The Fortunate Few

May 21, 2009
By Joe Appler SILVER, Centerville, Iowa
Joe Appler SILVER, Centerville, Iowa
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Night covered the metropolitan city know as Fortuna. The streets were deathly still and quiet. Nothing stirred. Nothing at all. Cars, abandoned to rust, sat were they had stopped. Some crashed into buildings, while others were simply sat in the middle of the road. Items of all sorts lay scattered about, forgotten, left to rot. Fires burned in trash cans, lighting the streets for those who traveled them. Writing on walls pointed towards safe areas, and others expressed statements of fear and panic. Mist and fog swelled from the sewers obscuring the vision of the alleyways. All was calm, and deathly quiet.

The soft thud of people running echoed in the silence. Heavy breathing attracted the ears of sleeping beasts, but did little to stir them. Breaking through a misty alleyway came the figures of people running. Their clothing was ragged, torn, and soiled. Some were wrapped in bandages, while others carried thick pipes or guns. They were all different, yet all had the same mindset. Survival. Nothing more, nothing less. These people had survived for days since the outbreak, and would continue to do so for as long as they could. Their structured lives were destroyed when the first infected lost all control, and hell incarnate was released. Now they lived day by day, not knowing if they would live or die.

One of the men at the front of the group raised his hand and called for a brief break. The group settled down, some stretching their tired muscles, others shaking uncontrollably with fear, while others stared off into the distance, watching for something. Dutch Freeman was part of this group of survivors. He had been one of the first people in the group, and he thought that it was his duty to make sure everyone was safe. He had been a simple office worker when the outbreak started, and somehow had made it this far. As he walked trough the group, he stopped and leaned in close to the leader of the group. He was an old timer, a Vietnam Vet. His thinning grey hair poked out from underneath the trucker cap he wore, while his aging hands rested on an old double barrel shotgun.
“Old man, you think we’ll be able to make it to St. David’s by morning?”
“Well Dutch, I don’t know. If we don’t run into any of the infected we might, then again, we might not.” The old man’s voice was shallow and raspy. His flannel shirt was torn, and bloodstain, but not with his blood. He stared passively down the quiet street, his eyes lost in the clouds. Dutch tried to follow his gaze, but a simple sound broke his train of thought. It was the scrapping of claws, and the gentle purr of a feral beast. Dutch’s eyes bolted to and fro, looking for the source of the sound. Finally, he saw it. The glowing red eyes stood out from the dark background of a broken storefront. Glass cracked as the creature moved forward. Dutch’s heart raced, he tried to call out, but he couldn’t. So this is how I die? As the creature drew closer to the street, Dutch said a small prayer. He heard the soft growl, and breaking of pavement as the creature jumped. He closed his eyes, and accepted death.
A loud bang echoed through the quiet streets. Dutch’s ears ringed from the sound, but he could make out a single raspy yell.
He opened his eyes, and saw the large, clawed hand swinging toward him. The impact broke most of his bones, and he was sent flying. The impact with the ground broke the rest of his body. His vision weaved in and out, but he could see some members of the group running away, others standing and fighting a hopeless fight, and the old man’s shotgun spitting light as fast as it could. And he could see the monstrosity that was a reaver. The large, truck-sized body, the large spines covering its back. The clawed hands that could level walls with ease, but mostly, he could see the large fang covered mouth, and the glowing red eyes. The body was shaped like a human’s, but mutated beyond recognition. That was a reaver, just one of the infected. As Dutch’s vision finally grew darker and darker, he heard the faint crunch of booted feet walking. A set of dark black boots entered his field of vision, and with his dying breath, he pleaded for a savior. A voice that was cold as ice answered back.
“Just sleep. It will all be over soon.”

“S***!” The old man swore out loud as he unloaded the last of his shells into the reaver. The barrel of the shotgun was burning to the touch, and smoke billowed from the end. Bodies were scattered around him, and the reaver was still going full throttle. Bloody holes covered its body, but the beast was barely shaken. What survivors left standing were few, and all were low on ammo. The old man watched as the razor sharp claws of the reaver cut down two more people, and knew it was hopeless to kill it. He grabbed a pistol off one of the dead bodies lying around, and yelled for everyone to run. Some heard him, and fled immediately, while others continued to fight only to be cut down. I’ve got to make it focus on me, and let the others escape. He opened fire, and the reaver reared its ugly head. It pounced, and the concrete broke as it landed in front of him. The stench of blood overpowered the old man’s nose, and as he leveled the pistol at the reaver’s head, a simple click echoed through his mind.
“S***. I’m out.” As the words left his mouth, he felt a burning sensation in his abdomen, and then it was gone. His eyes started to bleed, and he coughed into his hands. Blood covered them. The old man could see the claws that impaled him, and he knew his spine was broken. As the claws withdrew from his body, he fell to the ground with a thump. As his life drained away from him, he looked in the direction the reaver had come from to begin with. I should have known it was there. Why didn’t I? But before he could answer those questions, his eyes widened. Standing in the middle of the street was a figure cloaked in black.
“What the hell?”

