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Whitefish, Montana. For nine or so months of the year this idyllic little mountain town was as peaceful as you could want and a mighty fine place to watch the world pass by. Life trundled along at a steady pace in the shadow of Big Mountain; a quite dull and unoriginal name true but sometimes flashy names got in the way of the final product. There was an odd beauty to a simple name, leaving the scenery as a means of showcasing itself. And it was a breathtaking sight come winter when a clear blue sky framed picturesque snowy peaks.
This perfect backdrop was the home to Thomas Masterson. Twenty-seven years old, six foot three, pure bred Montanan. Aside from a few summer holidays at a cousins horse farm down in Arkansas as a youngster he had never seen a reason to leave his humble birthplace. Although he was rather keen to avoid the three months of year when the city-folk would flock to the slopes for their winter holidays, only leaving after the popular Whitefish Winter Carnival that brought an end to the winter season. Those folks were loud, obnoxious, self-centred and egotistical. Whereas you could count on a fellow resident to come out with their snow shovel to help you after a blizzard, the tourists were as want to whine and moan that they couldn't dig out their fancy SUV's and luxury cars.
It was for this reason he was partially thankful that the epidemic had begun outside of the winter. No tourists or people to clog the clinics or roads and cause havoc in the local stores. Having been isolated out of the way of most populous areas they had been able to bear the beginning of the end with ease, watching on their televisions as the world went to heck in a hand basket. Indeed the town emptied somewhat as many families sought to find the rest of their family in far away states and be closer to loved ones. No doubt many didn't make it. As he saw things if they got past Kalispell they would have done well.
Thomas' parents had retired down to warmer pastures near South Carolina a year back and his younger sister Georgia was in university at UofT in Austin. When things hit the fan he had dug in, unable to reach his family by phone or internet he saw no reason to travel to such densely populated areas. By the time he got there they would have evacuated out. It was best he sit put in Whitefish where it was safe.
It was only when Rory Pategill's wife, Susan, had come running down the main street of his neighbourhood, wailing and bawling as she held a bloody hand to her arm, that the true horror of this became so real. Those residents still residing on the street had come out to help her and tried calming her down. Turns out ol' Rory had been attacked whilst coming home from work near Helena. Having told his wife it was just a fever she had gone in to see him that morning and he'd taken a good chunk of her flesh out her forearm. Through shock and blood loss Susan didn't last much longer, turning minutes later and latching onto Dawn Woodbury's neck and pinning her down to the ground.
The attacks had increased from there as the wounded from Kalispell slowly trickled north in search of safety, in search of protection from the horrors they had seen. And it was not just the undead attacking but fearful people turning on others. In the end all they did was spread the fear and illness and the pandemic came to Whitefish in a slow, shuffling manner.
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Months down the line he was still alive. He had left his home down in the town, moving up the mountain and further north. It was only a fifteen minute walk back to town from the cabin he had taken refuge in after those initial outbreaks. Primarily used as a ranger station it had the basics of a bed, a table and chair, some storage and a wood fueled stove. Over time he had made it more hospitable, not least by making the building more sturdy and weather resistant. When he had first arrived the breezy snow made each gap quite evident and he had made a good concrete paste to seal it up, cleaning out the stove so it burned hotter and making any external repairs only when the winds kicked up as their howling saved attracting any attention; alive or undead.
With a small stockpile of canned food supplemented by any game he could catch, usually rabbit or squirrel, it was enough to leave him well off in comparison to most. He drew water from a mountain stream that fed into the lake and once boiled – just to make sure – it was as fresh as drinking from a tap. As for keeping safe he had two six-shooters, a novelty bought for him by his Uncle when he had turned eighteen and the last time he had visited Arkansas. Trusty and reliable they were a last cause given how they echoed terribly in the silent mountain range. They were used only just above the lever-action rifle he had found on one of his scavenging trips into town. That stayed often in the cabin, just beside the door ready for anyone that wasn't undead who thought they could take from him – and a few had tried.
That morning had been a particularly cold one, the morning sun blocked by heavy clouds, snow expected either that night or the next day. It would mean he had to go out and grab a few more provisions to get through the storm, sit it out in his warm home. The firewood could wait to be collected that evening, he needed to get down to the town. So, donning his thick fur jacket and fixing his pistols to the holsters at his waist, he grabbed a duffel bag containing a crowbar and some miscellaneous tools should he needs to break into a building of interest and off down the mountain he went.
It had been a while since he'd last seen someone. It was good and bad in that sense. People meant danger, especially the frightened ones. They would do anything and act in manners unbecoming of a more civilised being. That spark of unknowing was very dangerous. And yet he missed having conversations. He missed the social aspect of interaction and only through prolonged isolation had he come to realise how much he missed just having a living being to shoot the breeze with and discuss nothing. It was funny the things your found yourself missing when the world went to hell.
