“Officer Frank, Report!”
Frank looked up from his binder to see the Corporal watching two vehicles driving the wrong way; away from the base. Frank stood at relaxed attention.
“Sir, we already have two hundred civilians above the original forecasted one thousand locals, and we are still processing more. Very few are refusing to come, most are older singles or older couples. All families thus far have been easily convinced that the evacuation in the safest option, Sir. Five hundred children under 16 years old, the rest are 17 plus. Only adults remain to be processed, Sir.”
“Good work Frank, you’re a good soldier. What’s with those two vehicles?” The Corporal was pointing down the road that headed east, even though the cars were out of sight.
“Civilians, Sir, on their way to get their family.” Frank nearly choked.
“And we are assuming they are coming back? You’re a good soldier Frank, but a better friend.” The Corporal was grinning, thinking about the times Frank had pulled him out of trouble. The Corporal gave Frank a pat on the back and walked off to yell at some less organized troops.
The last of the convoy was set up, waiting on confirmation that the aircraft were ready to leave. The order was given to the convoy to “move out”. Besides some banter and nervous chatter over the civilian two-way, the trip was uneventful. When they entered Townsville, after a two-hour drive, they were informed on encrypted radio that Mackay and Bowen were now “FUBAR”.
“It’s moving faster. It started in Sydney two days ago. Brisbane was hit yesterday and Rockhampton this morning. Now it’s already at Bowen? We need to get these civilians on those aircrafts ASAP… Sir.” Frank sounded collected, but his eyes were worried. The Corporal showed nothing but a poker face and a monotone voice.
“The order is to protect civilians at all costs. Use whatever force necessary to ensure their safety. If one is infected, they are no longer deemed a civilian. We will run the children and their guardians on the aircrafts first. One thought I cannot handle is kids being infected and us having to…”
Frank was used to The Corporals poker face, but the two reserves sitting in the back seat were put a little on edge by the lack of emotion shown. The Jensen brothers.
“Corporal, Sir?” The Jensen brother sounded shaky. “What if one of us becomes infected Sir?”
The Corporal nudged Frank and motioned towards the Jensen boys with a quick jerk of the head. Frank turned around in his seat, stared at both of them straight in the eyes for a few moments each and exhaled loudly. Frank was thinking how to make it obvious as possible.
“You two have seen the YouTube videos right? You want your best mate chewing on your guts? Do you want to rip out the throat of your own brother? Answer me this, do you want to live your life as one of them?” The emphasis on the last part spoke volumes.
“Sir, no Sir!”
“Do you want to die because you hesitated!?”
“Sir, no Sir!”
“Are you going to kill me if I get infected!?”
“Sir, yes Sir!”
Satisfied Frank turned back to the front to face out the windshield. “Everyone wants to kill their superior sometime or another isn’t that right Corporal, Sir?”
The Corporal looked to Frank, to Frank’s sidearm and shifted his eyes to the rear of the jeep. “Not always, I hope Frank”
Frank grinned to himself for a bit before reflecting back on the order his regiment received for the next process. “Process the civilians onto the aircrafts, carry-on luggage only, short and simple.”
“Simple my ass” mumbled Frank.
They reached the airport and had eight aircraft ready leave. Only the pilots were aware of the destination. There were six aircraft remaining, plus two Chinook dual rotor helicopters on standby. Every aircraft but two were fully loaded and the ninth aircraft was taxiing to the runway when radio silence was broken.
“Contact CBD. Estimated 30 infected. Assistance required. Over.”
As The Corporal was about to send reinforcements the radio went haywire.
“Contact! Central Shopping Centre. Estimated 20. Over.”
“Contact! Bruce Highway from the north. Estimated 300.Heavies present, Falling Back. Over.”
“Contact! Harbour! Estimated 30. Heavies Present. Holding ground. Over.”
Franks secondary local law enforcement radio was going off with reports of mass attacks and locations of the infected.
“All personnel, military or not, retreat to the airport immediately. Take all evasive action and full force necessary. Prepare for evacuation, travel light.” The Corporal was screaming into the radio and Frank Repeated the order into the law enforcement radio.
Two police vehicle were to arrive first with the lights and sirens blaring, followed by six civilian vehicles. “Law enforcement personnel, you’re our last defense. Get to the rear and follow your sergeants’ orders. Civilians get to that last Qantas jet” Barked The Corporal.
Frank turned to the pair of privates, “Jensen’s, get the case out of the back of our truck and bring it here, double time.” After confirmation in unison the brothers took off on full trot to the jeep and returning moments later with a large wooden case. Frank keyed opened the locks and put the keys into his pocket with one practiced hand. He flicked open the lid with the other. The Jensen’s grew an ear to ear grin at the site of the 4 MP5’s, 2 automatic shotguns and the magazine lined lid and compartment. Frank handed the Jensen’s an MP5 each and threw the Corporal one of the shotguns.
