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Jack_Dervish
02/13/2007 5:35 PM

THE KANSAS BARRENS
JULY 2, 2020

Pain struck her face. The black thread knitted shut the cleft in her leg, and tiny droplets of blood welled up and fell from the curved needle that pierced her skin. She looked up at the man helping her -- who was he? One minute she had been running from a wild dog, the next she was on the ground and staring up at the stranger in dusty black clothes. He was a handsome man, probably in his early to mid thirties. He was sturdy and athletic, with dreadlocked brown hair under a black baseball cap. His fingerless gloves allowed his long fingers to move with expert precision when holding a needle (or the large revolver she saw him shoot the dog with). When he had spoken to her it was in a strange accent she couldn't quite place.

"Howzit?" He had said.

"W-what?"

"Are you well, ah?"

"I-- I'm fine. Thank you..."

"That's a nasty gash you have. Took a spill back there, ah?"

She had looked down and seen the injury, which had occurred some time between her tripping on a rock and the gunshot that ended the dog pursuing her. It was a deep gash that oozed dark blood; in the dusty air it would go septic in a matter of hours without proper care. He had held up his palms in a non-threatening gesture and gently took her leg in his hands. She had winced; the gash cut right along her calf. "Jisses... We gotta get you patched up now now. Hold still, love."

She took it as unusual that the strange man was concerned with her health. In the wasteland, it was every man for himself. She had only just begun to learn this fact since leaving Topeka. If you weren't one of the thousands of hapless victims of raiders, you were one of the roadites fighting each other over scraps of dead animals.

When he finished stitching her leg, he wrapped her leg in gauze before dousing the needle in alcohol and placing it back in his medical kit. As he returned the kit to his backpack he looked at her sternly. "Now what's goin' on in that head of yours? You craze or somethin'? You gonn' get killed out here alone."

"I... I got lost. My parents-- Oh god, I have to get back to them!"

She jerked away and rose to her feet. The stranger quickly placed his hands on her shoulders and held her in place. "Hold on, love. You need to go easy on that leg. Now I haven't seen any settlements for the last three days. Is there one nearby?"

"We're trying to get to California... There's a boat that goes to Chile out there."

"Jisses... Roadites..."

"What?"

"All right, I'll help you find your family. You lead the way, ah? What's your name, love?"

"Marie... What's yours?"

"Jack. Jack Dervish."

Verbalscrapper
02/14/2007 1:19 PM

Meg shouldered her M16 and unslung her M40. There was a dust cloud on the horizon and if it was potential food she wanted in. She lowered herself onto her belly adjusting her green forage cap as she brought her eye to her scope. A mangy looking Quarter Horse was galloping it's way across the abandoned streets. A saddle and bridle could still be seen, it's silver plated stirrups glinting in the harsh sun. She followed it with her scope. "Sorry bud but it's a man eat horse world out here." She pulled the trigger and watched as the beast dropped with a dusty thud. She cringed and shook her head. It was dispicable what had happened here. People just couldn't get along with eachother and now they had paid the ultimate price. She laughed synically.
"Well Meggers, you always said you believed in population control." She began her stroll towards the carcass looking at the world around her. The remenants of an American flag caught her boot. She spat on it and kicked it aside. The beloved president of her youth, she still blamed him for all this. She could still see his monkey face, his ears sticking out on his wrinkled face. She reached the dead animal and swatted at the flies that had already managed to find the body. Insects, or course insects had survived. She lugged off the tack and put it in neat pile. She would take it home later, use it for something. She began gathering scrap wood and anything flamable, including the saddle blanket. She reached one leather gloved hand into a pocket and pulled out the matches labled Walmart. At the strike of a match she heard the loud shot of a gun and the high pitched wail of a dog who had met its maker. She would investigate later but for now it was chow time. She watched the flame go up and continued to feed it kindeling. She didn't particularly like the taste of horse but beggars can't be choosers.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:24 PM]

Jack_Dervish
02/14/2007 2:47 PM

"What town are we in, anyway?" Marie asked as she and Jack strolled through the abandoned streets. She stepped on a pane of broken glass that belonged to an old McDonalds and it crunched under her sneakers.

"Milfay, last I saw. 'Hard to tell with all these signs ripped out. I have a map--" Suddenly Jack froze and grabbed the revolver tucked in the back of his pants. He raised his hand and stopped Marie dead in her tracks.

"What is it?"

Jack pointed ahead at the plume of smoke rising off in the distance. It was distinctly different than the usual clouds of dust sweeping through town; somebody was here. He looked behind him and started to whisper. "Stay low and out of sight. If you don't hear from me in one hour, head west, ah?"

"Jack, I'm scared!"

"Just stay out of sight, love. I'll be back."

Marie was about to protest, but Jack was already on the move. She was confident that a man like Jack could handle himself, but she feared being alone. And now, with the thought of her newly found protector not making it back, the sheer terror of that possibility truly set in.

* * *

Jack crept up stealthily, using the buildings as cover and the passing gusts of wind as a sound buffer between his footsteps and the ears of whoever was out there. Down here there wasn't as much snow as there was up north, so his dark attire provided much better camouflage than it did against a ghost-white background. He rounded a bend where the smoke cloud was in plain view and pulled a pair of binoculars out of his backpack.

He put them up to his eyes and adjusted the lenses through the dusty haze. A single woman -- probably in her late twenties -- dissected a horse carcass by her campfire. By her attire she could have been anything: a Roadite, a scavenger, or just some drifter who happened upon an easy meal. At first he was about to dismiss her appearance, but then he spotted the artillery she was packing and tensed up. Anyone with military weapons -- especially high-powered rifles -- could only be one of two things: a raider, or law enforcement. Neither of those options appealed to him, especially because he was a foreigner with a handgun. Regardless of whether the United States was defunct or not, there was a constant when it came to Americans and their guns: no alien shall bear arms. Jack knew it well not to present his weapon in the face of "government officials".

Just then, a chunk of debris fell from the rooftop of the building he was hiding behind, and the woman looked up. Jack quickly ducked and cursed under his breath; he didn't want to kill anyone today, but if that woman started firing, he wouldn't have a choice.


[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 2:51 PM]

Mauve
02/14/2007 5:00 PM

Mauve, a slender young woman, sauntered towards a deserted road from the east, moving rather slower than she had been for the last few days. As a lone traveler at a young age, she had lost her map and have been walking towards the South by using merely her compass which she had stolen from a stranger she had walked into some days ago. Dragging her feet along the uneven rocky soil, she managed to find and set foot on the road. She pursued her route, tucking some of her hair behind her ears and pulling her coat closer to her as she went through a strong gust of wind. She wiped her forehead with the back of her left hand as the other sought her nose.

"What a weather this is..."

The hand would've met her nose. She managed to let out a short sneeze and halted to a stop as she saw a form standing some feet away from her. She squinted, straining hard, to see if the figure was an animal or a human, and if it was a human was he/she harmful or not. She cocked her head to the left, not moving an inch until she knew who she was going to come across with.

[Edited by Mauve on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 5:02 PM]

[Edited by Mauve on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 5:05 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/14/2007 5:59 PM

Meg turned her head up at the sound of debris falling from above. She put down her M40 and took out her M16.
"Hello?"
Her voice was inquisitive not threatening or frightened. She kept her gun in hand but did not raise it to fire nearly kept it by her side for protection.
"I'm friendly, I swear I don't bite. Less of course I'm really freaking hungry, but other than that I don't bite." She looked around hoping to hear something more. She was jumpy these days, as was every one. She shook her head.
"Man Meg you're really losing it. One day we're fine just you and me, and the next day completly bonkers, completly fracking bonkers."
She squatted back down to her meat and took a chunk from over the fire testing it with her teeth.
"What I wouldn't give for a stick of beef jerky right now." She took a bite of the horse meat and chewed toughtfully trying to imagine a piece of filet mingon. Her squat became a cross legged sit as she munched on her meal. if she could haul this thing home, she would be set for some time.

Jack_Dervish
02/15/2007 1:23 AM

Marie whipped around at the sound of a sneeze behind her, and -- terrified -- shoved herself closer into the wall. The figure had obviously spotted her, albeit with some measure of difficulty given the dust clouds being kicked up every few seconds. She trembled with fear; raiders were commonplace in ghost towns like this, and they had a habit of targeting teenage girls. Her only course of action was to hide, and hope that the figure didn't come to investigate.

* * *

Jack hesitated. Was this some kind of government trap? It seemed unlikely; the woman was talking to herself and had obvious signs of isolation. A raider also seemed unlikely, as they ran in groups and never ventured out alone, and even in the odd event that they did, weren't nearly as prone to soliloquy as her. Though he had every reason not to, something compelled him to bridge communication with the stranger. "Howzit?"

He stepped out slowly, half concealed by the building, with his gun hand out of sight. "Let's keep the guns out of it, ah? I just want to talk."

Jack kept his hand firmly on the grip of his revolver, waiting for the woman to put down her weapon.

Verbalscrapper
02/15/2007 12:46 PM

The woman jumped at the sound of a voice.
"Haha I'm not nuts! She put the gun down and scrambled to her feet quickly dusting off her patched cargo pants. She squinted her eyes at the man hiding halfway behind the building and smiled.
"Aww come on now I ain't gonna shoot ya. I have food, everyone loves food, brought plenty of people back in the day." Her voice quieted. "That seems like a lifetime ago now. Ah but no need briniging up sore times in the face of company, come sit eat. There's no way I am gonna be able to consume this all on my own. And guns, ack guns are for poor sports who can't settle their differences."
She stayed by her fire not willing to come towards him lest he have a trap wating behind the wall. If he wanted her kill he would have to fight her for it. She rubbed her hands together trying to scratch off some of the blood drying to them. She smiled at the guy trying to make herself as open and inviting as possible.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:31 PM]

LunaMaria
02/15/2007 12:55 PM

Alexa's Hummer was making good pace on the dusty tarmac, the carcases of building lined the road like silent tome stones. It's was fairly likely they were, she had read the brief and a wrecked house meant a wrecked family was dead somewhere out there. She had to make it to the far side to meet up with the group, good thing the new hummers ran on batteries not the now rare oil or shed never make it. "Those fly guys don't have a clue how far 70 miles is to you when your on the ground, for God's sake," She talked over the fuzz of the radio there were no station running out here, the silence would kill her before anything else did.

She made the turn past a crumpled tower block, the heat detector in the Hummer went off there was a lump against one of the buildings. She had no time or need to stop, it's may not seem it driving round the empty streets but she wasn't trying to be found and forced to fight the locals. She didn't know it but many paths crossed on this road today; the tale of the blood spots, the dusty footprints, the discarded horseshoe, the hummer rolling up the dust and covering all other tracks.

She swerved to avoided the girl in the road the dust cloud enveloped her, Alexa turned her head to see but she was already gone. She turned back only to be met by a new threat, a figure in the middle of the road. "Don't people use pavements anymore," ran though her head as she span the wheel and pressed on the breaks. The Hummer stopped pressed into the kerb the dust settling behind, Alexa flipped the ignition, no reply. "The battery must have come loose," she muttered under her breath, she took a M18 from the passenger seat and opened the door.




[Edited by LunaMaria on Thursday, February 15, 2007 1:34 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/15/2007 1:25 PM

Meg coughed at the dust blown up by the hummer.
"Cheeze it crisp man! Who the hell drives those anymore? She looked at her horse carcass covered in a fine layer of dust and gravel now. She had eaten worse, and that wasn't about to kill her apetite. She looked down at her guns.
"This isn't one of your friends is it?" She called to the man behind the building. "Cause if it is then the whole gun thing we discussed might have to be rediscussed."
Meg squatted low to the ground keeping a hand close to the ground in case they had to flash for her guns.
"I really don't feel like getting shot so if everyone could, I don't know clarify that would be a good thing. Plus I don't have room in my meat locker for human and horse and well, I haven't eaten anyone in quite a while and I would like to keep it that way."
She rubbed at her eye with her less alert hand. The dust was doing nothing for her already irritated eyes and nose.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:36 PM]

LunaMaria
02/15/2007 1:39 PM

She used the Hummer as a shield ducked below the roof moving towards the back, she was light on the ground the dust didn't rise to much to get in her eyes. She peaked round to get where they figure was now, there was still to much dust in the air. Alexa moved back behind the wheel and sank to the floor with the wheel hub to her back; she took a pair of goggles out of her left pocket and strapped them on the nose strap dug in.

"Who's out there?" There was no reply, "Maybe they ran off soon as seen me."

"If you don't answer i will shoot you,"

She wasn't sure how far she'd gone after putting the breaks on.

There was a reply. She knew it was bad out here but eatting people, thats a bit over the top there was more food back home but eating people.

Alexa, they wouldn't know who i was "I'll be on my way soon as i get this trash running,"

She popped up from behind the Hummer with the dust seting back down, "Can i trust you to be civil?"

A figure in a trench coat could now be seen and they were holding some type of large weapon. The dust had formed a layer over the top making them seem like a brown rock.

[Edited by LunaMaria on Thursday, February 15, 2007 1:43 PM]

Mauve
02/15/2007 1:49 PM

Mauve uttered a low moan to come out of her throat as she sheilded her eyes to avoid the dust that the car which rampaged by her carried. She lowered her right arm and dusted her coat of the dusts that setled themselves upon it. Hearing some type of voice, she raised her head, looking here and there, trying to locate where the voice was coming from. She looked around, seeing that the form she saw earlier standing at the road was gone, yet to be replaced by a car and another shadow figure that stood beside it. She knitted her brows together, trying to figure out what the person was trying to communicate to her.

"Wha'... what was that?" She said this meekly, trying to see if the person was someone to fear.

Verbalscrapper
02/15/2007 1:56 PM

"Civil, why yes I can be quite civil. I'm just saying sometimes it gets rough." Meg yawned and coughed as she inhaled dust. It was beginning to settle and she could see the little head popped up over the car.
"You kow people are too jumpy these days ducking behind buildings, cars, next thing you know we won't even bother to meet and greet we'll just. Well, Boom! ya know. I don't know Meggers these peeps they are just not right. You're welcome to the horse too if you want. Like I was telling him, It's alot o' meat."
Meg scratched the back of her head. She would have taken a shower before she left the house if she knew she was going to be having company. What an odd day, bumping into two people. She recognized the hummer girls accent, definetly from the Emerald Isles, but the other one, Australian perhaps. Well one thing was for sure, this war had brought diversity to a once mainly white wasteland. She stood from her crouch her weapon in hand now just in case this was some cruel trap.
"Well everyone it is only polite to intorduce yourselves. I'm Meg, the dead thing I have taken to calling Henry and the guns they are Hoot Hoot, and well the M16 we are still working on."
She looked at the large weapon staring at it for a moment before looking back up and shrugging. "I think I will call her Little Boomer."

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:40 PM]

LunaMaria
02/15/2007 2:08 PM

Alexa gave it some thought; she stepped out of cover holding the M18 in both hands.

"I'm Glen Parsh, I work for the US postal service. I'm trying to get to Fort Smith I don't mean any harm. Like I said I just need to get this wreck moving and I'll be out of here and you can get on with..... Eating." The thought of what was now a woman was eating from the poor creature revoled her, she's never seen meat come off of the animal before.

Alexa lowered her gun and flipped it over her back, she opened the hatch on the back of the hummer reviling the sliver cylinder that was the battery. She turned to look at the woman who now could be seen clearly, "you gona stand there, and it'll be nice if you dropped you're owl."

Alexa saw two other figures one behind a low wall and there other walking down the road, "These your friends?" Taking the gun back into her hands.



[Edited by LunaMaria on Thursday, February 15, 2007 2:11 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/15/2007 2:13 PM

"I did drop my owl, It's over there, this is Boomer." She shook her head. And now turned to the guy hiding behond the building. "Alright your turn buddy. Come on fess up, name and such." She asked him as she went back to tending her frazzled fire and picked up a now well done piece of meat, chewing on it thoughtfully. Maybe the dust had made it taste better. She sat and placed Little Boomer on the ground next to the M40 she called Hoot Hoot. these people were strange.

LunaMaria
02/15/2007 2:24 PM

Alexa gave the Hummer a kick, "Not the battery," she moaned. Meg had got back to eating and as she wasn't bothered by the others why should she. She walked round to the front and opened the hood, steam poured out good thing she still had the goggles on. She looked at it for a while then got out a penknife and started picking sand out of the radiator. This took about thirty seconds to do but the Hummer was out for a good twenty minuets, Alexa turned all there was, was the sound of the wind and Meg chowing down. She climbed back into the Hummer and sprawled out over the back seats. 1711 hours 19 minuets until the mission was over if all went to plan. She took a ration pack out and one of her canteens, no horse meat for her. Strange people

Jack_Dervish
02/15/2007 3:21 PM

Jack kept his gun out of sight and stared at the newcomer in the Humvee. The vehicle must have been electric -- or perhaps a hybrid -- since its approach had been relatively quiet. One thing was certain: this "Glen Parsh" was no postal worker. He had conned enough people in his day to know when someone was lying through their teeth. Moreover, he had lived in the United States for the better part of ten years, and had never seen a postal worker who wasn't even of legal voting age, let alone a foreigner.

As for Meg, she was clearly half-insane. Jack knew to be cautious around mentally unstable people, especially when they wielded military-grade weapons and named dead horses that they were busy eating.

"Postal worker, ah? I didn't know they let juniors deliver parcels."

Jack itched to have someone on his side with a gun. He couldn't cover two armed people with a single revolver, at least not when they were a fair distance apart. He would continue to stay partially concealed by the wall, gun hand out of plain view, waiting for one of the women before him to make the wrong move.

Jack knew this much: whoever the woman in the hummer was, she was no postal worker. She was British, that much was obvious, but the Brits had no business in America unless they were part of relief work. Any relief worker wouldn't lie about his or her identity; aid was greeted with open arms in these parts. No, something else was going on -- something big.

Whatever the case, Jack wasn't about to be played a fool. "Hey bru, you know who I am? Why don't you tell us what you're really doing here, ah?"

* * *

Marie hid, her breathing becoming rapid and panicked. The sounds of multiple people meant raiders, and raiders meant death. She pulled her legs tightly into her chest as the lanky figure approached her. All she could do was utter a whimper.

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Thursday, February 15, 2007 3:23 PM]

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Friday, February 16, 2007 1:09 AM]

LunaMaria
02/15/2007 3:42 PM

Alexa looked up from her soup over at a man who had finally come out from behind the wall, 1950 hippie was what came to mind looking at him, history.

She wound down her window and caught the end of what he was saying, "Why don't you tell us what you're really doing here, ah?"

This could be a pain, "Like is said to Meg here I'm a posty, I got documents for Lieutenant Brug at Fort Smith, I just follow orders.... You want soup or would you rather have horse meat with her?"

He look as if he was about to reply but a scream echoed out through the cracked buildings. He turn raising his gun, Alexa open the back door and came out M18 in hand, "Anyone you know?" Tired of this question.

Verbalscrapper
02/15/2007 3:54 PM

Meg twitched at the scream, hating lound noises. A hand shot towards her gun but she thought better of it. She stayed low leaning against the building and looking in both directions.
"You know all we were looking for was a quiet meal. Shit man now all these people coming guns ablazin, screams a shakin the air. useless sound pollution." She continued in on the horse watching the two jumpy people yell at eachother, eyeing the Brit carefully as she shouldered her weapon.
"Damn people, always making a rucus."

Jack_Dervish
02/16/2007 1:29 AM

He was about to retort to the mock postal worker when he heard the scream, and his instinct took over. A sudden escalation in the situation provoked a gut reaction to flee the scene. He would regroup later, but for now he had to tend to the source of the scream -- which could only mean Marie was in trouble. He ducked out of view in an instant, leaving the standoff and a cloud of dust behind.

The mystery of the faux postal worker would have to wait.

* * *

Marie slapped her palm over her mouth, a pair of teardrops streaming down her cheeks. She had screamed, albeit unintentionally, and awaited her ultimate fate. It was right then at her apex of terror that she heard a familiar voice shouting from behind her. "Get your hands in the air!"

Her head whipped around and she saw Jack standing with his revolver pointing outward, blue eyes blazing with intensity, commanding the lanky figure to surrender. "I don't want to kill you, bru, but I will if you don't put your fucking hands in the air!"

The situation was tense. Jack knew that it wouldn't be long before the other two women would investigate the scream, and if this stranger was with one of them, it would mean a shootout was inevitable. He gripped his revolver tightly and took in his surroundings. If a fight did happen, he was going to be prepared.

