ZPAW

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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223shootersc
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Re: ZPAW

Post by 223shootersc » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:17 pm

thanks for the new chapter, good stuff

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Raptor 6 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:02 pm

Its about time. I thought this one had died
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Re: ZPAW

Post by Laager » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:21 am

Another great chapter!
“Complacency kills. Paranoia is the reason I’m still alive.” If we do happen to make contact, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of ya.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Cold and dead » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:53 am

man I cant wait for the next upload, noticed a few typos you might want to fix before your final draft.
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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:59 am

Cold and dead wrote:man I cant wait for the next upload, noticed a few typos you might want to fix before your final draft.
Thanks! Yeah, I make lots of typos, but the reason they make it here is because I absolutely HATE proof-reading just after writing my stuff. I like to wait a while. However, I like posting it right away, so I pretty much just write it and throw it on here and edit the typos later.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:30 am

CHAPTER 13

That stench, that overpowering stench, made the vomit finally spurt form Parker's tightly closed lips. Even with the hot acidic substance dripping down his chin, he knew he could not move or the passing undead would identify him. He watched through wide-open, terror-struck eyes as more than a score of corpses ran, walked, crawled past him, no more than ten feet away from him. They all moved north, all groaning and screaming, chasing after Reuben and the Scouts. He could not even decipher his own thoughts; there were too many thoughts occurring too quickly. But as he looked at each walker, unable to keep from inspecting and memorizing their faces, he did see one thought very clearly; he pictured the undead spotting him, turning and attacking, leaving him too mired by the corpses on top of him to effectively fight back. He could almost feel the monsters ripping into him, consuming chunks of him, as he struggled to fight them off. The weariness he felt was made murky by the fear and adrenaline, but he was not unaware of it.

Parker's eyes shot open, and he took in a gasp of crisp air, suddenly staring at a white ceiling. He was laying on his back, and could hear voices around him. Alarmed, he quickly lifted his head, seeing the vaguely familiar walls of the medical facility around him. There were people around him he did not recognize, many wearing white coats. He was not the only person laid on a cot; he was surrounded by others, some moaning and squirming, some still and silent. Memories of the firefight in the cellar flooded back to him, and he realized that the scene he had just witnessed was only a nightmare, a flashback of just how close his call was that day.

A man approached quickly, wearing glasses and a white coat. More features than that, Parker could hardly distinguish. "Welcome back, son," the man said, his voice revealing his older age. Parker guessed mid-fifties.

"Where am I?" Parker mumbled.

"The resting room of the med labs. You're all taken care of."

Parker lifted his head wearily to look at his arm. It was covered in a thick bandage. It hurt to move his elbow and wrist, so he let his arm lay slack on the cot again, and leaned his head back. "How bad was it?"

"Well," the man sighed, "it certainly wasn't good. You took a shot that, thank God, was only a little more than a glance. But it was a high-caliber round, so it definitely took a piece of you with it. We have a few men here that were able to dress it for you. Other than that, it was just scrapes and deep bruises-- your friend mentioned an explosion, which was probably to blame for all that."

"How long have I been out?" Parker asked, again looking to his bandaged arm. He lifted his other hand to his face as he sat up, rubbing his sore eyes.

"About eight hours, I think. I don't think it was from blood loss-- probably a combination of severe mental stress and extreme exhaustion. I understand you and your group have been pushing yourselves pretty hard the past week. You're going to need to take it easy for a day or so and drink a lot of water."

Parker groaned a bit and said, "Noted. Where's Sal? The woman that was with us?"

"Resting, down the hall. She took a bad knock to the head."

A wave of relief washed over Parker. He was sure she had some serious injury with the way she had been acting during the fight. He swing his legs from the table, and the man helped him to his feet before turning to speak with someone else. Parker wearily put one weak, wobbling foot in front of the other until he reached the exit, moving through the doorway and into the hall. A short ways down the hall, he looked into a room to see a small break room, complete with a couch and a refrigerator. Wrapped in a blanket on the couch was Sal, laying on her side with her face obscured by the book she was reading. Parker took a step into the room and leaned against the wall. "Hey," he said.

Sal pulled the book away and looked up at him. Her mouth fell open and she sat quickly. "Parker," she gasped. "Good God, you look like shit."

"Yeah, nice to see you too," he chuckled, wandering over to the newly-freed seat on her couch. He plopped down with a grunt and leaned back into the cushy rest. "How are you doing?"

"I'm alright," she sighed. "My memory is a little spotty. I remember the blast, and little bits and pieces of the firefight. Then I heard the automatic fire, and that's all I remember. After that, all I can recall is waking up here, confused and tired. They said I could have a concussion." Sal's eyes looked him over, settling on his arm. Her cold fingers touched his wrist as she said, "Jesus, what happened to you?"

"I took a shot," he said simply.

"You were hit? God-- how bad was it?"

Parker chose dismissive downplay. "Not bad. Just a glancing shot, no fragmentation. Not much trauma, just a gash and a bandage."

The two sat quietly for a moment, Sal's fingers still lingering on his wrist. Parker let out a heavy breath, his eyes meeting hers. At first, Parker got the impression that she was not comfortable, and wanted to shift and look away, but she did not. He wondered what was going through her head, or if she understood what he was feeling. He barely understood the feelings himself. But a moment later, Sal scooted slightly closer to him, her leaning her pounding head onto his shoulder with a drawn sigh.

"I'm glad you're okay," Sal said.

Affection. Parker was unsure how to approach it. He smiled and said, "Better be careful, or I might get the impression that you care about me." Wit was his strongest-- and his only-- defense against Sal.

She let out a soft chuckle, which died away to silence. After brief hesitation, she said quietly, "I'm tired of being careful."

The words meant more to Parker than they should have. Swallowing nervously, he lifted his wounded arm to drape around her, grimacing at the ache it caused. Sal did not object. Parker finally felt some closure about what had happened between them-- maybe it was no mistake after all.

"I'm really glad you're alright, too," Parker said. He did not admit that she had him terribly worried and scared during the fight. Some things did not need sharing.

After a few peaceful minutes, Reuben entered the room. Parker and Sal both looked up at him. He looked mostly untouched from the fight, but he stopped in his tracks when he entered to see the two of then huddled together on the couch. A bolt of anxiety struck Parker as he thought about what Reuben must have been thinking.

"Reuben," Sal said, lifting her head. Her hand slipped into Parker's, giving him a silently reassuring squeeze. "How are you?"

"Been better," Reuben said, taking a few slow steps into the room. "Parker, I saw you take your hit. How you holding up?"

"I'm alright. So you came out untouched, huh?"

Shrugging, Reuben sighed and said, "Yeah, I'm the lucky one. Noric cracked a rib in the explosion. Other than that, he's fine, but he's in a lot of pain." Taking in a deep breath, Reuben spat out the following words like he had a bad taste in his mouth: "Drew didn't make it."

Parker felt his blood turn cold for a moment as he received the news. He glanced to Sal to see her head down, biting her lip. "Fuck," Parker murmured. "How did he go?"

"Two rounds to the chest," Reuben stated with a scowl. "There was nothing we could have done. He was gone before the shooting even stopped. Noric is taking it hard."

