WASTELAND (Last chapter is up)

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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WASTELAND (Last chapter is up)

Post by Papacat » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:01 pm

Hello,

This is the first time I am posting a story but I have a confession:

I don't know jack about guns, explosives, vehicles, or horses; so please bear with me if you find any mistakes. Any constructive criticism would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time and enjoy Wasteland.

-Papacat
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The world was a different place. Everything that we knew was either gone or was a ghost of its former self. Civilization was torn apart by war and disease and it had taken a little more than a quarter of a century for us to rebuild the world that we helped destroy. They said that the world ended twenty-eight years ago, but they were unaware of what was to come.


Chapter 1 The Town of Sterling

It seemed that they were always on the run. The bullets struck closer as they rode to escape their pursuers. Marcus Turner, the leader of the group, was busy evading fire and trying to find a way to lose their attackers. That when he saw them; more were approaching head on.

Marcus was overwhelmed with the sound of the trampling hooves of their horses, the gunshots and the roar of the engines of their pursuers but he still managed to hear Paul shout to him.

“This way,” Paul shouted. “I know a place!”

Paul veered his horse towards what used to be an off ramp now overgrown with various plants and weeds. Marcus gripped the strap of his shoulder bag as he braced for the descent down the ramp; what was in the bag was the source of their current problems.

Marcus tapped the transmit button on his radio and shouted, “Jason, use the Crowd Pleaser!”

The Crowd Pleaser was what they dubbed the M-79 grenade launcher they possessed.

“I’m on it,” a voice crackled back over the radio.

With the launcher tucked under Jason’s arm and the breach open, he quickly loaded the weapon. With his free hand, he took the Crowd Pleaser by its grip, flicked his wrist upwards allowing the weight and the momentum of the barrel to snap the weapon shut.

Jason held the reins with one hand while twisting with the launcher aimed towards their pursuers, a handful of armed motorcyclists. He aimed as best as he could while bouncing on the back of his galloping horse. Jason fired, satisfied with the thumping sound the launcher made as it hurled the grenade shell towards their fast-closing enemies.

The explosion only struck one of the motorcycles, but one was more than enough to create the chaos that followed. The explosion didn’t destroy the motorcycle entirely but made it into a projectile into the surrounding riders causing most of them to crash expect for one that managed with luck or skill to evade the debris made from his fallen comrades. The rider, now eager for vengeance, drew his pistol while his other hand gripped the accelerator of the bike. He opened fire at Jason while he was reloading the Crowd Pleaser.

John saw that the rider escaped the explosion, slowed his horse to join Jason and fired his weapon to cover him. Quick bursts from his Uzi caused the rider to slump over the side of his motorcycle, throwing it off balance and then tumble violently into the side of a house.

Jason nodded thanks to John as he snapped the grenade launcher shut. He was turning back towards their distant pursuers when he noticed blood on his sleeve. Jason brought his hand, still holding the grenade launcher, and brushed his thumb to his opposite side. It felt moist and pulled his hand back into sight; the top of his thumb was covered with blood, his blood. Paul’s voice over the radio snapped him back into reality.

“Head for the school,” the voice crackled through the radio.

The only way to tell that the building that they were heading towards was a school was the remains of a rusted sign that described it as an elementary school. The main building, like most of the town they were in was obscured by overgrowth of vines, trees making the building look like a wall of plant life. Still, the wide open doors of the main entrance made it an inviting sight. They rode their horses into the building, keeping their heads low to avoid the door jam. Paul had stopped ahead and dismounted from his horse.

“Where’s Dan?” he shouted.

Marcus quickly activated his radio, “Dan, what’s your twenty?”

“I got cut off,” a voice replied over the radio. “A jeep got between me and you guys. I managed to get into a house…somewhere. I think I lost them.”

“Copy that,” Marcus’ voice said over the radio. “Stay put for now.”

“Copy that,” Dan said into his radio, “Staying put.”

He had already dismounted from his horse and tied the reins to the banister of the molding house. Dan readied his M-14 rifle and began to sweep the house, barricading any entrance he came across with anything he could find. He made his way upstairs.

As Jason dismounted from his horse; he stumbled and felt a burning pain in his side. John saw his wound and pulled a trauma pack from his saddle bag and immediately applied to his side and taped it into place.

“We’ve got to move,” Paul spoke up.

John helped Jason up and followed the others into the next room and saw Paul pointing down into a hole in the floor.

“The tunnel will take us out of here,” Paul explained before he jumped down into the tunnel below. Marcus and the others followed him down.

The tunnel was large enough for them to walk through and was supported by wooded beams.

Paul saw their astonishment and explained, “The people who lived here created these tunnels to hide from bandits.”

“And how do you know this?” Marcus asked.

“Because I used to live here,” Paul replied before he led the others down the tunnel. Behind them, they could hear the footsteps of their pursuers as they ran into the school. Marcus and the others ran until they reached a hub, a large room that connected with other tunnels. Paul quickly pointed into one of the tunnels. As soon as Marcus entered the tunnel, Paul followed behind with the others.

The tunnel was narrow than the first making it easy for anyone to caught up on the sides as Paul demonstrated when he tripped and fell causing the others behind him to fall over him. Marcus kept running unaware but turned around when he heard and saw the tunnel collapse behind him. He ran to the wall of rubble between him and his crew.

“Marcus, are you okay?” a voice shouted from the other side of the rubble.

“I’m fine,” Marcus shouted back.

“Keep going, chief,” he recognized Paul’s voice. “The exit is just ahead.”

Marcus turned around and could see daylight peeking around the bend of the tunnel ahead of him.

Marcus spoke into his radio, “Is there another way through?”

Paul’s voice answered on the radio, “Yes. When you get out, stay put.”

“No problem,” Marcus replied. “But hurry, our friends are getting rowdy.”

He could hear and exchange of gunfire above him and realized that one of his crew was still out there on his own.
***
Dan fired another round from his scoped M-14 rifle, killing another soldier; his body fell close to the others he shot. Unfortunately, with each shot he fired, the closer the enemy would be to finding him. As the last round left the magazine, Dan took that as the cue to leave. The enemy returned fire and bullets struck where Dan had been, but he was already safely downstairs reloading his rifle. With a quick tug of the reins, he untied his horse from the banister, mounted him, and rode through what used to be the house’s bay window. When Dan reached the front yard he could see, from the corner of his eye, a truck speeding around the corner and slide to a stop.

Dan kicked at his horse and rode away from the truck that was now chasing him. Although he didn’t have the speed of the truck, he had more maneuverability and was able to go over obstacles that the truck had to dodge. Dan took advantage of this, weaving in and out and riding over the rusted bodies of the various cars and trucks in the streets. He held the reins in one hand as he drew his pistol with the other. The truck was getting closer.

Dan opened fire, his shots striking the windshield and causing the driver to swerve the truck and then back it off. The passenger leaned out of the window with his rifle and fired, his shots striking the street and houses covered with overgrowth. Dan returned fire, emptying the magazine of his pistol; he was frustrated that his shots missed so widely. Ahead was an intersection and Dan hoped to make the turn at the last second to give him time and distance from his pursuer. As he reached the intersection, the horse he had been riding strong beneath suddenly gave way and he found himself tumbling onto the asphalt. He saw the pistol that was once in his hand slid to a stop way out of his reach. Dan looked back at his horse and saw him lying on the street with blood pooling by its body. The truck stopped quickly nearby and his pursuers jumped out of the truck laughing.

The two soldiers smiled as they raised their rifles to their sides and walked towards Dan who was struggling to turn around and face them. The driver slung his rifle and drew a large blade from its sheath.

“I’m going to enjoy this,” the driver smiled as he spun the blade in his hand and approached Dan. He stopped and waited for Dan to get to his feet but laughed when he lost his balance. Dan stumbled forward and within seconds it was over.

Dan had feigned the stumble, grabbed the driver’s knife, turned it against him and drove the blade into his chest.

“You should have shot me when you had the chance,” Dan whispered viciously to the driver. The other soldier took a moment to realize what had happened and finally raised his rifle to fire but it was too late.

Dan made a flicking motion with his right hand. Attached to a ring on his right hand was a wire, when pulled, triggered the spring mechanism and launched a rail-mounted pistol into the palm of his hand. With the small pistol in his hand, and using the driver as a shield, Dan fired into the other soldier’s chest just as he had raised his rifle.

The other soldier dropped his rifle as he fell backwards onto the street. Dan released the soldier he used as a shield, allowing him to slump down to the asphalt. He reset the small pistol into its rail holster and remembered how Marcus had teased him about it. So far, it had saved his life a few times already. He removed the AK-47, or what appeared to parts salvaged from different rifles, and the magazines of ammunition from the dead soldiers. He also searched the driver’s pockets and smiled when he found a set of keys to the truck.
***
The tunnel emerged into an alley; its entrance hidden by a dumpster, but Marcus was still cautious and kept his rifle ready. He made his way to the end of the alley to what used to be the downtown area of the town of Sterling. As he turned the corner, he was met by the butt of a rifle to his head. Marcus fell against the wall and felt his rifle and his bag being ripped away from him. One of the soldiers had cut the satchel away and started to run while the other raised his rifle towards Marcus, but he batted the rifle away with one hand and drew his pistol with his other. He fired a burst of shots into the soldier and tried to take aim at the other soldier as he ran with his satchel, but he ran around a building. Marcus replaced his pistol into his holster and reclaimed his rifle before running after the soldier that stole his satchel.
***
When John and the others returned to the hub, they were not alone; the soldiers had followed them down into the tunnels and opened fire on them. They quickly used the other tunnel entrances as cover and returned fire.

Jason knew that a single shot from the Crowd Pleaser would be more than enough to end this firefight but it would more likely end in disaster. Firing a grenade launcher in an enclosed space was beyond a bad idea. The list of ways to be killed or injured by the explosion and its consequences outweighed the instantaneous victory that the Crowd Pleaser promised. This frustrated Jason because, at best, he was a pretty good shot with his rifle, but every miss created anxiety and caused him to miss more. He also started to feel weak and dizzy. Jason then remembered his wound, looked at his bandage and touched it lightly. The blood was dark and stained his fingers; he was still bleeding. He swore to himself and found it difficult to reload his rifle and leaned forward into the light to see what he was doing.

