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What Their Hate Caused

Chapter Text

The syringe was lifted up to the light and Michael Bukowski double checked to make sure the bubbles were gone. He didn't need to send an air bubble into his veins,no way.

No,he wanted to inject this bacterium and make sure those slags couldn't take him over. Like the police or the courts. Judge Kaiser had put him away,but thanks to his new friends Kaiser was dead,and very soon the rest of those aliens would be as well.

But until then he had to protect himself. And this would do it. The same bacteria that would kill the new comers would keep them out of his head. After all,it was safe for humans,Mrs Bryant said so. She'd made sure it couldn't hurt humans,so Michael would be safe.

Only what Michael Bukowski didn't know was what he was injecting into his body was 100% pure bacteria. It wasn't watered down or in aerosol form. Like this it was impossible to guess what its effects would be. But he didn't know this. In his mind this would protect him from an imagined threat and keep him safe from mind control. He had no clue that something new was growing,mutating within him.

Less than two hours later he was running from the police he was starting to suffer from a slight headache. Whilst being questioned his temperature started to rise and by the time his lawyer arrived he was was feverish and proceeded to pass out on the desk in front of him as his lawyer gave him options

He was dead before he got to the emergency room. The doctors performed CPR on him for thirty minute before he was officially pronounced dead when he sat back up and took a chunk out of the nurses arm.

XXXXX

George knew he should try and have a civil conversation with Matt,but it was hard when he was being so,so...human. But then again he couldn't really help it. Humans were complicated beings. They had impossible to decipher moods and emotions and honestly,George was getting tired of dealing with them.

Then again,the odd moods and his inexplicable emotions were part of what made Matt who he was. George knew that he had maybe, possibly, might have been flaunting a little more than he should have. And it looked that was going to end their partnership. He knew they should apologise to each other but every time they spoke they ended up in that tense nonspeaking situation that was impossible to get out of.

He was about to go and get them both a cup of coffee when Zapeda came to his desk.

"We've got a problem. A big one. Michael Bukowski is dead."

George froze in his seat."How? When?"

"About an hour ago. He suffered cardiac arrest, then he went ballistic and attacked he staff. When the security guard pulled a gun he went for him and-"she handed him a number and the notes she'd taken,"The witnesses aren't making much sense yet."

"Thank you. Do you know where Matt is?"

"He was helping Albert deal with a crazy. He's locked him self in the supply closet and won't come out."

George nodded and went in search of his partner, finding him on the next floor talking though a door. Albert was standing off o the side looking worried.

"Albert,how did he get in there?"

"He shoved me out the way took the keys." He pointed to the elastic that kept the keys attached to his belt, leading off to disappear in the crack in the supply closet door. Albert was as stuck as the man in the closet.

 

"Matt?"

 

"What is it George."

 

"We need to get to to Saint Peters hospital. Bukowski is dead."

 

Matt pulled away from the door and looked up at his partner."Please tell me your kidding?"

 

"I'm afraid not."

 

Moving away from the door he rubbed his face."Okay. Albert, cut yourself loose and then go to the front desk and tell the to go find a crow bar or something. There might be one in the evidence locker. Just get the guy out of there."

 

"I will. Thank you for your help."

 

XXXXX

The Emergency room was quiet as they searched for the doctor they needed. Dr Froster was eventually found asleep in the laundry room, looking exhausted.

 

"Sorry,grabbing some shut eye whilst I can.""

 

"We were told you were the doctor treating-"

 

"The guy who went nuts,yeah. Came as DOA." Froster said,and led them to the drinks machine.

 

"If he was dead on arrival how did he attack a nurse. Was the attack in the ambulance?" George asked whilst Matt just looked confused."We may have been given the wrong information."

 

"No,you weren't. They tried to resuscitate him for thirty minutes. He was dead when he got here. I called time on him." Froster leaned down and picked up his coffee."He got up off that gurney and attacked Nurse Quatras and an orderly called Simon Says,a new comer. We sent them both home after they gave the statements to the responding officers."

 

"We'll still need to talk with them. Can you give us there addresses?" Matt asked,then his mouth tool over from his brain."So we can verify the details of your Romero moment in the ER."

ou

 

"Doubtful detective. More likely there was an equipment malfunction that gave a false reading. After being unable to subdue him the security tried pulling his weapon.I think he wanted to scare the guy.Anyway all it did was get his attention."

 

"I take it this was when he went for the guard."

 

"Gun went off and took the top of his head off. He's definitely dead now." Sipping his drink he turned to Matt,"I don't know what happened, but during the attack I shot him up with enough sedative to knock out rhino. It didn't even make him blink. It wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't on something."

 

Doubtful, George thought. He may have acted weird during the interrogation but Bukowski had problems. George was certain he had some diagnosed mental illness. But high? No.

 

"Dr Froster to the ER. Dr Froster to the ER."The tanoy called, and then a buzzing sound made them look at Froster's hip.

 

"I have to go. Do you need anything else."

 

"No We'll get the addresses from the reception desk."

 

The doctor left and Matt watched him.

 

"Jesus. That must have been creepy to watch."

 

"Matt, what did you mean by Romero Moment?"

 

"Oh, there a director who specializes in zombie flicks. You know, dead come back to life, eat the living?"

 

George looked at him like he was trying to figure out if that was a joke or not. The Matt realised that maybe trying to explain zombie movies to George was a lost cause.

They left the hospital in silence and headed for the home of Simon Says, who lived closest to the hospital. George tried to say something, but found that each time he tried he'd catch Matt's eye and think he was about to say something. But then Matt wouldn't speak, and George was beginning to wonder if the human was doing it on purpose.

They arrived at the apartment bloke when Matt finally said,"Look George, I-"

"AAAHHHHH!!!!!!! HHHEEELLLPPP!!!!"

Both were out of the car in seconds and raced into the building, the screaming getting louder as the reached the fourth floor. In the corridor ahead of them they saw a New Comer Male being shoved away of a young women who was covered in blood, screaming and sobbing as she bled on the floor.

"This Is George Francisco on Treven Street . We need an ambulance. Human female bleeding profusely from several wounds. Back up required to deal with suspect New Comer Male." Stripping off his jacket he knelt beside the women and applied pressure to the wounds on her upper arm. Four deep wounds, one of which allowed you to see nearly to the bone. But what George found most disturbing was the fact that the edges looked impossibly like teeth marks.

Matt was helping the women's hero push the attacker away. Simon was coming for them, trying to bite them as they tried to subdue him, but it wasn't working. Outside George could hear approaching sirens and decided to get the women out of the hallway.

"Matt, I'm going to get her out of here."

"Can't it wait."

"She's losing a lot of blood and I can hear, never mind, you can here the ambulance now."

With a grunt of effort Matt and the man managed to keep the New Comer on the ground.

"Take the girl. I'll deal with the loony."

George lifted the women easily an carried her swiftly down the stairs and out the door,meeting the Paramedics at the door and left the women with them before rushing back to Matt.

He returned to horror scene. Matt was unconscious on the floor beside the would be hero who had saved the women was lying in a pool of rapidly spreading blood.

The New Comer had his mouth buried in the throat of the unknown hero. He chewed and swallowed and George knew he had to get Matt out of there. Gut instinct told him to grab him and run,but he had to try and save the civilian.

So he edge forward a managed to hook his fingers into Matt's sweater before dragging him swiftly away as his partner groaned his way back to consciousness.

Once Matt was safely moved George drew his weapon and said."Step away from the man and put your hands above your head."

He got no reaction and he stepped closer. Behind him Matt was starting to try and sit up before two uniformed officers came up the stairs.

"One of you get Detective Sikes downstairs. The one stay here and help me."

A loud groaning made them look towards the victim,who was suddenly convulsing on the floor. Simon Says staggered to his feet and began advancing on them.

Blood dripped from his jaw and the man he'd attacked began to rise up. His throat was badly mauled,his blood oozing. The wound showed his trachea. Most of the skin was peeled back and showed the shredded muscle beneath.Without the muscle that was missing meant his head flopped over on the side as it didn't have the support it needed to keep the head upright.

They advanced and George raised his weapon.

"Get back!"

"Shoot him."Matt coughed. George looked over at him before giving the advancing threat another warning.

He didn't get the chance to fire as a door opened and an elderly women stepped out into the hall in front of them.She didn't stand a chance and the officer who now stood next to George opened fire as Matt was helped down the stairs.

The bullet caught Simon in the side,hitting his left heart. What shocked George was that the blood he bled looked almost congealed It made no impact,and both men slid though the door and the women started screaming.

They followed and immediately began firing, They hit both men with chest shots that did nothing to stop them. Then George remembered what Dr Froster had said in the hospital.

"Aim for head shots."he said.

"Yes sir."

This time they stayed down.

XXXXX

Captain Grazer listened to the story Detective Francisco and the officers told him and thought one thing. That these men and been severely traumatised by witnessing something terrible ad now they were a little confused as to what they had seen.

"I want you to go away and think about what you you just told me. Maybe go and speak to the prescincts therapist. Then come back tomorrow morning and tell what you saw again."he told them,and he could tell that they were annoyed by the fact that he didn't believe them. George stayed when the other two left.

"Sir.I don't know what made them behave the way they did,but I know what it looked like." He said.

"Look George,I understand that what you saw certainly looked like a couple of walking corpses. But most likely they were hyped up on the same thing Michael Bukowski."Grazer said,and leaned back in his chair."Just wait for the pathologist to ge-"

The phone rang an he held up his had to ask to to wait a moment,he pulled away for a second,"Well speak of the devil." George watched as Grazer lost his smile and grew pale. "Your certain of your findings."

George was feeling apprehensive. He spotted Matt though he window and waved him over, opening the door before he got to it.

"You could have called to me you know,I don't need you to wa-"

"We're about to find out what killed Bukowski."

Matt shut up and came into the room. When Grazer put own the phone he stared at it for a moment.

"Michael Bulowski was killed by an over dose of extremely pure bacteria." Grazer said,"The same Bacteria that killed Judge Kaiser and-"

"Crap!"Matt snapped."I though that stuff only hurt New Comers?"

"It seems as though the purity of what he took mad it susceptible to changes once inside the body." Grazer rubbed his mouth and reached for the phone."Get all of your note and reports together. Once I've called the Mayor I'll contact the FBI. This isn't just targeting key people anymore."

"It not?" George said.

"George,the pure stuff can kill Humans. Diluted it only effects New Comers. If that's pure then whoever is using it must have to water it down so it can be airoslised so it can be breathed in.

George felt sick. His stomach rolled and he had to sit down. Matt grabbed his arm to steady him. "They want to wipe us out."he whispered."I knew that humans could hate,but I didn't think that they would do this again."

Neither human had to ask what he meant. They knew their history all to well. "Do we know if its contagious?"

"It looks like its spread by bites and direct blood fluid transfers."

"There were three people bitten in the attacks. We killed one along with Says but that leaves..."

"Captain Grazer we need to send someone to the home of Nurse Quastra. She was bitten by Bukowski, me and George will start on the reports."

"Its done yesterday."

XXXXX

The elderly lady attacked after opening her door had been dead less than fourteen seconds before she was back. She spent the first ten minutes of unlife tangled in her IV before tottering off. With no teeth she merely badly bruised her would be victim. She was taken back to her room and after four attempts to sedate her the doctors were forced to have her strapped down.

Down in the morgue the door was being propped open by what was left of the examiner as he was slowly devoured. He had yet to rise,so his killer could feast leisurely until he rose or they were discovered.

Up in he emergency room two people had been bought in suffering from high fevers and convulsions,both harboring wounds sustained after being attacked by a 'crazy' encountered on the street.

Within a five mile radius of he hospital people were being dragged down and cornered, or managing to escape with only a story and a neat set of bite marks to show off to friends and family.

By 1am there would be 16 undead walking the streets,nine humans and seven New Comers By he tie the sun rose the number would have doubled.

And whilst this was happening Darlene Bryant was sleeping happily in her bed with no idea what was going on.

Chapter Text

Quiet.

It was very quiet in the morgue.

Cathy always thought it was a sign of respect for the dead. Now she knew differently. It was quiet because the grief ate up the noise and dampened your voice. She knew this now. She let herself be led to the waiting are where she sat next to a crying human man.

She wanted to reach out and comfort him,let him know he wasn't alone. But humans could be very private creatures.

So she sat whilst the women behind the receptionists the desk called Matt for her. She sat and tried to figure out why this had happened. The school bus had let Adron off and the driver had watched as his charge crossed the street at the public crossing like he did every day. And everyday any cars on the other side of the street waited for it to clear.Only today a car decided to pass the one writing and go plowing though the crossing as Adron crossed.

Adron. He had been crossing and the car had hit him at 54 miles an hour. He had died instantly, despite the fact the bus driver had tried to save him. He was outside with Adron's parents,as inconsolable as they were. He'd attempted New Comer CPR and rode along inside ambulance whilst the police dealt with the traumatized students on his bus. He had gotten the license plate of the car,the memory of etched into his mind. Cathy was so glad of that. The police would-

Oh she needed to see Matt as soon as possible. She needed to see him. He would come and hold her and she would fee feel better for it. Even after the debacle of there meal together she wanted him there for her. Her eyes drifted to the crying man and once again she waited to reach out and help. But she couldn't. Doing so might hurt the poor man more. And she didn't want anyone to feel more of this kind of pain.

So instead she went to Adron's parents, wrapped her up in their arms. They weren't Matt,but for now they would do.

X X X X X

People were idiots,and Matt honestly believed that they were getting dumber. Or at least the people who ran the switchboard were. He'd been on the phone for nearly an hour trying to get though he to the FBI agents who were meant to be coming in to help them. So far they hadn't showed and the number he'd been given wasn't working.

"God damn it. You having any luck."

"None.And I'm starting to think that the health Department is using psychological war fare on these trying to call them."

"What makes you say that George?"

"The fact that they've been playing the same 15 bars of Beethoven 5th over and over and over." George gripped his receiver hard enough to make the casing creak,"And over enough times to make me want to hurt someone."

Matt smirked an nearly told George to tell them he was detective two and should be treated with respect,but held his tongue. Instead he saw that another call was trying to get though to him,so he answered.

"Hello?"

"Is this Detective Sikes?"

"Yes."

"I'm with The New Comers 2nd Medical Centre. I was wondering if you could come and pick up a Cathy Frankel?"

"What's happened. Is she alright." Panic shot though Matt as he asked.

"I'm afraid that she's been given some bad news and requires someone to take her home."

"Yeah,yeah I can pick her up. Where is she?"

He wrote down the address and said to George,"I have to go and get Cathy. Can you mind the store."

"Something's wrong with Cathy?"

"I'll call when I can. You good?"

"Yes. Please do Ma-finally, this is Detective Francisco of..."

Matt left him to deal with the bureaucrats and went to his car,passing Albert as he fixed the supply closet. In his head he went over scenarios as to what could have happened.

Cathy had been given bad news. Maybe she was ill,or she was being sued for malpractice.

As he drove he spent the entire time wondering what it was that was happening. He didn't notice the gang slowly making its way down an alley that lead to a market. He barely registered the stumbling drunk who was heading towards a group of nattering old women,probably after loose change.

He just wanted to get to Cathy and make sure she was okay.So by the time he reached the place he was out of his mind with worry.

He found her speaking to a couple who looked familiar. Really familiar.

Then it hit him. They were Adrons parents. The kid had been visiting Cathy once a week since getting back with his parents and slowly,ever so slowly making process. Matt suddenly felt sick. All three of them looked devastated. He advanced and Cathy turned to look at him She gave him a watery smile of relief before bidding the parents goodbye.

She came to him,her face crumpling as she got closer.

"There was a hit and run. Adron,he was on his way home from school when he was,when he was hit." she licked her lips and Matt pulled her to him.

She broke down then,sobbing into his shoulder as she felt his fist gently touch her temple. Felt love flow into her.She didn't know ho long they stood here,but eventually see felt spots of rain on her head. He pulled away and looked up at the sky as ye clouds opened up. Matt got her took his car and bundled her inside.

"I'll take you home. Do you know the name of he officers dealing with this?"

"No.But Adron's bus driver saw the vehicle. It was one of those new model fords. Personalised licence plate." she watched out the widow as they drove The rain really was pouring down,heavy sheets obscuring the world around them."Will the police find him?"

"If they don't I will." The conviction in Matt's voice made her look at him.

"If anyone will find him,it will be you."she said, and returned to looking out the window.

X X X X X

The back door had been left open, and all four of the now dead men entered. The community centre was open only to the AA meetings that morning, and the main meeting was going well. In the kitchen two women were busy making coffee and never saw their killers sneak up on them. The crash of cooking equipment silenced their brief screams as they were torn apart quite easily. When someone came to see what was taking the coffee so long all the saw were the massive puddles of blood and pieces left behind.

Both had come back whilst being devoured. One now stumbled away on her feet whilst the other dragged herself away,her middle eaten though and legs left behind where'd they'd snagged a dumpster.

As they separated and continued to search for food. Some who were attacked by the dead never noticed they'd been bitten,so tiny the wound was.

One such business man had left to board his flight to Seattle. He died and re animated in a bathroom.

X X X X X

All this meant nothing to Buck Francisco,who sat in the living of his teacher and spoke of his time on the ship,something he had never spoken of with anyone else. But Marilyn was different. She didn't turn it into a big deal,she just listened.

He would forever be grateful for that.

"What were you doing when the ship crashed?" she asked,her fingers skating over the back of his hand.

"I was trying to get the water recycling system back on line in the living quarters. It was sending the clean water though the engine coolers rather than the washing facility."

Marilyn was slowly moving up his arm."Was it difficult or just boring?"

"Boring and frustrating. I had to re-tighten and change over the tubing over and over until we got the streams going in the right direction again."

"Did you have many friends."

"A few. I shared a bunk with a guy named Tromna. I still see him sometimes. He's a nice guy.He actually helps to research the ship and apply it technology here."

Marilyn loved the sound of pride in Buck's voice."Is it going well?"

"It was the last time we spoke."he looked into her eyes and smiled,"Tell me where you grew up."

"I've live in California my whole life,but Started off in a tiny little desert town. My mom was a house wife,but she always did something..."

As she spoke listened,really listened. This is why Marilyn like him so much,cared so much. He wanted to get to know her.

She thought back to there kiss and the way he'd touched her temple. She supposed that kissing was probably a foreign concept to Buck.

 

"Anyway,once I graduated I took a position at a private school and I got the more political aspects."

"Did you ever think you'd end up teaching an alien."

"Not in my wildest dreams,But I'm so glad it happened."

"Marilyn?"

"Yes Buck."

"Can I kiss you again. The human way."

"Only if you'll teach me yours."

XXXXX

George had finally gotten though to the FBI' s Los Angeles office and discovered that the Agents were already interviewing witnesses and going over case notes. Once again George was struck by how hard it was to get vital departs working together.

Rubbing his eyes he wondered if he could ask someone to take his and Mathew's places so they could both get some shut eye. They'd been up nearly twenty four hours straight. George could go longer without sleep,but he'd gotten uses to the regular seep pattern. Not only that but he wanted to see
Vessna.

He was about to ask Dobbs when a sharp,keening cry came from Captain Grazer's office.

Zapeda came in and looked at the door with sad eyes.

"May's dead. She was attacked last night whilst she was on her way home. This bacteria is spreading. " she crossed her arms and shuddered."George, I don't like this. It feels like something bad is going to happen."

"It already has."George said and rose from his seat."I'll check on him."

Zapeda nodded and watched him go. She wasn't kidding about the bad feeling. All morning she'd been dealing with people who'd had to fight off crazies. Before finding out about May she'd had a call about a pair of legs being found in an alley behind a community centre,no sign of the owner.

As George entered the office she caught a glimpse of Albert bent over his knees and shaking as he sobbed. As the door shut he turned away and went to her own desk. She had to contact the next of kin for May. She had a sister out there who needed to be told.

XXXXX

Vessna slept quietly in her crib as Susan worked at her desk,enjoying the quiet and listening to the Techtonese station on the radio. She would listen to this until ten thirty before switching to a delightful little cookery show she listened too. Not only did it teach you to cook for you family, but for human friends to. It was fast becoming one of her favourites.

As she listened to a Techtonese translation of 'Your Cheatin' Heart' she was surprised when the song was cut short by a news announcement.

x x x x x

There were more reports coming in and the Mayor had put a curfew in place. So far no matter how many men they sent out or how quickly they arrived they couldn't stop the spread. Hospitals were being filled up fast and the victims were now being sent to a local basket ball stadium to try and reduce the chances of attacks in hospitals. It wasn't helping. For every victim they restrained to more were being attacked. It was estimated that their were at least 150 victims accounted for and maybe twenty still out on the streets.

Since the first attack the day before the numbers had been steadily doubling. Numbers had gone from 16 to 32 to 65 in less than twenty hours. And that wasn't counting those who were still alive.

x x x x x

Matt left Cathy to sleep and grabbed a shower before he left,hoping that once he got back he could nab for a few hours sleep in the locker room. As he drove he saw people rushing in an out of stores and avoiding contact. Most people were like that,but today it was extra bad. He also spotted something whilst driving past a basketball court.

Pulling over he saw that someone was dragging themselves along the ground. Calling for an ambulance he got out of his car and proceeded to check it out.

He threw up ten seconds later. The women looked like his Aunt Sandy who now lived in Mexico. Only his Aunt had both her legs. This poor women was clawing her way across the floor towards him,what was left of her spine and what he was certain were guts trailed after her. Her skin was grey,her eyes stuck open. Well one was open,the other was half shut. No moisture to help them close. He spat and moved away,hoping the ambulance-

"Get away from that thing!"

Turning Matt saw a New Comer coming toward them.

"I'm the police." He said as he reached for his badge.

"You gonna shoot it?"the guy asked,"Because if you won't I will."

"I would,but I think someone's going to want to see this."

XXXXX

When Emily finished her circuit of her schools field he went to the jungle gym to join the line that would take her across to the end of the assault course She had to do the circuit four times instead of two so that she got a real work out. As she waited in line she saw Toby Sinclair looking over at her,then looking away quickly.

He'd been doing that a lot lately. Emily honestly didn't mind all that much. Toby was nice and his parents were a part of the Inclusion group that was opening an interracial and inter species community centre. Jill said that he liked her as in like like. Emily kind of like liked him back. So when he looked at her again she smiled and grinned back.

His grin made her stomach knot in a way that wasn't entirely unpleasant.

None of the class noticed the group of people hobbling around the side of the school. They were too busy enjoying the sunny afternoon and activities.The janitor did though,from his place inside the second graders classrooms,ran though the corridors until he made it outside just in time to see Mrs Dronson go down under the mass of people.

"Inside! Now!" he yelled as the women's screaming rose ever higher. The kids were frozen for only a moment before they sped to the safety of the building.

As Emily ran she tripped,falling to he knees and scraping one painfully.30 feet away what was once a New Comer began coming towards her. She felt the air freeze in her lungs.

Then hands were on her,pulling her,dragging her along. When they saw the limp an arm was around her waist and together they got to the building.

"Are you alright?"

Emily looked up and saw Toby with his arm around her,concern in his eyes.

Emily lifted her fist and lay it on his temple. She trembled as she did,whispering thank you. Toby blushed bright red but smiled and helped her to a chair.

Outside the screaming had stopped,but the sound of moaning and movement continued. They were ushered back to their classroom and told to wait. There was more shouting and yelling and then sirens.

When Jill gave her a wet paper towel for her leg Emily smiled and looked over to the windows. Toby was sitting with the other boys now but he did keep stealing glances.

"You did that head thing to him." Jill commented."Like your family does sometimes."

Emily knew she was blushing."So? He helped me."

"So you kissed him."

"Quiet!Someone will hear you."

Jill laughed and sat close to her."So you like him too?"

Before Emily could answer she heard Gun fire,something she'd heard back in slag town. It wasn't something you easily forgot. She sank from her seat to the floor and pulled Jill with her as more followed others followed suit. Soon the whole class was close to the ground.

Emily thought it would be over quickly,but the gunfire continued and more screaming started.

The gun first went on and on,never stopping as the screaming got louder,closer.

Outside another dozen undead were making their way towards the school,cutting off the police's exit. Other classrooms were being emptied of students to get them out of the building and away from the gunfire. But Emily's classroom remained full,its students forgotten in the rush.

So they sat and whimpered as the fire fight outside ended whilst the battle raging out side ended with the last officer leading students off the school grounds.

Something walked by the window and Jill started crying,covering her mouth to keep quiet. Despite her injured leg Emily crawled to the window and dropped the blinds as fast a he could. Two other helped and another locked the door just as something smashed against it loud moan making everyone jump.

Jill clutched at Emily when she came back before burying her face in her friends neck ad trying desperately not to make any noise.Others were hiding under the desks and Emily could here grumbling from out side,more feet hitting the laminated flooring outside and yelling from outside. No one would move,no one even breathed as the the moaning and groaning moved away.

Jill finally calmed down enough for Emily to pull away and she looked towards the door.

"We need to let someone know we're in here." she whispered. In the forced silence even that sounded loud. Jill sniffed and nodded,but just sat there. She was scared,they all were.With no teachers around they didn't know what to do.

Chapter Text

It was nearing midday and there were now three hundred dead walking the street,Two had just reanimated were they lay at a crime scene at the airport and there were 139 infected who were going to turn. For some it would take minutes to succumb to the fever and seizures. Others would take nearly 24 hours. Where one man would spend the entire time shivering and sick,another may not show signs until moments before death.

X X X X X

Darlene Bryant was panicking a she heard the news,beginning her plans to leave the state and take what little family she had left with her. Her youngest son would come with her,but her youngest would need some convincing to leave his patients.

She spared no thought for her daughter,whom she had not spoken to since she'd married that Mexican she'd met at college. He might have had a doctorate an research grant,but he was still just another parasitic immigrant. She was so busy making plans she didn't notice her gardener coming though the open French windows.

The man had been a gardener. He'd never gotten home the night before. He'd escaped an attempted mugging,but but without a bite from the assailants dog.(He told himself it had to have been a dog,hidden in the shadow of the trash bags)

He'd returned to his work shred for his first aid kit and succumbed to the seizures,and spent the night lying on the floor of the shred until he expired at 6 am that morning. It had taken his corpse an hour to get back to the house,forever chasing noises and he promise if food. He'd taken down a door searching for the whimper of something only to discover a dog. The dog had run.

Or to its rotting mind,not food. Food was int he building ahead.Food was in plain sight.

Food fell under his hands screeching like a banshee whilst an ignored voice on the phone asked,

"Mrs Bryant are you okay? Are you still there?"

X X X X X

George entered his house and yawned hard enough to hurt he jaw. A note one the fridge told him his wife was at the store and when she expected to be back.

He sat on the couch and was out like a light,slowly sinking sideways onto the couch.

He slept long and deep until his wife returned,and she left whilst she put down Vessna. She returned and he was drooling on the couch. Smiling she knelt beside him and gently shook him.

"George?"she said, "Neemu you need to wake up. You can't sleep on the couch."

"What, oh my, how long have I been asleep?"

"I don't know. I only just got back myself."

Forcing himself to stand and stretched his arms over his head. He still felt tired,but it wasn't the bone jarring kind of tired. He could function for another few hours if need be.

"Why did you go to the store?"

"I heard the news,thought it would be a good idea to get some extra can's in the house. Never hurts to be careful."

"No,no it doesn't."

Susan touched his forehead and asked in a softly in there own tongue.

"What's happening out there Stangya?"

"I want you to go to the garage and get crowbar and keep it in whatever room your in at the time. And get some bags packed and put them in the car." He explaied, "I want you ready to head for the desert if you can."

"Is it really that bad?"

"It could get worse. I want you and the children ready to move if that happens."

Susan nodded and buried her head in his shoulder for a moment.

"I'll be calling Albert,I want him here. After what's happened..."

"What"

He explained and Susan covered her mouth in shock."Oh Celine no."

George nodded and behind him the front door opened and a very happy looking Buck came in,singing under his breath. He stopped when he saw them and the looks on there faces.

"What's going on?"he asked.

"We need to speak Buck."

Vessna started crying so Susan went to her, seeing that the decorative bib on her dress had flicked up over her face,and she couldn't get it off. Once she could see again she was a happy little thing, gurgling up at her and waving her arms. Touching her daughter's head she marveled once again how beautiful she was.What was happening was frightening and Susan prayed hard that it would blow over. That everything would be okay and he needn't worry about her children li-

"Susan,get in here!"

Bringing Vessa with her she followed the sound of her husbands voice and saw him looking at the news station on the tv. It took her moment to realize that she was looking at Emily's school. According to the reporter the school had been attacked and there was a class still trapped inside the school.

Susan felt her throat constrict and watches as footage showed splashes of brown on the playground and what looked like bundles of rags. Susan knew better.

A number scrolled across the screen and Buck was on the phone in an instant.

"I'll call the hotline and watch Vessna,You got down there make sure she's okay."

"Call my-"

"I'll call Matt and he can deal he can tell your boss.You go now." Buck pointed to he door and took his sister from his mother,"The minute you get news and call me."

"Keep the door locked.And if you've got time call call Albert an have him get over here."

George was out the door by then and an patting his pockets for his keys. Susan flung them over the car to him to him once in the car he waited for her to get in.

And waited.

"Susan,what are you looking at?" George asked as he saw his wife's wide eyes staring off into the distance.

"George I think its going to crash."

Getting out the car George looked in the direction his wife was staring and watched as plane,a passenger airline, began to steeply descend in the distance. How could hear it from here and after what seemed like n eternity it struck the earth.

"What on earth is going on?"she asked her husband,

X X X X X

The rattling of his window a woke both Matt and Cathy. After reporting the body on the basketball court he'd been ordered home to get some rest. Once he'd gotten home he just couldn't be bothered to make up the couch so instead he just lay down next to Cathy. In his sleep deprived state he honestly didn't care. So when he was startled awake he found himself snuggled up to Cathy,her head on his shoulder.

"What the hell was that?"he asked. Cathy clutched at him for a moment before realising what she was doing and pulling away.

I think,I think its an explos-"

An almighty bang filled the air and one of the windows did shatter then. Scrabbling out of bed Matt raced to the window tried to see what was out there. All he could see was billowing smoke behind the buildings.People were running, or stood trying to see what had happened.

"Hey! Hey!" he yelled down at a guy who was walking swiftly down the street.

"What?"he yelled.

"What the hell happened."

"Something went sky high about three miles from here. No idea what and I can wait till I'm safe to find out." the guy yelled back as he walked. Matt could smell burning fumes now,so he pulled back from his window his window and looked over at the shattered one

"I'll sweep,just grab the trash cans from the second draw from the oven and the duct tape from under the fridge"he said and went to fetch his broom. Cathy had found the stuff by the time he'd gotten hold of the broom,the damn thing shoved into the back of the cupboard.

"Just tape four of them together. They'll have to do until I can replace the glass."

"That doesn't sound very secure."she said.

"Yeah,well at least it wasn't the window near the fire escape,otherwise I would in trouble." he pulled a face when he smelt he smoke."You gonna be alright around that smell.It could be bad for you."

"I should be fine. Lets just get it sealed up before there's smoke in the room."

It took less than five minutes,and Matt figured this should have given the news time to at least get pictures. His tv didn't show the news but instead was paying the emergency broadcast tone. Cathy shivered and made a sound in her throat and it took a minute for Matt to remember what the tone did to New Comers. Turning the tv off he flushed pink ad cleared his throat.

"Sorry. Forgot for minute."

"That's okay. Maybe we should try the radio instead? The tone is slightly different."Cathy suggested.

"Right,the radio. Good idea."

It was.The frantic sounding presenter explained that it was EcoAir flight from Los Angeles to Seattle and was estimated to be carrying 258 people on board at time of take off. The Emergency services are asking that unless you have an absolute emergency not to call."

"Crap. I should call in before someone thinks I'm dead."he went to his phone but stopped,"Do you need to call anyone?"

"I'll use my own phone. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Dialing the Zapeda's number he waited five minutes before some one answered
.

"Hey Zapeda,Its Sikes I-"

"Don't leave you place without a gun. "Zapeda said,cutting Matt off."Something's happenimg in this town and its only getting worse."

"The plane?"

"Someone on board was infected. They reported having to restrain a man in first class and said they were returning when one of his victims seized and died on board. The only thing we can figure out is that one of them got into he cock pit and killed the flight crew."

"I'll be there in an half an hour. Is George there."

"George is at his kids school. It wa attacked this morning,and it looks like Emily's class was left behind by accident."Zapeda took a breath."No one heard from Dobbs in four hours. Grazer was called into a meeting so we haven't got anyone here qualified to take control."

Matt leaned against the wall,"How did all that happen. I haven't been gone that long."

"Time waits for no man. Especially in an emergency. We could really use some help."

"As I said,I can be there in half an hour."

"Make it sooner."

In the end it took 45 minutes on the packed streets and when he finally arrive the only people there was the evidence check in officer and an Officer Spratt.

"Where has everyone gone?"

"Ipson West street. A group of infected attacked a church. These things are showing up faster than we can put them down."Spratt explained,"If you want to help I've got five phones and ll are ringing off he hook."

So Matt helped. He answered the phone and spent the next twenty minutes explaining,consoling and arguing with people who had both genuine complaints and those who were just making things harder. He eventually decided that coffee was needed and proceeded to the break room where he started making a fresh pot when almost half of the officers in the precinct returned looking tired and depressed.

"Sikes you are my hero."Zapeda said when she saw the pot brewing."Marry me."

"No thanks."

"I was talking to the coffee."

"So can you tell me more about Emily's school or do I have to go down there myself,cos I am real close to doing just that."

"All I know is that there was an attack this morning and George went to try and get her home. Only we haven't heard anything and we can't spare someone to go see what-hey where are you going."

"I'll grab a single band radio and contact you when I get there."

Before she could stop him he was gone.

X X X X X

As he watched the news Buck felt a building dread. as the reports coming in got worse and worse a time wore on. Vessna lay in his arms and played with the buttons on his shirt.

People were leaving town every way they could. Others were rushing in to get family,to get a story or to take advantage of the chaos. It was terrifying to watch.

"Unless you have no choice the authorities are asking people to follow the curfew that is going into effect tonight. You'll also find new routes from some parts of the city as been restricted."the reporter explained. This one was an older guy who come on after the last commercial.,"Right now we can take you to the sight of one of the largest attacks that has taken place. Ellen is t Roosevelt Elementary."

Buck sat up straight and pulled Vessna a little closer. When the picture changed he was looking at his sisters school and dozens of police. Buck felt a tiny thrill relief when he saw Matt's car pull up and the human get out and head past the police line.

"Quite a few people here are still trying to figure out what happened,but so far no explanation is for coming." As the reporter looked over her shoulder her eyes widened,"Oh my god,we have what looks like an Infected New Comer."

Swiftly turning the camera it came back into focus to show middle aged women walking around the corner. Deep gashes on her arm stood out on stark relief against her skin,and what looked like belt hung from her waist. For a moment he actually believed it was a belt but it glistened in a way that leather didn't. Gulping to keep himself from throwing up Buck looked away for a moment. He jumped at the loud bang that sounded and when he looked at the screen again the New Comer was flat on its back in the dirt.

There was movement, noise and fear flooded Buck was watching the studio.

 

The man in the studio looker nervous as he apologised for the interruption when the was loud scream inside the studio. After a moment of yelling and confusion before the screen went black.

Turning off the tv Buck took his little sister and looked out the window. There was smoke on the wind and sirens that never seemed to stop. The air held a pressure to it that Buck had not felt since the Chooser on the ship was deciding who would be sold to another ship and who would stay.The pure terror that was building was something that Buck had hoped to forget.

X X X X X

Susan was waiting with Captain Grazer when Matt arrived and George was off trying to get hold of the head of the swat team.

"What are you doing here?" Grazer asked.

"We couldn't get in contact so I came down with a single band radio."

"I want to say bull,but I'm too grateful for the radio. Our's have been malfunctioning since the plane came down."Grazer pulled his tie loose,"I've told the Mayor We're going to need military backup here."

When he left Susan came and hugged him."Thank you for coming."

"Had too. No one had and idea what was going on and I couldn't wait for answers. What the hell happened."

"Her teacher got attacked during outdoor gym. Everyone thought her class a already been evacuated out. Turn out they were taken back the class room instead."

Matt swore under his breath. This was good. No one knew how were inside.

"How are they going to get them out?"

"We don't know, they won't tell us anything. The SWAT isn't from LA. They bought in outside help to try and cover all the city until this crises is over." Susan explained, her voice strained."No one will tell us what's happening."

"No doubt they haven't Su-"

Gunfire suddenly sounded and and Its coming from down the street,and the sound of tyres screeching filled the air. Motioning for Susan to stay he jogged off to find the source of the noise and saw there was a car racing towards the road block and maybe 100 ft behind that was a large group of infected people.

"Shit."Matt hissed and raced back to Susan.

"What's happening?"

"Take my keys and wait in my car."he said.,"I'll get George and Emily."

Susan didn't argue and took his keys. Matt found himself a chair and used it to look over peoples heads. He saw the SWAT tent and he immediately took off towards it. He had a half baked plan in his head and the minute he spotted George he knew what he needed.

"Where are the school buses?" he asked and George looked confused.

"We grab a bus,line it up with a window and get them on though the back door."

"The SWAT team-"

"Is currently dealing with the nasties coming down the street,or hadn't you noticed that their heading in the wrong direction with their guns?"

It was true. Mission forgotten the SWAT team was hastily making a line ready to take out the on coming crowd. The car that had been speeding had between abandoned and its owners were rushing past SWAT and on to supposed safety.

George's face set and he nodded."I'll tell Susan and get her to our car."

"I already put her in mine. She's good. But we'll need Grazer to help us. You find him I'll find the buses."

They split up and Matt sure that the commotion was luring more of those things out of school. With officers watching one way no one was watching this direction. He grab a couple of beat cops and pointed them in the right direction.

Elsewhere George found Grazer talking in Matt's car next to his Wife.

She looked afraid and determined.

"George,tell me what's happening."she demanded.

"Matt's got a plan to get the students out. Captain,we'll need your help. The other officers are currently occupied."

Grazer looked up t him and then nodded,"Okay. Could you drive this car and park it next to you own I don't think any of us what's to leave personnel vehicles here."

Grabbing the radio he got out of the car and checked he could still access his gun. He waited for George to say goodbye to his wife and followed his superior.

"What's the plan?"

"We get on the speaker a system and get the student to put a sign of any sort in any window the have access to. We take a school bus and-"

"Back up to the window and get them though the back door. Why didn't the rescue team think of that."

"Its dangerous. But then again we don't have time for safe at the moment."

The two of them went to the SWAT tent and found the mike for the PA system. Their message was symbol, Write 'we're here' on a piece of paper and put it in the window.

The two of them then hurried though the the assortment of police and civilians until they spotted the massive yellow bus. Matt had been force to hot wire it since he had no idea where to find the keys. Before hey boarded Grazer grabbed plain cloths officer and told him to get the students parents ready to meet them at the junior high.

Once on the bus they found at the higher elevation George could just see the things getting far top close to the line of officers.

"How do we get behind he school."

"We go though those gates Grazer. A lot of the bastards are coming to the front. If we're lucky we won't have to shoot anything."Matt glance at the radio,"Getting anything on that?"

"The military is moving into the city from the south. Zapeda has also got the numbers on how may people were on the plane. Numbers state 350 people on board and we're looking at thousands dead on the ground." his face became pinched as he spoke,and suddenly looked twenty years older."They also had a report of an attack in Glendale. Couple of people with the symptoms in Commerce."

"God damn it. This thing is spreading fast." Matt manoeuvred the bus past by the police and press. As they turned the corner Matt spotted three of the infected wondering about. The rest were probably in the school.