The cloaked figure raised his hand to his ear. “We all set?”
Static, and then a giggling high-pitched voice replied. “Me and Momo all ready!”
“Same here boss,” replied a gruff voice.
“Alright guys. Let’s move out. I’ll get its attention, and you guys hit it while its distracted.”
A clamor of voices rang into the figure’s earpiece. “YES BOSS!!”
The figure dropped his hand, and a sharp wind whistled through the area. The figure’s cloak blew back, and his features were revealed. Shaggy silver hair covered the top of the man’s head, which contrasted the sharp azule eyes. The man’s body was one of an athlete. Fingerless black gloves gripped the toothpick in his mouth. He threw open his cloak, and a smile burst across his face. A black combat vest covered his chest, while black metal bands covered the length of his forearms. Black fatigue pants and combat boots covered the rest of his body.
“Hey you piece of s***! Come and get it!”
The reaver turned and pounced towards the man. The man side stepped causally, and the reaver landed directly in front of him, breaking the concrete. The reaver’s clawed hand swung with blind furry towards the man’s head, but the man ducked at the last moment. The reaver continued its relentless attack, but the man dodged at the last possible second every time. A smile broke across the man’s face and laughter erupted.
“What? Can’t catch me?”
Static hissed in the man’s earpiece. A gruff voice broke through the static.
“Sir, I know you’re having fun, but I would like to kill this thing while I’m still awake.”
“Fun hater,” replied the man. The reaver jabbed its left hand towards the man’s face, but met air. The soft thump of boots echoed as the man landed softly on the concrete behind the reaver. The man held a highly ornamented sword. The crystal embedded in the golden hilt glittered in the moonlight, while the burnished steel blade was drenched in a sickly, black blood. The man flicked the blade, blood droplets floating in the wind for just a moment. As he did, a tidal wave of black blood burst into the air, and the reaver’s arms fell to the ground with a thump.
Before the reaver could cry out in pain, shots rung out. Heavy caliber rounds punched into the reaver, spinning its head side to side. As the gunshots echoed into the distance, a loud crash followed as the reaver slammed into the ground. The man walked forward, and leaned against a nearby streetlamp. Other cloaked figures appeared on the rooftops. Each one jumped to the ground, and jogged over to the man. The shortest of the figures sprinted ahead of the rest, and dove for the man. The figure crashed into the man, tackling him to the ground. The hood fell back, and blonde pigtails popped out from underneath it. Big blue eyes glared at the man, while thin red lips pouted.
“Gladius, you big meany. You held back while that thingy killed all of those other people.”
“Sorry Kyrie, I had too. We weren’t ready yet. If I had, things could have gone wrong.” The man set his hand on the top of the young girl’s head, and smiled. “So, don’t worry. Got it?”
“We still have too much to be worrying about for you two to discuss the morality of our operation.”
An ice-cold voice broke both their thoughts. A tall muscular man walked forward, and lifted Kyrie and set her off to one side. He then helped Gladius to his feet, and withdrew his hood. The man’s face was held in a stern expression, and his black hair was in a short buzz cut. His black eyes stared straight ahead, piercing through whomever’s soul he was looking at.
“Well, judging from the casualties and the number that was reported in by Headquarters, it’s safe to assume half have safely escaped. We’ll have the White Eye squad hunt them down. Now, let’s move out and let the other squads clean up, sir.”
“Not so fast, Mokuto!” A booming strong voice yelled. “Not until you apologize to Kyrie! I will not have you just shoving her off to one side!”
The largest member of the group threw back his hood and rushed forward. His black skin seemed to absorb the darkness around him, as his pearly whites shone as he yelled. Sweat covered the top of his bald head. His eyes glared at Mokuto.
“Mombasa! You sound worse than a screecher does after a crazy night in Fortuna’s red light district!”
The final cloaked figure stepped forward. Raven hair flowed out from her hood, and as she drew it back, pale skin shone in the night. Clear eyes glared at Mombasa as her tongue licked her blood red lips. A soft, heavenly voice fell from her mouth as she spoke. “So be quiet, or I’ll show you what it means to anger a lady of the night.”
“Alright Aeris, I will. Sorry. Are you alright Kyrie?”
“Yeah Momo, I’m good.”
A smile spread across Gladius’ face. As he watched the friendly bickering continue, he knew why they were the best squadron headquarters could offer. They could take down multiple reavers and any other infected with ease. They had trained so much, they were closer than family. Tears formed in the corners of Gladius’ eyes. They were the only family he had left. Gladius felt arms around his waist, and the warmth of another’s body pressed close. The soft raven hair brushed his cheek, smelling of lilies.
“What’s the matter, Gladius?”
“Yeah boss, what’s the matter?” called Mombasa.
Gladius blinked, and wiped away the tears. He saw that all eyes were on him, and blushed in embarrassment.
“Sorry, just thinking about the past. Don’t worry. Anyway, let’s get out of here before other infected show up. I’m sure all of this noise has awakened some of the bigger infected.”