John wondered why Jason had got up from his cover and noticed that he seemed oblivious to the firefight around him. He was horrified by what he saw next as a burst of machine gun fire pierced through the front of his chest from his back. The rifle and the magazine he was trying to load dropped from his hands and he stumbled back against the tunnel wall and remained motionless.

Enraged, John jumped from his cover, aimed and fired his Uzi at one of the soldiers, killing him. He ran to Jason.

“Man down!” he shouted into his radio, “Jason’s down!”

John took cover next to Jason and fired another burst into another soldier; felling him as well. He quickly checked Jason for a pulse, but he was gone.

Paul fired his rifle, killing a soldier and driving another back into cover. He pointed his rifle at a tunnel entrance closest to John.

“Go for that one!” Paul shouted into his radio.

John grabbed the Crowd Pleaser and the pouch that held the grenade shells for the launcher and ran for the cave, following Paul but noticing Drew’s lifeless eyes staring past him as he ran by. Behind him, he could hear footsteps echoing from the other tunnels into the hub. Before John reached the entrance after Paul, he saw soldiers pour into the hub by the handful. As he ran into the tunnel, he flipped the safety on the Crowd Pleaser to the off position; he could hear the soldiers following.

John stopped halfway through the tunnel, aimed the grenade launcher and fired it into the hub. The explosion radiated into the hub and the concussion wave was devastating but barely filtered into the tunnel John and Paul were escaping into.
***
Marcus feared that he had lost the soldier he was chasing but his footfalls gave him a clue of where he was heading. He turned another corner and smiled when he saw his mark run onto the street ahead of him; running towards a black SUV flanked by two pick up trucks armed with machine guns. One of the gunners aimed the machine gun at the running soldier but lowered it once he realized he was one of their own. The gunner, however, did see Marcus and opened fire. The running soldier dropped momentarily and instinctively before quickly getting back on his feet and running towards the SUV. One of the rear passenger doors swung open and the soldier jumped in closing the door behind him. The black truck started up and drove away while the two pick-up trucks quickly followed but their gunners still fired at Marcus until they were out of range.
***
John and Paul found themselves in another firefight once they reached the surface. A group of soldiers was closing in, forcing the two to run to a small building. John exchanged his Uzi for the Crowd Pleaser again, aimed at the group of soldiers and squeezed the trigger and…nothing. John’s eyes widened and he cursed himself for his stupid mistake; he forgot to replace the spent casing in the launcher for a new one. He frantically tried to remove the spent casing while ducking from bullets and debris. Unfortunately, by the time John reloaded the launcher, the enemy had come too close to use it. He and Paul were forced to retreat inside the small building.

The two realized that they were inside a storage building filled with various landscaping tools, various gardening chemicals, and unfortunately fertilizer. They barricaded the only door with whatever they could find and kept their weapons ready, switching their aim from window to window at the soldiers now surrounding the building before the enemy opened fire.

Bullets shattered what was left of the windows and shredded anything that was stored on the shelves inside. John and Paul kept themselves low but still the bullets came too close until they could hear the voice of an enemy officer yelling at the soldiers to cease fire. John looked up and could hear the soldiers running by and away from the building. He managed enough courage to stand and look through the window at the soldiers entering trucks and leaving. John and Paul cautiously looked through the other windows making sure that the soldiers had left. They removed the barricade from the door, and stepped outside with their weapons ready and heard their enemy driving away.

“Why did they stop?” John asked. “They had us pinned.”

“Did you want them to come back?” Paul countered.
Last edited by Papacat on Wed May 16, 2012 11:51 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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Re: WASTELAND

Post by Nature_Lover » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:20 pm

Thanks for the story, a great start!
Wonder what's in the satchel?

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Re: WASTELAND

Post by Trident » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:29 pm

Awesome beginning, look forward to the next installment.

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Re: WASTELAND

Post by Nancy1340 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:00 pm

Very nice. Thanks

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Re: WASTELAND

Post by Papacat » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:21 pm

Chapter 2 Last Letter

Marcus shook his head in disbelief. Not only was he upset by the fact that he had failed, but he was also baffled by the fact that he was left alive. He quickly changed his mind as he saw one of their trucks speeding toward him. Marcus sighed and raised his rifle but stopped when he saw the driver waving to him. The truck stopped near him and Marcus lowered his rifle when he recognized the driver.

“I thought you would want a lift,” Dan said.
***
A few minutes later, the truck stopped in front of John and Paul. Marcus climbed out of the truck and walked to them.

“Jason and Drew?” he asked them.

“They’re gone,” Paul said.

Marcus shook his head

“They just stopped firing at us and left,” John said.

“They had what they came for,” Marcus explained.

“They got the package,” Paul said.

“Not without a fight,” Marcus almost sounded defensive. “There were two of them and I killed one of them.”
Paul backed down, realizing this was the worst time to start accusing anyone.

“Now, our friends are still in there,” Marcus indicated the tunnel entrance behind them, “and we need to get them out.”

Marcus and the others brought the bodies of their fallen friends from the tunnels. Once they collected the weapons and gear from their fallen enemies, they made a horrible discovery.

“All of them?” Marcus asked.

“Yes, sir,” Dan answered. “They shot all of our horses. But, we did manage to salvage our saddle bags.”

“Well,” Marcus said, “at least we’ll be able to trade these guns for new horses.”

“Why?” John asked. “We have this truck now.”

“And if we had our own personal fully stocked garage, and an oil field, and a refinery we would be in good shape,” Marcus explained. “There’s a reason why most people ride horses these days.”

John already knew the answer; his parents had explained how life was before the fall even though his parents were children at the time. But now, there was a more serious matter to attend to.

Marcus removed a sealed envelope from Jason’s shirt pocket and another after a few seconds of searching through Drew’s pocket. These were their last letters: a letter to whomever found their bodies instructions on what to do with their remains and their personal belongings. Each one of Marcus’ crew wrote one before they started a job and sealed it with wax as proof that the letter was not tampered with.

Drew’s letter was simple enough, since he had no next of kin. His body was to be buried where he died and his belongings split among the crew. Jason’s letter asked that his body be sent home to his brother as well as his belongings with the exception of the Crowd Pleaser; that was to be given to Marcus. They removed some shovels from the bullet-riddled storage building and dug a grave for their friend. Once they were done and a few words of prayer spoken for Drew, Marcus and his crew climbed into the truck and left Sterling, the town they will never forget.



Chapter 3 Family Business

There were a lot of questions swimming through Marcus’ head, but he tried not be distracted by them. He tried and failed. He kept wondering about the people who attacked them just for an old briefcase. It was supposed to be a simple job: deliver the briefcase to the Archivists in Ashland, get paid, and then go home. He reminded himself that it was stupid to assume any job to be simple, even the ones that seemed to be the simplest of all. He wished there was another way to have learned that lesson, but life rarely gave those lessons without a price.

Jesse was convinced that the devil invented chores. It made sense from what his parents had taught him; the Devil was responsible for all evil, so therefore he invented chores. He’d rather be playing; reenacting tales that his uncle would tell him about being a mercenary. Jesse missed his uncle and wondered when he would see him again. He looked up from the weeds he was pulling and saw a cloud of dust on the horizon, one that was making its way towards his home. He stood up and started to run towards his father.

“Dad,” Jesse shouted. He shouted again and caught his father’s attention. He quickly pointed to the approaching dust cloud.

Jesse’s father, Seth recognized what the dust cloud was and picked up his rifle and shouted back to his son.

“Jesse!” he said. “Get inside the house!”

Jesse knew better than to argue with his father and ran inside as quickly as he could. Seth flicked off the safety on his rifle and watched as a truck slowed to a stop at the entrance of his farm.

Jesse slammed the door behind him as a he ran inside the house, earning him a scolding reminder from his mother not to slam the door.

“Someone’s coming,” Jesse explained and his mother stopped and listened to the sound of an engine getting closer.

“Jesse, get in the cellar,” she ordered and Jesse left without hesitation while his mother ran upstairs into the room facing the entrance of the farm. She removed a rifle from the gun rack, checked to see that it was loaded and made her way to the perch they had built in case they needed to defend their home. She opened the window and ducked behind the protection that the perch provided. On her side of the wall were an inch of steel and a wall of stacked sandbags. Next to her was a box of loaded spare magazines and hand grenades.

Outside, the truck had stopped and the driver’s door opened slowly and a pair of hands rose out of the top of the door. Marcus slowly stepped out of the truck and kept his hands raised.

“Don’t shoot,” he said.

Seth finally recognized Marcus and lowered his weapon, stood up and walked towards him.

“It figures it would be you,” Seth said as he slung his rifle. But as he walked closer to extend his hand to Marcus, he noticed the look in his face. It was a look he has seen before, and he knew exactly what it meant. He dropped his hands to his sides, closed his eyes, and slowly shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Seth,” Marcus said.

“When did it happen?” Seth asked with his eyes still closed.

“Yesterday,” Marcus explained. “We were ambushed.”

“Did he die fighting?” Seth managed to look at Marcus when he asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

“That’s how he wanted to go,” Seth said.

“We brought him home,” Marcus said as he handed Seth Jason’s last letter. “It’s what he wanted.”

“Seth reluctantly accepted the letter and read it. He stopped himself in order to keep himself from crying. It didn’t work.

Lisa saw her husband trying to stifle his tears through the telescopic sight of her rifle and knew what was going on. She was with Seth that day when Marcus brought back his father’s body. Lisa knew that death was part of her brother-in-law’s line of work, that’s why she quit and when Jesse was born convinced Seth to stay out of the family business. Lisa backed away from the sight on her rifle to wipe away a tear and when she looked through the sight again she saw her husband waving to her, giving the “all clear” sign. She thumbed the selector switch of her rifle back to the “safe” position.

Jason’s belongings were set on the table in front of his brother, his sister-in-law and nephew. One of his belongings was a pistol that Jesse immediately took interest in and slowly tried to remove it from the table. Without looking, Seth knew what his son was up to, grabbed his hand short of the pistol and slowly pulled it away and sat it into Jesse’s lap. Jesse frowned to himself and the grown-ups continued their talk.

“They had trucks?” Seth asked.

“Yes,” Marcus answered, “which means…”

“They have a lot of resources,” Seth answered for Marcus.

“And support,” Marcus added. “Vehicles mean maintenance.”

“I’m sorry,” John gave them a puzzled look, “I’m not getting it.”

