Phil, Tim and Dakota’s journey continues.
Update: Coming not soon enough in March 2021
WEEKS Book Two’s E-book launch date December 5th, 2020
WEEKS Book Two’s Paperback launch date March 25th, 2021
WEEKS Book Two Excerpt From “Chapter Two – Clandestine Op”
Over the last two years, since Phil, Tim and Dakota had been inducted into the Alyeskan Republic, the country and the outer colonies under Damion’s leadership had witnessed rapid annexation of land. Relations between Alyeska and the colonies had taken a gradual turn for the better. Trade routes had been established and both Alyeska and the colonies benefited from them. Reports came in that under Damion’s efforts and direction, most of the Northwest Territories and Alberta, Canada was mostly cleared of any, if not all, BR-Hostiles. Though the eastern provinces of Canada were far worse, as several division-sized bodies of monsters migrated up from the US Midwest and into Canada, roaming about unaccounted for and hampering the colony of Attawapiskat.
Things were better for Alyeskan, however. All of British Columbia had been reclaimed by the superpower. Alyeskan Main Operating Bases had been established across the province, while Forward Operating Bases had been installed to maintain a general sense of security and ownership while reconstruction efforts followed. Such efforts had been ratified months in advance by the president and finally set in motion, creating a military force in the province of British Columbia.
All this was, in large part, due to a Special Reconnaissance Team, comprising of Thomas J. Nilges, Tyrese G. Merlow and Alice B. Sousa. Their efficiency was quickly realized by the military community of Alyeska. Successfully scouting, and assisting in the capture and securing, of many key locations all over British Columbia, growing the Alyeskan Territory all the more, the three of them had such efficiency and success that they received wide recognition from many in the military, and received the permanent call sign SRT ‘Alpha’.
After British Columbia had been annexed, the expansion efforts of Alyeska were then concentrated on the Northwest Territories province in Canada – well, as much as they could without antagonizing the colonies that were in the east. Their efforts were concentrated to the northernmost areas of Northwest Territories, where the colonies wouldn’t be bothered by their expansion.
But for the trio this new period of growth and expansion wasn’t without anxiety. They couldn’t shake the fear of what enemies lurked in the darkness that was once a place where people lived. Every time they were on a mission, they had to face the darkness that now occupied the cities. True, most of Canada was largely cleared out of zombies and other hostiles, but not wholly. There was always that possibility of something else lurking in the darkness.
Bellingham, Washington was one such place of darkness. Throughout the entire campaign of reclaiming British Columbia, not one survivor was found, only draugrs, wraiths and the occasional satyr. But Bellingham came with another type of darkness. The trio were kept in the dark about the nature of their mission. Colonel Winston had informed them that it was off the books, not even the president knew of their presence in Bellingham; they only knew that their objective was to scout the city and report their findings. A clandestine operation. Even when they questioned the colonel about the sudden change in scenery of their deployment, he merely said it was a matter of national security and nothing else.
They had a HH-60M Blackhawk helicopter on standby for quick and/or emergency evac. But not a destroyer off the coast to offer aid or reinforcements. The only connection they had back home was that lone helicopter piloted by Chain and his fellow Royal Marines, members of SRT Bravo. Nothing about this mission felt right for the trio, but they had orders and a job to do. Enough said.
Bellingham had an eerie gloom that set over the urban areas and suburbs, whilst an ominous atmosphere filled the rural areas. It was matched with an overcast blue sky and smelled of spring rain. Despite being midday, it was bright enough that they could see, but no shadows were cast on the outside. But inside the buildings of this gloomy city came an uneasy feeling, as if there were things watching them from the shadows. Unidentified horrors lurking in the dark, yet unwilling to unveil themselves to the presence of the trio. And they definitely were not about to go into the buildings to find out if the buildings were occupied or not.
They came into the city from the northwest, moving in single file with Dakota up front, Phil in the center and Tim following up the rear. At first they stuck to the coastline side of the city until they crossed a bridge and arrived to the downtown section of the city.