Parker realized that meant Noric probably would not accompany him to Louisville after they had recovered. With a sigh, he scolded himself for considering asking Noric to come with after the man had lost his partner. He looked away, eyes trailing to the floor, still weighted with the gravity of losing a man in their group. He idly wondered what form of respect they would pay him. Losing a man within a city at least meant the body could he respectfully disposed of, rather than simply abandoned in the wild as would be necessary if on the move.

"So," Reuben said, changing the subject, "You two, huh?" His eyes leveled on Parker more than on Sal.

But it was Sal that spoke. "Is that a problem?" Parker grimaced at her choice of words; it seemed awfully confrontational. He blamed himself for not having taken Reuben aside and discussed it with him, as would have been the decent thing to do, but then recalled that he had no such time since his night with Sal at the inn.

"No no, not at all," Reuben defended, lifting his hands in surrender. "I'm just... Well, surprised is all."

"I think we were pretty surprised too," said Parker, hoping to diffuse any tension between the three of them.

Reuben smiled, and clasped his hands together. "Well," he said with a heavy exhale, "best of luck to the both of you." He turned for the exit, before stopping and saying, "By the way, Parker, I grabbed your pack and left it for you in the living quarters, where I've been told we'll be staying for a couple days. Also, Clyde tells me we're all having a dinner in a couple hours in the main lab. Should be some decent food for once."

Giving a nod, Parker watched silently as Reuben vanished through the door. He looked to Sal with a sigh, but she just offered a fearless smile and squeezed his hand again. His eyes glanced down to their joined fingers, and he said, "You're sure about this, Sal? This is what you want?"

"Shut up," she said, shifting to face him better. She leaned forward, her other hand moving to the collar of his shirt, pulling him toward her. "You think to much," she murmured just before their lips met.

Surprised, but not resistant, Parker felt his heart jump at the warmth of her lips. Unsure what to do with his hands, he left his injured arm around her, and pulled his hand from hers to set it at the back of her neck. Not both enveloped in each other's arms, the kiss felt like what Parker had always imagined it would feel like, even if the circumstances were unconventional.

Their lips broke apart, and Sal let out a shaky exhale. Parker admired her perfectly-shaped lips and the slope to her chin, savoring the way it felt to feel her pressed against him. The sound of her breath made him smile, because it sounded so similar to his; he could tell he had gotten to her just the same as she had gotten to him.


After some time spent together, Parker and Sal separated to manage some of their more menial tasks before dinner. Parker went to the living quarters to collect his pack, and was very relieved to find the case that enclosed his payment still tucked safely inside. He went to work disassembling his AR-15, dislodging the jammed-up chamber and restoring the weapon's functionality. He reloaded his magazines, dreading how low he was on ammunition, and took his time meticulously cleaning every moving part of his rifle and his pistol. After his effects were managed, he inquired about bathing and was directed to some rudimentary showers just beyond the living quarters of the facility. He bathed and relaxed in a hot shower, and redressed his wound after the bandage became wet. The pain from the wound was creeping up on him and he made a mental note to dig the painkillers out of his first aid kit.

After his shower, he realized he had exhausted his supply of clean clothes, and returned to the showers to clean his dirty laundry. After thorough cleaning, he left his clothes spread beneath some heat lamps in the lab to dry quickly.

Soon it was time for a dinner, and Parker attended smelling fresh, with a set of clean and mostly-dry clothes. It was a rare situation in his life.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by justin12234 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:06 am

need more of the story now lol, stayed up like 2 hours extra to read all of the story, loving it so much right now

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Re: ZPAW

Post by deathstalkertwo » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:28 pm

Fantastic story, need MOAR

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Cold and dead » Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:02 am

love it
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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:52 am

CHAPTER 14

Fresh potatoes. Salted pork. Crisp cucumber. The food laid before Parker and his group was unprecedented in quality. It was the finest the city had to offer; the best produce from the best gardens, the best cuts from the best ranches. The scientists even had their own little victory garden, their own slice of subsistence farming just for the workers and their kin.

That was a realization that Parker had come to in his few spare hours on the facility: most of the scientists lived there, and many had families. These men were neither the working class, nor the aristocrats of the city. They were, for all intents and purposes, monastic by nature, forsaking things like property ownership. They had truly dedicated their lives to science. Parker admired their commitment.

The dinner was served at a massive table that stretched more than twenty feet long. Folding chairs were set up to accommodate more than were present. Upon entering the dining room, Parker was introduced through Reuben to the head of the facility security team, a man who was referred to as Commander Hatch. He was in his late thirties or early forties with salt and pepper colored hair and a matching beard. He wore clothes that screamed private military; black BDUs and lightweight ceramic and Kevlar armor. Very expensive, but sometimes very worthwhile. His armor was, in a way, a trademark of a position of authority; no ordinary grunt would be wearing such costly protection.

After everyone sat down, but before the food was served, Commander Hatch announced that he had conferred with the leadership of the facility, and that they agreed that the post-action meeting should include the newcomers rather than be held in private. Parker and his entourage were then regaled with every detail of the battle from twelve hours prior.

"The insurgents blew a hole in the exterior wall on the west side," Hatch stated, pointing to the corresponding location on a map of the facility that stretched over the table. "We believe they used militia explosives pilfered from the city within the past few days. The brunt of my force assembled to meet then but was surprised to find only a few men. They were armed with LMGs that were mounted and entrenched not far from the wall, and their fortified position made it difficult to neutralize them quickly. Eventually we were able to flank them and shut them down. During the firefight, we heard another blast, and I sent a handful of men to investigate. By the time they reached the cellar, the fight there was over. They helped get everyone into recovery and when everything was secured as best as possible, we began to dispose of the bodies. We have confirmed twenty-two insurgents killed. Casualties on our side have now reached ten."

That's all Drew was now. The tenth casualty. Parker glanced to Noric to see him looking down into his hands, folded on the table.

"What about the city?" Reuben inquired. "How did the fight go for the militia?"

Hatch nodded to him obligingly and replied, "The all-clear was sounded last night, not long after our battle had ended. Rebuilding has begun. Casualties were very minor and the nonmortuis were mercilessly eradicated with no intrusions beyond the breached wall."

After that, Hatch began into a speech about how those that died would be remembered for their sacrifice. It turned Parker's stomach. What had they died for? What had Drew died for? For the LRA's business plan? He could feel that red hot anger inside him again and tried to set those thoughts from his mind. Soon, Hatch's words had concluded and supper was served.

The table was loaded up with food and everyone enjoyed their victory feast. The dinner conversation ranged from mildly awkward to uproarious laughter. At one point, Reuben made a joke at the expense of Parker and Sal; although Sal looked upset, Parker was relieved to see his companion approaching the situation with humor rather than with insult. It made him feel as though Reuben had been speaking the truth when he said he was okay with the two of them being together.

When Parker finished his food, he was slightly embarrassed to see that he was first. He politely excused himself from the table to find the restroom. Roaming down the dimly-lit and occasionally unlit hallways toward the only restrooms he knew of in the facility, he had some time to think. He considered his approach to the LRA, and what his course of action would be when he got there. A sinking feeling churned in his gut as he mulled over the possible outcomes of the situation. No matter how noble, Parker was not interested in a suicide mission; he had fifty thousand dollars in his pack, and he fully intended to live life in his dream home until he died at seventy without ever having to earn another dollar. On his return from the restroom, he daydreamed of his future life in the Constitution manor district, living in a nice home and learning to manage a subsistence farm.

