Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nuclear Thanksgiving Part III

Nuclear Thanksgiving Part III

Julia collapsed in the middle of the pathway in grief, unable to continue. She sobbed uncontrollably. Misty and I knelt down next to her.

"Please, Julia, we've got to keep moving," said Misty softly, stroking her back.

"Rod's gone," she bawled.

"Come on," I said, looking around, "it's not safe here."

Ellie knelt down. "Have you guys never been in combat before? Let me talk to her. You keep guard."

We stood up and surveyed the area. We were just at the end of the path, in a corner with no exits if zombies attacked.

"Julia, Rod was a very brave man," said Ellie. "He sacrificed himself for you. He did it so you could keep up the fight, because he knew you have the strength to do it. If Rod were with us right now, what would he say to you?"

Julia sniffed and rubbed her knees. "I don't know."

"What would he want us to do?"

"He'd, he'd--" she gasped a few times, her breathing ragged. "He'd want us to kill Queen Carrie," she said finally, looking up at Ellie.

"What about you? What do you want?"

Julia scratched the ground with one hand, picking up some fallen leaves and throwing them. "I--I want her dead. I want everyone on that ship dead!"

A grim smile flooded Ellie's face. "And we're killers, right? We're here to kill. Nothing else. We will avenge Rod's death. At all costs."

Julia started nodding, a determined look grew on her visage. "Yes. Kill. Or be killed."

"We kill our enemies without mercy or hesitation," continued Ellie. "As long as there's an ounce of life in our bodies we continue the fight. We're warriors, and the world will tremble beneath our fists."

Julia made two fists with her hands and rose to her feet. "Yes. No mercy, no prisoners. All our enemies will die. Their screams of death will be our sweetest music."

Ellie stood up with her, smiling. "I think she's good now."

"Splendid," mumbled Misty, shaking her head.

We crossed back over to Thames Street, only encountering the occasional zombie. After a few minutes, a new sound filled the air. The zombie growls and hisses began transforming in cries and wailing. One zombie appeared, a man with useless crumpled arms at his side, his body covered with blood. He walked a bit, then stopped at a corpse.

"Mary," he cried, trying to manipulate his broken arms, "what have I done? Argh!" He flopped down next to the corpse. As we passed, he wailed, "please, help me, we've been in a wreck or something. My wife is all torn up, I don't think she's breathing! Please! Hey!"

We kept moving. More and more of the zombies began waking up from their nightmare, begging us for help, crying for the dead. From a distance, we began hearing the wail of sirens fill the night as ambulances from outlying areas descended on the city. A helicopter floated by, shining a light on various streets. In the distance, I spotted the remains of the Tower Bridge. "Come on, just a couple blocks now."

We came upon the Tower of London, an ancient and majestic site the held England's prized Crown Jewels. Underneath the approach to the Tower Bridge we spotted a group of people, and proceeded slowly. We breathed a great sigh of relief to find the Chinese and British operatives gathering, checking their supplies. Considerably fewer made it than had set out, the zombies had taken a toll among these men as well. They led us over to a corner where we found Cmdr. Jeffries and General Tam sitting on the ground. Jeffries' head was bandaged, and Tam's arm was in a sling.

"God, I thought we'd lost you," said the Commander. "We barely survived ourselves. Bloody zombies. Where's Portman?"

"He didn't make it," said Misty. "But he died a true British hero. He sacrificed himself so we could go on."

The men distributed some energy bars and bottles of water. I walked over to the side, and peered out over the River Thames. A short distance away sat the Queen Carrie 1, with no lights or activity, a small column of steam rising from the cooling towers. That meant the Matrix was still too hot to enter.

"We have some time," I told the officers. "Maybe an hour. Then they might be able to fire it again safely. But they might be able to set it off at any time, so it's best that we move fast."

"We've got to disable it, at least the controls," said Ellie. We huddled around a laptop with a schematic of the ship.

"If we could get back to the power junction here, we could do it," I noted, pointing to the sabotaged room. "You know, where you blew the power that day."

"I didn't do that," said Ellie. "I've been up in those rafters the whole time, except to occasionally steal food. I was as surprised as anyone when that happened. Maybe it really was an accident, or one of the pirates was making a power play."

Cmdr Jeffries spoke. "Then let's get you aboard. You'll have ten minutes to disable it, then the main assault begins, whether it's down or not. You've got five minutes to prepare. Good luck."

Ellie led us over to a small tent they had erected. "You stay out here, and get this suit on. They'll help you."

A Chinese officer assisted me in donning a black wetsuit. I had never worn a scuba outfit before. He placed the snorkel and regulator on my head, and strapped the tanks and a pack full of weapons to my back. I practiced breathing for a minute. The ladies emerged from the tent, similarly garbed. Julia seemed to struggle with the weight.