At first glance it was just like any other monster-infested location they were sent in to scout. They already spotted other hordes of zombies, marked down the location and estimated force numbers on a map, and snuck their way around the zombies unseen. Mixed with the eerie ambience of the monsters came sounds of the wildlife and old decrypted sounds of the urban decay of buildings, rotting down to their foundations.
Phil and Tim had the occasional visible limp in their legs. Phil’s came from his right knee and Tim’s from his left foot; and every once in a while, Dakota would favor her left side, and would be short of breath. But for the most part they were able to hide their hindrances and move like normal through the eerie silence of the city. Just three hardened dogs making their way with scars from their pasts.
They had crossed a bridge, to get closer to the central business district of the city, but once they crossed the bridge Dakota caught wind of threat and quickly motioned for them to take cover. Like falling dominoes, they each kneeled down with their backs against a dumpster that had been left in the middle of the street. All three folded up against it, abreast of one another.
“Call it sis,” Phil said as he pulled out a map of the city and began marking the downtown section. Tim maintained surveillance around them, keeping watch while Phil and Dakota gathered intel.
Dakota was to Phil’s right, on the edge of the dumpster as she aimed her rifle at the monsters down the street. Through her scope she studied the monsters, identified them and assessed their numbers. But while in a dormant state these monsters all behaved the same, until something stimulated their senses; that would be the only way to tell a draugr from a wraith.
“Yeah that’s about a horde size, at least a hundred of them,” Dakota said, giving Phil all the extra little details she could while he wrote down the intel.
“And when there’s a horde…” Tim started to say, keeping an eye on their surroundings, ready to act against any incoming threat.
“There’s at least three more hordes nearby,” Phil mumbled with a silent curse. On the map he had he marked, in black ink, the general location of the horde they spotted and then he drew a near perfect circle around the downtown area with a note inside the circle ‘≈ ≥ 3 additional hordes.’
“Making a possible brigade-sized force of these freaks in downtown,” Dakota muttered, displeased with the numbers.
Bellingham was very active in the monster department, given the previous districts that they had navigated through up till now.
“Worst-case scenario, there’s a brigade force of at most eight hundred hostiles in downtown Bellingham. Best case scenario there’s only a horde-sized force of two hundred,” Dakota mumbled as she looked back at Phil and Tim.
It was always best to assume a worst-case scenario, a silver lining to pessimism. But they preferred to call it being realistic. The Department of Defense of the US made categorizations based off of the sizes that BR-Hostiles stayed in, and this was a categorization that Alyeska adopted.
Now the three of them had to use these as reference for their missions. Hordes ranged from fifty-one to two hundred BR-Hostiles. However, they hadn’t scouted the entire city yet, and given that hordes are normally found in close proximity of one another, in three to four more nearby locations, there were at least two hundred enemies in the downtown area of the city. This was speculative of course, but the safest accurate guess that could be made.
On his map, to the west and northwest neighborhoods of Bellingham, were multiple markings and circles. Confirmations of at least thirteen hordes of zombies, mixed batches of wraiths and draugrs. Brigades were the next numbered category of BR-Hostiles, ranging anywhere from two hundred to five thousand in number.
This was one reason why their efficiency became so well known: they were thorough and made sure all the intel that could be gathered, was gathered. So much so that they had essentially reset the standards for the rest of the Special Reconnaissance Team community during their first year of service. After all, they had more experience in dealing with zombies than anyone else in Alyeska.
“We’ve confirmed that there is a brigade-sized force of hostiles to the west and northwest. And a horde, possibly another brigade grouping, in downtown. So far we’ve confirmed at least three thousand total. The south and east are all we have left to scout.”
“Alright Phil, what’s the game plan baby?” Tim asked.
“Well first you stop call me baby,” Phil said in a fake ‘mature-like’ tone before casting a more serious look on his face. “We follow the shore south to the business district, then the university and then scout the east side of the city,” Phil mumbled, but was unable to finish his thoughts before something caught all their attention.
