Max was livid. Stewart was not doing much better, Bill was standing with them and most of his squad watching the last of the special forces soldiers drive away on their vehicles. Unloading them from the flat bed car had been as easy as moving a loading ramp from one side of the dock and driving the armored car off, followed by the motorcycles and humvees. Draper had stopped them as they had come forward to load up.
“Sorry to do this to you Max, Stewart. You aren't coming with us.”
“What? Why? How will you find the leader if I am not along?” asked Max.
“We will get him, don't you worry. Just not with your help.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your mission was to find and take out the leader, my bosses have changed the game plan, we are no longer to travel together. You and Stewart need to stay here and protect the train until we get back.”
“There are thousands of zombies in the building over there!” Max yelled gesturing at the buildings separated from them by a canal. “We can't hold out against that many, we don't have enough bullets.”
“I can't stay here to make sure you follow orders. But if you want a ride back you better make sure nothing happens to the train.”
Behind them, Bill started forward, only to have Ruben call out to him, “Bill? You got a minute?”
Looking back at the man, then towards the scene unfolding a short distance away Bill sighed and asked, “What?”
“Think of this as a learning moment. A very dangerous learning moment. Now I know Draper won't hurt your friends up there, they are civilians, but you go charging up there with your gun and your men behind you with our guns and, well, someone might do something stupid.”
“What is going on Ruben?”
“Typical spook job. Right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. I don't know for sure, but I can tell you one thing.”
“Your friends ain't leaving with Draper.”
“Well shoot. What do we do now? Go back?”
“They took the engineer. I bet he took the keys or codes or whatever they use to make this thing run too. We aren't going anywhere until, and if, they get back.”
“I am not liking the sound of that.”
“No one likes shit soup Bill.”
Bill nodded and turned back to watch his friend argue with Draper, leaning up against the train nonchalantly. “Is it okay if I hold my rifle in a mildly threatening manner?”
“Well, sure it is! I'll even stand next to you with mine, but I think having Dan on the machine gun is more of a threat.”
“Good idea...” Bill turned to tell Dan, then noticed the old man was already there, polishing the barrel with an oily red handkerchief. Flushing, Bill turned back to Ruben, “Maybe I will just lean up against the train and make small talk with you. It seems like you got everything under control.
Miming a surprised look Ruben said, “Who me?”
They both watched Max lose his fight with Draper and come storming back. “He isn't going to take us to the leader. He said he had different orders and my 'magic powers' weren't accurate enough to find the zombie leader. The leader is right over there!” Max yelled loudly. “Right behind about twenty thousand zombies that an armored car could plow right through!”
The door of the armored car slammed shut and the vehicle rolled away slowly along the deserted streets.
“What is off that way?” asked Stewart.
A whole series of “I don't know.” came back to her as everyone within earshot answered.
“So they didn't tell you what they were doing either?” asked Ruben.
“Spook job,” he replied, “Black operations that they send special forces guys out on. Sometimes they even come back.”
“I thought the special forces guys were good at getting the mission done?” asked Max.
“Oh sure, the mission gets done, they just don't always come back. So what are we going to do?”
“Wait,” said Stewart.
“See if we can get the train moving and go from there,” said Max. The others nodded after considering this for a moment. They climbed back into the cab and it only took them a few minutes to realize that they were not going to be able to operate the train.
“Why didn't we pay any attention after the first engineer got shot?” Max asked.
“Because we weren't planning on being left here.” Stewart answered, "I took notes while we were in the cab, but they aren't enough. I think they locked it down before they left."
Turning to Bill, Max asked, “I don't suppose any of your guys know how to operate a train?”
“I'll ask, some of them are pretty old, maybe they did it when they were younger.” Bill ducked out of the cab to call the question over to Larry, Larry passed it along and it soon came back that the only train experience the men had was with the Lionel toy variety. Those men, including Ruben, were willing to take a look, so they ushered them all into the cab, leaving a couple of others near each machine gun. Max was monitoring the zombies and noted that they had started moving a little to the north.
“Yeah?” Bill responded.
“They are moving, a whole lot of them are moving, heading north, what is north of here?”
“Send Javier to look real quick.” Bill said to Ruben, who yelled out the door for the younger man to go look north along the canal.
The Hispanic youth yelled, “A bridge, a lot of zombies on it!”
“We need to leave.” Max said.
Bill took a moment to look over the position of the train, it was just outside of the yawning mouth of an extra wide tunnel, they had an excellent field of fire to the east and south, but anyone approaching from the north or the west would be hidden by buildings almost until they were on top of the train. From where he was standing Bill could see another bridge to the south of them quite clearly and it was empty.
“How many are coming Max?”
“More than I can count. It looks like all of them.”
“Okay, we need to go. Now. Ruben tell the guys. We'll head west to get onto that street and take it down to that overpass and bridge to get across the canal. Take all the weapons and ammo we can, leave everything else.”
Ruben hesitated for a moment, then started bellowing out Bill's orders, before disappearing to check things over for himself.
The three of them were left alone on the engine for a moment while Max and Stewart gathered what few things they still had with them. “Is the evil guy still to the north east of here?”
“Well brother, I think we need to go finish our mission.”
“Bill...there are too many of them.”
“We'll manage. Did I ever tell you about the baseball fields when I went looking for John?”
“Did I ever tell you about getting out of Denver?”
Both men laughed while Stewart looked on grimly. Together they climbed down from the train and led the retreat from the zombies coming towards them from the north.