Chapter 07: Rescue Op

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Mike was in the driver's seat now, staring through the rain-streaked windshield, driving in silence. Dallas was in the passenger's seat, brooding miserably. Laura and Bolton sat in the back. The only thing that was really decent about this whole mess was that the route from the military outpost to the resort area was pretty simple. It left his mind free to wander, to a certain degree, his eyes free to hunt endlessly for new threats.

But he found more and more as time went on, as every miserable second slammed by, that his thoughts were turning towards one ultimate path. Escape. It was all he could think about. He no longer found himself wondering about how this had gotten started, what was happening to the rest of Dis, how he might possibly alleviate that. Hell, he wasn't even really thinking about what he might do after this theoretical escape from the planet. All he could think of was the simple act of getting onto that ship, breaking orbit, and dropping into FLT.

It was a basic, though kind of anxious and miserable, line of thought.

He wanted to be done with this. Wanted all of this to simply be over. God, how he wanted to sleep. The break had given him a boost, but it was only temporary and not all that powerful anyway. Mike was no longer sure if he could make it to the resort town and to the mines and back. Not that he really had a choice. What the fuck was the alternative? Take a nap? There was a part of him that almost wished he'd get knocked out.

Dallas had tried to raise the survivors on the radio a few more times since they'd left the outpost, but he'd received nothing, not even a partial transmission. The exchange reminded Mike ominously of the pilot who was supposed to rescue them.

"There," Dallas said suddenly, speaking at about the same instant Mike saw the beginnings of the resort area. He could see a big deck off to the right where the land dropped off, moving towards a beach, and the first in a row of structures to the left. There were signs of movement, though these were the shambling shapes of the zombies mindlessly drifting through the street and parking lots. They would be dealt with easily enough.

Mike brought the vehicle to a stop about twenty feet short of the threshold. "How do we want to do this?" he asked.

"Everyone out. Clear and secure the area," Dallas replied.

Mike felt some small measure of relief. He'd asked that question for a few reasons, but mainly because he wanted to see how the man reacted. He seemed a bit calmer and more collected after the break, but Mike was still concerned about his previous outbursts. He was trying to be objective, and he knew they all had to be that way as much as possible. He'd seen people snap before. Unpredictable things happened.

They got out, locked up, and Mike pocketed the keys. He pulled his pistol out. The thing almost seemed like an extension of himself at this point. Although it was useful, he didn't like it. He'd been here before, in this mindset. Killing became way too easy. It was horrifying how fast you could get used to killing someone in the moment, in the heat of battle. Your body responding to ancient encoded battle lust that only thought about the here and now. It had no regard for the years and decades of guilt that followed when you had to kill to stay alive. It was tenfold, a hundredfold, a millionfold worse when you killed someone by mistake.

So far, that hadn't happened.

At least as far as he knew. God, how many nights had he laid awake wondering about that? One stray bullet in a battlefield...one piece of debris from a grenade...one ship shot down, landing in the wrong place...

He could have killed dozens by accident, theoretically.

Mike tried not to dwell on that.

Instead, he focused up so that he wouldn't accidentally shoot a friendly. They started off the rescue operation by popping a dozen and a half skulls as the zombies took notice of them and started coming for them. They went down easily enough. As the last one fell and no more came, Mike listened intently for signs of life, for any clue as to the whereabouts of the survivors. He heard nothing but the soft whisper of rain and the quiet respiration of the surf as it rose and fell on the beach. And the occasional groan from somewhere deeper in.

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