George had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves."Do we take them out from here or wait until they spot us."

"We wait. Keep an eye out for a sign."

George moved so he could see the school. His picked up the pictures drawn by students and pretty mobiles hanging from ceilings. In one classroom he saw a a traffic warden staring at a blackboard,his skin gone and muscle showing beneath.

It seemed to take forever. But finally he saw a hand drawn sign in both English and Techtonese. The Techtonese did not say 'We're here' It simply read Father. His heart lurched. The window was like many in the school, tall and slim, but wide enough for someone to slip though. He called over his shoulder and Grazer got up and raised his weapon.Outside he saw the three walking corpses were making there way towards the bus. They were a good far enough away that George wasn't too worried.

"When I open it you be ready to shoot. Go though the window if you have to." George said and looked out of the windows. Matt,when I say back go back slow until you feel a bump then stop."

"Will do."

When the bus was lined up he opened the back emergency door."Back! Back! Back!" George yelled and Matt reversed at five miles an hour. Not too fast but the impact still jarred them. Multiple cries from within told George that they had they right window.

 

"How do we break the glass?" he asked. Grazer swore and Matt looked flummoxed, then he snapped hos fingers."Shoot for the ceiling. Tap the glass and tell everyone to get on their stomachs."

"Don't we have tools on board. "

"There kept in the luggage hold."

George shrugged and sighed before rapping his finger against the glass.

"Can You Here Me?" he shouted.

Someone inside called back,"Kind of."

"Get Everyone To Lie On The Floor. Or Hide Under A Table."

After what seemed like hours they heard someone yell,"We did it."

Going down on one knee George aimed and fired three times in quick succession. The glass shattered and the George kicked it in. Then he lifted the blind and stepped down into the classroom.

Emily ran to him with a limp and clutched around middle. She cried and several others puled themselves out from under the desks.

"Okay,everyone though the window and onto the bus. Mind the glass and head for the front of the bus. Does anyone need help?"

"Carol won't let go of the table leg." One of the boys said,pointing to a blonde girl who was terrified beyond words.

"Emily,go sit with Matt." he said,and lifted his daughter up to Grazer. Once she was in Grazer stepped down and began helping he others up whist George went to Carol.

She tremble ever so slightly as he knelt next to her.

"Carol?"

She said nothing. He touched her arm and she let out a muffled sob. His heart ached for her.

"Come now.We need to get out of here."

She shook harder and peeked up at him.

"Whut but bid hings."she mumbled.

"I didn't catch that." He did,but he needed to get her to talk.

"What about the bad things." she croaked. Her face was red and blotchy,big blue eyes swimming with salty tears. He wondered if it was safe to wipe them away. At the moment he couldn't risk it. So instead he lay his hand against the back of her neck.

"They can't get on the bus. And we need to get out of here. Its not safe."

The door rattled as something bashed against and a moan was heard,just a single one. Carol let go of he table and latched onto George. Standing he lifted her up and put her one his hip as he took her to the bus. they still had twelve kids who needed to get onto the bus,including one in a wheelchairs.

Another bang made George jump.

"Go to Captain Grazer,he'll get you a seat." he said,and pulled the girl from him. Grazer took her and George lifted Jill,who turned and grabbed onto a boy to help him up. Two down ten to go.

More bangs and moaning. There was more than out there and George didn't know how long the door could last. He concentrated on the students.

Nine left. Eight. The boy in the wheel chair has undone the belt an two others fold the chair whilst George hands him over.

Seven the door is really rattling now. George can here six-no seven different moans. He begins lifting and shoving,not graceful or risk free but what's a scrapped knee compare to being eaten alive.

He lifts wheel chair and then two boys at once. The five left are looking worried and whilst Grazer pulls them up does a quick search of the room and cupboard before helping the last two in, He climbs in himself and the top hinge on the door goes.

Their leaning full force against the door and it gives completely. As they enter they knock over the hamster cage the rodents go running.

"Drive slow whilst I get the door." George shouted and thanked Andanko that the three on the playground are more interested him the front of the bus than the back.

As they drove he grabbed door and it shut easily. Locking it in place he sighed heavily and searched for his daughter. She was next to Matt and watched as he came up the bus. Once within arms reached knelt and pulled her to him.

"Daddy." he said and buried her face in his shirt. From the front seat he heard Matt mumble that he needed to call his own daughter and tell her to go to a safe place.

"We'll head to the junior high. That where the parents are going."George said.

The bus moved slowly and when they came out in front of the school it was chaos.The blockade had failed as more undead seemed to have appeared from some place else. Both George and Matt's cars were gone and Matt caught site of several pretty fresh corpses shuffling around or gathered in groups around some poor bastards carcass. The kids began murmuring and he heard broken sobbing from several of them.

"Jesus. Do you think the Junior high will be safe?"

"It has to be." George said and looked back at the buses occupants."Lets keep going."

They did,and Matt kept the speed at 15 miles n hour. He had to mount the pavement in order to get past a couple of abandoned cars and saw a couple of live people escaping the carnage. Gripping the steering wheel he felt his anxiety lift when he spotted police cars and well armed people.

They let the bus through and Matt pulled up next to the group of terrified looking parents.

The kids got off,fleeing to the arms of their parents and several paramedics came forward to check on them. George took Emily to Susan and one kid stayed on the bus whilst his parents came to him and Graze set his chair back up.

The radio crackled to life on the seat over from him so he grabbed it.

"Detective Sikes, what's going on.Its Zapeda. Where's Grazer?"

"Busy. What's wrong?"

"Good news is we've found Dobbs. All is well except his youngest has chicken pox. Spent all morning finding a doctor for her. But that's the only good news."

Matt knew already from the sound of her voice. Grazer was suddenly at his side and took the mike.

"Grazer here. What's going on?"

Zapeda repeated the news about Dobbs and Grazer let out a long breath."That's great. What else?"

"There have been six attacks at the Pyramid Mall and we just got confirmed reports in Commerce. Couple of people leaving LA dropped dead just outside the town and wandered right in."

"Any news from the Mayor's office."

"Just the message saying that the military will be heading in soon and that you should be debriefed in the next hour or so."

"Okay, I'll be heading back to the station soon. Contact knew if anything else happens. And tell Dobbs that picking up a phones isn't all that difficult."

"Will do Sir."

Sitting down heavily next to the radio Grazer let his head fall back."We need help."

"No kidding."Matt agreed. He stood and stretched,"I'm gonna check on the kid."

He disembarked the bus and searched out his partner, who was with his daughter and a paramedic who was cleaning the scrap on her leg. She was leaning against her mother looking completely exhausted, but conjured a smile for Matt.

"Hey Kiddo. You doing alright."

"I'm good. Just a scrapped calf."she didn't lift her head."I knew you and dad would come."

The gratitude and faith in her voice made Matt's stomach clench. He smiled and looked to George."I'm heading back to the station. You go home and sleep. You look like you could use it."

"Thank you Matt. I think I might. But I need to have a quick word with you before you go."

They moved aside, but close enough that George could keep a close eye on them.

"What wrong."

"I need to know that if this gets to bad we can stay in your apartment, Its high up, defendable and close enough to a disaster zone that few people will be near by."

Matt stared at him for a moment,."Your going a little overboard."

"I might be,but I'd rather look foolish than be dead. And you can't say that your not as worried about all this as I am."

He was. Matt was seriously considering getting out of town whilst he could. He'd load up the car, see if Cathy would go and head to where ever his daughter had last been seen.She called every week but he had no idea where she was most of The time.

"Yes."he admitted. "Give it until tomorrow. If things are still looking bad get some stuff over ready and we'll see when you can get the family over."

George hugged him and said thank you."This will be over soon. When its over you can make fun of me all you like."

"You can bet on it George."

Chapter Text

Many of the staff had been unable to get to hospital ,so when Cathy showed up she was put straight to work. After four hours on shift she'd seen 27 people and now sat in the break room and stared at her flavored water.

"I thought your were taking a few days?" a voice asked and Cathy looked up to see Dr Piper.

"I wanted to help. Have you been on call long?"

"Ten hours. A couple of the human staff have had to be sent home."

Cathy knew it was tough. Though she'd only been dealing with in and out cases she'd seen the patients being taken to the more specially equipped wards. They'd even opened their doors to humans to try and alleviate the stress on the other hospitals but it wasn't easy.

"I heard. Any attack victims?"

"None. Their being sent to a specialized facility." Dr Piper sat across from her and frowned."I'm sorry about the boy. I hope they catch who did it."

"They will." Cathy murmured,and wasn't the least bit ashamed that she mentally hoped that the driver had been crushed beneath that plane or contracted that bacteria.

What she didn't know was that the killer was lying dead outside of Emily's school. When he'd hit Adron he had been high on coke. Whilst in that state he had been attacked and turned in less that half an hour. He was dead and gone,to be judged by whoever it was that that lay in wait on the other side. But Cathy didn't know this. All she knew was that he was out there and he would face justice,either by law or by the universe. But she knew for certain was that she was looking at a long day on the job..

"If you feel the need to leave just say." Piper said, then he stood again."Now if you'll excuse me I have to go re attach a retina."

"Have good day."

He nodded as he left and Cathy finished her drink quickly. The ward was just as full when she returned and out of the corner of her eye she noticed a New Comer Male watching her. After several moments she went to him and asked,"Can I help you?"

"No. I have seen all I need to see,thank you." he spoke in Techtonese and then left.

She watched him go and then returned to her work.

X X X X X

This Cargo was lost. The bacteria in there blood would be dangerous at the best of times, but he had seen what it was doing to this human city. He knew that by the time the ship came with re enforcement to collect the cargo the entire planet could be useless. The Humans themselves were no where near as adaptable. To much would have to be done to make them a slave race. He knew that in the end they may have to destroy the cargo as well as any resistance that could be mounted when they took them. The Cargo had become a part of this world. He shook his head and decided to report the cargo as lost.

He sneered as he walked. From what information he had gathered the humans had tried to eradicate the Cargo with bacteria.Highly wasteful of time, equipment and resources. They would have been better off gathering them and gassing them. If this was a ship they would have vented the atmosphere and let the vacuum of space deal with it. But this wasn't a ship.

So he walked and avoided the worst of the violence until he found a vehicle he could use. Heading back to his own ship watched as cargo walked free and went about life as though it was theirs to lead. Maybe he should suggest they return in a hundred years to see if anything was savable. As he left the atmosphere he had no idea that the mild radiation of space was effecting the tiniest spores that had collected on his shirt as he'd traveled the city. He'd be dead within hours. The ship didn't last all that long after.

X X X X X

Buck handed Vessna over to his mother before wrapping Emily in a hug. He lifted her off the ground and just held her too him, whispering nonsense in her ear. She hugged hard back.

"Let your sister breath Buck."Susan said, just as happy to have her back. She wanted to keep holding her as well. To wrap her arms around her baby and just be.

"I need to sleep. Wake me in a year." George said and pressed his fist to each of his families heads before heading up the stars for some much needed sleep. Downstairs Susan began making her daughter lunch whilst she went in search of a shower. Buck followed his mother into the kitchen ad sat down at the table.

"This isn't going to blow over is it?" he asked and buried his face in his arms. Susan went to him and put her hands on his shoulders.

"Whatever happens I want you safe. And you will be because once the police have this under control everything will go back to normal."

Lifting his head he looked at his mother and the uncertainty in her eyes. She was as afraid as him,she just didn't want to admit it. He smiled and touched her hand . If she could pretend for him,he could pretend for her.

"Your right mom." h squeezed her hand and asked,"Anything I can do to help."

"You can chop celery,I'll start dismembering the grass hoppers."

X X X X X

Albert was stuck in traffic,and he honestly had no idea when he was going to reach George's home. The entire road system was at a stand still. He opened his window and stared out over the other cars. The smoke and fumes of the plane still hung heavy in the air and he could see more than one vehicle piled high with belonging. He also saw people passing on foot,backpacks holding camping gear and dressed ready for war. One guy had a visible gun on his hip. He also saw a family going past on bikes and wondered if he should have bough the broken down thing he had in his apartment. It probably would have been quicker than the car.

Matt had called Albert's car a wreck,but the engine purred and the he'd already had a quote on how much it would cost to get it painted blue.

Blue. May had helped him pick out the shade. It was the same shade of her favorite sun dress. She'd worn it on their first date and she had looked beautiful. He swallowed thickly and tried hard not to start crying again.

He still couldn't believe she was gone. He'd never see her again. There would be no funeral or body to bury. He would never get to say goodbye to her.

Forcing himself to take a deep breath and sitting himself up a little straighter he tried to concentrate on his journey.

He would get off the free way at the next exit and take the long route. So long as he didn't hit any more traffic he'd get there before three. As he pondered the route he would take he had no idea that a mile behind him a group of forty something undead were making their way onto the free way and began to devour those that they found.

They moved slowly up and those who could abandoned their cars and ran from the now growing hoard. For every four people bitten one would turn within minutes,other later when there savaged bodies would try and escape the confines of their car. Some would claw there way out,others trapped,reached out of the car to reach anything passing them.

By the time they'd gone 100 feet they gained sixteen more. By the time Albert heard them they they had gone from 48 to 84 to 161 and the number kept growing. Some people got wise and began defending themselves. Others simply ran.

He stuck his head out of the window and looked backwards,and couldn't really see much from his spot. So he got out of his car and carefully balanced himself so he could stand on the drivers seat. He immediately stood down and began grabbing his stuff out of the car. Buck had told him to bring a bag,so he'd packed the basics and left after dumping bird seed on the window ledge for Bryan the pigeon.

As he'd left he'd seen his buildings super stumble into his apartment looking ill. He'd asked if he'd needed anything but Mr Teim had said he was good,just needed some sleep. Only maybe it wasn't sleep he needed. Maybe there was nothing that could make him feel better. Slamming his car door to make sure the lock engaged he turned the key and began walking fast. He saw other drivers that didn't know what was happening so he wet back and told each one,some listened,others made and gestures that weren't at all polite. Eventually he saw others had taken up the job an that those sick things were getting closer.

Sending up a silent prayer he turned his back on the cars and began jogging towards the off ramp. He didn't have any time to wait. As he jogged he also had to keep an eye out for any more of those things.

He didn't see any,but he did see panicking people in frightened groups moving to and throw like drunken ants. Everyone had a different idea of where they should be going and what they needed to do. He saw human and New Comers a like lost in terror and confusion.

As he made it five miles away from the free way when was shocked to see a tank slowly make its way down the street along with two dozen troops following it. He past them by and felt few curious stares. If these troops weren't from LA then there was a chance that they hadn't seen New Comers before. He hoped he next time they met any it was under better circumstances.

They past and he went on,and now he could hear gun fire. He listened as the yelling and crying. He past by a bundle of cloths that twitched and squirmed where they lay on the floor in a brown puddle. It didn't take a genius to realize that it was most likely blood. As the streets held less apartment builds and more houses he realized he had covered more ground quicker than he had thought. He'd be at George's house soon.

He ran and past by several dead things that began to shuffle after him He was he only moving food source they had seen,the others hiding away where they couldn't be found.

They followed and he was gone from there sight soon. But they could here sound now. And sound always meant food.

X X X X X

Grazer disappeared into his office the minute they got back from the high school and they hadn't seen him come out in an hour.

"You think he's talking to the Mayor or the military?"Matt asked Dobbs.

"No idea. And frankly unless they can clean up this situation I don't care."he stared at his phone."Maybe I should call Clara,make sure her and kid are all right."

"Dobbs man, you called her twenty minutes ago. And ten minutes before that. We heard her yelling at you to cut it out from across room." Matt patted him on the shoulder and grinned."First time I've heard of a detectives wife getting angry because he called to much." Dobbs grinned and shook his head,"Shut up and go answer your phone."

"Its ringing?" Matt asked and looked over at his desk. It was.

It was Cathy ad she sounded frantic."They've shut down the hospital and evacuated everyone but the wards with the infected in them."

"What? When did they do that."

"An hour ago. Now we can here gun fire inside. I, I think their shooting the infected."

Matt swore and then swore some more. He should have seen something like this coming but he hadn't expected it so soon. He thought it would b a kind of last resort. That thought frightened him. If this was the last resort what happened if it failed?

"Cathy,go home and go to my apartment. Get what you need and-"

"I think I know what your saying Matt." her voice was quiet."Don't get hurt."

"I won't."

They hung up and Matt went straight to Grazer's office only to be stopped as the man in question came out.

"Not now Sikes. I have an announcement to make."

He sounded sell shocked and he called for the attention off the room

"As of now we have the authorization to use lethal force against the infected. It is recommended that you aim for the head as it seem to be the only way to stop them."He stopped and licked his lips. He looked like he hadn't slept in days. "The medical center on the out skirts of the city set up. They estimate that including those running wild in the streets we've got nearly a thousand of them."

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

"The city is being evacuated starting at six am tomorrow. The city has now been bought under military control by then they will authorise-" he stopped and stared at his feet."They'll fire bomb the city to clear out the infection."

Several people sat down and one of the New Comer officers began to pray rapidly in Tectonese

"As of now your all dismissed to prepare for evacuation,but I would ask some of you remain behind and help transfer the phone lines over to military control.We also need someone to call the off duty officers an explain the situation."

Both Dobbs and Sikes put their hands up and volunteered, being the only two cops on duty who'd had any kind of rest in the past twelve hours.. Within an hour the precinct was empty save for Sikes,Dobbs and Grazer, all three of them manning the phones.

Each made their way though their lists and returned to numbers that hadn't answered once they got to end. They repeated this until only seven people had been deemed unreachable,so with one last message recorded informing callers of the new protocol they left the station.

"I'm giving you my private cell number. If either of you need any kind of help call me. I don't have much pull at city hall but I'll do what I can." Grazer said as he gave each of them a card."Keep your selves safe."

He left for his own car and Dobbs walked Sikes to his.

"I might call old Cubby at City Maintenance. He's got a couple of maps of the tunnels in ad out often city. Get us out of LA pretty damn fast if we have to go. You want me to call you if I get though?" he asked. Sikes knew about those tunnels,had pulled a couple of bust in him over the years. Huge places you could drive golf carts down. Sikes was certain he'd read somewhere that you could get from one idea of town to the other on less than fifty minutes using a motorised buggy.

"Yeah. I'll be gone from my apartment by eight at least so try n get hold of me by then."

"Will do man,will-"

SCREECH!!!!

The sound of tires mad them turn and the saw Graizer pull up rapidly. He was out of his car and raced past them saying,"Get back inside there's massive crowded jut around the corner." Not waiting for proof the two followed him,the door opening just as the first few came into view. They shut the door quietly as possible and locked it. Non talked until they reached the staircase.

And when they did they could only think of one word to say.

"Fuck."

X X X X X

Cathy had moved everything in her cupboards into Matt's and had pulled an old Atras*tic stick out of her closet.It was both a ceremonial staff used on certain holidays and a dangerous weapon. But considering the heavy ended weapon hadn't been used for anything other than celebrations she didn't know how much use it would be. But it was the only weapon she had.

The wreckage of the plane had been put out but still smoked badly in some places,telling her that something still burned out there. The plastic on he window had held and Cathy had swept and cleaned up all the glass. Since then she had sat and watched the news as thing got progressively worse. No on was venturing outside and the sound of gun fire in the distance was almost constant now.

Eventually she turned off he tv and prayed. She prayed for safety an a cure for this disease. She prayed for her Adron who lay beyond her grasp.She prayed for Matt,that stupid confusing wonderful human. And most of all she prayed for it to be a dream. Some awful terrible dream bought on by eating tripe before bed. It had to be a dream. She had to wake up.

Because this was too awful to be real.

X X X X X

There were over two thousand.

Their numbers had doubled within an afternoon and already the outbreaks out side of Los Angeles were becoming out of control. The airport had been saved but the surrounding area was quickly becoming a war zone. People knew how to destroy the undead creatures but it was easier said than done.

How was a out of shape business man meant to cave in a Human skull with a baseball bat. How was a young house wife who made her own soap going to get a perfect head shot? And New Comer skulls could stand up to a lot of pressure that even other New Comers would have trouble disposing of the monsters. And so many hadn't realized how quickly it spread,how easily people would succumb to such a plague. A bacterial plague that was sweeping though the city so quickly the Nations leaders had no ought that they would have destroy the City of Los Angeles.

Albert reached the Francisco house hold to find it a buzz of activity. The car was being loaded and he saw Susan ticking things off a list what they may need.

"Albert, thank Celine we were beginning to worry." Susan said,and embraced him,"I'm so sorry about May. I wish we had more time to grieve with you properly but we need to be ready to leave as soon as possible."

"You cannot take the free way. It was being over run. I had to leave my car behind. But if we're lucky the military may have cleared it."

Susan went to find George to tell him and left Albert with Emily and Buck. The elder child was packing as economically as he knew how to. Only good sturdy clothing went into bags,an all the first aid items in house and been shoved into a bag. Food had been piled into boxes,the freshest stuff on top an easiest to reach.

Albert had the clothes on his back and his wallet and a few possessions.

"Albert,its good you got here to tell us.News keeps telling us what was already know and we can't trust half of what we're hearing on the radio." George said and put down the box in his hands. It was a spare ammo box,and on the other side of the room . he saw a set of baseball bats and hammer. Albert hadn't even thought about weaponry.

"What can I do to help?" he asked.

"Someone needs to start contacting those in the address book and giving them warning of the evacuation. It'll be another hour before they announce it on the news and that may be an hour too late."

Albert was hit by a sudden thought,"Has anyone made sure the Binaums know about this?"

George froze and looked up at Albert."Call them first. Tell them to leave town as soon as they can. Andanko why didn't I think of that?"

"You are concentrating on your family. You are needed here."

"Well its good you got here. We need all the help we can get."

So Albert spent the next hour calling until someone came knocking heavily at the front door. He answered an a young girl he knew to be called Jill stood there looking terrified.

"My,my dad. There's something wrong, he's-"

"Calm down and take a deep breath." he told her,taking hold of her shoulder."Tell me what's wrong."

The girl looked up at her and the tear stains made his heart lurch. "My daddy's one of them." she all but whispered and her face crumpled.She buried her face in his chest and sobbed so hard they both shook.

"What's going -oh no." Buck came forward "Jill, JIll what' wrong."

Albert lifted her and set down on the sofa whist Buck called his parents. They rushed down and looked over at the girl. Neither needed an explanation..

"Susan,take her upstairs. Buck,her mother's work number is in the address book. Call her and get her home. Emily can help your mother." George said,the tone in his voice could not be disobeyed. When they were gone his turned to Albert."Grab the Hammer and come with me. Stay alert and do exactly what I say."

"Okay."

Albert followed him and they went out into the street. Jill's father had obviously followed her. The left wrist of his shirt was dark with blood.He was alone in the street,no sign of anyone else. The sound of a car approaching caught their attention.

"Go stop the car. Keep them out of the way." George ordered and Albert did. He put down the hammer too stop himself looking bad and stepped into the road,arms out and waited for the car to stop.

A bushy haired women got out looking annoyed.

"What are you doing?"

"There's one of the infected up ahead."

"There's a dead thing up there? My families up there!" she cried and go back into her car."Move or I'll run you down."

Albert had to think fast."Go slow behind. You don't want to hit one. Or the officer up there. Do you know George? He's trying to contain the situation."

"The new comer? His daughters friends with mine. He-"

Something must have shown in Albert's face because she suddenly froze in her car and got out again. She walked slowly towards him and stopped a few feet away.

"My,my daughter.Is it my daughter."

"No. She came to us because-"

"Is my Bill one of those things."she asked,voice very quiet."Is my Bill,is he dead?"

As he was about to answer the unmistakable sound of a gun going off made them look up.

"He hurt no one."Albert said. "I did not know him,but I think that he would not have wanted to become a risk to you or his daughter."

"He can't even kill spiders in the house." Her voice was very soft now,probably not audible to humans. She started walking and Albert went with her. She got faster and faster until she was running.

Albert easily kept up. George looked upon he looked so tired suddenly,so sorry.

The women sat dropped to her knees beside her husband and stared down at him. The bullet had gone though the left side of his head and the small hole was hidden by his hair.

"Aggie,I am so sorry. I had no-"

"Shh,shh,shh."She lay her hand on her husbands head,"You had to do it. I've seen those things. They attacked my office block. They killed a security guard."

"I'm still so sorry." George looked over at Albert and nodded towards the house.

"He wasn't one for very long was he."

"I would guess mere minutes." he answered, before looking up sharply. Albert heard it a moment later.

There were more.

"We need to get inside. Aggie we need to go."

She didn't answer,she just sat there and with her husband. Rather than wait he lifted under the arm and set her on her feet. She didn't fight him. They went back to his house and shut the door,making sure all the lights were out. They his upstairs and had Jill sat cuddled up with her mother and began to doze whilst she stroked her hair and stared into space.

"I want us to watch though the windows in pairs. Me and Albert will go first, Susan and Buck sec-"

"Let the boy sleep. I'll take a shift." Aggie said and tucked a strand of hair around her now sleeping daughter ear."My night vision is good. I'm in charge of this areas Nocturnal bird watch."

"Your the one we're always seeing with the binoculars? I thought you were a peeping Tom." Susan said.

"Bill used to call me that." she moved her daughter and lay her down."Whose on first shift?"

"Me and Albert. If your sure-"

"I am."

"Then you and Susan can take second shift. Two hours on two hours off."

She nodded and lay down next to her daughter.

Outside a steady stream of undead walked along the street, each following the one in front of it George Wondered if he should call someone. He just wish he knew who.

X X X X X

Matt called Cathy and told her to sit tight and that he'd be there as soon as possible. Dobbs was calling his contact to see if there was anyway under the problem outside and Grazer was telling his wife to get out and go her brother's place. It was 50 miles away and in the middle a reserve, it would be safer than the city.

"She wasn't happy but she'll go."he said and sat down."God I need a drink."

"Officer Nicholby keeps a flask of sour milk in his desk for the rough nights. Want me to grab it?"

"Oh shut up Sikes."

"Okay you two, I got good news and bad news, which do you want first?" Dobbs asked as he returned from his desk."

"The good news please." Grazer said.

"There's a way out though the buildings basement."

"Whats the bad news Dobbs?"

"Well Matt, looks like we're gonna be spending an hour cutting though half a dozen chains to get the grill open. After that we'll have to go find the main tunnel. The city had coloured lines painted on the walls to show people what tunnels lead where. To many people getting lost after sneaking into them."

"We'll get started. Grab the bolt cutters. I'm making one last call before we lock up."

"To who?"

"My brother In law. He'll need to know to keep the intercom to his gates switched on so my Lucy can get in."

X X X X X

She put down the phone and went back to the sofa, curling up and trying not to cry again. She had to be strong for Matt. She had to be,because she couldn't be strong for herself at that moment. She turned off the Tv hours ago and she was about to turn it on again when she heard the screaming. It was coming from two floors down and was drowning out the nearly unbearable groans. He tried to down it out,cover her ears but then she heard it..

The unmistakable sounds of baby crying.

It was the Franks apartment. Their baby girl was it six month old and had stared up at Cathy with the most trusting eyes first time she had seen her. Amy,her mother had found it beautiful and insisted on taking a photo.

Oh,oh she knew what would happen if no on intervened. And Cathy couldn't,wouldn't let it happen. So she stood and lifted her staff before heading out the door and down the stairs. She past people in the hall looking down towards the apartment,and they watched her pass.

None but a teenage boy tried to help,but his father dragged him back. She ignored them and hurried down to the Franks's floor. The screaming had become whimpering now and the babies crying grew loader. Once at the door she made to kick it down but was stopped by a voice.

It was Mr Hopper."I have their spare key. Let me help you." he unlocked he door and hurriedly stepped back. In his hand was a silver inlaid walking stick. It looked heavy.

"Thank you." She said and entered. The sounds of chewing remained now and she followed around to the living room. Behind her Hopper stepped in with the walking stick raised high and the trembling ever so slightly.

What had once been Arnold Franks leaned over his wife and had his face buried in her chest. Her left breast was gone and the bone was visible. Hopper heaved behind her and she had to fight the urge to regurgitate. Arnold didn't see her and she heft the staff. She bought down on his head and the cracking sound made her grimace. He wouldn't be getting back up.

She turned her attention to the crying baby and went over to the nursery.

Little Anna was crying hard in her crib,her face screwed up and red. Putting down the staff Cathy lifted her from the crib. After a few moments she stopped crying and just grizzled. Hopper followed her.

" I am going to deal with Amy. We,we can't let her come back. Will you take the baby."

"Yes. I'll make up a bag,When your done spread the word that we're closing the room. If anyone wants their supplies tell them to take them now. But not the baby things."

"Isn't that looting."

"Others might as well use their stuff. It might save them at some point."

Cathy took the child with her as she began stuffing bag with cloths and then went into the parents room. Into a wheeled suitcase that was on the bed she added several photos and ten spotted her mother's jewelry box. Most of it was costume,but it was the child's now. She carefully place it at the bottom of the suit case and then went out to the kitchen with both bay and case. The teenager who'd tried to help appeared with his sheepish looking father.

"What can we do?" he asked. He looked over at the two bodies and paled considerably.

"Pack a box with the baby food and formula." Then Cathy thought of something,"Did Amy use formula or breast feed? Their might be milk in the freezer in that case."

The teenager blushed and Mr Hopper came in and looked traumatized. He had blood on his cloths and and his glasses were spotted with it.

"Some people want to know if they have any winter cloths. The people in apartment 12c are heading to Canada."he said.

The baby hiccuped and Cathy pulled her closer. "Tell them to look." She gazed at the child. She would look after her until she could be handed over to relatives or the right authorities.

X X X X X

No longer growing in numbers by ten's or hundreds,the undead numbers were growing in thousands. For every one that was killed another two took its place as they re awoke. The free way was lost,and slag town was now empty as those who had lived there had fled before the crowds of undead or had fallen beneath hungry mouths.

There numbers grew and the decision was made to begin evacuation at midnight,and they were fire bombing the hot zones the moment they were clear.

They could not wait for stragglers,and only pray that as many made it out alive as was possible.

And across the country people were discovering it was too late to stop it.

Chapter Text

They were a quarter of the way though the chains when Grazer joined them with his own bolt cutters. "Lucy's on her way to her brothers. She'll be there before us "

"So what route do we take once we get down there?" Matt asked.

"If we head to my house we follow the blue line till it splits into green and yellow. We follow the green we go straight into the centre of town. We follow yellow we get out two miles from Georges home. We follow the red and we end up a block away from Sike's place."

"I need to get to Cathy. I'll follow the Red and meet you both at-"

Dobbs Interrupted Sikes,"We stay together. We hit your place, The we head to George's and go to mine from their."

"Then your coming with me,screw my brother in law,If I can make sure you in a safe place I will be happy." Grazer added.

"Why sir,I didn't know you cared."Matt said and fluttered his eyes lashes.

"I'm just looking for good press. Now shut up an get to-urg-work." he said a he snapped another chain. There were twelve of the then on the gate,keeping it closed to anyone but the authorised people.

They worked in silence,the sounds of the street above not reaching them down here. The entire area had been emptied of the living and the only thing keeping the undead moving was the sound of car alarm and barking dogs. They batter down doors and windows to get at the sounds,yanking open cages and crates only to shuffle away when they realized they couldn't feed on what is in their hands. Most of the dogs or cats ran. Others attacked. More than one attack dog bought the dead to the ground and tore into it. Some were poisoned and died within hours. Others lived to fight another day.

But the three police officers were oblivious to all of this.They didn't need to know. All they had to know was that they were getting out.

When the last chain fell Grazer mad them move all the old chains back up stairs and out the way.

"Why are we moving all this crap. If its still on the gate it will confuse anyone trying to get in."

"So if some municipals workers tries to escape this way and has to to make a hasty retreat up these stairs,it may save his life to be able to get in quickly. Besides all the gun lockers have been triple locked and the evidence locker was cleared out this morning so here's nothing up there of any real value." Grazer explained as the attached the key to very slim,very delicate lock and chain before pasting a note to the wall."If anyone asks,I was just thinking we might have to come back."

"Right." Matt said and pulled his gun and the flash light he'd grabbed from his desk. "Okay,we go slow and guns stay out. We see anyone-"

"And we give them a chance to respond before shooting. please remember that if anyone who is in shock and not zombie is shot you will face charges." Grazer said and led the way into the tunnels.

X X X X X

Buck knew it and been a stupid thing to do,but he needed to know that she was safe. Marilyn had agree to some to his house,and Buck had told his Dad after once he was sure his mother was asleep.

"What were you thinking!"

"That's she's all alone. She needs someone to look after her. At least here she'll be safe."

George gave heavy sigh and shook his head. This wasn't going to help the boys case if school found out. They already thought that something untoward was going on.

"I called her just before Albert arrived,and she lives half an hour away by car. If she's walking or stuck she might not get here for-"

"We will watch for her,but we will not search. It is far to dangerous."George was firm,despite his son's hurt face."I will inform your mother and Aggie when it is their turn."

Buck settled own to sleep and Albert popped his head around the door.

"One followed a cat into the garden,but it wondered out again. I can also see flames to the east."

"Can you tell what's on fire?"

"No. But I can tell you that I spotted several soldiers heading away from the church two streets away. They appeared a little slow and,"Albert shook his head and looked sad.

"What did you see?"

"They were way to slow to be humans."

George went to Albert and touched his forehead,"Thank you for telling me. And keep an eye out for my women brunette humans. Buck asked his teacher to-"

"There was a women hiding in her car. I was going to tell you but she's been driving in circles for twenty minutes. I thought she was lost but maybe she isn't."

"How many times has she gone by." Said Buck,taking them both jump and turn.He was on his feet in a heart beat and at the window.

"Every ten to twelve minutes. She should be around again in four."

"Dad-"

"I know. Albert you watch from up here and I will take Buck down stairs and we will try and signal her." Don't wake Susan yet."

Together he and his son went silently down stairs. Buck grabbed the bat and was a ball of nervous energy.

"I will switch on the light and you will stand in full view of the street.If she spots you I will go out and get her." Under no circumstances do you follow me."

"Completely understood." Buck nodded and then they both heard it in the distance. A car engine. Buck hoped and prayed it would get closer.

When it did he yanked open the curtains and the lace ones and nodded to his dad to turn on he light.

The car that came into view was familiar an Buck could have wept in relief. The car stopped and reverse to a stop in front of the house and his father was out like a shot. Buck watched as he came back in and he hugged Marilyn hard before letting her go.

"I am so glad you got here."

"I'm glad you called . I hadn't left my apartment five minutes when the one below mine blew up. Gas was left on when the owner died and it must have caught light. Its the only reason it could have happened. If I'd have stayed any longer,it doesn't matter. I'm just glad I got here."

She was. Seeing Buck made her heart rate calm and her brain was suddenly able to work. She turned to Mr Francisco and thanked him.

"You have no idea how grateful I am that you invited me."

"We couldn't leave you driving around out there." He said, and from the look he was giving his son Marilyn got the idea that he hadn't been all that aware of her arrival.

"He didn't tell you?"

"Not until after he'd called you. He really didn't want you alone in all this."

She turned to Buck and shook her head. He looked bashful. "I was worried. An you said so yourself, its a good thing you left you apartment when you did."

Both of them rolled their eyes and Buck looked down at his shoes. "We should head up stairs."

X X X X X

The tunnels were cold and damp and what Matt hated most was the way they echoed around them. Because very often they would here a scream other report of gunfire ad it would go on an on.

"How long till we reach the access near my place?"

"Another ten minutes.Maybe twenty if I'm reading these markers right." Dobbs said. Behind them Grazer was practically walking backward in order to watch their backs.The paranoia that their could be something down there with them was constant. More than once they saw shadows,and the retreating backs of other people trying to get to safety. They even past an entire family following a man in hi vis jacket and hard hat as they headed in the direction of the harbour.

As they travelled Matt tried not to think of where his daughter was. Then he remembered his ex wife and wondered if he should try and warn he or if she was already out of town. As they came to the access to the stairs they decided Matt could go up first to see if he could tell where they were,Grazer and Dobbs would be back up. The access way was locked with only one chain and they got though into he basement of what was a hard ware store.

"Hey I know this place. Less than two blocks from my apartment." Matt grinned."We don't even have to the streets,the roof tops a so close together a couple of two by fours can get us across."

"Well that's great news. How do we get onto the roof?" Grazer asked.

Matt looked puzzled and opened the door to main store. It was unlocked and when it opened he smelt old blood and bought up his gun.

"Possible hostile up here. Be ready." he sad and made his way slowly into the store.

Someone had obviously raided this place from he shovels and crowbars and whatever else could be used as a weapon. There was a line of blood on how floor,something had been dragged across it. Apparently whatever it was had left its leg behind in the hammer department.

"Watch the floor. It might be-"

"Dead on the floor in isle two. We're good. Is the front door locked?"

Matt checked and pulled the chain and deadbolt into place. Stains on the floor showed that someone had come in or out recently.

"Someone needs to watch the door in case anyone comes by. Grazer, think you can lift those planks with my help?"

His boss nodded and began piling what they needed in one place. Matt found a door leading too the stairs and after half an hour they had everything they needed on the roof. Dobbs and Gazer switched rolls and the two detectives made their way across to Matt's apartment block. Matt left Dobbs on the roof and went down the fire escape and when he finally got into the building it looked deserted until Matt got to his place and found the door open and Cathy on the couch.

Upon seeing him Cathy got up and hugged him hard, Pulling him into the room.

"I packed everything we might need to when we-"

"I bought a camping backpack. We're going to pack that and bring as many bags as possible,we- Cathy?"

"Yes Matt?"

"Why is there a baby on my couch."

Cathy explained what happened and went to the sleeping child."I've got her thing in baby bag and I can I carry her in the chest harness."

"Chest harness?" Matt wondered what one of those was and his eyes lighted upon a thing that looked like a back pack with major holes in it.

"Couldn't someone else take her?"

"Everyone else has pretty much left Matt only Mr Hopper and the Haversons. And the Haverson won't have the room."Cathy said,and lifted the child. "I can take responsibility for Anna."

Matt looked at the infant and nodded. "You get ready to go. See if Hopper or the Haverson want to follow."

She nodded and Matt went straight to his phone,and on the note pad in Cathy's writing was a message that lifted a great weight from his shoulders. His daughter had met up his ex wife and they were at a motel eighty miles outside of Los Angeles.

With that weight off his mind. He decided to give George a heads up. After what seemed like an eternity he answered,voice hushed and anxious sounding.

"Matt? Its good to hear your voice,but now really isn't the time."

"What's wrong?"

"Several groups of infected are wondering about our neighbourhood. We can't draw attention to ourselves."

"Crap.We're on our way out of town. Grazer's got a place for us to stay until this thing is over."

"We have one car and three more people that it can carry. If you can find larger vehicle then it would be helpful." George said. Up stairs he could hear Vessna fussing and praying she wouldn't started crying.

"We can get you out on foot. I'll explain more when we get to your place. It will take us an hour,maybe an hour and a half to walk."

"Matt,that isn't safe."

"George,we've been using the city maintenance tunnels."

George breathed a sigh of relief and rubbed his face in his hand."Why didn't I think of that ."

Matt smiled onto the receiver,but it was wipe away by the sound of gunshots. The phone was left hanging and Matt heard foot steps and screaming and then nothing but silence.

"Shit." he snapped,"Cathy?"

He raced into the hallway and found both Cathy Mr Hopper looking shook up.

"What's happened?" he asked.

"The Haversons,"Hopper said,"They,they killed themselves. It looks like an overdose."

Matt wanted to feel bad but he was too worried.

"Take Cathy and pack the camping gear. Grab your stuff and get to the roof. I'm going to have to risk taking a car."

"Why?"