As his feet carried him quietly through the halls, he glanced up to see that he was near Clyde's office. He heard movement inside, and furrowed his brow, wondering if Clyde had come back from dinner already. Moving to the doorway, he peered inside to see a man hunched over the desk. He wore Runner clothes, but carried no rifle; he wore a light chest rig with a pistol strapped within, and another on his hip. Parker recognized his haircut and facial features-- it was the man he and Sal had seen in the security video from the Gatehouse.

The Runner pushed away from the desk after apparently having read something, and moved to the safe. With his back to the door through which Parker watched, he was as vulnerable as could be hoped for. Parker unclasped the thumb break of his holster and swiftly drew his Glock 21, lining the sights dead on the man's back.


"I'm not sure what Parker intends to do," Reuben explained to the others at the table, "but I know that fire in his eyes. He wants to dismantle the entire LRA."

"And what about you?" Hatch asked. "Are you going with him?"

Reuben fell quiet, reaching for his glass. He took a sip of the wine, rescued from one of the bottles that survived the cellar fight, and let out a sigh. "Yeah, I'll be there," he stated simple.

"Sounds like a hopeless fight," Clyde chimed in. "The LRA has hundreds of Runners under its thumb, and a premium security task force. What does Parker plan on doing against all that?"

Sal interjected before Reuben could answer, saying, "We'll figure something out. We always do."

Clyde was not convinced. "That's not a very promising strategy, ma'am."

"Every fortress has a cornerstone," Reuben stated. There was a silence, and Reuben felt the need to lighten the mood with humor. "Unless it's made of poured concrete. Does anyone know if the LRA building is made of poured concrete?"

There were a few chuckles form here and there, but the sense of dread still hung in the air. Clyde, Hatch, and the few others at the table that were not part of Parker's group seemed to legitimately fear for their wellbeing. Reuben wondered if they should be flattered.

Noric was dead silent. His abdomen was bandaged as was necessary to suit his injuries, and he seemed to be a statue of stoic emotion. Reuben had not seen him this way before. He could tell that Drew's death was hitting hard. The relationship between the Scout and his spotter reminded him of his relationship with Parker. There was a trust forged in the fight that could not be emulated any other way.

The dinner was suddenly disrupted by Parker's voice. "Reuben!" he shouted from the hall. Jumping from his chair, Reuben had hardly made it around the edge of the table before Parker came into the room, shoving another man inside. The man had his hands raised in the air and wore an empty holster on his chest rig, and another on his hip. Parker was behind him with his sidearm pointed squarely at his back. When he stepped into the room, he tossed one of the confiscated pistols to Reuben, and the other to Sal when she had stood to her feet.

"What the hell is this?" Hatch demanded.

Sal stepped toward the man. "Parker, is that the Runner?"

"It is," he replied. Looking to Clyde, he stated, "I found this asshole rummaging around your office. It looked like he was trying to get into the safe." Then, turning his attention to Hatch, he explained, "Sal and I saw a recording of this man murdering the gatehouse guards and registration officer in what we think was an attempt to open the gate for the horde. Since he escaped through the door that leads to the militia base, I bet he's also the one that stole militia explosives and used them on the walls."

Reuben suddenly realized the man was the same one he had seen in the gatehouse two days earlier, and leveled the pistol on him. "You!" he remarked, moving closer. "You son of a bitch! I knew something was going down as soon as I saw you! Hey Noric, this is the guy!"

The destitute Scout stood painstakingly from his seat and stared silently at the captive. He said nothing.

"What should we do with him?" asked Parker.

Reuben was the first to reply. "We shoot him like a shuffler right fucking here, that's what."

But Parker disagreed, saying, "I think we should hang on to him. He might know something about the LRA."

"I agree with this guy," the Runner said. Parker considered bashing his head with his handgun for speaking, but decided it was best to keep his distance for now. What the Runner had done in the video haunted Parker; if he could kill three armed guards without even drawing his weapon, a safe distance definitely needed to be maintained. Still, after he spoke, everyone in the room shot him a fiery glare.

"We have detention cells," Hatch stated. "We'll stash him there, for now."

Parker nodded to him, before motioning for Parker and Sal to help him keep the man contained. Hatch stood and led them down the hall toward the detention cells, not far from the living quarters within the facility. The cells looked like a typical prison; there were a few cells with steel bar doors anchored in the concrete, and one with a large sliding steel door.

"We'll toss him in solitary," Hatch said, motioning to the cell with the solid door.

Parker found the term amusing; with no one else in the cells, every cell was solitary. "No," he said, "because if we decide we just want to kill him, we'd have to open the door to shoot him. That gives him a chance. Toss him in a cell and let's see if we can find someone to keep an eye on him."

Begrudgingly, Hatch obliged and opened a cell door. The Runner reluctantly stepped inside, before the cell door was closed behind him. Parker observed him for a moment, before letting out a sigh. He was not satisfied with the security.

"Take off your clothes," Parker demanded. The others gave him looks for the request. Still peering down the sights of his pistol, Parker said again, "Take your fucking clothes off or I put a round in your leg, and then make you do it anyway."

The man let out a heavy sigh and began to disrobe. Soon, he stood bare before the group, his clothes littered on the floor. Parker made him slide his belongings through the bars, and had him turn around fully for visual inspection. When satisfied that the man had absolutely nothing on him that could be used to escape or resist, Parker gathered up the belongings and left the man to himself inside his musty cell.

"Well that was awkward," commented Reuben as they departed.

"It may not be glamorous," Parker responded, "but it's practical. I've seen what that bastard is capable of. He's not getting any mercy from me."

The group returned to the dining room, where Hatch instructed two of his men to watch over their new captive. After they had gone to tend their task, everyone took a seat to discuss their next course of action. Hatch was extremely curious in how they planned on taking down the LRA.

Parker simply told him he was open to suggestions.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by deathstalkertwo » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Thanks for the new chapter, but now it's time for just a little moar. Or maybe a lot moar. Thanks

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Re: ZPAW

Post by justin12234 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:59 am

i demand moar, a lot moar,by far my favorite story on zs so far. im loving the concept of runners

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Re: ZPAW

Post by justin12234 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:56 pm

Anymore updates?

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Re: ZPAW

Post by bad_karma00 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:04 am

This is a fantastic story. Read it all at one go. I do hope there's more. Superbly done!
"Pain is scary."
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SO SAY WE ALL

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:06 pm

It's nice to see this resurface right around the same time that I myself resurface. You guys are very encouraging!

Over the past month I've been widdling away on the next chapter. Time are crazy-- I just got a new job and am going to be starting college soon. But I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- this story isn't dead. Updates are inbound, ETA... Maybe a few days? I'll see what I can do!

Thanks for the support!

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Re: ZPAW

Post by SimonZayne » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:31 pm

I just caught up on this one.
Good stuff, I hope you keep it up.
Jeriah wrote:Arrows used for shooting zombies are like condoms used for banging prostitutes in sub-Saharan Africa: single use only, for everybody's safety. Don't retrieve and re-use that shit, it's just nasty.
aka the Tactical Redneck

Team Ramrod FTW

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:50 am

CHAPTER 15

Parker did not get much sleep after the dinner, his mind too active for him to rest well. He thought about Sal, about their budding relationship and how out of place it was in the chaos of his life. He tried to think of what to do with the Runner they had in captivity; killing him would be just, but Parker could not shake the nagging feeling that the Runner knew something. He remembered his dwindling supplies and tried to burn into his mind that he needed to restock before leaving for Louisville.