“If they have that many vehicles and weapons at their disposal,” Marcus explained, “then there’s a good bet that they’re a lot more of them.”

Seth took a closer look at the insignia patch that was torn from one of the soldiers.

“Have you ever seen anything like that before?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Seth shook his head. “But someone at the archives might know.”

Marcus nodded in agreement.

“That was our next stop,” he said, “if you want to join us?”

Seth froze, feeling the glare from his wife.

“That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But I’ll ask around town…see if anyone knows anything about your new friends.”

“Thank you,” Marcus said. “We’ll leave for Ashland tomorrow morning.”

“You’re all welcome to stay here for the night,” Seth offered.

“We’ll take you up on that,” Marcus said. “Thank you.”

As everyone rose from the table, Marcus noticed that John seemed down and left out the front door. He followed him outside and closed the door behind him.

Marcus noticed John walking towards the truck.

“Are you okay, John?” Marcus asked.

John stopped and turned around.

“It just reminded me too much of home in there,” John explained. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep in the truck.”

Marcus nodded and walked back inside the house. Seth had noticed the both of them step out and was about to go after them when Marcus came back inside.

“Where’s he going?” Seth asked.

“He’s going to sleep in the truck,” Marcus answered.

“Is he too good to sleep in my home?” Seth sounded offended.

“It has nothing to do with that,” Marcus explained. “John has never been comfortable around families since his own…”

Seth suddenly remembered and stopped Marcus.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I understand.”

Marcus closed the door behind him and walked back with Seth to the living room.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapters 2 & 3 are up)

Post by GotMak » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:14 pm

Tag!
"That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Papacat » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:31 am

Chapter 4 Ashland
Marcus and his crew got an early start the next morning even though the truck was faster than any horse they had. Still, they wanted to reach Ashland early enough to talk to one of the archivists; a task that could be done only by appointment. But first, they had to hide the truck. Since the streets of Ashland were so narrow, the truck wouldn’t be allowed to enter and it was too valuable to leave outside, even under guard.

Well outside of Ashland, Marcus and his crew found what was left of a few abandoned homes and in one of them a somewhat intact garage. They parked the truck inside and closed the garage door to conceal it. Ashland was still a few miles away, but could be reached by foot. They unloaded some of the weapons they had salvaged from Sterling into a duffel bag in the hopes of exchanging them for horses and other supplies. Marcus noticed that Dan was reloading the pistol mounted on his wrist.

“You do know that thing is useless if you’re ever searched, right?” Marcus asked.

Dan smiled back at Marcus, racked the slide of the pistol and enabled the safety before sliding the weapon back on its rail until the trigger mechanism was reset.

“Then, I’ll try not to be searched,” he replied.

Marcus shook his head and slung his pack over his shoulder before they started their walk to Ashland.
***
The shanty city of Ashland was named after its founder, David Ashland, a man who made it his life’s duty to rebuild civilization after the fall. Ashland was his success and his legacy. The city itself was home to a few thousand people their homes and businesses radiated out from the center, a luxurious fortress which served as home for the government of Ashland, and the archives. The buildings of Ashland were composed of various architectural styles mainly because they were built from whatever materials could be found. Granted it did not make the city aesthetic, it did make it unique. Surrounding Ashland was a high perimeter wall interrupted by towers that kept watch both inside and outside of the city. Marcus and his crew approached the west gate where they stood in line with other merchants and visitors to be screened before they entered the city. Ashland city guards roamed the lines, scanning the crowd for known troublemakers and to answer the occasional question. The guards kept a close watch on anyone armed which meant almost everyone and made the guards tense up when anyone approached them. One of the guards saw Marcus and smiled.

“Marcus,” he said. “It’s been too long.”

Marcus took the guard’s extended hand and gave it a firm shake.

“Taylor,” Marcus replied, “it’s good to see you.”

“What are you doing waiting in line?” Taylor asked before he waved them to follow. “You boys have been here so often you get the express lane.”

“Marcus and his crew followed Taylor into the guard house. One of the guards raised his rifle upon their entry but Taylor raised his hand calmly to him.

“They’re with me,” he explained. “Mr. Ross wants to see them.”

The guard lowered his rifle and turned back to his conversation with another guard. Marcus was not surprised to hear that Mr. Ross wanted to see them; he just wasn’t looking forward to it.

Mr. Ross, their employer, was a broker of sorts and his deals ranged from the innocent to those that were not discussed in public. He arranged jobs for Marcus and his crew discreetly if necessary and for a reasonable cut. Marcus knew that the archives would have to wait. It wouldn’t take long for Mr. Ross to find out that they had arrived and made their way to the Guild.

The Guild was a modest building, more functional than aesthetic. It was a place of business where clientele could seek solutions to their crisis with discretion and efficiency. No job was too big for the Guild and to the clientele, no price was too large. There were four entrances to the building; three were for clients, and the fourth was for employees.

Clients arrived by appointment and assigned to one of the three entrances for discretion. From there, the client was taken to another room without being seen by other clients in order to negotiate a contract. Marcus and his crew arrived through the employee entrance and were met by the receptionist, Dana.

“Mr. Ross is expecting you, Mr. Turner,” she said.

Marcus nodded and turned to his crew. “Okay, let’s go.”

“No, Mr. Turner,” Dana interrupted, “Just you.”

Marcus and his crew exchanged a baffled look.

“If you would check in your weapons please,” Dana asked and gestured to a box she set down in front of Marcus.

Marcus removed his weapons and placed them inside a numbered box and was given a claim ticket before he could enter. The iron gate slid open long enough for him to enter but closed quickly behind him.

Marcus was led upstairs to one of the conference rooms which was normal for debriefings, but inside was a different story. Along with Mr. Ross were seated three other people; none of them he recognized.

“Please take a seat, Mr. Turner,” Mr. Ross said as he stood up. He turned to face the three behind him. “This is Marcus Turner; he was the leader of one of the four teams that were ambushed. Also, of the four teams, his was the only one that survived.”

“The only one,” Marcus repeated.

“Please don’t interrupt, Mr. Turner,” Mr. Ross said before he looked back at the three. “You’ve read his preliminary report?”

The three nodded, but a man at the end spoke up.

“Yes,” he said and looked at Marcus. “I have some questions for him if you don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Mr. Ross replied.

“How did you lose the package, Mr. Turner?” the man asked.

Marcus gave the man a forced smirk before he explained, “The package was taken from us but not without a fight. I lost two of my people yesterday.”

“My condolences,” the man said flatly. “Please answer my question.”

Marcus cleared his throat before he answered, “We were ambushed and were chased into Sterling where we attempted to evade our pursuers.”

“Please continue,” the man said.

Marcus tried not to show his frustration but continued, “One of my crew, Paul, led us into the caves underneath the town. Unfortunately, we were separated…”

“By a tunnel collapse?” the man interjected, referring to Marcus’ report.

“Yes,” Marcus replied. “My crew became caught up in a firefight while I returned to the surface hoping to regroup with them.”

“But you were attacked?” the woman sitting in between the two men asked.

“That’s right,” Marcus said. “I was jumped by two…soldiers I guess you could call them. One of them took the package while the other tried to kill me. I killed him instead and chased after the other. The other one ran to these trucks that were waiting, got into one of them while the other two provided cover fire and pinned me down until they left.”

“According to your report, two of your crew was pinned down as well?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Marcus replied. “After two of my crew was killed in the firefight, the survivors fled to a building where they were pinned down.”

“Until they left as well?” the other man finally chimed in.

“Yes,” Marcus tried to hide his irritation.

“Convenient,” the other man said.

“Very convenient,” the woman added.

“Would someone tell me what the hell is going on?” Marcus gave in to his frustration and shouted. The three glared at him.

“Thank you, Mr. Turner,” the woman said, “that will be all.”

Marcus looked to Mr. Ross who nodded his head towards the door behind him. He stood up and left the conference room, but left the door open enough to hear the heated discussion inside. Marcus could only make out a few phrases and words.

“…they failed…”

“How could they…”

“They couldn’t have known…”

“Morgan’s case…”

Marcus decided to leave and let the door close silently before he quickly walked away. Once he claimed his weapons at the entrance, Marcus found Dan waiting for him.

“Where are Paul and John?” Marcus asked.

“They went to the archives,” Dan answered, “to make an appointment.”

“Good,” Marcus said before he activated his radio. “Paul, do you read?”

Paul’s voice replied over the radio, “This is Paul. Go ahead.”

Marcus thumbed the transmit key of his radio, “Any luck with the appointment?”

“Yes, sir,” Paul’s voice replied. “But, it won’t be for three hours.”

“Of course,” Marcus muttered to himself. He thumbed the transmit key again, “Meet us in the market.”

“Copy that,” Paul’s voice replied.

Marcus looked over and saw Dan give him a confused look.

“The market?” Dan asked.

“Might as well make the most of it,” Marcus explained. “Besides, I want to find a buyer for the truck before John gets too comfortable with it.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Gwynmael » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:54 am

For someone who says:
"I don't know jack about guns, explosives, vehicles, or horses; so please bear with me if you find any mistakes." You seem to be doing just fine!

I like it! :)

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WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Hudsonhawk777 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:27 am

Papacat,

Great start so far really enjoying the fast paced action off the bat and getting into some great background on the setting. My only criticism is the introduction of 5-8 named characters in the first 2 chapter confused me some as too who the primary character is. I know now it is Marcus however trying to figure who I should care about and who I can forget is tough with that many characters is a short time period.

But again thanks enjoying it so far.
Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked.--Unknown

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by bad_karma00 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:22 pm

Seems like you're doing pretty good from where I sit. Nice story so far, and good action working. Some mystery thrown in on the side just makes it better.

Be waiting for more. Or MOAR, might be the proper word here, lol. :D
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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Barr » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:02 pm

Subbed
Vicarious_Lee wrote:Fuck it I'm Zombie Squad. I got this shit

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Nancy1340 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:20 pm

Very good, Thank you.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by 223shootersc » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:43 am

good stuff, like the way it reads, need more

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 4 is up)

Post by Papacat » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:20 pm

Thanks to everyone for their support.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Chapter 5 The Last President

The Ashland Market was a vast collection of vendors that all one could need for the right price. It was also the place to purchase specialized and/or sensitive items and services. Marcus and his crew were able to fight off temptation long enough to reach a vendor that specialized in horses. After trading the rifles they recovered from Sterling, Marcus and his crew were able to walk away with four horses and enjoyed the tastes the market offered and haggling for other supplies, Marcus realized that their appointment with the archives was a few minutes away.

