Story time...

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Z13 DM

New Member
I like to write, and I was wondering if anyone would be willing to read this and maybe give me some feedback on it. If you read it and it sucks, tell me it sucks. I can take it. I may still argue about who's turn it is on the slide, but I'm mature enough to take criticism...

I would also like to warn you that it's rather long, in case you were considering reading it...and you might wanna change your mind if you've got a quick read in mind...

Thanks to those who read, no problem if you don't.

Ash crunched beneath the boots of the man as he made his way through the ruins of a house. A soft moan escaped from a pile of rubble, and Zion made his way towards it. As he lifted a beam, he noticed the beat-up torso of an old friend. Zion pulled him out from the pile, and noted a multitude of injuries, most minor. But one stuck out, an eight-inch gash on the lower right leg. Zion took off his trench coat and covered his friend’s now-thin frame. Zion then ripped off his left sleeve and made a makeshift bandage, tying it around the wound with enough pressure to slow the bleeding. Then Zion picked him up and carried him to the bombed-out shell of a building that stood near by.
As Sam slowly drifted into consciousness, he noticed a tight thing on his leg and light by his head. A groan escaped his lips, and a shadow loomed above him. The shadow tilted Sam’s head back and poured a bit of water into his mouth, just barely enough to wake him. As his vision cleared, he saw a familiar face above him. Two different eyes were set into a stern visage framed by long white hair. Sam struggled to speak
“Where..the hell…am I?”
“Your about fifty yards from your grave, my friend” replied Zion.
“What happened?” Sam moaned.
“What’s left of the Army is practicing total war tactics, so innocent people were put into danger. So I had my troops retreat to minimize civilian casualties. Unfortunately, we weren’t in time to help most of those with you. I am sorry” said Zion.
Sam fell silent has he tried to comprehend this loss. Zion busied himself with preparing a meal for him and his guest. As Zion reached across him, Sam noticed the black grip of a revolver riding cross-draw style on his hip.
“Wait…you said you had your troops retreat. You’re not part of the Army?”
“Nope. Different faction. The Army is run by the government, the government is corrupt. I can’t have that” explained Zion, as he broke two chunks from a thing of hardtack. He handed a ready MRE and some hardtack to Sam, who accepted the food in silence, thinking over his current situation. For a while, they ate in silence, both famished. At length, Sam spoke.
“Do I know you from some where? You seem familiar…”
Zion lifted his face from his meal and thought about his answer.
“Yes, you do” was all he said, and then he went back to his food.
“Well, from where? I can’t seem to place you…” Sam continued, determined to break into this unexpected savior. Zion, though, wouldn’t share. He ignored the question, and the two finished eating in silence. When they had finished eating, Zion checked Sam’s bandage. The bleeding had stopped but he would need to find a clean bandage soon, or infection was a serious possibility.
“Why were you in the building? You’re not affiliated with anyone around here, are you?” Zion finally asked.
“I was trying to help some friends. They were there, but I don’t know if they made it out or not. We weren’t expecting an all-out attack, or so much destruction. I didn’t know the Army would do this” replied Sam.
“Never expect less than this, Sam. Never. But I did see three people flee the building as it was collapsing…I think they would have stayed for you, but the ceiling had already landed on your face” said Zion.
“Which way did they go?! I have to find them!” he exclaimed.
“They went east, away from the battle. They may have made it out of the battle zone, but I’m not sure” the man with no allegiances said, “When you can walk we’ll look for them.” With that, Zion retrieved his weapon from the corner of the room and started to clean it. It had marks on it from battle, and appeared to have been dropped many times. There was a large red Z painted on the side of the magazine well, but other than that, no identifying marks, not even a serial number. They sat in silence while Zion tended to his weapon, and Sam started to get restless.
“Calm down, if they’re still in the combat zone, they aren’t going anywhere” said Zion, annoyed with Sam’s constant fidgeting.
“What do you mean?” asked Sam, worried.
“Well, if they didn’t make it out of the area, they probably didn’t make it. That’s just life, Sam. Nothing we can do for them if that’s the case. But, they may still be near. I don’t think they would abandon you, even if you were dead” replied Zion.
The light started to fail, and Sam eventually passed out due to injuries and the stress that his body was under. Zion sat in a corner, and darkness soon enveloped him. He was no more than a shadow among shadows, unmoving. Hours passed, and he became aware of activity in the ruins across the street. Zion shifted to look through a hole in the wall, and was intrigued to find three figures moving the rubble in the moonlight. He left his post. “These may be the ones Sam was worried about” was the thought that crossed his mind.

