Chapter 07: Uplink

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It was still raining when they exited the corresponding caves atop the next valley. Mike stood in the mouth of the exit area, staring out across the forested plains. The experience from below had left him more than a little rattled. He'd been in tight corridors with men out for his blood before, that was just part of war, but it was a lot different when it wasn't men but inhuman monsters with inhuman capabilities that couldn't be threatened, frightened, or reasoned with. They simply wouldn't stop coming until they were dead.

Mike made himself focus. They were almost to the military base. In fact, he thought he could see it up ahead, through the mist and the trees. That was good, at least. He began making his way through the rain, checking to see that the others were all still present, accounted for and following him. They were, though they were looking really worse for the wear. Especially Turner. He looked haggard and hollow, ready to give in to exhaustion. Mike wondered how bad he looked. He sure felt like crap. He returned his attention to the front.

First, they would get to the military base, then they would take a break.

A real break, preferably with a nap involved. He continued scanning the clusters of trees they were passing through, but the area seemed to be abandoned. Fine by him. He'd had enough of the undead for now. Honestly, he'd had enough of them for the rest of his life. Mike kept walking until he finally broke free of the trees and found himself not far from the perimeter fence that surrounded the military compound.

He took a moment to study it.

"Well, this sucks," he muttered.

It was obvious that the place had taken a beating. Several of the windows were smashed out and there were bodies strewn across the outdoors area. Bullet holes peppered pretty much everywhere. A few zombies milled about.

"Well, at least it's still standing," Laura said.

Mike nodded sullenly and kept walking, approaching the perimeter fence. He'd been hoping that the place was still active, staffed by at least a few survivors, but the only thing he heard was the rain. The base at least still had some power. Light was streaming through some of the windows. The quartet of survivors came up to the fence and began walking alongside it, searching for a break or at least an open gate to get inside.

As they walked, Mike put down all the zombies he saw. The others joined him and soon they'd taken out a dozen of the ugly, stumbling things. They continued slowly circling and shooting until they'd reached the front of the installation, where the gate was. As luck would have it, it had been left slightly ajar, just enough to squeeze in through. Mike went first, pushing himself in between the thick lengths of triple-weave titanium chainlink fencing that surrounded the base. As far as outer walls went, it was pretty light.

Then again, they probably never expected a genuine, full-on attack in a place like Peaceful Trails. But the universe does so love to catch people off guard. Mike waited for the others to squeeze in through the gate, covering them while they did.

"So, what's the plan?" Viktor asked.

"I say we should first make a full circle of the base exterior, mainly to check and see if there's a vehicle anywhere nearby, and then we'll get inside, sweep and clear, and figure out what to do next," Mike replied.

"Sounds good to me," Laura said, and set off.

Mike and the others followed after her. They spent the next several minutes making slow, measured progress along the courtyard of space in between the structure itself and the outer fence. Their journey ended abruptly as they turned a corner and spied something they'd all been secretly hoping for ever since leaving the medical facility.

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