It seemed that Lana and Northman had created a hole in the proverbial mosh-pit of undead they were in. Both of them took on areas that needed to be looked after, switched, and the pattern repeated itself. However, it was only a matter of time before Lana ran out of ammunition, and she wasn't as skilled with archaic weaponry as Northman seemed to be. Sure, she had specialized training in close quarters combat, but military knife fighting was usually for one on one, some times more but not usually, and the threat of the knife kept your adversaries at bay when you needed it. The dead did not fear injury, and she was pretty sure they couldn't feel injury either. Rendered a lot of tactics and key elements in fighting techniques inert.
Lana was about to open her mouth to say something over the battle, but the sound of the undead bouncing off of a vehicle made her close it. There were really no words that had to be said at this point, everyone would know to make a break for the truck if they wanted to live. She was prepared to fight through the mob, the truck having created an opening for them, but it seemed Northman had a different idea in mind.
Suddenly she was enveloped by the man and his shield, the assault rifle taken from her, and she was being pushed through by the man. [i Oh boy.] There were [i lots] of problems she had with this, but the stupid thing to do right now would be to fight it and resist. Survival was the most important thing at the moment, so she could swallow her pride and let herself be the damsel-not-in-distress for a minute. Although, she had to laugh at him when he called out for a V formation, which was probably an odd sound within all of the chaos with the undead. No one was going to do that, there this was too much for them. Her laughing wouldn't last very long though.
It happened quite quickly again, as Northman took matters in to his own hands, shooting at the dead and then rolling the two in the truck. When he landed on top of her and opened his eyes, he would see a very sour, very ungrateful scowl on her face. It took every ounce of willpower not to headbutt him just to make a point. But he rolled off before she gave in to her inner thoughts, and she was immediately up. She grabs the rifle, reloading it with mechanical grace, puts a knee down on Northman's chest with a little too much force than was necessary, and aims down the sights outside of the truck. The two of them were out of the woods, but she had Ben to worry about. [i Sort of.] And the other woman might want to take advantage of this Get Out of Hell Free card as well.
The others were not kidding when they told him that he should do his best not to surprise Lana. He didn't know if his nose was broken, but his head felt like it got split in half, and even though it was the morning, he could see stars. It was hard to focus, but once there was an arm slid under him, he sobered quickly and found his centre as he was brought to his feet.
It took him a second, but he nods at the woman's questions, focusing on her face. [+blue “Yeah, yeah! That's us. And I can fight... Hopefully.”] He says and looks at the truck. It was one of those heavy duty trucks, tricked out a little for the apocalypse. He could see John sitting alone in the front seat, wordlessly shouting and motioning for them to get a move on. There's suddenly a new feeling in his chest at the sight; this situation wasn't completely hopeless after all, they could make it. Ben then grins at the woman with him, in thanks, not with confidence... Well, maybe a little.
Ben still had Lana's rifle, but with a quick check he saw the pistol he had knocked out of her hands close by. He retrieves it, and with a nod to the woman, he begins fighting his way to the truck with her. He uses the pistol and the machete to hack and shoot his way through while Lana provides cover fire from the truck, blasting Scabs in their way or when they were going to be flanked. Ben wasn't as experienced as the trio, so he lagged a little bit, the other woman taking the lead as they got to the truck, but once they did, it was a relief!
Without any protest, Ben hops up first and is pulled in to the truck by Lana, who immediately tosses down the assault rifle, taking the pistol from Ben and covers the woman with a few shots from the gun. It wasn't obvious to Ben, but the woman's hesitation to get in the truck was obvious to Lana. And she could rot for all she cared. However, just when Lana was going to signal for their driver to move, Ben reaches over the side for the other woman. [i Goddammit.] Lana quickly joins him, grabbing hold of the woman's limbs and bringing her in to the back of the truck with them.
And it seemed like it was just in time too. Over the low moaning and growls of the undead steadily surrounding the truck, there was a guttural, almost liquid screech. Down the street there were three undead, one of them making the sound, and when they all caught sight of the truck, they began [i sprinting] towards them. Clearly they were recently turned. Lana bangs the side of the truck rhythmically and it begins to move, crushing and crashing through the undead like they were wet and unpleasant speed bumps. Soon enough, they were a distant memory as they sped down the street, weaving through cars and other obstacles, and soon skidded on to a country road. Once they were there, the truck slows down to a more reasonable pace, farms and empty landscape on either side of them.