"Something's happened at George's place. I'm heading their now. You need to go with Grazer and Dbobs. There are lights showing you the planks leading to the other buildings."

"What if someone's hurt?"Cathy asked,worry in her voice.

"Then I need to know that your safe." He told her,and then kissed her cheek."Mr Hopper,do I hear you volunteering your car or do I need to use my police authority to commandeer it."

Mr Hopper handed over his keys and Matt went back to he roof to tell Grazer his plan.

"Don't be stupid. The risk is-" his friend said as he made sure the planks were secure.

"I'm not asking for permission."

X X X X X

Quickly ascending the stairs George raced to the front bedrooms and found the window glass shattered, Albert sitting daze with a bad gash on his forehead and Aggie was leaning over his wife with her hand firmly pressed over her chest,trying to stem the flow of blood.

Out side someone was screaming and his son was came in with Marilyn clutching the bathroom first aid kit.

"Someone outside started shooting when they were attacked."Marilyn said,and began unpacking the bandages as George knelt beside his stricken wife.

He spoke rapidly too her in their language and then looked up."Take your sister's and Jill into he back rooms. Take Albert to."

Buck didn't argue. When they were gone Aggie moved swiftly with Georges help him put a pressure bandage on the wound but Susan's blood was still seeping though. Marilyn helped to elevate her a searched though the first aid kit for anything useful. The thing was designed for household accidents,not gunshot wounds.

"George?" Susan asked,her voice perfectly calm and stable. She smiled up at her husbands,"Don't look so glum. I'm fine. I'm really fine."

"Of course you are." he said and stroked her forehead. "Now lie still. Matt is on his way. He know a safe way out of town. We can get help once we're out of the city."

Susan reached up and he took her had,holding it tightly.

"Matt will always look after you.He's your friend." she said and smiled like this was the finest moment of her life."You stick with him Stangya. He will keep you safe for as long as he can."

"Susan. Susan just rest. Just rest and you will b fine." he pressed his hand to her wound and helped to apply pressure. Over them Aggie and Marilyn exchanged glances a the meaning was clearing. Susan was losing to much blood.

Outside her accidental killer lay in pieces. the monsters feeding on him having all the time in the world to eat as he would not re animate. the body would have been cleaned of flesh and he brain damaged enough that re animation wood be impossible. He had not died alone. Susan Francisco lay dying as her blood poured away from a single,well placed bullet wound. Even with the best medical team in the world her chances would have been slim. In their current situation there was no way for her to survive.

X X X X X

As Mathew Sikes sped his way towards them Susan Francisco breathed her last breath and her husband wept.

The new deadline for evacuation was eleven the following day,though if it would go ahead was another story. The base from where the payload would be delivered had been partially over run and its remaining soldiers doing all they could to hold ground.

But it was clear to everyone that the city couldn't be saved.

Los Angeles was lost.

X X X X X

Cathy descended into the tunnels with the baby strapped to Her back and her staff in her hand. Hopper was carrying the camping pack and Dobbs and Grazer had split what was left between them.

They spoke together as quietly as possible,knowing that Cathy could probably hear them but they still kept quiet.

"You think that someone has been hurt."Dobbs asked.

"Dobbs,I think that someone might be dead. I'm praying that I'm wrong,but I don't think I am."

"The last person who should lose someone is George."

"No one deserves to."Grazer said and stared hard ahead of them,"When this is over I am going to make sure there isn't a single member of the Purists who are left unpunished." Nodding along to his boss Dobbs agreed completely. Excepting the New Comers had always been hard,but they'd managed. They were friends now. They were part of there lives. And some bastard had tried to wipe out there friends. Had tried to wipe out an entire race. Instead it had backfired so spectacularly they may have destroyed there own kind as well.

They walked in silence from then on,and the journey seemed to take far longer. But they couldn't think of anything to say. What did you talk about when the world above was falling apart.

They had been walking for an hour when they heard something. Speeding there pace they soon found a radio attached to a pipe."

"Someone must have left it for who ever was moving down here." Cathy smiled and thanked whoever had done it. They went quiet and listened.

"-we ask once again that people avoid all major highways. The police and military have the back roads flowing steadily and they ask that you follow the markers. The evacuation has to be finished by by Ten am tomorrow. Once you he left the city please do not return. Evacuation centres have been set up and you will be directed to them once you the past the check points. We ask once again that-"

"Their repeating the same message."

"Probably evacuated the station. That recording is probably only giving us the basics."Grazer said. Then he realised exactly what he'd just heard. "They must have bought forward the dead line to deal with how fast this thing as been spreading"

"And that means we need to hoof it."Dobbs snapped and stared heading off,his mind only on his family.

X X X X X

Matt got out to the Francisco residents in record time and was out the door in a heartbeat,gun drawn and he pounded the door hard. A women didn't know answered the door and ushered him inside. She was covered in bright pink blood and the look on her face told him that someone was dead.

"Who?" he asked.

"Susan."

His blood ran cold and he looked up the stairs,then slowly began to climb them. Time seemed to slow down as did and he wanted to go back down,wait for George to come to him,but he needed to see. As he got closer to the room he saw the chick who was Buck's teacher standing with the young New Comer sobbing into her shoulder. Albert held Emily to him,and obviously Vessna had been put to bed or was quiet in her crib. Albert saw him and tilted his head to Emily's room.

George held his wife and stared down at her face. She had died with her eyes half closed,making her look like she was just daydreaming. Only daydreamers didn't have that dry,sightless look to there eyes. They looked alive.

Susan wasn't.

His throat felt thick and tears pricked his eyes as he looked at George. He was lost,so lost. He held his wife and stroked her head, whispering in Tectonese as he did so. He saw Matt and went to speak,but he couldn't find the words.

Instead he knelt beside him. Put a hand on his shoulder. A hand slid over his and tacky,drying blood touched his skin.

"It,it was a blind bullet. The man who shot wasn't even aiming. He was firing at those things. They killed him,and he killed Susan."George said,his voice completely calm. He looked back down at his wife,"He probably never meant to hurt anyone."

Matt blinked away the tears and squeezed his partners shoulder."We need to be ready to leave. They've bought forward the evacuation plans."

"We can't bring her. We'll have to leave her here." George said. He sounded so calm,but there was an edge to his voice. An edge that said he was barely keeping it together.

"We'll lock up the house and when this is over we can come back. We can come back and do this properly." Matt said. He reached carefully down and gently closed Susan's eyes,holding his hand there to make sure they didn't slide back open."We need to get you and your kids safe."

"How will we go on?"George asked as his shoulders began to shake."What will I-"

"We will deal with that later. Right now you will hold it together and you will help me get your family out of here." He said,hating how harsh his voice sounded but having no choice but to say it."Let your kids say goodbye to there mother,and help me spread the supplies between the cars. It will give us more space."

"Where are we going?"

"Grazer has a place we can stay. We'll go here,but we have to move. We still have to get to Dobbs's family."

George nodded and carefully lifted his wife a carried her to the bed,laying her down gently and smoothing put her cloths.

In the hallway Marilyn was holding Buck to here,soothing his hurt. Emily had gone quiet in Albert's arms. Jill was with Vessna,distracting the infant as she tried to keep her own tears in check. She knew how Emily felt,knew it keenly and wanted nothing more than to sink into her friends arms and wallow in her pain of losing parent. Of losing something so apart of your life you don't know how you'll go on.

But she had to watch the baby. And she wanted to. Vessna was a tiny little thing. Someone a to look after her whilst everyone else was distracted.

X X X X X

Outside several planes past by,sent to see how far the bacteria had managed to spread. The first six pictures told them everything. the centre of Los Angeles was lost. There were hundreds trapped and no way of getting them out so the decision was made to charter more places to fly over with a chemical payload. Everything beneath,weather in doors or out,would die quickly and painlessly before the flames ate them.

The other outbreaks were getting worse. Mainland Europe was officially infested with the bacteria. Some offered up the idea of nuking the cities effected,clean sweeping the areas affected.

But the risk was too high. To much could go wrong. So they went in with troops and evacuation plans ad finally fire. It wouldn't work. Too many infect people,both New Comer and human,were escaping bacteria pulsing though their veins. And as it spread so did the blame. The leaders of the purists were arrested and the minor members hiding from those who knew of their allegiances.

The planes above Los Angeles returned to their new airstrip and the orders were given to ready the jets.

Chapter Text

It was so dark on the streets, the street lamps having failed just half an hour before. The moon wasn't full, but it was enough for the humans to see by. Cathy had handed the baby to Grazer, whilst she took point. It was the safest way to travel to George's home once they left the tunnels. They had been grateful for the emergency lighting down in those tunnels. Without it they would have been lost,trapped roaming those tunnels for who knew how long. But now they were out and the streets were...quiet. Every now and then there was a scream, or gunfire but beyond that there was nothing. Cathy was finding it hard to pick out noise at all.

As they went it became obvious that something...not alive was on the streets. Abandoned vehicles sat empty and there was more than one pile of cloths or random lumps lying in the shadows. Over head they could hear plane engines but they couldn't see them. They couldn't see the planes pilots praying and fighting with their conscious as they released their payloads of over the centre of Los Angeles.

The death toll was huge. Thousands of people trapped slowly quickly succumbed to the poison in the air. Some were saved the horrific death that faced them at the hands of the dead. Others were simply hiding and even more tragic, some were so close to escape they could taste it. In the end it didn't matter. Once the payload was released no one was safe, and nothing survived save those already dead.

Cathy didn't know this. What she did know was that something was following them across a garden and she signaled for the men with her to stop. Retracing her steps slowly she waited until their unwanted traveler revealed itself. It had been a women in her thirties. Now it was a lumbering thing that limped badly as it walked on its stump of a leg. With one hard swing she crushed its head against the wall of the house they were near and its skull was half crushed. With a Squelch she pulled her weapon free and went back to the front of the group.

From the looks of it they were minutes from the Francisco home. There was a body at the end of the street and she could see dozens of shadows moving in the houses. Some moved swiftly and with care. In others they were shambling slowly. A couple even bumped against the window, trying to get though to what they saw outside.

The Francisco house was quiet and she could see Mr Hopper's car outside, half filled with stuff Matt hadn't had when he'd left.

"Quietly. I don't want to end up on the menu." Grazer said as he pulled baby Anna closer. She grizzled slightly but stayed quiet.

They darted across the road, only spotted a by guy sitting in his attic with his dying daughter. He would leave as soon as he'd... dealt with her. He would follow the rest of his family to his mother in laws place.

He remained, whilst Cathy knocked on the door and was shocked by the speed with which it was opened. Ushered into the safety of the darkened living room she saw the curtains were drawn and two candles lit the room. Several people she didn't know were sitting and waiting, and Albert was on the edge of the couch with a crying Vesna, who he was desperately trying to keep quiet.

"Do the phones still work, I have to call my family." Dobbs said.

"Not since the power went out."Marilyn said as she stroked Jill's hair. She'd fallen asleep the moment she'd given Anna to Albert. Her Mother was sitting near the window, staring out though the crack in the curtains."I take it your Detective Sikes's friends?"

"Yeah. Where is he."

Marilyn moved so she could pull them aside."There was an accident and, Mrs Francisco was hurt. Badly." looking up the stairs the teacher swallowed,"She didn't make it."

Cathy felt her hearts stop, as Dobbs swore and Grazer bit his lip. He pulled Anna a little tighter to him and he was about to speak when Aggie spoke. "I have to get our things. I'm not leaving without my things."she said and made her way to the door. Before anyone could stop her, and before Dobbs could grab her arm, she was out the door and out into the dark. Marilyn swore and turned to the men.

"Could one of you go and grab her. She isn't in her right mind." she asked, but the sound of a scream hit the air and Dobbs was out the house in a heart beat, and once Grazer handed over Anna he followed. They found Aggie struggling beneath what had once been a New Comer, and they dragged it away from her before racing back to the house. They slammed the door and doused the candle in hopes of making sure the thing did follow. Cathy went to the window and lifted it it ever so slightly to see out. The thing hadn't followed, but it was moving around like it was looking for something.She backed away whilst Aggie was ushered up stairs.

She could smell the copper of human blood, and Albert followed her. This wasn't good.

She was right. Once upstairs they were able to get a light in the back rooms on. And they saw Aggie's left arm. And its perfectly imprinted teeth marks. New Comer, Male. Approximately twenty to thirty earth years old.Cathy catalogued it away, but she had no real use for the information.

"What the hell happened?"

Turning to the door Cathy was relieved to see Matt, and she went to him. He hugged her before pulling back and asking again,"What happened?" He spotted Aggie and swore under his breath."What the hell happened?"

"She wanted to get her things then rushed out of the house." Grazer explained."We shoved the damn thing off her but..."

It was too late. Aggie stared down at the bite wound and tilted her head. She understood what it meant. Her mind was in pieces, refusing to co-operate with her rational mind. It shut down and left only the simple, the easily understandable. She was hurt. She had been hurt by a-

Oh, oh that wasn't good. That wasn't good at all. Aggie knew what this meant. Knew what it had meant for her husband and knew what it now meant for her. But she also knew what she had to do.

Matt was talking with the female new comer,whilst the black man was carefully looking at her arm. She saw the panic and fear in his eyes. She looked at the blood currently dripping down her arm and noticed that the wound was already drying up and that she could feel a sharp, tingling sensation around the wound. Sort of like pins and needles.

She looked up at the man examining her arm and saw the holster. Yes,that would do. That would do nicely.

X X X X X

Dobbs yelled and tried to grab his gun back, but as he struggled with the women she rammed her foot into his crotch. Grazer dived for it but was too late. The gun went off and the bang created made them all wince. So close to the head, the bullet went straight though and embedded itself in the ceiling. Aggie had shot herself in the head, George was now in the doorway and Buck took one look before turning away to regurgitate noisily. George stood there for a moment before he touched Matt's arm and tilted his head to say he needed to speak with him now. His friend followed.

"Don't tell the daughter. Get down stair and see if you can't get her out the house. I'll take...the body to the spare bedroom."he said, voice curiously flat.

"Out the house?"

"She'll need things from her own home, pictures and cloths. And they might have useful things."he added. Then he looked back at his own room, where his wife lay. Matt saw Emily at the top of the stairs,

Matt knew he was right.They needed to get out and they couldn't wait any longer to do so. He heard someone coming up the stares and moved to intercept. It wasn't Jill,it was Albert. His eyes told Matt he knew someone else was dead. Matt took hold of his shoulder and guided him downstairs.

"I need you to come with me,we're taking the girl and going to grab here things. "

"Is that safe?"

"No idea. We go in five,keep the girl between us." he looked down at the confused girl's face as she looked towards the loud noise.

"We tell her once we're out the of danger." Matt huffed and shook his head. "When we're driving away from here anyway."

Five minutes later they were heading across the street,Albert holding the bat and Matt wielding the crow bar. They ushered her into the house and round it empty but near the back door there was a smear if blood in the wall from where Jill's father must have left it. She went to the hall closet and pulled out a suitcase.

"Will this do?"she asked.

"Yeah.You pack your stuff." Matt said."We'll...stand guard. Hey, your mom will want your photo albums,can you tell me-"

"Mom keeps them in the draws on the coffee table." Jill said as she raced off to her room. Matt retrieved the three albums and put them in rucksack he manage to find whilst Albert closed the curtain.

He was about to ask if Matt had any news of the other officers when the sky lit up and the room was illuminated. Matt threw caution to the wind for a moment and they watched in awe as flames danced into the air.

The centre of Los Angeles was on fire. The planes that had done it were now rushing back to their bases before they were sealed off from the outside world.

Matt stared and felt his mind freeze up. His home was gone. Everything he owned,bare those few boxes and bags,was gone. He precinct was gone,the diners he went to and the streets he walked,now being eaten up by flames.

Los Angeles was lost.

X X X X X

Cathy watched as the flames climbed into the sky and fear settled in. They had no time left.She watched as two planes raced past overhead, illuminated by the miles wide fire. Quietly groaning, the dead outside began to walk towards the heat source. Most headed towards the flames and destruction,whilst others were to far away to see it.

Cathy turned to look at George,who stared out the window at the devastation. And knew it would spread. Passing his daughter he came up to the window and watched as half a dozen of those things trailing by to reach whatever prey they thought was waiting for them.

"Okay,get everyone into the cars. We're leaving now. We'll pick up Matt and Albert on the way then go find Dobbs's family."he ordered. H said nothing else as he went back up stairs. He was very quiet,and very blank. It wasn't unusual in survival situations. He was trying to cope as best he could.

X X X X X

George stared down at his wife and wondered how he was going to do this. How was he going to keep his family together and to-

He was lost,so he shut down these thoughts and concentrate on on thing at a time. He needed to get everyone in the cars. Once he made saw the bedroom door was closed and to make sure he had not left anything. He hadn't. He knew he hadn't. But he needed to see her one last time. His Mate,His partner,his love.

Gone. Dead. He touched her cold temple before he left,shutting the door behind him and looked it. When he past the room holding Aggie he pulled the door shut but didn't bother locking it. He hadn't like the women,and he had at least covered her. He also didn't like the fact she had given up. No trying to get help,no waiting to explain to her daughter,she just grabbed the gun and ended it.

And now her daughter was his responsibility as his own was. So he left the two bodies and want to take sure everyone had taken their places. Mr Hoppers car had been filled so could now only seat two people. George and Matt would drive it whilst the to family cars would take everyone else. Jill would be told he mum was in the other car.

Emily was still in shock,Buck was barely functioning and Vesna was very quiet as she lay dozing with the human infant. They lay toe to head in the large bassinet and were between Emily and Buck. Marilyn was driving them,Grazer in the passenger seat.

Dobbs would take Albert and Jill and lead the way to his home. Which was going to take a rather long time considering they would have to stop every time a group of those things the to pass them by. To keep moving would invite trouble.

X X X X X

Zepeda was sitting in the tent she'd been put in with her family and desperately tried to make sense of what she had seen. So far she'd watched dozens of people yanked out of inspection lines and forced towards the blue medical tents. So far no one who had gone into them had come out again. Those with normal injuries with no bite marks were taken to clean green tents. Zapeda had been told she would soon be recruited to help keep the peace within the camp.

So far she'd seen dozens of soldiers being ordered out of the camp to help contain smaller outbreaks surrounding the area,trying to keep the dead out of the camps. Considering how many soldiers were being pulled out it was safe to say that they weren't having much luck. So now she was being pretty much drafted to fill the gaps in the security forces ranks.. It was more than a little worrying.

She watched as her mother and aunt slept,her dad in a crappy little chair beside them.

"You shouldn't have told them you were a cop. I don't want you putting yourself in danger."he said,eyes never leaving her mother."I don't want to lose you."

"Don't worry dad. I'll be dealing with the inner sections. I won't be going anywhere near the fences or any of those..."she didn't say the word because he knew it wouldn't go down well. Half of her family was still in denile over what was happening,and the other half was fighting over with religious implications.Was this gods punishment,was it divine intervention,or was it completely evetelate?

She didn't know and frankly she didn't care. She just wanted to make sure her family was safe. She was about to go find the Sargent who had spoken to her when the tent flap opened and a very young and very confused uniformed officer.

"Ur, your Detective Zapeda right?"he asked. She nodded and he motioned for her to step outside. When she followed she got a bad feeling in her gut.

"What's wrong."

"The soldiers are gone."he said, allowing the panic to fill his eyes.

"What do you mean their gone."

"I mean the last of them left half an hour ago with all of the weapons and supplies. From what I can gather we've only got what we have on us left and that's not a lot."he explained, and looked over his shoulder,"I, I think they left us to those things."

Zapeda shook her head, not believing it."No. They'll be sending reinforcements, they have to be. There's nearly half a million people here. They can't just abandon us."

"Well they have. And now there are whispers that they've spotted dead things heading our way." The officer said and licked his lips."I figured I should spread the word to the officers, see if anyone has a plan. Because once the general population realized what's happened, there will be panic."

Zapeda knew the guy was right. He looked around and said."I'm going back to my girlfriend to get our things together. If someone can up with a plan I'm in tent 2578. I'll be there until-"He sighed heavily,"Until the crap hits the fan."

He left then, and Zepeda was hit with the incredible realisation that they were on their own. No reinforcements were coming and there would be no last minute rescue. They had half a million people and maybe 500-100 people qualified to defend them. Zapeda herself only had to more clips of ammo for her gun, nothing else. Her brother had a tiny thing that he'd bought after being mugged for the third time in two months and a that was a revolver. It had maybe twelve bullets.

They could barely defend themselves, let alone other people. Zapeda let a plan solidify in her mind and shoved all of the guilt and anger away before returning to the tent.

"Wake them up and gather our stuff. Be discrete. I'm going to find Raphael and the others."

"Whats wrong? What has happened?"her father asked.

"Don't ask questions,just move. We need to be gone in the next hour."

"Its pitch black out there."

"Then we'll go carefully, now move."She snapped, refusing to let his hurt look affect her. She had to deal with getting out of the camp.

Chapter Text

Matt guarded Albert and Jill as they entered the car and swiftly made his way to the same car as George. He sat behind the wheel and looked over at the house he'd just left. He was dead inside. He couldn't feel anything. Matt joined him and they Followed Dobb's car, Or Cathy's or Hoppers or whoever was now in front of them.

"The fire will spread won't it."

"Yes."

Matt looked at the rear view mirror and felt a lump rise to his throat. "There's no going back."

George nodded. He kept his eyes ahead. "We'll need to stop if we spot anything. They'll start heading towards the fire soon. The seem to be attracted to the heat and light."

Matt didn't know what to feel. This was his home,and pretty soon there would be nothing left. Pressing himself against the seat and shook his head.

"Are you as scared as me?"

"I'm nothing Matt. I don't think I'll ever feel anything again." George stared out the window and the car in front of them came to a halt. The lights went out and George copied as did the car bringing up the rear. The idea of what should go where obviously wasn't working.

They sat in the dark and Matt whispered."You can't close yourself off. If you do then you won't be able to to keep your head."

"If I feel I'll fall a part." George admitted,the tiniest tremble in his voice. Outside the shadows showed as the dead walked along outside. He tried to keep the tremble out of his voice and failed. Now he was alone with his friend he felt like it was okay to be weak. Matt was strong,he was kind and he cared. And George would have to be so strong for so long. He needed to let go.

And he did. He clamped his hand over his mouth and sobbed. He couldn't help it. Matt was next to him,or as close as he could get,and pulled him into a one armed hug an muffling the sounds of crying with his shoulder. Matt felt like crying himself. Susan was someone he had cared for, someone he loved. She was more than a friend, she was family.

The stayed like that for a long while whilst the dead walked by.Eventually they hear a car start up ad George forced himself back to the task at hand. They travelled slowly,stopping often and hiding from the many dead. They heard screaming a gunshots, the roar or of flames. Planes flew over head again and released another volley of flame and thousands of dead were reduced to ash.

Other dead thing caught alight and walked away from the fire. They spread the fire out wards. and ignited other dead things. Once the flames took hold the zombies kept going until their was nothing left of their muscle to animate the body,or until the brain turned into jello and leaked out their ears.

By the time they reached Dobb's place it was after twelve and the street was in pieces. One house was burnt out completely and there were six things wondering about. George was out the car in heartbeat and took out hour with Albert's help. Dobbs took out the other two and disappeared into his house. When he came out he said,"We're taking my car. We got more room."

Matt nodded. "Tell Grazer to take point and we'll all follow."

Dobbs looked over at the house as the garage door lifted. "Melissa is sick. Nothing bad but if we run into the wrong people they might think..."

"We stick to the service roads. They won't be able to guard all the ways out of the city."

"Okay. I'll tell-gah!" Jumping back Dobbs looked down in horror at at the thing that had been dragging itself towards him.

It had been a kid,no more than five or six. Half of him. The other half was gone. It reached out with to small hands and tried to grab at them. Dobbs turned and was sick and Matt fell back into the car. George froze up and couldn't lift his weapon.

"That's Petey. He's the neighbors kid." Dobbs said and their were tears in his eyes."Jesus Christ how can this be happening?"

He looked down and unholstered his gun. "Get ready to go. We leave as soon as I do this."

Matt nodded and got into the drivers seat. George needed a break. To be honest,so did he.

* * * * *

Zapeda didn't have to wait long for a way out. Apparently the civilians weren't as clueless as most as the cops took them for. They'd found a way out and were quickly doing just that. So Zapeda took her family to the opposite side of the camp and got out of the camp that way. Her mother was praying as she walked and her father looked grim, but she knew that they would follow her. They weren't happy, but they would do as she said.

Raphael walked beside her and kept looking back."Carlos is dead." She stopped and looked at him He stared at his feet and then glanced up."Its why I didn't wait at the camp. Why I came to you so quickly. He, he was bitten. I left him locked in the bathroom after he, he-"

A choked sob left him and she hugged him."Why didn't you say anything?"

"I knew it might slow us down, but if I don't tell someone I'll just go crazy." He pulled back from the hug and they kept walking. "He came home and I tried to help I really did. But we both knew what it was. He told me to go, but I wouldn't leave until he was dead."

"Did you lock down the apartment."

"Closed all the locks and left anything I could take in the corridor. I even wrote on the door to tell people not to enter. The super will be pissed but-is that smoke?"

Zapeda looked up and saw that in the night sky was the light of a fire and indeed smoke. She could even smell it. Faint but there. She'd thought they were flood lights or something like that.But it wasn't. The colour was wrong and the smell of smoke grew stronger. Zapeda moved quickly and as thy climbed the slope she realised that she had no real idea where they were. She had no idea why they were on this hill,only it was blocking her sigh of-

Los Angeles was burning. The flames were miles high and the smoke was blocking out the stars. The road leading out of the city was the northern route and she vaguely remember that they could walk the main trails from easily. But at the for front of her mind was the devastation head of her. And now she was afraid..

She didn't know what direction safety was. She didn't know where they needed to go to get weapons or shelter or food.

Beatrice Zapeda had no idea how to survive.

* * * * *
Grazer could see Albert in the back seat with the young girl. She was looking out the window with a sad look on her face. She caught his gaze in the mirror.

"My mom's dead isn't she. I can't see her in any of the other cars."

Albert meant his eyes and the wrapped his arm around her. She took this as confirmation. She didn't cry but there was a sadness to her face no child should have. He forced his gaze ahead and saw several other cars on the road. People were still finding there way out of the city. And as they travelled he saw the the cars weren't taking the road but driving on the side walk.

As the left the suburbs and hit the industrial areas the roads became wider and dustier and eventually he was able to bypass the blocked roads and Grazer realized he would reach the safe house pretty damn quick if the could speed up soon. He wanted to get to his wife and make sure she was alright.

God, he really wished that this hadn't happened now. Things were tough at home. Things between him and Lucy hadn't been good for a while. He'd been waiting for divorce papers to be honest. Right now it wasn't about his marriage or lover. He was losing a friend and he had lost far to many.

He wondered how many of his men were still alive. How many had gotten out and made it to safety. How many of his superiors were air lifted to safety whilst the cops on the street were out getting killed.God he didn't want to think about this. Instead he concentrated on the road ahead and spotted a group of people on the side of the road about two miles outside the city limits. He thought that were just another group of dead things but as the light past over them and he looked at their faces-

* * * * *

They'd been walking away from the city for an hour, and both her cousin and her father were carrying canisters of gas they'd managed to syphon out of cars. They just had to find a couple that weren't wrecked and they wouldn't have to travel by foot. Every so often a car would go by, or one of those things and they'd have to deal with it.

A whole line of them were about to go past, and she wondered the chance of flagging on down when the lead car stop and a guy got out and shouted at them.

"Zapeda. Beatrice?"

"Grazer?" she asked as he stepped closer and she was able to see his face. She was so happy to see him she closed the distance and hugged him."Thank god. I thought we were alone out here."

"Your said you were going to the camps."

"We had to leave,it wasn't safe there any more." she explained as her family caught up with her. A handful of cousins and her two siblings and parents. Her aunt was still catching up. She was moving slowly. But Zapeda was too happy to see a friendly place.

"Are the guys with you?"she asked

"Yeah."Grazer looked sad and panic hit her.

"Whose hurt."

"George's wife Susan. She was shot,died minutes later. Stray bullet from what I've been told."

"Jesus I'm sorry." she looked over at the stalling cars."Do you have room or have you seen any cars we can use?"

"How many people do you have?"

"There are about eight of us."

"I can fit two people in my car. I'll stop the others and see if they can fit you."

After what seemed like an hour of hugging, introductions and one break to deal with a New Comer undead they managed to get everyone into a vehicle. It was a tight squeeze though and both infants had to be held separately to make it work On the Plus side it meant that Grazer could get some shut eye after he'd given the directions to Raphael with instruction to wake him when they got to the main gate.

* * * * *

Albert cradled Vesna and Anna him against and tried not to squirm to much. It was hard when he was shoved up against the door but he'd endured worst discomfort. And Stares. Right now Raphael was staring at his head and trying hard not to be obvious about it. He winced and a female voice said from the other side of the car,"Stop staring at him."

"It is alright. I do not mind."Albert assured.

"But I do. And he was raised better than to stare at others."she leaned forward and he saw it was Zapeda's mother Siena. She smiled and said,"Forgive Raphael , he can be...forgetful of his manors."

Albert smiled and adjust Vesna. "How is Anna?"

"She's fine. Is she-"she nodded to Grazer, who was sleeping in the front passenger seat.

"Oh,he's not her father.Her parents were friends of Cathy's. They didn't make it."

"That is very sad." looking down at Jill she asked,"Is it the same for her."

Albert just nodded.

"Poor child."she went back to looking out the window. Next to her Jill had fallen into an exhausted asleep and Raphael was now looking at Vesna with confusion.

"Is it a boy or a girl."

"Vesna is a girl"

"She's cute. My boss just had a kid. Hasn't stopped crying yet I think."

Albert smiled slightly and readjusted the baby. As they drove the smile quickly went away. They past wrecks and obvious attacks. They past bodies and the dead alike. The also past deaths that were obviously man made as well. Shootings for supplies of cars.

As they travelled they slowly left the devestation behind, not knowing that just beyond the bluff death awaited many.

X X X X X

Zapeda had been right to get out when she did. The camp was being over run, those who hadn't gotten out having been caught in the flow of the dead. They fell beneath teeth and hands and the screams were hidden beneath the the sound of the flames. Across the globe cities were beginning to fall. London was gone and Paris was in flames just as Los Angeles was. The Bacteria had spread so far so quickly that there was no longer any stopping it.

They just had to survive it.

Chapter Text

The gates to the property were closed, and off in the distance Bryan could see the outline of either people or monsters pressing against the fence. That could be exceptionally bad for the them if the fence gave way. Raphael looked at the gate.

"Is it safe to go out and open it?"he asked.

"It should be. Get as close to the gate as you can and I'll open it. When we're all through I want you to lock it. I'll take Zap-Beatrice and Dobbs and take care of the things over their before we carry on to the main house. I'll have to get out first and make sure the missus doesn't shoot any of you."

"Got you. Just be careful. I don't want to explain to your wife that you only got as far as the front gate."

Bryan certainly hoped he wouldn't have to as he unlocked his door. When he heard the front of the car touch the gate and he raced from the car to in lock the gate. He opened it and he let each car in before shutting and locking it again. The cars came to a halt and Bryan waited for His men to get out of their vehicles.

"Any reason we're stopping?"Matt asked.

"I want to deal with those before they attract any more or break through the fence."

"Okay. So we have a reason. I take it we can't us guns."

"Not unless you have a silencer." Grazer said. "Gunshot will be heard for miles. I'm thinking your girl friend uses that club of her's and takes them out."

"Right,okay. George,check on your kids whilst me and Cathy deal with the ghouls." Matt said,"Oh,Dobbs,do you want Her to look at your kid when we get to the house?"

"It would take a lot off my wife's mind." Dobbs answered."I got a baseball bat in my car. Let me go and get it."

George had already gone to check on Emily and Buck, whilst Matt went to get Cathy. She was already out the car by the time he reached her. She enveloped him in a hug and he was again reminded of her strength. When she pulled back she gave him a very watery smile.

"I'm glad we made it."

"Me too. But before we go any further Grazer needs us to-"

"I saw them. There weren't to many heading this way bit if the sound of them carries and others hear then they could cause us some big problems."

"So you can help."

"I'll help."she said and turned to grab her weapon. Just point me in the right direction."

The right direction was taken by car,quickly allowing them to dispatch their unwanted guests. Matt was desperate to keep his mind off the fact that these things had once been people. A man in in a business suit wasn't his banker(it was actually an accountant who'd been visiting client). The faceless thing with blonde hair was not the waitress called Terry from that new joint near work,(her name tag read Lucy and she wasn't natural blonde). And Matt certainly did not cave in the skull of his mechanic. (This guy was a black dude in a blue mechanics over all, his car was always serviced by an Hispanic guy who wore white.)

Once done they head towards the house, and Matt had to do a double take.

"That is no house. Its a freaking mansion!" He said as they stopped and Grazer got out of the car and as he called out a name the front door opened and a shape raced out. Since dead things don't run it was pretty easy to tell this was a human. When Grazer turned and waved them over Matt looked down at the dash clock. It read 03:00am, and he guessed the adrenalin was the reason time didn't appeared to be going so slow. He honestly though it was twelve, one at the latest.

But it was three in the morning and he suddenly felt tired as hell. The idea of falling onto any flat surface was a good idea. Once in their rooms George showed his kids where they would sleep. "Dad,we won't be going home,will we." Emily asked.

"No. The fires will have spread to far. An we might not be able to return to the cities for a long time."

"I know."Buck stared at his baby sister and stroked her cheek."How's Albert?"

"As well as any of us." George sat beside his son an wrapped an arm around his son.He let their temples brush for brief moment,"We need to stay close. If we went to live to see normal lives again we need to get through this."

"I know."Buck yawned widely and George squeezed his shoulder.

"Get some rest. You'll need it tomorrow."We'll no doubt need to clear more of those things."

"Don't stay up all night dad."

"I'll try and get a little sleep. Now go to bed."

Buck did. His mothers death had yet to hit him. When it did he would be devastated,an he would need his family.George knew that his family was everything now. It was all he had left,and he would protect it for as long as he could. Once Buck was settled he left the to go and speak with the others.

X X X X X

Cathy assured Dobbs that his daughter just a had a bad case of chicken pox,and that she would be fine in few days. She left them in the pool house and found Mr Grazer waiting for her.

"I can't get through to the switchboard for FEMA. Do you have any contacts that might be able to help us?" Grazer asked after tracking her down.

"Maybe Dr Tremben. He works for several emergency charities. He might be able to give directions to a meeting place or a safe zone.But only if here is anyone left at the office." Cathy said.

"There is a half battery on that. It should be good for another couple of hours. Just give it to Bill when your done and he can put it on charge. Or we can put it on charge now and wait until morning. Which do you think is best?"he asked.

She thought for a moment and answered."I can try for little while. But i'm going to need some rest soon."

"That's fine. We all need it." grazer gave her the phone,"I better go check on Lucy. She needs me."

He went to his wife then,leaving Cathy on the porch to dial her number. It rang six times before skipping to the answer machine. She rang twice more before she gave up and decided to go and get some sleep,stopping to hand off the phone and over hearing a conversation.

"We can't let them stay Bill. The New Comers might be infected. This thing was designed to kill them!"A female voice said. It was most likely Bill's wife.

"You heard Bryan. It only kill if they breathe it in and the dead things have to bite you to hurt you. No one was bitten so no one can hurt us. And their police officers. Trained professionals. Just think of it as having armed guards in the house.And maybe Dick will stop being so argumentative when he see's kids his own age in the house."

"I doubt their going to want to play. According to what Lucy got from the little girl they lost two people on the way here. Both the girls parents and the alien mother."

"Shit. What are we going to do. How do they grieve. What if they need to do some weird ceremony?"

"Its not at all big, and they'll probably do it outside, since they can't go home."Cathy said and the two humans jumped."I'm sorry for interrupting, but I thought I'd better give this back."

"Oh,thank you. I'll just go and put this....Look, we weren't trying to be insulting, its just we haven't had much contact with you kind, no I mean-"The wife stopped talking and just grimaced.

Cathy smiled."Its okay. A lot of people who don't know us find it hard. If they choose to have a service it will be outside or near a fireplace. It won't be anything big. And I think they may wait until things have quieted down, considering how hectic it will be tomorrow."

"Hectic?"Bill asked, "Why would it be hectic?"

"Did Mr Grazer tell you about the Refugee camp."Cathy took a step closer.

"He said it was over run and there could be more dead things around the area." Bill squinted,"Why, was he lying?"

"No but I think we may need to have a discussion. We've been moving so fast and we're all so tired that we might be missing the obvious."Cathy looked about the rooms. "It may be a good idea to turn off some of the lights. They are attracted to them and I have no idea how far their sight range is."

"I'll ask everyone to meet in the living room, Grace, go turn out any lights we don't need. It will probably be safest."As he watched his wife go he turned to the New Comer. She was obviously one of the smarter ones. A doctor, though he wasn't sure if he would let her treat him. The Detective was on t if he remembered rightly, but he was just a detective and Bill knew from experience they weren't always the sharpest tools in the shed. He had no idea what the other one did.

But they were useful today. God knew they would need as much help as they could get. "So, are you used to dealing with humans or do you only treat New Comers?"

"Mostly New comers, but our hospital has been branching out with our treatments."she answered him as they made their way to the living room. "We dealt with 47 around the fences. If any of them have spotted the lights then they'll head in this direction. I don't think the fences will hold against any more than a hundred unless we are constantly getting rid of what comes through."

Bill suddenly felt very cold. He had completely forgotten to think about that. He had promised to sit down and write out a list of what they would have to do until help arrived, but didn't bother to actually do it.

He followed her into the living room and found that their were already people waiting in there.

"Did you get through to anyone?"Bryan asked.

"No. I'll try again in a few hours but I don't think the chances are good."She admitted. "We all need sleep. We should be clear for a few hours. I hope."

"I can take watch for a few hours."George said from his place near the stairs, ready to go in case his children woke up.

"No,its best if we all start fresh and begin a routine tomorrow."Cathy added, and George nodded. The door to the outside opened and Dobb's wife, Lidia, came in.

"Well Donovan is sleeping. He's exhausted."she explained."What are we doing tomorrow?"

"I have an idea."Albert said, and everyone turned to look at him. Matt didn't like the look on his face. It was far to serious. Too...un-Albert."But I don't know if anyone will like it."

"Tell us what it is then we'll decide."Bill asked.

Albert looked down at his hands and then said,"We can't stay here. The fence won't hold."

"How do you know that."Bill asked and sat on the arm of the chair.

"When we were driving the car I was in ended up at the back of the caravan. And I saw them."

Matt suddenly got why the fence wouldn't hold."You saw zombies."

"A lot of them."

"How may is a lot?"Bryan leaned forward on his knees. "How many?"

"From what I saw at least 100. They are several hours away, but unless something draws their attention they will keep heading in this direction."

"And you didn't tell us sooner because..."

"We need sleep, and humans gave a tendency to make rash decisions in these situations." Albert said,"But my idea may seem the same."

"So what is it?"

"Two weeks ago the goverment took the mass transport vessel from the ship. It was a Long Drop vessel."Albert said.

"Whats a Long drop vessel?"Matt asked.

"It was designed to take large numbers of slaves down to the surface of a planet and act as housing. It would have everything we would need including-"

"The Heat shields, of course."George said, as though it was an obvious decision. "But I don't wish to return to that place. Its safe, maybe the safest but.."

"You don't want to return because it has bad memories. I get it."Lidia said,"But the ship can't get out of the atmosphere, it has no way of contacting who ever the hell owned you and you said its perfect."