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 7:41 AM

Meg looked at the young woman in her Humvee. It did't look lke she was going to shoot anyone. She picked up her M16 and M40 and slung them across her back. The scream had sounded young and not to far off. If someone needed help she was on it. Allies were welcome in this place. She looked at the dead horse.
"Henry, you stay here, if you're not back when I get back here you're in big trouble. Stay." She squinted her eyes at the young postal worker making sure she wasn't about to drive off with her kill. She walked off in the towards the sound kicking pieces of debris along with her. She heard Jack yelling for someone to stand down and she instinctively fell to the ground expecting to hear gun shots next. She crawed on her belly to where she could see faces. She saw the back of Jacks head and his revolver pointing at someone. The figure did not look like it could scream. She looked around, looking for pieces of cover to use if things got hairy. There was a fallen piece of wall and behind it a young girl. That looked like it could scream. She stayed low trying to kick up as litle dust as possible, shimmiying her way over to the fallen wall.
"Hey kiddy. Are you alright? No, , no, don't scream, I'm really not here to hurt anyone. I can't say the same for your friend. Alright Iam gonna come over to your piece of wall."
She crawled around to the other side and saw the young girls stitched leg.
"Hey there kid, you're alright with me, I look alot scarier than I am." She smiled. "Meg at your service." She tiped her hat. "Now lets see what we can do to make sure these bullets don't come flying at you, right?"

LunaMaria
02/16/2007 9:02 AM

"You hear that, theres a a young miss out here and shes nay been to say howdy."
"Mighty rude, best go teach her a lesson,"
"That we sould, get that dang horse two."
"Saddle up boys,"

The trio Hitched up their guns and climbed on their horses, they made their move.

___________________________________________________

Alexa kept to the opposite side of the street, the others had gone to the sound of the scream, this could be a chance. She had taken the two M18 from the Hummer; the horse lay still in the middle of the road, it still grossed her out. She clambered up a wrecked and crumbled wall of a two story and knelt next to the window, she uncliped her vest so she could move better and looked out. She could see all four figures; Meg to the left with someone else and the man standing near a fourth, Alexa couldn't hear much from up here, "I don't - to kill - bru, but - if you don't - in - air!" she got the jist.

She pulled one of the M18s and placed the barrel on the window frame, the nose stuck out about 3 inches . Alexa adjusted her goggles and pressed her thin frame on the butt of the gun, just to be prepared when something caught her eye. "You've got to be kidding me,"

____________________________________________________

"Came from nearby here Buba,"
"Tie the horses, keep low, we all know what happened to Jerry."

The trio pulled out assortments of firearms and moved down the street just out of sight of everyone other than Alexa.

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 10:09 AM

Meg unslung her M16 keeping it on her lap but not swinging around to use it. She didn't want to draw any unwanted attnetion to the girl and her.

"Listen lass, if things start getting bad you need to stay low alright, theres no need for innocents to be shot down cause of some brutes." She kept her head behind the rock waiting for something to tell her she could come from hiding. She bobbed her head as she waited. ""Hello lamp post what you knowing, I come to watch your flowers growing, ain't you got no rhymes for me..." The Paul Simon song rang quietly from her lips. She smiled at th young girl now looking at her as if she wasa complete loon. "Hey it helps to keep spirits up, it's a good song besides."

LunaMaria
02/16/2007 10:51 AM

The trio of men cocked their guns when they heard Meg's verse, they moved couched from the other side of the walled courtyard from her.

Alexa adjusted herself into a better position and move her goggles to her forehead, she pressed her right eye to the scope. No longer could she see the man or the fourth figure, but she didn't need to it was clear that Meg was next to the girl that has screamed and she couldn't care less what happened to him. She moved the scope to look at the girl next to Meg, she took her all in from ragged sneakers, and stitching to her dusty hair. One thing was clear this girl wasn't going to be a match for these guys so it was up to crazy. Alexa move the scope and pointed it at Megs head, "Bang crazy lady, bang," her moment of childishness was over and she took the scope away from her eye.

______________________________________________

"Split up, she doesn't know were here yet, take her alive."
"Gotcha,"
"Right away,"

They moved; one across the middle of the courtyard, one along the far wall and one on the near side, all hidden from Meg even if she looked over the wall. The one on the near side to Alexa as only 3 ft from Meg and the girl. He had an old style revolver in his hand and a yellow cowfellas hat, he kind of looked like a cowboy from an old western, if it wasn't for the Nike jacket.

__________________________________________________

Alexa pulled her eye to the scope, she aim at the closest guy. Meg had turned to the girl and he was just about to turn the corner. Alexa fired the three shots in burst and ducked back from the window. "That was for the girl."

__________________________________________________

He thought that he had been bitten as he fell down, "What the hell?"he couldn't move any more and he felt cold running in his veins. His head lolled to one side, the last thing he saw was a shocked girl and non-plus Meg, "Huh?"

The one in the courtyard turns looking for the shots, the other disappears from view near where the man was seen last.

__________________________

Alexa gave some thought, no need to get shot at, so she yelled at the top of her voice, "Meg two left, one on your six,"

[Edited by LunaMaria on Friday, February 16, 2007 10:52 AM]

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 11:15 AM

Meg turned to her left, ignoring the "to her six" command. She never was very good with that whole direction system.
"Now lass would be a great time to cover your ears." She pulled the trigger of her M16 as she saw the first man.
"Bullet with a name on it, bullet with a name!" The semi automatic rifle shot spurts of bulets at the first man she saw, catching him in the face. "Woot! You know I never learned the rest of that damn song." She shrugged and hit the dirt as the third man fired at her. Apparently that was the direction of her six. She poped up from under the wall and fired some more shots, they glance harmlessly off the debris, kicking up dust. She took cover once more. "Gears of War you taught me well." Another confused face. "It was way before your time kiddo." She stopped a second and looked up toward the sky. "Now what was that song, goramit I just had it. Ah screw it." She release danother volley of bullets. "Girl you really got me now, you got me so I don't know what I'm doing." She stood, trigger finger releasing wave after wave of bullets. "Come on you fucker, lets hear ya sing!" The wide smile on her face was less than reassuring. "Ha, ha!"
Dakka dakkka dakka.
Her gun resounded.
"You're nuts!" He yelled from over the debris.
"I wouldn't say nuts I would say border line insanity, with a hintof unique personality. It's part of my loving charm. Now fuck it man shoot back!" Another round f bullets sent her scrambling to the ground. "Thank you! now what the hell was that song... Oh, oh I know! 'I think there's something wrong with me 'cause I don't fit in, noone wants to touch it, noone knows where to begin." An Ani Difranco classic.

LunaMaria
02/16/2007 12:27 PM

Alexa slid down the pile of rubble she had climbed over earlier, she hit the ground running and it took her a good 7 seconds to reach the walled edge of the courtyard. She could have taken as long as she liked with these two loons firing at the rocks in-between them. With Meg and this guy yelling at each over she wasn't noticed crossing the courtyard, Alexa crouched her back to the wall only a few meters from the guy. A burst of shots from Meg sailed on millimetres past her arm and embedded into the wall, "Doesn't she get the point and click interface?"

Alexa jumped up and rolled over the wall, she was right next to the guy on her back. She pulled out her Glock 26 and aimed it at his crotch, "Drop it," he was midway to aiming his Aka at her. "Don't make me shoot, you," he complied and dropped the Yugoslavian weapon, "On your knees," he did so. Alexa pulled herself to her feet and lowered her gun, "Go on yet out of here," he rose to his feet and aided by a swift kick legged it back the way he had come.

Alexa turned after watching the guy run only to be facing the man from before, he had a gun pointed at her face. All Alexa did was mutter an quiet "Oh,"

Jack_Dervish
02/16/2007 1:38 PM

When the shooting had begun, Jack's immediate reaction had been to dive for the point of cover he had mapped out seconds earlier. He didn't know where the bullets were coming from, only that they were peppering the buildings surrounding him. Marie screamed and huddled into a fetal position while Meg crawled by her and returned fire while screaming music from before the war; the lanky figure from before had long since ducked out of sight; and the faux postman had since crept up on the raiders and threatened his manhood with her pistol. It was at that point that Jack had decided to make his move. He had dashed out of sight along the edge of the adjoining buildings, pistol in hand, and circled around to flank the postman just out of Meg's line of sight. It was only him and the postman now.

Her back was turned; he was going to get some answers.

He raised his revolver at her head and cleared his throat. She spun around and uttered a low, "Oh,"

"Posty, ah? Why don't you cut the crap, love, 'fore I find out the truth the hard way."

He could see her twitch, and he pulled back the hammer on his gat for emphasis. "You're no raider, and you're no postman. What are you -- MI5? No, you're no spy -- MI5 would've had a better cover story than the bullocks you just fed me. You're just a grunt, which means the EU's up to something. What are you doing here?"

* * *

Marie shivered and looked at Meg. The crazy lady had just executed a raider while singing, but at least the lanky figure had gone. She looked around and shouted, "Jack? Jack!"

LunaMaria
02/16/2007 2:20 PM

"What do you want me to say?"

Alexa looked past the barrel of the gun in to his eyes, "I'll be going soon any you'll never see me again, so what does it matter who I am other than the one who saved all your hides?"

Alexa holstered the Glock and bent down to pick up the M18 she had left on the floor, his gun was still pointed at her face as she did this. Alexa stood still, she stared him back, even the wind silenced to watch this match.

The dust blew up into a blistering storm, a swishing sound cut through the air, the blades span only 30 or so meters above their heads. Alexa saw her escape, she pulled sideways and punched the man in the gut, his gun went off and grazed her left shin. Alexa let out a pained yelp getting a mouth full of sand and dust. She pulled he goggles down and ran with a limp though the hole that the man had come toward the Hummer.

Alexa ran with an half hobble half sprint, this was a hard way to move at the best of times but in a burning sand storm nay on imposable. She nearly reached the Hummer when something caught her leg, she tripped and smashed head first in to the side of the beast.

She fell limply to the ground, she lay there splayed with blood trickling from her bandanna, "That hurt," and she blacked out.



[Edited by LunaMaria on Friday, February 16, 2007 2:27 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 2:57 PM

Meg looked at the two of them staring at eachother, listened to the girl yell out the name Jack.

"Is that your dad or something kid cause honestly he looks a little busy."

She listened to the two of them talk. Some babble about the EU. Why the hell would EU be here? It wasn't like there was much here to love, and how did the EU survive all these years. Ah more memories she wished to forget.

"Saved our arses, pfft, I could taken those bastards out with my bare hands." She turned away from the stand off, not because she was uninterested but because she didn't want to catch a stray bullet.
"Well little one you're on your own now. Looks like you got Jack here for ya."

She started the walk back to the horse carcass wanting to start cutting it up for transport. Was that a copter, the wook wook wook of blades certainly seemed to cofirm this to be so. She looked up but was blinded by the dust being kicked up by the sky horse. She ran trying to beat out all the dust being thrown into the air coming to rest right where she had started; her meal. She heard gunshots and grabbed her M16. These people were hard up for a fight. A quick ugh, and then a fleshy thud made her look down. Out of the dust kicked up by the chopper was the supposed postal worker. She was passed out lying next to, almost on top of the gutted horse. She smiled, if it had been alive and asleep, the picture would have been absolutley adorable.

She put the gun down and reached into her shoulder bag for a cloth to wipe the blood from her face. These rash young ones these days, what was this world going to do?

Jack_Dervish
02/16/2007 3:22 PM

Jack had been winded slightly, but had taken much worse punches in the past. The girl had hurt his pride more than anything -- he had made a rookie mistake letting her get too close to him. Luckily, with a magnum round to the shin, she'd be hard-pressed to make any sort of haste. Jack grabbed the nearby assault rifle that one of the raiders had dropped earlier and gave chase towards the woman.

Blood and footprints marked her path; not that he'd need them to track her. There was only one place she'd go, and that was to her vehicle. He sprinted after her, when after a few meters he heard a loud metallic thud up ahead. He rushed ahead and spotted her lying on the ground, bleeding from the forehead.

He began to approach when the whirl of helicopter blades halted his path. A man perched in the side seat of what appeared to be a Russian transport chopper fired several rounds at Jack, who had been running towards the hummer below with an assault rifle in hand. Quickly, he dived out of the way as the helicopter hovered, feeling the puff of air from bullets whizzing over his head. He popped out briefly to see what was going on, but all he could make out was a man in military uniform rappel down from the helicopter, grab the unconscious woman, and lift her up with him as the chopper flew away.

Jack, now more than ever, was positive the EU was involved.

* * *

"What's her condition, Charlie?"

"She's stable, but she took a gunshot to the leg and hit her head."

"What about her vehicle?"

"The transceiver read that the motor had died. We'll send a detachment of engineers to recover it later; right now, we've got to get her to medical."

* * *

Jack walked towards the crazy woman by the horse, who was now hard at work dissecting the rest of its remains. He was about to point his rifle at her head when Marie came out of nowhere and screamed, "No! She's on our side!"

Jack paused and looked at the young girl, smirked, and lowered his weapon. "Well then, I suppose introductions are in order, ah?"

"Her name's Meg." Marie said.

"Is that right? Well, I'm Jack, and I see you've met Marie. Now, I don't want to seem rude, but I have to be getting this young lady back to her family, so if you'll excuse me..."

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Friday, February 16, 2007 3:30 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 3:47 PM

Meg looked up at the chooper and ducked out of the way as more gunshots were fired. She tried to return fire but she couldn't see, she could only hear a thick Russian accent. The chopper dissappeared and the dust settled. Now her horse was less than edile. Waste of a perfectly good beast. She crossed her arms over her chest and removed her cap dusting it off on her cargos. She tucked the rag back into her shoulder bag.

"No! She's on our side!" Meg shot her head up and to the side and noticed the man had a gun pointed at her.

"As if that is anyway to greet someone." She put her hat back on her head smiling. "Yes I have met Marie, good kid, reacts pretty well in a tight spot. Jack huh? Well Marie already introduced me. I actually have nothing much to do now that my horse has been desecrated and you could use an extra gun hand and I am a fairly good shot. Frankly I would like to know what is going on." She placed little Boomer and Hoot Hoot on her shoulders and looked at him waiting for a response.

Jack_Dervish
02/16/2007 4:48 PM

Jack looked at the woman's wild, half-psychotic eyes and realized something: these were the first people he had talked to in close to three weeks. He hadn't quite realized it before, but he was starting to feel the pangs of longing for human interaction, regardless of who it came from. Besides that, Meg was right. He could use another gun to watch his back, especially now that trouble was brewing with the EU.

"All right, grab your gear. We're gonn' try to catch a ride with that humvee."

* * *

When Alexa came to, Charlie was sitting over her, smiling. The chopper caused everything to shake, sending uncomfortable vibrations through her wounded leg. "You've got some explaining to do, Corporal. Colonel Lawrence is going to want an explanation for one of His Majesty's scouts going solo into hostile territory."

"LZ coming in!"

Outside was a military camp nesting in a dusty field of dead grass. The expanse of flat, seemingly boundless terrain was enough to make any European wonder what America was doing with all that open space. When they landed, three medical personnel arrived with a stretcher to carry Alexa over to the medical tent.

The injuries she sustained would be nothing compared to the headache of dealing with an angered XO.

* * *

The humvee was a treasure trove, and sure enough, not a mail truck. Three days worth of rations, three-hundred rounds of 5.56mm standard ammunition, flares, tools, and a full compliment of scouting equipment -- the humvee was a portable command center.

The only problem was its battery.

"This is a short range scout. I'd wager her base camp is within a hundred kilometers. Now if we could get this GPS unit up and running..."

"How do you know all this?" Marie asked from the back seat, her little arms dangling over the passenger headrest.

Jack smirked at her. "I paid attention in school, love." In truth, Jack was highly versed in military equipment and tactics due to the number of jobs he pulled against military storage facilities. Had they ever caught him, he would have been in a maximum security military prison (or executed, depending on the country). Luckily for Jack, he had an uncanny ability to think one step ahead of his adversaries.

Towards that end, he popped the hood of the humvee and looked at the computer box: the transceiver was active and blinking. Pulling out his knife, he traced the wire to the transceiver and deftly slashed it. Wherever he took the vehicle, he was off the EU's radar now.

"Let's ride, ah?"

Verbalscrapper
02/16/2007 7:58 PM

Meg shook her head, she had taken many computer classes in college but not one of them helped her understand what he was doing. She dropped her self into the shotgun seat and kicked her feet up onto the dashboard. She looked over at the man, Jack he said his name was. Heh, reminded her of a High School love.

"I'm not crazy you know." She turned her head to him as he entered the car. "Isolated, a little cracked but not unstable." She tucked her guns under the seatand leaned back into the seat, adjusting it to comfort her. She looked back at the girl, She remembered being that age, remembered fearing the war that was hanging in the air.

"Howyou doing back there littlun?"
"I'm alright." Poor kid, Meg thought she had it bad in her time this was just down right miserable. If only her generation had cared more, been more involved, instead of laying back and watching Entertainment Tonight. She listened to the gravel cruch under the car wheels as the man started the car.

"So what do you think the good old EU is doing here in this dump huh?"

LunaMaria
02/17/2007 10:35 AM

~ I walked down past the river to get into town, go shopping on the weekend, Paris was so pretty in the snow. ~

Alexa awoke with a start, she lurched her head up but was pushes back down by a medical attendant, "Don't move yet soldier, it needs another hour to heal so don't move." He was youngish, then again everyone around here was, he smiled, "I'll be back in awhile," He turned to leave, "Don't move."

She lay in the bed, the tent was a dark brown, the light coming in was cast the same colour giving a weird earthy feel to the room. There was constant noise out side, she could here orders being shouted, chopper taking off, car engines driving past. The hour past slowly, the only interruption was a pale looking soldier opening the front of the tent, looking at Alexa and leavening. She let out a sigh, after a few seconds the young attendant came back, "You better get ready the CO is coming over," He pulled a strip of blue fibres off her head and then did the same to her shin. "Good as new," Alexa stood up a little gingerly on her left leg and stood to attention as the CO walked in with his entourage, as did the attendant.

"Corporal, you are charged with desertion, do you have anything to say for you actions?"
Alexa knew this man's face he was, Lt commander Jacker.

"Sir I was dropped off course and given orders by Lt Groght to meet up with the group in Milfay, I'm ready to return to action sir."

"Are you now, well we need everyone we've got. Lt Groght hasn't returned yet, you are being moved to Lt Vasht's unit they need a techy."

"Yes sir, Sir what happened to Commander Gray?"

"He's dead, chopper shot down any more questions corporal?"

"No Sir,"

Jacker and his group left, Alexa started putting her combat kit back on. "You seem eager to get back into the fight," the attendant retired to a chair in the corner of the tent.

"The sooner this is over then the sooner we can eat real food and we can get some leave."

"Is that why?"

"I have my orders don't get a choice," she turned to him hoisting her bag onto her back, "Don't you have anything better to do?"

"Nope, no more hurt yet," he grinned, "Don't come back here ok."

"I don't plan on it," Alexa marched out of the tent and headed to the chopper pads opposite. That guy really started to bug her. The sent of the grass suddenly hit her she couldn't smell it from inside, this was what they were fighting for. She ran her hand over the top of it grabbing a hand full of seed, dropping them into the wind.

"Lieutenant Vasht's unit?" she asked a group of men sat next to a chopper, "That's me what you want, don't tell me your our Techy."

She glared at him, "As a matter of fact I am." the group of men burst into laughter.

"Shut up you guys or I'll leave you here, you better be the best. " He looked like he might smile, "Talk like that to me again and I'll shoot you soldier."

They clambered into the chopper, Alexa didn't relish the thought of being crammed in with a load of smelly guys but it couldn't be helped. She watched the ground shoot past them thought the window opposite, listening to Vasht's orders.


They lay in the buildings over ether side of the roads waiting hidden in the crippled houses, "You sure their coming this way,"
"Lieutenant says so, I don't have a clue, what bout you Techy,"
"Shut up or your going to get us found out."
"Like you know anything,"
"I out rank you private," Alexa longed to say that to someone.

(They kept waiting for the US convoy to come past them, 50 miles south east from Milfay)





[Edited by LunaMaria on Saturday, February 17, 2007 12:40 PM]

Jack_Dervish
02/17/2007 3:12 PM

Jack knew not to use the GPS since it would send a signal back to the EU army's base camp. Not that it mattered; he had a road map and a destination. Marie's parents had probably taken the highway west, so he would follow suit.

"So what do you think the good old EU is doing here in this dump, huh?"

Jack shrugged. "They're not part of any relief effort, so they must be trying to secure resources here. If that's their goal than we're looking at a full-scale invasion... Jisses... They must be desperate to get out of South America's debt."

"Where are you from, anyway?" Marie asked from the back seat.