There was a moment of silence, probably the relieving feeling of making it out of something like that alive, but Lana knew it wouldn't last very long because-
[+blue “Thank God we got out of there... So whats everyone's names? Interesting facts?”] Ben splits the silence. [+blue “I'm Ben. The silent and prickly one is Lana.”] And she doesn't say anything, she just makes a curt gesture with her head and then glances out in to the farm land, slumping down slightly more. They would be arriving back at their encampment soon, it was about an hour out of town at a secluded farm. Perfect for keeping them safe. But with the introduction of these new survivors and how much more dangerous the outside was getting, she knew their safety was going to be coming in limited quantities. Sacrifices were going to have to be made as they kept going on like this.
Ben was optimistic about survivors, and might always think that meeting them like this was a good thing. It kept the ranks up, and the more people with experience meant that they were more likely to survive because of more capable hands. Strength in numbers and what not. But what he failed to see was that the more people there were meant that things became more unpredictable. Her intense gaze settles on to the woman opposite of her.
[i Unpredictable indeed.]
By the time they made it to the encampment, it was the afternoon. For the entirety of the drive, they were on country roads in farmland, the only thing that changed was then they got close. There were more trees, and parts of the road were cut off by fallen ones. They manoeuvred down some more roads and dirt roads until they come upon one of those 'hidden driveways'. Really, trees were mostly arched and it created more cover, the entrance was something most would overlook passing by, which was simply a helpful accident.
The truck drives down the long driveway and in to a large farming estate. There were multiple buildings with a variety of different uses, both conventional and unconventional. These ones were built before the apocalypse. There were structures that were recently built with re-purposed materials that were placed in strategic places throughout the encampment; watchtowers, with armed civilians. The land that they covered was sizeable, but most of it was dotted with motor homes or travel trailers, creating a shanty town of vehicles, tents, and trailers. And in the centre of it all was a farmhouse the previous owners used to live in. It was a very DIY setup, but it worked.
They stop in front of a gate, Lana quickly hopping over the side of the truck to open it. She waves the truck through, Ben and the new survivors being brought inside as many heads poke out of their motor homes to take a look. She was going to have an annoying time explaining to the others that they didn't get any supplied, but more mouths to feed.
Good. A woman after her own heart. Sara didn’t trust easily so it only made it easier for her when those she met also had limited trust for her. At least then guilt did not factor into it. The woman in question moved passed her to get outside and Sara chuckled to herself. She had accepted a long time ago that manners no longer existed in this rotting world but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t remember a time when humanity seemed to put such care and focus into portraying good manners to other people. Instead of allowing her thoughts to linger she began to make her way down the stairs and out of the house onto the street where she took in the scene. The man fighting the undead seemed to have a good rhythm and she noticed how his technique was different from those she had witnessed in the past and as her eyes scanned the street she noticed that the woman she had just met had not come alone. Her eyes fixated on Ben and took in his appearance. He seemed young and inexperienced and not the kind of company she expected the hard-ass she just met to keep.
She watched as Lana aimed her gun and her eyes widened, knowing what she was about to do. This was exactly why she did not trust humans. As her finger tightened on the trigger, Sara’s hand tightened around her weapon, getting prepared to fight for her life whether that meant fighting the undead or the humans. It seemed the boy had a conscious and didn’t allow Lana to shoot the man as he reached forward and knocked the gun out of her hand which seemed to change the entire plan. Sara sighed as she watched the woman move to fight with the stranger and a part of her was tempted to simply walk in the other direction. This was not her fight and she could easily slip away yet, there was still a small part of her conscious that couldn’t leave them to fight alone. Perhaps it was the cop part of her that she had learned to push away many years ago, but it was still there nagging at her.
Sara sighed and moved towards Ben and lid her hand underneath his arm and used her strength to pull him to his feet. [b “Is that your truck?”] She asked as she indicated towards the vehicle that had seemingly appeared from nowhere. She didn’t wait for a reply before she started to talk once more. [b “You need to fight your way to the truck. Can you do that?”] Sara looked into the boy’s eyes and saw a confidence that only came with being a child in this world. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way things were here. She nodded towards the boy and started to fight her way through the remaining undead until she neared the truck, noticing that Ben was not too far behind.
[b “Get in the truck. I will hold them off you.”] She had no intention of getting into the truck with these strangers. It was not her place to invite herself along with a party of survivors who clearly had a camp somewhere because they had someone come to their rescue the moment they called for it. Sara slammed her knife into the head of one undead, pulling it out and plunging it into another skilfully as she looked around to see if Ben had made it to the truck whilst still fighting.