He looked to Paul and John and said, “You two take the supplies back to the truck, but try not to attract attention. I don’t want to lose the truck before we have a chance to sell it.”

“We’re selling the truck,” John was shocked.

“Yes, we are,” Marcus said offering no explanation. “Now get going. We’ll meet up with you later.”

Paul and John took their horses and whatever supplies they could carry and left Marcus and Dan.

“Did you see John’s face?” Dan asked. “He looked like you just told him his dog died when you said we were selling the truck.”

Marcus smiled, “If we have that truck any longer, he would have moved into it. We should get going.”
***
The Ashland Archives was one part of David Ashland’s agenda to rebuild civilization; its purpose was to preserve the history of the world before the fall, both good and bad. The archives had grown seemingly exponentially since they were started, expanding far underneath the city.

Marcus and Dan went to the city hall and entered the main lobby that was shared with the Archives and other branches of Ashland’s city government. There were as many city guards guarding the entrance to the Archives as there were guards guarding the residences for the government officials. A city guard approached them.

“Sorry, guys,” he said, “you’re going to have to check in your weapons.”

The city guard led both Marcus and Dan to the front desk where another guard directed the two to remove their weapons from their person.

“Is that everything?” the guard at the desk asked.

Then Dan remembered; he was still wearing his railed holster contraption. He reached up his sleeve, undid the straps and removed the holster, handing it to the baffled guard. The guard at the desk opened the gate allowing the two inside the hub of three entrances: one for the administration, one for the living quarters, and one for the Archives. Marcus and Dan walked up to the Archives reception desk, another city guard who seemed bored when she greeted them.

“Welcome to Ashland Archives,” she said, “do you have an appointment?”

“Yes, we do,” Marcus answered, “under Marcus Turner.”

The city guard flipped the appointment book open while still glaring at her two visitors. She looked down at the page of appointments for the day and found Marcus’ name. She seemed disappointed as she reached over to the intercom controls. A voice answered after she pushed one of the buttons on the intercom.

“Yes?” the male voice asked.

The city guard pushed the transmit button, “Marcus Turner is here.”

“Thank you, Jess,” the voice replied. “I’ll meet him at the entrance.”

Jess turned off the intercom, and pointed to the Archives entrance. Marcus and Dan quickly left the reception desk and walked to the Archives entrance in time for its borrowed bank vault door to be opened in front of them.

A man in his fifties smiled at them. He wore loose fitting clothes and a vest with various pockets.

“Mr. Turner?” he asked as he extended his hand to either man.

“I’m Marcus Turner,” he said as he shook the man’s hand and gestured toward Dan. “This is my associate Dan Hallard.”

Dan smiled; he had never been called an associate before. It did sound a lot better than being called a “fellow mercenary.” Dan shook the man’s hand as he introduced himself.

“Archivist Peterson,” he said. “How can I help you today?”

“We’re looking for information on this,” Marcus said as he handed the archivist the emblem patch. The archivist froze after he glanced down at the patch.

“Where did you find this?” Archivist Peterson asked.

“I found it on a soldier that I killed,” Marcus explained.

The Archivist didn’t know which part of Marcus’ statement confused him more but said, “That must have been an old soldier.”

“Actually, he was younger than me,” Marcus said.

“Someone was wearing this?” Archivist Peterson asked, indicating the patch.

“As part of a uniform,” Marcus explained.

“That’s impossible,” the archivist said. “The True Republic hasn’t existed for over twenty-five years.”
***
Paul and John were about to leave Ashland when Paul decided to stop before they reached the gate.

“You go on ahead,” Paul said. “I’ve got to make a pit stop. I’ll catch up with you outside.”

Paul handed John the reins to his horse before he walked away. John sighed in frustration as he realized he had been duped into carrying Paul’s stuff again. He pulled both horses through the gate.

Paul made his way to the public restrooms but kept walking until he was in an alley alone. He removed a device from his pocket and unfolded it with one side to his ear and the other near his mouth.
***
Marcus and Dan were led further into the Archives by a suddenly enthusiastic Archivist Peterson whom had been babbling to himself excitedly about names and dates that neither Marcus or Dan knew about. Archivist Peterson found what he was looking for and pulled a large book from a shelf. He placed the book on to a nearby table and started to flip through the pages until he stopped on one page and laid the book flat. Archivist Peterson placed the patch next to an article dated about thirty years ago. The headlines in the article clipping described the war that had torn the nation apart at the time. In one of the images was a map of the United States showing areas that were occupied the two factions: The True Republic and the Freedom Coalition. The occupied territories were indicated by their emblems, and the one for the True Republic matched the one on the patch.

“This is the True Republic,” Archivist Peterson pointed to the article. “This country was in the middle of its second civil war.”

Marcus looked closer at the article and nodded to himself.

“I remember my parents talking about it,” he said.

The Archivist continued, “The True Republic was the embodiment of evil and were followers of President Morgan, the tyrant.”

“Morgan,” Marcus repeated and then remembered what he had heard earlier. “What do you know about Morgan’s case?”

Archivist Peterson gave him another confused look.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Marcus said, “but not all of us received the luxury of home schooling. Who was President Morgan?”

Archivist Peterson returned to the shelf and removed another book and placed it on the table. He opened it to a page with a picture of a man being sworn in during his inauguration. Archivist Peterson pointed to the picture and said, “This is the man that ended the world.”


Chapter 6 A Brief History Lesson

Henry G. Morgan was elected in a time of fear and uncertainty. Economies around the world were failing. In the United States, the unemployment rate skyrocketed as did inflation, thousands were becoming homeless and it was increasing steadily. Henry Morgan stepped in.

He was a very unique candidate in a troubled time. Not only did he claim to know the cause, but he had a solution. He claimed the cause was illegal immigration and the billions of dollars lost helping non-citizens. An angry, jobless, and hungry population embraced him and he quickly brought change once elected.

President Morgan’s first act as president was to close the borders and shut down all programs that helped non-citizens. The money for those programs was redirected to strengthen border security and to hire more Immigration agents to deport illegal immigrants.

At first the deportations were peaceful, but there were rumors of immigrants not making it back across the border. Then, in the third year of President Morgan’s administration, there was the Texas Massacre.

On an early Thursday morning, one of the largest mass deportations was taking place at the Texas-Mexico border. A few illegal immigrants that managed to elude agents of the Border Patrol and inspired others to rise up against their captors. Unfortunately, it was not long before the mass deportation turned into a mass execution. In the aftermath, less than a handful of Border Patrol agents were killed and all of the deportees, including women and children were gunned down in cold blood. Although a trigger happy deputized volunteer group was blamed, the investigation turned up something darker.

Before the massacre, there were allegations and rumors of deportees not making it back across the border. During the investigation, documents were discovered that instructed Border Patrol agents to execute any known cartel and gang member if found crossing the border. Further investigation found that the lists of missing deportees included more than cartel and gang members. Many were killed to avoid overfilling jails and to decrease the amount of paperwork.

News of these revelations spread quickly, inciting riots and led to attacks on several Federal buildings. Although a few of these attacks were planned and executed by the cartels, all illegal immigrants were deemed a threat to national security. The escalating violence prompted Morgan’s political opponents to attempt to impeach him, but failed when it was revealed that foreign insurgents besides the drug cartels were behind some of the attacks. This justified President Morgan’s order of Marshall Law, but the attempted impeachment and the news of foreign insurgents attempting to topple his administration fueled his paranoia. Soon, those that President Morgan trusted came under scrutiny. With security around President Morgan becoming tighter, his opponents searched for other methods to end his tyranny.

The failure of the impeachment caused President Morgan’s opponents to consider extreme options. As the violence continued, they knew that they must act fast but didn’t find it difficult to find allies in President Morgan’s inner circle of friends. With as many allies and their resources gathered in such a short amount of time, they would stage a coup against President Morgan.

A few days later, after President Morgan delivered his State of the Union Address, his opponents waited to confront him and remove him from power. His opponents did count on the loyalty of Morgan’s guards but not the fact that President Morgan carried his own pistol for protection. He opened fire, killing one of his opponents before he was carried away to the White House to safety, but a large army of opponents were waiting.

According to witnesses, those loyal to President Morgan helped to fight off his opponents while he, his family, and his staff fled on several planes, including Air Force One. After a fierce battle for the White House, Morgan’s opponents captured the Presidential home and quickly dispatched a squadron of fighters after President Morgan once they found out that he fled. Several hours later, the squadron caught up with Air Force One and shot it down over the Pacific Northwest. A team of investigators later confirmed that there were no survivors from the crash. President Morgan’s tyranny was over, but his death created a vacuum of power that led to dozens of factions to fight each other for control and escalated to the Second Civil War.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapters 5 & 6 are up)

Post by GotMak » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:53 am

Intriguing, I like!
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Re: WASTELAND (chapters 5 & 6 are up)

Post by 223shootersc » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:39 am

thanks for the chapter, interesting history, need more

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Re: WASTELAND (chapters 5 & 6 are up)

Post by Papacat » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:45 am

Chapter 7 Retrieval Fee

Marcus appreciated the history lesson that Archivist Peterson was more than happy to give, but he still had questions.

“So, what’s Morgan’s case?” he asked, hoping that the Archivist’s answer would be as to the point as his question. He should have known better.

Archivist Peterson started to flip through the book again and stopped on a photo of President Morgan carrying a briefcase as he was talking to his staff. The Archivist pointed to the briefcase.

“That’s Morgan’s case,” he explained. “About a year before his death, there were rumors that President Morgan was planning something against his opponents. The rumors varied from assassination to mind control. But the only one that has any basis in reality is this…”

The archivist turned a few pages to a page of schematics which didn’t seem clear even after Archivist Peterson explained.

“This is the blueprint for a fully automated nuclear missile silo,” he said. “There was a rumor that President Morgan secretly commissioned the construction of several of these silos. They were to be used as a Scorched Earth policy if his opponents ever tried to attack.”

“But they did,” Marcus interrupted.

“Apparently, he was killed before he could activate it,” Archivist Peterson suggested.

“Would this thing still work?” Dan asked.