“Where is he?! He couldn’t have left, it landed on him!” a frantic young woman was whispering.
“What if the soldiers took him?” asked one of her companions, a man in his early thirties. “I mean, they did destroy the whole building, would they have any qualms about that?”
“They couldn’t have! Why would they?!” she continued
“Hey, calm down Jesse. If he’s not here, then they may have taken him. Even if they didn’t, he probably didn’t make it. I’m sorry” said her other companion, a boy of no more than eighteen.
“But, but, he can’t have died…” tears coursed down her face. “He was like a brother to me…”
“And a father to me, after Dad died…” the boy’s face was damp as well.
The man stayed silent, not knowing how to console. He hadn’t known the guy well, nor had he really liked him. He was sorry for their loss though, and wished he could do more.
A step crunched behind them, and they twisted to stare down the muzzle of an M6 carbine in the hands of a soldier in full gear. The man reached for a weapon, but was disinclined to continue after the muzzle swung in his direction.
“You three can come with me” said the soldier.
A shadow moved behind him, and a voice spoke.
“Or, you could leave and we could carry on with our business”
The soldier flinched as the cold blade of a knife caressed his throat, drawing a bead of blood.
“Well, I could let this one go” said the soldier, trying to keep some semblance of authority.
“You may go. But leave your weapons and ammunition. I may have a use for them. And if you “let this one go” and “forget” to report it, you will be spared. Otherwise, I will find you, and kill you. Slowly” replied the man with the knife.
“O-ok” stammered the soldier as he lowered his rifle to the ground and opened some pouches on his vest. From one, he drew two magazines for his weapon and laid them on the ground. Two more came from another, and several pistol magazines joined the pile as well. When the soldier reached for his pistol though, the man spoke again.
“I will get the pistol” he said; the hand not holding a knife snaked around and drew the pistol, dropping it on the pile. The hand disappeared, only to show itself holding the soldier’s combat knife. Once that was added to the pile, the knife at the soldier’s throat disappeared.
“You may go now. If we are attacked soon, I will live to see you die” said the man. The soldier said nothing as he fled into the night.
“Follow me” the man said to the three companions.

The group followed their unexpected savior across the street to the bombed out shell of a building. As they entered the doorway, a light sprang to life. In the glow of a lamp, the back of their rescuer was dimly visible, a weapon slung across it. There was a pack in the corner, and some load-bearing gear. Of course, the thing that their eyes finally rested on was the unconscious figure laid out on a bed of sorts. The familiar black hair and stubble tugged at hearts once torn by grief.
“Wait till he wakes up” said the man who helped them. As he turned to face them, they got their first good look at him. He was a little over five and a half feet tall, with longish white hair and a thin face. His eyes were brown, and his cheek bones were visible, if not prominent. He wore a black shirt which was missing one sleeve. The shirt was tucked into a pair of BDU pants, which were in turn tucked into a pair of combat boots. He also had a revolver on his left hip, worn cross-draw style and held up by a thick gun belt. Opposite the revolver was a custom .45 Dragon, long-slide variant. A MKIV Standard Infantry Weapon was slung across his back, barrels pointing towards the ground. He cut an imposing figure. Or he would have, but a smile lit up his eyes and softened his features

He removed the weapon and sat down, leaning the fore grip against his inner leg, right hand resting on the heat shield.
“Sit down, stay awhile. He’s not going anywhere” he said, clearly wishing for them to relax. They sat, tentatively at first, wondering about the intentions of their savior. The silence turned minutes to hours, until one of them finally spoke.
“Who are you, and how did you know? You seem…familiar…” said the young woman.
"I am just a soldier who was at the right place at the right time" said Zion, “That’s all I am.”
“Do you have a name, at least?” asked the boy.
“You can call me Zion. It’s not much, but it’s better than what the Army calls me” said the fighter.
“I’m-.” The kid started.
“Aaron.” Z finished for him, “and you’re Jason. You, my young lady, are Jesse”
The boy sat back, confused. His eyes resting frequently on Zion’s various weapons, he opened his mouth to speak. Then the window exploded as a black rock flew through it.
“Damn it! I told him what would happen if we were attacked tonight!” roared Zion, as he grabbed the rock out of the air and promptly returned to sender. The rock detonated a few seconds later, showering the outside of the building and the street below with shrapnel.
“Get down and stay there! You, grab the carbine and chamber a round!” whispered Z urgently, motioning to the man. He then jumped out the recently vacated window frame, landing two stories down in the midst of an enemy squad. The NCO nearly wet his pants, but didn’t have time as the rounds from Zion’s rifle tore through his skull. The muzzle flashes revealed several more targets that were a little less fortunate than their leader. Wet stains spread into their pants as Z fired his weapon three more times. Three bodies hit the ground.
A shot echoed between the ruined buildings as a bullet tore into Zion’s calf, dropping him to one knee. He lunged behind an upturned slab of concrete, seeking cover to catch his breath and check his wound. Cutting the cloth from around it with his knife, he inspected the bleeding hole in his leg. “That bastard” he whispered to himself. The bullet didn’t appear to have caused too much damage, so he decided to fight on. Dropping his rifle, he drew his .45 and crawled around the slab, keeping behind the rusted hulk of an archaic vehicle. Two of the remaining soldiers had their weapons trained on the slab, while the marksman was scouring the street with his eyes, his M12 Battle Rifle sweeping back and forth. Checking behind him, he noticed Jason creeping out of their building, M6 in hand. Zion motioned for him to take out the marksman, and he nodded. The Jason raised the carbine, waiting.
“Now!” Shouted Zion as he stood up from his crouch and raised his pistol. He squeezed off four shots, two for each target. The same time, Jason was cutting loose on the soldier in the window with his M6, putting ten rounds in the man and the adjacent window frame. The last soldier stood, M6 above his head. Zion turned and faced the soldier, .45 extended in his right hand.
“Never surrender.” The gunshot rang out, echoing off of ruined buildings. Another lifeless body fell to kiss the pavement