"South Africa. I came here ten years ago to study medicine in Chicago."

Marie had never met anyone from Africa before. She looked at Jack with wonder; as far as she knew, Africans were black... Then again, the public education system had broken down substantially since the war. It was a wonder she was even this well-spoken.

Jack checked the road map. Route 44 seemed like the most logical path to take, and the Roadite caravans would have to make stops along the way. Stroud was the next stop along this route. Nightfall would come in a few hours, so Jack designated it their rest point.

* * *

The chopper flew over the secluded crossroads town of Stroud en route to Milfay. Colonel Lawrence, the overseer of this campaign, had dictated that fuel conservation was a priority for this mission. The EU had dedicated the last of its petrol reserves to its military forces as a last-ditch effort to stabilize their economic situation. South America was a beast -- an economic giant safely tucked away in the southern hemisphere. Many of its denizens were naturalized refugees from Canada and the US, and so its population swelled. Taking the resources from North America would mean freedom from South American hegemony, and would re-assert the EU as an economic superpower.

The only problem lied in American resistance. There were those in the United States who desperately clung to the idea that America was still a superpower. Pocket militias, remnants of the armed forces, raider gangs, and armed locals stood in the way of the EU's military operation. The EU had to go about this operation carefully and decisively, as a nuclear counterattack was a very real possibility from the remnants of the government.

Charlie looked at his computer screen and frowned. Something was wrong with the humvee's transceiver. "I'm not getting a signal from Alexa's scout. It must've taken fire or--"

"Bloody hell -- look!" One of the soldiers pointed at the carnage below the helicopter. An entire caravan -- eight civilian vehicles in all -- had been annihilated. Charlie could see the carnage wrought just hours earlier play out in his mind; a Molotov cocktail broke on the first vehicle, causing a pileup. What happened next was evident by the burned, mutilated, or otherwise violated victims lying dead by their cars.

"These people are fucking animals! They even killed the children!"

"Raiders..." Charlie uttered. "Inform HQ that we have hostiles in the Stroud area, and--"

"INCOMING!"

Charlie looked on in horror as the co-pilot was struck with bullets through his leg from underneath his seat. He screamed; blood began to gush out in jets while the pilot pulled back hard on the control stick. Charlie grabbed his SA-80 and began firing out the window, but no one was in sight. An instant later, the soldier to his left took a bullet to the head and slumped halfway out the chopper door. Charlie pulled him back inside and kept firing, but several loud thuds and a sharp grinding noise alerted him to the immediate danger of the engines being hit. Warning klaxons blared in the cockpit while the pilot screamed, "We're going down, brace for impact!"

Verbalscrapper
02/17/2007 4:37 PM

Meg sighed pulling her cap down over her eyes.

"Heh ten years ago I was a year out of college, struggling in Boston to find a consulting job, stead with the screw jobs in the white house I ended up working as a bartender in a pub." She rolled down a window and spat. Silence followed.

"We are everybody, we are everybody." Not a particularly elegant tune, and not even a real song. "South Africa eh? You are the last people I expected to come to our aid. As for the EU," another sigh, "taking a chance to take their disobedient child over their knee. I knew our President was going to strain relations beyond repair but this is ridiculous. 'Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk to you again.'"

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Saturday, February 17, 2007 4:39 PM]

LunaMaria
02/18/2007 9:35 AM

*"All units, chopper downed in sector 3900FA, Lt Vasht's can you send men to investigate?"

*"This Vasht I'll send a detail but I'll need reinforcements for the road,"

*"Roger that we'll see what we can do,"

Vasht motioned to the two men in front of him and the tree of them moved across the street to where Alexa and three others were holed up. "I'm sending you four and Techy to that crash site, we may have high ground forces, you guys need to get her close so she can ID what ever it what as then, do what seems best ok?"

They all saluted, "Yes sir,"

"Ok guys were moving out, lets move,"

The four guys and Alexa ran out of the building heading down the street, they had a 30 mile run ahead of them.


__________________________________


Seck looked round the last thing he was aware of was the chopper piling into the ground and Charlie's yell. There was a blood spater across the roof which was now on his left, the ground, grass was under him, he cold hear Charlie's groans and scrambled to the cockpit. "You ok?"
"Do I look bloody ok?" Spat Charlie, blood running out of his nose and mouth.
"I'll pull you out," looking over at the Co-pilot.

"No, get out," Charlie motioned to the group of men coming towards them,

"I'll cover you," Charlie pushed Seck back out of the cockpit, he pulled his Glock ot of it's holster, "This is for Kay."

Seck ran stumbling from the downed chopper behind heading for a small hillock 50 meters away, he clutched a SMG to this chest, "Not good," as he rolled over the hill. He landed on something soft.

Seck moved to see what he landed on, he found himself laying on top of a girl, she looked like she was about to cry. "Hey its ok I'm not going to hurt you," The girl was young, only about twelve or thirteen year old she had blond hair, almond eyes and pale skin, she was malnourished all the kids were round here were. "Who are you?" her eyes watering, he had fallen on her.

Seck was peering over the hill, looking at the guys getting closer to the wreck. They were laughing and joking as they came closer, "I'm Seck, don't make to much noise ok and stay down."
The girl lay with Seck crouched over her, "Keys."

"What?" Seck looked down on the girl for a second and looked back up, Charlie better not do anything stupid.

"My name, Keys," she repeated not getting why he didn't understand, "Is my family ok?"

Gunshots rang out and one of the raiders fell to the ground, the rest started running around firing back into the chopper, "Dam it Charlie."

"Whats happening?"

"Just stay still, don't say anything Keys."

__________________________________

Alexa came to a stop, the rest of the group turned and looked at her, "Out of breath love?" It was true she was out of breath but that wasn't why she had stopped, "There's something behind that building, I'll gona take a look."

Alexa and two of the men moved over to the building and when they came out she meet someone that she hadn't seen for a good 5 hours. The man who's jewels she had threatened that afternoon was standing in front of them with three horses, "Hey, yo gona pay," the man drew a pistol out of a saddle bag, "Yo gona pay."

The three of them had already drawn their guns up and aimed them at the man, "Those are some nice horses."
The man put the pistol back, "You want to buy them?"
"No but we'll be happy to take them off your hands," One of the soldiers replied a smile in his voice.

Alexa and the three men saddled up with the guy at gun point, "You've been a great sport," they turned away with the man holding his hands in the air, "What about me, I'm gona die out here."

Alexa pulled on her reins turning to face the man, she threw him his pistol and a hand full of coins. He dived on them clutching them to his chest, ruddy stained British pounds, riches. "GOD,"


Alexa and the two soldiers rode on ahead of the other two, to be met with such a sight. There were hordes of people walking along the road, some shuffled along at the sides of the roads others rode along in an endless trail of metal. Every thing was packed, cars were left at the road side, everyone was going the same way. The group kept travelling down the line until they came across a group of people in US uniform and they had a radio of full blast.

"Where you guys headed Alexa yelled over the music," the soldier saluted her and turned it down.

"We're getting out, you guys got the railway up, all over the radio it was, first train for Peru leaves in 4 hours, good luck love."

They kept trotting down the line, it stretched for 3 or four miles there must have been thousands from all over coming here to get to the train, the freeways must be to dangerous for them. When they reached the end a rastafarian man yelled out, "If you going that way bud watch out, monsters about." he broke into manic laughter.

"This is only ten miles from the chopper, pick up the pace fellas," one of the soldiers called out.

They moved into a canter with the earth and dust flying up behind them, the sun was setting, the sky turned purple, the moon was large and the fields looked as if they were filled lavender.


[Edited by LunaMaria on Sunday, February 18, 2007 10:46 AM]

Jack_Dervish
02/18/2007 2:40 PM

The humvee slowed down as Jack passed the sign for Stroud. The vehicle was rapidly running out of power; they would have to ditch it in town. It was a pity, though; the vehicle was shelter and transportation, as well as an effective defense against raiders given its military construction.

The plumes of smoke could be seen even through the dust clouds surrounding the town. Jack flipped off the safety on the rifle resting next to his seat and looked in his rear view mirror at Maria. "I want you to stay down."

She nodded and lowered herself in her seat, her eyes gleaming with anxiety. Jack turned to Meg. "Get your rifle ready. When I open my door I want you to cover me from here."

"Wh--?" Meg looked like she was about to ask something when she spotted the wrecked chopper smoldering not a kilometer ahead. Already she could see the silhouettes of men surrounding the helicopter and the tiny plumes of flame rising from their hands. One of the plumes was hurled at the chopper, igniting against its hull and creating a much larger flame. She looked at Jack and saw that he had already spotted it. His expression tightened and his deep-set, dark blue eyes mirrored a quiet intensity that she had not noticed in him before. He was definitely handsome, but it was the dark and dangerous kind of handsome -- the kind that was notorious for getting good girls in deep trouble.

He accelerated, his grip on the steering wheel tightened, and in an instant he jerked the wheel to the right, hit the emergency brake, and sent the humvee into a skid. In almost the same instant he grabbed his rifle and opened his door, and barely waited for the vehicle to stop to jump out. Meg, shaken slightly by the surprise maneuver, grabbed her M-16 and slid over to the driver's side to cover Jack from the open door. He was sprinting with the AK ahead of him and laying down suppression fire as he ran towards the chopper. The raiders outside the chopper scrambled for their weapons, one taking a lucky shot to the knee from Jack's rifle, the other getting brained a considerable distance away by Meg's deadeye accuracy. The other two turned around and made a hasty retreat, spooked by the sudden attack that seemingly came out of nowhere. The raider with the wounded knee looked up long enough to see Jack running towards him, but took a bullet to the throat as soon as he dipped for his sidearm.

Jack rushed up to him, his face grim, rifle aimed steadily at his chest. The raider gagged and coughed up blood, clutching his neck, pleading with his eyes for relief. Jack's face wrinkled into a deep frown, and he finished the job.

The raiders were gone for now, but they would be back. At the moment, Jack's primary concern was the contents of the chopper.

* * *

Charlie's chest felt tight. The smoke from the Molotov cocktails combined with the burning engine made his vision blurry and his body weak. He struggled to lift himself up when he heard the gunshots and the subsequent "Hello?" in an accent that sounded vaguely English. Thinking that reinforcements had arrived, Charlie yelled a weak, "In here!"

The face that he saw, however, was not the one he expected. The rugged, dreadlocked stranger lacked the trappings of a soldier, and his expression was definitely not one of a fellow EU military man. Charlie reactively reached for his pistol but the man before him rapidly raised the rifle in response. "Don't make me, ma bru."

"South... African..." Charlie coughed. "What are you doing out here?"

"I should ask you the same question, ah?"

"We're... part of a relief team..."

Upon hearing this, the stranger's expression went icy and he wrenched Charlie out of the chopper. He slammed his fist into the soldier's gut and threw him up against the chopper hull. "You know who I am, bru?" He threw his rifle aside and punched Charlie in the nose. Charlie, reacting instinctively on his military training, attempted to counter the assault -- but he was far too dazed from smoke inhalation and getting pummeled. The South African effortlessly smacked Charlie's hands away and punched him in the head a few more times.

As Charlie fell back, Jack pulled out his revolver and shoved it under his chin. "Tell me the fucking truth!"

"We're--" Charlie coughed between words. "--on a mission to secure America for the European Union!"

"Why?"

"This county..." Charlie panted. "This country is dead. The EU wants what's left so we don't have to rely on South America. Don't..." Charlie began to plead. "Don't kill me... I don't want to die in this place..."

Jack's expression lightened slightly, and he let out a resigned sigh. His hand, which had been wrapped around Charlie's collar, unclenched and released the young Englishman. "No one deserves to die out here."

Charlie shook, his eyes glassy with tears of panic. As the feeling of impending doom left his mind, he collapsed on the ground and began to sob. He was just a kid, probably not even eighteen. The EU had lost a great deal of its millennial children in the war, and now it had to bolster its military ranks with its youth. The idea made Jack sick to his stomach, sending children off to die in some foreign wasteland. He picked the AK up off the ground and looked back at the sobbing heap of a young man. "Go home, bru. This is no place for you."

Just then, he saw Meg and Marie walking up.

Verbalscrapper
02/18/2007 4:18 PM

"What's the hub bub eh?" Meg walked with little interest directed to the carnage around her. America had done it's job before the war by desensitizing its youth. Marie on the other hand kept close by Meg's side. She looked down at the cowering english youth, his uniform identifiable.

"So what's the dillio? We gonna have problem with these military dogs?" She kicked dust over puddles of blood liking the sticky mud it made. She looked up at the downed chopper, it had been years since she had seen one up close and even in it's wrecked state it impressed her.

"They don't want to rely on South America anymore."

Meg snorted. "So you come in and make our lives miserable? You worthless pieces of shit." She kicked a bout of dust at the man. "Ever think of just coming over and asking nicely, no countries always have to revert to sticking their fucking guns up peoples asses!" Years of suppression were being spurt at the man, she truly had no idea what she was talking about but it felt good just to release it. She threw her gun down wanting nothing more than to brawl with this piece of garbage, her M40 however remained on her shoulder.

"Come on, get in touch with your Irish side yeah, put up those good for nothing fists!" She was making everyone nervous.

Jack_Dervish
02/18/2007 4:47 PM

Jack thrust his arm out just as Meg advanced on Charlie, stopping her at the breast and calmly saying, "No, love. He's still young."

"Yeah, well young hearts are gonna beat free tonight when I rip it out of his chest. Lemme at him!" Meg, Jack noticed, was partial to inserting song lyrics arbitrarily into sentences. She struggled against Jack's arm, but was eventually subdued when she saw the stern look on his face. Out of touch or not, Meg was no slouch when it came to recognizing danger, and the more time she spent with Jack, the more it became obvious that he was a dangerous individual.

Marie looked on and noticed that Charlie was only a year or two older than she was. How strange it seemed to see adolescents in military fatigues, getting whipped around by large South African men. "What will you do with him, Jack?" She asked with her usual mix of childlike wonder and bizarre worldliness that seemed eerily out of place in someone so young.

Jack was about to reply when Meg suddenly yelled out, "Hit the dirt!"

He whirled around to spot Meg's rifle raised high, and a single round being discharged. From the look on her face, it was clear that she had hit her target. Jack turned towards the direction she was firing and spotted a single figure on a hillock falling to its knees. It stalled, and then fell forward. Meg's accuracy was startling, as was her ability to spot a target that small in such poor weather conditions.

Suddenly, Charlie looked up. "Oh god... Seck! You fucking bitch!" Jack spun around to see Charlie tackling Meg by the legs. Her rifle went off into the air as she fell and struggled to fight the British teen off of her. Jack rushed in and immediately pulled him off, hurling a punch at his face with such force that a spray of blood flew from his mouth. His body went limp, his eyes rolled back into his head, and then he collapsed on the hard dusty pavement below.

Meg got up and kicked Charlie for good measure. "You fucker!" She grabbed her rifle and pointed it at Charlie's head. "Give me a good reason, Jack!"

"Leave him, let's check out the body up on that hillock."

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Sunday, February 18, 2007 4:49 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/18/2007 5:07 PM

"That doesn't sound like a good reason. Boy you should no better than to mess with the bull and you're damn lucky Jack's here or you would be my next weks rations." She slung the gun back onto her back and brought her fingers to her eyes then pointed them at him in a 'I'm watching you' kind of way.

"Fucking gun totin' son of lambs." She followed Jack up the hill, he was her age by the look of it, she hadn't really taken the proper time to evaluate him. He was cautious and level headed, something that seemed to be lacked in this day and age.

They climbed the hillock and she poked at the body with the but of her gun. "I think he's dead." He was dressed the same way the Brit from the chopper was, another British dog. "War huh what is it good for absolutley nothing." She sighed at the kids body searching it for smokes or alcohol. Finding nothing she pushed it over to Jack. "He's boring." She sat down on the hill and watched Jack work. "How long's it been Meg, oh bother maybe 2 years. No more than that." Her ramblings were cut short by a whimpering behind the hill. Another young girl was shaking behind it.

"Uh, Jack I think we have a problem." She looked down at the small child about the same age as Marie. "Hey there little one, honestly now I am not gonna hurt ya." She put down her guns knowing it was an intimidating factor. "Seriously I just lookk scary." She extended her hand to the kid and looked at Jack.

"I think we are formin' a litter."

Jack_Dervish
02/18/2007 9:12 PM

Jack checked the boy over and sighed at the damage that had been done. The 5.56mm round, the one that was used in the M-16 that Meg carried, was designed to ricochet inside a human body to cause maximum damage. In truth he hadn't died right away; in the minute it took the two of them to ascend the hillock, he was subject to the agony of organ rupture and internal bleeding. It was a grisly way to die, though the boy was lucky in that the bullet eventually went through his heart.

It reminded Jack of his days as an EMT in Chicago. So many bullet wounds, so many cases of battery -- it was enough to drive a lesser man to the brink of insanity. Jack, however, seemed to take it all in stride. He had gotten used to death in Johannesburg, had seen violence almost as white noise in the world around him. Some of his colleagues called him numb; he preferred "practical". In reality, numb was about the furthest thing from the truth about Jack's personality. Death was unavoidable, and something he was accustomed to, but the collateral effects of it still wore on him. It was easy to see a body and think of it as a hunk of meat. The hard part came when he saw the sorrow of losses due to violence, and the destroyed lives that resulted.

"Uh... Jack, I think we have a problem."

He turned to see Meg pointing at another child, who sat crying a few meters downhill. "I think we are formin' a litter."

Jack simply frowned and began to strip the corpse for anything of value. As Meg looked at him and waited for some kind of response, Jack stated very bluntly, "Take care of it, ah?"

Verbalscrapper
02/18/2007 9:44 PM

Meg looked the guy over. Dead bodies, crying children none of it seemed to bother him. She had lived through the war, had seen the effects of torture, had seen lives taken and the bodies they didn't seem to bother her anymore, but kids. She could never get over the kids. It was easy to bat aside some stupid teenager especially when they though they were the shit in their new army gear but the civilians, the kittens of society that struck a nerve.

She skidded down the side of the hill and approached the little one. She rummaged through her shoulder pack and pulled out a small wash rag wiping the kids eyes. "Whats your name darling?" A sniffled reply came back.

"Key's."
"Key's huh? Alright kiddo, lets get you somewhere safe yeah?" She brushed the blonde hair from her face, dusting the dirt from her. "Come on now, ole Jack and I will keep you safe." She helped the girl climb up the ridge and came to a hault where Jack stood. "You find anything interesting on him?" She pushed the body with her toe, looking over the damage the bullet had done. She spat on him, he was one less person in the military machine.

"It's alright if she comes with us right? at least until we get to Stroud? I don't want to leave her, not with Raiders coming to scavange off these bodies."

LunaMaria
02/19/2007 1:35 AM

They rode hard and fast toward the chopper wreck, they moved quick only fifteen minutes ago they left the convoy and that creepy rastafarian. "Keep up guys," Alexa cried out, riding up ahead of them, she was shown how to ride a horse by her farther in Livi where they had lived on a failing farm village.

"You slow down, Dam horses," one of them called out over her shoulder, Alexa smiled she even got to show these guys up.

She turned the corner, the wrecks lay sprawled over the road, stank of burning flesh and metal. She came to a stop and the other two caught up, "Who would do this, who would kill innocent people like this?"

"Welcome to the the real world love,"

"Their not all cuddly like us."

"But who?" Alexa asked feeling depressed

"Try them lot over there," pointed one pointed out, over to Jack, Meg and Maria near... "That's the downed chopper,"

Alexa took a scope from her breast pocket and pointed at the three, she didn't see Charlie behind the hull of the chopper. Seeing the girl standing there must mean that they didn't do this, why would they.

"I'm gona ride out you guy cover me," she turned the horse on to the grass

"We got orders your not gona get killed or we'll be too,"

"Then say I got stupid," she rode out over the lavender grass with he gun on her back and the wind in her hair and the setting sun to her right, it'd be dark soon.

"Dam her," as they rode behind cover.

_____________________________


Seck kept going, remember keep trying, special troops were taught how to stop their own hearts but he couldn't keep doing it, his brain wouldn't let him. There was a stabbing in his neck but he could really feel anything, his eyes tightly shut, "Just a few,"

All he remembered was getting shot and training kicking in, play dead.

"Just a few more seconds,"

________________________________

"Ho there," Cried Alexa, "You guys lost?" The stallion was out of breath and shuddered under her, she patted it on the side and waited. The sun set.

[Edited by LunaMaria on Monday, February 19, 2007 4:59 AM]

Verbalscrapper
02/19/2007 8:56 AM

"Well now if it isn't another British snake." Meg raised kept her hand on the trigger waiting for her to make one wrong move. She kept her body between that of the saddled woman and the two children. "Were hardly lost, and what in the name of hell are you doing here?"