Damien was enthralled with the thirst of this battle so much so he almost elbowed the woman who came to fight by his side untill he realized she was a survivor there to fight. her and him in the same sling was akward to say the least untill the two had managed to extend it fully even then it was difficult untill he gave up on focusing on the woman and more on the fight, she seemed to move around him better than he could around her. so he continued the fight untill he heard the sound of bodies bounding off sheet metal. looking back it was a truck undoubtedly one this woman had radioed for.
fighting back to back was fine while stationary, they now had to move. stepping back to create space Damien held both his ax and shield in one hand then slipped his arm out of the sling leaving it wrapped around his neck briefly and turned towards the woman who had commandeered his weapon before sliping his arm back through the sling and grabbing the rifle by the barrel as close to the receiver as possible as he wrapped his shield arm around the woman to keep her protected from incoming threats as he started to push his way through the mob, thrusting his weapon like a spear killing and pushing the dead aside as he aggressively advanced towards the truck. "Rally up! V formation!" he barked the orders at the other survivors. it was a simple military formation that was used since roman times to modern fire teams and was the preferred formation for breaking an ambush situation.
After getting to the truck Damien had tossed his shield and ax in the back before reloading the M16 from a magazine in his bandolier he switched the weapon to full auto as he turned and sprayed into the mob at head level. wrapping an arm around the woman still entwined in the sling he jumped up and back enough to get his buttocks over the bed of the truck before leanig back and rolling in. with a thud Damien landed on his head as they fell into the truck causing his vision to blacken temporarily. when he came two he found himself lifting himself off the woman before muttering his apologies and laying next to her in the bed of the truck still tethered by the sling of his gun.
The wound was on the woman's stomach, so it was more than likely not a bite, but she'd have a more in-depth look later; she'd never simply take someone's word for it. Usually bites were on the limbs and extremities, the easiest things latch on to and take a chunk out of. If one of the undead was able to get hold of her enough where it'd be able to take a bite at her stomach, they probably wouldn't be talking right now. That being said, she did like the woman's answers to her questions; she didn't give her a lot, but gave her enough to work with. And she was smart enough to know who the real danger in this world was.
As silence hung in the room, it was soon broken when someone started screaming bloody murder outside. However, it wasn't like the noises they've both probably grown accustomed to. It was patterned, almost ritualistic, and there was a sound almost like a drum beating to it. [i What the hell was happening now?]
Lana watches as the woman turns her back to her to look out the window to investigate. She considers the woman lucky Lana wasn't here with any actual killing intent toward other survivors. This would've been the perfect shot; two in the back of the head, execution style. However, Lana quickly joins her at the window to look outside and see who it was that seemed to have a literal screaming death wish.
The person who was calling more undead to their location was another new survivor, but considering what he was doing, he probably wasn't going to be surviving for long. At this point she'd be tempted to just watch and see how many undead this guy—'Northman' as she was now referring to him—could behead before he was either overrun or had to retreat. But once she notices Ben in close proximity, standing in shock, she knew she had to intervene. Northman wasn't just putting his own life in danger anymore, and that was something she had a problem with.
[b “There's nothing to figure out; I [i don't] trust you.”] Lana responds to the woman without looking from the window. She made sure there was no illusions there but agreed it was time to leave. And when the woman began to ask if she was coming, she brushes passed her, not taking the time to help her with her wound, and went out the door, her gun at the ready. There were more important things that had to be done and she didn't like wasting her time being nice.
Evidently, it was chaos outside, Northman holding back the undead with a riot shield and hacking at them with an axe, chanting and screaming. She took note of his physique, foot work, and choice of weaponry. He was trained, or at least practised, but that wouldn't save him from being surrounded by Scabs and ripped apart. All it took was one to infect you, and he was lucky that none of these particular undead could run. But you couldn't be lucky forever.
On her belt, Lana pulled off a radio and switched it on. [b “78 Cedar Street.”] She spoke in to it before advancing towards Ben who watched in awe or shock. The mob was growing rather quickly, attracted by Northman's cries of battle, drawing them from other and streets and houses. Some began funnelling around him towards Lana and the others. Her pistol went up, and four shots meant four of the undead were wiped out, but that wasn't going to stop them all, nor would it be enough at the rate the mob was increasing.
There was a way to end this, a distraction, something that the undead were more attracted to than sound. [i The flesh of the living.] And with their ululating Viking liability already in the crowd, she didn't have to make any tough decisions, and it would make it that much easier. That said, she'd still need him to be loud, so blowing his brains out wasn't going to cut it, as much as she would like to. She raises her gun, taking aim in the undulating crowd. Blowing out his knee would do the trick, and at this range, she couldn't miss.