Zion sat up, wincing as pain shot from the hole in his leg. He glanced down to see white and red bandages covering his wounds, then he raised his head, only to be met by the stares of his companions, his friends from years ago.
Movement in the corner caught their attention, and Jesse rushed to Sam’s side with Aaron hot on her heels. She started to tend to him, with a sister’s care. He groggily looked around.
“What’s goin on? What’d I miss?” he slurred, said groggily. Zion pulled up a chair and turned it around, sitting in it backwards.
“Well, I found some friends, and then we had some trouble with the Army again. But that’s taken care of, no need to worry” he said.
“Good…” said Sam, still a little out of it. Jesse wrapped him in a hug and wept at the fact that he was still alive.
“Hey, hey, calm down. I wasn’t gone that long” he said to her, trying to quiet her. It didn’t work. She continued to weep, and there wasn’t really anything he could do. Zion stood and winced, his wound tender. He limped to the other side of the room and started packing his gear. As he lifted his pack, a battered black leather wallet dropped to the floor, open. The foremost picture was one from at least a decade ago, when life was decent and the world still intact, still building to the chaos it was today. The photograph caught Sam’s eye, and his hand darted out to grab it.
“Wait, these people look familiar…” he said, looking confused. Everyone started to gather round as Zion’s hand snatched the wallet away from him. Zion stuffed the wallet back in his pack, burying it among clothing, hidden from view. The others looked at him with confusion, but each quickly averted their gaze has his swung to meet it.
“Sam, can you walk?” He asked sharply.
“I think so. Are we going somewhere?” replied Sam.
“Our position has been compromised. We have to move so as to make it harder to eliminate us” said Zion.
“You just took a bullet to the leg, and you wanna move?” asked an incredulous Jason.
“This isn’t for me, it’s for you guys. They’re gonna try and take us out now, due to the fact that we just dropped a squad. And you guys, well, you may get one or two,” he looked at Jason, “but you wouldn’t stand much of a chance against an organized military” explained Zion, his glare challenging anyone to argue. None did, and he finished preparing his gear for travel. Sam stood, shakily at first, then with increasing confidence. Z slung his pack over one shoulder and his weapon over the other, and they made their way down the stairs and out the door.

“I could have sworn I heard gunshots” said the former soldier. His companions, two women in their late twenties and a man in his early thirties, spread out behind him, each one finding cover. One of the women racked the bolt to chamber a round in her Shrike Squad Automatic Weapon, while the older man flipped the safety on his shotgun. After remaining silent for several long minutes, the soldier-turned-rogue spoke.
“Make camp here. I’m gonna see what’s going on.”
The man with the shotgun nodded, and the three moved into an abandoned building. The first man moved on ahead, keeping a low profile. After several blocks of sneaking through tight-quartered streets and alleys that were in no way suitable for the M40A1 sniper’s rifle he carried, he came upon a street that had recently changed its occupation to “battlefield”. A building on one side was completely leveled, and there were 7 bodies arranged helter-skelter on the pavement, in full U.S. Army load outs. Looking up, he noticed one body, that of the squad marksman, hanging from a window. The only signs of life were in a building on the north side of the street, where a light glowed in an upper window. He focused on this, mainly because the window was a little more interesting than the corpse unit in the street.
After a few minutes, the door leading into the street opened, and out stepped five figures. The one in front had a stance that was all too familiar, relaxed, yet alert. The forward figure was clad in a brown trench coat, Woodland-pattern BDU pants, and combat boots, carrying a MKIV. Behind him were a young woman and a teenager, who were supporting the fourth figure. Bringing up the rear was a tall, thin man with an M6 carbine.
“Who the hell are you?” the former soldier whispered under his breath, digging into his memory, trying to recall the name of the man in the coat. The group moved, and Rhictor shadowed them, slinging his rifle on his back. This continued for several blocks, until the group stopped.