But more than anything, he thought about the dreadful fight that he had committed to. The LRA building was huge, with a well equipped security force and complete support from the Louisville militia and the other players in the city. It seemed like a hopeless effort.

The pain in his arm made it hard to get comfortable on his cot. Eventually, his mind fell silent and the pain became dull enough for him to fall into a light, uneasy slumber. When he awoke in the early morning, he felt the full force of all his injuries weighing on him. He felt physically exhausted, his entire body pulsating with an ache that refused to subside. For some time, he simply laid in his cot and hurt, waiting for a break in the pain to stand. When he realized that there would be no break, he let out a heavy groan and forced himself to his feet.

He cast his eyes over the other cots. Noric was still asleep, propped up with pillows to keep comfortable with his broken rib. Sal and Reuben’s cots were empty, probably already eating breakfast with the staff. He grabbed his pistol belt and buckled it around his hips, grimacing at the light use of his wounded arm. The pain from the gunshot wound stretched all the way into his back, just between his shoulder blades. Every movement caused a sharp shooting pain through his arm. He worried he would have to swallow his pride and ask for a sling, and maybe break open his first aid pouch for a few painkillers.

After hitting the restrooms, he stepped into the dining room in which they had eaten the night before. Sal and Reuben were sitting together with empty plates in front of them. They both glanced up when he entered the room, and Parker was pleased to see a warming smile on Sal’s lips.

“Morning,” Reuben greeted. “How’s the arm?”

“Just grand. How’s the breakfast?” Parker replied.

“Beats the hell out of dried fruits. You know how long it’s been since I had fresh eggs? Years.”

They all smiled and nodded along with him. City food was something they had grown to miss. Still, Parker did not want to get too acquainted with eating well, as it would make it that much harder to go back to strict, calorie-regulated daily rations.

“Did you get any sleep?” Sal asked. When Parker shrugged dismissively, she responded with a sigh, saying, “Yeah, me neither. Got one hell of a headache today, too. I don’t think I like being blown up.”

Parker chuckled at her choice of words and shook his head. “Could have been a lot worse,” he reminded her. There wasn’t really a fair response to that, so for a moment, no one spoke. “Do you know where Clyde went?” he asked, interrupting the uncomfortable silence.

Reuben shrugged and said, “Try his office.”

With a nod, Parker departed, casting back a glance and a smile to Sal. He stepped into the corridor to head towards the scientist‘s office, his sore feet carrying him hurriedly down the hall. When he rounded the corner to Clyde’s study, he saw him sitting behind his desk, with Hatch and another man he did not recognize standing beside him. All three had mugs of fragrant coffee in their hands and appeared to be having a serious discussion. Parker quietly entered their presence.

The conversation stopped temporarily as Clyde and Commander Hatch offered friendly smiles to Parker. “Good morning,” said Clyde, standing to his relatively short stature from behind his desk.

“And to you,” Parker replied, feigning a smile despite the pain he was in.

Clyde wasted no time introducing the new face. “This is Vice Captain Jefferson Rowe, from the city militia. He’s here regarding the official report of what took place over the past few days. Vice Captain, this is Parker Mason, the man that very well may have saved our species.”

Parker blinked at the rather dramatic introduction. He idly wondered what kind of an angle Clyde was working on the Vice Captain. The man wore interesting garb; while he wore the same gear as the Shepherdsville militia, with a dark earth chest rig and olive drab BDUs, his attire differed in that he wore a patrol cap rather than a helmet and he carried a large pouch on his hip that standard militia did not have, presumably containing administrative equipment. Over his chest, dangling from a single-point sling, was a Stone-2070 rifle bearing rare optics that Parker did not recognize and a pair of taped magazines for quick swapping. He was tall with Caucasian skin and short cropped brown hair, and the remnant stubble of facial hair covered his chin and cheeks. Over the brim of his patrol cap was a pair of tinted goggles, and wrapped under the collar of his shirt was the mouth tube of a hydration bladder. His sleeves were rolled up, his pants were bloused into his boots, and in his gloved hands was a clipboard and a pen, which were both held in the left hand as he offered the right to Parker.

“The Captain apologizes that he couldn’t be here,” the man said as Parker shook his hand. “He wanted to be present at the wall while it was being rebuilt. I’m honored to be here in his stead. It’s a real pleasure, Parker. You’ve done a great thing here.”

All the praise was difficult to respond to. Parker just smiled dumbly and chuckled, stammering, “Yeah, well, you know…”

Clyde and the Vice Captain smiled slightly, before the doctor motioned to the chairs nearby. “Please, sit down, the everyone.”

Parker, Clyde, Vice Captain Jefferson, and Commander Hatch all scooted their chairs up to the desk, and Parker prepared himself for what seemed to be a very important conversation.

“The official capacity for which the Vice Captain is here has already been concluded,” Clyde stated matter-of-factly. “That fact that he remains here is a gracious acquiescence on his part. It’s a very beneficial thing that the Vice Captain came here today rather than his superior, because he and I have had a conversation that would not have taken place with the Captain. It’s something that concerns all of us.”

“Well, what is it?” Parker asked impatiently.

Hatch replied instead. “It started because I asked Clyde’s permission to accompany you on your trip to Louisville. I requested leave for myself and a small party of my preferred security officers.”

Parker’s eyes widened. “What? You want to come with us?”

This time, Clyde responded. “The LRA’s corruption is not something we can check off as someone else’s problem, Parker. Their attack failed this time, but they’ve attacked before. They’ll attack again-- unless you stop them. This is an immediate and pressing matter that must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. I told the Commander that he was to take whom he desired and go with you, with pay.”

“And then I had a thought,” Hatch stated. “I gave my buddy Jefferson over here a visit and asked him to come by for the report. We took care of that and then got down to business.”

“Woah woah,” Parker said, holding up his hands. “You’re not thinking of sending militia with me, are you?”

There was a brief and uncomfortable quiet in the room. The Vice Captain leaned forward, folding his hands. “This isn’t just your fight, Parker. The LRA didn’t just attack the med center. They killed my men, blew a hole in my wall, endangered my city. Good militiamen and innocent citizens have been killed because of the LRA’s greed. It’s my fight, too. So, yes, there will be a party of militiamen sent to Louisville, and I will lead them. I will personally see to it that the LRA is held accountable for the lives they’ve cost us.”

“You’re going to lead a group of militiamen through the deadly wilderness all the way to Louisville?” Parker reiterated. “Are you fucking insane? Don’t you have any idea how much attention that will attract from the dead?”

“Yes, and we will deal with that. We are prepared to fight them.”

With a scoff, Parker shook his head and leaned back in his seat. “You’re going to lose every man before you even get to the Louisville gate.”

The Vice Captain wore a scowl that made Parker reconsider his tone. “I don’t think you understand just how much of a badass each and every one of my soldiers can be,” he replied stoically. “They grew up fighting the gangs of Shepherdsville just for the right to close their eyes when they sleep. They fight and die every day to keep the gangs from getting too powerful and to keep the dead outside the city. My men are used to living off of the essentials and killing what poses a threat. We’ll be just fine, and when we get to Louisville, they’ll have a serious problem to face.”