This was the type of teenager Meg was talking about. "Come one Jack let me please, this one is no better than these two sorry excuses for human beings." Meg looked up over her seeing the unusual amount of dust being kicked up by hoofed feet.

"I see you brought along some jolly reinfocements. We're gonna have ourselves an all out roast tonight." She squinted at the young lass. "You know your freaking chopper ruined my dinner. You kicked dust all into poor Henry, and for what? What'd he ever do to you?"

Jack_Dervish
02/19/2007 9:23 AM

Jack whirled around and spotted the woman from before, forcing back his own instinct to draw his weapon and brain another British trooper. If there was one, there were more behind her. Meg, on the other hand, had already leveled her rifle with the young soldier's head. "These people are like cockroaches! You can't stamp 'em out no matter how many you kill!"

Jack didn't stop Meg, but his tone was level. "Posty, ah? Well, love, you should know there's another one of your 'couriers' by that chopper. He could do with some patching up."

Just then another two soldiers rode up on horseback, SA-80 machineguns in hand. They were more teenagers drafted into service to fight (and die) in some God-forsaken wasteland. Jack grimaced a bit at the sight of more youth being sent as junior killers; he had seen it in Africa years ago, and now "civilized" countries were doing the same thing.

The older of the two (probably eighteen) spoke up. "Civilian, you are charged with the murder of His Majesty's soldiers. Surrender your weapons and place your hands above your head."

"What, is this guy kidding?" Meg said with a hint of laughter in her voice. "We tomb up two of their boys and they're telling *us* to surrender." Her finger twitched against the trigger of her M-16.

It was a standoff; Meg's crack shooting versus three armed soldiers. Jack wasn't partial to those odds, so he decided to make things even. "All right," he said as he unslung his AK and tossed it aside. He outstretched his arms and beckoned with his fingertips. "I'm all yours."

The older soldier nodded and dismounted somewhat awkwardly. He walked forward with his rifle pointed at Jack and said sternly, "Turn around."

"Piss off."

"I will shoot you, Civilian."

"Then shoot. Show you have the balls to your squeeze there, ah? Oh, that's right, boy. They haven't dropped yet." Jack's skills as a con man worked like a charm. He knew the problem with underage soldiers was the lack of discipline -- attack a boy's pride, and he'll fold like a deuce before a royal flush. With an already chaotic environment adding to the stress level, any training the boy had was overcome by anger.

"Fuck you!" The soldier rushed up to Jack and moved to strike him with the butt of his rifle. That move was all Jack needed.

In an instant he grabbed the weapon mid-swing, wrenching it out of the soldier's grasp enough to chop him in the throat with the ridge of his hand. As the soldier went down gagging from the blow, Jack delivered a quick stomp to his temple, knocking him out cold. The younger soldier, already having trouble controlling his horse, found himself struggling to hold on as the animal became spooked by the violence.

The only one who seemed to remain collected was the female soldier, the "posty" from before. She had obviously been startled by the sudden surprise attack, but she kept her horse steady.

Then, out of nowhere, Meg was tackled from behind. Her gun went off, spooking the mounted soldier's horse even further, sending him galloping away in a random direction with him yelling a panicked "Woah!" the entire time. It was Seck, the boy who Jack had previously thought dead. He was wounded, badly, but still strong enough to jump in on the fight. Meg wrestled with him on the ground and struggled to fight his hands around her neck.

In the chaos, one distinct sound could be heard: the sound of gunfire and broken glass approaching. Jack and Alexa both noticed it -- a gang of starving, half-crazed raiders armed with everything from bricks to shotguns, rapidly running towards the fire-illuminated brawl on the hillock.

Verbalscrapper
02/19/2007 9:56 AM

Men were easy to disentagle from ones neck especially when they were already wounded. A swift kick between the legs sent him rolling and another to the gut for good measure.

"Alright a tussle!" She dusted her hands, leaped onto the Brit who had tackled her and unslung her M40 as she had dropped Little Boomer. She put the rifle butt into his stomach presing the air from his lungs.

"All you need is love," A swift look up and a shot brought down a gun slinging Raider. "Hehe another one bites the dust." She looked at the pained boy, his lanky weight was nothing to her dead weight of 145lbs. She squezed her legs around the guys chest, years of horse backriding making it a painful clamp, one for the wrestling books. With the damaged young man under her and a brawl ensuing between Jack she had nothing left to do but open fire.

"Come on you scaliwags, lets see how you fight! Yee Haw!" A eye level to scope and a pull of the trigger brought down a man with a lead pipe. "Oh wait I wanted to fight that one." She shrugged. Looking down at the suffocating teenager she grinned. "Excuse me love but I have something to take care of. Won't miss me yeah?" She stood providing a swift kick to his head for thought. She placed the M40 on her back and with a charge scooped up Little Boomer and opened fire on the raiders. Jack was more than capable of taking care of himself. She watched him with admiration as he took down the soldier and then faced to square off with the "posty."

She didn't stop her advance however, she was going to keep these raiders from her new little kitens and from her new found... friend. She continued hand on the trigger before diving behind a wrecked car, reloading her gun with a clip from her pack. She waited for their guns to stop before returning once more.

"Remeber the Stand of Stroud! Bam, bam, bam! Haha!" Battle seemed to turn her into a complete loon. "I got you covered Jack! And I'm lovin it!" A Brick men jumped the car and she gave him a swift puch to the jaw taking the brick from him and dropping it squarley on his head. "Yur not huting my herd."

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Monday, February 19, 2007 3:17 PM]

LunaMaria
02/19/2007 11:11 AM

Alexa turned her horse, that was started with all the gun fire zipping around, the other had already bolted. She had already taken the gun up to her hands and was letting off bursts into the horde, there must have be over twenty of them still coming at them,. Wilson had managed to stay on his horse but took a bullet for being such a target. Alexa saw him fall to the ground, best not to be up so high. She tried to dismount but the second she took her heels out of stirrups fire burst out directly in front of the horse, it reared up and she fell to the ground.

Dale was back on his feet, dragging Wilson back to the ashes of the road were there was cover, yelling expletives. Alexa looked over to Meg who had a wide grin on her face emptying a whole round in the horde, she rolled to her feet and moving closer firing all the way.

No time for words, Meg reloaded while Alexa flicked to her secondary clip, she let off a burst sending a woman flying backward, she hear a blip, then two more in the fighting. Alexa ducked down to look at her GPSW, "But that would mean."

"Everyone run," She yelled at the top of her voice, "NOW"

As she said this a rumble came over the hill, a rumble no one would have liked to have heard. Alexa turn and saw Keys looking scared as could be, she grabbed her under one arm and half dragged, her to the wreckage of a bus, "Say down," Alexa put herself in the window to look out.

A bit later that she had hopped everyone was running toward the road, the fighting had stopped, she couldn't see one person from another. Keys was crying next to her, Alexa wanted to comfort her but she had to see. The dark of the night set in fire still burn on the field, the lavender colour was gone, the grass was black. The light of the moon lit the sky, they could still see, if they turned back.


___________________________



Charlie ran to Seck when the fighting started, his face was still ozeing but there wasn't any time. He dragged him stumbling over each bump, he would hear Seck groan each time, "It's ok man, were gona make it." The field burst into flame, petrol rain down what a waste, bullets zinged off the metal as Charlie pulled him self and Seck through a Hurst and took cover in the back, "It's gona be ok," Seck was already dead.

____________________________


Alexa hopped she and a 400 billion dollar system was wrong, but she new she wasn't. The field was now clear, two Raiders clambered into the bus and laid down near them.

One of the called over to her, "You shits, we weren't gona fight you, it's them," motioning over at the hill, "Now were all gona die."

She had hopped that that Intel was wrong at the civil convoy was that they saw but this was not gona be good.

The first thing to be seen was the flag atop an aerial next was the groaning metal body of a tank, then another, and another, mounted troops in US uniforms followed, "Help us all," came from below Alexa.

She didn't care there was one last thing she had to do before she died.


__________________________

"Dam you Seck, dam you," Charlie took his Glock, "I'll get her for you, then I'm coming."

He got up, there was a flash.

Parts of Hurst rained down.

Kurtz_Webber
02/19/2007 12:05 PM

"Where is it?," Ray kept asking himself over and over again for he just dropped his knife which had rolled under a bus, He crawled under, "God please let me find my knife... Ah bugger, cheers God."

"Damn raiders are back,"

Ray Looked round to find four people talking to some soldiers,"Well I guess its safe," Ray was just about to crawl out when guns went off, "God why me," Ray saw two soldiers knocked out and one just shot by raiders RAIDERS, "Back I go," then a soldier came charging down to the bus,"No go away other way," but she didn't she was thrown off her horse and she came running at him, she grabbed a girl and pulled her into the bus "Stay down" the soldier commanded to the girl. Ray could just about see a US flag then another troops on horses followed behind the tanks, "God help us all."

Jack_Dervish
02/19/2007 1:49 PM

Jack had scrambled out of the fray when the shooting began, strafing the mob of raiders with Dale's gun. The only cover he could find was a nearby minivan, half on fire from the ambush earlier. He had lost track of Meg and Marie as well as the British soldiers; only the pervasive sound of gunshots and the roar of Molotov cocktails igniting could be heard.

Then, the gunshots stopped suddenly, and Jack peeked his head out to assess the situation. What he saw was worse than any raider attack he could think of.

The first cannon blast blew up a hearse in the middle of the street. The wave of sound was deafening, the concussion enough to knock him flat on his back. He spotted Charlie running in the open only to get cut down by machinegun fire from one of the American tanks. He lay there, blood reflecting the light from the fires, convulsing with his last breaths.

Jack knew to stay down, but he needed to find Meg and Marie. His dark clothing provided excellent camouflage while he crawled over to the last place he had seen them: under a nearby sedan. It was on this route, under a bus, that Jack spotted someone he had never expected to see again. "Ray?" He whispered.

"Jack? Jesus Christ! How the hell--"

"Shhh, stay low and follow me."

"There's someone in the bus." Ray whispered loudly while pointing up.

Jack nodded and beckoned Ray to follow anyway. As they both crawled away from the bus, Ray added, "Jack, there's a woman I was patching up earlier -- she needs medical attention."

"What does she look like?" Jack raised his palm at Ray momentarily as he stopped and waited for a group of American humvees to pass. When it was safe to move again, Ray replied, "She's Asian, slight build. Maybe five-five? She took a bullet to the abdomen when our caravan was attacked. I left her in a van and was searching this bus for supplies when I dropped my knife. She needs surgery or she won't make it, Jack."

"All right, we'll take care of her, ah? Just stay down and we'll find her."

Jack wanted to find his comrades and leave, but Meg knew how to take care of herself. She was crazy, but she was a survivor. As long as she wasn't making some rogue attempt to blow up tanks, she'd stay alive.

nanuk
02/19/2007 3:17 PM

[i]ohmigodohmigodi'mgoingtodieinavan..[/i]

Said van was swinging between acute and absolute clarity and a strangely comforting fuzziness.
It was the adrenaline, Emi supposed.

It seemed to coincide with waves of chills passing through her, a cold so strong it caused all her muscles to contract, including her torn stomach, and made it so it was all she could do not to scream until she passed out.

She kept hearing a low moaning sound, and would wonder briefly what it was before realising, for the umpteenth time, that it was her.

Was it a good thing, she tried to remember, that her breathing was quick and shallow? Good, relatively speaking of course, better than too slow?

At first all the noise- explosions it had sounded like- had made her jump. They didn't anymore.
Had they started before or after she'd been shot?

All she could remember was running, raiders, always raiders, an innocuous popping sound followed immediately by an awful red burning in her abdomen. She'd fallen, but after that she had only vague recollections of movement, more noise, maybe a person, she thought, her own whimpers.

An especially large thud caused the van to rock violently, sending renewed tremors through Emi. Reflexively, her muscles clenched, the resulting agony sweeping over her and causing her to black out.

Verbalscrapper
02/19/2007 3:41 PM

"Marie!" It was a loud whisper, not excatly stealthy but not blatantly loud at the same time. "Marie!"

"I'm here," A small whimpering voice came from a pile of rubble.

"Come here lass." Meg shouldered Hot Hoot, and loked around for her M-16. She felt naked without both guns and cursed herself for dropping it all for the sake of a brawl. Meg could here the rumbling and knew what it meant, she had see nher fair share of WWII movies to know it wasn't good. "Stay low little one and come over to me."

She complied coming over on her stomach, flinching as her hurt leg dragged over rough terrain. Meg took off her dark jacket and placed it around the girl hoping it would make her look like a rock if anyone spotted them. They crawled under a van and listened in terrified silence as the tanks and calvalry, rumbled by. She may have been a U.S citizen but she was no means inside the U.S law. She placed a reasuring arm over the girls shoulders as the ground beneath them shook with the shock of very large treads.

One tank she might be able to take on but a small convoy of them protected by calvalry, that was suicide. A bloody knife glinted with the moons light and she grabed it for safe measure, it had still wet blood on it. She wiped it off on her stained shirt and held it close.

Meg wanted nothing more han to mow these bastards down with a machine gun, military dogs were all the same, thy all lead to terror and misery, and she especially hated the U.S military. The war in Iraq had done that to her. A quiet moaning from inside the van caught her attention.

"Stay here lass," It was dawning on her that she was missing Keys and the thought of her getting hurt made her sick. She slid quietly out from under the van and looked into the window. A young asian woman was there a bad gut wound from a bullet.

"Shit." She would have to wait until the American convoy went by. "Please hang in there, please." She slid back under the van and waited, that's all one could do.

Jack_Dervish
02/19/2007 4:32 PM

Jack and Ray crawled through the dusty expanse between the bus and the van in which the wounded woman was parked. It looked like the American troops were passing through, probably on their way to fight a battle with the EU troops elsewhere. All Jack knew was that two of the British soldiers he had encountered were dead, and the other three were staying out of sight. It was ironic; the kids they had sent to conquer the United States had probably never even seen a tank in battle before. The mere sight of such a monstrosity would've been enough to make any green soldier wet his pants.

"There, I think it's that one." Ray pointed at a minivan up ahead, and the two rose to a half-hunched stance and sprinted the rest of the way.

They spotted Meg waiting outside, and when he saw her expression he knew he was in the right place.

When they opened the door, a slender, pale Asian woman lay passed out in the back seat. Her face was wrenched tightly in an expression of pain, and every few seconds a tiny moan would escape her lips. She was alive, at least, but for how long depended on the minutes ahead.

Jack fumbled with the seat and folded it back, giving himself more room to work. Lighting was poor, so he immediately took off his backpack and removed a flashlight. "Hold the torch." He said to Meg.

He stripped down quickly, tossing his hat, jacket, gloves, and hoodie in the front seat until he was down to a gray a-shirt. Had Ray not known Jack personally, the assumption would've been for Jack to have any other profession besides doctor. His upper arms were tattooed, his build was broad and muscular; he resembled a convict or a drug dealer more than a trained professional.

Gingerly, he peeled the blood-matted clothing away from the woman's stomach and used his pocket knife to cut open her shirt. He pressed his hand around the wound, and a slight moan escaped her lips again. The area wasn't distended; internal bleeding had not yet occurred. It was the first good news Jack had received about the situation.

"All right, I need you to give me a list of all the items I have."

Ray looked, his face registering gloom. "A scalpel, forceps, a pair of clamps, some gauze, uh... a spool of thread, antibiotics, some alcohol. Jack, I don't think you have all the tools we need. We can't check her blood pressure, we don't have anesthesia..."

"We'll have to make do. Scrub down, I'm going to need you to assist."

Ray nodded and rinsed his hands with alcohol, as did Jack. They looked at each other with grim resolve at what had to be done. Her life was in their hands now.

* * *

The bullet stuck out like a bulbous metal blob amidst the mess of flesh and organs before him. Luckily for her, it was a slug round, and didn't fragment the way a hollow point would. Jack carefully peeled back the blood-engorged flesh encircling the bullet and grabbed it with the forceps.

Patience was crucial; if the sharp edge of the bullet nicked the fragile artery resting mere millimeters above the wound, the woman would bleed out in minutes. He worked carefully, his hands amazingly steady. Millimeter by millimeter he pulled the bullet out until it finally exited with a resounding popping noise. The bullet fell to the floor lightly, making a tiny metallic "ping". The woman was lucky in that the bullet hadn't ruptured any major organs. Though she had lost a great amount of blood, she was in much lower danger of bleeding internally now that the bullet was removed.

She was lucky, but far from out of the woods. A mere shift in position, a sudden cough, or minor strain against the abdomen could cause internal tearing and bleeding. And then there was the ever-present danger of infection made especially high with the improvised surgery. Jack had antibiotics, but he had no idea if he had enough should she become septic. There were literally thousands of possible scenarios ahead, but for now Jack was only concerned with the one at hand. He stitched her up and wrapped her stomach in gauze before washing his hands off with the remaining alcohol. "We need to get her to a proper hospital. She's stable now, but lord knows for how long."

"You did the best you could, Jack." Ray said as he put a hand on his old colleague's shoulder. He had always admired the South African for his level head and ability to cope with tough situations. Back in Chicago Jack had been somewhat of a mentor, an older brother figure who was always quick to give sound advice or lend an objective ear. Seeing him again was completely unexpected, but definitely appreciated.

Jack nodded and began to put his warm clothing back on. As he finished, he looked at Ray and handed him the SA-80 he had rested by the van outside. "You take this and stay with her, ah? Meg, what happened to Keys?"

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Monday, February 19, 2007 4:39 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/19/2007 5:37 PM

"Fuck," Meg suddenly was jolted by the memory. She looked down to Marie who was still safely tucked inside her coat and looked back at Jack. She didn't wait for confirmation or objection, she hit the dirt running.

"Hang on kiddo I'll find ya." A rash move but then again she wa never one to think things through these days. She grabbed Little Boomer on the way and looked around frantically, her stomach twisting in knots at the thoughts of what could have happened.

"Keys! Keys!" She had never really wated kids of her own, but she had always had a fairly maternal nature. She liked kids, she liked when kids liked her. She didn't want to be a parent because that would mean playing the bad guy, that would mean she couldn't be their frind and that thought was not appealing.

A small head popped up from a bus window followed by a quick hand that yanked her back down into hiding. "Whoever has her, let her go. I'm warning you I will shoot your rotten hide right through that thin aluminum siding!" Another familiar face looked through the window. The EU grunt. "Let her go!" Keys came running out, unharmed but obviously still scared by what had just happened. "Hey kiddo." She gave her a quick squeeze on the shoulder as the knot in her stomach undid itself. "Go find a big looking guy with funny hair, rmember Marie, she'll be with him." The small child did as told. If this EU grunt wanted to fight she wanted it to be one on one. "Alright posty get your sorry ass out here, I swear I will tear down the siding of that bus!" She raised her gun more than prepared to shoot at the first sighn of danger. She was out in the open, and would have to dive considerably for cover, but death was the last thing she feared.

LunaMaria
02/20/2007 6:50 AM

Alexa flicked through the wave setting on the radio set she had, in the heat of the moment she had forgot the length of a microwave and was desperately trying to find one to send out a message.

Keys was quietly moaning under her, "It's ok we'll be gone soon, hold on," she kept her hand on the dial until she heard an joyous ping. Alexa heard Meg crying out, "Keys Keys," what had the crazy lady locked herself out of her car? The girl Alexa was knelt over pulled herself up just after these words were said, Alexa let her go not like it's much safer out there. A raider grabbed Keys as she made for the door pulling her to the ground, she let out a cry. Alexa aimed her now empty M18 at him, "Drop her," the raider did so being armed only with a machete, keys ran out of the bus.

*"This is Lance Corporal Alexa Stret, orth code Zebra Niner Jason White 89745, I need anti tank at this location now, can you assist."

*"This is Tom Cat we are 3 minuets from you, sending support now."

Alexa breathed a sigh of success, now she had to get out before this place was landscaped into a large crater, she climbed out of the bus and came head to head with Meg. There was one thing that everyone seemed to have forgotten by this point, no longer was anyone running away but they were coming under fire from the American 4th Cavalry. Meg to seemed he forgotten this until bullets sent them both into cover, Meg started screaming and firing back, "Don't you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy, she'll beat you if she's able."

Alexa took no notice as she had seen an old friend, not she wouldn't call it friend she doesn't name inanimate objects. Non the less she ran toward the Hummer, she saw the uniforms of of Wilson and Dale moving the same way albeit with all the speed as bird with a broken wing. A raider had the same idea, she didn't have time for this, she drew her Glock now with only 3 shots in it and fire one at the Hummer, it didn't hit him but he got the message and ran off into the field on the other side.