“Wait here” said Zion, as he dropped his pack and weapon and melted into the shadows. Hidden now in shadows, his knife found his hand like an old friend. Slowly, the shadow crept through the alleyway and scaled a fence, keeping low enough to avoid detection. Roughly ten feet away from the fence, and consequentially, Zion, crouched a figure, half-hidden in shadow.

“The hell did he go?” Rhictor asked under his breath, as he scanned fervently back and forth for that familiar fighter.
“Ich bin dein Meister. Du bist mein Opfer. Was wünschen Sie?” spoke a shadow behind him, as a cold blade kissed his throat. He only knew one man who could get him like this, and who would speak like that.
“I heard gunshots, sir. I came to investigate, and saw your party. As you five were more interesting than the corpses in the street, I decided to follow you. I would also like to know if my party could join yours, because nine is better than five, sir” replied Rhictor.
“Ah, Ich weiss dich! Du bist mein Soldat, Rhictor. Wie gehts?” responded the all-too-familiar German of his friend.
“Und du bist Z-Dreizehn” replied Rhictor in broken German, disuse having rusted his ability. The blade left his throat and a hand turned him around, to face the shadow behind him.
“Never call me that. My designation is not to be used. It’s a hated reminder of who we once were, what I once was. Never use it again.” Zion said darkly, his eyes betraying a frozen hatred and a bitter sorrow. Taken aback by his old friend’s sudden change, Rhictor fell quiet.
“Rejoin your friends, and then bring them here. We will wait one day for you” Zion said, melting back into the shadows.

“So, we’re supposed to join a group full of people we don’t know? And fight beside them if need be? I can’t fight with someone that I can’t trust” said the woman with the MKIV.
“Kayil, we have to. This is our best option. If anyone can help us, it’s Z” replied Rhictor. He looked to the man standing beside her for support.
“If you can trust them, then I guess I can” said the man, shrugging. The other woman looked up from her weapon.
“If I can shoot something, I’m all for it” was all she had to say. They all looked at Kayil, who finally gave in.
“Wait, did you say ‘Z’? Like, Zion? Z13? Our old commander?” Kayil asked, interested.
“The same. We’re gonna team up with him. I think he’s got a rebellion set up. That’s probably what he did when he deserted. Now, lets move.” They geared up and followed Rhictor into the alleys. After several blocks, they came upon a lit corner of a particularly deserted alley, and Rhictor rose from a crouch.
“Z, it’s us. I brought my three.”
Zion looked up, meeting Rhictor with a neutral stare.
“Bring them forward. Sam, Aaron, come here. You too, Jason.”
Two men and a boy stepped forward from a doorway. One of the men had a pronounced limp, but the M6 carbine in his hands dissuaded any thoughts of “disability” that might have crossed anyone’s mind. Following them was a young woman in her mid-twenties. A smile lit Zion’s face, and he spoke again.
“Come here; we don’t bite. We are glad to have you.”
Rhictor’s group walked out of the shadows and tentatively looked around.
“This is Sam” Zion said, motioning to the limping man with the M6. “And these two are Jason” he gestured towards the older man, “and Aaron.” He indicated the boy, who nodded. “The young woman over there is Jesse.” He nodded towards her.
“I am Rhictor, and I’m pleased to meet you. This here is Kayil, that’s David, and she’s Kristina” said Rhen, indicating each in turn. David was imposing, standing nearly seven feet tall and holding an M90 combat shotgun. Or, he would have been imposing, but a look of confusion ruined the image. Then it became clear to him.
“Jack! How ya been man?!” he roared, and dropped the shotgun to wrap Zion in a massive hug. Zion hugged back, and spoke in his ear.
“Call me Zion, or Z. Just don’t use my name for now, all right?”
“Ok man, I haven’t seen you in forever!” replied David.
Zion was finally able to pull away from David’s brotherly, yet near-deadly, embrace, and look over the other two new arrivals. One was short and small, with a handgun riding at her hip that was almost as big as she was. The other was a little taller, but not much heavier, and had an M9 Case-less Submachine Gun.
“I’m Z. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Or re-acquaintance” He offered his hand, smiling at Kayil. Kayil shook it, followed by Kristina.
Introductions made, they all settled in for the night. And a quiet night it was, though the morning brought with it an interesting figure and strange happenings.