“I’m not a technician,” the archivist said. “Besides, I already covered this with Mr. Ross.”

“Ross was here?” Marcus asked.

“He came in a couple of weeks ago asking about Morgan’s case,” the archivist said. “Was there anything else you needed to know?”

“No,” Marcus said, “thank you.”

Archivist Peterson picked up the books and put them back on the shelf in their appropriate places before escorting Marcus and Dan outside of the Archives.

As Marcus and Dan collected their weapons, Dan noticed that Marcus’ focus was elsewhere.

“Find what you were looking for?” he asked.

“No,” Marcus answered but still seemed distant. “Just more questions. We need to make a quick stop at the Guild before we leave.”

“The Guild,” Dan repeated.

“I’ve got more questions,” Marcus said, “and it looks like Mr. Ross has the answers.
***
Dana was surprised to see Marcus and Dan I her reception area again and it made her nervous. When a contractor came by twice in one day, it usually meant it was about money, and when it was about money, it usually ended badly for the contractor.

“Hi Dana, we don’t have an appointment,” Marcus confessed.

“Mr. Ross is booked for the rest of the day,” Dana said.

Marcus smiled; he expected this.

“This is important,” he explained.

“Of course it is,” she replied.

“What if I took you to dinner?” Marcus asked with as much charm as he could muster.

Dana’s expression did not change when she answered, “And I might be interested if you were the only game in town.”

Marcus cleared his throat; it was a hard comment to swallow and then decided to be more direct.

“Please,” he said; his tone serious, “all I’m asking is that you call Mr. Ross and tell him two words.”

“Two words?” Dana said.

“Morgan’s case,” Marcus said.

Dana sighed, “All right.”

She picked up the phone and dialed.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir,” she said into the phone. “Mr. Turner asked to see you.

She stopped to listen and then continued, “He asked me to tell you something, sir.”

Dana paused again for a question.

“It was ‘Morgan’s case,’ sir,” she answered.

She paused yet again but then spoke into the phone, “Sir?”

Dana listened as Mr. Ross responded, gave a quick acknowledgment before looking back to Marcus, “You can go up.”

After checking in their weapons, Marcus and Dan went through the gate. Marcus noticed that Dan was smiling at him.

“What?” he asked.

“What if I took you to dinner?” Dan said in a mocking tone. “Really smooth, chief.”

“And if you wish to live,” Marcus said, “I would suggest that you don’t repeat that to anyone.”

“Yes, sir,” Dan replied unconvincingly.
***
Mr. Ross poured whiskey into his glass, shaking his head. He shouldn’t had underestimated Marcus Turner, and regretted not telling him about the case sooner. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Ross said as he set the whiskey bottle down on the drink cabinet. He offered Marcus and Dan a seat in front of his desk before he sat down. Ross nodded to Marcus, letting him know he was ready for his questions.

“Why didn’t you tell us what was going on?” Marcus asked.

“Right to the point,” Ross muttered before he continued. “It was supposed to be simple: transport the case to the Archives here. There were four
teams and each one would have a case.”

“Decoys?” Marcus asked.

“Yes,” Ross answered, “but we ran into a problem. Three teams were lost as well as all four cases. And now it’s over. What do you care about it?”

“You know what that case was for and you don’t care that it falls into the hands of the True Republic?” Marcus asked.

Ross let out a small laugh before he answered, “The Civil War faction that came out of the woodwork?”

“Which is what worries me the most,” Marcus said.

Ross nodded in agreement, “They found out somehow, and it’s being looked into.”

“Any leads?” Marcus asked.

“So far nothing on this end,” Ross explained. “Besides a nuclear trigger on the loose that I doubt it works, what’s bothering you about this?”

“The reputation of me and my crew,” Marcus answered.

“Of course,” Ross said. “You want to redeem yourself.”

“I intend to do more than that,” Marcus said.

“What do you have in mind?” Ross asked.

“My crew and I retrieve the case,” Marcus explained.

“And if you and your short-handed crew manage to retrieve the case, then what?” Ross asked.

“We give it to you to auction off to the highest bidder,” Marcus proposed. Even Dan was surprised.

“What’s the catch?” Ross asked.

“We get a retrieval fee from what you get for the case,” Marcus said, “Fifty-fifty.”

“Don’t be insulting,” Ross took another sip from his whiskey. “I’ll be lucky to recover from the loss of those three teams. Try two percent.”

“Ten percent,” Marcus countered.

“Five percent,” Ross glared at him. “That is the final offer.”

Marcus and Mr. Ross glared at each other until Dan nudged Marcus. Marcus then remembered how dangerous it was to renegotiate payment with Mr. Ross. The position for this job opened up because the previous contractor attempted to renegotiate payment with Mr. Ross.

“Five percent will be fine,” Marcus said.

“I’ll have Dana write up the papers before you leave,” Mr. Ross smiled. “So how do you intend to find this case?”

“Just leave that to me, sir,” Marcus replied, returning the smile. He and Dan stood up and left the office.

Mr. Ross activated the intercom to Dana.

Her voice replied over the speaker, “Yes, sir.”

“You don’t know, do you?” Dan asked quietly.

“Know what?” Marcus answered after closing the door to Mr. Ross’ office behind him.

“You don’t know how to find the case, do you?” Dan rephrased his question.

“Have some faith, Mr. Hallard,” Marcus said. “Have I ever let you down?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?” Dan replied.
***
Paul and John were becoming worried; both Marcus and Dan were an hour overdue and had not been responding to their radios. Fortunately, relief came with Marcus’ voice let them know that they were a few minutes away and that they found a buyer for the truck. The latter, John didn’t take so well.

Caution was drilled into their heads even when they were doing something simple as guard duty. They had kept out of sight but kept their eyes out for anything. Then they heard the familiar rumbling of horses galloping. The rumbling grew louder causing Paul and John to stand quickly with their weapons ready.

“That’s a lot of horses,” John said as the rumbling grew louder. Paul ran to the nearest front window and carefully peeked outside, half-expecting the window to be shot out. There was a perplexed look on Paul’s face.

“What is it?” John asked. “What do you see?”

Paul drew back what was left of the molding, decaying curtains to reveal Marcus and Dan approaching followed by at least a dozen people on horseback. The two watched carefully until Marcus flipped the palm of his hand toward them; it was the signal for “all clear.” John and Paul put on the safeties of their weapons before walking outside.

They were surprised to see Taylor with Marcus and Dan until they heard him ask, “Where’s the truck?”
John’s heart sunk as Paul answered, “It’s in the garage.”

Paul and John pulled the garage door open and revealed the truck. He looked over and saw that John was staring sadly at the truck.

“Do you want a moment alone?” he asked.

“No,” John answered, “it would just make things worse.”

Taylor signaled to two of his men and pointed to the truck, “Take it back to Ashland.”

“We’re on it,” one of the two replied as they ran to the truck.

“The keys are in the ignition,” Paul said as the two passed him.

The truck started up and pulled out of the garage and sped away towards Ashland.

Marcus rode down closer to Paul and John as he spoke, “Get your stuff. We’re going back to Sterling.”

“Sterling?” John said with confusion.

“Who are they?” Paul pointed to the other men and women on horseback behind Marcus. “Have we become tour guides now?”

Marcus smiled, “They’re a salvage team.”

John and Paul exchanged a quick, confused look.

“The explanation will have to wait,” Marcus said. “Let’s move! I want to get to Sterling before dark.”

Paul and John moved quickly back inside the house to retrieve their gear and grabbed their horses that were waiting on the side of the house.
***
Down the street in another abandoned house, two men and one woman have been watching Marcus and his crew since they arrived.

“Would you care to explain why we’re here?” the woman asked.

One of the men smiled and gestured towards the spotting scope perched near the window that he was looking through seconds ago.

“Please, take a look,” he said.

The woman sighed, wishing he would have just told her instead. She walked to the scope and looked through it.

“I see Mr. Turner and his crew,” she said. “This is important because?”

“I’ll give you a moment to spot him,” the man said. The woman shook her head before she looked through the scope again. She looked up at the man again; her expression changed from irritation to shock.

“It’s him,” she said.

“Yes, it is,” the man said proudly.

“This changes nothing,” she said. “The decision has been made.”

The man looked to the other and he nodded, confirming what she said.

“So you choose an outsider over a true heir?” he asked.

“He lost his chance,” she explained. “That’s why we’re out here.”

“He’s survived out here for so long,” the man argued. “That’s got to count for something.”

“Survival is also based on luck,” she countered as-a-matter-of-factually. “The decision is final. Is that understood?”

“Understood,” the man reluctantly replied.

“We need to leave,” the woman said. “Our window is an hour away if we are to make our report.”

The man nodded as he collected the spotting scope and left with the other two.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 7 is up)

Post by Papacat » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 pm

Chapter 8 Return to Sterling

“You don’t have a plan, do you” Paul asked after Marcus told his crew about their job to retrieve Morgan’s case.

“That’s what I said,” Dan added.

“This is why we’re going to Sterling,” Marcus explained. “We should be able to find some sort of trail.”

“Are you hoping to find a receipt to the hotel they’re staying at?” Paul asked.

Marcus replied, “How did our friends leave that day?”

“They drove,” Paul answered, not realizing the significance.

“Which means trucks,” Marcus explained. “Which means?”

Marcus waited for an answer but only blank stares came back from his crew.

“The trucks would have left tracks,” he finally said.

“I really doubt they would leave tracks that would lead us back to them,” Paul said.

“Do you really think they’re that smart?” Marcus asked. “Let me ask you this, if you switched places with them trapped in a building and you had that building surrounded, would you let them live?”

“No,” Paul reluctantly answered. “But that’s what worries me about this. They were confident that we were not a threat.”

“Confident does not mean intelligent,” Marcus said as he noticed they were approaching Sterling.

As they descended the off ramp, they passed the smoldering remains of those that were caught up in the blast from the Crowd Pleaser when they were chased into Sterling a few days ago. Marcus led his crew and the salvage team to the school where the bodies of True Republic soldiers laid near their abandoned vehicles. Some members of the salvage team wasted no time, dismounted and started searching the bodies and vehicles for anything of value. The guards that came with them dismounted from their horses as well and kept watch with their weapons ready. Taylor followed Marcus and his crew into the school.