With a defeated sigh, Parker submitted. “Fine. So you’re sending an army to Louisville. What does the leadership there think of that?”

Clyde responded, saying, “A radio transmission was sent to Louisville only hours ago, informing them of the LRA’s treachery and explaining the recourse that is taking place. We are awaiting a response.”

“You told them we’re coming for the LRA? What if they’re harboring them?” Parker asked indignantly.

“They wouldn’t,” Commander Hatch stated. “The governor of Louisville might be stubborn, but he’s not a criminal. He’ll turn them over or deal with them himself.”

Parker sighed, shaking his head as he replied, “It must be nice to be so sure.” Standing from his chair, he summarized the conversation, saying, “So I’ll be traveling with a militia and a security detail. At least the fight with the LRA’s security won’t be so one-sided now.”

“One last thing,” the Vice Captain said. “Your prisoner will be under our custody by tonight. He will most likely be executed by the city for what he’s done. If there’s anything you needed from him, I suggest you start getting it.”

Parker nodded wordlessly, and dismissed himself from the conversation. With an aggravated sigh, he headed back into the dining room and explained the sudden turn of events with Sal and Reuben, who were just as surprised and befuddled as he was. Knowing that time was short, the three took a moment to debate whether or not to interrogate the captive Runner, concluding that it was worth it to ask a few questions.
Last edited by Tribunal Power on Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:25 am

CHAPTER 16

A guard stood faithfully at the end of the hallway, blocking any entrance or exit from the room that contained the holding cells. There was only one occupant, and Parker was certain he had information that would be vital to their upcoming operation. Deep down, Parker knew that the man very well could be clueless to the big picture of what the LRA wanted, and his certainty that the man knew something was likely just a projection of his hope that there was some tidbit of intelligence that would save them from having to run a desperate attack through two days of travel through deadly wilderness. the very thought of this mission made his gut turn. For so long he had been trained by the trials of his trade that to travel in numbers was too great a risk, that the only way to travel in the wilds was quickly, carefully, and quietly. He had always believed in leaving as small a footprint as he could manage-- or none, if possible-- and traveling militias made a lot of footprints.

The guard stepped aside as Parker and Reuben entered the hallway. The two were immediately struck with the stench of day-old defecation. The prisoner came into view, sitting in a fetal position in the corner, likely trying to conserve his heat in the chilly cell. He looked pale, a bit sickly. In the opposing corner, there was a pile of feces and a puddle or urine, contained as cleanly as possible. Parker had not realized the cells lacked toiletries.

The man looked destitute. Parker could tell by his coloration that he was getting increasingly dehydrated. Although his time in the cell was between twelve and sixteen hours, Parker realized he probably had not had anything to eat or drink during the entire time, and understood how that sort of punishment can take its toll. For a moment, he pitied the man, but the moment fleeted as Parker recalled why the man was in the cell, and why they were there to question him.

"What's your name?" Parker asked sternly,

The naked and sore runner stirred in his cell, weary eyes peering at his inquisitors. His voice was hoarse as he spoke, saying, "Alan Paddock."

"Too broken down for bullshit, I see," Reuben observed.

"You're not the average Runner. What do you do, Alan Paddock?"

Taking in a heavy breath, the prisoner wetted his lips, then said, "I'm a hitman."

"Oooh, an assassin. Scary," teased Reuben. "Come on, chump-- you can do better than that. If you were a big bad hitman, I'd have heard of you."

"Amateurs spend their time trying to make sure you've heard of them," Alan said with a sickly chuckle. "Professionals make sure you haven't."

Parker and Reuben fell silent, casting each other a glance. There was a pause before Parker spoke up. "What's an assassin doing working for the LRA?"

"I'm not working for the LRA. I'm working for Garret Freeman."

The name stung in Parker's ears. Director Garret Freeman was at the head of the LRA and had become a personal friend of Parker's throughout the years of work they shared together. A chill ran down his spine at the thought of his boss hiring a hitman,

"Did he send you to kill me?" Parker asked.

Alan peered at him and replied, "There's a bonus in it for me if I do, but no, that was not my contract. He wanted me to stir up a hoard and lure them to the walls, then leave the gates open for them. He wanted me because I know how to travel quietly and how to control the walkers out there."

"Why are you rolling so easily?" Reuben asked. "Why tell us this?"

"I took the contract because it paid well, and I got a third up front. But the job was bullshit, and it was a pain in the ass-- especially when my horde tripped over you morons, and you started slaughtering them and messing with my route." Taking a breath, Alan added, "And I don't necessarily like the end result of what I was told to do."

"That's where all those damn corpses came from when we were meeting with Noric and Andrew," Reuben realized. "Fuck. It makes sense now."

Alan scooted closer to the bars of the cell. "What are you looking for? Hoping I know some secret weakness for a strike-back mission?"

"You're a hitman. You always have contingency plans, right?" Parker reasoned, "What do you know about the LRA?"

"I've got some information that might be useful," he stated. "But it's hard for me to talk right now. You get me some water, I'll give you what I know."

With a scoff, Reuben shook his head and said, "How about I shoot you in the foot, and if you don't tell us what we want to know, I shoot you in the other foot? How about you tell us, and I'll think about giving you something to keep your upcoming gunshot wounds from getting infected while you stew in your own shit?"

Parker set a hand on Reuben's shoulder, calming his companion. "I can see you're not keeping up well," he stated. "I'll get you some water. But if you so much as twitch in a way that I don't like, we're doing things Reuben's way. Understood?"

The assassin nodded hopefully, and Parker motioned for Reuben to stay while he went to fetch his hydration pack. For a moment, as he walked down the hall and turned toward the private quarters where his effects were, he reflected on the fact that he was fetching water for a professional murderer. But a small part of him believed that although he had done terrible things, he was still a man, and all men deserved some decencies, no matter how horrible they might be. That was a thought Parker was not sure he was comfortable with.

Only a few minutes later, he returned with a mug and his canteen around his neck. The guard stepped aside again and Parker grimaced at the smell as he stepped back into the hallway, glancing to Reuben, who had a disgusted look on his face. Parker knew he was disgusted not with the smell, but with the fact that this killer was getting mercy.

After pouring some water into the mug, filling it only about halfway, Parker unclasped the snap on the holster of his pistol. His right hand grasped the grip as he offered the mug through the bars with his left. Alan, with his palms up, reached for the mug. Parker felt his breath catch in his throat and his chest tightened for a moment. He wondered if the assassin was capable of killing him in their current positions. How would he do it? Parker had seen his work before, and there was no doubt in his mind that the man could kill him with relative ease, maybe even when naked and dehydrated in a cell.

But the assassin grasped the cup and pulled it back slowly and gently, while Parker retracted his hand through the bars. The exchange was uneventful. Alan drank down the water quickly.

"If I like what I hear, maybe you'll get more," Parker said.

Alan took a moment to let the liquid saturate his throat. Then he took a deep breath and aimed his gaze at Parker. "I stashed my bag in a trench outside the north wall," he stated. "It's not far from the alley between the ironworks center and the abandoned building next door. You can see the trench from the end of the alley. Inside my pack, there is a map of the LRA facility. All the entrances and exits-- the complete floor plan. It's in a folder, along with some notes on the armament of the security and their shift changes." The two listened intently, both surprised by the depth of the information the man had. Alan smiled and said, "Contingency plan, in case Freeman didn't want to pay up. I always get my money."