The morning brought with it a light mist, just thick enough to cause problems. Zion was found standing in the entrance to their alley, a look of contemplation hardening his features. His rifle was slung on one shoulder, and he gripped the strap in his right hand. Lost in thought, he didn’t notice the arrival of a shirtless man clad in loose black pants, held up by an obi. It wasn’t until the taste of sulfur reached his mouth that he looked around.
“Wondered how long it’d take you to notice me” said the man, chuckling.
“What is this? Why are you here?” asked Zion.
“Well, it is the end of the world, now isn’t it? So what better time to revisit the land of my youth” replied the man with an amused grin. The man’s left hand rested on the hilt of a katana that was stuck through his obi, one with a flame-red hilt and gold tsuba.
“What do you really want with me, Tak?” Zion pressed, slightly annoyed that this old friend could be so cheerful. Tak’s mood darkened, and his left hand gripped the hilt tightly.
“Like I said, it’s the end of the world. Well, damned souls are to be let loose on the earth, and I just found the opportunity to get out a little early. So, I took that opportunity and decided to come help you. Because, when all Hell breaks loose, you might want someone who’s been there backing you up” replied Tak, some of his good mood returning, “besides, it’s a lot cooler up here than it was down there, believe you me.”
“Well, then I’m glad to have you. It’s been a long seven years with out your wit and your blade to back me up, old friend” Zion said apologetically.
“Who’s the new guy?” the question came from further back in the alley. Zion turned to see Aaron standing by the makeshift gate of their camp.
“This is a friend of mine, Taknoptikin. We call him Tak.” Tak nodded, the grip on his sword now relaxed. Aaron acknowledged him and turned back into the camp. Zion and Tak followed quietly, so as not to wake anyone still sleeping. Their efforts, it would seem, were in vain, for no one was actually sleeping. They all looked towards the new arrival.
“Everyone, this is an old friend named Taknoptikin. You can call him Tak” said Zion, introducing the new arrival. Tak nodded and received wary nods back. Zion grabbed his pack and slung it over his left shoulder, opposite his rifle, and got ready to move. Everyone followed suit, and they were on their way.