Inside, bloody drag marks started where their horses once lay. Scavengers or animals must have got to them. In either case, Marcus and the others kept their weapons ready. Taylor waved forward a couple of his troops for added security. He waved them ahead to take point. As the two soldiers moved forward, they carefully swept each room before moving on to the next one.

“So what do you expect to find here?” Taylor asked quietly.

“A lead,” Marcus replied.

“You don’t think those Republic guys are still hanging around, do you?” Taylor whispered.

“No,” Marcus answered, “I’m hoping that they left something behind to tell us where they went.”

Taylor stopped in astonishment before he asked almost too loudly, “What do you expect to find?”

“A hotel receipt,” Paul muttered just loud enough for the others to hear and earn a chuckle from them except Marcus and Taylor. Before Marcus could answer, Taylor’s radio crackled, “Chief, you need to be here.”

Taylor punched the transmit button on his radio, “Thank you, Ron, for defeating the purpose of radio silence.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Ron’s voice replied, “but you need to come here, sir.”

“It better be an emergency,” Taylor almost shouted into his radio.

“It is, sir,” Ron’s voice answered, the tension in his voice could be heard this time.

Taylor then realized Ron’s nervousness put his radio back and raised his rifle as he and Marcus walked down the corridor. Dan, Paul, and John stood back to provide cover. As they walked through the corridor, they came across a room where they saw Ron being held at gunpoint by a man, his clothes were torn and dirty and he was skinny but appeared capable of handling himself. Taylor was about to take aim but Marcus stopped him.

“Scavenger,” he whispered to Taylor.

Scavengers were harmless by themselves, but if threatened or in numbers they were dangerous.

“You are going to pay for what you did to us,” he said.

“We’re not after you,” Marcus said as calmly as possible. “We just want our friends back.”

It was then that he remembered that Taylor had sent two of his soldiers ahead to scout the building.

“Where’s the other soldier?” Taylor asked.

“We have him,” the scavenger answered.

Marcus looked down the corridor and could see John with his weapon ready. He could see him whisper into his radio.

“Dan went for help,” John’s voice whispered into Marcus’ earpiece. “Paul is circling around to the other side.”

Marcus looked back at the man, hoping he was not noticed.

“What’s this about?” Marcus asked.

“You and your friends come tearing through and shoot the place up,” the scavenger said. “You killed three of us.”

“We only fired at the soldiers that were after us,” Marcus explained. “We were running for our lives.”

“It doesn’t matter if you were firing at us or not,” the scavenger tightened his grip on his hostage. “You’re just as responsible for my friends’ deaths.”

“We’re sorry for your loss,” Taylor said. “But killing our friends won’t bring yours back.”

Another voice spoke into Marcus’ earpiece, this time it was Dan.

“Taylor’s troops are surrounding the building and I’m on top of the roof across from you,” he said. “I can see you both in the doorway through the window and I can see the gunman but not the other hostage.”

Unfortunately, Marcus couldn’t see anything either. He and Taylor had been standing outside the room in the corridor and could only see the scavenger in front of them.

Paul’s voice came over Marcus’ earpiece

“We’re in position, chief,” he said. “When we count down to one make sure you and Taylor are out of the way.”

Marcus gave a small nod that Dan picked up and quickly relayed over his radio.

“Counting down from three,” Paul’s voice announced. “Three…”

Dan flipped off the safety of his rifle.

“Two…”

Taylor’s troops gathered near John and Paul, ready to move in.

Dan looked through his scope and noticed that he had let his rifle dip enough that he could see the door to the left of the gunman open enough to see a child peek through before being pulled back inside and the door closed.

Dan shouted into his radio, “Abort! There’s a child in the building!”

“One!” Paul said through the radio.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 8 is up)

Post by 223shootersc » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:47 am

good chapter, thanks

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 8 is up)

Post by Papacat » Fri May 04, 2012 9:28 pm

CHAPTER 9 Whispers

The door to Marcus’ right slammed shut before he heard Dan’s voice over the radio warn that there was a child in the building. Down the hall, he could hear Paul and the soldiers with him rush inside the building and he saw them starting to run into the adjoining room.

Without hesitation, Marcus ran into the room, the scavenger distracted by the commotion. Marcus struck him with the butt of his rifle and the scavenger fell backwards and his pistol fell to the floor. As Ron recovered the pistol, Marcus ran to the door and kicked it open. Inside the next room, he caught another scavenger off guard and struck him in the back of the head causing him to drop the rifle stolen from the other soldier whom sat against the wall. Marcus kicked the rifle back over the soldier and heard the door across the room being kicked open. Fortunately, Paul and the others had entered the room next to this one.

Marcus shouted to them, “Hold your fire!”

A confused look quickly came over Paul’s face before he lowered his rifle and ordered the soldiers with him to lower their weapons as well. The soldiers saw the children hiding in the room and lowered their weapons.

Paul spoke into his radio, “Check your targets! There are civilians in the building! I repeat, check your targets for civilians!”

“All clear,” John’s voice reported over the radio.

Marcus looked at the scavenger he had knocked to the floor then to one of Taylor’s soldiers.

“Get a medic,” he ordered before he walked back into the other room. “Have him check him and the children.”

As Marcus walked back into the other room, the scavenger that he knocked down first was sitting on the floor clutching his head while Taylor and Ron watched him.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone move as fast as you,” Taylor said.

“Fear can be a good incentive,” Marcus replied as he leaned down over the scavenger

“Come to gloat?” the scavenger asked.

“Let’s start over,” Marcus said as he extended his hand to the scavenger. “Marcus Turner.”

The scavenger reluctantly shook his hand.

“Go fuck yourself,” he said.

Marcus smiled before he continued, “I know you’re not going to believe me when I say this, but we’re not here to harm you.”

The scavenger glared at him and pointed at the bruise on his head.

“Well,” Marcus said, “we’re not here to harm you any further.”

“What do you want?” the scavenger asked.

“We want to know about the people we were fighting,” Marcus answered.

“Why should we help you?” the scavenger asked.

“Because we’re willing to help you,” Marcus explained. “Food, medical supplies, what do you need?”

The angry front gradually left the scavenger as he pondered Marcus’ offer.

“What if we just want you to leave?” he asked.

“Then we’ll leave,” Marcus answered. “But, is that what you really want?”

The scavenger looked through the doorway and saw the medic gently looking over the children and caring for any of their injuries.

“I have to talk to the others,” the scavenger said.

“Of course,” Marcus said as he offered his hand again. The scavenger reached for his hand but Marcus took him by his forearm and helped him to his
feet.

“But first,” Marcus said, “go see our medic.”

The scavenger nodded and walked to the medic who immediately started to treat him.
***
The scavengers had been in deliberation for at least an hour as Marcus and the others waited. As an act of good faith Marcus and Taylor agreed to halt their salvage operation until they reached a decision.

“We’re losing daylight,” Taylor muttered just loud enough. Marcus nudged him to be quiet and nodded towards the school where a handful of scavengers were walking towards them; one of them was the scavenger that Marcus had talked to. They were led by a man in his fifties with a moustache and a graying beard. He walked up to Marcus and Taylor.

“Garrett told us about your offer,” he indicated the scavenger with the bruise on his forehead. “I apologize for our actions, but we have become wary of visitors.”

Marcus bowed his head and let the scavengers’ leader continue.

“Before we go on,“ he said, “I want to know if this is a one-time offer or would there be a chance for future relations?”

“For right now,” Taylor answered, “we can give you what medical supplies we have and a third of whatever we find.”

“A third?” the gray-bearded man scoffed. “Sterling is our home. Anything those bastards left behind belongs to us.”

“I meant a third for us,” Taylor said.

The gray-bearded man smiled, “Of course.”

“As I was saying,” Taylor continued, “you will get two-thirds of what we find. As for future relations, I don’t have any authority to negotiate but I will
speak favorably to my superiors.”

The gray-bearded man laughed and extended his hand to Taylor who shook it once.

“I’m Tony Stockton,” he said

“Taylor Edwards,” Taylor said.

“So, Mr. Edwards,” Stockton asked, “what can we do for you?”

“We want to know what you know about the True Republic,” he answered.

“The guys whom were after you,” Stockton said. “That’s the thing. They were here before you arrived.”

He had Marcus’ full attention.

“But that’s only the half of it,” Stockton continued. “We had other visitors two weeks before.”

“Other visitors?” Marcus asked.

Stockton nodded.

Marcus and the others followed Stockton and a few of his people into the hub of tunnels underneath Sterling.

“They looked like scavengers,” Stockton explained.

“Did you speak to them?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Stockton shook his head. “But they did spend a lot of time in there.”

Stockton indicated the tunnel that was now collapsed; the same tunnel that Marcus escaped through a few days ago.

“And you saw this?” Marcus asked.

“I did,” a woman stepped forward. “And I didn’t just see them, I heard them too.”

Before Marcus could ask, the woman continued. “There were two of them and it looked like they were digging into the tunnel.”

“But you said you heard them?” Taylor asked.

She nodded and said, “As you’ve noticed sound travels in the hub.”

They could hear her words echo into the distance. Even John remembered how loud it was during their firefight then.

“Even a whisper can be picked up on the other side,” she said.

“What did they say?” Marcus asked, hoping she would get to the point.

“They were talking about hurrying to finish and make it to their rendezvous,” she answered. Marcus waited for her to continue.

“Gatestown,” she said.

Marcus knew Gatestown. It was more of a facility than a settlement, and now it was abandoned. Many have tried to use at as a home, but found it too far away from any resources to make it inhabitable.

“Thank you,” Marcus said to the woman and turned toward Stockton.

“Did you get what you need?” Stockton asked.

Marcus smiled, “We still want to take a look around if you don’t mind?”

Stockton shook his head and said, “Janice here will tag along, if you don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Marcus said.

“If you need anything,” Stockton said. “Let her know.”

Stockton smiled to Janice before leaving with the other scavengers. Janice smiled at Marcus and the others.

“Was there anything in particular you wanted to see?” she asked.

“Janice,” Marcus said, “Before we continue, I would like to have a private word with Taylor please.”

Taylor appeared annoyed that he had to give up his sight of Janice for Marcus. He frowned as Marcus spoke, but he did notice his friend’s change of mood.

“I just need a minute of your time,” Marcus whispered then remembered that his voice carried in the hub. He pointed towards the nearest exit. John, Dan, and Paul started to follow but Marcus signaled them to stay put.