"Dale you drive," nether was in a state to do the job she wanted, she would have to do it, "Men."

Bullets still flying everywhere, screams could be heard from her right where a group of horsemen had got round the pre made wall, two minutes. Alexa climbed into the back and took up the seat, what was underneath weighted a ton, she opened the roof hatch and lugged the death weight to the roof, a bullet flew past her head. She had no time to look, is remembered training and fixed the M2 heavy machine gun to the mounting. Distraction time.

She banged on the roof for Dale to start, the next thing she did was turn the gun to face the cavalry now behind her and opened fire, as long as they didn't stop they might just make it. Dale took the Humvee down the road and as soon as the wall ended, up on to the hillock, the tank guns turned to face them but as long as they kept going in a circle that wasn't a problem, one minuet.

The tanks must have know what was coming now, but there was little they could do about it, too big. Alexa ducked back inside after emptying all 350 bullets into anything that had a man attached, "20 seconds, Drive forwards as fast as you can, don't stop," Alexa leapt to the right hand window.


Two AH1s came over hill only 100 meters from the ground, in a few second they launched TOWs into the tanks, the remains of the cavalry bolted.

Kurtz_Webber
02/20/2007 8:13 AM

"Don't worry now the lord shall protect us," Ray said to the wounded woman she groaned, "I don't believe in God."

"All right, hmm three men and one woman all running at a Hummer no two men running meaning more guns oh joy," the Hummer drove off after the woman fired 300 odd bullets at all things that was moving. Suddenly two AH1s came flying low to the ground and fired TOWs at the tanks. Burning tank and dead bodies came fly over everywhere the AH1s seemed pleased with their work and went off.

___________________________________________________

"Get down," shouted Jack at Meg and Keys just as soon as they touched down to the ground it rained tanks pieces and bodies all over them.

___________________________________________________

"Well at least we survived thank you Lord," said ray.

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 9:18 AM

Meg hit the dust, as bullets whizzed by and watched the woman, nay, girl run to her Humvee. The cavalry was still about, and the tanks now seemed to be firing as well.

"Fucking armies!" She crawled over toJack and the two girls and watched as the new young man talked to the asian woman. "Jack we have got to get out of here, these two are going to blow this place to high hell." As if on cue bodies and shrapenel came raining down. The girls were terrified. Meg drew them close to her hoping to shield at least some of thm from the debris. "Does this minivan work? The humvee is not an option the fucking Brits drove off with it. Bastards."

Meg looked around for anything that could be used for an escape, any vehicle they might be able to hotwire. They were running short on time as the two artillery units began lining up to pummel eachother. Meg took off her cap and placed it over Key's head so the brim would protect her eyes from dust and smaller bits of metal.

"Things are gonna get much hotter I gurantee it." Even though the AH1's had gone off and the tanks seemed to have quieted she didn't want to be around when both armies recoiled. She looked to Jack, on her own she could make it by foot, but with two kittens and feeling no need to abandon the group of people she was with they would need something bigger and she had no clue how machines worked.

Kurtz_Webber
02/20/2007 10:27 AM

"Damn it where are there vehicles when you need them,"Ray said to himself as he does when he needs help, "we can't use horses she isn't likely to ride with her wound," he span round twice and pointed at a small truck with three seats, "I'll have that where is Jack when you need him JACK JACK WHERE ARE YOU," Ray shouted into the air.

Jack came running over with bullets whizzing past his back all the while then the woman came charging with to children, "what is it Ray we trying to get out of here!" Jack shouted at Ray, "All right a truck is just over their but I need your... expert skills to get in it, also I need help to carry the girl over any chance of help,"

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 10:53 AM

"If Jack starts that truck up I can help you carry her. Kiddos, get in that truck and stay low alright?" The kittens complied and followed Jack to the truck. "Alright just tell me how I need to carry her, I would hate to do more damage than good."

She listened to her instructions intently and followed them to a dime. She was begining to become concious again which could be bad if she squirmed from the pain. She listened as Jack fiddled with the engine, played with wires, did that mechanical thing that she envied so. The kittens were tucked safely next to the seats on the floor, smart kids they were staying out of sight. She laid the woman on the back seat and sat on the ground next to the kids, allowing the other man to take shot gun.

"Hey lass how are you feeling?" She looked over at the blinking woman groaning and holding her side. "Hey what do I do if she starts becoming concious? Should I be worried?"

The motor reved up and they jolted forward, Jack at the steering wheel. "I think Strouds our best bet for a hospital."

LunaMaria
02/20/2007 11:27 AM

"Take us back round," Alexa yelled a dale," We got to get him back to the road block."

"We only got 35 miles in the battery," Dale turned the wheel, looking over at Wilson, "You gona be ok?"

"What, I'd be fine, if there wasn't a bullet in my shoulder," Wilson punched over at Dale, "Fool,"

Alexa got back on her headset, *"Vasht, Wlisons been hit you got med sets."

*"Techy that you, we got med set, medic too, we been upgraded to command station, with your truly in charge, put Wilson on."

*"Hey sir, Techy got me shot, I'll get her back later."

*"You shot, how bad,"

*"Through and through, not to bad but I'm half empty."

*"We'll be ready for you, out."

The Hummer was back on the road now and in pursuit of a truck, with a number of faces Alexa was becoming accustomed to. The Hummer was faster and was soon along side of the truck Alexa stuck her head out of the roof hatch and called over, "See you all made it," with smile, "Where you guys headed," looking down at the body they were transporting, "Hospital?"

Alexa gave it some thought as if waiting for an answer, "I got a place closer."

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 11:35 AM

Meg ddin't wantto trust her. Anyone who had gotten bullets flung at them was less than desirable and she doubted the Brits would be to happy after they had beaten the crap outta their boys. But did they truly have a choice? The young woman was becoming concious and she would hate to think of the poor woman waking up to a bullet wound.

"Call's yours Jack." She rubed te muzzle of the gun on her lap. "If we follow em' we could get some more information as to what is going on."

Jack_Dervish
02/20/2007 12:18 PM

Jack made a hasty retreat with his entourage of companions. The old truck, rigged with the biodiesel kit, roared awake as he crossed the solenoid at the starter. After a few seconds he hit the switch from regular diesel to biodiesel -- there was enough fuel to get them at least a hundred miles away. He fiddled with the awkward X-shifter and slammed it into gear, sending the truck into a sudden jolt before taking off with a roar.

The Asian woman rested in the front, out of the cold with Meg's winter jacket draped over her. She drifted in and out of consciousness, mumbling in half-lucid, half-delirious sentences. The others rode in the bed and covered themselves tightly against the nipping wind. Even at this time of year, the weather in the Midwest was bitter and foreboding.

Jack raced towards Stroud, hoping that somewhere he'd find a clinic or a hospital -- even an abandoned house with clean sheets on a mattress would suffice. The EU and the US cavalry would be busy fighting each other back at the crossroads, so the only threat Jack and his companions had to worry about was more raiders.

"Just hang in there, love. We're gonna get you patched up, ah? What's your name?"

Her eyes lolled around in her head and she said weakly, "E-Emi..."

"My name's Jack."

She coughed weakly and nodded off again. She would be like this for days, and probably even longer if sepsis set in. He only hoped that his skills at field triage were enough to keep her from dying.

Then, as they sped away, the hummer approached them rapidly with the woman from before yelling out the window at Jack, "Hey, where you guys headed? Hospital?"

Jack kept driving, his face stone-cold. "I got a place closer."

Having driven the humvee only hours earlier, Jack knew the state of its fuel cell. The vehicle was almost on empty, whereas the truck had enough to cut clear across the state line. Without so much as a word, Jack pushed harder on the accelerator and sped past the humvee.

Alexa, confused and irritated with the group's behavior, sped up as well. Then, after about five miles of chasing after the truck, the "low power" warning flashed on the humvee's dashboard.

There was no choking engine sound, no shaky sputter of the vehicle as it ran out of fuel. The accelerator simply became soft, and the soft hum of the electric motor suddenly fell silent. They drifted with their momentum for a while, until finally the humvee rolled to a stop.

Alexa let out a curse and slammed the steering wheel with her fist. Grabbing her radio, she nearly screamed into the speaker. "This is lance corporal Alexa Stret, orth code Zebra Niner Jason White 89745. I need a transport at my location, please assist."

*"Zzzt -- Negative, Lance Corporal. All transports in your area have engaged American forces at Route 44. You're advised to seek alternate transportation. Zzzt."*

"Fucking 'ell!" Dale exclaimed. "This whole operation's fucked!"

"Calm down. We'll have to hotwire one of the vehicles back there. The nearest town from here is Stroud, so those civilians are probably headed in that direction." Alexa grabbed her gear and opened her door. "Move out."

* * *

They rolled up to the outskirts of the town at roughly ten in the evening. Several houses looked suitable for rest, but one two-story house caught Jack's eye when he spotted the propane tank out front. When they stopped, the passengers in back breathed a sigh of relief that their miserably cold ride was over. Jack exited the cab and carried Emi like a bride while Meg and Ray covered him. He tested the doorknob, nodded to the two with the weapons, and followed behind them as they entered the house to do their sweep.

"Clear!" Meg shouted a moment later from the lower level.

"Clear!" Ray had taken the upstairs and swept each of the rooms. The house was abandoned, but recently by the looks of the fixtures. Only minor dust and cobwebs gathered, meaning that some measure of upkeep had been carried out only weeks before.

Jack carried Emi to the living room and set her down on the carpet. Propane meant a water boiler, which also meant clean water -- provided the fixtures still worked. After setting her down, Jack went into the kitchen to check. The sink was older, still using a valve pump rather than electric (whoever had lived here last knew well enough to use fixtures that didn't rely on electricity). He cranked the faucet and heard the rumble of water moving slowly through the pipes, but after a short spray of rusty brown from the pipes, clean water began to emerge.

Jack quickly filled his canteen, and then began to rummage through the kitchen for an empty pot. He found a large soup pot and filled it to the brim before turning off the water. He then walked over to the stove, turned on the gas, and carefully lit the pilot light with his Zippo. The stove roared to life: they now had water to boil.

"Someone find me sheets." Jack yelled to the others. A moment later, Meg came down with a bundle of sheets that looked like they had been pulled off a bed. Jack dunked them in the water on the stove and looked back at the living room. "Boil these for ten minutes and hang them out to dry -- make sure they don't get dirty."

Meg nodded, a glint of admiration reflecting in her eyes at the "Jack of all trades" before her. Any girl would've been impressed by Jack; he was smart, capable, and extremely resourceful. Added to a rugged, chiseled exterior and a commanding presence, it was hard not to feel an inkling of desire for the man. [i]It's been too long, Meggers. Besides, you barely even know the guy. How does he know all that stuff? What if he's some hardened criminal just waiting to kill you when you let your guard down? Ah, hell, maybe you're just going nuts, girl.[/i]

"You all right?"

"Huh?" Meg shook out of a daze and looked at Jack. "Oh, I'm fine -- just tired."

Jack nodded. "I'll take care of these sheets. Get some rest, ah? I'll need you to keep watch tonight."

LunaMaria
02/20/2007 1:02 PM

Alexa's took some steps towards a half dilapidate building with a garage, she looked down, luck was on Wilson's side. She was standing on a sign for Middway Clinic, looking over at the closed garage, "Hold here for a bit I'm gona have a lookse," Walking away from them.

"Feel free, your whimsy come before my life," Wlison yelled at her.

She pulled, kicked and pushed the door open to displayed a, well they couldn't have wished for more a dusty, dented, an ambulance, "Americans were so waste full, good thing." Alexa got in, keys in the ignition, it came to life, such a noise, with half a tank left in it, she was sat on a gold mine in oil. She drove it out, roof scraping along the top of the falling garage, "Dale get him in the back, check if it's got what we need."

"Thor be praised, I'm starting to like you Techy," Dale helped Wilson to his feet,

"It's Alexa, Dale."

"I'll like you after I get a chance to shoot you in the shoulder, Alexa."

Alexa when back to the Hummer and unloaded all the, food, water, ammo and what not in four trips to the ambulance, "It's got all I can uses and a load of drugs, I've never heard of, just need blood," Alexa new that blood wouldn't be good after all this time, "I'm A positive, what you need?"

"O positive, I know it's bad," complained Wilson

"I'm AB," answered a dejected Dale

"Were those guys get to, ask them lot," Wilson told her, "I'm not gona die after all that."

"Saddle up, we'll find them," Alexa started up the ambulance again, she drove the diesel monstrosity down the street after the truck. Well it wasn't hard to find out where they were, they truck was left in the middle of the road, they couldn't have be fifteen minutes ahead of them.

Alexa and Dale walked up to the door guns shouldered, they saw the group gathered in the living room, the door had open silently.

Alexa put her hand in her pocket and drew out a packet, "We come bearing gifts, painkillers, antibiotics, bandages, the list goes on," smiling. The group turned to her, "Oh and food," Taking a step inside, Meg was on her feet her gun aimed at Alexa, "Not wanted, we can leave if thats the case," Looking over at the body, "She might not be to lively if not."

[Edited by LunaMaria on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 1:08 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 1:23 PM

"I don't like the em' here Jack." Meg growled low. She had no problem with this being her new home and she was willing to fight to the tooth for it. "Don't you think you fucking grunts have done enough. You're gonna brgin the whole fucking U.S army on our heads if you stick around here and frankly that is not an appealing idea."

There were two others behind her, she recognized them from the garage. "Here how about this, you place all your guns in front of my feet, I shoot you nice and easy like and we take the antibiotics, and food, wait did you say food?" Meg's ears perked at that, she hadn't been able to finish her horse and the adrenaline from the battle had made her hungry. "Mmk change of plans how bout you throw the food in here, then the meds, then your guns, then I'll shoot you. That way Idon't have to make trips to the car. Sound doable?"

She looked to Jack, she didn't know why, most of the time she liked to take the lead, but this man he seemed to have all the right answers at all the right times. He got by like she had, making do with the material you had, except that he knew how to utilize his surroundings a little better than she had. Four years studying world business and marketing did not help survive after nuclear explosions.

[i]Oh snap out of it. You can't possibly. No you know what shh you, I think I have every right to... You're cracked he would never like you, won't happen.[/i]

Jack and Alexa were starting to speak.

nanuk
02/20/2007 1:45 PM

[i]Jack.. wheel jack.. hijack.. jack of all trades.. jack in the box.. Jack Kerouac, I'm on the road, and it's making me want to die..[/i]

Emi hadn't been fully conscious for most of the journey, slipping in and out of a cogniscant state, aware of little other than the sensation of moving, the vibrations of the vehicle making her feel like she wanted to vomit.

[i]jack daniels.. ooh jack daniels.. jacket.. jack it in.. I should.. [/i]

She'd just about summoned the energy to answer the voice ([i]strange accent, Jack[/i]), vaguely annoyed by the intrusion into her comfortable fog, but thankful of the distraction.

[i]blackjack.. jack of diamonds.. diamonds.. South Africa! That's the accent.. jacking off.. you don't know jack..[/i]

The distraction had been a good thing, she'd discovered, a very good thing, the fog not being quite numbing enough.

[i]jack and jill went up the hill.. jack be nimble, jack be quick.. oh be quick jack, I'm going to vomit or die and I don't care which.. Jack Frost..
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become..
wrong Frost.. [/i]

Thinking of her own distractions worked for a while, then it made her brain hurt, sharp spikey hurt. Maybe the fog was better.
Then she was moving again, being carried- carefully, yes- but still it felt like jagged shards of black glass being grabbed roughly and carved through her.

[i]Jack the Ripper, then... [/i]

Then, blessedly, oblivion.

Jack_Dervish
02/20/2007 1:51 PM

When Alexa walked in through the door, Jack was already presenting his gat at the young Englishwoman. Something about her, though, indicated that she wasn't here for a fight. She held up the packet of basic first aid supplies and looked specifically at Jack. It was obvious that he was the leader, and he would be the one making the decisions. "Jack, is it? We just want to help."

For an instant, Jack wondered what her angle was. She clearly wasn't a regular grunt like the two overly hormonal soldiers behind her, and her intentions seemed genuinely benevolent as contrary to her superiors' plans. It was possible that she was one of the few invaders who felt it necessary to establish relations with the people she helped conquer, if only to ease her conscience. She tossed Jack the packet, and he caught it with his free hand. "That woman's lost a lot of blood, yeah? The ambulance outside has screens and SeraFoil sheets."

"What do you want?" Jack finally asked.

"Just to help. We're not trying to conquer you people -- we only want to pick up what this country dropped, that's all."

"It doesn't belong to you!" Meg protested, her finger gently caressing the trigger on her rifle.

"Have you asked yourself why you're fighting us? We're trying to restore the government here, give you people a second chance. Your old government failed -- why would you support them against the only hope you have for a normal life?"

"Normalcy with the EU? The last time I checked, you were doing little better than we are. You're just a bunch of squabbling nation states vying for the scraps of this world's resources." Ray chimed in. "You may have cars and amenities now, but in ten years you'll be right where we are."

Jack finally threw up his hands and yelled, "Jisses! We don't have bloody time for this! Give us the supplies or piss off!"

Alexa nodded and waved Dale in with the rest of the medical supplies. Jack quickly dug through them and pulled out the SeraFoil sheet for blood typing. She was Asian, so Jack surmised type-B, but he had to be certain. He took the sheet over to her and took a sample from her finger with the enclosed needle. After rubbing the drop over the marked circle, he spotted clotting on the A, AB field. He was right; she had type-B blood.

Jack was type-O, so he was an obvious candidate for a transfusion. Of course, he wanted to keep the risk of rejection to a minimum, so he would seek out another type-B donor if possible. "Who has type-B?"

LunaMaria
02/20/2007 1:59 PM

"None of our group," looking back, "Dale try the gas."

"Gota, then I'll get Wilson," walking through the room

"Good, I'm guessing your water works," ascending the stairs.

"Where do you think your going," Meg turning to Alexa, angry as ever.

"Is that something you ask a young woman?" Alexa walked on, leaving Meg at the bottom of the stairs.

Dale checked the gas and then tried to go back outside, Meg blocked his path, "Stop swanning around like this is your house."

"We're only trying to help, looking her over, "How far do you really think you gona get if you don't work with us, US can't win here, where does that leave you?"

______________________

"She should be here, get a group and check the road, find out what happen."

"Yes sir, the soldier walk over to two hummers and troops gathered round.

[Edited by LunaMaria on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 2:16 PM]

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 2:39 PM

"I'm not with the US and I am certainly not with your scumy army either. And the only reason any of you are still standing is because of Jack and the kids. Now if you don't fucking start unarming yourselves I will put another bullet whole through that friend of yours."

"Meg stand down." Jack's voice was soft but commanding.

"Not until they put their fucking guns in front of me. By the way I am type B." Meg was not relinquishing her hold on her gun. She was sick of these people. "And by the way pal, what happens to me is none of your fucking business. So stay put hand over your firearms and sit your dandy ass down. Do I make myself clear, or do I have to go over this again?"

Meg was irritated now, she hated military personel that thought they were better than civilians, hated them more because they were half her age and acting like they were her peers. unless Jack physically stood and stopped her she was not relenting to these kids.

Jack_Dervish
02/20/2007 3:45 PM

Jack sighed and tucked his revolver into the back of his pants. Meg stared Dale down, her rifle unwavering from his kneecap, waiting for some sort of go-ahead from Jack. [i]Look at yourself, girl: you're waiting for orders like some kind of army grunt. Last I checked, Jack wasn't the boss of you.[/i]

She nodded at herself and squeezed the trigger suddenly, popping Dale in the kneecap. He screamed -- a blood-curdling, horrible scream -- and fell to the ground in pain. "I'm through fucking around. School's out, kids."

Jack stood up immediately with his pistol drawn. When he saw that Meg had fired, his face wrenched into an expression of irritated confusion. "What the hell? For Christ's sake, Meg, we can't afford to waste more medical supplies!"

Alexa came bolting down the stairs with her Glock drawn, but Meg was already on her. "One move, G.I. Jane. I swear to fucking God..."

"MEG!" Jack's voice resounded. Its sheer presence was enough to make even the hobbled soldier on the ground ignore his injury for a split-second to look up at the man. "STAND DOWN."

He hadn't threatened her, hadn't made any sort of move, but his expression and the tone of his voice somehow caused a shiver of fear deep within her that gave her pause. Alexa stood on the stairs and shook as well. Her pistol hand slowly lowered and she let the gun go slack in her palm. "Meg, sit down in the living room. Corporal, I suggest you tend to your man and make sure he doesn't bleed to death."