After walking they had been walking for several hours, Zion raised his hand for silence, and dropped into a crouch. The veteran soldiers understood his movement and dropped into crouches themselves, raising weapons and flipping off safeties; the other four quickly caught on and the two men switched their weapons off of safe. The party spread out, and Zion looked back.
“Sam and Jason. Fall back, take Jesse and Aaron with you. Protect them with your lives” he whispered back to them. They did as they were told, doubting their effectiveness in combat.
Rhictor knew his rifle was unsuited for combat in these narrow streets, so he slung it across his back. Instead, he drew twin combat knives from his belt and disappeared down a side-alley, becoming a primitive predator. He sped through darkened paths with the instinctive crouch of an experienced hunter, his knives two gleaming fangs in the twilight.
Back in the street, Zion had settled into the familiar combat mindset, his weapon in his hands. His eyes scanned the windows and doorframes constantly, ever vigilante. Behind him, David advanced, shotgun in hand.
Tak, without a gun, decided that the confines of the alleys would be more suitable to the bite of his katana than the relative openness of the streets. That realized, he took the side of the street opposite of Rhictor, disappearing into the twilight of back alleys and drawing his blade. Kristina took a staggered third behind Zion and David, while Kayil raised her Shrike and moved up between Zion and Kristina. Glancing around, Zion noticed movement from one corner of his eye, in a darkened doorway. As he spun to face it, muzzle flashes stabbed through the dimness and the sound of automatic fire thundered out. Fortunately, the assailant hadn’t much accuracy, and Zion felt the wind of two rounds flying over his head before he returned fire. Zion’s shots were a little more accurate, and soon the attacker slumped to the floor, his AK74u falling from his cooling fingers.
The echoes of gunfire found Rhictor behind a gangster, this one with an old AK47. Sheathing the knife in his right hand, he slid the blade of his other knife in between the ribs of his unsuspecting prey. The man tried to face his attacker, but only succeeded in helping Rhictor cut through most of his left lung. The sniper removed his knife and finished the job before his victim could fire a shot.
Tak came upon an intersection, of sorts. There were three enemy fighters standing around, waiting for orders. Tak, crouching behind a steel barrel, heard a fourth approach, and listened.
“We’ve lost Donovan and Talstav. Kadan, I need you to get out there and provide fire support” said the newcomer.
“All right” replied the one that was Kadan, and he left down a different alley with his RPK support weapon. The newcomer turned to the two remaining fighters. One of them was about to speak, when an crimson blade slid out of his chest. He looked down at it in shock. The other two raised their weapons, targeting a shadow behind the man. They were too late, and the AK in the dying man’s hands discharged several rounds into each of their faces.
“AK should be good for now” said Tak, as he removed his blade from the man’s chest and wiped it off, replacing it in its scabbard. He advanced down the alley that Kadan had taken moments earlier, keeping a low profile. Tak reached a corner and peered around it, hoping that he wouldn’t be met by the barrel of an RPK.
Zion, David, Kristina, and Kayil had all moved into cover by now, and were locked in a firefight with the bulk of the enemy force. The rattle of small-arms fire filled the air, and concrete shattered left and right. Zion peeked around cover, and identified at least five hostiles. Raising his weapon, he eliminated three of them with three consecutive shots on semi-automatic. He motioned for David’s attention.
“David! I need you to lay down some fire for me!” Zion had to shout to be heard over the roar of battle.
“I only have a shotgun! Shotguns not good for cover fire!” he shouted back, chambering a new round to replace the one just spent.
“Trade me!” Zion tossed the MKIV across the narrow street to David, who caught it awkwardly; David soon tossed the combat shotgun in return. Zion tossed him two extra magazines, then took some of the shells from the shotgun’s bandoleer and loaded the tube magazine.
“Whoa! This one has a shotgun and a rifle!” David shouted and looked up at Zion, who nodded. Flipping the MKIV’s safety to the far position, he raised it too his shoulder and squeezed on the trigger. The gun spat lead with a decent rate of fire, and Zion took this opportunity to jump over his cover and charge the enemy position. He dove in through a window and was met by a shadowy figure with an assault rifle.
“Holy damn, Z! I almost lit you up, buddy!” replied Tak, lowering the AK47s in his hands.
“Well, thank God you didn’t. You got the OPFOR in here, I assume?” asked Zion, unnecessarily. The bodies lay on the floor in silent answer. Outside, the firing cut off abruptly.
“Eh? Why’d we stop shooting?” Tak wore a confused expression. He and Zion cautiously peered outside. Nothing moved, even the air was dead. Slowly, the others rose from cover, and Rhictor stepped out of a building across the street.

“Uh, can someone tell me what the hell just happened?” Sam looked around at the scattered bodies.
“Sam, you must have seen a battlefield or two. This is normal. Sad, but true” replied Zion. Sam shook his head and Jesse covered her mouth. This, this was worse than the place of the reunion. There, it was dark. There, the bodies were hidden by hulking shapes. Here, they hung out of windows, lay half in, half out of doorways. The light fell on them, the gray light casting pale, sickening shadows. Jesse leaned into Sam for comfort, and Aaron looked on with disgust. The party moved on, into the gray, smoky haze that covered this part of the city.

Dusk found them at the edge of the city, where nature had started to lay claim to land that was once hers. Dusk found a man standing on a short drop-off, looking out at the faint purple line of the horizon, a brown trench coat draped over his thin frame. A cool breeze blew, lifting the hem of the coat ever so slightly, making it dance to the music of the leaves above. His longish white hair moved with the wind, his bangs hid his eyes. It was better, though, that the hair hid those eyes. Those eyes, no one should have eyes like that. Dead and empty, yet filled with an infinite sadness, they stared out across the ruined city.
“Sad, isn’t it?” A voice spoke up next to him. The man nodded, not speaking.
“You know, it’s better here. It’s much more peaceful than it is there.” Zion gave no indication of hearing, but Tak knew him well enough. Tak just leaned against the only tree to brave the edge of the drop-off, and Zion continued his watch.
“You know, we did this. We killed those people, or ran them out. We caused the war that left them dead or homeless. This is our fault.” Zion had finally spoken, and his voice was soft, little more than a whisper. Tak nodded, in agreement.
“Believe me, I know. I’ve already paid for that. Even with the emptiness, its better than where I was.” Tak noted the look in his friend’s eyes, and nodded.
“Looks like you have your own personal Hell. Is it her again?” Zion finally turned; taking note of the borrowed BDUs that had replaced Tak’s eastern garb, he nodded. As Zion returned his gaze to the city, Tak realized he had never seen such a look of empty sadness on any face before. Even those he’d seen in Hell didn’t compare to the pain on that man’s face.
“It shouldn’t be a problem. Emotions lack logic, though,” said Zion. Tak nodded, a thoughtful look upon his face.
“Well, we’ve had enough standing. Or, at least I have. I’m gonna head over with the others,” said Tak.
“’kay.” Zion nodded.
“Well, if you aren’t coming, then at least do me a favor?”
“Don’t jump off. That drop is definitely not far enough. Plus, you don’t wanna go there.” Tak turned to leave.
“You know me, Tak. The though never crossed my mind.” Tak though he heard the ghost of a smile.
“Good. It wouldn’t be worth it.” Tak walked on, leaving his one-time commander, his long-time friend, at the edge of a short drop-off staring into the twilight of a dead city.

