Sunday, February 8, 2015

Part 120

Sgt. Shelly opened her mouth to say something when the radio that Josie carried crackled to life.  "Container Nine has prematurely evacuated.  I repeat Container Nine has prematurely evacuated.  Execute plan Epsilon.  Report to stations.  Repeat, report to stations.  Execute plan epsilon."


I asked, "Does that mean what I think it means?"

Something had changed in all four women.  What ever their personal issues are when called to duty they turn into real fighting machines.

"Yes," Sgt. Shelly said succinctly.  "Luce, boost her up in that tree."

"Thanks but I don't need a boost, just remember if you start shooting don't shoot up."  I took a running leap and scurried up the tree.  There were no leaves so it wasn't like I was hiding but I was able to get high enough off the ground that I felt safe and it gave me a great vantage and one look was all it took.

"Sergeant Shelly ..."

"Just Shelly pipsqueak."

I hate that name.  They've shortened it to Pip like its cute or something.

"I know it is dark and all," I said.  "But isn't there supposed to be more lights over by the chow line?  There's like a big blank spot there now."

"Dammit.  Give me a report of what else you see.  Do it quick."

"I can still see the big tent where the supplies are and I think there is a bunch of people in uniforms ringed around it.  And ... yeah ... it looks like there is some kind of bucket brigade line of people moving stuff from the tent to a couple of gray trailer trucks.  There's also a fire of some type ... you should be smelling it pretty soon if you can't yet ... on the far perimeter, near where we walked in from the train depot.  Other than that it just looks like a lot of people running around trying to figure out where they belong ... and oh yeah ... it looks like they've started taking people out of the tent with the Red Cross symbol on it but I can't tell where they are going."

As soon as I had finished she told me, "Stay in the tree.  You don't have a uniform yet so could catch some friendly fire."  Turning she said, "Time to go to work ladies."  I watched them until they disappeared into the dark with Sgt. Shelly taking point.

The story books always make things so exciting for the heroine even when she isn't part of the action.  Wrong.  It's boring ... and in this case it was boring and cold.  Boring wasn't bad but being cold was total carp.  I'd taken my jacket off around the fire and now I regretted it.  I was giving serious thought to climbing down and getting it when people started running into the clearing.  It was Chris and a redheaded girl followed by some of the livelier puss brains I've seen recently.

I gave a sharp whistle and skinnied down to the lowest limb.  "Yo!  This way."

Chris spotted me and pulled the girl after him.  If they had had one more minute, even half a one, they both would have made it up.  Chris had just boosted the girl so that she could grab on and was half way up the trunk when one of the puss brains grabbed his leg.  He wasn't going to make it without help so I got around the girl and jumped down and started swinging.

Crack!  Crack!  CRACK!  Crack!

Chris slid down beside me and started using a camp chair to push them away.  "Stay out of my swing radius!" I yelled at him.

"Gun?  Gun?  Gun?"

"Stop gobbling.  I've got one in my right pocket.  Duck under, reach in and grab it but for pity sake don't shoot me."

Chris turned out to be a better shot than me and was able to put the attacking puss brains down with one well placed shot each time while I took them out in my more personal way.  As soon as the last one went down we were scrambling up the tree.

As the girl started fussing over both of us enough to make me uncomfortable Chris dug into my pocket again and was reloading the magazine.  "This isn't standard issue."

"Whatever.  It belonged to a friend.  He died.  So ... just whatever."

"Yeah.  I got one of those whatevers that belonged to our brother.  Dorrie here took it apart to clean it last night only didn't finish putting it together."  He shot her a dirty look and she looked contrite.

Dorrie was older than me but not by much but she was one of those wispy, airy fairy girls that guys at school used to go all protective and junk over.  "Hi," she muttered.  "I'm Dorrie."

I nodded.  "You're Chris' sister, the one that works in supply."

She nodded and then tensed as we watched another small group of puss brains come through but ignore us in favor of tipping the cart over in the test kitchen two down from where I had been.  I sighed.  "They prefer it on the hoof but they'll take food anyway they can get it."  I looked at Chris.  "You up for this?"

He sighed and said, "Yeah."

To Dorrie's muted protests Chris and I slid back down the tree once again and then on the count of three we ran over, dealt consequences, and then ran back to the tree and climbed up.  We were both breathing hard.

I asked, "Are we going to get in trouble for this?"

"You mean because we're ... "

"Yeah, because we are killing the infecteds."

He shook his head.  "No.  They changed the rules when it started to warm up and the infecteds started escaping containment.  Patrols can't hunt them down and get bounties for them like some towns are paying mercs to do but if they are a direct threat - and running loose in a camp is considered a direct threat - then we've been instructed to do what we have to to restore containment up to and including lethal actions."

It didn't make me happy and it sounded strange the way he explained it but I was relieved to find out that I wasn't going to get court martialed or whatever they do to contractors on what was sorta my first day on the job.