Parker glanced to Reuben, then back to the prisoner. "Fine," he said, tossing the canteen into the cell. The assassin dove on it with a surprised gasp, pulling the top off and sucking down the water. The two turned away from the captive and moved down the hall.

"Keep an eye on him," Reuben said to the guard as they passed. The officer nodded and grasped his Stone-2070 tightly in his hands, turning to face cell.

The two walked in silence down the hall back toward the private quarters again, before Reuben patted Parker on the shoulder and said, "You think he's telling the truth?"

"I do," Parker stated. "I know desperation when I see it. And I think showing him a little decency might have warmed him to us a little."

"Whatever," Reuben said. "If you want to cuddle with a mangy rabid killer dog, I won't stop you, so long as it gets us results."

Parker did not reply. Upon reaching the private quarters, the two went to their cots and began to suit up in their outdoor gear. Reuben had just finished, and Parker was just grabbing his rifle, when Hatch walked in and spotted them. "What's going on?" he inquired.

"We got some information from the prisoner," Parker said. Hatch perked up a bit and Parker went on to say, "Said he stashed his pack a ways from the north wall, and inside is a map of the LRA building and information on the security force there. Could be exactly what we're looking for. We were about to go check it out."

"Negative," said Hatch, shaking his head. "That's my job. I'll have some of my guys look into it. You two need your rest."

"I don't think so," Reuben said. "I've been itching to get out of this place ever since the firefight."

"I've already got a patrol in the area," replied Hatch. "Head out and tell them what's going on. This could be an ambush and I don't want you going out there alone. My patrol should be right around the north gate by now."

The two nodded, and departed quickly. Parker did his best to put the soreness of his arm out of his mind; it was painful to put on his gear with the injury, but he would not let it get the better of him. The two walked in silence through the facility to the door that led outside, moving down the walkway toward the north gate. Reuben waved to the guard in the tower on the wall, who turned the winch that opened the gate. The two Runners strolled through it, hearing it clatter closed behind them, scanning the foreground for the patrol.

"There they are," Reuben said, tapping on Parker's shoulder and pointing toward the crest of a hill further north. There were four men, all wearing the black attire and armor of the facility security, and armed with Stone-2070 rifles. Parker nodded and the two moved towards them.

Moments later, they caught them and the two groups met. Parker and Reuben were hastily introduced to officers Lanley, Baker, DeWitt, and Soreolas. It only took a moment to explain the situation to them before they diverted to look into the situation. On the way, the group exchanged small-talk; Parker learned that Jackie DeWitt, the female officer in the group, was the ranking officer of the four, and that Marc Baker was her brother. She was a young widow who kept her late husband's last name. Arlo Lanley was the group wiseass, and Reuben took a liking to him. Henrik Soreolas was the smart one, always making shrewd observations and warning the group when something did not feel right. It quickly felt like everyone knew each other and were old friends.

"There's the trench," DeWitt stated, pointing toward across the field. Parker could see the ironworks factory and the abandoned building not far beyond it. The force of Runners they had fought must have used the alley to get close enough to dig the trench without being spotted by the security towers. The hill between the wall and the row of buildings kept the area in a convenient and unmonitored pocket.

The six approached the trench carefully. "Lanley, watch that alley. Baker, Parker, Reuben, establish a perimeter. Soreolas, you're on point. If you see the bag, let us know."

Everyone set to their business. Parker and Reuben decided that, for now, it was best to listen. The two remained outside the trench, kneeling and arming their weapons. They scanned the area around them and saw no perceivable threats. Baker had hopped into the trench to the rear of Soreolas, while Lanley and DeWitt inspected and watched the alley.

A moment later, Soreolas' voice rang out. "Found it!" he called out. He pointed to a large brown ruck that was tucked neatly into the corner of the trench and covered with twigs and brush to keep it inconspicuous. Parker glanced back to see it.

DeWitt approached, as did Baker. Remaining outside the trench, DeWitt called out, "How do we look?"

One after the other, the officers called "Perimeter clear!" Reuben and Parker did as well, following the others. DeWitt looked pleased as she then looked to Soreolas, nodding to him to proceed.

Soreolas leaned over the front pocket, and Baker knelt down to check the side pockets. Lanley approached from behind them to see what was inside the pack. "Make sure you check the bottom of the main compartment really well," Baker commented. "Sometimes these rucks have little secret pouches in the bottom."

Soreolas groaned, and looked up to Parker. "Did the guy say which pouch it--"

Suddenly there was no more sound. Parker blinked to see a flash of light and a cloud of dust. Half a heartbeat later, he was lifted from the ground and thrown tot he side, slamming into the hill. A massive veil of dirt hung over the air. The familiar ring of a deafening explosion echoed in Parker's ears. His insides felt like jelly and his legs refused to work. His mind raced as he reacted faster to the sudden explosion than before; after ensuring he had all his body parts, he quickly scrambled to sit up, the world around him spinning. A mangled Stone-2070 rifle was imbedded barrel-first in the hill beside him, buried up to the magazine in the earth. Scraps of bloody cloth and flesh rained from above. Parker realized he had a splash of blood on his right side-- not his own.

The ringing subsided to screams and cries of agony and devastation. Parker lifted a hang to his rattled and scrambled head. With a gasp of filthy air, he stumbled to his weak feet, and shuffled towards the epicenter of the blast. The trench had been torn open, like a wound with ripped stitches. A severed and ravaged leg, disembodied at the thigh, was draped over a section of the torn earth. Where the bag had once laid, there was only a massive smear of splattered gore, with red bones jammed into the earth and scraps of flash shoved through the dirt. Parker could hear the screams getting louder. He looked right to see DeWitt slowly sitting up-- she appeared more or less unharmed. Hurrying to her side, Parker saw Reuben not far from her. He was standing, wandering like a lost child, through the dark cloud of bloody dust that lurched around them. He was covered in blood spatter.

"Sound off!" echoed the female voice in Parker's ears. "Sound off!"

Parker pushed a voice from his lungs, but no words formed-- only a disoriented holler of affirmation. Reuben's followed a moment later. There were no other yells, save one perpetual scream of agony. Parker stumbled in the direction of the scream only to find Lanley lying in the dirt. A good portion of his midriff was missing. There was a bone jutting out of his shoulder and another from his leg, but it didn't look like his own. Parker quickly realized that whomever was standing nearest to Lanley had been blown apart and the bones became shrapnel.

A moment later, DeWitt was kneeling at his side. Reuben had wandered to them, and was standing over the mangled officer. Parker glanced over his shoulder to see that the dirt cloud was settling, and coming over the hill from the facility was a group of security officers coming to help.

Lanley coughed violently, then screamed again, a hoarse and agonizing scream. Parker winced at the bloodcurdling cry of pain. It seemed louder than any explosion. Walking wearily toward the oncoming assistance, Parker waved his arms to bring them directly to the wounded man.
Last edited by Tribunal Power on Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by justin12234 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:33 am

“Woah woah,” Parker said, holding up his hands. “You’re not thinking of sending militia with me, are you?”