Cathy looked worried, a range of emotions flitting across her face, but worry staying and setting up camp. The idea of going back to the ship was terrifying, but they had no choice. Albert was right. If they could get the shields working then any undead that tried to pass though would be vaporized. The red tint and heat would provide a warning for people not the touch it. The shields would be perfect. It was over two hundred miles away, but if they started out the next day they could be there in a week.

"How fast could we travel?"She asked.

"Safely by car?"Matt asked, "Urm, may by forty miles an hour. But we would hit bad traffic and some pretty nasty terrain."

"Hang on."Bill said, "Where the hell is this ship? And who says all of us will go. Some of us are happy where we are."

"Bill, I have seen what there tech can do. If this thing can really protect us then we should head for it." Brian looked around the room,"But we have a slightly bigger problem to deal with."

"And what's that?"George came closer to the group.

"My car has less than twenty miles worth of gas left. And We don't know when we'll be able to get. Not to mention we won't be the only ones who have this idea. How many others do you think will try and stake their claim to the ship first? If the Military have it then they might just decide to seal themselves off."

"Doubtful. They have been quarantining the ship because they thought there was a fuel leak. Luckily it was a false alarm, but they haven't cleared the sight for re entry. Its been all over the news."Lucy said, shocking everyone else in the room."What. I do pay attention to these things. Beside, Cory Light from my department has a brother who works there."

"So you know it won't have been taken over."Bryan asked his wife.

"The chances are slim. Its up in the mountains." she took Bryan's hands."I'm going."

"Well that's one vote. Any more?"Matt asked.

X X X X X

George couldn't sleep. He was wandering the upstairs balcony, door shut to keep the warmth in. He didn't want to rest. If he slept he knew that when morning came he would believe this whole mess was a dream and believe Susan would be beside him. The heart break of realizing she wasn't was going to hurt, and he couldn't take any more. He needed to rest,but he couldn't bring himself to.

Hearing the door open he saw Matt, looking exhausted but determined."Hey. Its time for some shut eye."

"I'm not-"

"Nope."

"Mathew I know you mean-"

"Zip it Spotty. Now come inside and sleep."

"I really don't_"

"I will carry you if I have to."

"If I sleep I won't want to wake up."

This stopped Mathew. He knew what George meant. He knew he didn't want to face the next day alone. Without his wife.

"George."Sitting his friend down on one of the chairs. He put himself on the other,"You know your not alone, Don't you. When you wake up tomorrow this is still going to be a shitty situation, but its one we can get through. And you know damn well Susan wouldn't want you falling apart."

"Susan isn't here. She doesn't care about anything any more."it came out sounding harsh and cold.

"What if you were still on the ship?"Matt asked."What if you'd never come here and you'd lost her on board. In an accident or because an Overseer decided to give her a dangerous job or thought she looked at him funny?"

"Then I wold have no choice but to continue. I'd have to look out for Emily and Buck when I could. And deal with the inevitable re pairing process."

"You have to do the exact same thing here. You need to look after your kids. You need to carry on."Matt stopped for moment,"Don't worry about the re pairing part. No one is going to force a new wife on you. We both know that the next few months are going to be tough. God knows if anything will ever get back to normal but right now we need to take it one step at a time. And the next step is to get some rest because tomorrow won't be easy."

"Step by step. Just take it step by step."George said,ad seed to think on it or a little while.Then he yawned widely and looked down at his knees. "I need to sleep."

"Albert is sharing the room with the kids. You can bunk with me. Lets get in before we see the sun rise." Matt said,and led his friend inside.

Chapter Text

Quiet. Most of the house was quiet. Wondering around the lower rooms Lucy tried not to think of what her husband had been through. Not her or her brothers family could ever hope to-no. Everyone was going to know what it was like soon. Bryan had said they were leaving the next day and the minute they left the relative safety of this house would be the end of normality. Right now was probably the safest she would be for a very long time.

Very few would have real safety for a very long time. The world had been turn on it head and Lucy didn't know how she was going to cope.

"You should probably be sleeping."

Lucy jumped and turned, and she saw one of the new comers. Unless she was the mistaken it was the son.

"Kid you gave me a scare."she said and he looked sheepish.

"I'm sorry. I was wondering if you had a microwave. I have to feed Anna."

"Just follow me. Only try and make some noise so you don't frighten anyone else. Pretty sure my brother is down here somewhere." she explained as she led...Buck? Down the hall.

"Thanks. And again,sorry. Didn't mean to frighten you."he followed her,cradling the child carefully.I'm trying not to make to much noise. I've no idea how far those things can hear." he explained as they entered the kitchen. It was large and spacious,but sadly a little sterile feeling. It was a kitchen that didn't get that much use. Buck didn't like it much. To be perfectly honest neither did Lucy,but her sister in law always said how wonderful it was to have such a large and usable kitchen. Lucy just found it confusing.

"Here,give me the bottle and I'll warm it."she said. Buck handed it over and she placed it in the microwave."Two minute?"

"On the low liquid level."

They fell into an awkward silence. The baby almost crying but Buck rocked her gently.

"Your very good with her." Lucy said."Bryan said she came with Detective Sykes and Dr Frankel. I take it she's adopted?"

Buck looked down at the baby."Her parents lived in Cathy's apartment building. They didn't make it and Cathy wouldn't leave her."

"Oh. Oh my god."Lucy had heard stories on tv before it stopped. Saw the footage. She'd listened on the radio for any station still on the air. (The last station playing anywhere near Los Angeles was a small station that played christian,gospel and uplifting radio plays. It now housed three frightened presenters and a producer locked out the front with most of his right arm missing) But when no information came through for an hour she turned it off. She didn't need to hear more of what she already knew.

"What are you going to do with her."she asked.

"Guess we look after her until we can find her family. But I doubt that's going to happen. This thing is every where by now."

Lucy didn't want to believe that. Instead she turned to the microwave and opened it with three seconds left on the clock. She didn't want to wake anyone with its beeping. The bottle felt warm but not overly so. She gave it a check test by splashing it off his wrist.

"That should be fine."

He took the bottle thanks."Thank you." Anna took the bottle quickly, and Buck watched her as she ate. He had no real idea how to deal with a human baby, so he was going by the most basic care standards. Feed, change, comfort and sleep. It was simple and the best he could provide, but he knew that at some point she was going to want her actual mother, and that just wasn't possible. Her mother was dead. And until they found another human family willing to take her in then little Anna was their responsibility.

"We'll probably set off from here this afternoon."Lucy said as her eyes watched the baby.

"I'm hoping we stay at least a day. We need to rest To try and come to terms with-"

"Why aren't you with your family?" Bill asked as he entered the kitchen.

"The baby was hungry."Lucy and Buck said at the same time, making Bill raise his eyebrows.

"I thought new comers couldn't eat cooked-"

"Oh no its the human child."Lucy said. Buck smiled and took the child back to the room he was sharing.

He found the house far to big. Far to...cold. He found himself going past the stairs and going to the living room. He sat on the couch looking out over the dark desert. It wasn't hard for him to see. The earth had some decent light at night. Some planet had atmosphere so thick even sunlight can't get through. Earth was a lot better. He knew that humans had no idea how good they had it. Only now they did. This disaster would shift their way of thinking in a way that would change everything. Maybe for the better. Maybe for the worst. He wasn't exactly humanities greatest fan but he had only sorrow for them now. The Techtonese had no planet because they were stolen from it. These humans were having it taken by a virus.

A virus that was currently depopulating this entire planet at an alarming rate.

X X X X X

Most or the dead that had come from the camp were following what was left of the survivors. The Military was holding its own in a lot of states but some were completely over run. In movies it took weeks for zombies to take over. At the rate they were going it would a week instead of weeks. People traveled by car and plane and boat. They also died in cars and on planes and on boats. A private jet crashed in the middle of Nebraska and the town was gone in twenty four hours. Either to the dead or having fled it was devoid of human life. Three of the surrounding towns had the beginning of infection. They were emptying faster than the authorities could quarantine.

In Ireland they were fairing rather well,ceiling off the island and fire bombing anywhere that showed even the tiniest sign of infection. So far it had only lost a tiny portion of its people.

In American half a dozen small towns were isolating themselves. Cutting off everyone outside and destroying anyone getting within a hundred feet.

The only places untouched were several stations in Antarctica and the Arctic. At those locations they waited for news and planned for the worst.

X X X X X

Matt fell asleep and didn't dream, and for that he was grateful. He didn't need to see anything so awful asleep. Matt had seen enough whilst he was awake. Beside him George slept fitfully.

His friend cried softly in his sleep and tried to wake up but couldn't. He was trapped in frightful memories as his Susan did not lie still. Where she came at him with vicious teeth and sharp nails. His loving wife gone and replaced with something truly horrifying.

He jolted and twitched enough to make Matt stir and he woke to see his friend caught in the nightmare.

"George?"he asked quietly. "Come on man. Wake up." He reached out and carefully gripped his partner's arm. "Please buddy. Wake up."

George stiffened and his hand slowly came up to grab Matt's hand. He carefully entwined their fingers. It was an awkward angle but both didn't mind.

"I dreamed she came back."

"A lot of people have those dreams when they lose someone."

"No Matt. She came back as,as one of those."

Matt was quiet a moment. His arm was hurting from the stretch but he didn't want to let go so he moved a few inches closer to his friend. That was easier.

"I don't doubt you did. I'm praying that the sun will come up and there'll have been some miracle in the night. But we both know that isn't going to happen." Matt said. He rubbed his thumb over his friends knuckles. "Your tired and stressed and we both know that the next few days let alone weeks are going to be the same. Right now I'm gong to tell you what I'd tell my daughter when she'd get scared. its just a dream. Its not real. Its scares you but you'll get over it soon."

"Mathew,I don't think I'll ever get over this."

X X X X X

Donovan watched over his girls as they sleepy,only dozing himself. He simply couldn't fall into a proper sleep. Lidia was out cold on the pool bench, covered in a blanket. He didn't think he'd be sleeping for a while. His mind was too full.

He got up and wandered to the window, looking out into the night-well morning sky. It was starting to light out. He knew he would probably crash out at some point. But he knew he would not be able to sleep until the sun came up. The simple fact was the night scared him. So much has happened in so few hours that he was finding it hard to believe any of it was real . He knew it would be no safer when the sun came up, but it would make him feel safer and that was the point . He needed that sense of safety,even if it was your false.

Once the sun was up everything would be easier to see. They would have a clearer picture of what they were up against. He knew they were up against some pretty big odds but at least with the sun in the sky they had a little less to be afraid of. Because that was what Dobbs was really afraid of. Not the night but the darkness that came with it.

And all the things that were hiding in it .

X X X X X

Brian slept like a log . Everything had simply shut off. He simply couldn't stay awake any longer. After all the stress and fear and running he just needed to rest . By the time he woke the sun had fully risen and he could hear movement in the hallway. He rolled onto his side and forced himself into a sitting position.

He felt a pressure at the base of his skull like the start of a head ache. He probably wasn't the only person that felt it. Lack of sleep and high stress situations always lead to these kinds of aches and pains. It simply couldn't be avoided.

He made his way from his room and down the hall way to the nearest rest room . It was a simple room, none of the usual fancy design he was used to in the rest of the house. He guessed it was because these rooms were usually used by family rather than guest. They went to the other side of the house where the rooms,including bathrooms, were slightly fancier.

A part of himself felt a little ridiculous for thinking about overly design bathrooms,but if he didn't think about that he would think about the things outside. And he just needed a few more minutes of obliviousness. He would deal with the outside world in due course. For now he just wanted to pee in peace.

X X X X X

Cathy had taken a room with Marilyn and both slept the moment their heads hit the pillow. Both were exhausted. Cathy slept without dreams,but Marilyn dreamed of her apartment. She dreamed of the journey to Buck's home. It wasn't pleasant. She woke up staring at the wall, not moving. She listened to the sounds of the house and wondered if she would be able to sleep more, but when she tried her body rebelled. It was light out and her body clock was still set to school time.

That was a bad thought. Instantly she began thinking of her other students. Of how many could be dead.How many of the students were still alive? How many were gone, killed by the dead or killed and by the fire. The thought circled in her mind and made her sick with worry.

She fought every thought out of her head and sat up. She couldn't hang around in bed all day.She left Cathy sleeping. Poor woman needed her rest . she entered the hallway just in time to see Brian leave the bathroom he looked tired as though he had not slept. She wondered how many of the group had actually gotten any sleep.

After doing her business and cleaning up she looked into the mirror. She was pale and the bags under her eyes prominent and she had the same clothes for the past 2 days. She wondered if she had the energy to go to the car and dig out something clean. Yes,she thought,she would put on something a little more suitable.

As she made her way down the stairs she passed by Buck, this time holding baby Vesna. Her heart lightened at the sight of him. When their eyes met they both gave a soft smile before moving on. She also passed another teenager . This boy was probably Richard or Dick,as his parent'a called him. He looked a lot like his father. Dark hair,brown eyes and tanned skin. He had gangly limbs and the same almost mole on the side of face as his father. It was back near the hairline and slightly darker than the rest of the skin but not dark enough to be called a beauty spot. He didn't look happy,but then again who did.He was probably around 14 and was currently staring at the tv screen.

There was a grainy image of a news reporter. She didn't recognize him and from what she could gather they were getting this from DC. They were patching the reports through so that everyone could have some kind of idea what was going on.

"Anything new?"she asked.

Dick to looked at her for a split second but then his attention was back on screen.

"Nothing."he said.

At that moment the reporter was gone replaced by footage films on some grainy cctv camera. It was of a large crowd what looked like rioters. Only she knew these people rioting. Dc was flooded with dead.

"Their trapped in the building." Said dick."They have some supplies and have asked for evac but i don't think anyone is going to help them."

Marilyn looked at the screen and saw that the reporter who was now back,and look very tired, scared. There was true panic in his eyes.

"That's awful."she said."Is there no way anyone can get to them."

"They had to abandon several senators." Dick explain."I don't think they're going to try and save a bunch of reporters. Not when they can't keep any politicians safe."

"What Senators?"

"You don't know? They had to leave them On the South side of DC Because they got overwhelmed." Dick leaned back in his chair."Poor suckers."

She left him watching the report to go and find the front door, only to bump into Lidia.

"Morning. I was just heading out to the cars-"Lidia said.

"To get fresh clothing? Me to."

They walked together, and in daylight the area looked good. Until they looked over at the fence and saw the bodies. Both rushed to the cars to grab their things before heading back inside. Neither liked what they had seen. More zombies had arrived in the night and were now pressed up against the fence, trying to press their way through and get to them.

"How is your daughter?"

"Mellisa is fine. Itchy but fine.Mary is too." Lidia said and showed Marilyn into the kitchen. Albert was with Emily and Jill, and Anna was settled into his arms. Her face was red and blotchy and she was grizzling."She isn't hungry, doesn't need changing and she's not hurt. I think she just misses her mother."

Marilyn was about to ask if there was anything she could do when Bill came into the kitchen. That was fresh blood on his shirt.

He went to the sink to wash up under Marilyn asked him,"Did you take care of the ones at the fence."

"Yes. There were nearly 60 of the dumb things." "Albert said he saw a hundred."

"I did. Unless they went elsewhere in the night."

"God I hope so I don't think I could do that again." Bill dried his hands and turn to the room to look over those in his kitchen.

"It's not like you're going to have much of a choice once we leave here."

Everyone in the room turned to look at Jill then. She was finished eating now, and was just looking the kitchen window towards the back fence.

"Jill sweetie it might not be like that. We might get lucky."Marilyn said.

"There's no point in pretending is there. It's dangerous out there now."

No one could say anything. Jill was simply telling the truth.

X X X X X

Somehow they manage to nod off again. Matt woke up to find that George had rolled over at some point, and was very nearly touching him. But Matt couldn't find it in him to care. He simply lay still and wondered if he could get another hour's sleep.

He was about to try and force himself to do so when George made a soft snuffling noise. He looked down at his friend's face and saw that he was frowning.

"George, George buddy wake up."

George didn't wake up,instead he moved closer and pressed his face against Matt's neck. It tickled was just a little too close from Matt comfort. He gently pushed George away but that only made him hold on tighter. So Matt simply shook his head and let himself be cuddled.

Just as he thinks he might need to pee the door opened. It was Cathy. She smiled gently at them and said "I was just coming in to tell you that nearly everyone is up now."

"Thanks Cathy.I'll be down as soon as I've woken George."

"I'll make you a cup of coffee. And don't look so embarrassed your comforting a friend."

"I'm not embarrassed Cathy."

"Of course you're not Matt."

He really wasn't.

Okay,so maybe he was a little embarrassed by this. But he couldn't help. He knew that New Comers could be pretty affectionate when they wanted. And they weren't afraid to show it either. But this was a little different. George was asleep and probably wasn't aware of what he was doing. He was usually pretty reserved by New Comer standards.

He lifted his hand and tapped George on the Shoulder, and very slowly his friend stirred, rubbing his face against Matt's neck.He finally opened his eyes and look at Matt.

"Oh god I'm sorry." George said sleepily as he sat up."I must to the moved in my sleep."

"Its alright. Cathy said everyone is up now. We can check on the kids and see how and see how bad it is outsi-"

"AAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!"

Chapter Text

Dobbs was dead. His throat had been ripped out by the corpse that was now feeding on him. His daughters were huddled against the wall whilst their mother tried to take aim with a gun. But she was shaking too hard to get an accurate hit. Brian took care of it. And then he made sure the Dobbs wouldn't get back up.

"Oh god what happened we heard screaming and... Oh god no." Marilyn said as she looked through the doorway and then turned away. She tried to hold back what she had eaten that morning but failed.

"I want everyone in the main house now. In the living room no excuses." Brian snapped. "Will,your with me. Was searching this place talked about him before we head back in." Will nodded,his eyes not leaving the two bodies in his pool house. He'd seen the reports on TV but to see it in person bloody and real,right there.

X X X X X

No one could speak. No one could think of anything to say they were all to numb. Mary and Melissa were sitting next to the mother crying, and no one really cared about catching chicken pox anymore. It seemed like the least of their troubles.

"We, we can't stay here,not now it's too dangerous." George said as he cradled Vesna in his arms. "I say we leave as soon as we can. We take our supplies even out the number of people in the cars and we just leave."

"And what if you all wrong and the ship isn't there.What if some of your people have just up and left." Bill asked. He was still shaking after spending half an hour searching the pool house for more of those things.

"Its a drop ship. It is not meant to lift off the surface and even if they get it to they won't be able to go far. It simply isn't built for that kind of travel" Cathy said.

"Right now were I can't see any more of those things out that and the ones Albert saw last night must have headed off in a different direction. If we can reach the mountains before tomorrow night we should be able to them off. They can't move on that kind of terrain very well." Mr Hopper said, surprising them all. He hadn't really spoken much since they got there. "I used to come round head to meet with an archaeologist he'd sell me things. It's hard enough for living person to get around those mountains on their own let alone something that doesn't have decent motor functions."

"We don't know that it wasn't just some person who snuck in."Lucy put forward. "Maybe someone hop the fence and they were infected."

"We can't take that risk." Will told his sister. "You're right,we can't stay here but if we reach those mountains in the ship is gone I say we head for the closest military base we can find. Even if its over run we could clear it out. But I am not staying in the mountains."

"I can agree with you there. So we see how much is on site and then we meet in the kitchen. I want a full list of everything we have and everything we don't have. I want to be out of here by midday."

Matt took Vesna from George so he could go and help his son organize the car. Before they left his house they had pretty much stuff everything they could into the back, so they could probably get a lot more in if they moved stuff around.

"How well did he sleep last night?"Cathy asked as she past him to prop the front door open.

"You saw him this morning,he got a little sleep."

"I mean did he have any nightmares? Was he restless." Matt lifted Vesna so she was resting against his shoulder. "Can you blame him. He lost Susan. We all lost Susan,she was a part of our family."

Matt stopped talking so suddenly Cathy had to look up. His eyes told her that he was thinking about his own daughter Kirby. Where she was and if she was okay.

"Have you tried to contact Kirby yet,or has she left a message with you machine or other family?"

And then Matt was crying. He cradled Vesna gently as he sobbed and Cathy led him to the couch where she sat him down and waited until he'd calmed down enough to speak.

"I'm,I'm sorry Cathy but its hard. I keep thinking about Kirby and the fact my dad is still in the hospital. I mean,I know he probably didn't feel anything but the hospitals probably ash now its-its too much."

Matt knew breaking down now was a stupid thing to do but he just had to let it out. For fucks sake Dobbs was dead. He was dead because a freaking zombie had killed him. A zombie. Something out of an eighties B movie had killed not just one of his friend but god only knew how many others.

He sat and cried, their friend giving them both a wide berth until he had calmed down. He then noticed that Vesna had fallen asleep."I'm gonna go put her down for a while."

"No, I'd better take her. She hasn't been oscillated today so I'm going to have to do it manually."Cathy said and took Vesna. Before she moved away Matt leaned in and let their temples touch.

"I'll see you soon Cathy."

She closed her eyes and let herself lean into the touch."Soon Matt."

X X X X X

Albert went outside to find Captain Grazer was digging. he had stripped off his shirt and was wearing just a vest, and he was sweating hard as he worked. He looked different without the suit, smaller. He wondered if he should ask to help, but he realized that Grazer might just try and carry this burden all by himself.So instead he grabbed a shovel and got into the hole with Grazor and started to dig. Grazer didn't say anything and just kept digging. Sweat beaded on his brow and the Sun beat down on both of them. Grazer would probably end up with sunburn but Albert doubted he really cared.

Albert did the majority of the digging and it wasn't long before they were down enough. Enough room for Dobbs to be buried and there were slabs near the shed they could lay over the top of the grave to stop animals from disturbing the freshly dug grave. When they were done they stood on the edge staring down into the hole.

"Its my fault."Grazer said as he looked down. "It was meant to be safe here and instead I brought him to his death."

"Captain it wasn't you-"

"Don't call me captain. Its just Brian now,just Brian."

"Brian it wasn't your fault. You weren't to know what was going to happen.No one knew that thing was in there." Albert laid his hand on Brian's shoulder and then turned towards the pool house."Do you know if they have any sheets we can use to wrap the body before we,before we bury him."

"Lucy bought some out for us a few moments ago,their near the back door. Should we ask Lidia if she wants to help us?"

"I think we should.

"It's only right she should get the chance to be with him for this. Even if it is just for closure."

X X X X X

They buried Dobbs quickly and quietly. Lidia stood at the head of the grave and looked down at her husband wondering how it have come to this. As a cops wife she had always known that was a chance he could die in the line of duty but she had never expected this. So much had changed in so short a period of time, she was finding it hard to believe it was actually happening.

No one said anything. No one had any idea what to say.

X X X X X

They had enough gas to fill all of the cars tanks halfway and that would get some way towards the alien ship. Supplies had been re distributed throughout the cars meaning they had more room now but it was still a tight squeeze.

This time Cathy rode in the car with Matt and George, along with Vesna and Emily. She wanted to give Buck a break from caring for her for a little while. He was sharing a car with his teacher whilst baby Anna was with the Zapeda's family.

They travelled along the road. Occasionally the had to go around a car that was in there way but it didn't happen often. They did pass by one bus, but Cathy wouldn't let herself look at it. It looked like it had crashed on the side of the road, and the windows were bloody,and what you could see in the side were shadows of movement.

She turned her attention instead to the two men in front of her. Both were as afraid as she was,both grieving just as she was.

"We can probably get there within the next three days." George said as he looked at the map in his lap. "If we're careful we might get halfway there with the gas we have. But our biggest problem is-"

"Carrying all supplies,I know George." Matt said he bypassed another abandoned vehicle.

"I say we use the clothing we've got and turn it into temporary sacks. We concentrate on water and easy to eat stuff."George said.

"We do have some camping bags, we should be able to fit most of the water into those as well as some of my medical supplies."Cathy said and then looked down at Vesna."Though there's a good chance that there will be medical supplies there.So we could leave some behind."

"No!" Both men said it so loudly it startled Vesna into crying.

"Sorry, but we can't risk that. Anything could happen out there. We could be walking for up to two weeks if we have to bypass zombies or avoid cities. For Christ sake, we could get injured by something as simple as a Gopher hole."Matt said. He also slowed down and squinted,"George, what they hell am I seeing?"

George and Cathy both looked ahead and fear suddenly enveloped them. I the distance they could see the dead, and there were a lot of them. George got out of the car and Climbed onto the roof, and proceeded to swear profusely. He leaped down to the ground and scrambled back into the car.

"We need to head back towards the house, and onto the dirt roads."

"What did you see?"

"I lost count but I can't see the end of them. Its a swarm of the things."George said.

Matt did, stopping only to tell other cars as he past them. They drove back past the house they had stayed in and continued until the reach un maintained scrub land. The roads were mainly used by campers and the gas they had would't last them halfway, but it would get them a third of the way there, and that was something at least.

They had obviously not been the first people to think of this road, and they past those who had re animated on route. Matt briefly wondered if they should try and take them out, but George pointed out they couldn't stopping and they might need what few bullets they had later. They saw cars and camps, and even spotted someone living, changing a flat. And then they spotted the barn.

It was covered in posters and signs. The largest simple said-'Avoid the Military,they are using us as bait'. Smaller ones could barely be seen but those they could read were all along the lines of 'Billy don't go home,meet at Grandma's' or 'Keep off Fuilers road, its to dangerous.'.The last one Cathy saw said,'Donald Dipps,I'm bit Lu.Don't wait for me.'.

They went on, only stopping when everyone had to pee, and once more when Hopper's car got stuck in a hole in the road.When they finally stopped to rest it was night, and they circled the cars. Not fire was, and they were lucky it was warm. They ate in silence and eventually went to bed.

But not before Cathy went to check on Melissa. She found her and her sister in the back of their car, Jill already curled up and asleep in the front seat. Lidia was staring up at the sky, her eyes slightly glazed.

"He's gone. He's not going to be here to help. He's not going to be here to watch them grow up or to help fold laundry or make dinner. He's never gonna burn his toast in the kitchen or trip over the girls toys."

"Lidia,I...I can't think of anything to say."Cathy said,"Other than Melissa's healing well."

"How long until we reach the ship?"

"Between three and seven days."

"And our chances of actually making it?"

Cathy didn't know how to answer.

Chapter Text

They had circled the cars, creating an area where they could sleep. It was nearing 11 p.m. and Albert was sitting on top Grazer's car. He looked out over the landscape which was mostly flat and covered in grass, watching for any movement that might be. On the car opposite his sat Hopper holding a gun he was staring out the road.

Hopper hadn't seen anything since his shift began and he was grateful. But a tiny part of him was kind of hoping that something would come along the road, hoping they would find of a survival of the people running. But he doubted anyone else would come up this road whilst they were there. Travelling at night was sure to be a problem,the lights of the cars would probably lure the dead towards the survivors. But a man could hope.

He had spent a few hours in the car wondering about his family and friends. Now his mind went to them. He didn't have many friends and he had followed Cathy because she on the police officers seem to know what they were doing. He thought about family, about his mother who was dead nine years and his brother who lived on the other side of the country. They spoke at Christmas and on Birthdays he sent his nieces books. The last thing he had heard about them was that his niece was heading to a new school and he was going to have a nephew within the next few months.

He hoped they were okay. He hoped they was safe and sound. He didn't want to think that they were afraid and hiding in some attic waiting for the dead to go away. Only he knew the chances of that was slim. This bacteria was spreading everywhere,and they couldn't stop it. So he sat and watched the road in hopes that someone,someone alive would come along and prove they were not alone. That they were not the only people to survive. He got his wish about 10 minutes later

X X X X X

Toby Sinclair had left the city of Los Angelese with his family hours before Emily had left with her's. They have retreated to the same camping spot they use on their vacations, and this should have been safe.

If his uncle and his family had not turned up. They had shown up battered and bruised claiming to have been caught in a riot. But that turned out to be a lie when just hours after arriving both of his cousins and his aunt had tuned. Toby had stayed and helped his father put his cousins down but the shooting had alerted a group of the undead of that location and the family had been forced to flee.

His mother and younger brother had been lost when they had been mistaken for the dead by another group of survivors who had shot them. They'd run off when his father had gone after them and Toby has stayed too try burying them as best he could,sobbing the whole time. When his father returned he had shown Toby to cover the bodies in rocks and then they had turned and left.

They had back tracked back to the camp to find supplies but everything was scattered. His uncle was still alive having hidden up a tree. He had argued with Toby's father trying to say he could not leave his family behind. Toby's dad had answered saying that his uncle should have said they were, sick that they were going to turn into those things.

And then he shot him. Toby watched his uncle drop and then he and his father had gathered up what they could and left.

Toby had been quiet for the rest of the day. He was quiet as they walked. He was quiet as they ate lunch and he was quiet when they stopped to rest. His dad had stopped beside him and wrapped an arm around him.

"Toby."he said Toby,"I need you to make it somewhere safe."

"We'll find somewhere to stay. There are cabins around here somewhere." Toby leaned into his dad and let his head rest against his shoulder.

Trevor Sinclair was a good man. He loved a cared for his family and was in pain at the loss of his son and wife. He loved Toby just as much and it pains him even more now to know you must leave him.

The he had no choice. "You can't stay at those cabins son. You have to keep going until you can find other people people who can help you." Toby didn't like the way his dad was talking. He kept saying you instead of we that did not bode well. It was always bad in books and movies and it couldn't mean anything good in real life.

"Dad your scaring me. What do you mean I can't stay there. You're coming with me. You have to come with me." But Toby already had a sinking feeling that his dad was not coming with him. He was going to have to go on alone.

Now he looked he could see that his dad looked sweatier than he should. And truth be told Trevor wasn't feeling well, he was feverish and weak and he knew he couldn't keep going. But he needed to know his son would go on. That he would find someone to help him.

"I got bitten Toby." He admitted,"I got bitten when I was chasing off your mom and brothers killers. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know I should have been paying attention but I was so angry, I didn't see the thing thing sneak up on me."

He pulled toby closer and pressed his face.to his cheek. Trevor breathed in his son's scent and did his best to memorise the feel of his son in his arms before he told him to walk away.

Toby into his dad and wished,prayed,begged whatever god there was to let him wake up now,the nightmare was over but when he opened his eyes again he still sat beside his dad in the forest. Still sitting in the Apocalypse. It was too much,and he sobbed hard enough to shake both of them.

"Your going to take my gun and the supplies and your going to walk north okay. Stick to the dirt roads and don't approach anyone until your sure their safe. You keep this pack with you all the time. Its got everything,paper work,photos,passports and money."Trevor pulled away and fiddled with his watch."Take this too. You can use it for barter if you have to. Your mom's jewelry box is in there hidden pocket-"

"Shut up. I know this. I know. I don't want to here you say goodbye."Toby sobbed and his dad gently cupped his face.

"Its not goodbye. I know we will see each other again,but I don't want it to be until you a hundred years old,okay? Otherwise your grounded when you get to heave-heav-" choked and pulled his son close again. "I love you. And your mother does and so does Ryan. We love you so damn much. And your going to prove your love by going. You get as far away from these things as you can."

X X X X X

It was pitch black and Toby was still walking. He'd slept for a few hours that after noon,climbing into a tree and tying himself to the trunk so he wouldn't fall out. Then he'd started walking again. His dad was probably dead by now.(He was. Trevor was now stumbling after a rabbit in the opposite direction.) He didn't want to think about it but he couldn't help it. So he cried silently to avoid alerting anything to his presences. He eventually found a dirt road and followed it,having to dodge the dead twice,and had thrown up after dealing with the body of an old women that had tried to grab him. Now he trudged along,the road cutting through a clearing. He didn't notice the cars until someone said-"Please don't run. I won't hurt you."

X X X X X

The kids couldn't be more than 13 and was struggling down the road,pack on his back, gun at his side and tear stains on his cheeks. Hopper carefully approached him and got his attention. He looked startled,like that he hadn't noticed Hopper before and took a stunted step back before stopping and squared in his shoulders.

"Don't come any closer." Toby said and he put his hand on the gun."I am willing to shoot if I have to."

"Oh,I believe you but I'm not dangerous. I'm here with some please officers ,just wait here and I'll fetch them."

"Real policemen?" Toby asked and looked behind Hopper and towards the cars.

"Yes. Just wait it one minute I'll be right back." The guy walked backwards and kept going but that until he reached the cars and for someone called Matt.

After a few moments a man struggles between the cause and came up to Hopper. He caught sight of Toby and looked a little shocked.

"How the hell did the kids get out here."Matt said looking over the boy.

"I know you." the kid said."You were at my school a few days ago. You got us out."

Matt was surprised."Yeah. Jesus kid you shouldn't out be out here alone."

"I,I did have family with me until,uu un urrrr."he started crying again,and Matt couldn't stop his reaction. Moving away from Hopper he went to the kid and pulled him into a hug. Lifting him he carried him to the camp.

X X X X X

Matt settled the kid in the center of the cars whilst Cathy looked him over. He was still crying but not as hard.

"So he said he was from the class we rescued at Emily's school. Do you think Emily knows him?" Matt asked.

"Maybe. We can ask her. Is she still awake or not?" Buck asked, swapping Vesna to his other hip."I think she might be."

Buck went off to find his other sister whilst Cathy wiped Toby's cheeks.

"How long have you been alone?"she asked.

"My dad told me to leave him sometime this afternoon. Maybe 5 hours I can't remember." Toby explain.

"You've been walking for 5 hours." Matt couldn't believe the kid had been walking that long, especially with the way the Sun had been beating down on them. "Do you have water at least."

"I've got some water and some food. It should last me a few days. Or I could trade it. If you can get me to a safe place or maybe a refugee centre." Toby looked them, eyes all hopeful and big. "I have some MRE's I can trade."

Before they could also the boy's query and Emily appeared and she gave a gasp of surprised when she saw Toby.

The decision of whether or not to leave him was answered there and then.

X X X X X

Grace watched the son sleep in the backseat of the car whilst she thought about where the hell they were going. They were going across how many miles of dirt roads and mountain passages in order to make it to an alien ship that might not even be helpful to them. She understood why they couldn't stay at her home, after what had happened to that poor place officer, But why couldn't they go looking for other people maybe another refugee camp. Just because one had failed didn't mean others had. There could be help just around the corner if they looked for it. Only they didn't.

She trusted her brother in law,she really did. But she needed to know that her family would be safe. Not risking their lives running off towards some-

"You're thinking too loud dear." Bill told his wife,eyes closed as he try to get some sleep in the driver's seat. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Grace."

"Ok ok,so I'm a little worried we might be going on a wild goose chase. We can't think we are the only ones who think this is a good idea."

"Let me guess you're worried we'll get there and won't be able to get in because someone else beat us to it." He still hadn't opened his eyes, already knowing the conversation they were going to have. He was surprised Grace hadn't bought it up sooner to be honest.

"We should head towards my uncle Gerry's lake house. There are boats moored all around it and it's a freshwater lake so the New Comers won't have to worry about melting. It's perfect."

"Tell you what, tomorrow before we move on I'll run it past them. If things don't go well the ship we'll head to Uncle Gerry's. Your right,it does sound perfect."

"You better not be humoring me William. Because I refuse to be treated like some bubble headed idiot."

This time Bill did open his eyes."Grace I am not humoring you.I genuinely think it's a good idea. And we need as many those as we can get."

Grace smiled and cuddled up to him before closing her eyes and trying to get some sleep. Bill knew they were going to need as much rest as possible.

 

X X X X X

Toby's father was dead, and wandering off in the other direction to him, heading towards the sound of footsteps. It wasn't people, but a Mountain Goat, and it was leading half a dozen dead on a merry chase about the woods. And when unlucky people came across the dead they either ran the other way or died.

The death toll across the globe was ridiculous. One zombie on a plane led to the whole thing being shot down. A single walking corpse in a hospital could lead to panic and danger. Car accidents and accidental shooting were sky rocketing. The dead themselves had killed many, but that number was rivalled by those deaths caused by panic, fear and in some cases sheer stupidity.

But by far the most deaths were caused by the extermination planes to destroyed the bacteria like they did with Los Angeles. The plan wasn't working.

X X X X X X

Bill did explain his wife's idea, and the group agreed that it was a decent plan should the ship be unavailable. And the addition of Toby was a surprise for everyone. Hopper was just glad they weren't all that was left, but Grace was a little worried. Just how many people were they going to add to their little group?
But her worry was soon eclipsed because Zapeda,the female cop,gave a shout.

"Six Undead heading our way. Do we deal with then?"she asked and guided here mother to her car."Or are we running?"

"We're moving out."George said and took Vesna from Buck. He asked his son."Will you be in Marilyn's car?"

"Yeah. Its a tight squeeze in ours and she doesn't mind."

Buck went off to joined Marilyn in her car and they waited for everyone to start driving off. They followed Lydia, just as the undead were getting a little too close for comfort. They drove and left the dead behind. But less than half an hour later they come across another group swarming over car and feeding on something they didn't want to think about. They past more road signs telling them the campsites to avoid and the roads that were blocked. Buck watched the sides of the roads as they drove and wondered how many people,still alive,were wondering around out there. And how many dead waiting to ambush them.

"How long do you think it will take for us to start over?"he asked.

"That all depends on what you mean by start over Buck." Marilyn said and carefully drove around and abandoned RV.

"How long until people stop trying to rebuild their own the corner of America? And what we going to do if some overly conservative idiots trying to create their own version-"

"If you're worried about some idiot trying to create their own version of Utopia don't worry, you're not alone. I'm terrified that we're going to have to deal with neo Nazis trying to recreate the Third Reich,some religious fanatic who wants to try and rebuild Jerusalem."Marilyn stared had at the road. "Let's not for the Purest who started all this in the first place. Believe me Buck I am just as worried as you are."

"I guess we just have to try and survive it then. When we get to the ship we'll have to make sure we seal it of,at least until we can safely let people in."Buck leaned his arm against the window and rested his head again it."How we're going to do that I have no idea."

Marilyn knew what he meant. They weren't going to be as lucky as they had been with Toby. They were going to run into someone unfriendly sooner or later and when they did it was't going to be pretty.

X X X X X

Dick sat in the back seat of the car and thought about killing himself. His parents had no idea of this,and why would they. At school Dick was popular and enjoyed the perks of coming from a rich family. He had a good life.

But that was pretty much over now. It was a zombie freaking apocalypse. His popular friends,probably dead(and he'd hidden in his room crying for what seemed like days when he'd seen his school in flames on the TV). He hadn't been in that day because he had been recovering from the flu.

The money and power their family had was worth squat now. Every influential friend was unreachable and what use was money when the stock market was crashing due to the bankers eating each other? And what did he have to look forward to? Dick wasn't stupid. No matter where they went they were risking their lives. Safety was a myth right now, and he was damn sure it would be a while before they found it again

This could be the end of man kind. New Comers might stand a chance in the long run but humans...they could be done for. And how would it end for him and his family. Would they get infected and die,or would they get torn to pieces.Starve when the food ran out or die of some disease that had been wiped out years ago? And what about school? About learning how to survive when most people didn't know how to fix a clogged sink?

Then again,they would have better access to alien tech. The New Comers might not know a lot,but with the data banks they could learn And did Dick really want to miss out on the chance to work with that kind of technology. They could start the era of scientific progression.

Or they might die before they got to it. Either way there were pros and cons to killing himself. So he would wait and see.

X X X X X

Zapeda had been forced to take the passenger seat because her dad wanted her to sleep. She hadn't the night before. She claimed she wasn't sleepy but five minutes into driving she was out like light. She slept until her mother gently woke her with food,and she saw that they had gained a lot of altitude. The trees obscured a lot of the view but she could see a lot of sky between the trees rather than more trees or flat ground. She they were following the map then they were a good twenty miles from where they had slept.

"Any trouble?"she asked.