[+blue “Wait!”] Ben slaps the gun out of her hand before she can fire, and before he even realizes it, her companion is on the ground with a bloody nose and at least one of his eyes was going to be blackened. There was a slight tingling in Lana's elbow. She turns back to the scene in front of her. A truck was on its way to extract them now, but they needed to buy more time, and her original plan was now out the window thanks to Ben. She eyes the other man, already having taken in to account he had an M16 on his back.
[i That'll work.]
She sprints in, and slides, quickly rising up and under the sling of the M16, and directly back to back with Northman. She takes the gun in her hands, pretty much now she was strapped to the man's back, and begins firing at the undead. It became something like a complicated dance. Every time he moved, she moved, when he zipped, she zapped. Lana moved with free-flowing grace, only restricted by the rifle sling, hitting the strap when she could to create more slack. Each round was shot with expert precision, each blow with the bayonet deadly, killing where Northman wasn't killing, defending where he wasn't defending, while she was ducking and weaving between each of his strikes. You'd think the two made a extraordinary team, but in actuality, Lana was skilled enough, trained enough, and had lots of experience in fighting back to back. She was taking cues from the body language and the sensitivity that was afforded when being pressed up against someone. Plus, with her fast reflexes and impressive depth perception, it made it that much easier for her. This was the new kind of guerrilla warfare. At its finest.
Where the streets had once been empty, Sara was oblivious to the fact that there were now several survivors and a crowd of undead crawling along the streets looking for human flesh to feast upon until they found more to tear open. Now that she had found something to shield her from the cold she took to the bathroom to look for medical supplies in hopes that she might find something more suited to her wound than material she had ripped from her clothes.
Sara placed her gun back into its holster that she was sure that there were no undead in this house. She opened the cabinet above to sink and was delighted to see that there were still bandages. She let out a sigh of relief and reached out for them and started to undress the puncture in her stomach, but she did not have time to start dressing it once more before she detected movement from behind her. She quickly pulled her gun from its resting place on her hip and turned swiftly. Her eyes narrowed as she scanned the doorway waiting for the figure to reveal themselves, knowing that it must be human because the sound it had man. The undead made involuntary noises but this noise was focused and had clearly tried to get her attention.
Soon enough the woman revealed herself and Sara kept her gun up, looking down at the wound that presented itself to the stranger. It made sense for her to ask if she had bitten, it was usually the first question a stranger would ask someone new and especially since she was sporting a wound that was too stubborn to heal without proper treatment. Sara shook her head and looked back up at the woman. [b “Not bitten, just injured. Human can be more dangerous than the dead.”] She said as she shifted her weight, keeping her weapon focused on the woman. [b “I don’t come from anywhere. Not now at least.”] It was clear that this stranger was trained and used to having authority simply by the way she held herself and the way she spoke.
Suddenly, the silence around them was filled with the sound of chaos on the streets and she no longer seemed to care about the woman before her as she rushed over to the window as watched as a man made his way through a crowd of undead, striking them with his weapon. [b “Shit.”] Sara turned towards the woman and bit her lip. [b “Don’t suppose you brought company with you, did you? There it a whole swarm of undead out there.”] Sara shook her head. [b “We don’t have time to figure out whether we can trust each other. We need to get out of here.”]
She quickly put down her weapon to wrap the bandage around her waist so that it was at least protected while she fought her way out of here, with or without the woman to help her. Once she was secure she moved past the woman and started down the stairs. [b “Are you coming?”] She asked as she checked her weapons.
Damien had been a viking reenacter for some years before the apocalypse happened. during this time he learned the ways of life for the hardy nords. learning how to smith his own weapons and armor. fighting in a hand to hand style called glima along with swords, axes, shields and spears comes naturally now, making his use of a bearded ax, riot shield and M16 with bayonet quite deadly though he can just barely hit the broadside of a barn while shooting with it. in the mornings when coldest he would run at least a mile while chanting killing any undead that would come meet him. so long as he didnt bite of more than he could chew he'd be fine as he got his exercise. most people don't run for exercise anymore but Damien makes it a point to do so while in full kit.
noticing a survivor ahead of him and a pack of zombies beyond he might be able to take them on if the other survivor helped. though he was always cautious of people and there was no guarantees any would help for the sake of his exercise. Taking a knee he pulled off his jacket and slung his rifle along with a four pocket USGI bandolier of magazines over his back. tying his jacket to his waist he picked up his shield and pulled his ax from his belt and began hooting and hollering as he beat his ax and shield together as he advanced. this seemed to rile the dead into a frenzy like walking sharks. as he noticed this Damien to fell to the frenzy as his chants became louder and faster as he beat his shield in time.
now at full sprint he runs past the survivor in the street and clashes into the mob of the undead, his shield taking the blunt of the force as his ax comes down to drive into the skulls of his enemies before him. as downed zombies from the initial impact began to rise he bolstered his shield to hold off a wave of nearly six on his left as he dealt with two more attempting to flank him on the right. eventually he couldn't hold the weight of the zombies aggainst his shield so he backed off three steps before presenting his shield and bashing a few in the face as he steped forward again. fighting with ferocity unbeknownst to even most men these days. each swing he gave was rejoiced with a cry of valor as he dwindled the mob by nearly a head every three to five seconds.