There was a brief and uncomfortable quiet in the room. The Vice Captain leaned forward, folding his hands. “This isn’t just your fight, Reuben. The LRA didn’t just attack the med center. They killed my men, blew a hole in my wall, endangered my city. Good militiamen and innocent citizens have been killed because of the LRA’s greed. It’s my fight, too. So, yes, there will be a party of militiamen sent to Louisville, and I will lead them. I will personally see to it that the LRA is held accountable for the lives they’ve cost us.”
this part in chapter 15 confused the hell out of me, shouldn't it say Parker instead of Reuben? or am i just reading it wrong?

also in chapter 16 there's a typo
One after the other, the officers called "Perimeter clear!" Reuben and Parker did as well, following the others. DeWitt looked pleased as shr then looked to Soreolas, nodding to him to proceed.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Skummdogg » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:30 am

Really enjoying this story! I knew it was a trap, he gave that information up way to easily! Keep up the good work.
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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:55 pm

justin12234 wrote:
“Woah woah,” Parker said, holding up his hands. “You’re not thinking of sending militia with me, are you?”

There was a brief and uncomfortable quiet in the room. The Vice Captain leaned forward, folding his hands. “This isn’t just your fight, Reuben. The LRA didn’t just attack the med center. They killed my men, blew a hole in my wall, endangered my city. Good militiamen and innocent citizens have been killed because of the LRA’s greed. It’s my fight, too. So, yes, there will be a party of militiamen sent to Louisville, and I will lead them. I will personally see to it that the LRA is held accountable for the lives they’ve cost us.”
this part in chapter 15 confused the hell out of me, shouldn't it say Parker instead of Reuben? or am i just reading it wrong?

also in chapter 16 there's a typo
One after the other, the officers called "Perimeter clear!" Reuben and Parker did as well, following the others. DeWitt looked pleased as shr then looked to Soreolas, nodding to him to proceed.
You're totally right. I'll fix that.

As you can tell, I generally type this stuff up and post it with very little proofreading. I hate proofreading my own stuff. Thanks for the catch!

Glad you guys are digging the story!

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Tribunal Power » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:57 am

CHAPTER 17

The taste of vomit was still fresh in Parker's mouth. He was unsure whether it was the shockwave overturning his guts or the obscene amount of gore in the explosion, but something had gotten to him. Even as he sat at the table in the dining hall, he felt queasy, like his stomach was constantly in a state of motion while the rest of him remained still.

He was surrounded by his companions. To his right sat Reuben, battered and bruised, and beside him, Sal with a look of shock on her face. To his left, an equally battered DeWitt, and past her, Noric sat in silence. The Vice Captain sat at the end of the table beside Hatch, who was standing and addressing the group. Miscellaneous security officers were here and there throughout the room. The hallway that led to the holding cells was buzzing with security activity.

"As you know, the bag that Alan Paddock led us to was trapped," he said, his tone disdainful and weary. It seemed every time he gave an address to the crew of the med facility, it was in the wake of a great loss of life. "This assassin had one last trick. Just after the explosion, during the scrambling chaos, the assassin offered an empty canteen to the Officer Morris, who was standing watch over him. Morris approached and reached for the canteen, at which time the assassin entangled his arm in the strap and pulled him into the bars. He was able to reach through the bars to operate the rifle on Morris' chest, wounding the officer, before detaching the rifle from its sling and using it to destroy the lock on the cell door." Letting out a drawn sigh, Hatch spat the words, "He then made his escape via the recently-demolished cellar. Three security officers were killed, one wounded.

"The explosion itself claimed two lives: Officers Baker and Soreolas. Officer Lanley is in critical condition with extreme blood loss and severe shrapnel wounds."

Images of Lanley lying in the dirt bleeding and screaming rushed to Parker's mind. Did the bones that were lodged in his body belong to Baker or to Soreolas? A shudder traveled down his spine at the thought, after which he recalled that Baker was DeWitt's brother. Casting a glance in her direction, he saw only a stoic expression and a look of resolve.

"In light of the recent loss of life," Hatch continued, "I've elected to take a smaller force to Louisville than I originally intended. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I will be assembling a strike team. Lieutenant DeWitt will accompany me. Any officers who wish to participate may speak with me for consideration." There was a break in his words, before Hatch's demeanor changed. He became softer, more sullen, less business-like, as he said, "We've all been through a lot these past few days. We need to recuperate before the trek to Louisville. Any officers not on duty may go on leave. But this is also a time of great danger, and as such, any officers late or absent to their shift will be terminated and prosecuted for private security desertion. Am I understood?"

There was a general murmur of affirmation amongst the security officers that were present. Normally Hatch might have pressed them for a stronger response, but just like everyone else, he just seemed too tired to care. Everyone was feeling the pressure, the stress, the loss; it left them worn thin, ready to tear.

After Hatch took his seat, the Vice Captain stood. "I've ordered for your ranks to be supplemented by the militia," he stated, "so as not to leave this facility with too few men to protect it. I recognize the importance of this venture and I hope you all do too."

With that, the meeting was dismissed. Twenty-four hours until they bundled up their so-called army and set out for Louisville. It seemed too far away and too close all at once. Parker pushed away from the table and moved to stand. As he did so, he caught a glance of Reuben; he was wearing a scowl more bitter than Parker had ever seen before. He wanted to ask what was wrong, but decided it was best to wait until they were in a more private setting.

Parker stood to his feet, minding his turned stomach. Peering over the table and past the others in the room, he saw the hallway that led to the cells. There was still blood on the floor. The damaged cell hung open. Parker took it as an additional insult that the assassin took the canteen with him. Reuben was right; it was wrong to show him mercy, and good men paid for it.

"I know that look," said the Vice Captain.

Glancing over to see him approaching, Parker said, "What look?"

"You're feeling like you're somehow responsible for this. Don't go down that road. It doesn't go anywhere good."

Parker scoffed. "I know this isn't entirely my fault," he replied. "I just feel stupid."

"Like it or not, Mason, you're in charge of these people. Leaders can't afford to feel responsibility for things like this. It affects your judgment. You have to pick up, dust off, and keep doing the right thing. Sometimes people die either way."

"You're telling me walking into a trap was the right thing to do?"

The Vice Captain shook his head and sighed. "It's a lesson in trusting the enemy. Now we all know just how great a threat Alan Paddock is. You're not the only one who believed him, Parker."

Letting out a sigh, Parker decided he didn't want to be in the conversation anymore. "Look, Jefferson," he said, using his name with disdain, "thanks for the encouragement. I'm just not sure a pep talk is enough to cover five deaths."

The Vice Captain said nothing as Parker turned away to head toward the living quarters. Soon Parker was sitting alone on his cot, taking slow and even breaths to keep his stomach from rising up. He did not want to see anyone; he just wanted to sit and think. Where would Alan Paddock go after an escape like that? He had to be in town still, trying to find clothes and supplies before he could go out into the wilderness. Parker considered gearing up and setting out to search for him. But even if he found the assassin, what then? The man proved that he was lethal in even the most one-sided situation. He was naked, starved, dehydrated, locked in a cell, and he managed to kill five people and escape. There was no denying it; Parker feared this man.

Movement caught Parker's peripheral vision. He glanced up to see Sal leaning into the doorway; the one person he could not turn away. He tried to force a smile for her, but failed. She wore a look of sympathy as she stepped into the room.

"You doing okay?" she inquired.

Parker opened his mouth, but stopped himself from lying. "No."

The cot flexed slightly as she took a seat on it beside him. The two of them were angled together, shoulder to shoulder. Sal placed her soft hand on his knee and tried to catch his eyes in hers. "Don't torture yourself with this, Parker. It's not like you."