Dawn crept into the cloud-streaked sky with thin tendrils of light, slowly exposing a dead world. Not even the air stirred as the day was born. Dawn found Zion standing atop the drop-off again. His eyes covered the same expanse of dead metropolis as the night before, but the horrible, empty sadness seemed to have receded.
“Hey, you need to eat.” Jason stood next to him, offering an MRE. Zion nodded and took it from him, eating the meal with little relish. He finished within minutes, not having eaten in a day.
“Thanks. I needed that. How are the others this morning?” Zion turned to face him, and the life seemed to have returned to him.
“They’re good. A little hungry, food’s runnin’ low. We didn’t really have any with us, and your MRE’s are almost gone. I think Rhictor and his crew has a bit, but not much more than we have…” Jason trailed off.
“Hmm. We’re gonna have to get some more food somehow. There’s an army supply post a few miles south of here in Gilead, and we may be able to raid it for food and ammunition. I know that’s another thing we need. We have plenty for the AKs, at least for now, but the 5.56 is running low. Also, at the supply post, I should be able to link up with another unit.”
“Another unit?”
“Part of my rebellion. I didn’t plan on fighting the Army alone, so I got some friends. They’re about twenty soldiers strong, and each one trustworthy. They should help me make sure you fools don’t bite it anytime soon. We have about 400 more, but not here.”
“Yeah…As long as I don’t get shot, I’m cool with that” replied Jason.
Zion nodded and turned from the drop-off.
“I think we should get moving. I want to find a place for you and the others to hole up during the raid before dark.”
“Ok. Who’s going with you on the raid?” Jason followed as Zion walked towards camp.
“I think it’ll be Rhictor, Tak, and Kayil. I need you, Sam, and David to guard Jesse and Aaron. And so help me God if they get hurt…” Zion let Jason’s imagination take over. Zion limped over to the others, and Jason went to gather his gear. The rest were awake by now, and most had eaten, though a few were still finishing.

Zion watched as the others packed up their gear, preparing for travel. The had twelve miles to cover, and only one day to do it in, so they needed to start early. Looking around, he noticed that Jesse and Aaron were both rather pale, and their eyes were bloodshot. Zion motioned for Sam, and Sam stepped over his bag, letting the straps fall from his hands.
“I need you to give Aaron and Jesse my blanket and coat, all right? Aaron and Jesse are suffering from shock, and you need to keep them warm. Also, stay with them. Keep them company, talk to them. We can’t have them snapping.” Zion looked concerned as he handed over his coat.
“Sure, I can do that.” Sam took the coat and got out a blanket, “Is it really that bad?”
Zion nodded and turned south towards Gilead.
“We need to move quickly, and we need them mentally intact to do so. Plus, I couldn’t forgive myself if she snapped because of this.” The second bit was more under his breath, but Sam heard him nonetheless. “Who is this guy, and how does he know us? How does he know her?” Sam thought. He took the stuff over to the pair, and Zion brought his MKIV up and rested it on his shoulder, barrels pointed skyward. A solemn demeanor had fallen over him, one different than the night before. That one was just plain torture; This one was apprehension.
“What aren’t you telling us?” Rhictor’s approach had been silent and swift. Not turning, Zion spoke.
“There’s nothing I’m keeping from you. Nothing at all.”
“Bull. He’s in the other squad, isn’t he? Scarecrow?”
Zion sighed and nodded.
“I knew it. That bastard fought against you once you’d deserted, and you’re going to trust him against his own people?” Rhictor was incredulous, bordering angry.
“Why the Hell would you want him? He didn’t leave with you! He-”
Rhictor cut off as a fist swung into his solar plexus. He dropped to his knees, struggling for breath.
“You obviously don’t recall that you didn’t desert with me either. You decided to stay. Just because you made the right decision a little bit before Jon doesn’t make you any better. He was gauging the odds, the risks, the statistics. So don’t give me **** about him.” Zion spoke with a deathly calm, and only the burning light in his eyes gave away his rage. Rhictor coughed, curled up on the ground. Looking up, Zion noticed that all eyes were on him, including the shock victims, Jesse and Aaron’s. He turned from their judging gaze and walked a bit down the road, sullen.