"None Bea. Not even a squirrel."her Dad said. His name was Jorge and he was 65 but looked 50. He was looking ahead and scanning the road carefully,not wanting to hit anything."Good sleep?"

"Surprisingly."she answered and they were quiet again. No one really felt like talking,but her cousin Rafael asked,"Should we keep her with us, until we get to the ship."

He meant baby Anna,who lay in his arms played with a baby toy,gumming the soft plastic. Cathy came to see her every time they stopped,but she remained with them to avoid over crowding in the other cars.

"Yeah. I don't mind. But we'll need to run it by Cathy first."

They go back to silence and after half an hour the car in everyone jolted, and Anna front stopped for just a few seconds to long before going again,making everyone in the car tense. They find out the reason for the stop soon enough.

The tress have cleared enough for them to see the view and it wasn't pretty.They could make out what remained of the city in the distance,smoke still rising. You could make out the roads and a large smudge appeared to be moving across the landscape. It reminded Zapeda of the old animal documentaries that showed wildebeest and such moving across the plains of-

Dead. Those smudges were hundreds of dead following ...whatever they were following. It was terrifying to watch.

"Dios Mios."Zapeda's mother said and crossed herself."This is hell."

Zapeda couldn't disagree. They past rocks and the trees once again obscured their view, leaving them to try and forget. But they couldn't They had lived in Los Angeles for three generations, visiting Mexico only for holidays and family events. Beatrice hadn't actually been since she was 12. Now she wondered if maybe they should try to head for Mexico. It might be better over the border. But then again, it might be more dangerous. Then again what they were doing was-

Jorge suddenly jammed on the breaks and everyone jolted forwards, and baby Anna started to cry. Zapeda grabbed the radio, only meant to be used in and emergency , and asked "What the hell? Are you trying to give us whiplash."

"Shhh! There is a hug group walking along the road. Keep quiet and duck down low. They'll pass if they don't notice us."Matt said.

"Can't we drive around?"Beatrice asked, but scooted down in her seat as Rafael quickly quieted Anna.Her aunt and Cousins were squashed up in the spacious boot and all tried to lie down.

"To many to get through safely, and the road gets real narrow up here. Not many cars come up here and we can't risk rolling down the hill."Matt explained, his voice much quieter."Just stay down and be ready to move. Cut the engine to."

Jorge did and the first zombie came into view. This was a young man, maybe 20, with a lot of blood on him but not visible injury. He wore a hunting jacket and there was a shotgun in its holder on his back. Next came an older women, maybe 60. She wore her night gown and was stumbling along, bite wound n open mess on her leg. One of the dead staggered and slumped against the car bonnet, and a crow landed on it and started to peck. It got up and move but the bird kept up its attack. It looked like the scavengers were going to get a good meal at least.

Beatrice realized that this could be good and bad for them Good because the quicker the dead rotted down the easier it would be to get rid of them. Any because any animal they came into contact with could pass this too them. A bird might peck, a dog might bite. Suddenly she was besieged by images of swarms of flies landing everywhere, spreading the bacteria around. Accidental infection could easily happen.

She forced herself to stare at the dash board until her dad swore under his breath and she had to look.

She wished she had.

The kid couldn't have been more than two. He moved at the same pace as the others and stared ahead with white eyes. It had been a boy if the blue romper suit said anything,and he moved off. His right ear was missing. Beatrice had to fight her rolling stomach and wait until they moved on.

It took a while.

X X X X X

As the Dead walked by Hopper stared out of the window and watched as the dead past. He also noticed the clouds were starting to gather and he remembered that they last time he had seen a weather report they'd warned of rain over the next week. In the back seat the two human kids sat, looking sad and tired. Jill was staring listlessly and Toby was still dozing. He was quiet and spent most of his time staring at his feet.

Hopper was just glad they weren't alone. It was enjoyable thinking your the only people left.

Chapter Text

The dead had past and Matt was asleep where he lay scrunched up on the seat. George in the back with Emily and Vesna whilst Cathy drove. She watched the sky darken and the rain begin to fall. She could hear the wind picking up and she realised the were going to hit the peak of the hill. She grabbed the radio and told Grazer to pass the message on as she began to slow down just a little. With the rain getting heavier she switched on the and began wipers as she crested the hill. The road widened and she saw where the other dead had come from. She also heard the sound of a dog panicking. New Comer Hearing was just that good.

She also heard voices,slight and panicked. She halted and Looked behind at George.

"I hear it. We'll look around."he said. "He turned to Emily and touched her temples before getting out of the car,and Emily locked it behind her. Quietly they moved in the cap. The dog that was crying was one of three on site,one licking the glass. Probably thirsty. He also saw a muzzle. So George had to think before going and fetching a rope from the car so and making a lasso. he attached it to a stick and after smashing a window was able to lead the dog away. Only it ran back.to the car and it was then George saw the pups. Ten minutes letter he had tied the dog to a tree and bought the pups and pop up tent. Another five minutes later he was back at the camp and the mother dog was happily in the pop up tent drinking water and guarding her litter. The other to dogs were friendly.

The problem of what to do with them was dealt with when a teenage boy and his college sister agreed to take them after Cathy dressed the girls head wound. They drove off together and Matt went with George to check on the other,more vicious dog. But they didn't have to worry,she caught a rabbit and was chowing down whilst her pups fed.

"Looks like someones gonna do okay."Matt had said as they walked back to the camp.

"She's not a pet. Maybe guard or hunting dog. She'll be fine."George said as the cleared the tree line. Everyone was stretching there legs or hiding behind a car whilst they peed. Hopper was coming towards them.

"Mr Hopper."

"Call me Arn. And I think we need to worry about Jill."The antiques dealer said."She's,she's really not handling things well."

"She lost her parents. Give her a brea-"

"I just had to drag her back from the edge of the hill. She looked about ready to let herself topple over."Arn explained."Not only that but I'm worried that she'll go over and jump if we don't find a way to help her."

Matt looked over at Jill,who was looking around and searching the camp,careful not to disturb to much.

She didn't appear to be very... unstable. But Matt had seen this kind of thing before with police offices. They looked unaffected,they seemed okay but then they would just snap. Who knew what she could do in her current state.

"I'll have to speak with Cathy, ask her to speak with Jill when we have a moment. That's the best I can do for now Arn."

 

They watched Jill for moment but noticed the rain was no longer just spitting down at them. They could feel the wind picking up and that was ever such a light rumble from above them. Thunder. If lightning started next they needed to get down into the valley as soon as possible to avoid being struck by lightning.

"We keep driving till we can't drive anymore. I don't want to be stuck in the valley if it floods so we should get to the other side quickly. About halfway up should be safe." George said and started towards the cars.

By the time everyone was driving again the rain was coming down steadily,and slowly getting heavier. They had to get to the other side of the valley before it got too wet to travel the dirt roads.

X X X X X

Albert was driving whilst Bryan sat in the passenger seat looking grim. He had left his wife with her brother to pull shifts driving with Albert. Watching Bryan with his wife made Albert ask,

"Your separating,aren't you?"

Bryan didn't even look at him to answer."Its been a long time coming. Its not that we don't love each other,its just not the same kind of love."

"I'm sorry to hear that you always seems like such a nice couple."Albert said."I hope things don't get too awkward for you it. It can't be easy to be around someone you know so well and yet not be together."

Brian sighed. "It won't be all that bad. We could be at each others throats all the time."

Albert knew that was true. He had seen a lot of human marriages fail. People who had once being madly in love suddenly wanting to hurt each other as much as possible. It was sad to watch but it happened. It happened to New Comers too, just not as often.

"When we get to the ship you'll be able to talk more. Sort things out."

"We can talk. But nothing's going to save our marriage. And I think this dating game has gotten a little tougher. I mean come on half the women in America probably going to be undead by the end of the week."

Albert left Brian to his morbid thoughts to concentrate on the road. The rain was coming down hard and the dirt road was swiftly becoming mud bath. The cars they had were designed for the city, not these back roads and they will find it increasingly difficult to keep the wheels from sliding all over the place. The roads themselves what about 3 meters across and had thin row of trees separating it from the side of the hill. It was no gently sloping hill either,it was a sheer drop that went down a good 20 meters, maybe more. That kind of a drop would probably kill them.

The thing Albert was really worried about was getting up the other side of the valley. It wasn't really a valley,it was just a dip between to hill tops. But Albert really didn't want to get suck between the two. If it flooded they were screwed. If they got cornered the were dead and right now they were running out of luck. The sky was getting dark enough that they need their head lights.

Then lightning finally made an appearance and whited out the sky. Brian sank low in hs seat like that would be any help.

"Jesus Christ. "he said and looked out the window,"Okay, we need to find somewhere to stop."

As if hearing him the radio came to Life and Matt said,"We've just spotted a supply depot. "We're heading there. Me and George will clear it, you get ready to join us."

"No, you hang back,I'll take Albert. Our car is smaller, We'll get as close as possible an lure any head out. You take them out from the car if you can."

He looked at Albert,"Is that okay with you?"

"Yes."

They carefully drove around the other cars, the road widening as the descended and soon spotted the supply depot. It wasn't big, just one of those places used to but last minute items or supply emergency stuff. As they got as close as they could Albert started to beep the horn, at a slow and steady pace It didn't take long to get a response.

"Will you shut that thing off and just get inside you lunatics!!!"

X X X X X

His name was Pete and he had another two families with him, both scared and traumatised. He was shocked to see a New Comers, but let them in.

"Thought your kind had been wiped out by this stuff."he said,"Then again the News ain't been exactly reliable over the past few hours. They update the situation every hour or so. Only switch on the set then."

"But you are getting news?"George asked.

"Yep. Not all of its useful. Channel 8 news got taken over by some Christian Hard liner whose preaching that the dead are just 'hollow shells' after the soul has been raptured. Idiots telling people to go get infected."

"Your kidding. Isn't anyone trying to stop him."

"He's all that's left at the station. Turned out his whole group got bit before going in. He's waited for his turn. Last time he was one he weren't looking too healthy." Pete explained. "You can stay until the storms past, but I can't keep you here any longer. Got dead passing through every few hours."

"So you'll be leaving soon?" George asked.

"This lot will. Not me. I'm staying to hand out supplies and give directions."

Matt looked confused."Why stay and risk it when there are zombies passing by so often."

"Because I got maybe two weeks, possibly three left. Terminal Liver Cancer. Since I can't get to my medicine, might as well spend what times left doing something useful."

Cathy felt bad, but understood his reasoning. There really wan't much they could do for him. As long as he wasn't in too much discomfort then he should be fine.

They did as he said and settled down for the forseeable and Cathy went to see baby Anna. The two other families were nervous, but didn't try anything. Dick and his mother went over to see if they had any useful news, but they knew as much as they did.

Until the tv was switched on.

The news reader was the usual pretty anchor women, but she was sitting at her desk in street cloths and looked tire. Her hair was tightly braided back and she looked like she had been crying.

"The staff at Channel 4 news have decided to keep broadcasting for as long as we can. We are barricaded win. We're asking that people don't try and reach us, as the surrounding area is pretty much lost. The roads are filled with stalled cars and zombies."She stopped for a moment and stared at the desk."We are telling you what we know. If you have genuine news call the number on screen or attempt to get through over radio signals. We have a generator and, from last years clean energy bill, solar panels running pretty much everything left. We'll keep going as long as we can."

She looked down at the paper in her hands. Then he looked at the camera."If my boyfriend can see this, Kyle I'm sorry I'm not with you. But stay where you are. If you can contact me do so but don't try and reach us, its to dangerous. Micheal Paul, our sound Manager, would like to say tell his wife and family to keep heading to his parents place. They are safe and waiting for you. And final-finally we want to inform Mrs Francine Groonger,37 New Comer , that your Husband Martin Groonger 51 , past this morning. He loves you, and hopes you stay safe."

Matt wrapped his arm around Cathy and stood a little closer to George. Buck and Emily snuggled together and Brian took his not yet ex wife's hand.

"Official news is this. The United States is Officially a no fly zone. No one is to attempt to use any form of non military air travel. If you are found to be flying without military authorisation, you will be shot down. I repeat, you will be shot down. We have reports coming in that many humans are taking to the ocean for protection, but many ships have been over run by un discovered infected. If you are going to board a vessel please be careful. Several have already died attempting to board infect ships. We can also tell you that thanks to a doctor in Indiana we now confirm that immediate amputation of an infected limb will save the patient if its done properly. Now that's all we have. Please tune in again in an hour for more news. Good luck and god bless."

X X X X X

They all managed to get some sleep despite the thunder. When Matt came out of his semi conscience he found Cathy asleep on his left and George leaning against his arm. Emily was resting her head on her father's leg and a quick glance toe the Right showed Buck curled on his side with Vesna curled beside him. He needed to pee, but didn't want to disturb his friends. But Cathy rolled away, so he was able to carefully move from under Her and George to go in search of a bathroom.

Lightning flashed outside the window and he wondered how long the supply depot would last if lightning struck. Would it explode or burn. He thought about this as he peed before washing and returning to the main room. Brian's nephew was standing next to Pete and looking out the window with a look somewhere between wonder and disgust.

"What are you watching." Matt asked as he sidled up to them.

"There getting struck by lightning."Dick said. "They keep going up the hill to get to the lights and sound, and there getting struck by lightning. They either catch light or..."

Matt watched as something got flung into the air as lightning flashed and was blown to bits. He looked away with a grown."That is disgusting."

Dick nodded and kept watching."How many do you think will get taken out like that, or by just falling off cliffs and cracking their heads open. Or animals. Lots of animals will eat corpses, and I haven't seen them go after animals."

"Maybe a couple of hundred. We'e gonna have to watch out for a rise in the vermin population."Pete said. "At Least the New Comers will have plenty to hunt."

"Yeah."

"We'll have more to deal with than just your regular scavengers. You missed the last broadcast. Bunch Activists decided to free the animals that were locked up in a couple of zoo's around the country. Don't know how many, but station got a call saying the Animal League have taken responsibility."

Matt groaned again and ran a hand though his hair."Jesus. How bad will that get."

"Good food supply and relatively warm winters. I'd say that a lot of those animals will do pretty damn well. "Pete grinned,"Shame I won't live long enough to see wild Lions in Los Angeles. Or a couple of tigers."

"Well I'm not. I don't think they'll see the difference between a dead human and a live one." As he said it Matt thought of the dog and her pups that George left. How long until she was part of a pack, until dogs were as wild as wolves again? It was a thought he was trying not to dwell on. He turned away from the window and looked around the room. He noticed that one of the families was gathering their stuff. The dad, Chinese guy, caught sight of him and came over.

"You may want to think about moving on."He explained."You saw them out there, the ones at the top of the hill. They are attracted to the light."

"Yeah I saw...shit."Matt turned to Pete and his confused face,"How far do you think these things can see, or hear. There could be hundreds, hell thousands of those bastards heading this way."

Pete and Dick both looked stricken.

"You folks might wanna start thinking of moving out as fast as possible. The light and thunder are getting further a part. Storm should end soon. If you need anything I can get it to you know, so I suggest you get packing."

X X X X X

The rain was still bad when they left the depot, but not as bad as it had been. The two other families were following them as far as the main road down the mountain, then cutting off to try and find...whoever the hell was left. George had wondered if they should stay as a large group, but they were pushing things as it was.

In the back seat Toby was next to his daughter, holding her hand and staring out the window. Emily didn't mind. Cathy was in the car with Hopper and Jill, trying to talk to the girl and Matt was back in Brian's-not Captain Grazer, it was obvious those titles were useless for the time being, and discussing whether they should take more solid roads or stick to the dirt ones. The rain was bad, and George couldn't remember if the rain was going to last or not .

The radio suddenly cackled to life.

"Stop the cars now! Hooper's vehicle just got swept over the side, and fucking tree slammed into them!!!"

X X X X X

Ropes were grabbed and space cleared in cars for anyone injured, and considering the car was on its roof, that was pretty likely.

The chinese man's was Lin, was a emergency room nurse, and insisted on helping.So George and Lin would be lowered down and they would try do their best to pull the three up the hill side as quickly as possible. No one wanted to get caught if the dead showed up. Though with the thunder coming to a halt and lightning non existent they might just get lucky.

They ropes dug into his thighs but George didn't mind, and when the hit the ground quickly dashed to the car to check n its occupants. Jill was Unconscious but alive, a nasty cut on her head and very bad bruising along the side of her face. Hopper was awake but in shock, and was trying to undo his seat belt. George carefully eased him out of his seat and out of the car. No real damage besides a few cuts.

Cathy was awake and stuck, mainly because of her arm.

"Its broken, or at least fractured."she said.

"Get me out. I need to check on Jill-"

As George pulled her from the car Hopper was helping Lin get Jill out the car as quickly as he could. They slipped a make shift collar onto her to keep Jill's neck still and they lay her flat as they could. The dark clouds were clearing and this let Hopper see two things.

One was that the car was totaled. The second was the guy dragging himself across the ground towards them.

Just the top half.

Dizzy and sick he pointed out the dead and dragged Jill behind the car. George saw him and the direction he was pointing.

"Ropes, now."George hissed and dashed back to the ropes,and a hastily put together gurney that probably wasn't perfect,but it would do.

Jill was dragged up first,followed swiftly by Cathy and Lin. Hopper was doubled up vomiting,silent and sick. George smelt blood and looked at Hopper.

He was vomiting blood,and it coated his lips. He was starting to shake and George insisted he go up next. He was unconscious by the time he reached the top and more dead had arrived as the rope came back down. Slipping it under his arm pits he was dragged up as a brunette women made a grab for him and missed.

Jill was being placed along the back seat of Lin and her husband Ju's car and Cathy was dealing with Hopper.

"How bad?"he asked. Cathy was in pain herself but still looked the man over. He was pale,and she tugged open his shirt to show the massive bruising that was flowering over his torso. Shock must have dulled the pain but now he was stirring,groaning in pain and coughing up more blood.

Lin came back. "I cam't do much for the girl until she wakes up. Let me look at..."she went quiet."Ju,go and get the morphine from my kit. He needs pain relief."

Arnold Hopper was given the morphine and Cathy,his pretty New Comer Neighbour sat beside him,held his hand in her injured one and thought that maybe he was a little more hurt than he was.

He smiled at Cathy and tried to tell her he felt a little weird,but he decided to sleep instead,and died of massive internal haemorrhaging moments later.

They wrapped him in a sheet and Matt insisted he be buried in a place they could find him again. It was in a shallow grave swiftly covered in rocks at a picnic point.

Cathy's arm was splinted and bandaged and Emily insisted on sitting in Jill's car.

They stopped again twelve miles later to bury Jill.

Chapter Text

Emily was curled up next to Toby,quietly crying into his shirt. Matt was next to them and Cathy was asleep,knocked out by pain killers. George was staring ahead and driving so slow,barely twenty miles an hour. They were out of the hills until the bad weather stopped and no one had argued. No one could. Lin and Ju were coming with them,but the other family were rushing towards the ocean,and the safety of the water.

The nurse and mechanic bought two teens,a fifteen year old daughter and a nineteen year old. The daughter and pulled one of her bangles off and place it in the rocks piled over Jill. Bright pink with blue flowers it would be a way to tell the difference between that one,and the other three they had found. It seemed many had chosen the crossroads to bury the dead,so they could go back and find them.

Zapeda had decided to take the rear of their convoy,because her mother didn't want to go until a proper prayer had been said and they had been the last to pile into their car. Sienna couldn't leave without doing something for the girl.

Jorge sat beside his wife,letting Baby Anna drink her fill from a bottle as they went.

"How close do you think we will get before we have to abandon the cars?"he asked.

"If we're lucky then we'll find more gas. There are cars to siphon from,maybe we'll get lucky and find a gas station that hasn't been looted." Beatrice answered. She drove and tried not to think of what had happened. That tree had slid down the hill and into the car like a hot knife through butter. Smooth and fast and impossible to predict. Two people dead,and zombies were't to blame. It was a terrifying thought.

"With luck will."Jorge said.Raphael was staring at his hands and trying not to cry. He still couldn't believe that something like this could be real. But he had seen it,had watched it happen.

They traveled until one of the cars needed gas,and by then it was well after midnight.

"We'll have to siphon some gas soon,otherwise we're gonna be on foot." Brian said and he capped the gas tank."How much farther do we have to go?"

"Another three days by car if we can find gas. On foot its more like a fortnight."

As the group spoke Albert was off to the side looking out over the landscape. He squinted and went to ask Matt for the binoculars.

"Its not zombies is it?"he asked with trepidation in his voice.

"No. But it might be helpful. The ship is north east of here isn't it"Albert got onto the roof of his car and looked out."And most rivers around here flow south. I can see the edge of one of them from here that is turning south, but is coming from the North east."

"What are you saying Albert."

"The quickest route is a straight. If we follow the river we may find a motorized boat and-"

And there are re fueling stations all along the river. Enough gas for the cars or a boat."

X X X X X

Grace was very willing to follow the river plan. If things went wrong they could get to her families lake house much quicker,and if god smiled on them they could even make it without setting foot on dry land. She pressured Bill to agree and after a few arguments it was decided that in the morning they would reach go to the river and drive along side it,but wouldn't abandon the cars unless they had to.

But at least they had a plan she could get behind.She had spent the past day constantly terrified. That poor girl was dead,that nice man was too and it had been no more than an accident. Had they had access to real medical care maybe that girl would have lived. Grace sat in her seat and wondered how may had died not because of the zombies,but due to an accident.

She told herself to stop it. She had to think about also something else,anything else. So she thought about her son.

He was quiet,which wasn't normal for him. He was an expressive boy,but since the first news reports he had been quiet,deep in thought and not sharing what those thoughts were.

"You alright back there kiddo?"she asked.

"Just thinking."

Tell her something she didn't know."About what dear."

"About how long we'll live."

In the drivers seat Bill went very still,but didn't say anything.

"The average person can live 70,maybe 80 years."She told him,"You should know that. You past biology."

"In a fully functioning society. And we are pretty far from that mom. We may not last the week."

"Richard,don't talk like that."Grace said and turned to look at her son. "When we get to safety we can-"

"What safety. We've lost two people already. How many more?"

"Dick,just shut up. Keep your morbid thoughts to your self."Bill snapped and briefly looked at his son."We get it,We might be screwed but we aren't right now. So we just have to think positively. Or if you can't just keep those thoughts quiet."

Grace regretted asking now. But it confirmed just how bad things were for her son. If he could lose hope so quickly, who else would.

But Dick didn't think he was losing hope, he was just being realistic.

X X X X X X

Albert was riding with Brian again, and wondered why. Lucy was with there newest friends, wanting to get to know them. She and Brian appeared to be avoiding each other. But he wouldn't but into it.

He did have another question though."What are we going to do if someone else has gotten there first."

"We have a nurse, a new comer doctor and trained police officers. We should be able to trade skills for safety."

"And if they don't"

"We head for that lake house. The people there may not be the friendliest but they'll understand that our skills are useful." Brian sat up straighter. "But I would rather wait to talk about that until we get there."

"If you think its for the best."Albert followed the car in front as it turned and found the river in site. And a truck in the way.

"Damn. We'll have to move it."

The truck was an open top thing that carried empty oil drums. The driver was dead and struggling to get out the cab,so they dealt with it before driving it to the side and taking a nearly full five gallon gas canister. It was hard to move but was useful to them. As they drove alongside the river they kept having to move cars. They past hand written signs and what was left of people as they headed up river .

Two signs declared a gated community called Right falls unfriendly whilst another warned people not to try and board the adrift car ferry that was floating towards the sea. It was probably hours away by now,but someone may heed the warning.They drove and past a group of dead eating.... no one really looked to closely. When they stopped to eat it was from cans, the fresh food having been exhausted already. They siphoned a little more gas from an abandoned car and eventually stopped to rest as the sun started to set. Driving at night was something they wanted to avoid whilst they were so close to the river.

They discussed starting a fire, but decided against it because the flames would only lead things to them.

Albert went to sleep pretty fast, But Brian went to his wife. She sat near her brother and stared down at her date diary."We should be eating dinner with the Maxwell's this evening."

"Lucy-"

"Their dead. I past there house and door was open. There kids were heading towards their grandparents, or maybe there friends places. The fifteen year old was driving. Natty dragged herself out the front door because her leg was missing and Ben was missing half his face. We should be eating badly made Thai food. Not hiding on the back roads from what used to be friends."

Sitting beside her Brian wrapped an arm about her shoulders. "Sweet heart,Its bad. Its not going to get better. But dwelling on whats gone isn't going to help us."He carefully took the book,"Next weeks jog with Vanessa and the meeting with our accountant don't mean a damn thing."

"That doesn't stop me thinking about it.About the fact our home is probably ash, that all our friends are either running or dead. That We might not even last the night with how bad things are getting."

Brain couldn't answer that. He just held her a little tighter and watched the rest of the camp settle down.

X X X X X

Emily had finally stopped crying, and Toby had gone to find a safe place to pee.

He was grateful to have been found, he really was. The idea of being alone terrified him. But he was with friends, people who would try and keep him safe. And he knew them.

Emily had lost as much as he had and it hurt. It hurt that so many were dead. As he finished his business Toby went to return to the camp when he heard something groan.He carefully took a few steps back and looked into the trees in the dying light.

Dead. Dozens of them heading towards the camp. Toby bolted towards

X X X X X

"We have to go, we have to run."he said as he bashed into one of Zapeda's cousins. Gina grabbed his hand and pulled him to the rest of the group.

"We have trouble. He says the dead are coming."

"They are."Toby said,"Two dozen, maybe three, I didn't stay to count." Toby looked up at Matt,"I didn't stay to count but there maybe fifty feet that-"

"Oh shit." Brian snapped and they all heard the groaning then. Th number of dead was more than they could handle and it was a mad dash to the cars. A scream sounded as someone was grabbed and yells for help drew more dead.

Jorge Zapeda went down beneath three of them whilst his daughter and wife rounded up the family. Grace had her throat torn out and one of the cars stalled. This wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't bee the can blocking the road, and the rain made the road too boggy to drive through it.

They'd have to abandon the cars.

Anna and Vesna were handed to Toby and Emily,and Matt fired his first shot into what had once been vet. It went down but was replaced by something...too messed up to identify. George aimed and took out a Grocer,and Cathy managed to grab her staff and swing it straight into a football couch. She hastily grabbed her medical supplies and Buck nabbed a bright yell knapsack and roller bag of food. Marilyn simply helped Siena move as she tired to return to her now dead Husband. Dick was staring at the pile of dead that surrounded his mom before his dad grabbed him and dragged him away.

Zapeda had to double back when she realised she couldn't see Lydia or the girls. Melissa was stumbling and leaning against her sister as their mother batted with a heavy gold club at zombie that was trying to grab at them. She finally struck hard enough to put it down and she lifted Melissa as Zapeda lifted the other girl and they ran. Raphael grabbed Melissa so Zapeda could shoot,but the dead were more interested in the fallen. They ran as fast as they could along the road until they came across a bait shop and barricaded themselves inside. Two windows were broken and they were forced to bloke the up with what looked like tarp.

"Fuck l,fuck no no no."Zapeda cried as she let her gun drop to the fall seconds before she did. "No no Papa no."She sobbed and her shoulders shook as the realisation her father was dead struck her. The rush of adrenaline was quickly fading as grief rushed through her. Her mother came to her and wrapped her in her arms,and the rest of her family soon followed.

Grazer held his wife as she cried for her sister in law,Bill held his son as the tears fell and Dick,Dick didn't do anything. It didn't feel real. His mother was dead and he didn't believe it. He couldn't believe it. He stood in his father's arms and simply shut down.

"Okay. Okay we can't stop any more. We have to keep going."Matt said. We wait until morning and hope check to see if we can salvage the cars and then,shit I don't know."

"We leave the cars. We gather what we can and follow the river. See if we can't find a boat. We might get lucky-"

"FUCK LUCK." Dick suddenly exploded."What the hell do we have left to live for. This country is fucked. Probably the whole planet and your still think luck will help us." he breathed hard shrugged his dad off,moving to the back of the store. Bill watched his son and just deflated.

No one could think of anything to say that would disprove what the kid said.

They all knew they were fucked.

X X X X X

They didn't sleep.

Cathy fed Anna whilst Vesna was seen to by her father. Buck was sitting next to Emily,and felt a little weird that Toby was snuggled up to her. He didn't like that he was so close but he could hardly say anything. He was in live with his teacher-

Love. It might not be,but it might be the closest he'd get in this lifetime. And he didn't care about her species. Letting things like that...Jesus he'd wasted so much time on hate. He could,should have-

"I'm such an idiot."

"Already knew that Buck."Emily said,and gave a soft sigh. He gave a tiny huff of a laugh.

"I know Emily. Just wanted to clarify it."he gave her a squeeze and nodded at Toby."How's your friend."

She nuzzled tighter against him,"Not good,but better than he started."

"That's,that's good."Buck thought about how Toby had lucked out finding them,then remembered what Dick had said. Toby finding them had been a coincidence at most. Luck,that had abandoned them. They were living in a time of chaos,and there was no way to predict who they would lose next.

That tree that hit Hopper's car,that had been an unforeseeable accident. The attack had been coming and Buck wondered how they had avoided being found so fast. He looked towards the covered window and wondered how many were in the area. And would Grace and Jorge come back. After all,if something ripped in to could make its way back to unlife then so could they.

Thinking it instantly made him hope it wasn't true. The last thing they needed was to come across a re-animated loved one. A part of Buck was grateful that his mother had had a clean death. A death that didn't end in her trying to kill them.

As the night went on everyone became more tense, more afraid. The idea of leaving the relative safety of the bait shop was terrifying, but had to be done. They couldn't remain where they were. Eventually they would need to find supplies, or they= dead would find them. All they could do was wait for dawn and pray.

Chapter Text

Jorge had lost his head at some point, so he lay where he had fallen the night before, body eaten to the bone. But Grace had turned fast. Within moments of her heart stopping she had struggled to her feet and began to find food. She Found Jorge's foot. After that she had followed the other dead, heading along the road until her shirt had gotten caught on a branch. It was daylight before she got loose and soon came across more food.

X X X X X

"Oh crap."Matt said as the body of Grace came tumbling towards them. Albert said something in Techtonese and Brian just stared. He had hoped that they hadn't re animated, but if they had they would have wondered off in another direction. But it seemed like fate didn't really care about what he wanted.

"We have to put her down now." Brian said. The tried his best not to remember his sister in law as she was ,trying to remember that she wasn't even alive anymore. The thing in front of him wasn't human. Only as he lifted his gun he realised he wouldn't be able to pull the trigger on Grace. She had helped pick out his wife's wedding dress and and given them a loan to put a deposit on their home. She was always willing to help out, and Brian could remember seeing her in the kitchen on Sunday waiting with coffee and doughnuts. A joke about the fact he was a cop. Never croissants or cupcakes. Always donuts.

And now she was dead. Walking towards them with death in her eyes and injuries so horrific you could barely believe that she was still moving, but she was and moving towards them at a steady pace. Brian knew he couldn't pull the trigger,and in the end he didn't have to. Albert used his borrowed weapon and with one swing put what was left of Grace down. They moved her into the undergrowth,no time for a burial,and continued on to the cars.

They were wrecked. It seemed as though someone had taken advantage of the fact they weren't locked and made off with a good chunk of their supplies. Two cars were missing wheels.

"God Damn it. Looks like we're on foot from here on in."Matt said and hit the roof of the car."What have we got left."

"Clothes and personal items. Most of the food is gone."

"We haven't got a lot of time. Grab as much food as possible and we'll try for anything that was on the lists we were given."Brian said and started going through the stuff in his own car as he tried to keep his mind busy.

Matt went to his own and began searching for his bag. He hadn't bought much but the essentials. A change of clothes,ammunition and some personal items. He had a small album that he didn't look at for fear of breaking down again. He grabbed the bags Cathy asked for and the baby things. He nabbed box under the seat,the one that carried an unregistered weapon. He'd been shocked when George had told him about it,but could understand why he had it. He knew a lot of officers who had them. He owned one himself, currently tucked into the back of his jeans.

Albert was searching the doctors car for medical supplies and tried not to look at the smears of blood and other unmentionable liquids. He could smell what they were, and cursed the knowledge. He found the bags an one box he was told to get,and noticed something glittering on the floor. It was a bracelet,covered in charms. He picked it up and added it to the pack. He searched Zapeda's family's car next,but found very little beside's-

Albert turned and vomited. Jorge lay,only recognisable by what was left of his clothes. Stuffing what he could into his bag he moved to help Brian at Dobb's....oh god.

Albert shoved it all to the back of his head, desperately trying to keep it together. The attack the night before had left him with no illusion of safety. With the cars there had been a barrier, a way of keeping themselves safe. Now they were just not.

Brain was already shouldering his pack and filling the next pack with as much as he could a carry.

"Got everything?"

"Yes."

"Right, we head back as quick as we can. This stuff will weigh us down but with any luck it won't cost us too much time."

"Yeah."

"We might get lucky and find transport. Maybe a boat or something. I'm pretty sure they used to do pleasure cruises along the river."

"Right."

Looking over at Albert Brian could see the utter defeat in his eyes. He didn't like it. But then again they'd lost...five people since they'd left the precinct. Five innocents who never should have had to have worried about death coming for them. Brian suddenly desperately wanted to wipe that look away from Albert's face.

But he couldn't do a thing. Not until they were somewhere a little safer.

"You guys ready?"Matt asked.

"Yeah. We're good."

X X X X X

 

The road was spotted with undead. If there were less than to they dealt with it. More than three and they hid. They couldn't risk being bitten. And even with those precautions Albert nearly got caught by a head that had been dropped on the side of the road. They dealt with it quickly and they moved on. By the time they got back to shelter the sun was well into the sky and Brian's watch read 08:46 am.

Cathy was sitting besides Enrique who was cradling Anna. Her arm had been bandaged up and put in a sling, and Anna was attempting to catch her nose.

Matt was struck by the revaluation that Anna and Vesna would never know a normal life. Even if a miracle happened that they they would never see normality. They would never be able to go outside and play like normal kids. Never be able to go camping or out after dark. And how long would clean up take if that miracle happened? Matt had killed five of those things on the road, but how many more were left? How many were hiding in forests or houses. How many hidden in rooms or closets? Hospitals and schools and apartment buildings? Just how long would it be before they were able to return to the cities?

Shaking his head to clear those thoughts before they froze him, Matt went over to Cathy to hand over one of the bottles. Before coming in he'd added bottled water to the mix and shook, hoping that it would do. Anna didn't care, she just sucked it down.

"You couldn't get the cars?"

"We were robbed. Looks like someone found our stuff and didn't think we were coming back for it. Even took a couple of wheels." Matt explained.

"Well that should be expected. We can't be the only ones running."Cathy said."Would we have done any different?"

"Probably. Jesus we're gonna have a long walk ahead of us."

"We might get lucky and find another car. Or maybe a boat. There's got to be something."

"We might find something. But we've got to be ready to hoof it."

"In which case you need to eat. Lucy found some jerky and a few cans of fruit salad. Looks like its been there a while, but its still edible."

Matt left her with Anna and Raf and went to get something to eat. It wasn't fancy but it filled is stomach. What little food had been in the car was mostly New Comer, but there was a little dried stuff that would last a couple of days. With any luck they might raid some place for supplies, or find something.

When he finished eating Matt went to check on George, who was looking out the window and squinting.

"Hey man, you spotted something."

"No. I'm trying to hear something. At first I thought it was the dead but....its to mechanical. Some Kind of vehicle."

"Yeah. Anything that could be of use to us?"

"I don't know."

As they stood at the window they both heard it, and Matt turned and shushed the room. As they waited the sound got louder and louder until Albert joined them and said."I know that sound."

"We all do. That's a freaking tank."Matt said.

And it was. Coming along the road was a tank, spattered with blood and tracks that were covered in gore. It drove along and started to slow, the huge machine coming to a stop about ten feet away.

A few moments later a loud speaker say's"If your alive wave something and do it fast. Other wise get on your knees when we come in." It was repeated in Techtonese and then cute off. It took less than twenty seconds and Matt looked over At George and then to Brian.

"Do we do it."

"There coming in any way."Brain said and slipped off his jacket, and carefully pushed it through the door. After a couple of minutes the top of the tank opened and a guy came out holding his weapon ready, checking for te dead and carefully coming down from the Tank to the ground.

They couldn't see the man's face through the gas mask, but he was obviously a soldier. It was in the way he carried himself,how he held himself. He wasn't someone who had stolen a uniform and taken a tank.

"Okay, I'm coming in now. Please don't shoot at me. Please step away from the door."the guy said and everyone did,waiting. George pulled out his badge and Brian followed suit. Matt would have as well,but he had left his in his pack.

The soldier came in with his weapon held high and scanned the room. Seeing the badges he lowered hie weapon and asked,"Anyone bit?"

"No." Cathy said."I've got a fractured arm. Despite a few cuts and bruises none of us are injured."

Putting the weapon down and pulled off his mask. Underneath was a young looking guy with a crew cut and bandage on his head.

"You guys police?"he said, southern accent strong.

"Yes. Four of us are."George answered. "How many soldiers are with your."

The kid stared at floor for a moment. "Just me and the driver. He picked me up after the massacre in Little Tecton."he mis pronounced the words but the implication was there.

"Massacre?"Matt asked.

"Look,how about we get my driver in here and exchange information."

X X X X X

Five minutes later they were introduced to Private E-1 Leonard Frickons and Second Lieutenant Martin Drorn. Drown was thirty and lost his tank crew when they'd been retreating. He had been saved by a out pf control Humvee. He'd found Frickens trapped on a first floor bar balcony.

"We were told to keep the dead from leaving what was left of Little Tecton. 'Cept no one told us that the civilians had been told to hide out at a community center. Something called the Celly-Celi-"

"Kellynaum Centre."Buck suggested.

"Yeah,that's the one. Could hold 2500 in an emergency. Well someone must have been infected because when we opened it,Jesus they just swarmed out. And we just weren't ready."Frickens said.

"No Fuck?" Drorn Spat."We had maybe 400 men and no where near enough ammo. Average soldier us taught to make body shots. Take out the legs and chest. Most of the men could make a head shot maybe one in three times. And that's in good conditions."He looked at the kids and winced."Sorry. But it was chaos. Lost almost everyone in a hour. Been looking for others ever since."

"You haven't seen any other survivors?"George asked.

"Only cars in passing and a helicopter. Beyond that nothing." Drorn explained."I was planning on heading towards the docks but...well.turns out a lot of people had the same plan. Couldn't get through in the tank or on foot."

"What about your radio's?"This came from Beatrice.

"Nothing but panic and the occasionally trucker. Most Freeways are backed up. Interstates completely gridlocked. Beyond that we ain't heard nothing new since yesterday sunrise. And that was some preacher telling us to go get bit." Fickens said."Nut job had lost it."

"What are you doing now then?"Brian asked. He'd put his badge away and folded his arms.

Fricken and Drorn both looked at each other and then shrugged. "Last thing we were told was that we we to save and protect any civilians within the infected zone."Drorn said."So I guess we're protecting you."

X X X X X

Fricken was happy to walk along with them after they hid the tank under a tarp they managed to find. Drorn said once they had a safe place to call home they could come back for it. Matt knew it was because they had no gas left. They also didn't say where they were going. None knew if they could trust the soldiers.

After dividing the supplies and started towards the river. It took less than twenty minutes and once they reached it George saw the path was clear for nearly three miles.They would have plenty of warning of anything heading towards them But if anything came from the tree line if road,well they could be in a lot of trouble.

Though not as much as much as they would be in. The air felt stat-icky and smelt like rain. George knew another storm was coming and they'd be caught out in the open if they didn't find shelter of transport.They were unlikely to find a working car,but might find a boat,or maybe a bus. Hell,George would be happy with a couple of pedal bikes. Then they could at least scout ahead quickly and without fuss. But that would be unlikely.