“What was that about?” Paul asked.

“It means we wait,” Dan answered.

Although Marcus’ little meeting with Taylor only lasted a few minutes, it felt like an eternity to his crew. Janice returned Marcus’ smile as he approached.

“Janice,” Marcus said. “Mr. Edwards will be continuing without us.”

“You’re leaving?” she asked.

“My crew and I have other obligations,” he explained. “Besides, Mr. Edwards is the senior representative for Ashland.”

“Good,” Janice said she walked towards Taylor, no longer concerned by Marcus’ departure. Marcus tried not to be hurt by her sudden lack of concern.
***
On the surface, Marcus and his crew gathered their gear and started to mount their horses. Paul and John were already on their horses when John noticed that Marcus said something to Dan that he couldn’t hear. He watched Dan as he appeared to take a moment to let the information that he received sink in. John snapped back into reality as he heard Paul ask Marcus a question.

“So, we’re really leaving?”

“Tomorrow,” Marcus answered. “We’re going to follow the tracks.”

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 9 is up)

Post by Papacat » Tue May 08, 2012 10:06 pm

CHAPTER 10 Hope's Lesson

The town of Hope was the center of various trade routes. Not as large as Ashland, but large enough to prosper. The other benefit was that it was not too far from Seth and Lisa's home. Four horses pulled their carriage, what used to be a pick-up truck. They stopped in front of the checkpoint that was more for information than security purposes. Since they were frequent visitors, Seth and Lisa were waved through with their son Jesse whom waved back to the two guards at the checkpoint. The guards smiled and waved back at him before they returned to their posts.

As Lisa and Seth pulled their carriage up to the town center, their smiles faded. Parked in the town center were several trucks similar to the one Marcus and his crew drove to his home, and a large flatbed truck that soldiers like Marcus described loading the truck with supplies that other soldiers were removing from the stores and other carriages. The truck and the soldiers all had the emblem for the True Republic. One of the soldiers caught Seth off guard.

“Step out of the carriage,” he demanded, raising his rifle at Seth and his family. He and Lisa reluctantly complied. Lisa helped Jesse to the ground. The soldier kept his rifle trained on them as two other soldiers began removing items from their carriage.

“Excuse me,” Seth stepped forward, “but that's our stuff.”

“Everything in this town and that includes all vehicles is now property of the True Republic,” the soldier explained. “Now step back!”

As Seth stepped back to his wife, he saw one of the soldiers pull back a tarp from the bed of their carriage. He winced as the soldier pulled out one of the rifles he intended to trade for supplies. The soldier raised the weapon and pointed out the emblem of the True Republic stamped on the butt of the rifle.

“They've got about a dozen of our rifles in their carriage,” the soldier said. He dropped the rifle back into the carriage and raised his own at Seth and Lisa before he shouted to his commanding officer.

The officer noticed that two of his soldiers had their weapons aimed at a family and sighed. He walked over to them with urgency, but more out of anger than concern.

“Sir,” one of the soldiers said, “we found weapons in their carriage.”

The officer was irritated, knowing that it was not uncommon for anyone to have weapons with them.

“They're our rifles, sir,” the soldier explained as he pointed to the bed of the carriage.

The officer's mood quickly changed to that of concern as he walked around to the rifles in the carriage. He removed one of the rifles, checked the butt of the rifle for the emblem and quickly checked the other rifles for the same thing. He removed the rifle from the carriage bed, still holding it by the stock and walked up to Seth and Lisa. The officer raised the emblem side of the rifle butt to Seth.

“Would you care to explain why you have True Republic weapons in your possession?” he asked.

“Salvage,” Seth answered.

“Salvage,” the officer repeated and smiled. He turned the weapon around, holding it by its grip, cocked the weapon and aimed it at Seth. “Where did you salvage the weapons?”

More of his soldiers took notice as well as other town folk; a crowd was slowly gathering. The officer noticed this and started shouting orders to his soldiers. “Grant! Leitmer! Stop staring and get over her and do some crowd control!”

The two soldiers snapped to attention and ran over to disperse the crowd. The officer returned his attention to Seth, “Where did you salvage these weapons?”

“Sterling,” Seth answered.

“Pearson,” the officer said to the soldier on his left. “Take these people into custody. If they-“

A second was all Seth needed to grab the rifle in the officer's grasp and rammed the butt of the rifle into his head, knocking him to the ground. Lisa quickly ducked down to the side of the carriage, drew her pistol and fired at the soldier closest to the carriage and her husband. Seth pivoted the barrel of the rifle and fired it upside down into the closest soldier on his right. As the soldier closest to the carriage dropped to the ground, Lisa fired a second shot into his chest. All this was done while she covered her son's eyes with her free hand. She quickly drew her attention to the other side of the carriage and fired at two soldiers running toward her. One of the soldiers fell and tumbled on the ground while the other kept running until he was forced to take up a prone position on the ground and returned fire.

Seth had just turned the rifle around when he felt his feet kicked out from under him. He fell backwards and the rifle flew from his hands as his back hit the ground. Seth looked toward where the rifle fell and let out a slight groan from the pain. He looked up and saw that the officer he knocked down was already on his feet, and his pistol drawn. Seth looked back toward the rifle and saw a pair of small hands struggle to pick up the weapon. Before Seth realized what was going on and shout a warning to his son, shots rang out above him. His son collapsed over the rifle. Seth looked up and saw the officer now aiming his pistol at him. Suddenly, one of the men in the crowd tackled the officer, throwing him hard to the ground. As Seth got back to his feet he saw True Republic soldiers grappling with the townsfolk that were watching a moment ago. Seth ran to his son and picked him up, holding him close. Most of the soldiers that saw this put their weapons down and surrendered. The few that resisted and could not be convinced to surrender were killed. Lisa screamed, seeing Jesse's body limp in his father's arms for the first time. Tears streamed down both of their faces as Lisa gently took Jesse from Seth and held him tightly while she cried. Seth walked over to the group that held the officer down.

“Let him up,” Seth said as calmly as he could, fighting his rage. The group reluctantly let the officer stand. “That was my son!”

“I was defending myself,” the officer had the nerve to say.

“Against a boy who couldn't lift that rifle let alone shoot it,” Seth said.

The officer snorted and smiled, but didn't smile for long before Seth punched him in the jaw.

“What now?” the officer laughed as he recovered. “We settle this one on one?”

“Not with me,” Seth said and turned towards Lisa who was gently laying Jesse's body to the ground, “With her.”

“Her?” the officer started to laugh.

“I'll even make it easy for you,” Lisa said as she drew her knife from its sheath. “You can have the knife.”

“Lisa tossed the knife to the officer's feet and waited for him to pick it up. The officer cautiously picked up the weapon but quickly got back on his feet.

He smiled as he tumbled and twirled the blade in his hand, “I should let you know that blades are my specialty.”

“Good to know,” Lisa replied flatly.

The officer took up a fighting stance, holding the knife ready for a lateral slashing motion while Lisa stood still. Her opponent started to circle her but she continued to face him as he did. The officer made his strike.

He had tried to slash across Lisa's throat, but she had stepped aside, allowing the lunge forward for her to punch him in the kidney. The officer staggered a few steps, but turned around quickly. He was angry and took the fight more seriously. Lisa's arms were raised now, ready for his next attack. The officer lunged at her again, but she blocked him.

The officer tried to press his attack but Lisa blocked him until he quickly withdrew the blade slashing her forearm in the process. He smiled as she yelled in pain, but quickly took advantage of his gloating and side-kicked him into his chest. The officer stumbled back a few steps. She quickly followed up with a punch to the face. Lisa tried to punch him again but he blocked her with his knife hand while jabbing her with his other.

As his second jab missed, Lisa grabbed his knife arm tightly by the wrist but noticed the officer quickly reach into the small of his back and drew a small pistol. Realizing what it was, she quickly grabbed his hand holding the pistol and drove that wrist into her knee, causing him to drop it. Lisa then head-butted the officer and was satisfied by the loud crackling of the cartilage in his nose. Blood began to stream from his nose as Lisa kneed him into his crotch causing him to double over and allowing her to drive her knee into his face.

Lisa wrested the knife from his hand and slashed his forearm as he tried to protect himself. Blood began to seep into the sleeve of his uniform. As he tried to cover the wound on his arm with his hand, Lisa made a slash into that one as well. The officer staggered backward and took up a clumsy fighting stance. Lisa realized that he was staring at the knife in her hand.

“Oh,” she said. “I'm sorry. I forgot.”

She threw the knife at his feet, and the blade plunged into the ground. The officer picked up the knife and lunged at her in smooth motion. Lisa was almost caught off guard and managed to deflect the blade above her, catching and twisting his wrist towards his body, pulling his arm out far enough to strike his elbow upwards.

“Stop toying with him,” Seth said.

Lisa elbowed the officer in the chest causing him to stagger backwards and giving her space to break his arm. The knife fell into her hand and she drove the blade into the officer's heart. Lisa removed the knife from the officer's chest and he collapsed to the ground. She looked down and watched the life slowly leave him.

Lisa walked back to her husband after picking up the officer's pistol. Her rage returned when she saw two of the townspeople pick up Jesse's body.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” she shouted.

Seth quickly stopped her, and held her tight.

“It's okay,” he said. “They're going to take care of him.”

“It's the least we can do,” a man said somberly as he approached. Lisa started to calm down.

The man introduced himself, “I'm Eric Guthrie, and I'm the mayor of Hope.”

“Mr. Mayor,” Seth replied as he shook his hand. “I’m Seth and this is my wife Lisa.”

The mayor nodded respectfully to Lisa before he continued, “My deepest condolences for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Lisa quietly replied.

“I only wish we stood up to them sooner,” the mayor said.

“Why didn't you?” Seth asked.

“We're not Ashland, son,” Mayor Guthrie said. “We could hold off a few bandits, but that’s about it.”

“You seemed to do pretty good today,” Seth said.

The mayor gave a slight smile as he admired the work of his citizens, specifically the True Republic soldiers now in their custody.

“You've got a point,” the mayor admitted. “But, more than likely the Republic is going to send more troops. What do you think we should do?”

Seth looked up at Mayor Guthrie and said, “First, we bury our son.”

