“On the right, on the right! God damn you lazy fuckers!” The sergeant screamed at his men who were too focused at the group of men distracting them from the left to pay attention to the troops moving around to what was almost their rear.
“On it, sarg!” Private Cooper yelled, a second later a bullet hit the young man in the neck toppling him back into the arms of a corpsman.
“Zed Protocol!” the medic yelled. He snatched a blue tube off Cooper’s vest. He spent a moment breaking it and then plunged the enclosed syringe past the private’s upraised hands into the bloody mess that was his neck.
The sergeant stood up and fired a burst into the flanking troops, forcing about half of them down into cover or back. The rest made it to the side of the building out of his sight. Rick Avery was a naval man, attached to the army, fighting about as far from any ocean as you could get in North America. Despite this he insisted on being called a corpsman, not a medic.
“How long until he’s up?” The sergeant barked at the corpsman, to another solder he yelled, “Ortega! Yang! Get your asses up and over to that corner! Now!” The two men were sluggish to respond and kept looking at Private Cooper.
The corpsman responded, “It should be less than a minute, Aiden, hopefully Sonja is paying attention.”
“Her dead ass better be! I swear if I have to put down another man because she’s off powdering her nose…” Aiden yelled to his men again. “God damnit, shit for brains! They are not moving up over there, they are distracting you so they can ram a telephone pole up our asses! Corporal Ng!”
“Dead, sir!” Came a yell, “Dead-dead.”
Aiden hadn’t heard anyone yell ‘Zed protocol’ from that position, so Ng must have taken a bullet to the head…or worse. In the ever-changing battle lines their foes were quick to adapt and they fought with everything they had. “Dumbfuck Iowans.” He muttered. Louder he called out, “Private Czeznick? You still alive?”
“Here, sir?” called a timid femine voice from the end of the line.
“Battlefield promotion, welcome to Corporal! Peel off two men and lead them back through the warehouse, a couple of their guys got through. Also split one more man off to help me cover this end.”
A barrage of gunfire forced everyone prone, this was followed by a handful of grenades, one of which landed between the corpsman and Aiden. “Fuc…!” Private Cooper rolled over onto the grenade, absorbing the blast with his body armor and torso.
The ringing in Aiden’s ears cut off all other noise for the next thirty seconds. He was happy to see Czeznick’s guy had made it over and even more pleased when Cooper crawled forward toward the corner of the building, his body drawing dozens of shots from the enemy.
The corpsman pulled Aiden over and was mouthing words at him, which slowly started to penetrate Aiden’s blasted eardrums, “Are you okay, sarg? Aiden? Can you hear me?”
Aiden nodded and shook him off, letting the corpsman pull him up into a sitting position. No sooner was he up then he was thrown back down with the medic on top of him. “C’mon Rick, up, man!” He pushed him off, there was blood pouring from his mouth and his hand fell to his chest and fumbled for the blue vial there.
“Shit. You sure?” Aiden liked Rick, he was a square fellow, reliable and he took care of the men. The last thing Aiden wanted to do was turn him into a zombie.
“H-h-hurts, bleeding out…armor pierced.”
“You got hit in the back, no trauma plates.” Aiden told him, breaking the small blue vial and plunging it into the corpsman’s neck. “Fuck. Gonna be me and all zeds around here if this keeps up.” Aiden picked up his rifle and took aim at where he knew several of the enemy were taking cover. A short three shot burst let them know to keep their heads down and the man Czeznick sent over…was it Fallow? Yeah, Kim Fallow, brought his own gun up in line to fire toward the same position. Fallow’s shot was rewarded with a cry of pain and Aiden saw a young woman fall back out of position. He shot her twice, just to be sure.
“Zed protocol?” Kim asked him, looking at Rick.
“Shit, yeah, private.” Aiden called out loudly enough for his troops to hear, “Zed protocol!”
His cry was answered to his left, “We got two more down, we’re going to administer to them too, Zed, Zed Protocol.”
“Did Czeznick and her guys get out?”
“Negative, sarg. She’s one of the zeds.”
“Yeah, Orson made it, but Spaz is down, thigh shot, not zed-dead. Yet.”
Aiden fumbled for his radio, “Sergeant Aiden for Lieutenant Garret. Over.” They were down to, if not Vietnam era communication, then something between that and the first Gulf war for equipment.
A buzz squelch came back over the line, indecipherable. “Repeat, Sergeant Aiden for Lieutenant Garret. Come in Garret!”
Rick started to revive and Aiden took out his 911 pistol, aiming it at the new zombie, just in case. “Come in HQ!” another brief squelching. Rick turned away and started crawling forward, toward the Iowan’s position. Aiden’s relief was short lived as someone landed behind him, between him and the building he was positioned in front of.
“Son of a bitch!”
“I resent that.” It was woman, she was dressed in fatigues like Aiden’s men and she carried a pistol similar to his own, strapped to her waist. She was wearing some sort of body armor, a metal mesh, spray painted with dark greens and black, a crude but effective camouflage. She had a name stripe over one of her vest pockets that read, “Lopez.” Aiden’s eyes, however were drawn to the weapon she was carrying, a stubby black nozzle with a flame burning inside the wide barrel, a tube led up and around one arm somewhere behind her.
“Surrender.” Lopez commanded.
Aiden fired his pistol at her, aiming for the tubes wrapped around her arm.
“Ow! Ow! You, asshole!” Lopez yelled, drawing her own pistol to return fire, hitting Aiden in the chest twice. The blows stunned him, but his armor prevented severe damage.
Behind Lopez Aiden saw three of his people rise as zombies and he smiled, “Okay.” He grunted, letting his gun hand fall to one side.
She stepped forward, pressing her gun hand over the spraying fuel nozzle that Aiden had hit. He kept an eye on her and on the zeds behind her. The zombies paused, turned and latched onto of his other troopers, causing them to scream and start head butting their former companions.
“Fuck!” Aiden yelled, with a grunt he tried to bring his pistol up, but Lopez kicked it from his hand and thrust the flaming nozzle in his face.
“Wanna see if this thing works with a burst fuel line? I don’t mind, I don’t burn. Let. Go. Of. Your. Gun.”
“The zombies are out of control!” Aiden said.
Lopez continued to stare at him, he could discern a tight smile on her face under the masking armor. She shook her head, “I don’t think they are. Regardless,” She used the nozzle of her weapon to push the blue vial hanging from Aiden’s vest over, “You seem to be okay joining team Zed if you have to.”
“The zeds. Please.”
“Drop the gun, put your hands over your head.”
Aiden did as she asked when it became apparent that the zombies were not going to attack them. Lopez called out across the open space between where she was and where the Iowan’s were taking cover. “Move up! We need to clean this place up and keep moving forward.”
Enemy soldiers loomed into view above him, one young woman kept her rifle pointed at Aiden’s face.
“Theresa, lower your weapon. Loomis, come and restrain the good sergeant here please.” The young man Lopez had spoken too, didn’t move. “Is there a problem? I have a prisoner and we need to get him back so our guys can chat with him.”
“He killed Gabby.” Theresa said.
“I say we waste him.” One of their comrades added, to the nods of the others.
“No. I captured him and I get to keep him. If you want prisoners to kill go get your own.” Lopez said, “Loomis, cuff him, now.”
Theresa grunted, raised her weapon to the sky and fired off several rounds while screaming, in anger or agony, Lopez couldn’t tell. Loomis moved forward and did as she asked. “Careful with him, he’s a noncom and I shot him a couple of times. Don’t let him die before our boys have a talk with him.”