As the morning went on the group began to grow more worried and on edge. Buck herded the kids and Marilyn into the center of the group. Bill was keeping close to Dick and Zapeda was helping her mother along. The two soldiers knew they were outsiders, and even though Lin, Ju and there children had only joined them a day or so ago, they felt apart of the group, or at least enough to distrust the two men with them.

As they watched more clouds fill the skies George and Matt wondered if they should go ahead and look for shelter. They stopped to rest well after midday and Matt realised that the rain was going to start pretty damn soon. The clouds were full and darkening to black every passing moment and he knew they needed to find some kind of shelter. Frickens spotted a boat shed and elected to take Brian with him so they could check it out, and both disappeared for several minutes. Gunfire sounded and everyone held there breath until the all clear was given.

The Boat house was old, the roof looked ready to cave but it was they had at that moment. As they entered Fricken and Drorn went to talk , and Brian had a relieved look on his face.

"I between the whole group and those guys we can get this thing running, don't you?"he asked.

Inside the Boat house sat a large, old boat.

It was a party boat. On of those horribly tacky things you could rent for wedding and Proms and it looked like it hadn't left the shred in years. Half of the tarpaulin was missing and two of the windows were boarded up but upon searching the vessel they found it water tight and more importantly, usable. The gas tanks were empty, but a little searching could at least get them afloat and the anchor could put them out of zombie reach for the night. Only now they had to find the fuel to power it.

"We take teams of two and locate cars, buses, anything that might have anything left in the tank." Bryan explained, and Cathy had to stop him.

"How are you going to transport it. Even if we find enough can anyone here drive a boat?"

"They are a couple of barrels in the fuel shred and a drum trolly. There's three of them. Three teams of three go out and we might be able to get enough in the thing to last a couple of hour. The controls are standardised on these things. Hell it only need two people driving. And so long as we make sure its engine is clear of debris it should be fine. if not we have a safe place to sleep."

Cathy looked over at the door to the shred. if worst came to worst they could hide on the boat for a few days. And it was decent shelter. A place to rest and try and think. She knew they needed a moment to stop. A moment to relax and let their emotions flow.

"Okay. So whose going?"

"Two humans and one New comer would be best. I'll handle the trolly,Albert can walk ahead and Ju can bring up the rear." Brian explained. "We leave now and we might find-"

"A farm!" Toby cried out and rushed forward. In his hand was clutched a brochure. "Its the Drenton farm. We visited with our class last year."

Emily nodded."We did. And they showed us everything ther. The animals,the feed store and-"

"The gas pump'"Toby finished. "Could that be useful?"

"Drento farm uses Ethonel based fuel. It would eat thought the rubber hoses. But it was a good idea Toby."George explained. Matt smacked his shoulder and grinned.

"But we can replace the hoses. I used to help my Uncle out on his boat remember. The farm should have the materials we need. We go now,sleep on the boat tonight and outfit it tomorrow. By midday tomorrow we could be gone."he explained and Brian took a look at the map on the brochure.

"We"re less than two miles away. We could be there by..."he looked at his watch,"Two thirty if we hurry."

"We all head in Separate directions. George,can you go with Matt and Bill-"

"Cathy's hurt. She can't go." Emily pointed out and George realized that only left one person who could go."Buck will have to go."

Buck came up to his dad and said,"I''l be fine. I'll take the trolly in the middle and run if I see anything."

"That doesn't make me feel better, but you are needed."George wrapped an arm around his son. "We'd better go now. We want to avoid the rain when it starts."

* * * * * * * * * *

It took nearly three hours to reach the farm, and got there for nearly half three, or at least that's what they estimated it was. They'd had to hide twice and Bill had to kill what they all hoped was just a really short guy. They couldn't tell what it had looked like, just there height.The farm was enclosed within a low wooden fence. There's a heard of cows in the distance and they can see chickens clucking about. As they headed towards the entrance they saw sign posts. Avoid the public toilets,they're were zombies trapped in there. Don't go south of the red barn,the bull was loose and angry. Take what you want all the doors are open. Practical things.

And then there were the more personal messages. A large sign telling a Peter Quell his wife was dead,don't try and find her. Someone called Eli warning everyone away from Starton path. And leaning against the fence was a body,or at least they thought it was a dead body.

"Please. Water."

George had advanced with a bottle and helped the poor women drink. She was bleeding from somewhere on her torso and was near to death.

"What happened?"Matt asked.

"Raided. Four hours ago. They moved after they took everything they could. They,they took a couple of the girls who worked in the visitors centre."her eyes teared up."They shot me when I aimed my gun at them. Came to and they'd,they'd taken that to. Don't know whats left."she shuddered and blood dribbled down her chin."Christ everything's gone to shi..."

She lost consciousness. They stayed the few minutes until her breathing stopped. Bill went back to covered her with a sack of some sort before coming back to help them search. Whoever had been here had trashed the place as they'd left. The store rooms were untouched and they were able to nab some food,but fuel was tricky as the pumps all had individual locks. But they hit the jackpot when Matt spotted the small gas truck. It was the size of a moving van and was still hooked up. They spent half an hour unhooking it whilst Matt went in search of hoses. He eventual found the right kind and packed them away. As he went back to Bill and George and found a lot of dead heading towards the farm. He found George waiting at the truck,but Bill was no where to be seen.

"We gotta go. Where's Bill?"

"Fetching water." George got into the truck and reached for the supplies Matt had. "He looked apprehensive.

"Buck will be fine. He's got people with him."

"Susan had people with her. Dobbs and Jeorge and Grace had people with them." George stared ahead and felt worry fill him."None of us are safe anymore."

"Right now George. We might find safety soon."Matt tried climbing into the truck but caught his hand on a a loose panel and nearly fell out. George grabbed him and pulled him easily into the cab. Matt settled and was about out ask where Bill had gotten to when George grabbed his hand.

"Your bleeding."George said.

He was. The panel had cut into his palm easily. George cradled his hand be fore fishing a hanky out of his pocket,something that Matt found a little observed in the current situation. Its a zombie apocalypse and George had hankies. He folded it and carefully pressed it to the cut,and Matt felt it then. The sharp sting made him hiss and George gently stroked the make shift bandage.

"We'll disinfect it when we get back."

Matt pulled his hand back and held the hankie himself when Bill came around the corner. He wasn't alone.

He was dragging a New Comer with him. The markings showed it was a Binam and George was out the truck so damn fast Matt didn't see it. He kept the door open as the three climb in and it was just in time. A zombie rounded the corner after them and Matt took the wheel and drove as fast as he could. There were only half a dozen zombies,but there were enough to cause them trouble. They past the dead women,and Matt was glad Bill was too busy looking after the binam to see the ten year old tearing pieces from the poor women. They drove pretty fast and past more zombies. They past a fight that was pretty much over,the people involve climbing into there own cars and racing off in another direction.

They got back to the boat before the other two teams.

* * * * *

Albert led the way, keeping an eye out and trying to focus. He was tired, his body running off far to little sleep. Yes his kind could go days without it, but he'd gotten used to putting his head down daily.Obviously he would have to alter the way he slept to try and get back into the rhythm of the-

A shudder ran through him as he remembered where they were going. The drop ship.

Albert would forever Praise Celine and Andarko for letting the crash. Because if they hadn't he wouldn't be here. He would have been on his way to that drop ship along with three hundred other new comers. 150 couples and just one Binam. It was to be a breeding colony. No more children on the ship,just those old enough to work. If it worked they would move all breeding to these breeding colonies. And the number of Binams could be strictly controlled. Another choice taken away from them. Just cargo waiting to be bought,sold and bartered. His trepidation must have showed because Brian slowed to walk a little closer to him.

"Whats wrong?"he asked.

"I'm not looking forward to be going back to ship."

Brian nodded."It was brave of you to suggest. It will give us some pretty decent protection."

"Lets just hope its still there."Ju said and stopped for a second."There's something in the trees."

They all stood still a moment before a cat ran out of the bushes,ignored them and went into another bush. They continued walking and Brian watched Albert. The New Comer was frightened about something, but he would find out later. Later. He kept saying later. Later had a habit of not coming lately.

As they walked they came across cars that had been abandoned and a site where a struggle had obviously taken place. They saw no people,living or dead. They walked until they felt rain falling.

"We need to head back. The rain might get worse and i don't want to be caught in a storm."Ju said and looked at the map they had been using. It wasn't the greatest map but at least it was something."If we take the road heading that way."he pointed"We hit the river and we can follow it back to the boat house."

"Your right. If we pick up the pace we can hit any cars we see." Brian stared down the round. "We might find something on the way back."

Chapter Text

The rain had been coming down for nearly an hour when Buck and the two soldiers had returned. That was soaked to the skin and freezing cold. Matt had started a fire in an old oil drum and the three men went to stand near it whilst George search for some dry clothing in there limited supplies. He found a shirt and some shorts for Buck and had to give Frickens and Drorn a couple of blankets.

"Why did it take you so long to get back?"George asked.

"Dead people. A lot of them."Frickens said. "And survivors. Only these guys weren't friendly."

"Start repairing the boat tonight." Matt looked back towards the supplies they'd got an earlier. "I'm going to try and get them fitted by morning."

"Matt if you push yourself too hard when your half asleep you might make a mistake." Cathy said.

"An if we don't get moving soon we risk being killed or found or...."Matt rubbed his face,"Damn it your right."

Cathy put her good arm around him and squeezed,"A couple of hours will clear your head. We could all do with the sleep."

No one could argue, and they began moving onto the boat.

X X X X X

Matt managed three hours sleep before he was woken by soft crying. He lifted his head and saw Buck near him,Vesna asleep with her tiny fingers clasped around his.

"Hey buddy."He said and sat up. Buck started to wipe his eyes and tried to pretend he hadn't cried. But it was useless.

"You should be sleeping." Buck told him.

"Yeah,well there's a lot of stuff we should be doing but it ain't happening."Matt looked around and found that they were alone in the lower decks. Well,he wasn't counting the unconscious Binuam. The guy was un bitten,but had taken a pretty bad blow to the head. He was called Arthur Pindrigan and he had spoken just once to ask where someone called Pauly. Now he was out of it again. He'd be good by morning,but whoever had hit him had been aiming to kill. If he'd been human he would have been dead.

"You want me to take Vesna for a little while."

"No,I'm good."Buck looked a little panicked at the idea of handing over his sister.

"Your don't have worry. She's got at least eight people who would die to protect her with us. And two trained soldiers." Matt assure him.

"Until we run into another group and they decide that they are in more need. Or they get word from their superiors and leave us in the Lurch." Buck pointed out."Face it, until we get somewhere safe we're not just not."

Matt knew there was no point arguing."Look, just try to get some sleep. I'm going to get a start on changing those pipes."

Standing and stretching Matt felt his back creak and crack in several places before he headed towards the engine room. Apparently George had been helpful by carefully removing the seals and old pipes in order to make things easier for Matt. Thank god the tanks on this boat were empty, otherwise they'd be waiting hours for them to empty. The new pipes were laid out on a tarp with a bottle of water and pack of beef Jerky.

"Guess they knew I'd come down here."Matt mumbled. He was heard by someone else.

"You need some help?"

Matt jolted and turned to see Frickens behind him. The private had stripped down to his vest,jacket over the top.

"Yeah. You done this before?" Matt asked.

"I've changed pipes on tractors and army vehicles. Shouldn't be two hard to figure out."

"I used to work on a boat. So just do what I tell you and we could have this done in a couple of hours."

"Kay."Frickens joined him and looked over the parts."Your pretty organized."

"I didn't do this. Probably George or Albert."

"Are they human or Alien."

"Their both New Comers. George is my partner and Albert was the custodian at the station."

Frickens knelt and lifted a hammer."Never met any New Comers before. Don't get them in the swamps. Mostly ain't welcome."he saw Matt's look,"I don't mind them. These guys seem alright. Mostly I've seen them on tv."

"Where are from?"Matt inspected the seals and saw he wouldn't have to change them.

"Petterlon Lake. About twenty miles from New Orleans. Tiny place." Frickens went a little quiet and shook himself out."They should be safe. Momma lives a way out from town and Pop can shoot straighter than I can."

"Well then,they'll probably do better than Los Angelies has done."

"Can't do much worse."

Matt gave him a look and Frickens began apologizing."Sorry. Sorry,its just...there ain't nothing left."

"No,"Matt turned back to the pipes,"There isn't."

X X X X X X X X X X

Cathy was scared,and the storm outside wasn't helping her nerves. Quiet rain on her apartment window was what she was used to, where a this...this was awful. Constant hammering hitting the roof above them. It sounded like hammers.

"How's your arm."Lidia asked.

"Oh,its okay Should be fully healed in a couple of days."

"Good." Lidia sat next to her and sighed. "I'm thinking of killing myself." Cathy stared at her in shock,but not surprise. She was actually surprised that no one had done it yet. Though she had expected it to be Dick or his father.

"What about your daughters?"

"Their why i'm still thinking."She looked down at her hands and tilted her head."A part of me thinks it would be so easy to just put a couple of pills into our water,or maybe a few drops of. something from the med kit but that might put someone else at risk later." Lidia bit her lip,a habit she had had since she was a child. Don used to say it reminded him of a cute little bunny. That though made her heart lurch,but no tears came. They came at night when no one could see them. When no one could pity or cry and offer comfort to her. She didn't want either. She wanted her grief,because without it she wouldn't feel anything.

With it she felt anger,pain and depression. Desperation and determination. She felt it all and kept her moving. Kept her mind sharp.

Which led her to asking Cathy,"Why aren't you trying to talk me out of it. Tell me there's still hope or-"

"There might not be any."Cathy butted in,"We could get to.the drop ship and it could be filled with others with the same idea as us. Or it could be impossible to get into. The dead may have over run it or Matt won't be able to.get the boat going or we'll be attacked by zombies or other people."Cathy kept her voice pitched low so the others,or at least the humans wouldn't hear her."We are up shit creek without a paddle Lidia. And if you want to get out before it gets worse the I don't blame you."

Lidia was a little taken aback by this. But then again, why should she be the only one thinking about ending it. About giving up?

"Why aren't you picking up the razor blade then?"

"Because I've seen more death and pain than anyone should have to. Not just on the slave ship, but here on earth. I've seen victims pf gang violence and flat out murder. Children abused so badly they might never recover. But I kept going to because to stop would be an insult to every one who didn't make it. Dick might not believe it but we are lucky. we could have been killed in the city. We could have been ripped to shreds in the cars. " Cathy looked towards Beatrice and Baby Anna, "Anna's parents we're good people. Kind. And they are dead. Its not their fault, but they are. We lost Jill and she had her whole life ahead of her and Hopper...I didn't know him well, but he was nice enough that I wish he hadn't died the way he had. I wish Donovan was alive. But they aren't. We are." There were tear now, and Cathy brushed them aside."I can't give n because to many have been lost. Too many who wanted to live are gone and to take my own life would mean I didn't deserve it in the first place."

Lidia understood. "Okay then. Okay. I better get back to the girls. They'll wake up if I ain't there and they need as much sleep as they can get."

Five hours and a lot of swearing later and Matt had done it. The pipes were in place and sealed,all they had to do now was to fill tbe fuel tank. which was going to he pretty difficult considering it was now surrounded by zombies. They weren't attacking,just milling around.

"They must have followed the engines sound before staying near the heat."Bryan said. Nothing has caught there attention to make the them move."

"So how do we get them to leave." Cathy asked, purposely not looking at the New Comer boy in a blue shirt who was leaning against the door of the truck. He wasn't too badly mauled,his bite most likely hidden under the long tear in his shirt. She thought of Andron and was glad he hadn't had to live through this.

Just as Matt was a about to suggest they lure the to the other side if the building,screaming started in the distance. The zombies began limping and wandering in that vague direction. They hobbled off and were gone withing minutes. The screamer was joined by others and soon quieted. Cathy rushed to check on Anna whilst Matt tried not to wonder who it was screaming. Instead he concentrated on getting to the van.

The down had to be unblocked,but it didn't take long. George raised his gun in case anything tried to get in. There was nothing out there.

Nothing but footprints and the odd smear of blood-

An open wallet. The was an open wallet on the ground,showing a drivers license and a family snapshot. Human husband,new comer wife and two human children. The women could have been a nanny but she was looking at the guy in a way that said husband. The name read Nathan Frandis,and he looked happy. Matt knelt and picked the picture up, wiping off stray mud. He thought of his own daughter,where she could be.

He shoved those thoughts away and slid the picture from the wallet to his back pocket. Then he turned his attention to the truck. He was about to open the door when he was stopped by George.

"There's blood on the handle. It might be infected."George pointed out. He opened the door for Matt and the climbed in after him."I need to talk to you about Dick. He's been eyeing the medicine bag since we got here,and has been trying to get close to the weapons."

"You think he might try and off himself?"

"I'm pretty much certain of it. He hasn't eaten since we left the cars,and his father can't get through to him at all."George looked towards the boat shed."He isn't the only one. We are at risk.of losing people to despair as we are to the dead."

"Yeah. Once we have the boat going I try and talk with him." Starting up the truck he saw that Buck had gotten the doors open. "Lets get the boat fueled. I wanna get out of here as soon as possible."

He got no argument from George as they drove into the boat shed.

Filling the boats fuel tank took another four hours using a hand pump. They took it in turns,Bryan,Albert,Man and Buck. George was keeping a very cranky Vesna from crying.

By the time they were able to turn the key on the boat they had been in the boat shed a whole day. Three groups of dead had walked by and no other survivors.

When they turned the key on the boat, they had no idea that help was coming from a completely un expected place.

Ahpossno had died and come back withing moments of returning to his ship. taken a chunk out of his commander before being he died and she was carried to the Overseers medical centre. She got loose twice before and bit three more people before being hit with a tray. It partially crushed his skull and dropped him. But the damage was done. When a virus breaks out on the ship the overseers would quarantine themselves for protection. They locked themselves in with the bacteria.

They were massacred. The ship was reported lost and self destructed in one final transmission before a few of the slaves, a few of the Udara got the quarantine and stopped the self destruct.

The Udara fought for freedom. They also fought for the ship as the now dead overseers attacked. Half the ship was lost before the mind control gas had worn off and they were able to muster those left.

Tianga was Udara and she was the one who got through to the main systems,who knew of lost cargo and bacteria. Who knew of a place that offered freedom. She found those where were smarter than her,who knew how to fly the ship. And they set coarse for a chance at freedom.

They set coarse for earth.

Chapter Text

Albert was changing Anna's diaper and trying to keep her kicking feet out the way as they slowly made their way river. They had gone maybe 5 miles and they were making far better time than if they gone on foot. They were safer to. Albert have been up on Deck just once and had seen enough to make him want to stay down below. They found a bus turned on its side, front Windows completely smashed and several undead attempting to crawl out. It had been a school bus. They'd also encountered another boat heading downstream, it's owners attempting to find family that owned a yacht. They were in Radio contact with each other so knew where they were heading. Less than 10 minutes later they heard yelling coming from downriver. The words 'their in the boat' had been very loud. The only person up there now was Bryan just concentrating on driving the boat. It wasn't too difficult to steer, river was pretty much straight with only two real curves. The river was also very deep and was often used for tours. The chances of them hitting any debris were pretty Slim. At least we hope there wasn't any debris. Albert told himself they were lucky to have the boat at all. Even if it only got them half way to the destination they will still halfway there without being killed.

Albert didn't want to lose anyone else. He'd lost May and then they lost Dobbs. Poor little Jill had been stolen by a car accident with Hopper and Zapeda's father had gone along with Bryan's sister in law. How many more were they going to lose?

"She causing you trouble?"

Albert turned to see Kaley. She was Ju and Lin's daughter and she wanted to help."It works better if you put the fresh diaper down first."

"Thank you. Its different changing a human infant."

Kaley smiled."I babysit a lot,I know my way around babies." she reached out and stroked Anna's arm."If you need any help, just ask."

"I will. Do you need anything else you needed."

"No. I just...I just don't want to be alone right now."

"Ah. I understand."

Kaley fiddled with the blue bangle on her wrist. She had quite a few. At least a dozen on one arm alone. The other arm was covered in friendship bracelets. It made Albert's hearts ache.

"Did you,did you lose anyone?"

Albert gave a nod,"My girlfriend,May. She was killed quite early on."

"I was at the mall with my friends when Zoe's mom picked us up."Kaley touched a purple friendship bracelet."I got dropped off. I heard from Lisa and Diane later that day but Zoe...I don't think she made it. She lived on the other side of Los Angeles. It got infested pretty quick."

"I know. It spread very quickly." Albert put Anna back in her onesie and lifted her up."Have you heard from anyone else."

Kaley held up a small device that looked like a beeper. "Its not working right but i get random messages. Lisa is on her way to Texas and Diane is hold up in her grandparents place. But there's been nothing since last night."

"I'm sure that...that you'll will hear something soon."he didn't want to give any false hope. He knew how devastating it could be.

"Here's hoping." Kalely shook her head hard and gave a weak smile."My brother keeps telling me that there is a purpose to all this. A grande reason. But I can't think what it might be. I think he's only saying that to keep himself from going crazy."

"I think a lot of people believe that to help them get through troubled times." Albert looked over towards Kei and watched as he sorted the packs to be more evenly distributed. He had also organised the rations into human/new comer order and had even sorted through clean and dirty clothing so he could start getting it washed while they were safe. Albert didn't mind that as not human's and New comers were starting to smell pretty bad. He was just about to ask what Kei was going to do next when the boat lurched to the left.

"What the hell."Kaley said, and Albert handed the baby to her."Take Anna, I'll go see what happened."

X X X X X X X X X X

There was a car in the water. It was empty, but Brian had to steer around pretty quickly. It was half hidden if weeds and fallen trees. As he past he saw what had to be the worst car accident he'd seen in years. A truck was sticking up in the air from where it had reared up onto the side of a mini van. A corvet and ford were so entangled he couldn't see where one car started and the other ended. The cars behind were literally bumper to bumper, the damage to them getting less and less as they got further way from the crash. A few un dead mingled and as they got to clearer road Brian saw a bill board has been partially stripped of its advertisement and replaced with a hastily spray painted 'road un-passable. go back'

"Holy shit that's bad."Ju said and watched as they past the wreckage.

"It looks like the cars wouldn't have gotten us much further than this."George said,and he was soon joined by an oily looking Matt.

"Thank god we found the boat."Matt went to the hand rail. He looked out over the cars and saw a couple of dead head towards the,falling off the edge of the bank and into the river. They made an attempt to reach them but were quickly swept away. Now he saw it happen Matt couldn't help but look into the water below. The water was pretty clear and debris floated by/ but nothing bad. A branch,a few bits of plastic and a surprising amount of foliage. When he looked up again they road was pretty clear barring the occasional dead thing and animal. Albert came and stood next to him.

"I do not like how quiet the roads are. This is a busy tourist route."

"I don't think people are site seeing Albert."

"But it would be a good escape route."

Both men were quiet for a moment. Then they past more open ground and Albert gasped.

The field was filled cows. Maybe three dozen calfs and there mothers. On the far side a bull was running about. Something was fling into the air.

"Is that a..."Matt squinted,"Holy cow it is." It was a zombie was tossed. Several had wandered into the field and mingled with the cattle,seeming to attack but stopping. Some of the dead spotted them and began chasing the boat,only to fall in the river and be swept away when the current got to strong and they too vanished. The bull sent another one flying when it got to close to the babies and most were now trying to get to the boat. The further up river they got the wider the and deeper the river got which allowed Brian to go a little faster than earlier. They left the cows behind and almost everyone went back below deck. Albert remained with Brian.

"You don't have to stay up here you know." the human said. "I'm okay on my own."

"I want to keep an eye out up here. Besides its quiet. There aren't that many place you can see the banks."

This was true. They were hitting more forested areas. The banks were steep and trees acted as a barrier. If they didn't know better it could have been an afternoon spent enjoying the view. They were traveling at a decent pace now,nearly twenty miles an hour. If the kept the tank full they would reach there disembarkation point in less than 48 hours. From there it was an hours drive or probably a few hours walk. But Brian and Matt would need real breaks until then,so they would have to show the others how to drive the boat.

"Albert, I want you to take the wheel." Brian said. Albert gave him a shocked look and then grinned.

"Really?"

"Yeah. Get you butt over here. Just listen to what I tell you and we should be fine ."

"Okay."

The next hour was spent showing Albert the basics and watching the scenery go by. Occasionally they would hear gun fire,or shouting. But it didn't last long. Drorn came and joined them after a while went to the stern to see what the journey ahead looked like. He even nabbed his binoculars to see what he could make out further up. Whatever he saw had him moving pretty quickly to Brian and Albert.

"Slow us down. We have trouble."

X X X X X X X X X X

The bridge was fine. But the zombies crossing it would try and get to them. And falling zombies wouldn't be a good thing.

"Can't we cut the engines and hope they won't notice us." Kei asked from his spot near the packs. He kept re arranging them.

"Won't work. The rivers current is to strong for us to get by without the engines."Drorn explained. "And slowing down isn't an option either. The longer we"re under the bridge the more of them could fall onto to boat."

Matt looked towards the bridge. They had slowed down but were getting closer."We gun it. We get under as quickly as possible and deal with what ever falls. We close the doors to the lower decks and we stay under the tarpaulin guide wires. Anything that his the deck will get damaged enough to give us a chance to bash their skulls William no other real plan Matt,George, Albert,the soldiers and Brian nabbed their weapons and chose there point of defence. Lidia joined them with a length of metal pipe. George would have told her to go back to her daughters but the look of determination on her face was more than he could deter,so he pointed her to the center of the boat and hoped for the best.

Brian took control of the steering again and upped the speed as high as he looked up at the teaming mass of undead that were trying to reach over the rails. As the bow got in range one managed to topple over and miss the bow by a meter. As did another. The third hit the edge of the boat and splashed down,leaving behind a bloody smear. The sound of groaning became overwhelming. The next zombie to fall landed on the boat with a crunch. Luckily it landed on its head and didn't get back up. The next one wasn't so lucky. It obviously broke some major leg bones because it couldn't get back up. But it did crawl towards Drorn,who used the butt of his gun to smash its skull just as another of the things hit the deck just behind him. George took out this one before it could grab the soldier. One landed so close to Lidia it splattered her with blood and she sent yer pipe down on its neck and jaw before bashing through the skull. By now the boat was half way under and coming out on the other side. Luckily all the zombies had head to the Other side of the bridge as they'd approached and seemed to be slow on the uptake as they reached the other side. But as the aft of the ship was crossing under something above gave way and nearly eight of them came crashing down. Nearly eight because one appear to loose its legs when it hit. At once both soldiers took aim and fired. Sadly this meant that the ones above began following the gun fire and reached the 'safe' side of the bridge. There weren't enough to make cause them to to topple over yet but it wouldn't take long.

Four of the eight were down but the other three and a half were closing on them Frickens came forward to help Matt,who nearly got caught between two as he raised his bat. Albert hit one hard enough to send it over the railing. The back swing knocked the other one back enough to give him some breathing space. Considering it was only half a zombie it didn't need much of a swing. He bought weapon down as the boat was half way to safety and the first zombie managed to drag itself over the new side of the bridge. This one was New Comer,or had been. The only thing recognisable was the two hearts,easily visible through the gaping wounds in its chest. It took Albert and Lidia to take it down, taking out the knees before going for the head. The next was a teenage girl who was in pajamas. Lidia managed to deal with this one alone. Only two more came down as the past under the bridge. They could deal with two. What they couldn't deal with was one being so large it went through the floor and into the lower deck.

The roof caved and Toby got himself and Emily out from underneath just in time. He dragged them both under a decrepit table, huddling down so the wouldn't be noticed. They weren't because Baby Vesna stated to cry from her bed of blankets. The room seemed to go quiet for a split second before the zombie lurched and Buck moved. He launched himself at its legs and bought it down just as Mariliyn came in with a shovel and sent it crashing down with all her weight. The edge, though blunt, sunk in pretty deep, but not deep enough to hit the brain. The handle snapped and left the shovel blade embedded in the zombies head. It managed to wiggle closer to Vesna but then decided that whatever was holding it feel was warm enough to be alive. it turned its massive body and attempted to reach for Buck, but Marilyn slammed the handle of the shovel into the arm. Into it. The flesh was decaying enough that she could get through it. Black blood and pink fat splattered the floor before it tried lurching side ways again.

"Some one grab a weapon!" Buck yell and the doors to the upper deck came open, his dad and Matt rushing down. The both dealt with the zombie whilst Marilyn went and grabbed Vesna, who immediately calmed. From above Brian asked what the hell was happening.

"We dealt with it. We dealt with it." Matt said, wondering how they would get the body out.

X X X X X X X X X X

Tianga had vented the dead through the engine bay, turning the bodies to dust, and was unprepared for how few had survived.

Just 10,500 of a 200,000 strong crew were left. The Over seers had locked a lot of the cargo in the living quarters. Few got out. Those who survived had been left to fly the ship. Tianga hated that so many were dead. Hated the Over Seers for thinking so little of them.

"How long until we reach the earth."

"Another two days. We can load the drop ships and program the mothership into the sun. Once it self destructs it will be destroyed, any debris will burn up and we will not fear it being found." she explained."Have see if we can't use one of the drop ships for supplies. It will give us more to survive on once we reach the earth."

One of the males, Diegho, was looking over data retrieved from the infected vessel that had bought the bacteria to the ship. "According to this humans can be aggressive but also understanding to the 'New Comers'. From the looks of it they have helped the Techtonese who landed to really be techtonese. No religious suppression,no enforced breeding or offspring culls."Diegho gave a little laugh,"they have even given the Binaums the right to live as normal citizens rather than kept in the designated zones. Incredible."

Tianga smiled. "It is sad they have fallen to search and awful palgue. How far has it spread?"

"Our scanners have picked up translated a lot of their military intelligence."

The screen to Tianga's left lit up."This says that 87 percent of the nations have reported cases. How has it spread so quickly."

"Each nation on the planet has its own military and different ways of fighting. And several seem to be using the crises to invade or deal with issues that peace treaties have stopped."

Several of the Techtonese gathered looked a little nervous. Not many liked the idea of heading to a planet that was currently being ravished by a plague. Especially created by accident trying to kill there kind.

But they didn't have another choice. If they stayed on the ship too long eventually the Over seers elsewhere would find out the ship hadn't self destructed. They's be followed an re-enslaved. Earth,despite its faults,was there best chance.

"Set course and put us in a wide orbit until we're ready to leave the ship."

"Do you know where we'll land?"Diegho asked.

"We have the tracker for the drop ship on that planet. We'll drop near by."

X X X X X X X X X X

The day wore on without any other issues,and working together they were able to drag the body out and dropped it,and the others,over board. They cleaned up as best they could before using using tarpaulin they cut free of the awnings the cover the hole in the deck. Everyone avoided it as best they could. At some point Albert cornered several rats,so the new comers on board were able to eat those whilst the humans pooled the canned goods.

"We're gonna have to find more food. We won't last long with out it. Water we can bring up from the river and boil. It won't be too hard to use the galley and rig the up to work. One of the big pots was be the burner and we'll use the stove as normal." Brian said and ate what he hope was a cherry. "But food will be harder."

"We could try fishing." Albert said. "There's bound to be a fishing store or bait shop along the river."

"Possible. We cod use wire and nails. But i'm doubt full the fish would go by anything that's covered int oil." Dick said. He got funny looks. "What,nails and wire work in adventure books."

"Those must have been some wacky books." Matt said and shook his head. "But your right, fishing could be a good option."

Cathy perked up and smile."I can help you there. There was a lot of good, unused rope in the supply room. With a little help I'm sure I could make a few nets. Not big but if we might catch something."

"Can we really unravel an entire rope by ourselves?"Lin asked, "It seems a little unrealistic."

Matt snorted,"Not for New Comers. I've seen Cathy put up an entire Ikea bedroom set in an hour without a single curse word."

Cathy flushed."It was two hours hours and I did get a little loud." Okay, it was an hour and a half and she shouted because she stepped on screw. But she didn't like reminding the humans how the New Comers were far more....competent at these kinds of things at times. She set about finishing her rat and waited for Lin's reaction.

"If it might work I'll help. Not like I have anything else to do." She finished her can,"And I agree that we have to find more food. I don't want any of us getting to weak to walk."

"We'll keep an eye out. We might find a house or something." Matt said. He then put down his can and headed up the stairs."I'm gonna check on Brian."

Up on deck it was clear, the sky a pleasant blue. hard to think that not long ago there had been a raging storm. Brian was up on the helm hugging his wife. He didn't want to intrude, but Brian caught site of him and gestured him over. He looked liked he'd been crying. When they pulled apart he saw Lucy's shirt covered in blood.

"Its not mine, its Bills." she said,"He, was dislodging a zombie from the side of the boat only it.....it wasn't dead. It took off the top of his finger."

Matt realized Bill hadn't been eating with them. He went to ask where he was and Lucy seemed to guess what he was about to say, because she turned and pointed. Bill was standing at the front of the boat, staring at the river ahead.

Matt walked slowly to him, stopping just behind him. He wanted to say something, but the words wouldn't come. They didn't have to because Bill spoke first.

"My son will probably try and kill himself."

Matt said nothing.

"I, don't want to die. I want to keep living. But we both know I'm a dead man. I can feel it working in me already. I think...I don't think I'm going to have much time." He finally turned around. His hand was missing the pinky finger and was turning an angry red color.It had stopped bleeding. It shouldn't have, it should still be bleeding when he didn't have a bandage or anything."But I certainly don't want my son to die either. I, I need to know that when I've past you won't just let him stick his head in a noose or a bullet in his brain."

"I-" Matt heaved a sigh,"I have no idea if I can stop him. But I will promise I will try. we all will. But right now you need to talk to him."

"I know." Bill said and looked down at his hand."Could you, could you send him up."

"Yeah. I'll go get him."

Matt was a cop and had had to tell a lot of people there loved ones were gone, but for some reason, sending a kid to here it first hand, that was hardest. Watching him go up the stairs to speak with his dad was hard.

It was harder hearing the wails of 'NO!' come from above.

Chapter Text

Arthur Pindrigin woke up an hour after Bill past away and immediately asked where his brother was. Upon hearing what had happened at the farm he gone up to the main deck and was no watching the river go by, whilst Dick was sitting at the bow staring at nothing. Frickens had taken the body below and put his knife through the back of the head just as the muscles had started to twitch. It had creeped him out no end and he'd left as quickly as he could. Bill's body was covered in a sack and left in the fuel storage area. Zapeda and her family were finally starting to interact a little more, but the shock of losing Jeorge had been big.

He returned to Drorn and the survivors to find them pouring over tourist and regular maps trying to find somewhere to find food. The net that had planned to make a net was a no go when the damn thing label read that ut was treated with a bug repellent. Not fish would ever get close enough to get caught in it. Not that it would have worked anyway. The chances of catching anything other than a zombie or body part were pretty slim. He settled himself between Drorn and Lucy, before looking down at the map. Their first choice of stop had been pretty much over run so now they had to find somewhere else. They were trying to decide between a bait shop and a tourist trap declaring the worlds biggest sock collection.

"The tourist trap is going to have nothing but snack food and maybe a hotdog stand." Ju pointed out

"Exactly. Long lasting, small and easy to carry and most importantly is surround by a fence. The zombies have probably left it alone because they can't get in." Zapeda stated as tugged on her jacket. She was beginning to notice a nasty unwashed smell, but it wasn't like anyone could help it.

"But someone else has most likely raided it." Matt said, "Its to close to a main road. Other will have forgotten to it. And that's another point. The main road. The bait shop is close to the river and is bound to have some camping equipment and a storage house attached."

"I, I have a suggestion."Lucy said, leaned over the map to point something out.

George smiled at her and asked,"Where do you think we can go?"

"There's a rehab clinic that was closed last month for refurbishment, but was due to re open yesterday. I don't think anyone will have thought to go there since it was pretty remote. I think."She stopped for a moment and then said,"The idea that we go to the ship is a good one, but I don't think we should all be going. Its dangerous."

"Yes, but its also a pretty good idea."Matt said,"We'll be there soon, so whats the worry. Even if its not available we can head up into the mountains for safety."

"And exactly where do we go. The cabins up there will most likely be full of survivors, and can any one of us say we actually know how to survive up there. The new comers among us won't have it easy as well. There's bound to be people out there who blame them, and with no supplies or cold weather gear how long will we last?"

"She is right."Albert said,"I should have thought this through better. But at the time-"

"The plan is a good one, but Lucy is right, we need to send a small group ahead in order to make sure the way is clear." Cathy said. "We can find a safe place to stay and then we decide who to send. If we can find food then maybe some of us can stay on the boat while the others go ahead."

Matt looked at the spot on the map that Lucy pointed to and something clicked in his memory, "Isn't that the rehab center that has a seven foot tall stone wall around it? And barred windows?"

"And its own emergency generator."Lucy said."I volunteered there for a short time last year. I thin that is its available it might be safer than the boat. If we have to abandon the boat then we get stuck out in the open. But with this place..."

"We might only have to do a general sweep." George grinned, smiling for the first time in days,"We could be there in the next hour if we don't have to stop."

"So are decided on this?" Matt asked.

Lin nodded, but Ju looked a little nervous."I still say we should try taking a trip to the bait and tourist place, just in case we find something useful."

"We can arrange it." Matt said.

X X X X X X X X X X X

Brian spotted the place first, or at least the back fences sign. There were iron fences all along the river front, with two gates leading to a small jetty. On the Jetty was a tent and a women sitting next to it looking tired. As the boat approached she looked nervous, and made her shot gun very apparent. Her shirt was covered in blood and she looked like she hadn't slept in days.

"Hey, got room for another person on that tub."She asked.

"Yeah. But do you mind me asking why you can't go to the Rehab clinic. Is it over run?"Lucy asked, desperately praying that this sanctuary was still available.

"Yes and no. There's about twenty of them in the building, and another dozen scatter around the place. Some idiot decided to bring a bus load of bitten people up here to treat them. Thought it would be good publicity." She snorted and let the gun drop. "I have a few cans I can trade if you can get me up river. Or your welcome to try and get in there, but its not gonna be easy."

Lucy looked very put out,"Well, are the front gates locked, do you know where the dead are?"

"The gates are locked, nothing can get in or out without the main key, and that's in the main house. And most of the dead outside are near the garage, at least I think they were. They've probably spread out by now. I heard a lot of movement in the night." She looked over the boat. "How far could you get me in that thing?"

"We're only going another 50 miles or so."

She sighed."Better than nothing I guess."

George motioned for Matt and Brian, and they came to him."I think we should at least try and get this place. Lucy is right, we can't put all our eggs on one casket. If we can clear the grounds, the main building should be easy so long as we can separate them out."

"And how do you suppose we do that?"Matt asked.

"We have people outside tap on the widows and distract them. We go in and take out as many as we can. If there really are only twenty we might even be able to heard them into one place." George looked back over at the women,"We could lure the ones on the grounds to the back gates, try and get them through the gates. We did it at Bill's place."

"Its a possibility."Brian said, "But do we have the tools. We only have six guns between us and limited ammo. How many hand tools do we have."Matt asked, "I know we have a couple of hammers and a few kitchen knives, but I don't think they'll be much use to us."

George looked towards the fence, and the at the trees, and got an idea." How much rope do we have?"

X X X X X X X X X X X

They unraveled the rope so that it was slightly thinner and easier too handle, and then set about tying nooses and snare knots into them. Zapeda was lining them up and careful making sure that they wouldn't fall out or come loose whilst her mother and cousin were in the kitchen sharpening knives. They had four from the boat kitchen. There had been six but two had pretty much disintegrated when they tried to sharpen them.

