead to burst in to the building and create a point for them to exit as the undead spread themselves through the radio station like a cancer. So when the opportunity presented itself, they three of them took it and got away from the station and blockade, continuing on the path they started with... But something still seemed off to Lana, an almost foreboding feeling, and she couldn't place her finger on why. They accomplished their mission and were in the home stretch, what the hell was the deal? She shakes her head at herself, picking up the pace a bit, staying with Sara behind Ben.
The city seemed empty again, save for a few stragglers or undead who had lost their mobility through one way or another. Most of the undead that did move around seemed to have all herded up, which was kind of a surprise. After all of this time, she'd have thought they would've spread outside of the city, but it seemed like maybe they had enough visitors and stimulation where they all hung around. It'd also make sense as to how they herded up so quickly and why there were runners, the fresher undead. Her rule to keep out of the city's was for reasons like this, but it seemed like people were still desperate enough to come in and try to get supplies or loot... She began to wonder if—save for this expedition—they would ever become desperate like that. Their home wasn't exactly perfect, but they had food and water, however delicate those resources may be, but even before the end of the world, your average person was nine missed meals away from doing something they normally wouldn't do... How many missed meals were did they have before they lost what little control they had?
One of the streets was blocked by pile-up, so they detoured through an alleyway, but they were pretty close to getting out of the city now, and Lana began to breathe easier again. And it seemed like they all did. [+blue “Man, wait until John hears about this. He's gonna flip.”] And Lana couldn't help but smile at that as they were approaching the exit of the alleyway. He definitely was going to angry, but you couldn't argue with results. [+blue “I wonder just [i how] much he-”]
And it was almost like a mortar had gone off. One corner of the alleyway blew apart like glass, the force and shower of bricks knocking them to the ground. And Lana must have hit her head on impact, because her vision danced with black blotches and she couldn't hear most of what was going on, just a ringing. She snaps herself out of it relatively quickly, looking up to see the hulking undead from before, its large hand wrapping itself around Ben's leg like he was a doll and reeled back him back just as easily.
In a blink, she was covered in blood, gore, and brain matter, the giant undead having slammed Ben on to the pavement like a whip. His head burst open upon impact with a sickening [i squelch!] And the beast did it two or three more times before it brought Ben's headless corpses to its jaws and tore in to him viciously like a rabid hungry animal.
There wasn't anything Lana could do but scream, her assault rifle coming up upon instinct and she pulled the trigger, showering the monster with the remainder of her weapons magazine. But she knew from before that this wouldn't be anything but a tickle to the beast and now they had bigger problems...
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