"There's fifteen minutes of air in there," they said. They led us down to the water, and placed big flippers on our feet.

Julia hesitated at the edge, fearful of the black water.

"It's okay, Julia," said Ellie. "You're a warrior. You can fight this. Just breath nice and easy." She splashed some water on the girl. "See? You can't even feel it."

Julia dipped one foot and than another into the water. We walked out until our heads submerged. Julia breathed quickly and thrashed for a second, but Ellie helped her relax. We started swimming towards the boat, guided by a directional watch on Ellie's arm. I could barely see Misty next to me in the murky water. We all held hands, forming a line. We popped up near the bow of the ship. A few ropes dangled down from above.

"We shot these ropes over the ship a couple hours ago," explained Ellie. "They're anchored over by the dock." She pulled out her pack, and removed a few metal items which she placed on the rope. One by one she fastened us to the ropes, then spoke into a device on her wrist. The ropes tightened, and slowly we rose out of the water. We hung like fish on hooks for a while.

"We've shot out every camera we could spot on the deck," explained Ellie, "but they may had replaced them or put guards up there. Doing great, Julia. A true warrior."

The rope slowed as we reached the deck. Ellie produced a night-vision telescope with a bending sight to look around corners. She studied the deck for a minute. "All clear," she said. The rope yanked us the final ten feet and plopped us onto the deck.

"We have ten minutes from now," said Ellie, clicking a button on her wrist. We quickly removed the scuba gear. Now I see why the women dressed in a tent, we all only wore underwear underneath our suits. Misty pulled out some black jumpsuits from her back. We donned them quickly, then attired ourselves with weapons. Julia pulled out the vest Ellie had provided her, the only one of us with any kind of protection. It felt good to have a shotgun strapped my back again. Ellie applied dark pigment to our faces so we couldn't be easily spotted.

We ran down the length of the deck, huddling low and keeping to the darkest areas. We discovered our designated hatch. I pulled it open while Ellie held her weapon, but the hatch lay unguarded. "I don't like this," said Ellie.

We proceeded along gangplanks and walkways, not encountering any Pirates. "Five minutes," whispered Ellie as we approached the power station. Ellie used her scope to look around the corner. She produced a small package of darts and a blow tube. A couple puffs later, and the guards fell to the ground, constricting in a painful rictus as the nerve toxin coursed through their system. We stepped over them as they spasmed. We entered the control room, and I jumped over to a console.

"Okay," I said, "I can pull up internal security footage."

"Let's blow the lights at T-minus-ten seconds," said Ellie. I pulled up a view of the Palace. Carrie addressed the Pirate crew, and I turned up the speaker so all could here.

"This night will mark a new era in the history of Mankind," she declared. "We have destroyed the City of London. Their defenses have proven useless against us. As we speak, they sit in fearful masses, counting their dead and broken. The entire United Kingdom is on her knees, begging for mercy. We will show her none. We will first collect the treasures of the Tower of London, then we will raid museums, historical archives, and the local banks until all the treasures of England are ours. Nothing can stop us."

Xyllan came over and whispered in her ear. "In ten minutes we'll be able to fire the Matrix again, destroying any stragglers or idiotic commando units in the area. Then we pillage. I want to see fires! I want flames! I want the world to never forget this night. This city will burn when we're done. Now get yourselves ready. London is ours!"

The men cheered, brandishing weapons and holding up bottles of liquor. The four of us checked our weapons. Ellie counted down from five. "...three, two, one, hit it."

I flipped over the switches to power down the boat, leaving just the power for the Matrix containment field. In a moment, the floor of room shook, followed by a muted concussion. Ellie's team had blown holes in the sides of the boat and poured into the ship. We put on night-vision goggles and I led the team back towards the bow, to reunite with Ellie's team.

As we approached the cabin section, we started hearing the echoes of gunfire, sporadic bursts of noise. Ellie listened to a headset. "They're pinned down, let's go."

We quickened our pace, running through the pitch-black corridors. The floor seemed a bit slanted. "Ellie, are we sinking? That's not good."

"Just the bow," she said. "The Matrix should be safe. The ship won't sink far."

"Great." We arrived at the scene of the fighting. We had no armor, just the thin jumpsuits. Ellie peered around the corner with her scope. She withdrew her rifle, then blazed away around the corridor. The gunfire ceased.

She led us over the corpses and we met up with her unit which she talked to in Chinese. They led us over to the Palace door, which they lined with explosives.

Ellie pushed us back. "Fire in the hole!" came the order, and a huge concussion knocked us off our feet. In moments, the ship filled with noise as Ellie's team charged through the breach in the wall. They had knocked a hole ten feet wide in the solid lead wall of the Palace.