"Not like me?" he replied indignantly. "What would the Parker you know do, then?"

She squeezed his leg as she said, "Suck it up and do the job ahead, that's what my Parker would do. We don't have time for self-pity."

Parker had to smile at her as she spoke. "Sounds like a real tough guy."

"Tough as they come," she said quietly, leaning in for a kiss. Parker could not deny her. The two kissed, and the cot creaked as she leaned against him. What parker thought would be a simple kiss deepened as she leaned further against him. Her hand flexed on his knee, and a shiver ran down his spine. For a moment, the kiss broke.

"What's this all about?" he asked through a smile.

"Tomorrow we go off to war," she said. "The first war in almost a century. Doesn't that excite you?"

"No," Parker replied with a chuckle.

"We might not come back from it," she said. "If that's how it's going to be, I don't want either of us to have only a fuzzy drunken memory of what our sex was like."

Parker went with her movement as she eased him into his back on the cot, straddling him. Before he could process what she was saying, her hands had found her way under his shirt. By the time it hit the floor, his hands had found her shirt as well. He pulled it over her head, her light blonde hair spilling through the neck of the shirt as it came off, before tossing it aside. Running his hands down her sides, he took in the shape of her body and let out a shaky breath. His hand moved over her stomach, his thumb touching over the large concaved teardrop-shaped scar over her naval. Emerald eyes peered down at him with fire in them, and she gave him a crooked grin.


Officer Lanley lied motionless in a bed in the medical treatment bay. Reuben saw Officer DeWitt sitting on a stool at his side. Other than the meeting, he had not seen her leave his side once. It was not so long ago that Reuben was there, watching over all his companions that were hurt during the firefight in the cellar. It seemed like a lifetime had passed since then.

"Hey, Jackie," he said softly as he moved to stand by her side.

She looked up, pulling some of her dark hair from her face. Suddenly she sat up straighter, and cleared her throat. Her eyes were puffy from tears. "Mr. Santiago," she said, quickly pulling her hair back and tucking some of it into her patrol cap. "You'll have to forgive me-- I hardly look like an officer right now."

Reuben smiled softly and shook his head. "It's Reuben. And don't worry, I won't write you up this time."

She smiled weakly and let out a quiet chuckle. "You really do remind me a lot of him," she replied, her gaze falling back to Lanley.

"He's a sharp guy," Reuben agreed. "And handsome, too. He and I have that in common."

After another subdued chuckle, she said, "My rank never mattered around him. It was nice that he wasn't afraid to crack wise in front of me."

There was a pause, before Reuben stepped a little closer to the bed. Lanley's chest was gradually rising and falling with breath. There was a tube down his throat hooked up to a pump of some kind beside the bed. Reuben had never seen a machine like that before. He wondered who was breathing-- Lanley, or just the machine.

"He'll be fine, Jackie," he lied. "If he's anything like me, this won't stop him. He looks like a tough son of a bitch."

"That's kind of you to say. But I've seen his wounds." She said nothing else after that. Reuben gathered that she would have followed that with 'and he doesn't have a chance' but did not want to say such a thing in front of the bedridden officer. It was obvious she felt that way. "I knew it was a trap."

"We all did," Reuben stated with a sigh.

"Then why did we go? Why did we even bother the fucking backpack?" There was anger in her voice, repressed and subdued, but raw. Reuben gleaned that this was the first time she had ever suffered loss of life in her command.

"I don't know," he placated. He was asking the same questions. To help satisfy her, he said what he felt Parker would say. "It was a tip, and we had to check it out. The information would have been too valuable if the tip was true."

"Of course it wasn't true," she said bitterly. "That fucker just wanted a window of opportunity, and he got it. He killed Marc and ran off. God knows where he is now."

Her brother, Officer Marc Baker, was killed instantly in the blast. Memories of the horrifying gore flashed to mind as Reuben recalled the explosion. He remembered vividly how he felt hot blood cover him like a sheet of rain. The smell of open bowls and gunpowder was easy to recall. Those things hardly bothered him anymore. After fighting at Elizabethtown, his sense of violence had become completely desensitized.

He placed a hand on her shoulder and said, "I'm sorry, Jackie. They'll find him."

"Right," she replied hastily. Her words stung even as they left her mouth, and she knew she was being too harsh. To soften her demeanor, she lifted a hand and placed it over Reuben's fingertips on her shoulder. "Thanks, Reuben."

Reuben offered her a warming smile, and gave he shoulder a squeeze. Just as he did, there was a light knock on the doorframe behind them. The two turned to see Commander Hatch standing in the doorway.

"Another meeting," he stated. "The Vice Captain and I forgot to discuss travel arrangements." He lingered a moment, before glancing past the two of them to the wounded man. "How is he?"

"Same, sir," Jackie replied. Hatch nodded, before disappearing wordlessly. With a sigh, Jackie stood and prepared to head to the dining hall with Reuben. The trip down the halls was silent, but the two traded looks every so often. Soon they arrived at the dining hall, where everyone was present-- everyone except Parker and Sal.

Just as Reuben and Jackie sat down, the whole room turned to see Parker and Sal rush in, barely modest. Their hair was disheveled and their clothes were crooked and hastily dressed. Parker's boots were unlaced and he was buckling his pistol belt as he entered the room, and Sal was barefoot and desperately trying to smooth out her hair. It was obvious what the two had been doing when the Vice Captain, who was sitting at the end of the table shaking his head, had interrupted them.

The meeting was brief. Hatch acknowledged the officers that had volunteered for the venture, one of which was Lieutenant Jackie DeWitt. Reuben surmised that Jackie felt she needed to go to earn whatever justice she could for what had happened to her brother and the rest of her team. Then the Vice Captain spoke on travel arrangements; he suggested, and Parker and Hatch agreed, that the security force travel with the Runners while the militia will lag some distance behind to thin their presence in the wilderness. Parker reasoned that this was better than them all traveling as one group, but still preferred that none of them come at all.

"That's all," Hatch declared. "I promise there won't be another meeting today. Meet back here at sunrise. We're getting an early start tomorrow."

Upon dismissal, everyone began standing and leaving. Reuben stood and made his way toward Parker, who was following short behind Sal as they left. Tapping his shoulder, Reuben got Parker's attention and pulled him aside.

"Seriously? You two, here?" Reuben prodded indignantly.

Parker just smiled and shrugged, saying, "Hey, we're about to go off to the first war in almost a century. Might as well, right?"

Pulling away from the conversation, Parker hurried to catch up to Sal, leaving Reuben standing in surprise. He wanted to be mad at Parker, but when he realized that it was just because it was Sal he was with, he brushed the feeling off and sighed. He had a good point-- Reuben had not realized that if the Louisville militia responded with force, it really would be war. The idea sounded crazy. Even crazier was the thought that he would be a soldier in the war. He had never fought in force-on-force against human enemies, at least not on such a large scale. What if he never made it back? Suddenly Parker's logic made complete sense. As he thought on that, his eyes trailed to Jackie.

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Re: ZPAW

Post by Raptor 6 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:21 pm

Why didnt i get the notification for this thread!!!!!!

Atleast i got moar.

Keep it up, this is one of my favorite stories so far
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Re: ZPAW

Post by SteveD » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:12 pm

Wow I'm late to the party with this story....Please keep writing. :D
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