Mayor Guthrie nodded awkwardly; it was not the answer he was expecting.
***
Seth and Lisa drove their carriage with their son’s body in a coffin secured to the carriage’s bed. They were escorted by Mayor Guthrie and several of his staff and guards on horseback. As they arrived at their home, Lisa and Seth noticed a group of men gathered around the grave Seth instructed them to dig, courtesy of Mayor Guthrie.

The entire town of Hope came to pay their respects, leaving flowers and toys at Jesse’s grave and contributed to the wake. Although not everyone knew Jesse, they still grieved as if he were their own. As night fell, guests offered words of encouragement and sentiment as the left. Mayor Guthrie and his staff waited until they were the last to leave.

“Thank you, Mayor,” Seth extended his hand.

Mayor Guthrie shook his head, “No, I should be thanking you. You opened our eyes.”

“So now you want to know what to do?” Seth asked.

“Yes,” Mayor Guthrie reluctantly replied. “I was hoping you could help us out.”

“What were you thinking?” Seth asked as Lisa walked in from the other room.

“I know you and your wife were mercenaries,” Mayor Guthrie explained. “We were wondering if you could help us improve our defenses and security.”

“Consulting,” Seth simplified the mayor's request.

“Of course we are willing to pay you for your services,” the mayor said.

“My wife and I will think about it,” Seth said, biting back his anger.

“Of course,” the mayor replied a little nervously; realizing how insensitive he appeared. “Thank you for your time.”

The mayor and his staff quietly left Seth and Lisa alone finally. Soon, their tough exteriors faded away and broke down into tears as they held each other tightly that night.

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 10 is up)

Post by 223shootersc » Wed May 09, 2012 9:20 am

I really liked this chapter :D

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Re: WASTELAND (chapter 10 is up)

Post by Papacat » Sat May 12, 2012 6:20 pm

CHAPTER 11 Cotton Ridge

Marcus and his crew had been following the tracks left by the True Republic since dawn. There were only a few times that they had lost the trail, but were surprised that their query didn't make attempts to cover their tracks. Their direction, if constant, would lead them to Cotton Ridge, a settlement that was northeast from them. Of course, there were other settlements in the area, but it wouldn't hurt to search there first.

Marcus stopped his horse and turned towards his crew.

“What are you thinking, chief?” Paul asked.

“It looks like they were heading for Cotton Ridge,” Marcus answered.

“That's about fifteen miles, isn't it?” John asked.

“Yes,” Marcus replied

“Then we can make it there by nightfall,” John said.

“We're not riding into Cotton Ridge just yet,” Marcus said.

“Why not?” John asked.

“We don't know if the True Republic is there or not,” Marcus explained. “But if they are there, we don't how many. We'll get as close as we can and try to sneak a peek.”

“What if there are patrols?” Paul asked.

“We're going to have to avoid them as best we can,” Marcus said.

“If we find them, then what?” Paul asked.

“We grab the case, run back to Ashland and get paid,” Marcus said, surprised by the question. “You're acting like you've never done this before, Paul. You okay?”

“I'm fine,” Paul said. “It's just that…the last time we went up against the Republic we lost Jason and Drew.”

Marcus hesitated before he spoke, “I can't think of a better reason to do this than for them. They would have wanted that.”

The others nodded in agreement except for Paul whom reluctantly agreed.

“All right,” he practically mumbled. “We do this for them.”

Marcus nodded a “thanks” before riding off towards Cotton Ridge. The others followed.
***
It was about noon when Seth arrived at Mayor Guthrie's office. According to his receptionist, he was already in a meeting and was not to be disturbed. This didn't matter to Seth as he entered the office anyway; the receptionist chased after him repeating her warning.

Mayor Guthrie was in the middle of a meeting and raised his hand to the man sitting across from him, cutting him off mid-sentence.

“I apologize, Mr. Gamble,” the mayor said, “but we're going to have to reschedule…”

Mr. Gamble looked over his shoulder and stood up immediately once he recognized Seth. He nodded respectfully to him before turning towards Mayor Guthrie and said, “Of course, sir.”

Mr. Gamble collected his things and left.

“Laura,” Mayor Guthrie said as he smiled. “Two whiskeys and leave the bottle please.”

Laura, the mayors receptionist tried to smile despite her anger at Seth but could only manage a fraction of a grin as she replied, “Of course, sir.”

Laura left, trying hard not to slam the door behind her.

“Lisa's not joining us?” Mayor Guthrie asked.

“She wanted some time alone,” Seth explained.

There was a knock at the door.

“Come in, please,” Mayor Guthrie said, expecting the whiskey. Laura entered the office carrying a platter with two glasses of whiskey already poured and the bottle sitting between the glasses on the platter. She carefully set the platter down on the mayor's desk and looked up at him.

“That will be all, Laura. Thank you,” he said.

Laura left the office not even acknowledging Seth's smile. Mayor Guthrie walked around his desk and offered one of the glasses of whiskey to Seth. He accepted the glass and sat down in the chair Mr. Gamble occupied only a moment ago and rested the glass on the arm of the chair.

“Thank you for coming,” Mayor Guthrie started. “We need your help. We want to keep something like what happened the other day from happening ever again. We want you and your wife to help us defend ourselves.”

Seth took a sip from his whiskey, thankful that the mayor was at least getting to the point. “Don't you have your own soldiers?”

“We have people with weapons,” the mayor answered. “They can look threatening, but it's not the same thing.”

“Do you think the Republic is coming back?” Seth asked.

“You just took out their raiding party,” Mayor Guthrie said. “Their boss is going to want to know what happened to them.”

“That doesn't leave much time to prepare,” Seth said.

“That may be true,” Mayor Guthrie said, “but we've managed to get some information out of the raiders that surrendered; their nearest camp is sixteen miles east from here. I'm thinking along the lines of a preemptive strike.”

“It would be a suicidal preemptive strike,” Seth said. “What do you think could have been accomplished with your threatening looking people with weapons?”

Mayor Guthrie smile at Seth's response before he explained, “According to our information, taking out that camp would loosen their hold on this settlement and four others.”

“And you trust this information?” Seth asked.

“We've verified the camp's location this morning,” the mayor said. “There's about a hundred Republic soldiers there.”

“How many were you thinking of sending?” Seth asked.

“I’ll leave that up to you,” the mayor said. “You can choose who you want too.”

“Is there anyone with any military experience?” Seth asked.

“About a handful, and about three that are proficient with a rifle,” mayor answered.

“What do I get out of this?” he asked.

“Whatever you need,” the mayor said.

“Let me talk to my manager,” Seth said and the mayor smiled, understanding the reference. “I'll need a decision soon.”

“I'll tell you what,” Seth stood up from his chair, “if we show up tomorrow at dawn, then we have a deal.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do if you don't show up?”

“That's not my problem,” Seth answered before he extended his hand to the mayor, whom shook it.
***
It was late afternoon when Marcus and his crew arrived within sight of Cotton Ridge. They observed the settlement through their telescopic sights, and it didn't take long before they saw True Republic soldiers making their rounds around the perimeter. There were a lot more than they expected including motorized patrols that left and arrived frequently. After a couple of hours of watching, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of a large convoy approaching. Marcus immediately recognized three of the vehicles: two of them were the machine gun mounted trucks that fired at him in Sterling and they flanked the same SUV they were protecting then. Marcus stood up and faced his crew.

“The case is here,” he said.

“How do you know?” Paul asked.

“We'll pull back a few miles, make camp and start planning,” Marcus continued.

All but Paul was quick to get their gear back to their horses. He was quiet during the ride to the campsite and just as quiet during the planning session. Marcus and his crew shared the information they observed and decided that it would be best to make their attempt before dawn.
***
Paul waited till it was his turn to keep watch and everyone else was asleep before he started to walk quietly away from the camp. That was when Marcus saw him and watched him walk away. He drew his pistol from his bedding before he got up, placed the weapon into his waistband and started to quietly wake the others. Over the ridge, Marcus and the others could see a faint blue light near Paul's face shortly before he shut it off and placed something in his pocket. He started to walk back to the camp but was stopped after a few steps. A flashlight was waved into his eyes. Almost blinded by the light, Paul could make the outline of the others surrounding him.

“What's going on?” he asked.

“What's in your pocket, Paul?” Marcus asked.

“My pocket,” Paul repeated as he reached for his pocket. To his left side, he could hear someone cock the hammer of their pistol back.

“Keep your hands on top of your head,” Marcus instructed. “John.”

John stepped forward and searched Paul, removing his pistol and a device from his pockets. He ran over to Marcus and handed over the rectangular device that Marcus recognized and thumbed the power switch of the cell phone.

“Who did you call?” Marcus asked.

Paul didn't answer and just stared at Marcus.

Marcus stepped closer to Paul.

“Who did you call?” Marcus repeated, dropping the cell phone and drew his pistol. “Are you working for the True Republic?”

“No,” Paul answered.

“Really,” Marcus said, “because the evidence suggests otherwise.”

“Your evidence is wrong,” Paul suggested.

“The witnesses in Sterling saw a couple of people wandering around their tunnels a couple of weeks before we arrived. They were in the same tunnel that collapsed on us. That witness pointed you out as one of the two men.”

Paul started to laugh.

“You've got to be kidding me,” Paul said.

“You were the one that led us to Sterling that day,” Marcus explained, “and you were the one that was so eager for me to down that particular
tunnel.”

Paul laughed again, “That's a pretty weak connection.”

“Not really,” Marcus said. “Seeing as you conveniently appeared to us looking for work a week before the job.”

“Coincidence,” Paul said flatly.

“You also seemed pretty adamant about not going after the case once we found a lead,” said Marcus. “And now we catch you using a cell phone. Again, who were you talking to?”

Paul didn't answer.

“Your contact?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Paul said.

“Don't tell me it was your mom,” Marcus said. “The only people who have an encrypted cell phone network these days would have to have the technology to support it. Only the Republic has that technology. So who were you talking to?”

“It's not what you think,” Paul said.

“Well, that makes me feel better,” Marcus said. “Are they on their way here? Answer me!”

Marcus stepped forward and aimed his pistol at point blank range.

“Where are they?” Marcus shouted.

His answer came in the form of a cold muzzle of a pistol pressed into the back of his neck and a voice ordering to drop his weapon.

“They're already here,” Paul said.

223shootersc
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Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:48 am

Re: WASTELAND (chapter 11 is up)

Post by 223shootersc » Sat May 12, 2012 8:57 pm

wow, good chapter

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