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The turmoil in Angus

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Angus, a small town in Texas with a population of approximately 400 people, was in turmoil. Three months ago, an outbreak occurred in New York and spread like wildfire until all of the United States was plagued by the sudden outbreak of this disease. The disease caused the brain’s neurons to begin firing again, causing the dead to rise again. The infection could also be spread by a simple passage of bodily fluids such as blood or saliva from a simple bite. Now, handfuls of survivors fight daily to survive in this post-apocalyptic world. Secret organizations began to surface as they too struggled to reach the next day as roaming hordes of the dead assaulted their facilities, drawn to them by the loud sounds within. One such organization was the Ghosts.

The four-man Ghost Recon team, call-signed Tracker, had been in the field carrying out counter-terrorism assignments in Texas when the outbreak hit. Since their long-range radio had stopped operating, they had gone dark and were hiding in Angus, Texas until they could return safely to base. But as time passed, they began to think that perhaps the base had fallen, and that to return would be too great a risk, so they decided not to return until they had solid evidence that the base was still active. For now, they survived in the remote town of Angus, living off supplies they could scavenge. “Hold position, Ghost Lead. You’ve got a feral right outside that door”. “Copy that Vixen. Drop him”. “Copy that”. Vixen braced his sniper rifle against his shoulder and carefully stared down the sights and made final adjustments to counter any factors that would affect the shot. Humidity, wind strength and distance could all make the shot miss its mark, which would be very dangerous for them. It was noon on a bright, sunny day.

The wind blew in occasional strong gusts. The beast was outside of the side exit of a large warehouse built mostly of corrugated steel sheets that Tracker was scavenging inside. The feral shifted quickly, constantly moving as it sniffed the air and listened closely to sounds with its acute hearing. The Feral was essentially a cross between an infected human and an infected wolf or canine of some kind. They were one of the most dangerous variants of the infected that could be found. Vixen had made his adjustments a breathed in. Then out. Then in. Then BANG!Vixen felt the gun recoil, pushing its way into his shoulder as the round was forced out the chamber and down of the barrel. The suppressor reduced the sound of the gun firing, but it was by no means silent. The round flew through the air, curving slightly as the wind picked up. Then the skull of the feral exploded in a mass of gore as the round penetrated and destroyed the brain of the beast, causing its body to go limp and collapse to the ground.

As soon as its corpse slumped to the ground, the side door burst open and three armed men dashed outside, weapons ready and prepared for any unseen assailants that may have been lurking out of sight. Checking their corners and finding none, they made a quick dash to a red pickup truck parked nearby. The man leading the way was Ghost Lead, the leader of their team. He alone wore his standard combat fatigues and combat netting, along with his trusty ballistic helmet. His primary weapon was a Vector SMG with attached silencer and red-dot sight, sprayed matte black. In a holster at his hip was a desert brown Beretta M9 pistol. Behind him was Spitfire. He was the team’s engineer and heavy weapons expert. He wore a dark blue t-shirt and khaki jeans with a black cap and his primary weapon was an MP5K, his treasured M249 SAW being stored safely in the back of the truck. Because it is a big a loud weapon and one that would burn through their already dwindling ammunition supplies, they had all agreed to only use it as a last resort.

Strapped to his back was an M1014 shotgun. Bringing up the rear of the group was Bandit. He wore ripped jeans with a grey t-shirt with a black hoodie and a black scarf wrapped around the bottom of his head, concealing the bottom of his face. He carried a Russian P-90 SMG with standard iron-sights and a laser sight to assist aiming. In a holster at his hip was a Glock 19. When they reached the pickup, they each threw their duffle bags of supplies into the back and Bandit got in the driver’s seat while Ghost Lead jumped into the passenger seat and Spitfire vaulted into the back with the supplies. Almost immediately, the truck leapt to life and pulled off, driving away from the warehouse. The sound of the truck was always a risk of drawing more infected, but it was definitely safer to travel long distances in than on foot. “Alright Vixen, we’re moving out. we’ll meet you at the rendezvous point”. Ghost Lead radioed to Vixen. “Copy that. See you there, sir”. Vixen chimed back as he rose from his prone firing position.