Tracers whizzed everywhere and I saw her team get cut down like weeds. Then a number of them fired grenades into the Palace, and the whole room lit up like the Fourth of July, raining shrapnel and carnage down everywhere. The rest of her team charged through, and Ellie waved us along. We slid down over to the kitchen area, while Ellie's team fought inch by inch against the Pirates.

I pointed along the Palace floor. "Look," I cried. Two hatches had opened, allowing the Pirates to flee. Among them went Ellie and Xyllan.

"After Carrie," ordered Ellie, instructing her team to cover us. Fires spread throughout the Palace, lighting it up in a deadly glow and filling the room with smoke. Some Pirates still put up resistance, but by and large most of them surrendered. Ellie's team began chasing the men escaping towards the stern.

We crawled over the debris, and reached the doorway. A guard stood just beyond it and fired at us. Ellie threw a knife at him and he fell with the knife cutting through his neck. Ellie yanked it out and wiped it off.

We moved slowly through the corridors of the cabin section, wary of any traps. A set of emergency lights lit the area, so we could remove our cumbersome goggles. Ellie picked off a couple more guards. We crept through the halls, weapons drawn. We had traversed one floor of cabins and started down the next. We hadn't gone very far when I heard a yelp behind me.

"Drop your weapons," screamed Xyllan, holding Julia in front of him in a bear hug. She struggled against him as he held a giant paw against her face. "Now! Or I'll wring her little neck and rape her corpse."

Ellie nodded at us. We disarmed, throwing our rifles, pistols, and knives on the ground.

"Throw them in there, then lock the door from the inside and close it." We complied, pushing them into a cabin and locking the weapons out of reach.

"You're so tough with a little girl," said Ellie, pushing Misty and I behind her. "You think you can take on a real woman?"

Xyllan laughed deeply. "You four have been nothing but trouble since you first came aboard. I should have killed you when I first saw you. Now I'll finish the job." He slammed poor Julia against the wall with both hands, and she dropped motionless on the floor like a rag doll.

Misty screamed but I held her back. Ellie crouched like a tiger, and Xyllan stepped over Julia's body, beckoning to Ellie.

A low growl purred from Ellie's throat. She sprang, slamming her hands into his throat, pounding her elbows into his ribs. Xyllan picked her up by the throat and threw her to land heavily at our feet. He chuckled a bit and rubbed his neck. "That's all you got?"

Ellie rose, looking up at us, rage contorting her face. Her hair had broken free, pouring down her face, dripping with perspiration. She flung herself at the man, who caught her, slamming her into the wall, punching her face with his fist, then throwing her gut into his knee. Ellie fell to the ground, writhing in pain, clutching her abdomen.

"God, Alex," breathed Misty, clutching me. Ellie started crawling towards us, but the giant landed on her back, driving an elbow into her kidneys. Ellie howled with pain. He flipped her over, and slammed her face with his fist until blood flowed from her mouth and nose.

"Get off her," I cried, jumping after him. He caught me by the neck, and threw a knee into my gut. He tossed me down the hall, gasping for air.

"You want some," he shouted at Misty, who shrank and shook her head.

With one hand he ripped away Ellie's jumpsuit. "Now I'll make her a real woman." Ellie fought weakly, whimpering in pain. "First I will break this bitch once and for all. Then I will rape the little girl, ripping her insides apart, then you can watch me take your whore, Ross. Then I will tear you apart limb by limb until you beg for your death. Or maybe I'll just rip off your dick and let you live, unable to perform again. You'll never forget this moment as long as you live."

We heard a small pop, and Xyllan's face grew blank. He swayed, then fell directly on top of Ellie. Behind him stood Julia, the small pistol Ellie gave her in her hand.

"No mercy, no prisoners," she said, blood soaking her head from a cut on her scalp. A wisp of smoke seeped out of the barrel of the weapon. Blood poured out of the hole in Xyllan's head.

Misty and I sprang over, and pushed with all our strength to roll the dead man off of Ellie. We helped her sit up. She pulled a tooth out of her mouth. "Dammit, not another one." She looked at the dead man, and rage filled her eyes. "Aaah!" She began beating on the corpse like a zombie, pounding it with her fists and kicking him with her feet. Her breath grew ragged and raw. She screamed Russian epithets at him.

Finally spent, she turned to Julia, who still held the gun. Julia extended a bloody hand to the girl, and embraced her. "Warriors to the end," she told her.

"Warriors to the end," repeated the girl. "No mercy, no prisoners."

Ellie rose to her feet, blood flowing down her face. She held her ribs in pain, possibly suffering from a few cracked bones. "And you guys didn't want to bring her. She's a fighter, through and through. Come on, let's bust down this door and get our weapons back. We've got a war to finish. There's a bitch on this boat who still needs to die."

Posted: Saturday, November 29, 2008 @ 12:30 PM

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