Jack turned his attention to Meg after that, taking one of the IV needles from the supply kit and tapping her vein. Jack's expression remained stone-faced throughout the procedure, and Meg simply stared at him. [i]Damnit, Meg, what the hell are you doing? Don't apologize. You didn't do anything wrong![/i]

"Jack, I..."

[i]Fuck![/i]

Verbalscrapper
02/20/2007 4:03 PM

Meg winced as the needle entered her skin. She never particularly liked needles especially when she could see what it was that was being done.

"Jack I did what.." She sighed what did she do? Did she explain to him how her head worked? No that could take days. Did she apologize for a completly provoked attack? No that was weak. "Jack I did what was necessary, alright? They have no right to be here, no fucking right at all. They think just cause' they came in here with their slick army uniforms that they can take whatever they damn well please and as far as I am concerned, we shouldn't even waste medical supplies on that piece of shit. Let him bleed to death."

Meg was on the defensive, she always was, even before these days. She would never be proven wrong, even if it killed her. She looked at the needle in her flesh trying to keep her muscles as relaxed as possible while he did what he needed to do. She didn't know if he cared or even if he was listening. She sighed and looked up at the LCP as she tended to her man. It didn't look like they would be friends anytime soon.

"I'm just protecting my flock Jack, I'm just doing what I was bred to do. Protect my own." She could see the kids huddled together and talking to one another. The sudden shots had gotten their attention momentarily but now they busied themselves with eachothers company. Her eyes lowered again to the needle and she left it at that.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 7:31 PM]

Kurtz_Webber
02/21/2007 3:06 AM

Ray scanned the room he was in, "nothing but broken bits of wood," he went on to the next room still there was nothing to help the girl just spiders. Suddenly a gun was fired and Ray heard someone running down the stairs, "shit what the hell," Ray shouted at himself he went running down the stairs knocked into a officer, "God..." he heard, "who said god then oh.. just ignore me I'm going now back upstairs I think," Ray bolted Upstairs.

LunaMaria
02/21/2007 8:28 AM

Wilson burst through the door rife aimed at Meg's back, looking down on Dale, "You bitch, you crazy bitch," cocking the rife, "I'm gona end you."

"Stand down soldier, theres no point," what was the use this guy was an air head anyway.

"Any last words," Jack and Meg already leapt for their guns, "To late."

Wilsons face came into contact with something hard and smooth at a great speed, he fell to the ground with a thump, Alexa crouched down over him, "You follow my orders private," he nodded weakly before passing out. Alexa threw her Glock onto the table, "The next person you shoot better be you," She got down finished bandaging Dales knee, his pad had taken most of the shot the bullet barely broke the skin, "You big baby."

Alexa got to her feet, "Lets all be nice and we won't have a problem when backup turns up," Walking back up the stairs to continue what she was doing earlier.

Dale lay there feeling ashamed Meg kept giving him glares, "You know, I had a present for after the war, but it wont hurt to have it now," He drew out a bottle of vodka from his pack, "Don't shoot me again."

Meg seemed turned by this and snatched it from him, "Your welcome."




Alexa descended the stair looking completely different from when she hand gone up, she wore a yellow t-shirt with a lime green jacket and a pink pleated skirt. She then moved across the room, Dale staring at her this must have been a different person. She took an large pan out of a cupboard and half filled it with water and passed it on the gas stove, then she drew up a chair and sat staring at Jack. He was pretty good a fixn up folk she give him that, just old, old could have been her dad old.

[Edited by LunaMaria on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 9:08 AM]

Verbalscrapper
02/21/2007 8:40 AM

"It's a damn good thing I have a needle in my arm tight now boy, or I'd end you now." Meg took a sip of the strong vodka crunched her face, capped it and handed it to Jack. "I thought it might be Guiness or something, I hate that Russian crap."

She looked up as the woman said reinforcments. "What do you mean reinforcments? You're gonna bring em in here? To Stroud? Can't you keep your fucking filthy military paws [i]out[/i] of civilian areas? You are really not getting on my good side Posty." Meg, though she knew that wasn't the girls job or name, had taken a fond liking to it and now claimed it as her nick name.

"Hold still Meg." Jack's calm firm voice once more. Meg settled back down and swept her eyes over all of them, giving them each a good death stare.

"Just you wait Posty." She mumbled and went back to staring at the needle.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 9:10 AM]

Jack_Dervish
02/21/2007 2:47 PM

Upon filling the bag with her blood, Jack pulled the needle out of Meg's forearm and had her hold it up at her neck. "Eat the army rations and drink plenty of water. I may need more from you later."

Meg nodded, feeling slightly woozy from having a couple pints of blood drained from her body. She decided to take Jack's advice and eat, seeing as she hadn't had an opportunity since she shot the horse earlier that day. Dinner consisted of a greasy biscuit-like substance wrapped in a sealed foil package. It tasted bland, but it was very filling, and apparently contained all the nutrients her body needed for the day.

Meanwhile, Jack hooked Emi up to the IV and started the feed of Meg's blood. Back in the day he would have taken measures to screen Meg for possible diseases or contaminants, but this was a vastly different situation. He had to make do with every resource at his disposal, no matter how dangerous or unorthodox.

Emi would be out for a few more hours, at least. Once Alexa's backup arrived things would become complicated again, but for the moment Jack would take the opportunity to rest.

He sat down on one of the nearby lounge chairs and let out a sigh. More than anything, he craved a cigarette; he hadn't smoked in over eight months. He wanted to take the bottle of vodka and drown himself in it, but he had to stay alert. He wasn't wandering the wastes alone anymore -- he had people counting on him. Ray was a good doctor and knew a thing or two about shooting, but he wasn't nearly the survivalist that Jack was. Meg was a better shot than anyone he had met before, but her judgment was about as good as a schizophrenic's. Then there were the kids, Maria and Keys; though they weren't exactly children (being 13 and 15 respectively), they wouldn't survive a day without someone to protect them. Emi was Jack's obvious priority, since she was his patient, and he had sworn an oath long ago to protect his patients first.

As for the soldiers, he didn't know how to react to them. They weren't enemies exactly, but they were far from allies. He knew that at any moment he might have to kill them to protect his companions, and this fact hung over him like a dark cloud. He still regarded them as kids, and the possibility of having to take the lives of ones so young made him cringe.

Exhausted from lack of rest and the weight of the situation, Jack stripped down to his undershirt and checked his revolver. He ejected the cylinder and removed the spent bullets before replacing them with fresh ones. The empty casings landed softly on the carpet. It was then that Meg came walking up with her forearm still held up to her shoulder. "You okay?"

Jack nodded. "Ja well, no fine. Just tired."

"Look, I'm sorry about the--"

"Forget it." Jack shut his eyes and leaned his head back in the chair, sighing.

"Hey, no, I want to talk about this!"

"You already did, ah? You were stressed and you reacted; it's fine. Leave it alone."

[i]Damnit! Why are you seeking his approval? He's hot -- it's not like he's not a god or something! It's not like that sculpted body and take-no-shit attitude makes him any more of a... oh Christ, Meg, knock it off! Stop looking down![/i]

"Well, at least let me make it up to you. You want some dinner?"

Jack cocked an eyebrow at Meg, who seemed a bit more flush in the face than she should have been given the amount of blood that was drawn from her. "... I'm fine... Go get some rest, ah? You look like you're about to faint."

Meg suddenly turned flush even more. "Hey, Mr. Jack-of-all-trades! I'll have you know that you're not *that* hot! Why -- the arrogance to assume that I'd swoon over you is... is..." [i]Oh Jesus fucking Christ, no...[/i]

Meg went down, luckily slow enough for Jack to grab her as she fell. The blood loss appeared to be affecting her more than he had anticipated. She passed out in Jack's arms, but not before uttering a mumbled, "Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me..."

In any other situation, Jack would have laughed, but his mind was far elsewhere. He set her down on the chair and covered her with his jacket. It appeared that he wouldn't get any rest tonight.

* * *

Dawn broke, and Jack awoke lying against the wall to the sound of car doors slamming. Quickly he checked his surroundings; Emi was on the floor resting peacefully, Meg was sleeping on the chair with her mouth open slightly, and Alexa was already at the front door. Jack checked his revolver and proceeded to head over to Alexa, still in his undershirt. She turned to him and nodded. "Sleep well?"

Jack looked outside and spotted four EU troopers heading towards the door. Alexa nodded at them and opened the door while Jack took a step back. The first man to walk through the door was an older soldier (by EU standards), probably in his mid twenties. By his uniform Jack surmised the man was at least a captain.

"Lance Corporal Stret?"

"Sir," she replied.

"You are hereby charged with sedition and relieved of duty. Please drop your weapons and put your hands in the air."

"What?!" She exclaimed. "What's the meaning of this?!"

"You," He pointed at Jack. "You're under arrest."

Jack saw three soldiers advance towards him and suddenly his muscles tensed. One he could take on, two if he had some sort of advantage, but three was a stretch even for him. Alexa fought against the beefy private attempting to grab her wrists. "I'm a soldier with the Royal Infantry! This is outrageous!"

"You're an enemy collaborator and a traitor. This man is responsible for the destruction of one of His Majesty's helicopters and the death of five Royal troopers."

"What?! He didn't do that! That helicopter was shot down by raiders!"

"That is for his trial to determine."

Ray came down the stairs and scratched his head groggily. "What's going on?" Before anyone had a chance to answer, a trooper struck him in the forehead with his rifle. He went down with a crash and Jack lunged forward, grabbing one of the advancing troopers by the wrist, and pulling him into a headlock with his powerful forearm. His opposing hand grabbed the revolver tucked in the back of his pants in the same motion, and placed the barrel against the trooper's temple. "Back off!"

"Stop this, Captain! This is madness!" Alexa shouted.

The captain ignored her and stared at Jack. "I assure you, sir, that you will do yourself no good by adding to your list of charges."

Three more soldiers came in with rifles pointed at Jack. He ducked his body behind his hostage and tightened the grip on his neck.

Suddenly, a shot rang out, and the captain went down, followed by one of the grunts threatening Jack. Jack looked to his right and spotted Meg with her rifle quickly disappear behind a wall. In the same instant, Alexa slammed her palm into the nose of the soldier attempting to detain her for a killing blow. Her heel came up off the ground and struck another soldier in the groin. Jack fired his revolver and sent the soldier's brains flying across the room. Behind the three remaining EU troopers, Dale and Wilson charged into the fray and attacked. One of the EU troopers was taken down by Dale, the other shot Wilson in the forehead; a puff of red and pink shot out, and the former British trooper fell to his death.

"No!" Alexa shouted, striking the back of her foe's neck with her elbow. As he collapsed, Jack brained the last trooper with his revolver. Everyone's ears were ringing, blood had sprayed everywhere, and the wails of dying soldiers combined with screams from the girls resounded in the house.

Jack walked over to the only surviving trooper and jerked his neck back by his hair before executing him. Alexa crouched over Wilson and sobbed. "You bastards! You fucking bastards!"

Everywhere was chaos; everyone was shaken. For Alexa and Dale, everything was about to change.

LunaMaria
02/21/2007 3:10 PM

(Such a leap Jack(night before))

Alexa didn't get why these people couldn't wait for food, "It's not great but it's better than that stuff," putting a pan of pasta and rehydrated tomato on the table. Everyone other than the passed out Meg seemed eager for the stuff, "It's not that good," Alexa sat down at the table.

After eating everyone drifted, off both Dale and Wilson were out and really they were gona be ok if they stayed still. Alexa found herself drifting off into thought, she snapped out but she didn't know after how long, she turned Jack was still awake at the table.

It burst out all at once she couldn't stop it, "I can't do it any more, I never wanted to kill anyone. I've killed loads today. How, every person had something they wanted to live for but because of me they don't, How do I stop it hurting, Jack." She looked at him tears welling in her eyes, this girl couldn't have been a soldier. Jack just looked at her, didn't move, guess he just sleeps with his eyes open, Alexa got up, sniffing, she'd go for a walk that might help a bit.


_______________________________________________________

Alexa steadied herself, "Couldn't you have tried not fighting for once," She kicked one of the soldiers, turning she chucked her Glock at Meg who was just coming out and stormed out of the house.

"If there was no way of ending this without killing people or being killed, then I'll do it on my terms," She walked over to a budding tree, took out a pill and looked at it. "This is so stupid."


~ Dad never wanted me to join up, said the forces were for dumb people, it should stay and gone to uni, to late now, I'm never getting home. If this is how people act we should all die out, that way it might be nice. This is their fault they didn't do anything to stop it, they even helped people are so greedy, they didn't even care. I wonder if I'll see mom up there or Kas or Beck, Jamie, Katelin, Mei, Wilson, is this what they died for. So we could all kill each other....~



[Edited by LunaMaria on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 3:22 PM]

Jack_Dervish
02/21/2007 4:01 PM

"Alexa?" Dale walked up behind her, hobbled slightly from his injury, and saw her kneeling by a budding oak tree. He placed his hand on her shoulder and she whipped around, tears streaming down her face.

He didn't know what to say... until he spotted the cyanide pill in her hand. "What are you doing?!"

"It's all fucked!" She threw her arms around his waist and sobbed into his shirt. "What the fuck are we even doing here?! People just kill each other like it was nothing! Wilson died for nothing!"

"It's part of the job, love." Dale said uneasily, putting a nervous hand on her head as she let out long, heaving sobs into his stomach. "I... We..." He hadn't asked for this any more than she did. Dale was a soldier, he was trained to follow orders, not counsel his commanders during their mental breakdowns.

"I just want the hurting to stop. I want this to end!"

"Look, I know it's all shit right now, but if you end things here it'll never get better. We can go with Jack... We can--"

Suddenly, a voice came from behind them in the distance. "Hey, I need help disabling the transceivers on these humvees! We gotta move now now, ah?"

Dale looked back at the house, then turned to Alexa. "They need our help."

The choice was Alexa's now: take the pill, or continue on with Jack and his companions.

Kurtz_Webber
02/22/2007 12:42 AM

Ray mind was all blurry and his hearing was slurred but his eyes worked fine he could see everything including the ex officer's brains being splatted on him. Ray woke with a start knife drawn he couldn't see a thing just eyes hundreds of eyes he slapped himself in the side of his cheek, "ow where that cunt that knocked me out?" he said with a start clutching his head.

"You try over there," said Jack staring out the window Ray sheathed the knife and joined Jack.

"what do you think they are doing, I know all officers have a pill to take them to heaven but so soon?"

"you like her don't you,"Jack whispered to Ray.

"No I don't what makes you think that," Ray blurted.

"it's a good skill to be able to speak off the tip of your tongue,"Jack laughed.

[Edited by Kurtz_Webber on Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:48 AM]

LunaMaria
02/22/2007 11:07 AM

Alexa was overcome, 74 hour without sleep and a loss of mental stability sunk in. "Whats the point, were gona die anyway, " She dug her nails into Dales back, "Haven't you killed enough people."

Dale winced with pain both from her nails and his knee, "Alexa, this is stupid, get it together," pushing her off him.

"Kill me Dale," Laying in front of him, "Kill me, thats and order."

"No, Alexa not ones gona kill any body," Wishing he could bend own to pick her up.

"I hate you," Alexa passed out, her skirt blowing in the wind of an oncoming storm, "Help them."

[Edited by LunaMaria on Thursday, February 22, 2007 11:09 AM]

Jack_Dervish
02/22/2007 11:50 AM

Jack got to work quickly on the humvees and their electronic equipment. Judging by power gauge on the control panel, the electric scout vehicles had about 300 miles before they ran out of juice; with that kind of range they'd make the state line by sundown.

Dale walked up with Alexa in his arms, limping severely the entire time. "Room for two more, mate?" He said while cringing.

Jack looked at the young soldier and smirked slightly. It was an odd sight, given the usual intensity of the South African's countenance. Maybe he was just happy to have one more ally on his side. "Hop in, bru. You're tailing us, ah?"

Ray came out carrying Emi while Maria and Keys followed behind Meg. As she passed Jack, she couldn't help but feel a twinge of embarrassment over what had happened the night before. Her face was flushed still, but he greeted her passing with a friendly nod. "You're with me."

Jack, Meg, Marie, and Emi rode in the first humvee while Dale, Alexa, Ray, and Keys took the second and followed. Jack didn't have a planned city to shoot for; he'd merely stop at the first place that looked safe. Finding a hospital for Emi would be his first priority, but staying one step ahead of the EU came in a close second. They were all fugitives now.

Verbalscrapper
02/23/2007 8:49 AM

Meg didn't like the thought of being split up from Keys but figured it best not to argue. She got into the pasenger side seat and kicked her feet up. "On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again. So where we headed?"

"Dunno, anywhere this piece of junk can get us."

"You know what I say, I say we find ourself a nice little fixer upper house on a hill, with a balcony that points out toward the sunset. And of course the hill would make it a great defensive position. Yep that's what I think."

the Humvee started up and they began their journey. She looked at Marie from the rear view mirror, her eyes scnning the horizon as it whisked by.

"They're dead aren't they Jack?" She asked in a quiet but sond voice. "They perished in that caravan with the rest of em' didn't they?" Tears were beginning to well up in her eyes but she did not openly sob.

"It's.." Meg paused, she didn't know what to tell her. "I'm sure they are thinking bout'you, where ever they are. I won't tell you they're safe, but I won't tell you theyre gone either." She looked at Jack hoping he would say something. She reached her hand back and squeezed the girls knee. "I know we're complete strangers, but we're here for ya and if we can we'll get you back to your parents." Meg gave her an empthatic half smile. Yet another orphan made by this pointless war.

Jack_Dervish
02/23/2007 11:07 AM

Marie wasn't exactly a child of the apocalypse -- she had lived through the halcyon days before the war, back when Iraq was the only real conflict on the world's mind. Though she had only been alive for seven years when World War 3 broke out, she remembered vividly the affluent lifestyle her parents enjoyed and the feeling that her safety was never in dispute. She remembered going to Disney World, before the tides had swallowed Florida; she remembered the beach, the whales, and the manatees. Most of all she remembered how happy her parents were back in those days. Their steady descent into miserable times was a haunting gloom over the memories of happiness her family had shared. She remembered the night that her mother had tried to kill herself with pills. Her father had said to her, tears streaming down his face as he held her in his arms that they would go to South America. They would have their life back.

That was half a year ago. Now she was alone, save for the strangers who had come along to keep her safe. She was fifteen -- not quite a woman, but by no means a child. She was in the crux of adolescence.

Meg remembered the tribulations of that age and tried to put herself in Marie's shoes. It was difficult to fathom living with complete strangers after the death of one's parents. Meg commended Marie for her coping skills; she was a fighter, much like herself.

Jack, on the other hand, was a mystery. While being roughly her own age, Meg couldn't picture the man as anything other than a capable paragon of masculinity. She imagined him as a younger, less grizzled version of himself running the veldts in Africa, hunting bush meat and getting accepted into native tribes through primitive rites of passage involving fire and spears. [i]You're doing it again. Knock it off, Meg.[/i]

She shook her head and looked ahead at the stretch of highway before them. Jack's expression was steely and resolute. Then, suddenly, he broke out of his brooding face and said rather loudly, "Jisses! I have had that song by Journey in my head all bloody day!"

Verbalscrapper
02/23/2007 11:23 AM

"What the... cheeze it man, warn somebody before you burst out like that. And how could you be thinking of songs by Journey when the poor kids just lost her parents?" Meg was puzzled, this man was a complete mysery and he called her a loon. "By the way what song is it?"

Meg looked back at Emi, still unconcious on the seat. "When is she gonna come to eh? She's been out a damned long time. I may like my sleep but man she is sleepin' beauty over there."

She cracked a few of her knuckles looking over to Jack but pulling her Fidel Castro looking cap down over her eyes. "Alright bud so we've known eachother for little over 24 hours I'd say and as for my record that's the longest relationship I have had with anyone in well over a couple years or so." She didn't know wht she was getting at she just wanted to hear the guy talk, prove that there was some personality behind hs striking good looks. "You've had yet to crack a joke or a smile and your parenting skills are not quite top notch I would say."

She looked once more at Marie still at the age where you were a sponge taking in the world around you and molding to it accordingly. Figruring out what you wnted to do with your life, might even be poking at the thought of college, well back when there was a organized education system. She was old enough to handle a gun safely too and that skill might come in handy one day. Meg looked back at Jack waiting for the handsome man to respond.

Jack_Dervish
02/23/2007 11:41 AM

Jack was silent for a lengthy moment. Right as Meg thought he was going to keep up his strong, silent type image, he began to speak.