"This is a ridiculous idea."Brian said."I can't believe I am letting you do this."

"I can climb easily. The noise will attract the dead and once there under the tree I can snare them and tie them to the branches." Albert explained, and gave a small reassuring smile."Its not a danger. Me and Buck can do it easy. And Mr Pindrigin said he'll help."

"How is he."

"Sad. He lost his friends and he is just trying to keep busy. He wants to go home,see if anyone survives."Albert looked over at the new comer in question."They lived in a commune west of the city. It might still be standing."

"Maybe."Brian shook his head."I'm going with you to the ship by the way. I know you plan on going with the soldiers. I'm going too."

Albert froze."No. Sir its too-"

"Don't me sir. I am going. I don't trust those soldiers to bring you back in one piece."Brian finished off his noose."And I will damn well make sure you make it back."

Albert was going to argue more but the look on Brian's face told him that he would get nowhere. His friend was determined to come with them and nothing he could say would dissuade him. So he instead concentrated on the task ahead. He,Buck and Pindrigin would climb over the fences and into the trees. From there they would secure themselves before making enough noise to draw the Dead to them. Then it was just a case of getting the ropes around their necks and pulling until they could not move far from the tree. They would then move to the next tree and repeat their actions until they had gathered as many as they could. It would take a few hours but they would at least have an easier time of killing the zombies.

If they moved fast enough then they might get all of the ones on the grounds before night fell and they could concentrate on the ones in the house in the morning.

The woman who had been standing on the jetty was called Stacey and she had just enough to feed everyone. It wouldn't be a very filling meal but it would be enough to stave off hunger until the morning. She was actually very surprised that they were going to attempt to regain the rehab centre. She honestly thought the place was lost but if they thought they could do it she would let them try.

Zapeda was a little more than worried about the plan but would go along with it. They needed the supplies and she would be lying if she said the prospect of a safe place to sleep that wouldn't think of them was a nice one. Her family needed somewhere safe they could properly more her father. She still found it difficult to believe that he was gone. She looked at all of the ropes and knots wondered if the plan would actually succeed. After all it would only take one missed step or weak branch and someone could end up with dead. She didn't want to have to bury another friend. But they have to take some kind of risks at some point, otherwise they would never find safety. And safety was something that was in a terribly short supply. She was suffering her own losses on her little boat with her friends. The same losses millions of others across the globe were suffering.

X X X X X X X X X X

Diegho had been monitoring the broadcasts from earth since they had disengaged from the mother ship. It was mostly bad news, but every now and then news would come through of a victory. A town saved in Germany,the undead driven from a village in Scotland. An entire city defending itself from undead invaders in Russia. Diegho had no idea what or where these places were,but he was glad to hear they were surviving. It meant hope for themselves. They had made plans of course. Suitable weapons had been handed out,and everyone was being ordered to rest until they landed. Many were far to excited,but some slept. Soon they would have a lot of work to do. Helping to clear an entire planet of a disease like this wasn't going top be easy.

"Are you worried."Tianga asked and came to sit beside him.

"A little."

"So am I. But I just remind myself that we are free. The mothership is following orders to destroy itself and soon we'll be meeting others who are no longer enslaved."She smiled safely. "I just wish that our freedom had not come at such a high price."

"I wish it as well."Diegho agreed,"But not all hope for this world is lost. There are survivors and where there are survivors there is hope."

"How long until we make landfall."Tianga asked.

"Approximately 18 hours of the Earths rotation."Diegho explained and bought up the hologram of earth. "We will have to land a few miles wide of the drop ship,but we should be able to make contact with the local survivors as soon as we land."

"Good. That's good."

X X X X X X X X X X

Buck Spotted the first undead beneath his tree and he was able to hook the noose around it's arm and neck quite easily. He kept the nurses as soon as possible in order to get the best grip on the zombies below. Once he had the zombie hooked once hooked He rapped the Rope around the sturdiest tree branch he could find and hold the Rope as tight as he could. In fact he even managed to pull the zombie on to its tiptoes, limiting it's movement severely. He had made enough noise trapping one that he managed to draw two more and dead to him. Buck was incredibly shocked to see that one of the zombies was an actress he knew quite well. There has been a lot of rumours that she had become an alcoholic and the fact that she had been brought to the rehab centre was proving those rumours right. Buck was willing to guess that the Doctor who brought the sick to the rehab centre wasn't trying to look good but trying to keep his patients from relapsing whilst sick. At least the doctor was thinking of his patients health rather than lining his pockets or building his reputation. He couldn't wait to tell Marilyn.

Marilyn. He was beginning to understand why his parents constantly told him that love could transcend species. For so long he had been angered by human/newcomer relationships. He couldn't understand why his kind would want to pair themselves with humans. But Marilyn had changed his mind,had proved humans could be good,kind. Could be just like New Comers.

As he hooked his next zombie he. Wondered if he should drag it up and stab it now,but he didn't want to risk falling. Instead he had to spend ten minutes hooking the damn thing because the blood and gore coating it made the rope slide off.

On the other side of the rehab centre Albert was running out of ropes. He had ten of the damn thing rounded up under three different tress so he thought it would be safe to start moving close to the the actual rehab centre. It took ten minute to navigate the tree branches and now he could see it. The building was at least a hundred years old, but there were modern touches. All of the windows had metal shutters on them and they were closed. But the one upstairs was open, and he could see movement. He thought it was something dead but then someone walked outside and began waving rapidly. He waved back and risked shouting."

"Are you okay."

"No."She mouthed , and pointed to the door behind herself at the door."Dead outside."

She was joined by another guy who was obviously a doctor. He appeared ton asked her what was going on. She pointed at him and smiled. Albert could see the word rescue party on her lips.

Albert called out."No. Everything's falling apart. We are clearing this place so we can be safe. Do you know how many are outside your door."

She mouthed again,"About six. There is two of us in here. We trapped some in the meeting room. The rest are scatted.Can you get us out?"

Albert looked beneath him and saw a single zombie wandering towards him. He spotted Pindrigin in a tree across the way from him and saw him hold up two fingers. Hopefully Buck had caught any strays they didn't know about and he looked back to the two trapped people."We can."

Chapter Text

They entered the rehab centers grounds and Albert led Brian and Zapeda to the tree he had hooked the dead too and was relieved to see that none had managed to slip their ropes. It was a mixed group. Mostly made up of patients,but there were two orderlies or nurses. They each sported nasty wounds,but nothing bad enough to impede their movements

"We each take a side. One goes for the hit whilst the others keep them from getting bitten. Agree?" Zapeda asked and both men nodded. Brian took a step forward and raised his hammer,waiting.for an opening to strike. The dead came towards him but veered off when Albert got a little. Loser,pulling the to the side and Brian. Bought the claw end of the hammer down as hard as he could. The shock of it raced up his arm and made him grunt at the sensation. He hit a female Orderly who went down like a tonne of bricks. When she went limp she caught on a patients arm and it lost its balance before Zapeda sunk her knife into the skull. It went in through the temple,but Zapeda lost the knife yanking her hand away from a zombie that made a lunge for her fingers.

"Shit." she snapped.

"We'll get it back when their dead." Brian. Said and bought his hammer down again. It took less than two Minutes to deal with the dead and Zapeda didn't get his knife back because. The handle snapped off when she tried to pull it loose,leaving the blade sunk into his head. She followed behind as they advanced towards the house and tried not to alert any hidden dangers. They were one weapon down and none wanted anyone hurt. The closer they got to the house, the more movement they could hear and soon came across Buck and Marilyn. He had nasty new stains on their cloths and looked tired.

"Where's George?" Brian asked.

"Dealing with one that got loose. It wandered off and-"

"I got it."George said, completing his son's sentence and appearing out the bushes. "It hadn't gotten far."

"Good. We can't risk any of them popping up when we least expect it." Brian continued on and soon they reached the main building. It was a pretty place, all red brick and pleasant molding and seemed like the perfect place to recover from self inflicted vices. Above them the two survivors were watching them with hopeful eyes. Albert waved up at them and the small group looked at the house.

"Okay, this place is big, and Stacey said that she couldn't be certain how many were on the ground floor. Any Ideas?" George said.

Marilyn was the one to come up with an idea."We knock the windows and wait to see if anything come to them. If we know what rooms they are in and have an escape route once we are in we stand a chance."

"Or you'll just get yourself eaten. They'll follow the knocking right to the front door." Buck argued, putting a hand on Marilyn's arm and causing George to have....suspicions. Suspicions he had been having for a few days now, and he was unsure what to make of them. But he shoved them from his mind and concentrated on the plane.

"Not if we lead them away from the door we'll be using as an entrance. We knock at the first windows until we are sure that its clear. Then we send in Someone and the can shut the doors on those room."

"And if they don't have doors."

"They'll be doors Buck. It's a rehab center, doors are needed for isolation and safety. Worst comes to worst, we can shut ourselves in that room and climb out the windows. The lower levels have shutters, and they aren't pulled down right now. All we'll need to do is unlock or smash them." Marilyn turned to the house."Once we're in all we have to do is not get cornered."

Brian wondered if it was the best plan, but it was all they had at that moment. "Okay, so who is going in?"

X X X X X X X X X X

Matt was walking the border fence and walls to make sure there were no breaks, Arthur silent beside him.

The unknown New Comer broke his silence by asking,"Do you think they knew this would happen?"

"Who?"

"The Purists? Do you think they knew this would happen."

Matt shook his head,"I have no doubt that if they had known the consequences, they wouldn't have made this stuff. There nut jobs, but they aren't dumb enough to do something like this on purpose." he hoped. Humanity had done some dumb shit in the past, but he doubted anyone would actually do something like....okay, he had always hoped they wouldn't. But no one said mankind was smart."Okay, so I hope they weren't dumb enough."

Arthur nodded."Humans have faults, but only a handful are truly stupid. Then again, so are New Comers."He gave a heavy sigh,"I don't think I'll be getting home for quite sometime. But I will be safe until then, which is a blessing."

"Just pray we keep that blessing, because I for one-what the hell?"Matt stared between the bars of the fencing, embedded in the rock wall in front of him. "Tell me I am not seeing things?"

"You are not. I think they may have come from the wild life park. They were housing them. But weren't they moved to Chicago last months?"

Matt gave a laugh and said."No. Animals rights activists tried to kidnap them. Their keeper must have let them loose." Them being six, all to real, full grown elephants, and two babies wondering down hill. One nibbled from a tree and another was looking towards them., wary but also curious. Arthur grinned and waved to them. It raised its trunk once and then began moving away.

They were not the only ones. In the ruins of a playground on the very edge of Los Angeles a pride of lions lazily picked through the dead, glutted on flesh. Flying south several African vultures flu and swooped to take the occasional nip form something dead. Down near Mexico there was even a herd of Hippos wading into a river to enjoy the water. All over the world, animal both native and non were moving easily among the dead without a worry.

Not everywhere of course,but there was more than one animal smart enough to itself. And some of them were currently going about their merry way without a care in the world.

"Will they be alright."Arthur asked.

"The zombies aren't touching animals. I'm guessing its because they can't spread the bacteria." Matt wondered if it was possible to use this information to help them,but remembered he was just a cop,not a scientist. They'd probably need a doctor ten times smarter than they were. And how many of them would have survived this? How may of the government managed to hide away in safety. Was there even government anymore. Shaking those thoughts from his he instead bought his attention back to the now. And the act that Arthur was motioning to him. Because following the herd and the noise it was making was a group of two dozen dead, that swiftly left their site and disappeared down the road."And maybe them running free isn't too bad a thing." Arthur nodded and they continued the perimeter check, eventually Meeting up with Lucy and Drorn.

"You see anything." Drorn asked.

"A herd of Elephants." Arthur answered and Drorn snorted.

"Be serious."

"He is. They just past by."Matt watched several emotions cross Drorn's face, ranging from irritation, confusion and utter shock before his shoulders slumped and he simply motioned for them to follow him."Lets go."

They turned towards the house and started walking. The dead that had been tied up had been set with and to be honest Matt was glad he'd gotten perimeter duty. these things were dead,but that make it easy. Each zombie reminded him of someone he had known,someone who could be dead or alive or hurt or - possibilities were endless. And terrifying. As they walked he also wondered whether or not he would volunteer to go to the ship.

It wasn't that he was afraid. But he was...unwilling to face anymore dead than he he had to. And he knew why it was. It was because of his daughter. He had heard pretty much nothing from Kirby or his ex wife since the phones and connections went down. He was terrified of coming across his baby girl among the dead. Hell the idea of seeing his ex wife like that was stomach churning.

So maybe he's stay at the rehab center. No one would blame him for wanting to.

X X X X X X X X X X

Toby missed his parents. Now that he could think about them and not the non stop threat of zombies he felt the not knowing gnawing a hole in his stomach. The knowledge that he would never see his family again. His mom or his siblings or his dad. None of them. When he thought of his uncle he felt a seething hatred. If that, that bastard had just said something they would have been safe. They could have gotten away or defended against-
"Your hurting." Emily said,sitting next to him near the captains seat.

"I don't want to talk about it." he said.

"You don't have to. I know what it feels like."

Toby knew she had. Her mother and her best friend were both dead. What was left of her family was now risking their lives In The hopes if finding a safe place to stay. If anywhere could be safe anymore. The two sat in silence together,watching the other survivors waited as they did. Dick was among them,staring down at the water as it went past them. Toby wondered if Dick watching the water or zombies. Emily wandered if he was going to jump. Dick just wanted to make sense of what was happening to his life.

Lucy was watching her Nephew from across the boat, worried sick not just for him but those inside the rehab centers grounds. And what would happen now she knew he was alive. Lucy hadn't meant to start an affair. She really hadn't. It had just sort of happened. She and Dr Paul Docker had met at a fundraiser six months before and it had been an instant attraction. And things between her and Brian hadn't been good for a while,but she had never wanted to cheat. In fact she had physical cheated yet. She had emotionally,but not physically. Some how that seemed worse. If had just been about sex it could be forgiven. A mere bodily fling that could be written off and fixed with a some therapy. But it wasn't.. It was a mental and soul deep,connection. Even if she and Brian hadn't had trouble it most likely would have happened the same way. And it was going to be a hell of a shock to Brian.

Lydia was sitting with her girls,wondering if she should end it all. Cathy was right, ending her own life was her choice,and if she took the girls with her then it was awful but understandable. But what would it mean for her girls. They were tired and scared and grieving,but that didn't mean they wanted to die.But Lidia...she wasn't sure anymore. She wasn't sure if she wanted to lie down and never get up or fight on.

And then there was Raphael, who watch his family and wandered if Carlos was still trapped in the bathroom where he had left him, But the two of them lived in one on the most over run areas. Carlos had probably been incinerated along with every other un dead in the city.

And all of them waited. They waited for news from those inside the grounds.

X X X X X X X X X X

They had six crammed up against a window on the south side of the building, and Brian would be going in to shut the door behind them. His gun had been hidden in the ankle holster and though he felt guilty for using it, He knew it was necessary. To say he was crapping himself was an understatement, but Zapeda had to admit that though it had been a few years since he had been in a gun fight, he was still a better shot than she was. He stood at the door as Albert got ready to open it and readied himself. Zapeda waited behind him with his Hammer, ready to follow should he call for help.

"Good Luck Brian." Albert said, and gave him a small smile. Then he pulled open the door and Brian was through,

It was a large atrium leading to the stairs and a room off to each side. One led around to the kitchens. One led to the room where the dead were waiting. Brian was quiet and careful and made his way to on room, shutting the door the to the day room to ensure nothing could come in. Then he started towards the unsafe room. There was a pool of blood which looked as though it had been walked through several times and a name tag sat in the half congealed mess. As he moved he started hearing movement and realised what it was. He could hear them trying to get at Marilyn on the other side of the glass where she was keeping them occupied. Speeding up he was careful to shut each door he past, and lock them where he was able to. The closer he got, the more his muscles seemed to bunch and ready him for either running, or fighting. Luckily he was able to rain in his fear and reach the door to the main activities room.

He spotted them, and it wasn't six behind the glass, but Seven. Well....six and a half considering the state of one of the dead. It was just one arm and its head really. Brian moved fast and grabbed one door and closed it. The dead saw and turned towards him, but he'd already shut the second door. He breathed a sigh of relief before he heard noise behind him. Staying low he moved back the way he came and managed to get back to the font door when he saw them. The dead at the top of the stairs. There were five, which left one- no he saw the last coming around the corner and nearly had a heart attack when he saw it was the Commissioners wife. There had been rumors she was a pill addict for years, but he hadn't for a minute thought that it could be true. But now he guessed they were.

"Get me out,. now Albert. He hissed at the door and it opened enough to let him through. As he went back outside he caught a glimpse of the first zombie to reach the top of the stairs miss its step and tumble down them.

"Are you alright?" Albert asked.

"Yeah, just scared shitless. The zombies upstairs are now down here, But I shut all the doors so the ones we lured away are stuck in that room. I don't know what we are going to do about the ones running loose."

"Well maybe we can decide that as a group." George said as he and Matt's group joined them."What the hell were you thinking? You could have been killed."

"I wasn't, and now all the dead on the ground floor are in one room. The only problem is the ones from up stairs are now near the front door."

Matt went up to the door and put his ear against it, and heard movement on the other side. Then he looked down at the lock and a thought came to his head."Who built the security on this place?"

"Quentin Security. Why." George asked.

"I know how to get the window open from the outside. We bottle neck the ones in there out the window, then we go in and-" Matt stopped to think a moments,"Actually that's all I have so far."

"Okay, Time to Regroup. I say we get everyone off the boat and onto the grounds.Set up camp and think a little longer on how we are going to get in there."

"That's probably for the best. But we can't wait forever. There are people trapped in there." Marilyn said as she and buck came around the corner."They may not have anymore supplies."

"So what do we do?"

X X X X X X X X X X

They were going to herd them. They had rope long enough to reached the Doctor and the women from the ground, and the knew where the majority of the dead were. Paul and Lizzy were still up there, waiting to help. It took four attempts to get the rope thrown to them and another two to get a secure enough knot. Buck, Marilyn, Cathy and Frickens would be waiting at the main door. Once the ones that were loose were dealt with, everyone would converge of the room with the dead locked inside and they would deal with them. Drorn was first up the rope, followed by the New comers and then the humans.

"Thank god, I thought we'd die in hear." The women said."I'm Elizabeth Godfrey. Lizzy. This is Dr-"

"Paul Docker?"Brian said, much to everyone's surprise."Your that Paul Docker? I thought your name sounded familiar."

Dr Docker looked at Brian and then went to look over the Balcony. "I'm glad you made it Brian. I take it Lucy is some where safer?"

"Yes. She's back on the boat.I take it that France decided to get some free publicity?" Brian said.

"Yes. The bastard ran off when the first patient turn. I haven't seen him since he left the grounds." Paul had an odd look to him, but Brian brushed it off as being scared. George could smell his guilt and Matt knew right off the bat that something was wrong. Nothing deadly, but after so many years on the force he knew when some one was up to something. And then Matt remembered something else. He remembered the look on Lucy's face when Stacey had mentioned the names of the Doctors who had been left. A look that told so much, and now made sense. Brian was currently talking tactics with the man who was sleeping with his wife.

Pushing that aside Matt instead thought about the fact that they would need to be real careful. According to Stacey there were twenty in the building, which meant that there were probably gonna be a few strewn about the place. The room the were in had a barricaded door, so Matt knew the first problem they had.

"How are we gonna move all that crap without attracting the zombies?" he asked.

"Oh, this room is for the staff. It has a shared bathroom, we locked the door to the other room and the bathroom door. We can get out that way, but the corridor might not be safe." Paul explained.

"We'll just have to make it safe." George said.

Chapter Text

Brian wasn't an idiot. He knew exactly who Paul Docker was. He knew who he was to his wife.

 

Well, he had suspicions. He had seen the look in his wife's face when Docker's name was mentioned, the relief in Docker's eyes when he had said Lucy was safe. More emotion than anyone should have for a general aquatints. He also knew that George and Matt had figured it out. He had sent the doctor and nurse down the rope, and he and his people were going over the plan.

 

"Me and George will take the left, Matt and Zapeda will go right. We'll clear the hall way and then each room as a pair. Docker gave me the keys and they are numbered." He'd worked the keys off the chain, handing 45-50 to Zapeda and keeping the rest for him and George. "If you hear anything behind the doors, don't open it, we'll go back to those as a group of three. One of us needs to guard the stair way."

 

"Understood. How many bullets doe we have?" George asked.

 

"Practically none, so only use them if you must. Hand weapons only for now." Brian checked his holster was open and then made saw his hammer was in one peace, the head sturdy and not about to go flying off in another direction.

 

They had told every one else to stay outside, sending Albert to go and get those off the boat. And they were going to deal with the house. George had suggested that they should wait until the next, to let themselves rest. But they hadn't eaten much in several days, there was more rain on the way and they didn't know if the doors would hold. They needed somewhere safe to sleep tonight and even if they just secured the top floor, it was still better than nothing.

There were three in the corridor, and 2 more came up the stairs attracted by the noise. They were quickly dealt with, and they waited in silence for anymore. None came.

 

Brian elected to stay at the top of the stairs in case more came. "Your hearing will be of better use at the doors." he said, and George went off.

 

"Okay, we'll start with 50 and work our way done." Matt said and pushed the key into the door. The turned the key and it made a sound, and George pressed his ear to the door. He could hear Match and Zapeda's heart beats, and nothing from the other side of the door. He stepped back and nodded before Matt opened the door and George was head to attack.

 

Nothing came Through. George entered first and they swept the room and bathroom. Empty. Zapeda spotted a make up bag and searched through it for lipstick. She found four, and wrote clear on the door. Matt re-locked the door when they left and pocketed the key.

 

"1 down, 49 to go."

 

"We'll managed. We can use the furniture to block the stairs and have two people on watch. But I do not want my children outside if another storm comes in." George said, and Matt nodded.

 

"We've got plenty of daylight George. We'll be good." Matt said and slipped the key into room 49's keyhole. The two of them grinned. This time George heard movement. They opened the door and he found a middle aged human heading towards him. As the monster came for him, Matt went at it with a ball hammer. It took two blows take the thing out. Zapeda once again marked the door, this time writing '1 body' and again Matt locked the door.

 

At the top of the stairs Brian watch carefully, ears training for any sound coming up the stairs.

 

X X X X X X X X X X

 

Albert got everyone off the boat and carefully guided them through the grounds. Stacey came two, very surprised that they had managed to clear the grounds.

 

Albert was nervous about going to the house, worried that one of his friends could be hurt. Brian was at the forefront, the human having decided to come with him to the ship in the hopes they could secure a safe place to start over, or at least find supplies they could use. Humans were tough, and could handle themselves in a fight, but he didn't want his friend hurt. Or worse, dead.

 

The memory of May was an ache that wouldn't shift from his hearts, and he dearly wished that he could just spend a few moments alone to remember he. But he couldn't. Since leaving his truck on the freeway he hadn't had a moment to himself. It had been a few days at most, and yet it felt like weeks had past. Albert had seen death on a grand scale before. Cargo killed by venting the atmosphere, colonies destroyed from space when they weren't needed or too expensive to save. Infants wiped out due to radiation causing defects and fathers culled because they only wanted the bared minimum for breeding.

But this whole situation was another kind of horror for him. Because this hadn't been done for profit, with indifference and no care of consequences.

It had been done with hate. With anger and menace the likes of which Albert hadn't known existed. That such a tiny group of people could hurt so many because they were scared. Because that was all they were. Frightened people who didn't understand that they weren't the centre of they universe, so had to make their worlds small again to protect their fragile minds and egos. At least that's what Albert believed.

He was pulled from his dire thoughts as they finaly reached he house. Lucy and Dr Docker hugged, but it was brief and they were careful not to reveal their affections. Stacey was happy to sdee her friends alive and Cathy stared up at the balcony.

"They've gone in already haven't they." she asked, and Docker nooded.

"They are pretty diedicated to clearing the top floor."

Buck was agitated as he looked up the rope. Marilyn seemed to rerad his mind, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"Don't. Your father needs his mind on the job, not worrying about you." she said. He looked annoyed, and stanyed down on the ground. He then noticed his little sister coming towards him, trailed by Toby, who was carrying Vesna. Buck had a moment of irrational worry that the human would hurt her but he knew the boy wouldn't.

"Did you get all the zombies?" Emily asked.

"The grounds are clear." he said, "But we are going to have to do something about the bodies."

Emily knew what he meant. The smell of rot was strong and hard to escape. The bodies would need to be dealt with as soon as possible. She didn't know what the adults would do about it, but she hoped they'd do something soon.

Marilyn felt he heart lurch at hearing Buck to to his little sister about bodies, but it was something that she would have to get used to. When the New comers first arrived she'd been upset at how many of the children seem so much older than they were. She could see the girl slipping back into that pattern. Toby would soon follow, and the twin girls who were latched onto their mother.

She looked over at Cathy, who had worked with traumatised and disturbed kids. She hated to thick she would need to use those skills a lot in the near future.

X X X X X X X X X X

The other rooms held no zombies, but one held a man who had slit his wrist in the tub. They put a knife through the back of his neck.

"We should get a couple more people up here. I think we can clear this place before night fall." Matt said. He mainly wanted to rest for a few minutes. He felt like he'd run a marathon, each door raising his heart rate, every moment felt like it was stretching forever. He'd thought they'd been going through the room for hours, but it had been less than thirty minutes by his watch.

"I agree. I shut plenty in the day-room. There can't be more than 10 left in the building." Brian suddenly shook his head,"No, 8. we have two on this level. God we need to talk to Docker and Stacey and find out an actual number. "

"No argument from me." Zapeda said. She wanted to get back down to ground level to check on her family. Her mother had spoken much since her father had been killed, something she still didn't believe herself. George just nodded and they made there way back to the bedroom with the balcony.

They shut and locked th door behind them for safeties sake and made their way carefully down the rope. Zapeda went off to check on her mother and siblings, Matt was immdiently embraced by Cathy and George gratefully took his childreen into his arms.

Brian excepted a hug from his wife, but caught the gaze of Docker.

"Dr Docker, can you give me the numbers again. I want to make sure We bget all of them." he asked once his wife let go.

The next twenty minutes were spent carefully corroborating the information they had on the dead in the building. They also decided to bring Docker and Albert into the building. Cathy nearly protested, saying her arm wouldn't hinder her. But Brian was blunt with her.

"I want someone down here who can keep a cool head should anything happen."

Cathy couldn't argue with that but she wasn't happy. They could get hurt in there, and she desperately wanted to keep Matt safe. Already she had stopped restraining her strength, something many New Comers did so they could fit in and not be seen as a threat. Something she did so not to threaten Matt's masculinity. But she honestly didn't care if she hurt his pride so long as he was alive. But Brian was right, she was needed outside.

She watched him Climb the rope after George, and he mind was bought to other loved ones.

George was doing well. He was hurting, they all were, but he was managing. She thought back to the two of them hugging, and was so happy Matt could put aside embarrassment to comfort his friend. A tiny part of her brain was saying it was more but she shoved that aside. Petty jealousy chose the dumbest times to raise its head.

X X X X X X X X X X

The next floor was not as empty, the first three rooms held zombies and two came up the stairs but They took it in turns to kill them. As they went they grabbed whatever they could that could be used as a weapon. Docker even forced the door on the hidden fire axe so they could have something a little more hefty. It came in handed when a zombiefied nurse got hold of Albert's shirt and tried to drag him in.Brian took it out with one swing and Docker then dry heaved because he knew the nurse, a damn good women and friend.

hopefully But on the second floor they also saw the dead wander downstairs, clode to the front door and dayrooms doors.

"Okay, not that many here. We lead them up the stairs and bottle neck them in the corridor." Matt suggested, and in loo of any other plan, no one disagreed. Brian very carefully tapped on the wall, ducking out of site and the sound of movement he looked around the edge and spotted one of the patients in a gown heading up the first steps, the others not doing much. It spotted him and sped up enough that she nearly trip, but kept coming. Another saw her moving and followed with a heavy limp. The patient made it to the top of the stairs first and Brian waited until she was well hidden by the wall he grabbed her arms an Zapeda shoved a screwdriver through her temple. Then as she crumpled Brian shoved her back towards the stairs so she toppled down them. The one following her kept coming, but the others spared her a quick glance before turning back to the doors.

Albert moved forward this time, luring in the next undead and Matt backed him up to kill it. This time the corpse falling got the other zombies attention. They began heading towards them, and as a group the living moved to the top of the stairs and waited until the dead were half way up.

Matt and Albert took out a chunky man between them, whist Zapeda and Docker dealt with two older women who had facial bites. George and Brian had trouble with the last three that managed to shove Brian down, leading to Albert barrel into one so Zapeda could kill it. the other two George dealt with alone whilst Brian lay for a second contemplating how close he had just come to death.

With the dead now truly dead they rested, looking at the doors now shook very slightly due to the zombies behind them having heard the commotion.

"They won't get out of there. The doors are fired doors. The locks are the best on the market." Docker explained and helped Brain to his feet.

"Okay. We'll sweep the treatment rooms and the kitchen before we bring everyone in." Brian said and looked at the bodies that surrounded them."What the fuck are we going to do about the bodies."

Chapter Text

After gathering food Dr Docker and Albert went up stairs, keeping the an ear out for anything behind them. The doors had stopped rattling, the dead in the day rooms going back to whatever strange state they went into when there was nothing to kill around. Everyone had come through the front door, swiftly taken up the stairs to the safety of the cleared rooms.

"We should be good for food for a few weeks. We've got a vegetable garden for occupational therapy that we get a lot of squash and pumpkins this time of year, most of its ready for the first harvest. Might get boring though." Docker explained.

Albert shook his head, "Not at all. There are plenty of insects around for us, so we won't go hungry."

"That's good to know." he turned smiled, and they reached the floor they would be sleeping on. "I had given up hope anyone would show up. I'm glad you were passing by."

Outside they heard the rumble of thunder, and the start of the rain. It poured heavy, and found that Enique was standing at the top of the stairs, keeping watch with a hammer in his hand. He'd angled himself so he could look through the closest open bedrooms door, and watch the rain.

"Its coming down hard. This place don't flood, right?" he asked.

"No." Docker answered, "We've got good drainage and hand pumps should things get to scary. We're good."

Behind them were foot steps, and Albert turned swiftly, only to see Lidia and Lin coming up the stairs, carrying blankets raided from the other rooms.

"We re-locked the doors after us." Lidia said and Albert moved quickly past Enrique so he wasn't blocking the way.

Cathy spotted him and waved him over whilst Lidia went to the bed and started divvying up the blankets between them.

"Did you find any plates?" Cathy asked, and Albert noticed she was still holding her arm close to her body. Okay, so she wouldn't heal it quick enough that she would be hurt right now, but she should have more mobility than she did. Worry curl through his mind.

"Cathy, is your arm alright?" he asked, handing over a package of party plates.

"Yes. It just aches from not being bound. We'll need to find better bandages tomorrow. I have some pain killers now though. The Nurse.. oh drat I can't remember her name.."

"Cathy, I am not the smartest of men, but I am not stupid." he said quietly and in techtonese, not wanting to be over heard. "You are hurting. You may be injured worse than we thought."

"If I am we can deal with it tomorrow. Until then there isn't much we can do."

They were interrupted by a ridiculously load burst of thunder, and a few seconds later lightning flashed outside. Baby Vesna started to cry and George took his youngest into his arms, shushing and soothing her as best he could. Anna was already asleep, having eaten the final bottle they had not long before. It seemed that once fed and with enough cuddles she was a heavy sleeper, barely stirring at the sound of the thunder. She was doing well.

Cathy thought for a moment of how different the two infants were. The human enfant had such simple needs compared to a new comer baby. Affection, touch, nutrition and sleep. A human infant could survive with the bare minimum of these things. Where as New comer infants needs touch nearly hourly, and their diet was very carefully monitored. This was currently a worry for Cathy. New comers know exactly what an infant can eat whilst on a ship, so on earth it was easy to translate what was needed. Yes strides had been made in better food, but they were unable to get most of it now. Without the convenience of deliveries and stores finding enough to fulfil all of Vesna dietary requirements was going to be difficult.

But they had enough for now. There were vegetables and bugs they could mush and puree for her, and she would soon be old enough for solid food stuff. Until then they would need to-

Another round of thunder nearly shook the windows and George decided to take Vesna to another room.

She began sorting the food. There was enough that they could all have a decent sized meal, even if it was mainly crackers and cheeses for the humans and fruit packs for them. Cathy had even managed to nab a bunch of vitamins she was going to insist everyone take to at least stave off deviancies before they could occur.

X X X X X X X X X X

Diegho was handing out translator tools, quickly put together programs to help their people when they landed. The children would be kept back in the ships until they were sure they were safe, everyone else was being giving a briefing as to what to expect. It was crazy of fast they were having to move to ensure they had everything they needed.

Tianga was already on the drop ships, inputting the landing co-ordinates and trying to get the communications system to work, to send a message ahead to make sure they weren't fired upon by accident.

Whilst they quickly worked to try and get their people ready, Alopa was doing her damndest to send a sample of the bacteria into a ore sample pod to send to another branch of the Udara on another ship. Tianga had forbidden the act, but Alopa did not care. This weapon could free their people and she wasn't going to let anyone stop her from sending it to their Sisters and Brothers.

So whilst her toothless leader was off else where, she wiped all the information from the ore pod regarding where it came from, then embedded a message to those who it needed to get to.

As the ore pod left, she felt a swell of hope for her people.

Out of hate, freedom would come.

X X X X X X X X X X

Having barely eaten anything for two days, Matt felt weirdly full with the little they had eaten. He also felt pretty tired. He'd been told he didn't have guard duty that night, same as George and the others who had cleared the house. That way they'd wake to from a real nights sleep to deal with the last of the undead.

He went in search of George, finding him in the room furthest from everyone else. Vesna had calmed down, food in her belly and now just grizzling against George's chest.

"Hey."! he said, and shut the door behind him. "She alright?"

"Better. But she misses her mother." George stroked her back, looking exhausted. "Could you take her a moment, I need to sit down."

"No problem." George came and took the tiny baby, the child not happy, but not crying either. He cradled her head, thumb gently stroking her temple with his thumb. That settled her down nicely as George fell into the chair, happy to be off his feet.

"Celine I need to sleep."

"Well we're not on guard duty, so we can get some real shut eye tonight." Matt bobbed up and down a little, and Vesna yawned,. Little thing was adorable, and his heart ached at the loss of her mother.

"I that wise?" George asked, tilting his head back and breathing deep, trying to let the tension leave his body.

"Wiser than having us exhausted for tomorrow. We still going to bottle neck them at the window?"

"Seems the safest option to be honest. I'd rather not open those doors until every one of them is dead." he looked up at Matt, "Who gets the bed?"

"You and the kid. I'll take the floor."

George didn't argue. The bed was a large singe, so they couldn't really share. But he and Vesna would fit fine. Buck and Emily would be in the other room with the kids, and he didn't know the arrangements for everyone else.

"I'm surprised your not rooming with Cathy." George said and stood, his back cracking several times before he went to collect him daughter. Matt shook his head.

"I can hold her. You relax a bit." Matt went over to the large, comfortable looking lounge in the corner, settling into to and arranging Vesna so she was more comfortable. Holding Vesna helped ease his worries for his own daughter. She was a grown women, able to look after herself, not like the darling he held now, who needed someone to look after her. George didn't know this, but he was happy to just toe off his shoes and lay back. He fell asleep without meaning to.

In his own seat, Matt soon followed suit, Vesna more than happy to remain where she was.

Chapter Text

"Ow!" Matt snapped as he caught his finger on the jagged metal forcing of the control box. It hadn't been ragged when he'd started, but the key was currently missing, so he and Dr Docker had to force the security control box open.

Outside Drorn and Frickens were allocating perimeter watch to civilians in the group, so they could help with the house. The day before they had done perimeter as the house was cleared as a precaution, but Frickens had a theory that the New comer called George wanted their best outside with the kids. Which was something he couldn't blame the guy for wanting the best protection for his family.

The kids were still upstairs, safe whilst the adults dealt with the monster. Though Buck was pre occupied with the digging they'd have to do. The bodies would have to be dealt with, and the best way would be to dig a trench, and start to burn them. They could do it outside the walls to keep the debris away from the house. Anything that was left could be buried. He wondered if they could find a way to turn any cars close by into make crematoriums, but that would probably cause more harm than good. Or the could float the down the river by boat and deep them at the river side.

"Hey, are you alright?" Marilyn asked, touching his arm and pulling his from his dire thoughts.

"Yeah. Just thinking about body disposal." he instantly wanted to take back what he had just said, not wanting to worry her with the horridness of what they would need to do. Buck figured he'd end up with mental whiplash with how quickly he was moving back into the mindset of his past self. Like on the ship, having to deal with the dead was normal. You took them to the disposal sites, and left them. If on planet you'd burn them, on ships they either went to the engine clearance areas or were vented into space. Just a task everyone had to deal with.

Only this wasn't a ship, Marilyn had only dealt with death in the human way. You mourned and handed the body over to someone else, who would clean it and wrap it and show them for the mourners to say goodbye, before they were buried or cremated.

But Marilyn didn't mention it. She gave a grim smile instead. ""We'll need to be careful. God only knows the kind of diseases they could be carrying."

"If they were carrying anything, we'd probably already be exposed."

"True. Glad I'm up to date with my shots." Marilyn came and stood closer, looking out the window and onto the grounds. " Its safe here I think. We might not need to go to the ship."

"I hope so. I don't want Vesna anywhere near it."

Speaking of his sister, he thought back to finding her with Matt that morning. Completely at ease and snoring slightly in the human's arms, Buck remembered how the first skin to touch her's belonged to His Father and Matt. It was probably why the human was so good at calming her, Vesna sensed he was there when she was born. She felt safe with him. Matt had woken and handed her over, before waking his father and going in search of the control box for the window. Every so often Buck would hear yelling as they tried to get the damn thing to work. Once they did. they could safely open the window and lure the dead to it,.

At least that's what they hoped to do.

* * * * * * * * * *

They couldn't get the control panel open. Docker cursed several times, and said the only other key he knew to be on site was with Nurse Dalton, who died in the day room. As far as he knew she was still in there, and the key with her.

So they were going to have to do this the hard way.

Everyone was kept up stairs, the doors locked and the rope ready in case they had to make a get away. The front doors were wide open and Docker was double checking his shoe laces.

"I don't want to fall over whilst I'm running away from those things." he said, and then went back into the building, Frickens and Bryan at his back. They stayed at the doors as he went to the dayroom doors, unlocking them and taking a deep breath before banging hard on the door and yanking one open, racing away so nothing could grab him. After a few seconds the first of the dead came out, and Fricken and Bryan led them outside to the waiting group.

The weapons they had were not in the greatest shape, daylight showing the fact they were bent and dented. Drorn and Frickens had their knives. Drorn went in first, slamming his blade into the eye socket. Then he regretted it, as he had to brace his leg against it to free the blade, Frickens had better luck, sending his through the temple of a rake think women he vaguely recognised as some minor celebrity.

 

Bryan and Matt took care of what had to have been a nurse and it took a lot less time to deal with these dead. The crawler was the last to come out, and Albert ended up breaking his hammer on it. They would all need new weapons soon the fire axe would need sharpening, and the bludgeoning tools were pretty much useless.

Now they had to deal with clean up.

X X X X X X X X X X

Buck helped carry the dead from the bedrooms, Matt holding the guys feet whilst he had his shoulders. He could carry the body alone, but this way he didn't over exert himself. Just because New comers were stronger, didn't mean they didn't like the help occasionally.

Drorn had said they should just dumped the bodies out the windows, save time, but this was shot down pretty quick. These might have been dead bodies, but they deserved a little respect. So they donned gloves and masks and wrapped them in sheets.