Everyone nodded in agreement and went off to gather their things. Save Aeris. She looked deep in his eyes, and Gladius tried his best to break away from her gaze.
“You were thinking about your family, weren’t you.”
“So what if I was?”
“I’m sure they’re still out there somewhere.”
“But… it’s been three years since the outbreak, and things aren’t even close to getting better. The infected are getting stronger, and there are more of them. Those unlucky people left in the quarantined areas are slowly dying from lack of utilities, not to mention being hunted relentlessly by the infected.”
“That may be true, but like everything else that’s happened to humans, we will prevail. That’s just who we are. So don’t think to much about…”
Before Aeris could finish, a shrill screech pierced through the night. The pounding of running feet followed growing louder and closer with every second. Mokuto came running up to Gladius and Aeris, his stern gaze softened by fear.
“Sir, we’ve got contacts. And from the sounds, lots of them. Headquarters said that they’re all infected.”
“Really, I couldn’t tell. What else did they say?”
“Well, they said an assault copter is on its way for evac. And that we need to hold out till then.”
Gladius closed his eyes and tried to think of what to do. His mind raced to the steady increased beating of feet and the muttering of his team. A smile broke across his face, and he could feel the satisfaction of some of his team. As he opened his eyes, he could see the shadows caused by the fires getting bigger and bigger. Time for a little fun.
“Guys, we’re going to have some fun. I’ll let you go all out for this one.”
Mombasa, and Kyrie grinned from ear to ear. Gladius laughed at this and drew his sword. The burnished steel and the crystal embedded golden hilt glowed in the moon and firelight. Each member pulled out his or her weapon of choice. Mombasa leveled his large battle-axe, and as the first of the infected came into view, let out a savage battle cry. His muscles burst to life, and he sped towards the oncoming hoard. He swung his axe with deadly force, cleaving three clear in half. Kyrie followed him, a M-60 light machine gun slung across her back. She jumped, and pushed off Mombasa, beaming from ear to ear. She floated in the air above the infected, and leveled her gun with the ground. She pulled the trigger, and bullets filled the space below her. Infected exploded in the hail of bullets, blood filling the air. Kyrie flipped as she hit the ground, and Mombasa cleaved the nearest infected to her in half. He stood back to back with her, both grinning like hellions.
“Momo, this is the most fun I’ve had in a while. Let’s kill all of them!”
Mombasa nodded in agreement and the two continued their bloody dance. Mokuto was with them by then, his twin pistols barking fire. His barrage let up only for the slightest of seconds when he reloaded with ungodly speed. Aeris’ blades danced on their strings as she spun them around, slicing everything they hit with ease. She moved with an unrealistic grace, blood splashed upon her porcelain skin. Gladius watched as his teammates danced with the infected to their hellish beats. Gladius twirled his sword, and took off at a run. Time to join the fun. As he reached the edge of the infected mob, Gladius swung his blade with deadly precision. Flesh and blood rendered useless against the razor sharp edge of his sword. Blood was thrown through the air with each cut, dying his black clothes scarlet. His silver hair danced back and forth, glowing alongside his blade. A ghastly smile played across his face. I wonder what we look like to them. We must be like demons. Then he felt the piercing of his flesh. He bellowed in anger, and threw the infected off him. He saw the rest of his team cut and bloodied, some of it their own blood. Damn it, where is our back up?
The steady thump of helicopter blades rattled through the air. Gladius looked to the slowly dawning sky, and an attack helicopter screamed overhead.
“Everyone fall back! The cavalry’s here!”
Gladius, along with everyone else, fell back to a safe distance. The mag gun on the helicopter leveled, and flashes danced at the end of the barrel. A steady continuous boom echoed with each shot, and any ground with infected exploded in cement dust. After awhile, it was silent. The helicopter hovered for a moment, then slowly landed. Before it touched down, two men in combat armor jumped to the ground. They walked forward, but slowed to a stop upon seeing the wounds his team had taken. Gladius walked forward, sword sheathed. However, as he did, the two men leveled their guns.
“Hold it right there. You’ve been infected.”
Gladius stopped, and anger flashed across his face.
“What do you mean infected?! We need evac!”
“Sorry, but we’re under strict orders to take out any infected.”
Before Gladius could open his mouth, the two men opened fire. Gladius was felt a burning sensation in his stomach and fell to the ground. His vision dimmed, but he could still hear the cries of death from his team, no his friends. Why, why did this happen? He felt a boot kick him onto his back, and his eyes met the barrel of a pistol.
“What? Shoot me in the head and make sure I am dead? Is that it?”
The soldier shook his head, and sadness was visible in his eyes.
“Sorry sir, nothing personal. If we didn’t, you’d just come back.”
“Whatever. I hope you’re in my position some day.”
Gladius coughed, and blood ran from his mouth. His eyes closed, but his last thought was one of pure anger. We could have been saved and not butchered like lambs. The last thing he heard was the bang of the pistol.

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