"So, this duck walks into a bar, ah? He sits down, the barman says, 'You look tired, ma bru. You need something?' Duck says, 'Well barman, my name's Hubert and I'm tired from being in and out of puddles all morning. I'll have a pint.' So, the barman gives him a pint, duck walks off. Another duck comes in and looks just as knackered as the first. Barman says, 'You look tired, ma bru. You need something?' Duck says, "Cheers. My name's Hubert and I'm all worn out from being in puddles all day. I'll have a pint." Barman gives him a pint, and the duck walks off. Third duck walks in, sits at the bar. The barman says, 'Lemme guess -- your name is Hubert, ah?' The duck says, 'No, my name is Puddles. Don't ask me how my fucking day was.'"

"That's... terrible." Meg giggled. It wasn't an all-out laugh, but then again, it was a very old joke.

"And that's why I don't crack jokes." Jack smirked; it was the closest thing she had seen to a smile on him since they met.

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Friday, February 23, 2007 11:46 AM]

nanuk
02/23/2007 12:01 PM

"What?"

Emi had started coming to at the sensation of being on the move again, the roar of the humvee breaking through her daze.

"What? Puddles?".
[i]Duck?[/i]
She was still pretty groggy, her voice little more than a mumble.

"Who..", she winced, and her hand went to her stomach, tightly packed with gauze. She felt hot, and itchy, and beyond sore.

She was just about awake enough to register that she was travelling somewhere with people she didn't know, but not enough to care who they were or where they were going. That they'd bandaged her was certainly a good sign, and the voice of the man in the front sounded vaguely familiar, as if from a half remembered dream.

She opened her eyes a crack and saw that there was a girl sitting beside her: she regarded her mutely.

The humvee hit a bump in the road and she gasped through clenched teeth, her eyes rolling back so that the whites showed briefly.

"Duck?"
[i]Distraction, keep distracted..[/i]

Verbalscrapper
02/23/2007 2:54 PM

Meg relaxed noticeably and let the smile stay on her face. She was more than grateful that he had been comfortable enough with her to tell a joke. Most she had met had left within a few hours, not feeling safe in her presence. The feeling seemed contagious and soon even Marie had a weak smile on her face.

She heard the woman mumbling in the backseat and turned to look. "So again when is she going to come to?" She chuckled slightly as the woman said duck, an old High School joke coming to mind.

The dust tumbled by causing smokey ghosts to form in the air. "Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those doggies rolling..." She began whistling the tune. "So kiddo what about you, what's your part in all this? You from the east coast or the west?" She peered through the mirror once more and looked at the teenager.

"North east, near Pittsburgh kind of. Family started heading west during the war, and finally decided to head to California to catch a boat headed south of the border." Meg nodded.

"Ever shoot anything before?"

"A paintball gun once, but thats about it."

"Pfft, thats not shootin'. Next point we stop at you and me, I'll teach you how to keep yourself out of trouble." Marie eyed her tentaively, not exactly sure she wanted to be taught how to shoot by a metally instable person, on the other hand she did have an uncannily good shot.

LunaMaria
02/23/2007 8:26 PM

Alexa lay motionless in the back of the second hummer, her head in Keys lap. Her hair spilt across her face, she looked small maybe even like a 15 year old again. Dale caught himself looking at her through the mirror. "Is she gona be ok?"

Dale turned back, "She'll be ok she's just tired, you ok Keys,"

"I'm ok, my parents were back there," putting a hand on Alexa's head, "Where are we going," seemingly coping well.

"I don't know we got to just trust Jack, and that crazy witch," pulling a face.

"She's not evil, she's nice," looking mildly shocked.

"Did you see her shoot me, she's nuts," Thinking about who he was talking to, "But i doesn't hurt that much. So keys where you from,"

"New York is where i was born but I've never stayed anywhere very long, what about you?"

"I'm from England, Pennines, do you know where that is?"

"No, how far away is it,"

"Real far, over the ocean."

"Did you come here in a boat, whats it like in England?"

"I did, it's cold, so cold you have to stay inside most of the time, it's much nicer here," pointing out as they passed over a river bridge."

"Why did you come, is it because of her," looking at Alexa.

"No," not quite sure what she meant by it, "I came because it help all the people back home," smiling.

"I don't know why I'm here," looking glum.

"You don't have to know why, but you are so it doesn't matter," looking over at Ray, "How about you?"


~ Frozen lake in summer, the swans flew away it was so sad that day, "Daddy when are they coming back?"

"They might not, their going to find a warm place, you'd like that would you," I nodded.
I never took a step on my own back then, maybe because if I got lost I would die, spending everyday in ice, anyone would leave. We left, me, dad and mom left. moved to France for a while when I was 11, didn't snow there all the time. I loved it, until mom died I stayed with dad, until my 15th. Damie joined up and asked me to come, I got in a fight with my dad over it, it was stupid. Damie got kicked out after 4 weeks, I was stuck, he dumped me. This, my whole life is a mistake. No one cares anymore. ~


They kept going for 5 hours, 11:43 Jack pulled over in a empty field, Dale went for the ration packs, this would make up for the lack of breakfast.

Verbalscrapper
02/23/2007 9:58 PM

Meg lept out of the car and stretched placing two hands behind her head and walking about. She watched Alexa float around the camp, looking ghost like and mopey, watched Dale as he unpacked the rations, watched Jack as he was well... Jack.

"We are the weirdest herd I have ever seen." She kicked at the dust, and watched as it puffed into the air before being carried off into the wind. Dale was trying to get a fire started from some scrapped up kindling. She laughed and chucked her matches at him. "Try those, it will be a lot less painful to watch." She recieved a respective sneer.

Meg snuffed back around into the car and pulled out her M16 with a new box of bullets. She slipped in a new clip and tapped marie on the shoulder. "So what did I tell ya? Ready to learn to shoot some raider bastards?" She nodded tentatively, she wasn't sure if she was more afraid of the gun or the woman behind it. "Alright first things first is we need a target." She scanned the camp ground looking for potential cannon foder. "Oh of course." She leveled her gun to Dale's torso but only recieved a quick, sharp, slap to the arm.

"That's not funny." Marie scowled.

"Really? I thought it was freakin' hilarious. Well if you insist." She pointed at a very out of place stop sign. "That is your target so all you got to do is..." Meg walked her through the basic steps of loading a gun, turning off the safety, fixing a jam, aiming if one felt so inclined. The first bursts of bullets resounded through the quiet desert. Meg looked through the scope of her M40 at the now very dented sign. Meg patted the girl on the back and turned to shout over her shoulder.

"Hey Jack, I think we got ourselves a natural born killer." She looked back down at the teenager. "Nice shootin' ace now are we ready for some really fun toys?" She unslung her M40.

Jack_Dervish
02/24/2007 12:39 AM

The weather took a drastic shift the further south they went. The encroaching desert met up with the dustbowl abruptly, and what had been bitter weather only a few miles back was suddenly warm and balmy. Jack shed his jacket and hoodie and cracked his back under the afternoon sun. He spotted Marie using Meg's M-16 against a nearby sign and made an impressed grunt at the girl's performance. He felt a sense of automatic wariness when it came to giving a weapon to a kid, but it disappeared quickly as she squeezed off a few rounds. Any way he looked at it, having another gun-hand in the group was useful.

Army rations weren't the most appetizing source of food around, but they were designed to keep a soldier alive and healthy. He ate the greasy biscuit-like brick while staring out into the vast expanse of dusty plains ahead of him. The emptiness of this pancake-flat dustbowl was enough to drive a person mad after a long period of exposure. Psychology was his best weapon against the EU pursuers, next to time and distance.

"You're... Jack?"

He turned around to see the pale Asian woman holding her stomach, but sitting up in her seat. Jack nodded in reply. "Feel any better?"

"It hurts when I move... and it itches. Did you...?"

He nodded. "You're lucky, love. Another centimeter and you'd have bled out in a minute." He walked over and gingerly traced his fingertips along her lymph nodes before grabbing her wrist and timing her pulse with his watch. The sensation of his touch made her shiver slightly, which sent a cramp into her abdomen and caused her to grimace. "Well, your rejection of the blood is nominal and I don't see any signs of infection yet. In the meantime, I can give you some pills for the pain."

"Can... I have something to eat?"

Jack looked surprised. "Oh, Jisses, I'm sorry. Here--" He handed her an army ration. "Eat one of these bricks. It may not be a gourmet meal, but it'll help your body stave off infection."

She took it and smiled. "Thank you, Doctor."

"Jack, please."

She smiled again; were it not for her pale complexion and steady grimace from being in constant pain, Jack would consider her to be very attractive. He reached into his pack and retrieved a pair of white tablets from a bottle marked "hydrocodone" and, handing them to her, said, "These should help. For now, drink plenty of water and eat those rations, ah?"

Meanwhile, from a short distance away, Meg watched Jack talking with Emi and felt an angry, sick feeling build in the pit of her stomach. All of a sudden she felt the urge to take the rifle out of Marie's hands and finish the job raiders had started back in the Roadite caravan. [i]Christ, Meg, what is the matter with you? She's his patient and he's taking care of her. Why are you getting jealous?[/i]

She spotted Jack smiling -- not a mere smirk, but an actual full-on smile (looking even more attractive than before without the air of gloom about him) -- and clenched her fist tightly. [i]That bitch is going down.[/i]

[Edited by Jack_Dervish on Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:45 AM]

LunaMaria
02/24/2007 4:19 AM

Meg was taken by surprise by a morbid voice, "Is that such a good idea," She whirled round to see Alex, "Should you be teaching people how to kill, it that what you want?" directed at Marie.

Marie looked at the rife then at Alexa, "No, I just,"

"That's all that will do, kill people," Alexa turned to Meg, "How do you live with it?"

Before she could answer Alexa turned at walked off into the field, she ran her hand through the grass as she went, "Maybe there isn't an answer, never was, never will be," She flopped into the grass, "What do I do now?"

____________________________________

Dale who had triumphed over the food bricks by mixing them with water, boiling it off and adding sugar to make a sort of warm porridge. Keys seemed to have attached herself with him and was eating the same mush as him, "Are you sure shes ok," asked Keys looking over at Alexa walking into the grass. "I'll check on her I'll be back," He got up still holding the mess tin, "I hope she hasn't gone crazy," gingerly walking over to her, laying in the grass.

__________________________________

Alexa lay motionless inches of grass poking out from under her, Dales head came into focus upside down over her. "I have to fight don't I, even Keys will need to fight," Dale nodded setting down next to her, "You will,"

"What should I fight for, I can't for me, what do you fight for?"

"Before, so other could keep living, now I fight for everyone here so we can get out. Why don't you fight for that?"

"I can, I want to, but is it worth killing for, do we matter that much, if it's us or them why not them, I need more than just, we need to live, what for?"

"How much more?"

"I don't know, something solid,"

Dale looked at her, she may not sound it but she seemed happier her face had lightened up, he didn't know what made him do it, did it really matter, he did. He bent over her, she still lay motionless under him, only her eyes moved. He placed his lips on hers, only for a few seconds, soft, he pulled back, they looked at each other.

"Is that solid?" he smiled

[Edited by LunaMaria on Saturday, February 24, 2007 4:20 AM]

nanuk
02/24/2007 6:04 AM

"Jack, then. Thanks, Jack".

Emi took small bites of the biscuit, its texture strange, the taste bland but not unpleasant. She took a careful swallow of water before taking a deep breath and pushing herself up straighter in the seat, choking down the moan that tried to escape.
Taking more water she tried to keep the tremble from her voice, the pain making her breath faster.

"Well, this is.." she inclined her head out the window at the odd assembly of travellers: guns, fatigues, children and all, "...odd".

Jack smiled briefly.
It was a distracting smile- it would have worked beautifully during the worst of the pain, Emi thought, thankful that she wasn't given to blushing.
[i]Boy these painkillers get to work quickly... must be the painkillers...[/i]

"So, Jack... am I going to be okay? Relatively speaking". Her lips curved in a wry smile.

She looked at him candidly, taking another swallow of water- it hadn't escaped her notice that he hadn't given her a prognosis beyond generalities and saying that she was lucky to be alive. She wasn't especially worried: he seemed knowledgeable, and capable, something about how he worked was reassuring, and she got the impression that he wouldn't be the kind for false placations.

Verbalscrapper
02/24/2007 7:43 AM

"You know Posty I really don't like you." It was weak she knew but saying it, no matter how immature it sounded, made her feel better, at least a little. Marie looked at the gun in her hands and suddenly felt embaressed that she should be shoothing such a thing, felt out of place and timid.

Meg redirected herself and squinted her eyes at the sign in the distance. the two teenagers were having their moment, and she could at least give them that much, and what was that? "Oh you bastard." Meg whispered as she watched the all clever, all mighty, Jack-of-all-Trades smooth talk his patient.

She needed a distraction and in the absence of alcohol or smokes or a relatively decent T.V channel her gun and this kid were all she had.

"Hey Meg." She looked down at the girl who was now sitting on the grass spattered ground, the gun lying to her side. She sat down next to the kid and picked it up weighing it in her hands. "How many people have you killed?"

"Heh, I don't keep track, someone pisses me off I shoot em' and if they look like good BBQ I take em' to the nearest working grill. That's the only reason I didn't finish off Dale in the first place, come on look at him he's all skin and bones."

"You're nuts."

"Yeah, I keep hearing that. That's what happens to you though, when you travel across the country with noone to talk to, just miles of open wasteland and this burning in your gut like if you didn't pound the crap out of something you would explode, and then one day... you do. Just pop goes the flippin' weasel."

"All the way cross contry huh? Where you from?"

"Hartford CT. Not a particularly interesting state. Could get away with a town full of robots though." A scrunched face was all she got from that one. "Right that was way before your time. You know I had a sister that would be your age right now. She was a cutey, everyone thought she was mine though cause of the age difference. Ah, but listen to me ramble on." She aimed the gun at the sign and put a volley of bullets right through the "O".

"You know what Alexa said, it's true, these things will only kill, I remember being your age just looking at an unloaded one of these made me want to take cover. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and I think you should know how if it ever comes down to that. 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' Never really practiced the first part of that quote though."

LunaMaria
02/24/2007 4:27 PM

Dale knelt up nearly at once, "Are you ok," putting his hand on her arm she still hadn't moved, the wind blew seeds across her.

"Is that how you feel about me, is that why you wouldn't kill me?"

"No, I didn't kill you because it was stupid, I do love you,"

"So you would be sad if I died,"

"Yes, Alexa lots of people would be sad,"

There was a long pause, "I would be sad if anything happened to you Alexa,"

"I think I love you too," Sitting up smiling, seeds dropping from her, "Am I gona want some of that," Pointing at the mess tin next to them, now scattered with grass seeds.

"It was ok, theres more in the pot," Standing up watching her, she did like wise and walked on a head, "I'm going to do my best, I'll be happy, for everyone." This wasn't the recovery he would have hopped for but he now had a more pressing problem, he had kissed her, well what was she going to do next. Alexa took a seat next to Keys, she was going to take a bowl of fake porridge but the wind was really picking up, this was weirdly strong. "We better pack up this could get pretty bad," Dale and keys took the packs and pit back to the hummer. Alexa bent down to her kit back that had been taken over by Dale, she took out her GPS, that really didn't look very good, "Jack,"

Jack_Dervish
02/24/2007 8:00 PM

Alexa walked over to Jack, who was already packing his gear into the humvee again. She held out her broken GPS unit and said rather sharply, "What is this?"

"That is a broken GPS unit."

"Why would you break that? We just lost an enormous tactical advantage because of you."

Jack continued loading gear. "Doesn't take much to triangulate the signal on one of those, ah? You should know that."

"I could have run a blocking program, or run it through a scrambler..."

"Who do you think provided all of those blocking programs? You can't use the same tricks they taught to you -- they'll be one step ahead of you the entire time. Trust me, I've been doing this for much longer than you, ah?"

Alexa frowned. Suddenly she felt like a fifth wheel to Jack's group. Then, in an act of retaliation against his supposed infinite knowledge, she questioned him. "What do you mean you've been doing this longer than me? You're a doctor, as far as I can tell."

"That shows how well you know me, ah?" He loaded the last bit of gear into the humvee and shut the door. "Follow behind. We've a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time."

Jack waved for Meg and Marie to get in the humvee. Alexa scowled in annoyance and walked back to her vehicle. Dale waited there for her and immediately noticed her expression. "What's wrong?"

"Our know-it-all fearless leader, that's what's wrong!" She threw the GPS unit to the ground and folded her arms. Dale grabbed her by the shoulders and caressed her gently.

"He doesn't seem like the type to do things without thinking... I mean, he did give us the slip three times in a row..."

Alexa looked at Dale angrily. "We could have used that GPS to track their pursuit, not to mention scout ahead for possible threats! He didn't even let me try to get around their security."

"He probably didn't want to take the risk. Jack's a survivor; I don't think he got that way by 'trying' to do anything."

"So what, you're on his side now?"

Dale frowned. "I'm on the side of whoever keeps us alive. And if you want to stay in one piece out here, Alexa, you'd better start doing the same. Now grab your gear; we have to find shelter by nightfall."

Verbalscrapper
02/24/2007 8:25 PM

"Ooo looks like we're on the road again." She picked up her M40 and stood, starting her walk toward the Humvee.

"Hey what about your Little Boomer?" Marie called from behind her.

"I think Little Boomer likes you." She winked at the girl and watched the expression on her face. It was a mix of gratefulness, disbelief, and uncertainty. Meg laughed. "Come on kiddo, you won't have to worry about using it on anyone any time soon, for now just get a feel for her."

Meg eyed Jack as he helped the slouching, wounded Emi into the front seat of the Humvee. [i]Hey that's my spot.[/i] She paused for a moment watching him close the door behind her and walk around to the driver side.

"Pick it up, ah. We have places to get to."

"Yeah I'll pick it up, pick her ass up and chuck it out of the vehicle." [i]Get it together, no need to snap now, it could have a perfectly reasonable explanation.[/i]

Meg climbed into the backseat with Marie, who was still awkwardly observing the firearm.

"I hope you don't mind but I need her up fron in case something happens."

[i]See perfectly good explanation. But wait, is that a smirk going across her face. No Meg she is just in pain, come on girl get it together he's not your type anyway.[/i] "No problem." She smiled innocently. "Let's make some dust yeah?" She drummed her thighs with her palms before getting comfortable. Well at least if Emi pissed her off she was at point blank range right in front of her.

Jack_Dervish
02/24/2007 9:42 PM

[i]London, England
13 years ago

"You're trouble, Jack Dervish." She beckoned him with one curling, outstretched finger as he adjusted the tie around his neck in her vanity mirror. He gave her reflection a smirk and glanced at the sight of her naked body folded seductively on the bed, like a living risqué painting.

"I'd think you were sore by now, love." He cinched up his tie and pulled his dreadlocked hair back into a pony tail.

"Mmmm, I love it to hurt. I want to be limping for a week after you leave!"

"Sorry, love, but duty calls." He picked up his briefcase and started walking towards the door. "I have to be at this meeting by noon--" Suddenly, the briefcase struck her hope chest, opening the case's contents and spilling several wads of British pounds on the floor. He froze, his expression akin to a child being caught in a cookie jar. "You... ah... weren't supposed to see that..."

"Business meeting, yeah? What are you, buying drugs or something?"

"It's... it's not what it looks like."

"Well then what is it?"

"It's..." Jack suddenly broke down. He dropped the briefcase, held his head in his hands, and sobbed. "It's a con! I'm supposed to pop the briefcase, get you interested in what this money is for, and have you chip in to make a profit for yourself. They... they have my sister."

"What?"

"One hundred thousand pounds by tomorrow or she's dead! Oh god, how did they expect me to do this? I'm a bloody bicycle courier! The only thing I ever stole was a pencil in primary school!"

She looked at him and folded a sheet around her before walking over to him. He sobbed heavily, wiping his tears on his sleeve. "Jack... I..."

"Jisses -- I can't even look at you. I should just go--" He got up to leave when she grabbed him by the wrist and shook her head.

"Wait..." He looked down at her, eyes still glassy with tears. She spoke softly. "Jack, I don't know why you picked me. I don't have a lot of money..."

He turned his head in shame, but she immediately touched his hand and said, "But! -- But... I have some money stored away. It's my grandmother's; I was saving it for a larger flat, but... well... this is more important."

"I can't--"

"Jack, listen... I-- I feel something for you. The week that you've been here has been the most amazing time of my life. I... I want us to be together."

"But... I lied to you! I lied to steal money from you!"

"But you told the truth to me because you're a good person, Jack. I know people. I have this... sense about them. I know you're not like that."

"I..."

She got up and pulled a box off of her hope chest. Inside was a roll of money, probably ten-thousand pounds. She pulled it out and placed it in Jack's hand. "When this business with your sister is sorted out... you call me."