It was a long time before she had willingly walked among people, even before the world fell apart. Lana Cutler was a former Army Ranger and Delta Force operator, and the word 'former' came some years before the dead took over. But her specialized training gave her an advantage in the new ways of the world, and her already brutal and jaded demeanour endeavoured her not to lose her mind like so many others. The world she lived in was already a battlefield, this was just a new enemy.
However, despite Lana's dark beliefs and usual attitude to go at it alone, things have changed along with the world. Like it was mentioned before, it has been a long time since Lana willingly walked among people; she was a loner—usually believing that the only person she could rely on to survive was herself—but since the dead were now shambling around, she's found herself being able to rely on people. Relying on a group. They weren't much to look at, most of them being civilians, and only three of them having actual military experience , but despite being mostly civilians, they all had varying degrees of skills. Perhaps not particularly geared towards combat, but skills that became a very important commodity, ones that took a lifetime to acquire and became the backbone of their way of life.
And they all looked up to Lana. Strong in her silence, fierce in her words, and brutal in her actions. They needed her as much as she needed them, and not just for protection. They needed her for guidance, for someone who wasn't afraid of having authority, someone who could help them start over. They needed a leader and they had one.
Being the leader of a large survivor encampment meant she had more responsibilities than she used to when she walked the streets alone. Since it was cold, food was harder to come by, making it more of a necessity and increased their regular amount of scavenging missions, which Lana often opted to go on. It made survival a little harder but it also had the subsequent effect of slowing down the dead... But the dead were more of an environmental problem once you got used to it; the real problem was the living. [i Scoundrels, liars, and killers.] Even though Lana found herself depending on people more, her trust was hard to gain and came with strings attached. It also seemed to have a limit, and just like their encampment, it was nearly at capacity.
She only felt the cold on her face, the rest of her body being covered by weather proofed clothing. A jacket, a vest, gloves. The works. And slung over her shoulder was a scoped rifle, a machete and combat knife on her hip. She was also accompanied by a younger boy, a few inches taller than her, also dressed for the weather. He had a pistol and a machete, handling them both with a familiar grace. He was one of the civilians they had trained for these occasions. However, this man, Ben, had a problem.
[+blue “Its always good to get out of the encampment, you know?”] He asks rhetorically. They were walking in the middle of the streets, away from entrances and spaces where the dead might be lying in wait, their eyes peeled for movement... Well, at least Lana's eyes were peeled. Ben seemed to be engrossed with the conversation he was having with himself. [+blue “Everyone is so grumbley these days. I don't know about you, but I always enjoyed the cold. I actually used to be a professional-”]
Lana's hand comes up and covers his mouth. [b “Shut. [i Up].”] She enunciated with quiet fury, looking down the street purposefully. Surrounding them on both sides were old shops and stores, most of their windows bashed in and a few lucky ones having been boarded up. Only a few cars littered the streets, but they were mostly parked or crashed and out of their way. But what Lana wanted Ben to see was one of the undead shambling out of an alleyway just a few meters away. It as mostly concealed by a crashed car, but Lana saw the movement through one of the smashed windows. It didn't notice them yet, and seemed to be moving on from the area. Ben begins to reach for his machete and Lana shakes her head. [b “Wait.”] She whispers, the hot breath clouding with steam. There was more to see.
The monster shambles a few more paces forward, and then four more follow suit and drag themselves from the alley. Pleased with the demonstration, Lana removes her hand from her companions face and brings it to hers, placing a finger over her lips. She then points to a department store to her left, its windows smashed in, but it appeared to be empty. They quickly made their way inside to keep out of sight and to also take a look at what they could find.