As the truck drove away and around the warehouse, out of sight, Vixen jumped down to the maintenance walkway around the water tower he had been providing over-watch from, then he slid down the ladder back to ground level. Vixen wore military fatigue bottoms and a red and black checked t-shirt with the arms torn off. He carried a heavy duty backpack over one shoulder with food and water, medicinal and ammunition supplies should he be caught and isolated from the rest of the team. He carried his beloved M40 rifle with him wherever he went and holstered at his hip was a Kimber Custom M1911 handgun. Like the others, he had a Ka-Bar combat knife strapped to his left leg. When he reached the base of the tower, he set off at a jog to a gas station approximately half a mile away.

Vixen arrived and the others were already waiting for him. Without a word, he clambered into the back and sat next to Spitfire as the truck set off again and they drove back to the safehouse that was serving as their base of operations. As they pulled away, he shared a quick bro-fist with Spitfire in minute celebration of their successful scavenging run. They encountered few infected on the way back as they were traveling faster than most of them could sprint, with the exception of one feral who gave chase and Vixen had to waste a precious bullet from his handgun on taking it out before it could catch up with the back of the pickup. Again, the bullet hit the beast in the direct center of the forehead. It was mid-afternoon when the Ghost Recon team arrived back at the safehouse. They pulled up at a parking space outside of a large yellow house with a large tower and small courtyard in the center. They grabbed their bags of supplies and their weapons and equipment and made their way inside, carefully locking the gate behind them. As the strolled into the house, they placed their bags on a table in the first room, a large space with almost no furniture.

They spent about two minutes taking the supplies they had recovered out of the bags and organizing them into cupboards and other storage containers in the adjoining kitchen. “Here”. Said Bandit, casually tossing something from his duffle bag to Vixen. “I got you this”. Vixen caught the item and saw that it was an engine part for a dirt bike. “Thanks”. Smiled Vixen, before walking out of the rooms into a corridor, before turning off into a walk-in garage. Inside was a collection of tools and machine parts, but in the center of was an old dirt bike, long past its racing days. It was one of the things Vixen cherished most. He smiled as he set to work adding the new part to the bike. As the other three organized the last remaining items, a young, attractive brunette walked into the room, smiling brightly as she watched them work. “You’re back. Did you bring me any goodies?” she asked. “We sure did”. Answered Spitfire. “25 cans of food, 8 liters of water, 13 courses of antibiotics, a bag of seeds for our vegetable garden and some construction materials”. “Awesome!” she beamed, elated. “That’s a good run”.

It’ll definitely get us by for a while. But I really want to get started on upgrading the house. I mean, we have a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping quarters, and the tower makes an excellent sniper tower, but I feel we need to expand our facilities and better our defenses. Boarded windows might hold against a few infected but it won’t do against a horde or outlaws. “You really think there’s anyone left alive out there?” Bandit asked, pulling the scarf down from his face. “It’s possible. I’d rather not take the risk”. She answered back. “Alright, Nancy”. Said Ghost Lead, his voice soft. “We’ll get straight to it. Any luck getting the radio working?” “As usual, no luck yet. I nearly had the CCTV working around the house, but I think we have a faulty connection to the power lines”. “Ok. I’ll get Bandit or Vixen on that. See if you can get that running either tonight or sometime tomorrow”. “Gotcha ya, chief!” she saluted.

They spent the rest of the afternoon tending to the garden and adding coils of barbed wire to the wall surrounding the house. Bandit went outside solo on a high-risk mission to try to restore a stable connection to the main power line, which he carried out successfully with no incident. Vixen was only a few parts away from getting the bike working and the garden was coming along well, the rich soil giving way to a healthy stock of edible plants. As night fell, Vixen took first watch in the sniper tower as Nancy, the team’s handler back from when they were active, worked tirelessly to get the surveillance system operational once more. Despite stable power being restored to the house, they still used candles instead of lights, all too aware how fast light could attract infected and other menaces that could wreak havoc in their lives. When they awoke the following morning, around 5 am, they found that Nancy had worked through the night and had succeeded in restoring the house’s surveillance system. They found her asleep at a monitor, the security feeds playing real-time on the monitor.