“Load them up boys, any force necessary.”
“SIR, YES, SIR!” The brothers chorused. All four men prepared their weapons, Frank and the Corporal slung the shotguns over their shoulders. All four unfastened their side arms. The rest of the defense teams followed suit.
The last of the civilians rolled into the airport followed by a few patrol and military vehicles retreated into the lines. It seemed like no one else was coming. Everyone listened for gunshots in the distance, the occasional explosion, or the sound of a vehicle. The last aircraft left two minutes before the Chinooks fired up and idled surrounded by the remnants of the law enforcement personnel. 120 military personnel including some RAAF lined the front as another 30 kept their eye on the flanks and rear.
All but the battle hardy jerked in surprise as the radio cackled to life “Anyone copy? Anyone at all?”
The Corporal nudged Frank with his elbow “Answer that, will ya?”
“State your name and rank!”
“Frank? Bloody hell mate, I feed you for three bloody years and you can’t tell who the fuck your talking too? It’s Jason Craft and I am the god damned chef!”
“Chef? What’s the situation over there, mate?”
“I’ll tell ya what the bloody situation is mate. These buggers can teleport, that’s the situation. I believe we have thirty or more teleporting ones and now the whole bloody barracks is dead or zombified. They just teleported into the building and were so quick barely anyone got a round off, we didn’t stand a fucking chance. It looks like it’s just us in the kitchen and that’s it, loaded with knives and one bloody pistol.”
“How many is ‘us’ Jason?”
“Oh just three. The Welsh bitch, me and umm… what’s your name bud?”
“It’s Sir to you. My name is Lieutenant Richard Tiles” a voice in the background was heard.
“Whatever… the last one is Dick… Frank we are in trouble mate.”
“Can you get out Jason?”
“Negative Frank. You can’t get in either, there is just too many and they… shit, hang on.”
There was 15 minutes of silence and all around there was still no sign of life. Smoke rose from the city, very few gunshots could be heard & the sound of occasional explosions were still about as the men and women strained their ears.
The radio came back to life…
“Seriously, here hold this button and talk.”
“Hello? Officer Frank?”
“You gotta let go of the button ya moron.”
“Frank talking, to whom am I speaking?”
“Like this, you hold the button like this!”
“This is Richard; according to Jason here I have killed your Dick. He believes I have good reason to negotiate with you.”
Frank got a nod from The Corporal and spoke into the radio “What are you terms Richard?”
“…ere. No! For fucks’ sake, pass it ‘ere… Richard wants to meet you to discuss the terms of trading us two hostages for umm… Whaddya want? He reckons loyalty.”
Frank got another nod. “Righto, tell Richard to meet us at… Holy Shit!” Richard just teleported 50 meters in front of them bringing along Jason and his second in charge chef. “Hold your fire!” yelled The Corporal.
“Hello Frank. It’s simple really; we will spare your lives if you agree to serve us.”
“Who is us?” Frank asked using his fingers to quote ‘us’.
“We are everything. We have existed for hundreds of thousands of years. We have been here, on earth, before. We underestimated your kind back then, this time we are prepared. We have taken over your world in days. Now it’s your choice to join us freely as humans or join our ranks as soldiers.”
“Soldiers?” Frank was getting what information he could as he stalled for time.
“We have a system of hierarchy similar to your army. We did not have the words for it until we came here, we learned the words from our initial hosts.”
“So you are the boss?” Frank saw the lasers reach the forehead of Richard.
“No, Laura is our leader.”
“So you want us to kill her so you become leader?
Richard faltered, the thought never crossed his mind before and he processed the possibilities in his mind. “No, she is too powerful and to co-ordinated for any of us, let alone you humans. Your time is up, decide now, or die.”
“I’m afraid we must decline at this time Richard. We already have our allegiances of our own.” On cue, a shot rang out. Richard disappeared then reappeared in the same spot to find two cut Achilles tendons.
The Welsh bitch and Jason ran as hard and fast as they could towards the line. Knives still in hand without a drop of blood. “True Chef’s keep their blades as sharp as their wits” Frank repeated the words he’d heard from Jason so many times.
As the duo ran past the line of soldiers, a massive black cloud appeared on the ground. Thousands of infected appeared out of nowhere in front of the 150 men and women ready to be evacuated. Three figures in front of the group collapsed to their knees. A few seconds of silence felt like a full minute. The footsteps of the undead sounded like thunder.
>> The Arrivals