They begin looking through the aisles, pillaging what they could from the store that was left behind. Batteries, snacks if they could find any, a map, some magazines. She was quite concentrated on the task at hand. [+blue “How did you know that Scab wasn't alone?”] But Ben seemed to like breaking that concentration. She turns and gives him a hard look and scowl. At least he was speaking quieter now. [+blue “Right, right. Your famous 'never be alone; never assume they're alone' rule.”] She turns back to the mostly empty shelves expecting Ben to do the same, but he was lingering. [+blue “You know, that's the most you've ever spoken to me before; those three words. Sorry if I keep talking, I'm just surprised.”] Lana was a woman of few words and liked to keep it that way. She's been used to the silence for a while now, and being with chatty comrades grated on her nerves. She preferred the quiet and reserved ones, like John, Samantha, or Henry. Efficient people.
It seemed that Ben took her silence as his queue to get back to work and scavenge. It didn't last very long since this place had already been nearly picked clean, but they found a few odds and ends. A few moments later they were looking at the map, Ben motioning to a residential area. [+blue “We need more blankets and jackets.”] He said, Lana pleased he was on topic. [+blue “Most people don't grab them or they take few. Linen closets are always still stacked whenever we look, so we probably can get some towels too, and if we're lucky; dryer sheets and detergent.”]
[b “I like this version of you better.”] Lana says, packing up the map and placing it in to one of the pouches that hung from her belt. She took his questioning look as the question itself. [b “Efficient.”] She comments and then motions for them to leave the store. It appeared that Scabs weren't particularly concentrated in this area, so they moved quickly through the streets, killing very few with their machetes, and to the suburbs.
Once they closed in, Lana held up her hand and the two of them stopped, the woman taking the rifle from her back and looking through its scope at one of the houses. Out front was a woman, she banged on the door and took a moment before going inside the house. [i Smart.] She thought to herself, and kept watch of the windows through the scope for a seconds. She was alone, and judging by her appearance, she was surviving by the strictest dictionary definition.
[+blue “What are we going to do?”] Ben asked, and Lana handed him the rifle and unclipped his pistol holster and put it on her belt. She was going to go say 'hello'. Usually coming in to contact with other survivors was a nightmare waiting to happen, but when they were lone survivors they tended to be a lot less dangerous. They weren't bandits or people hunters, just fellow human-beings trying to survive. [+blue “I guess I'm keeping look out..”]
And Lana quickly came out from cover, moving between cars silently, her centre of mass lower to the ground, dampening her steps as she came upon the house. She presses her back against the outside of the door, her hand on the pistol in the holster. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement on the street, but quickly moved inside. The floors were sturdy, but she kept close to the walls to avoid making any sounds, following the slight ruffling noises of drawers and material. Lana kept on the outside of the room the woman was in. [b “Psst!”] She was loud enough and close enough to get her attention. And quickly moved in to the doorway to reveal herself. Her pistol was up, but she wasn't aiming it directly at the woman, had it there mostly as a formality and to make it clear she [i would] shoot if she had to. [b “Are you bitten?”] Not that she would tell her if she was, because Lana would just shoot her. But it was a good way to establish a rapport. She tried to seem non-threatening, but also just threatening [i enough]. [b “Where did you come from?”]
Ben sat back on a car that sandwiched itself between two alleyways, and he watched the house from several metres away. He didn't need the scope to do it, and he didn't want to, and it wasn't because he was a shit shot with a rifle. A scope cut ff his peripheral vision and a Scab could sneak up on him and rip his face off. So instead, he just eye-balled the house as Lana went in.
Although it would seem that the two women weren't alone for very much longer. Coming up the same street, Ben saw another figure and quickly put the scope to his eye to see if it was one of the Scabs. He was pleasantly surprised to see that it was another survivor, another girl. Apparently today was their lucky day with survivors. Usually they would avoid other survivors if they were in a group of three or more, because that usually meant they were a part of a larger group, which tended to be more dangerous. But these two seemed to be going at it solo.
She was eyeing the house Lana and the other woman went to, and Ben knew she had to stop her. If she went in and surprised Lana, she would definitely be killed. He's heard some stories of people who have partnered up with Lana, and then came up behind her after she told them to stay put. Those combat reflexes, man. He was pretty sure John came back with a broken nose once.
Either way, it was probably a good idea to introduce himself, so they didn't unnecessarily kill another person surviving, and so they could perhaps gain another ally. The more people they knew, the more they themselves would know. Maybe they would be lucky enough and these people would be locals! He makes his way up the street cautiously, still aware that there could be danger lurking about, but he still made sure he was a little bit noticeable so he didn't surprise the girl and end up getting shot anyways.
[+blue “Hey, you!”] Ben whisper-yells when he gets close enough. He held the rifle to the side to symbolize he was meant no harm. [+blue “Are you a good guy? Are you hurt?”] He asks her, now taking very cautious and slow steps towards her.