He left after that, adding the roll of money to the briefcase and walking down to the street where a taxi waited for him. As he got in, he looked back at the window to her flat and sighed. A wry smile crept across his face and he directed the taxi driver to the airport. "Almost too easy..."

Three months later, the woman would slash her wrists in her bathtub. Jack would hear of her death years later, in a bar, where her brother would regail him with the story of the man who had fucked his sister and robbed her blind. It was only then that the grim reality of what he had done dawned on him. The guilt would remain with him every day thereafter.[/i]

nanuk
02/25/2007 2:49 AM

[OOC: blimey!]

There was nothing Emi wanted to do more than go back to sleep, but she was finding the thought difficult thanks to the woman in the backseat: she could just see her in the angled passenger-side wing mirror. She did not look to be happy.

Looking sideways at Jack Emi could see he looked relaxed enough, if a little thoughtful, not at all worried about this woman with the guns.
It could just be suspicion, the modern malady of their time: it got harder to trust people the more you travelled and this woman didn't know her from Adam. She certainly [i]looked[/i] as if she'd been through the rough. She was probably just being cautious.

She turned a little in her seat, thankful of the painkillers, and smiled at the young girl with the large gun. "I hope the safety's on that. I'm Emi"

The woman seemed to look, if anything, even more cross at that.
[i]Of course, of course- why wouldn't she with some stranger talking to her kid?[/i]
She directed her next comment at the woman, finding it difficult to maintain the smile in the face of her glare.

"Er.. not to seem ungrateful but where are we headed?"

[Edited by nanuk on Sunday, February 25, 2007 12:09 PM]

Kurtz_Webber
02/25/2007 4:18 AM

"Woo new record one and a half days,"Ray suddenly shouted and putting his bible back in his pocket.

"What is this new record then?" Dale asked.

"I have read the...

"you just read Jesus's life again" Jack shouted at Ray from the truck.

"Okay I didn't catch your name what is it?"Dale asked hesitantly.

"Raymond Des Fleurs at your service,"Ray answered.

"Okay I'm not talking to you any more," Dale didn't say any more to Ray just kept his eyes on the road, several minutes later they stopped to rest at an circle of deserted tents a few had bullet holes in them and one was on fire the sight of where scavengers have been or are sickens Rays heart.

LunaMaria
02/25/2007 6:40 AM

Alexa sat in the drivers seat, "Dale we still got the M18s," fiddling with the cables on the hummers computer, on hand holding a ball of solder the other a battery powered soldering iron. "We still got them," Dale came up to the front holding both guns, "What are you doing," apron seeing all the cables out in the front.

"I'm connecting us up to Tokyo Sky with a bluff position and reprogramming it GPS to pick it up and unscramble it and taking out the computer tracker," looking up at him, "Finished, now we wont be blind."

Ray came over to them both as Alexa packed up the cables, "I though I was driving," Alexa gave him a glare, "Or not, I'll ride shotgun," Dale patted him on the back, "How about you get in the back before she drives off without you."

Alexa sat hands on the wheel, "How come Jacks not started yet," looking over at Dale who as staring glossy eyed out the window, "How much longer?"

Verbalscrapper
02/25/2007 10:47 AM

Meg grinned seeing that she had set the woman on edge a little.

"Don't know where were headed, we're just heading you know?" It was a half smile almost bemused. "So, Emi is it? where'd a pretty girl like you get such a horrific battle wound huh?" She dragged out the "so", her voice less than friendly and interrogative.
"I mean you don't exactly look like the scrapping type."

Marie watched the two of them square off, slightly amused by their behavior. She smirked into the car window, listening to the exchange.

"No offense or anything." Meg sat back and raised an eyebrow at her.

nanuk
02/25/2007 12:21 PM

Emi raised an eyebrow in return- a well practiced one.
"Oh," she paused to look Meg up and down, the tiniest trace of a wrinkle creasing her nose. "None taken".

[i]What's with this chick? She's taking the over-protective mother hen act a bit too far.[/i]

"I had some trouble with raiders. Should've known better than to travel on my own but.. well, choices were limited."

Her lips tightened, a small line appearing between her brows, clearly not comfortable with the topic. She shifted slightly in the seat, comfort of any kind seemingly impossible, ugly memories rearing their heads.

"I'm scrappier than I look". Her voice was quiet but very grim.

Jack_Dervish
02/25/2007 4:28 PM

The vehicles moved on into the evening, eventually making their way towards the state line. A large "Welcome to Texas" billboard several years in disrepair greeted them; it would only be a matter of time before they reached the remnants of California.

Texas was a heated dustbowl; wisps of dry dirt flew into the air, coating everything in brown and leaving a heavy feeling in peoples' lungs. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, and emphysema were common ailments, as the hapless denizens of the Texas barrens were forced to breath in the foul air. Short-term exposure was bad enough; long-term often proved fatal. For the kids and Emi especially, Jack worried about the health effects from the weather.

"We've got to find better shelter. Keep an eye out for houses, ah?"

Cars were present on the side of the road -- often full of bullet holes, always covered in a thick layer of dust. An occasional corpse being picked over by sickly-looking crows could be seen now and again. Heaps of junk from long before the war were piled high around old residences, sometimes as a barricade, sometimes merely due to neglect. Emi looked on and found it difficult to imagine how society had come to this. Death lingered; life departed quickly.

They came upon a farming goods store with two large propane tanks out front. It was a long shot, but Jack thought it best to investigate any structures with possible heat and running water. He pulled into the store driveway and took out his revolver; Emi jumped slightly upon seeing it. "What are you doing?"

"Wait here. Meg, you're with me."

Meg gave Emi a smug look and grabbed her rifle, but Jack tossed her an automatic pistol as she stepped out of the vehicle. So much the better -- small arms worked better for sweeping buildings than large sniper rifles. She slung the beast of a weapon over her shoulder and chambered the pistol before following Jack inside.

The building was run down. Cobwebs and dust covered every surface, and a skeletal corpse lay on the floor by the register. Judging by the undisturbed dust on the floor, nobody had been in this building for a number of years. Jack made his way to the manager's office, where he found another skeleton lying in a chair with a hole in its skull. Upon closer inspection, he spotted a cobweb-covered .45 revolver clutched in its bony hand.

Meg saw more of the same where she went. The storage room had been ransacked long ago, and all that remained were the bodies of rats and the endless amounts of dust. She shouted out, "Clear!" and Jack responded in kind.

"Find a broom and help me clear this floor. Let's try to get as much dust out of our way as possible." Jack said while waving the others inside. He walked back to the humvee and lifted Emi gently; she was almost effortless in his arms, a fact that made Meg scowl as she carried a push broom to the front. Ray and Dale helped clear the front room of dust, and a moment later, Jack set Emi down on the ground by the register.

"Thank you." She said, smiling. Jack smiled back at her and Meg nearly snapped the broom handle in her palm.

Dale rolled a metal trash can into the front from the supply room and Jack nodded in approval. "Good. Find anything we can burn. Dale, I want you to help me find water for us tonight. Where's Alexa?"

"Probably tinkering with the GPS--" Ray blurted out right as Dale smacked him in the groin. Jack's eyes suddenly went wide.

"What?!"

"Jack, it's not what you--" Dale had tried to stand in front of Jack, but the comparatively tiny soldier was shoved out of the way as effortlessly as he had carried Emi. He spotted Alexa outside in the humvee, sitting in the front seat and looking down at something. She only noticed him as he opened the door and yanked her out of her seat.

"What are you doing?!" She protested.

"What am I doing? What am I fucking doing?!" Jack shouted and grabbed the GPS unit from the seat. "Are you craze?!"

"I used a signal from Tokyo Sky and scrambled it! We won't be seen!"

Jack hurled the unit to the ground and shattered the fragile equipment against the hard pavement. She looked at the broken device in shock, but it was quickly replaced by fear of the furious South African yelling at her now. Drill sergeants and her father had been bad enough, but this was worse than all of that put together. "I told you what would happen! You know who the fuck else would be using a satellite to observe this shithole?! It's not going to take them long to put two and two together!"

Alexa began to shake. "I routed it on a bluff position! They won't find out who's--"

Jack threw up his arms. "For fuck's sake, stukkie! How dumb do you think your military is, ah?!"

She shut her eyes and screamed back. "Goddamnit, Jack! I know what I'm doing!"

Jack suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders and slammed her against the car door. "You listen good, ma bru, and you listen well, ah? You go behind my back like this again, and I swear I will leave you for the desert to deal with. You savvy?" He released his grip and walked away from her. Dale came running out about to confront Jack, but thought better of it when he received a glare that would make a pit-bull turn away. When he saw Alexa, she was on the verge of tears crouched by the humvee.

"What did he do to you?!"

"God... I've fucked it up, haven't I?"

"What?"

"I just wanted to help. I didn't want anyone to get hurt."

"Alexa..." Dale knelt beside her. "What is this?"

"I... oh god... What if I brought them to us?"

Dale held her, rocking her back and forth while stroking her hair. "It'll be all right, love. It'll be all right."

Verbalscrapper
02/26/2007 4:31 AM

Meg snickered, watching as the man roughed up the EU soldier.

"Serves her fucking right," Marie stood close beside her.

"I feel bad for her."

"You're a better person than I am, hopefully the world won't make you as bitter as it has made me."

Jack walked back through the door, now tending to the woman behind the counter. Marie saw the jealous glance she gave to the wood that seperated the two of them from Jack and Emi. Marie giggled "They could be doing worse things back there."

Meg scruffed the kids head finding a suitable corner to place her stuff. She threw down her bag and jacket taking off her hat to brush the dust from her vest and pants. "I'm gonna go have a look around here, wanna come?" Marie nodded.

The backroom had a small bathroom attatched to it, and although the toilet had long ago dried up the faucet still worked. The handles were difficult to turn and a sixth sense was telling her the water was less than friendly, but if they had fire they could boil it.

"Marie do you remember seeing any canteens in the humvee?"

"A couple why?"

"Cause if we are treavelling with no bearing, with no idea when the next structure we'll come upon is, I think we should start to stockpile some water." Meg snapped her fingers, "There were some empty water bottles too in the broken fridge and if those propane tanks are empty those could feasibly be used as well."

Meg and the girl started in on the project. They broke down old shelfs that had once carried canned goods, piling the wood. Meg didn't quite know where she'd start a fire yet, it was too dusty outside but to start it in here could choke everyone.

Meg's eyes wandered to the counter again, she couldn't hear anything from her position and the curiosity of what was going on was killing her. "You know he's not that impressive." Marie said as she snapped a shelf from it's frame. The wood was weak with age.

"You know, some part of me knows that, and I am still trying to figure out where that part of me went."

"Guess it checked out when you went mad."

Meg snorted at her. "I'm not that cracked." She only recieved a 'yea, uh huh' smile.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Sunday, March 4, 2007 6:09 PM]

LunaMaria
02/28/2007 9:17 AM

Alexa laid in Dales arms, ~What am I doing, I'm not weak, do I even want this, this is not the time~

She pulled herself up, "Dale stay with them, I need to do something, I'll be back," she turned her back on him and walked to the hummer that Jack had trashed, "I'll be back soon."

"Alexa, what do you mean, there's to many people here to take in one," he walked after her as she put her hand on the hummer, "What the hell do you think your doing," putting his hand on her shoulder.

"What I do doesn't matter to you, just do as I say," pushing his arm off and opening the door, "Just do that for me."

Dale pushed the door shut, "Your being selfish, stop it, I wont let you,"

Alexa smiled at him, "I love you," she kissed him on the cheek, Dale stood stunned. Alexa open the door and started up the engine, nearly empty, she stuck her head out of the window as Dale started to react, "I'll come back," she shouted as she drove off with Dale running after her for a few meters.


Alexa moved her bandana down to her mouth to block out the dust, there was some where she had to go, a bastion of man as it were, she was going to try and make it to Dallas. After 30 miles the road was different, there weren't wrecks of cars there were even building that look in good repair, the warning light went off, fuel low. She kept the Hummer going until she reached the gates, "Doesn't this look friendly Jack and meg would love it."

Dallas had in the last 4 years build up a wall to keep the dust and sand from overcoming the city, it was made out of anything that was available cars, wood, steel plates. The gates were open with, "Armed US soldiers," Alexa mumbled, she has reduced the Hummer to a crawl.

"ID papers, miss," A soldiers hefting a shot gun through the now open window, Alexa held up her fake ID pass. The soldier did look to close, he waved Alexa on, "Close her up 10:20," shouted one of the troops as they all walked back in. Alexa was closed in but just where she wanted to be, now she had a plan, now she didn't need to care what happened to her, she just needed on thing.

~ This isn't just about me, I part of a bigger thing, I just need to remember that ~

Jack_Dervish
03/02/2007 2:30 PM

Dale went back inside out of the dusty winds and rapidly approached Jack. Before the South African even had a chance to turn around fully, Dale threw a punch at the bigger man's cheek. Jack stumbled back and steadied himself against a nearby desk, shooting a look of sheer venom at the young ex-soldier. "Ma bru, I hope you've made your peace with God..."

"Fuck you, Jack! She's gone now because of you!"

Dale threw another punch as Jack closed in, but his lack of experience was evident as Jack dipped to the side and slammed his fist into Dale's gut. The sheer force of the blow was enough to wind the young man and remove any ability to draw breath quickly; Jack followed up by grabbing him by the back of the neck and pinching off the nerve cluster there. In an instant, Dale was immobilized and pulled down to his knees.

Jack reached back and pulled out his revolver, placing the barrel right up against Dale's temple. "Where is Alexa?"

Dale strained and started to tremble, realizing he had made a grievous tactical error. "She drove off! I don't know where she's going!"

The deadly sounding click of the hammer being cocked sent a chill down Dale's spine. "Make a guess, ah?"

Dale gasped for air; terror and a compressed diaphragm made his breath labored and short. "I-- Don't-- K-know!"

Jack frowned. Alexa was gone, nowhere to be found, and his only lead was a quivering heap in his hands. He shoved Dale forward and un-cocked his revolver, tucking it back into his pants while saying, "It's on you now, ma bru. If she gets killed out there, it'll be on you."

Dale panted and looked up at Jack angrily. "You... you son of a bitch... If you hadn't threatened her she wouldn't have--"

"Don't blame me for your squeeze's temper tantrum, ah? She'd have brought the whole bloody EU on us if I hadn't smashed that unit."

"She... she was only trying to help."

Jack sighed and knelt down by Dale. "I know, bru. I know. Trouble is, we can't afford to take chances like that. You run with me, you run by my lead -- under the radar."

"What about Alexa?"

"We wait. Emi needs time to recover, so we'll be held up here for a while. With any luck, she'll come back."

Dale looked semi-appeased for the moment, though Jack knew it wouldn't last. He had no idea where Alexa had run off to, or for what reason. All he knew was that she had a finite amount of power in that humvee, and a stretch of blistering wasteland ahead of her.

Verbalscrapper
03/04/2007 6:28 PM

The sound of a revolvers hammer being cocked brought Meg's hand to her back, but she had left her arms in the pile in the corner of the room. She looked up at the gasping heap of flesh and Jacks large hand attached to the back of its neck. She smiled, it was about damn time somebody showed these puppies who was boss.

"Hey Meg." Marie was walking ou from behind a shelf. She froze as she saw the cocked hammer and the gun pointed at Dale's head. "No don't please don't." She whispered squinting as she waited for Dale's head to leave his shoulders. The conversation was brief and no harm was done but it left her nerves strained.

"Whatch'ya need?" Marie came to.

"Back over there, there's a door it leads to a furnace. It might not work but at least we could start a fire in there." Meg nodded, smart kid. She waited for the man to holster his weapon before she started hauling wood down into the basement.

[i]One less pathetic sheep to take care of.[/i]

"I hope she's alright." Marie said, probably more to herself than to Meg. Meg only shook her head. Yes, she was still seemingly untouched by this world.

[Edited by Verbalscrapper on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 6:00 PM]

LunaMaria
03/04/2007 10:28 PM

Alexa lurched the Hummer off the road and turned on the solar panels, She pulled out the second battery, poured Dale's vodka on it and lights it, "That should get some juice back in it." Alexa Looked round, streetlights that worked and the small number of people milling around, this place looked pretty good, pity they were gona get blow apart soon. Alexa wanted to sleep, even more to get back to Dale but she had to see something first, she wanted to see the start of the end.

_________________________________

0:00 All over the East coast French, German and Spanish forces were landing, lightning fast advance over the edge of America, most units covered 50 miles in 3 hours. Troops reached the walls of Dallas at 7:31 the first major battle of the war was about to begin, the French mobile armour opened fire first.

_________________________________

Alexa had powered the hummer back up to half power, she sat in the drivers seat staring at where the computer had been slotted, "They wouldn't have even cared if they had spotted us, we don't matter," for the last hour US troops had been moving around and ancient armour moved to the areas around the major areas of residence. Alexa had parked the Hummer in the driveway of an old house, she watched and waited, just to see the start of the end.

The shells started falling on the city and old building fell to the ground, the way cities were built back then with so many people, when a building went down it took all the building around it out as well, "Like dominos."

The shelling only lasted a while, they had only meant to breach the wall, US tanks moved to the holes in the wall and fired back at the advancing troops, these walls were never built to keep people out. Alexa sat spaced out in the Hummer, hundreds were dieing with no choice, they had nowhere to run, this wasn't why they were fighting the war they didn't kill needlessly. It dawned on her, needlessly, she hadn't killed people needlessly she had to, to save others that the whole reason she did anything in the last 4 years, she still could. She was about to start the engine, "Why do they matter more than the People here, I Protect people so we can all live, if this is how they fight then none will live," she open the door and pulled her M18 out after her.

The US tanks that filled the gaps gave them time but nothing else, UEU troops poured into the city and the sound gun fights and hand to hand combat could be hear throughout Dallas. Alexa watched as a mother with two children was cut down running away, she wasn't sure what she felt but she knew what she did next. Alexa ran down the side of the street, to men to her right, she took them both by suspire. She kept running and a US soldier and a UEU trooper were fighting tooth and nail, she fired a shot into the back on the UEU trooper and moved on, she was sure what she was hoping to do but she had to do something.

_____________________________


For the first few hours Dallas put up a tenacious defence but as the German 3rd Cavalry arrived the battle was over, many of the residences and the government escaped but the city was taken still at the cost of thousands of lives. At 11:46 an UEU Flag was raised over Dallas.

____________________________


~ This is hopeless, there is no point me dieing here, I've done my part in all this. ~

Alexa had run back to the Hummer only to find it blown to pieces, she'd have to find another way-out, she looked around. The streets were covered by rubble but void of all life, it was just her, even the sound of gunfire had stopped, "Oblivion."

She ran down the next street and saw what could be a hope in hell, there was a US Keger half covered in rubble but looked fine, this was far to good to be true. She tried the starter, it worked but the light for no battery was flashing, "Dam," But thinking again she got out and pushed herself under the transport as saw the battery the size of a man half hanging out, "Bingo," she crawled over to it.

"Don't move," A US soldier had gun pointed at her but dropped it when he saw what she looked like, "What you doin here?"

Alexa looked at him, he had to be about three years older than her, "I'm gona get this to work, want to help me?"

"How you gona know how to fix it?"

"You want to be found by the UEU?"

"No,"

"Then help me and it won't matter," They both pushed as hard as they could on the cylinder and after a few tries it slotted into place, "Lets go then." Alexa climbed out first and got into the drivers seat, "This is a military vehicle miss I'll drive," looking at her with her hands on the wheel.

"I'll drive and you can come if you want," Alexa looked down on him. At that moment a unit of UEU troops came round the corner, "To late," and she pressed on the accelerator as the US soldier hung on to the door for dear life. The troops opened fire showing the truck in metal but the plating kept Alexa safe, the US soldier seemed to get out of it ok as Alexa stopped to let him in after leaving the city 15 miles behind them.

She held out a hand, "Alexa," looking at him bloody and dust covered

"Erman," he choked looking sourly at her, "You could have waited."

Kurtz_Webber
03/17/2007 1:03 AM

"Hey Jack I found us some," Ray looked right at the gun barrel pointed at Dale, He backed off he knew if Jack didn't get the right information he will kill someone he'd seen Jack do it not a pretty sight. Jack walked off Ray breathed a sigh of relief, "Jack what's up,"

"I'll tell what's up that soldier's mate has taken the Hummer and we can't move tell God that," Jack answered angrily, "Only asking Ray" said under his breath suddenly they all heard a car pull up outside but it wasn't the Hummer it wasn't even an army vehicle.

[Edited by Kurtz_Webber on Sunday, April 8, 2007 8:27 AM]

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