They placed a blanket over her shoulders to keep her warm and quietly made their way back out of the room, keen not to disturb her. Because of the way the night hours fell, the one who took the first watch shift of the night also took the last one, and as they approached, Vixen slid down the tower’s ladder to greet them. “Any trouble before dawn?” Ghost Lead asked. “Nah. Just one Juggernaut got a little too close for comfort”. He replied. When Ghost Lead asked him what happened, Vixen just pointed to the wall. The other three Ghosts peered over and saw the hulking mass of a Juggernaut stumbling blindly around several meters away. In the place of its eyes were two rounds from Vixen’s M40. “Shit dude…” Spitfire replied. “That’s a brutal way to treat him”. “I can admire it”. Said Bandit, smiling broadly. “Yeah, but you’re a fucking sadistic SOB”. Spitfire retorted. Bandit just shifted his smile menacingly over to Spitfire, making him very uncomfortable. Everyone knew Bandit was a bit of a sadist, and no one with half a brain cell wanted to get on his bad side. Even his own team members feared him sometimes.

Vixen walked between the group and began unlocking the gate before Ghost Lead called over to him. “Vixen! Where are you going?” Vixen paused and answered back, calmly, “Just headed across the street. I noticed that the wind lately has been causing havoc with our vegetables. I was gonna pick up some clothes from the supermarket across the way, make a wind cover of some kind to give them a bit of protection”. “Alright, just be quick and don’t take risks. Get back here ASAP”. “Roger that, sir”. Vixen replied, before unlocking the gate and making his way across the road to a large supermarket opposite the house. He spent several minutes stealthily making his way down the aisles. He only planned for this to be a quick trip and so he had only brought his knife and handgun as protection should he be attacked.

He and his team had raided and cleared this supermarket shortly after the outbreak of the infection, so he was fairly confident there would be no resistance, but he wasn’t going to die of carelessness and infected weren’t the only things that could pose a threat. Bandits and other scavengers often made their way into towns in search of supplies. Even those who had never used a weapon before were willing to for precious resources. The outbreak made normal people into monsters in more ways than one. He made his way across the supermarket to the far side, the clothing section. He quickly stuffed several garments into his backpack until, when he was satisfied he had enough, he zipped it up and made his way back. Content that he had made sure it was clear on his way through, he made his way back to the entrance quite calmly, having a peaceful stroll between the aisles. Then he heard a sound that made him go rigid and stopped mid-stride.

A chilling sound that sent a cold shiver shooting down his spine. He didn’t take another step. To disturb it now would mean almost certain death. When on foot, they tried to avoid these even when fully equipped, and he had nothing more than a pistol with one clip of ammo and a small combat knife. Slowly, he turned his head to face it. There, in the middle of the aisle, was a Feral. The tall, humanoid beast stood 8 foot tall and held a can of food in its hands. It bit into the top, trying to bite it’s way to the meaty contents inside.

The can began to crinkle under the pressure of the beast’s jaws. For now, the beast seemed preoccupied with the can and paid no mind to Vixen. Slowly, Vixen lowered his hand to his holster and reached for his gun. Slowly pulling it free, he clicked the safety to “off”. Then, the Feral stopped chewing on the can and sniffed the air. Then it started to face Vixen. It snarled at him and drool ran from its lips to form a small puddle of saliva on the floor. A guttural roar blew free of its mouth and Vixen let his shoulders sag in defeat. “Well, shit”. He dashed as fast as he could for the entrance, ignoring the beast in hot pursuit of him. He was a well-trained soldier and veteran of many special operations, but his reflexes couldn’t compare to the Feral’s and he couldn’t hope to even match its speed. Desperate to escape, he quickly turned into an aisle and ran down it, pulled a display of electronic devices down behind him to hopefully slow the beast down. He didn’t look back to see if it worked.