Satcey was upstair with the kids, showing them the cleaning products they'd need to clean with, getting rid of the blood stains and ruined sheets. Buck had hated the far away look that returned to his sisters gaze, like on the ship. The few times he had gotten to see her their, she had the same look. Zoning out so she would not be so scared. Toby was starting to share it as well. But for now it was a safety mechanism. It would protect them until things were back to norma- no, until things were safer.

Matt changed direction, so Buck could walk backward as they followed the path to the boat. They'd take his suggestion of dumping the bodies down stream. Find a quiet, safe place to go a shore and leave them there.

Albert and George were waiting at the dock, taking each body as it came and laying them out carefully. It took nearly 4 hours to get all the dead to the boat, and another 30 to turn the boat around. Bryan and Albert were going with Dick, Paul and Enrique, letting the rivers current take the boat to save on fuel.

"We'll eat first, then we can head out. With and luck we should be back by this evening." Bryan said, as they made their way back to the main house.

Lunch was slightly stale sandwiches from the walk in fridge, fruit packs and jello. The powder milk went to the baby, but Cathy and Matt knew they needed to get proper babies milk soon.

"Powdered will do for now, but she needs real nutrition." Ctahy said, gently rocking the child as she fed. Matt watched, his stomach all tingly watching Cathy with the kid. He was about to mention how lovely she looked with a kid when Lizzy, the Nurse, began calling people into the nurses office.

 

"You are not going to believe the message they picked up!"

Chapter Text

A soft, accented voice spoke in English, slowly and carefully. They all knew the accent well. Most New comers who had learned English had that accent for the first few weeks. Vowels drawn out and carefully sounded.

"I am Tianga of the Udara. I am from the slave ship Troha 23-d45. Before you recent out break, an overseer named Ahpossno was sent to earth to organise the recollection of the slaves, as well as the humans there." There was a moment of static. " He became exposed to the illness that has swept your planet, and as with your world, it swept our ship. Our Overseers were wiped out through their own selfish attempt to survive." Cathy gasped, and George felt his stomach roil at the idea of the over seers coming back to earth. "We have footage from the ships to prove what has happened. We will gladly show it to whoever requires that information."

"Holy shit. Holy shit did this shit stop us getting invaded?" Drorn asked, "It fucking did didn't it!"

He was shushed and they continued listening. "We have self destructed the main ship. It will impact the sun, the signal has been sent that we were killed by a plague that swept this world, and to keep this sector under a level 6 quarantine."

Cathy smiled, gripping Matt's arm. "That's a 50 year quarantine. No ships come in this direction until then." Mat was smart enough to know what that meant. after the murder revolving around the probe Matt had spent more than one night worried about that happening. To know it nearly had.....well the fact they were effectively off limits for 50 years was more than good news.

"We are travelling by drop ship. We have limited weapons, but know what you are facing. we beg of you, do not attack us when we arrive. We merely wish for the chance you gave our Sisters and brothers. We will be one earth by sunrise tomorrow, once we knew where we make land fall, we will send another message."

The message began to repeat, and the room suddenly exploded into conversation.

" They sent someone to invade!"

" How the hell did our military not notice a ship landing!"

"God I hope come down near the ocean."

"Who are the Udara?"

"Everyone, calm down, lets talk about this calmly." Frickens said, and the room became quieter. "Okay. Who are the Udara?"

"They were a rumour to me. A group of slaves who sabotaged the Over seers." Buck said, "Mom said they were real, but I don't think I ever saw any. The Over seers never said they were real, but they were always on the look out for dissent. They probably didn't want any one getting ideas."

George looked un comfortable. "They were real. I never saw them, but stories were everywhere. I kept it quiet around the children, I didn't want to you get involved with anything dangerous."

"And this Ahpossno guy? He someone that could show up?"

" Yes." George explained, and he and Matt went into the details of the case involving the astronomer and the Over seers who were left on earth.

Drorn swore, "You know, when the UN said they were gonna have trails for those guys I honestly wondered what the point was." he shook his head, "I get it now."

" The Over seers went from having total dominion to being hunted. I've no doubt that if one was sent to earth to...evaluate us." Albert said, and he was staring down at his feet, "But with the bacteria around, He would have ordered us left alone or destroyed. The only things harder to repossess than a free Being is a epidemic."

Buck snorted, "You were right Drorn. The bacteria did save us. Healthy they would have taken all of us."

The room became horribly quiet then, and no one could think of anything to say."

X X X X X X X X X X

Matt, Bryan and Fricken's went with the boat and bodies. It was decided that the New comers among them should stay at the house, for their own safety until they knew what was going on. There was a damn good chance that people could get dangerous if they hadn't taken the broadcast well.

Cathy hadn't been happy with that, worried for Matt's safety. It had take a lot of reassurance to convince her it was for the best. And now he stood at the bow of the ship watching as they past by the same river bank as before. Frickens was keeping an eye out for the bridge, hoping to stop and way anchor a hundreds yards away from it.

There wasn't much conversation, or movement. They just wanted to saved their strength for the job ahead. They would get as close to the river bank as possible, but none wanted to put out the bridge and risk something getting aboard.

But eventually Frickens spoke, "I take it we won't be heading to the drop ship."

"No point really. If new aliens are dropping down, what's left of the government is going to go crazy trying to send people to secure everything. Heading there without knowing who will be waiting for us is just stupid." Matt said, then he squinted, "Check the binoculars, I think we're getting close to the bridge."

He was right. A little less than a hundred yards, and they were lucky that the boat could press against the bank. All they had to do was pull back the railing, get a good grip on each bodies ankles and arms and chuck them onto the bank. They all felt a little guilty doing that, but it was the best they could do.

X X X X X X X X X X

They cleaned, and sorted through cupboards for clean sheets and organised the food and searched for things to do whilst their friends were gone.

Cathy was done making the bed when Albert came in, followed by Dr Docker. She knew why he was there, and she scowled.

"I don't need to be treated like a child Albert."

"I know Cathy, but your arm needs looking at."

Cathy was quickly learning that as sweet and kind as Albert was, he was also stubborn.

"Fine. But I'm telling you, its just a fracture. I've had worse." she said. It was true, she had had worse. But She also had access to some kind of medical help. She was not resting the lib, and the sharp pain that should have left was still there.

"Well, we'll go down to the medical wing. We mainly work with drug and addiction issues, but I'm sure I can help you." Paul said. Cathy followed him, and as they walked she noticed the entire facility felt a lot less confining and dangerous. She could see why people would like coming here to detox. It didn't feel like a rehab centre. It felt like a spa, only the treatments would be mandatory.

The medical wing was five beds, two private rooms and two isolations rooms. Cathy took a seat on the first free bed.

"Okay, when did you suffer the injury."

2, no its three days ago now. I believe is a fracture. I've tried to keep it as still as possible, but it hasn't really been a option."

Paul examined her arm, checked the bruising and the mobility. After several minutes he gave his verdict." Fractured. Probably the Ulnar. The only option is putting it in a case. We don't have the plaster for it, but we have several braces that we can reinforce with straps. I can give you a dose of painkillers and set it when they kick in."

"Can I have Zapeda here? And make sure its not morphine."

"I know. You can look over all the medication I'm going to give you. None gets used without your approval."

Cathy felt bad for assuming he wouldn't know about possible new comer allergens, but she had to be careful. The last thing she wanted would be to find safety only to be killed by a painkiller accident.

Chapter Text

Cathy's arm was well bound, and the painkillers meant she was lying back on a bed wishing the world would stop spinning so much. Zapeda sat close by, helping Lin count the rest of their supplies and occasional asking if Cathy was still with them.

Cathy wished she could sleep, but she couldn't. She was too worried and her eyes kept going to the clock on the wall. God how quickly she had lost track of the days without a clock. Such a simple tool, but it made things so easy. Matt had left 3 hours before, and would hopefully be back soon.

Until then she'd lay still and try to relax.

Zapeda was finally done counting up the Bandages and was now onto the band aids, the mindless work letting her relax just a little. Her mother and family were scattered about the place, along with the others they'd picked up along the way. They were a large-ish group now, and that worried her when they were out in the open, but now they were somewhere relatively safe, they were good.
Still waiting for whatever might come next, but safe.

"Hey Officer Zapeda, Buck said to tell you the boats nearly back." Emily said, sticking her head around the door.

"Okay honey, I'm coming. You want to stay here and count these?"

"Yes." Emily came in, and Zapeda had to keep a laugh at bay. Most had taken advantage of the clean water, washing down and finding some clean clothing for themselves. Emily had found jean shorts that were meant for a women twice times her height held in place with a belt and rolled up a billion times, and a shirt that had to have been from a nurse. Zapeda decided next free minute she had she was going to find something for herself.

She left Lin counting with Emily, waving at Cathy and promising to tell Matt where she was.

The rest of the house was looking better. With the bodies gone and clean up nearly finished it was hard to see anything out of the ordinary. Toby was following Stacey around with clean blankets, and Dick was double checking that all the windows were secure.

Dick was an issue. He hadn't talked much since his dad past, and was avoiding talking about it. His outburst at the store hadn't been forgotten and they were all doing their best to keep an eye on him.

Outside the weather was breezy, more cloud on the horizon. Zapeda hoped they'd get a break from the rain for a few days. But then again, it also meant that the dead couldn't move towards them, distracted by the sounds of rain and thunder.

She followed the path, and soon got to Buck, who'd planted himself with Fricken's at the gate to the dock. The boat was close, Matt waving from the bow.

As the docked, Zapeda watched Matt carefully secured the boat and looked very at home doing so. She remembered how'd he'd said he'd loved sailing with an uncle. He'd have made a good captain.

"Any troubles?" She asked Bryan as he came through the gate.

"None. Bodies are down near the bridge. When things get better we can give them a real send off, but until then this is the best we can do."

Zapeda knew that was a lie. The best was burning them in the grounds, but they didn't know how long there supplies would last, and they might need the soil for growing. You can't grow from contaminated soil.

"Alright then. Cathy gotten her arm set in the infirmary, so you can visit her if you want. Clean ups pretty much finished, so now we can rest a few hours and figure out what to do next. "

"Good, I need a nap." Drorn said as the gate was locked.

They continued back to the house, and it felt so strange. Birds were twittering, and Matt could almost fool himslef into thinking that he was going for an afternoon walk.

If only.

X X X X X X X X X X

The ships were allocated landing points, and some had even established contact with the humans on the surface. Tianga didn't know what was going to happen next. The ships shields would destroy almost any on the dead that came too close, and after a safe period, they could lower it and head out to meet these humans. Maybe even their freed sisters and brothers.

The dead were certainly going to be dangerous, but everyone had been warned.

She went to speak with Diegho, not seeing the eyes of Alopa on her.

Alopa smiled to herself, knowing that as they landed on their new home, the pod was well on its way from the solar system, moving faster than normal thanks to her work. Within an earth week it would reach the edge of quarantined space, and maybe an eath month later the nearest ship. It was programmed to slow and wait for ore pods to be recalled and then it would find where it needed to go.

She then put it from her mind and went in search of the one who would have been her husband. Without the Overseers there was nothing forcing her to remain with him, so she would discuss dissolving their betrothal. She knew he was in love with another, and Alopa had no doubt that they would be forced to take sardonak should the bonding have happened.

The ship began to vibrate underfoot, letting her know the were entering the atmosphere. Not long now.

As the ship tilted slighted, the new comers braced themselves, waiting to the level out to happen.

Tianga was at one of the few view port the drop ship had, watching as the got closer to there new home.

X X X X X X X X X X

The drawer was lined with towel and sheets, not perfect, but better than nothing. Vesna didn't mind the make shift crib as he set her down. He'd been manually oscillated her for 20 minutes, and he knows they will have to create a schedule for her. The minimal oscillation a day is and hour. The best amount is two. He'd have to range for somewhere in between if the wanted to keep her healthy.

The room has two beds no, the drawer for Vesna in the middle and the bathroom now had a fresh pile of towels. Four have been put aide to be used as diapers, the others for drying off.

Next door Buck and Emily would be sleeping, and Toby would be with Dick. Dobb's wife and kids were sharing. Everyone else was pairing off, and no one mentioned the fact that Bryan had claimed the second bed in Albert's room.

That was a situation that was going to be awkward. But George didn't think about it. He'd offer when he could, but there wasn't anything else he could offer.

He looked out the window, and decided that he would take the children outside later. They would mourn Susan, whilst it was quiet and he could help them begin to move forward. He pulled his wallet from his pocket, the picture segment showing Susan's face. Forever smiling and happy. When it was safer, he wanted. to try and get back to where they left the cars, to see if they could retrieve anything. He knew Emily had a tiny photo album take from the cars when they tried to salvage thing. It wasn't much, but it a few memories. Buck's last birthday. The play Emily was in. Vesna in her mothers arms and Uncle Moodri's goat before they found him a home.

He closed his wallet, and looked down at his youngest. She was dozing, so he decided to try and clean up whilst he had a chance.

X X X X X X X X X X

Toby is staring up at the ceiling, willing his brain to be quiet. The past few days he'd had barely anytime to think. Since finding this group, he hadn't thought about his family. He touched his pocket, where the watch sat. It was heavy and cold and he took comfort from its weight.

He was lucky to have found Emily and her family. Even luckier that they took him with them. He could still be out on the road, trudging through the rain or dead, shambling along with the dead.

And that thought makes him think of his father again. He sits up suddenly and leaves the room, deciding to find distraction. Something to do that wasn't waiting around. He found it in the dayroom, helping Lidia set candles around the rooms in case they were needed after dark.

X X X X X X X X X X

105 miles away, the ship is visible. The dead are starting to wander towards it.

A lot were disintegrated as the ship it the earth. Then the shield disintegrated nearly a thousand and more as they tried to pass them. Once only a handful could be seen, those a board the ship disembarked and surveyed the area.

In the distance cars were already heading towards them.

Chapter Text

The fire wasn't all that big, but it would do. He'd found what he needed in the infirmary and kitchen to make a semi decent flame powder, and his children were with him. Everyone else was in the main house, letting them have this private time

The space is grassy, but tress mean any smoke will get defused as it goes up. The smell of wet vegetation was mild and not unpleasant, and they cleared a circle of grass so they could have more flame than smoke. Emily had been sensible to put the branches she collected that day in the garage near the window, so they could dry out a little. It had worked well and they had gone up quickly.

There were no clouds for the first time in days, and George chose to take this as a good sign.

They sat around the fire, Buck to his left and Vesna to his right, Emily across from him.

"I will remember my wife for the love she gave me, the years of affection and kindness." he said, and threw a fistful onto the fire."

"Nalice Tire medry." they said together.

"I will remember how tightly she would hold me when I was young, and the safety she provided." Buck said, flinging his own powder.

"Nalice Tire medry." they said again.

Emily spoke nest, and her voice shook with emotion. "I remember how she taught us to right our wrongs, and how to forgive."

"Nalice Tire medry."

"I will remember how she knew the best was to cheer me up when I was down."

"Nalice Tire medry."

"I will remember how strong she could be, even when everything was going wrong."

"Nalice Tire medry."

"I'll remember all the bed time stories, and try to teach them to Vesna."

"Nalice Tire medry."

"I will remember her great capacity for compassion and tenderness."
"Nalice Tire medry."

"I'll remember how she would embarrass us, and how fond she was of those memories."
"Nalice Tire medry."

"I'll remember how she pushed me to be kind even to those who are cruel."
"Nalice Tire medry."

"I will remember how my wife bought our family together and kept it that way, no matter how terrifying it could be."

One last time he threw the last handful into the flame, and watched its brightness fade.
Watched and said goodbye to his Darling Susan.
X X X X X X X X X X
"He kept tapping on the door really quiet like, until the perp was screaming that the ghost had followed him. Got a confession not five minutes later." Matt explained, and Lidia shook her head at the stories of her husbands antics. Albert was smiling, a sad smile, but still a smile.

Whilst George and his family took their time to grieve so did they. drank the first coffee they'd had in days and spoke about Dobbs, about Grace and Bill and May. About the places they'd miss and family the wanted to find. Matt very carefully did not speak about Kirby, but she was there in the back of his kind, terrified and desperate to believe she was okay.

The rehab centre was done, cleaned up and safe. Frickens and Drorn had written up a watch schedule, which between everyone meant they would only have to do half a night each.

"Do you remember the Donut shop robbery?" Albert asked, and Dobb's daughters started giggling.

"Oh god yes! He had to dress up in that donut costume and wait outside the next potential mark." Mat took a sip of his coffee, "He had to chase a perp down the street dressed as a glazed donut."

"He smelt of powdered sugar for a month I swear." Lidia said, remembering how awful it had been. Remembered having to throw out the under cloths he'd been wearing.

"I know I'm not going to miss random calls asking me to deal with stupidity induced injuries." Cathy said, and Matt groaned.

"Oh come on. We didn't call that often."

"When you didn't wait for back up and nearly broke you ankle, When do cuts his head open trying to get a spider off the ceiling fan." Cathy said, lifting a finger for each event, "When I treated A concussion Captain Graze got falling out of that window."

"You fell out of a window" Lucy asked, eyebrows shooting up. "And you didn't tell me!"

"I didn't want to worry you." Bryan answered, looking very sheepish.
"And why did you fall out of a window?"

"He was trying to grab paperwork of the ledge," Matt said, "Didn't want to fill it out again leaned out to far. It was the first story so he was fine."

"You dummy." she said, but there was fondness in her voice.

"I know. I am." Bryan said and Matt fake choked on his coffee.

"Hold the presses, Bryan Grazer just-"

"Hey, I have plenty of stories about you Mr Leaf blower."

That shut Matt up. " Hey you promised not to mention that."

"Oh please do." Cathy said, "Why is he Mr Leaf blower?"

Bryan was about to start telling the story when Ju came in. "Sorry, just need water."

"No problem." Matt said, hoping to change the subject. "Everything good with you?"

"Yes. Just heading up to be. I'm on second watch tonight."

 

"Whose on first?

"Rafael. He will be in the attic, its got window pointing in opposite directions, so anyone up there can see both sides of the property from there. Drorn is going to walk the perimeter."

"Have they written up a rota yet?"

"Yeah, they'll be putting it on the wall tonight so everyone can see it."

Drorn and Frickens already had, the paper in the main hall saying who was on duty when. Watch duty would be split into 5 hours stints, from 8pm to 6am. They'd probably have to change that as the days got shorter, but for now it would do. Should the watchers spot anything, they were to wake others and go to check. No one was to go out alone.

Except that Dick was up in his room, planning to do just that.

X X X X X X X X X X

There was a New Comer women with them, and she translated everything. They presented evidence, and offered help, and very quickly Tianga was the defector leader of the United states New Landers.

Across the world word was spreading. In China the New Landers ended up outside Beijing, miles from any survivors, so for now did the only thing they could think of.

They began wiping out the zombies in the surrounding areas. The shielding had killed quite a few, but the numbers in the city were truly staggering. By the time they retreated back to the drop ship, they had killed thousands.

In Australia they didn't have much to do, Between the heat, dingoes and some very determined locals they were doing good.

In Europe the ship landed in Brussels of all places. They accidentally destroyed an airport, but no one living was left there.

Other drop ships landed, and government made contact, and finally something was starting to go right.

Chapter Text

With the New Landers willing and more than able to help, a plan was devised. The drop ship shield would be dropped as they lured as many of the dead to them as the could.

Once back at the ship they would hide inside until enough had gathered before reactivating the shield. As it would activate from the ships hull outwards, disintegrating the dead.

It worked as well. in twelve hours enough dead were killed that people could get a foothold in certain cites. could create real safe zones. Just 12 hours helped turned the tide for many. Maybe even everyone.

X X X X X X X X X X

"The kids seem a little better." Matt said, as he settled back on his bed. "Are you doing any better?"

George gave him a sad smile, "I am not better, But I will get there. Saying good bye, thinking of the good times, it was helpful."

Matt smiled and nodded, "We were going on about Dobbs. May. God I keep wondering how many people got out of before the bombs dropped."

"People were making their way out of the city for hours before the order was given. I don't think there was anyone left alive in the centre." George hoped. He knew there was a chance there might have been people left, but he wanted to pretend the only thing burned up were the dead.

There was a knock on the door, and Matt got up. "Come in."

"Just drooping Vesna off." Buck said and he handed the baby over. Matt took her, and Buck yawned.

"Looks like your as ready for bed as she is."

"Yeah. Emily is already out."

"That's good. We all need the rest after the past few days-" George stopped for a moment. "My god, its only been a week. Just one damn week." George sat down on the bed, string down at his feet. "So little time for the world to fall apart."

Matt settled Vesna in her 'crib' and then went to his bed. Buck leaned against the door frame and stared at his father. He had been so worried her would fall apart, that he would lose him. But he should have known better. His father was strong, he would survive. Already the disbelief was leaving his eyes and common sense taking over.

Matt pressed his knuckles to Vesna's forehead for a second, making George and Vesna gave a little warble of contentment before her eyes closed. She would not want for love, that little one.

Buck shoved himself off the wall. "I'm going to check on Emily then try and sleep." he said, "Night Dad."

"Night son."

"Goodnight Buck." Matt said and Buck nodded at him. Once he was gone Matt said, "Do you know what's going on with him and the teacher."

George sighed, "I really don't know. Nothing I hope. And too be honest, what do I do if anything is happening? He's nearly an adult."

Matt wanted to say he wasn't, but Buck was. If the kid and teacher wanted, they could keep it quiet and claim friendship until he reached 18. That was just 8 months away for Buck.

"I guess you'll just need to talk to him." Matt said, "Its all you can do for now."

X X X X X X X X X X

Lucy sat in the sun room, staring out the window.

Bryan was going to share a room with Albert. She was waiting for the yelling to start. For the 'can I have a moment' talk that would start quiet and end in shouting and tears.

What she wasn't expecting was for Bryan to sit in the chair opposite her and say, "I understand."

"What?"

"I understand." he said. "We, we've not been as close as we should be in a long time. We love each other, but I don't think we've been in love for a while."

She gave him a sad smile. "I don't think we have either." she curled her feet under her, "I told myself I wasn't cheating if it was just feelings. But that was worse somehow."

"I should have tried harder." Bryan leaned his elbows on his knees, "I've spent far too much of my time focusing on work, on moving up."

"I knew you were ambitious when I married you Bryan. It was never the work that bothered me. We just... grew apart."

Bryan nodded and Lucy was amazed at how adult this was. No shouting, but the tears, she could feel those starting.

"I should have come clean earlier. When we could have tried therapy. At the very least you wouldn't have had to find out like this."

"To be honest this isn't so bad. At least we won't have to worry about lawyers trying to get us to fight over the house plants." Bryan smiled at her. "Pretty certain we just need to write something up that says 'I hereby dissolve this marriage'. " he said it in a stuffy old man voice, and a laugh left Lucy, here tears falling and Bryan wiped at his eyes. "But I think that will do until we do find someone who was a judge or a notary."

"This, this isn't what I was expecting Bryan." Lucy admitted.

"Anger won't help here Lucy. We both know how and why it happened. Its hurts, but..." He sighed heavily, "It hurts, but i=not as badly as I expected to."

They were quiet for a moment, then Bryan stood. "This probably will get awkward at some point. But we can get through it, I swear we can."

Lucy stood, reaching out to take husba-ex husbands hand, "We will."

Bryan hugged her then, and it was a tight hug. Both didn't want to let go, wanted to pretend that this hadn't happened. But lying to themselves wasn't going to be the best option, nor the kindest. They parted and Bryan left, swiftly heading up the stairs to his room and hoping not to fall apart before he got there.

X X X X X X X X X X

Marilyn sat at the table, and Buck smiled when he saw her.

"How are you doing?" he asked.

"Good. Just, just absorbing the situation." she said, pushing her empty cup away. "So much has happened, and now, all we can do is wait for what happens next."

Buck sat beside here, "Yeah. But we won't be in the dark for long. We have a radio that works. We have power when we need it and a wall keeping the dead out. We're pretty safe for now."

"Buck." Marilyn met the New Comers gaze, "Was it like this when you came off the ship? Not knowing what would come next?"

Buck sat in silence for a moment, trying to figure out the best way to say it. "Yes. Its a sort of limbo feeling. Your know anything can go wrong. That death might be around the corner." he leaned on the table, "There are tings outside that are like you but look so different. That could hurt you if they wanted. All we can do is wait and see if they bring you hope or terror."

She reached out and took his hand, squeezed it gently. "No one should ever go through That."

"If we hadn't, we never would have been free Marilyn. Right now everything has changed. But that doesn't mean the ending will be bad."

"Oh Buck. I hope you're right."

X X X X X X X X X X

Across the globe, the military was picking itself up. regrouping and coming up with strategies. Some were bolstered by the New Landers, other joining forces with civilians.

In America, both humans and New comers were keeping the dead at bay, keeping themselves self. Though almost every city and town had benn infect, the dead were being destroyed and driven out.

Millions of dead still existed, but there was hope they could be destroyed.

X X X X X X X X X X

Albert was just lying back when Bryan got back to the room. It was obvious that he was upset.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

"Yeah, I, I just need a minute." he disappeared into the bathroom and Albert had a feeling he knew what this was about.

Humans were so odd. Some couples would spend their whole lives together, happy in the knowledge that they had found 'the one'. Others will be together for years, then suddenly the one they loved the most was the one they wanted to suffer. Some loved each other dearly, but refused to be together for the dumbest of reasons. To old, to poor, to ugly, wrong ethnicity or wrong gender. A million reasons not to be together when it was obvious they were 'the one'.

He wonder which Bryan was. Actually, he wondered if Bryan was okay as his hearing picked up the sounds of him stifling he sobs. he knocked gently on the door.

"Bryan? Do you need to talk."

"No. No I'm alright." Bryan's voice was thick with tears and the faucet came one. Obviously he was watching his face, and came out of the bathroom red eyes but not like he'd been crying. But Albert knew. Without saying a word he pulled Bryan into a hug.

For second Bryan thought about pulling away, but he was too tired, and Albert was a solid, warm person who really didn't care if he fell apart. He leaned into the hug, laying his head on his friends shoulder.

"I'm not married anymore." he said.

"I'm sorry." Albert said. "It's difficult when things end."

They stayed like that for a while, until Bryan disentangled himself. He was embarrassed, but grateful.

"Thank you Albert."

Albert Shrugged, "You've been there for me Bryan, it's only fair that I am here for you."

Bryan went over to his bed, slipping his shoes off and lying back, "How are you doing? Since we're not going to the ship now, what are we going to do next?" Bryan asked.

"Honestly? I don't know. All we can do is wait for news."

"I'm not sure I can wait for news. I've never been good at it."

Albert sat on his own bed, "I', glad. Going was not an idea I liked, but it was the smartest one at the time. I can rest now, and mourn our friends"

Bryan turned on his side, lifting himself up on his elbow. "Can I ask you something? You don't have to answer. but I am curious."

"Okay."

"Why haven't you performed any...ceremonies? I thought you and George followed the same religion."

Albert blinked a few times, "Oh, urm, no. As a Binaum I have to know the beliefs of all those I help. Each had its own variations of the ceremony, and when I visit the resulting infants I use the appropriate terminology." He gave a sigh, "I've spent so long going between different beliefs, I don't really know which I should follow. But May was a Celienest, so I might mourn the way she would. But my own parents were Lubaf, but I think that the burning of Los Angelis took care of cremation." once the words left his mouth Albert looked panicked. "Oh, I didn't mean, Oh no that sounded awful."

Bryan got back up and went to Albert, Kneeling infront of him and taking his hands, "Hey, you didn't mean it to be nasty. Your right. If following the Lubaf faiths traditions meant cremation, then it could be done symbolically. Buck has his mothers talent with art. He could draw May for you. You could burn that, have you own ceremony."

"Would, would you help?" Albert asked, his voice quiet now, "Do not feel the need to say yes to make me feel better, not everyone is comfortable with the Lubaf's ceremonies."

"I wasn't comfortable with the Celenists either Albert, but I will go through with it if it honours our friends." Bryan said it with such conviction that Albert leaned in and pressed his left temple to Bryan's right, a breif touch that he pulled away from as quicky as he gave it. His eyes shifted between blue, green and grey rapidly.

"Sorry Bryan."

"Don't be Albert." Bryan stood and went back to his bed, fighting the blush that the unexpected show of affection caused. He wasn't good at the touchy feely stuff. But he could deal. If he could deal with the apocalypse, he could deal with helping his friends.

X X X X X X X X X X

Cathy had righted a chair on the Patio and sat staring at the cloudy sky. It didn't look like it would rain. There was a slight chill in the air, and she was coming down from the pain killers she'd been given. They hadn't warn off completely, but her head was clearer than it had been.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

She looked up and Matt was a few feet away.

"No thoughts to pay for." she said and sat up. "!Just clearing my head now that I have the time to."

"Can we talk?" he asked, and now she noticed he was nervous.

"Yes."

He looked around for a chair and grabbed one, dragging it closer too her's.

"I need to apologise." he said, "For what I did On the rooftop. I pushed harder than I should have."
Cathy sighed. She'd expecting this. And she also knew she couldn't let him take the whole blame for the situation. "Oh Matt. The whole situation was just as much my fault as your's."

Matt looked confused. "How?"

"I gave you mixed signals, and expected you too except all of my needs without thinking about yours. Movies, music and interests. I wanted your to be more techtonese, and I barely excepted anything human unless I found it amusing. And when you did try to change for me, I got far angrier than I should have. I should have listened more. You pushed me and I kept saying no, with no regard for how far you bent when I pushed you."

Matt sat in silence, shocked. When he finally spoke he said, "I have no idea what to say next. Honestly taking the blame is a default."

Cathy felt very bad for Matt then, but didn't let it show. How many times had he taken the blame in a relationship? Okay Matt had his faults but She had met some of his ex girlfriends, his ex wife. They had been just as to blame as Matt was. And Cathy knew she had her faults.

"Everything that has happened has made me think about what is important Matt. I lost Andron and the only person I could think of calling was you." she turned her chair to face Matt. "When we reached George's home you were the one I was happiest to see. When we went over the cliff all I wanted was to see you face."

"I was only thinking of George." Matt said, "I ran from you when my frien-"

"Family. We both know George is family, the same way he would come running to you." Cathy interrupted.

"Yeah, the big dummy would. But that doesn't excuse what I've done. What I could have done Better." he gripped Cathy's hand and found her gaze, "Cathy-Gelena," The use of her realy name made Cathy's hearts jump. "I love you. And I don't want to risk losing you. I'm not asking you to jump in, But I am asking you to give us, me and you, a real chance."

"Oh Mathew." she reached out and touched his face, 2I want that too."

X X X X X X X X X X X

Lidia watched her daughters sleep, and felt guilt. Her mind swept back to the conversation on the boat, the conversation with Cathy.

How could she think of killing herself, of killing them? Cathy was right, her children needed the choice to continue, to live. Her own life was her's and now she knew how wrong she was. To end her life and Leave her daughters alone?

What would happen if she had done it? She knew That her girl's wouldn't be alone, but for how long? How long until something bad happened? How long until food ran low or danger presented itself would her girls be put above their children.

She sat on the edge of the bed and stroke her bay girl's forehead.

She let her grief get to her. She missed her husband, would always miss him. It was a solid ache in her chest that wouldn't shift. But she couldn't let that beat her.

She couldn't. For her girls, she couldn't.

Chapter Text

The sun rose on a clear morning. No clouds frilled the skies and the air was clear. It would have been a perfect morning on any other day.

Inside, Matt was sipping a coffee whilst watching George attempt to feed Vesna pulped canned pineapple, but the could was more interested in throwing it at him. He manage to keep a grin off his face, and eventually Buck took pity and replaced his father feeding the girl.

"She's always fussy in the morning." Buck said, successfully getting a spoonful into her without wearing it.

Almost everyone had decided to sleep in late, the clock already reading 9am. They filtered through the kitchen before wandering off, trying to decide what to do for the day. The main house was pretty much done, and they knew what they had and what would need to be found. But for now, they were at a loose end.

Matt was considering searching the private rooms and sorting what could be useful, like clothing, and what should be put aside if family came looking for survivors. A long shot, but a possibility. Dr Docker had already made a long list of the dead, and had helped Stacey strip and tag the bodies valuables. Wedding rings, Jewellery and keepsakes had been bagged and labelled already. It just made sense to do the rooms as well. He'd find the doctor and run the idea by him.

Emily then shuffled in, with Toby not far behind. Both looked bedraggled and half asleep.

"Morning Emily. Morning Toby. Sleep well."

"Yes dad."

"Yes Mr Francisco."

George smiled softly, "You can call me George Toby. I don't mind."

Toby shrugged, "I'll try." he reached for an apple, taking a bite and munching slowly, like even that was to much energy to expend. Emily went to the sink for water, then grabbed a box of New comer cereal they had discovered in the pantry. She made a face.

"Cinnamon Grubs? Why would they ruin grubs with cinnamon?"

"You might like it." said and put his plate into the sink, but stopped himself before walking away, giving it a clean and putting it aside to dry.

"Maybe." Emily took the bowl to the table and ate, only giving the taste s slight scowl.

George left the room, and Matt followed, passing Albert as he made his way to the kitchen. They nodded in passing and continued on, heading out the door to see Dr Docker A Lucy in quiet conversation. Matt felt incredibly awkward, but George just coughed, getting there attention.

"I was wandering if there were any cars the guest garage? I thought that if we had keys they could be useful."

Dr Docker nodded, reaching into his pocket. "The keys for all vehicles are in the main nurses station." he handed the keys to the nurses station over and George gave his thanks before turning back to the house.

"There are cars in there?" Matt asked, face confused.

"Yes, I didn't know until I checked the in patients log. Two vehicles should hopefully still be there. Toes crossed-"

"It's fing- never mind. Lets go see if we've got wheels." Matt said, shaking his head. Some things would never change, and it looked like George's grasp of human sayings was one - "Hang on, you've use crossed fingers correctly before." Matt said, giving George a suspicious look. "Have you playing me for a joke."

George tried to look innocent. "Of course not Mac. Why would I do that."

"Yeah right. Just get the damn keys."

George did, grinning to himself. It always gave him a boost to see how many he could slip past his friend.

Keys in hand, they were passing the day room and spotted Bryan flicking through the channels,.

"Hey, I don't think there's anything on pal."

"There's a message."

Matt and George exchanged a look, and entered the room. Sure enough, the tv held the same screen.

"Emergency Broadcast in 7:33."

The numbers counted down, and all of the terrestrial channels had it. Cable was still down, but basic tv was fine.

"Jesus Christ, there's still someone in charge?" Matt said, mouth agape.

"Mat, you get everyone from upstairs, I grab everyone on the ground floor. Back hear in five." Bryan said and took off at a run.

X X X X X X X X X X

Cathy was balanced on the arm of a chair, confused as to what was going on. "I thought the tv wouldn't be working."

"I was hoping there might still be a tv station, after we saw that news station back at that little store. Figured it couldn't hurt to check." Bryan explained. He was leaning against the wall, staring at the screen like everyone else.

"Well thank god you did. Good or bad, at least its news." Lidia said.

Finally the countdown was over, and the screen went blue, then black, and then an older woman in a navy suit was sitting behind a wooden desk.

"People of America, I come to you now from the Cheyenne Mountain base with a statement from the United States President and his Joint Chiefs.

As many of you already know, several New comers ships landed yesterday after a Over seer sent to our planet accidentally took the bacterium back to their ship. Once the ship was properly quarantined, those on board who survived saw Earth as an option for escape.

There will be some among you with doubts, but so far nothing they have said has proven false, and their arrival has been a boon to many."

"A boon?" Buck said, "That's a good thing right?"

Marilyn nodded and kept watching.

"The reason for this broadcast is to inform you that beginning at 0600 hours tomorrow, troops will be dispatched to one town in each state to clear them of the undead and attempt to establish a base of operations.
This will be known as Operation Clean Streets.
We will attempt to keep all of you up to date with the progress, and ask theses things of you.
If you are currently in one of the towns in theses states, please to do not leave your homes or shelters. Stay where you are. If at all possible, put a large X in your windows so that troops know there are survivors inside. If you are out of doors please do not approach any gun fire you might hear. Our soldiers will be on task and we do not want to risk any living civilians being mistaken for the undead.
And to any troops who have been unable to reach their superiors or receive orders,-"

Both Frickens and Drorn listened intently.

"Remain where you are for now. Once we have more information on How operation Clean Streets has progressed we will give you instructions on how to proceed.
Any police, fire or EMT are asked to be ready, as you will be call up to help in the coming months.
I will now read the States that will not be included in operation Clean Streets due to location or illness un-relating to the un-dead.
Alaska, due to the difficulty in getting our troops to you.
Rhode Island, which is currently clear of the un-dead, but cases of Cholera have been reported.
Utah and Washington are also not to be cleared, as the number of un-dead is more than our men can handle.
I will now list the towns in each stat that Will be included in operation Clean Street.
Alabama, Anniston
Arizona, Sedona
Arkansas, Blythville
California, Placerville
Colorado, Steamboat Springs..."

She carried on and everyone began to talk.

"Placerville, where is that?"

"Up near Sacramento, way to far to get to"
"This is great. They actual have a real plan."

"Jesus, Am I glad we don't need to try and get up there."

Matt let himself lean against the back of Cathy's chairs, a sense of relief flooding him. This was good. There was someone still in charge, trying to make sure they didn't end up dead. He felt something on his hand, and looked down to see see Cathy had place her hand on his. He gave her a smile, and Lucy started to shush everyone, "I'm trying to hear this."

Everyone shut up and watched, the last few states being mentioned.

"West Virginia, Bluefield
Wisconsin, Elk Horn city
Wyoming, Riverton City.

As you can see, most of theses places have less that 15,000 residence, and this is one of the reasons the towns and smaller cities have been chosen. They have the service required for the military, and a small enough population that they may not have been as badly effected as some places in the country. The public is asked once again please to do not leave your homes or shelters. Stay where you are. If at all possible, put a large X in your windows so that troops know there are survivors inside. If you are out of doors please do not approach any gun fire you might hear.

In regards to supplies and looting, be aware that until further notice you will not be punished for taking the required supplies such as food, water and medical supplies. But we all know that there are those in the country who have taken advantage of the current situation. These people will be dealt with once we have established the state bases.
We ask that should you decide to head to these safe zones to be ready with any and all information you can

This message will be repeated for the next 24 hours, and updated tomorrow and 1200 hours.

Please try to remain calm, and good luck to you all."

X X X X X X X X X X

Matt was in the garage when George finally tracked him down, looking under the hood of a sedan.

"Are the cars in working order?" he asked, leaning against the wall near Matt.

"Yep. If we need them, their good to go. Though," Matt pointed towards the end of the garage, Saab will need more gas if you want to go more than 10 miles."

"We shouldn't need to leave for a while." George said, then smiled the first real, trued smile he had had in days, "Not until the authorities make it safer."

Matt shook his head, "You know there may be a chance it all goes wrong."

George nodded, "Yes. But for some reason I don't think it will. Maybe its the fact that its the first good news we've had, built its nice having real hope."

Matt had to agree. He knew that false hope could be devastating, but it was good to have it for now. Even if the clean sweep plan went too hell, they had a safe place to sleep, food and the possibility of long term safety.

"Yeah, its nice." Matt lowered the bonnet and gave it a tap. "Do you think we've got a hope? Honestly."

Georges face became stern, "It won't be easy. We'll properly lose people if we're not careful, and Celine knows how many challenges we'll face. But I think we can make it." George gave a smaller smile now, reaching out and gripping Matt's shoulder, "Can't be any worse than the Seagulls vs Cougars riot."

Matt snorted, shaking his head. "Yeah, we can handle it."