The unit moved down the road, keeping to the darkness under trees and the occasional abandoned building. Rhictor, having recovered physically from the confrontation, had separated himself and was toting his M40A1 sniper’s rifle. Zion had point, followed loosely by David, Kayil, Kristina, and Tak. Bringing up the rear were Jason and Sam, keeping Jesse and Aaron company. Zion stopped and raised a fist, while everyone else found cover and Sam tensed, remembering the last time Zion had made that move. An abandoned house was up to their left, and that was where all eyes were focused. Stepping out of the shadows was a large Russian man with an M6 Carbine.
“Sir! Careful, you could hurt someone with that” the large man said, a huge grin splitting his face. Sam noted this man’s appearance, and it was rather intimidating. The man’s gun had what appeared to be a grenade launcher’s barrel protruding from the fore grip, and the man had a short Japanese sword on his back. On the man’s left leg was a MAC10 in a cross-draw holster, and a large pistol road the opposite side in a similar set up. The man was wearing a black shirt tucked into Woodland-pattern BDU pants and combat boots. His face was broad, and he had long black hair tied back into a ponytail. There was a large scar from the corner of his left eye to the line of his jaw, looking eerily like a tear.
“Yazuka!” A smile broke Zion’s grim visage, but his eyes remained hard. Lowering his weapon, he went up and hugged the large man one-handed.
“You wanna join us? We’re just on our way to Gilead to pick up some supplies.”
“Of course! I’d love to. Are we meeting any friends?” Yazuka’s bark seemed much worse than his bite.
“A couple.” Zion was already starting to move again. Yazuka took his cue, and fell into line with the rest of the squad. After about ten more minutes, they arrived at a house on the deserted highway leading into the city. The dark buildings of the city lay before them, foreboding.
“Tonight, we’ll stay here. In the morning, Yazuka, Rhictor, Kayil, David, and myself will be infiltrating the city to secure some supplies and break the Army’s hold. Sam, Kristina, Jason, Jesse, and Aaron will stay here. We should be able to take the city and hold it in time for our own reinforcements to arrive, but we’ll have some tough fighting. The Army is getting a load of soldiers soon, and one entire side of the city is going to be their Base of Operations. It’s our job to make sure they never get to use it.” Zion looked around, daring anyone to argue. No one did, and they all moved into the house for the night.

Three figures moved silently through ruined streets and smouldering buildings, dodging Army patrols. The figure on point was a tall man, with ebony skin and short, dark hair. He was clad in what appeared to be the remnants of Samurai MKIV Combat Armor. In his arms he carried an M6 assault rifle with a grenade foregrip.
The woman behind him was tall as well, with fair skin and raven hair. She had dark green BDU pants on, tucked into black combat boots. A long trench coat covered her slight frame, and her upper left arm had a spaulder from the MKIV Combat Armor.
The final figure of this silent party was short and out of place among these veritable giants. Sporting green eyes and short red hair, he moved along with a pace comparable to the others. In his arms was an Executioner battle rifle, and he was garbed in U.S. Woodland BDUs and a modular plate carrying vest.
The trio approached a bridge littered with dead vehicles, and the man on point raised a fist. The other two stopped advancing and spread out behind cover.
“Zero, get your ass up in that building, and give us the low-down on the other side of this bridge.” The man spoke quietly, and the red-haired soldier nodded, moving to scale the squat building. He sighted through his battle rifle’s scope, and panned across the opposite bank.
“Nothing on the optical, I’m going to try infrared,” he whispered into the mike. Grave nodded up at him, and then returned his eyes to the bridge before them.
“Grave, there’s at least one hostile in the area, probably part of a patrol. I suggest we circumvent them and continue recon. We can’t afford to have an entire army breathing down our necks, so let’s just find this rebellion you heard about and offer our services. Agreed?” Zero breathed into his mike, never removing his eyes from the glowing red silhouette superimposed on the display of his rifle’s scope.
“Agreed. There’s a bridge further up that we could probably take. Doubt they’d have a patrol that far north. Let’s get outta here.” Grave rose to a half-crouch and walked back to the intersection behind them, with the woman following.
“Gabrielle, I need you to try and make contact with any friendlies in the area. If they’re here, then you should be able to reach ‘em. Use the old LEGEND channels, chances are that some of our old friends are now rebels.” The woman nodded, touching a hand to her left ear, accessing her COM system.
I'm gonna be honest with you. I fully believe the sentence that you like to write...

I didn't read any of the rest of it though. :-/
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