His sudden change of direction had caused the momentum of the speeding Feral to carry it past the aisle as it skidded on the smooth floor, but it swiftly made the progress back up on the fleeing Ghost and leaped easily over the collapsed display without breaking its stride. Vixen had doubled back on himself and ran back down on the next aisle, hoping to throw the creature off his trail. The Feral saw him through a gap in the shelving and lunged through, causing the shelves to collapse. Vixen saw the shelves begin to collapse and quickly climbed the shelves on the other side. As he reached the top, the falling shelves hit the shelves he was balanced on and a domino effect took over. As each row of shelves fell, he leapt from one to the other, eager not to slow his pace. Behind him, the monster was still in pursuit, its hunger for fresh meat keen to be sated.

As Vixen sighted the entrance doors, he leapt desperately left, off the shelving, before rolling safely and continuing his charge to the doors in one, fluid movement. The Feral saw his move and returned to the floor in one bound, and it howled with wicked glee as closed in on its prey. Without looking, Vixen fired his M1911 blindly behind him, hoping to at least slow the monster before it could reach him. Yet still, he could hear the padded feet behind him getting closer and closer. The doors were within a few feet now and, breathing heavily, he redoubled his efforts to reach it alive. When he was a mere two feet away, he realized that he had turned one aisle short, he was charging straight for the exit.

As Vixen connected with the door, his momentum, and weight caused the hinges to buckle backward and break free of their holdings and all the glass to smash on impact. He collapsed and rolled on the floor, winded, as glass rained around him. His handgun lay several inches away from his hand, just out of reach from this position. Instantly, the Feral was upon him. Its legs clamped down on its shoulders, pinning him to the ground. Its claws bit into his flesh and blood seeped out between its toes. Drool fell in large, stringy blobs from its mouth and Vixen had to shift his head away to avoid any hitting him. It stood triumphant astride him and, howling with delight, raised its clawed hand to slash his throat to ribbons. Then its cries of pleasure turned to tortured screams of inhuman pain as fierce pain lanced through its thigh. In his last seconds before death, Vixen had pulled his knife free from its holdings on his leg and stabbed it directly into the creature’s thigh. He felt its grip on him loosen as the pain hit it and he desperately reached for his pistol. He felt his hand close around its grips and turned to face the monster, pistol ready.

The Feral was still stood atop him and as it recovered from the surprise attack and made to bite out his throat, he unloaded the remainder of the clip into its skull. From the close range and the sheer number of bullets that struck its head, it collapsed backward, over his legs. He yelled as he fired, and he continued to fire long after the mag ran dry. He threw the spent pistol to one side and continued to lie there, face up, breathing heavily. He tried to sit up but the pain from his shoulders kept him down. He heard rapid footsteps approaching. He turned his head to see Ghost Lead, Spitfire and Bandit dashing towards him, weapons raised. Bandit was carrying medical supplies in one hand and he slid to his knees before coming to a calculated stop next to Vixen. Ghost Lead scanned the surrounding area for any infected drawn to the noise while Spitfire thrust his knife into the twitching corpse of the Feral, ensuring its death. Bandit started to question Vixen to make sure he was alright. “Vixen! You ok, buddy? Where did the bastard get you?” Vixen could only let out a pained groan as gestured at his shoulders in reply. “Ok…” said Bandit, “It looks like its claws sunk into the tissue at the shoulders; nothing serious though, just superficial damage. He’s got a bunch of cuts and scratches, but by the look of it, they were caused by all this glass. Still, I think we can afford to spare a course of anti-biotics for him, just in case”. “Copy that”. Replied Ghost Lead. “Let’s get him back to the house and safe first though. No telling how many infected heard all that noise”. “Vixen could feel Bandit’s hands under his shoulders and his feet dragging against the carpark floor as his vision faded and he slipped into unconsciousness, the adrenaline from his narrow escape now gone”.

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