However, things take a turn when a low grumble is heard down the street. He knew the noise, and it didn't come from just a few Scabs, but a whole lot of them. [+blue “Shit!”] He curses, and then looks around them at the area, suddenly flustered and overwhelmed. [+blue “What the fuck do we do?”]
Rachel pulled her coat tight around her, the wind chill cutting through and making her skin prickle with goosebumps. The streets were quiet and empty, and she felt strangely calm as she crouched in the shadow of a side alley ,rummaging as quietly as she could through her tattered backpack for the scraps of food she had squirrelled away.
The dead seemed sparse in this area and she was going to make the most of it. She'd considered going into one of the houses for more cover, and she'd certainly be hunting for anything useful in them later, but often the dead lurked in old homes, people turned and trapped in, rotting and waiting. It was harder to fight one in a tight space.
She still sat on high alert though, earlier she thought she'd caught a glimpse of someone on the horizon, another human looking to survive, and in Rachel's experience the humans were often worse then the undead when they were desperate.
She pulled a chocolate bar from her bag, stomach twisting from hunger, and nibbled a few chunks, before carefully wrapping the end and putting it away. It wasn't much, and it wasn't great nutrition either, but it was quick energy, and that was something.
Zipping the bag with nimble fingers - she'd long cut off the ends of her gloves to keep her hands more agile - she poked her head out of her half hiding space, dark hair framing her pale face as she looked out into the street, seemingly, still alone. Time to look for supplies.
Although as she scanned the houses, moving along looking for something interesting an open door caught her eye. She wondered if it was recent, or if it'd been opened weeks ago, or had been since the house had been abandoned.
Cold. It was not just a word to describe the temperature of one's skin or the way the wind felt as it danced upon the bodies of those still human enough to feel the horrifying shudder of coldness. The world itself had grown cold and cruel in its ways and so had the people who still resided upon the harsh planet we once called home. There were not many left amongst the living and those who had survived had done so because they had to be ruthless and keep their survival instinct at the forefront of any decision.
That is why Sara was alone. Being in a group made it harder to survive and made them easier to find by the roaming undead who happened to sense the living by their scent. There seemed to be nothing more attractive to them than the sweet scent that a beating heart could exude.
The woman roamed the empty streets finding that most of the undead has moved on from this particular area but she kept her knife where she could access it easily if she happened upon any stragglers. There was nothing smart about the dead. No calculation; no skills; just pure hunger. A hunger which Sara was only too familiar with at this moment in time. Perhaps that is why she was more sensitive to the bitter bite of the wind against her skin as she pressed in against it. Her arms were bare from where she had ripped off her sleeves to treat a wound on her stomach and her jeans had been torn during the same incident but still she would keep going until she found a house or a shop that might offer her some protection against the weather. She wouldn't stay for long, in fact she wouldn't stay at all. Sara would take what she needed to survive and keep moving because staying put could get you killed in this world. Sara needed to find something to protect her against the harsh environment that she had found herself wondering in and although she the weapons to protect her from the dead she did not have the necessary clothing to protect her from the cold.
The streets were desolate and had once been, full of those not fully understanding the danger that surrounded them every day and those who pretended not to see things to keep themselves safe, or what they believed to be safe. The truth was, in a world forever populating and rapid social change coming about every so often, no one would ever be truly safe. There would always be violence and decay on the streets. Bustles of busy humans going about their everyday lives never really understanding how much of a blur their life had become. They never really knew how dangerous the world would have become back then, in their careless world. It was different now people had to be aware of the danger and had to protect themselves from it. There were no police, there was no law and order in a world where the dead ruled; they didn’t understand anything or even have any kind of consciousness.
The streets: the place where not many felt safe but a place where Sara used to work and because of this she knew them well. She used to be a cop and that helped with her use of weapons but it meant nothing in the world that she had come to know but she had survived because of it. The houses that lined this street had long been abandoned and she assumed that there wouldn’t be many left that hadn’t been turned upside down to find any supplies, but she knew that people never really took the clothes. Sometimes they would change what they wore, but people couldn’t waste room in their bags on the clothes so she looked at the homes and chose one. She took the knife out of her pants and held it in front of her as she approached the chosen building and ensured that she was careful to keep the weapon in a position that would protect her if she would need to use it. She banged on the door and waited before entering fully. The noise would have attracted the dead and within a couple of minutes she decided that it was now safe enough to enter. By now the dead would have made their way towards the sound that is unless they were busy enjoying a meal and because of that Sara did not yet put her weapon away. The stairs were directly in front of her as she walked through the door and she moved carefully towards them.
There was not much to salvage from this house but she did find a jacket that cold conceal her from the cold air that threatened to perhaps render her weaker to defend herself from the dead that could potentially take her from this world.
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