It began at a low volume, before steadily increasing, freezing the trio dead still as their ears registered the sound of sirens, but their minds were taken aback by the sudden sound. The three of them all looked at each other for half a second before the sirens were now at their highest and dipped back down in volume and repeated. The ominous sounds of a KM-Europ 8 Port Siren were wailing all across the city. The very sound of the sirens filled their hearts with dread, half expecting a nuclear bomb to explode, as if their minds were taken back to the first hours before and after the Fallout. With eyes wide and wild they looked around, rifles raised, the hairs on their bodies standing up and their spines spasming with cold chills as the sirens wailed.
The entire city of Bellingham, Washington had become like a giant neon sign in the middle of the night. So many questions were raised but ignored, as the trio quickly came back to focus and relocated to a more concealed and defensible location.
There was an old and decrepit Burger Hut nearby, a bit larger than a ticket booth, where the three of them found a ladder and ascended up top and laid low, studying their surroundings.
Tim was watching the east, while Phil kept his eyes north and northwest; and Dakota watched the south. The shore was to the west and close by, so there was little to zero need to keep their eyes on the water; especially for Dakota, who now hated water. They were unsure of what to expect, praying to the Lord that there were only zombies in Bellingham and not wendigoes or other monsters.
Across the same bridge they had previously crossed was a horde of draugrs in full sprint running towards downtown, the same direction they had just came from. There was something off about how they were running, unusual for typical draugrs. Phil got Tim and Dakota’s attention focused to his line of sight so they could see what he saw. He didn’t feel better when they confirmed what he saw, hoping that he was seeing things. The younger draugrs didn’t possess the twelve years of rot and decay the trio expected to see. These draugrs weren’t running like they were twelve years old, they ran as if they had recently turned into the monsters they were now.
“What the hell?” Tim asked in a hushed voice. “Those are not the hostiles we saw earlier. Where the hell did they come from?” he asked, wincing in pain as a migraine began setting in. The constant wailing of the eerie sirens stirred up memories of waking up outside the nuclear power plant over two years ago. But his fortitude was sound, as he pushed such pleasantries aside and remained stoic to the pain, keeping his focus.
“I don’t know,” Phil said.
Dakota had already repositioned herself facing north, watching the horde through the scope of her rifle. After the horde had crossed the street and the dumpster the trio used, and disappeared behind the biuldings, she looked back across the bridge to the other side of the river, to see even more zombies coming towards downtown in full sprint.
“Uh guys, dere’s more coming,” she said in a subtle tone.
“How many?” Phil asked.
“At least a brigade by itself,” she said with a subtle hint of “we need to get the hell out of here” in her voice. Suddenly realizing her breathing had deepened as well as quickened, the siren was making her upper back tremble against her will.
“Agreed,” Phil said without delay.
They wasted no time. After scanning their nearby perimeter, finding only a few wraiths roaming about to one of the nearest sirens, they descended down the Burger Hut and high-tailed it south, following the shoreline to the central business district.
Running through an unsecured area felt like an extreme game of hide-and-go-kill mixed with tag. As if they were running from an inevitable doom that was only a few moments from assailing them. They still did not know where the other three hordes of the older looking BR-Hostiles were, so it felt like they were really pressing their luck. But maybe this was one of those lucky moments where a horde was just a single horde.
A few stragglers of draugrs and wraiths got in their way, but were just as quickly neutralized. The trio were quick and silent with their kills. The sirens that still wailed about the city also offered them an audible concealment, constantly reminding them of a question, among all the others: Who the hell got sirens operational here and why?
Once they reached the central business district they cut straight through the middle, a wide open asphalt area with a few buildings and other small structures dotting the district. Sure they risked being spotted in the wide open area, but it was the most direct route and presented less chance of a potential ambush from a horde.
Soon enough a mixed horde of wraiths and draugrs did spot them and set chase after the trio through the dry, arid district. Phil called for an extraction over their radio, but the helicopter couldn’t land with hordes of draugrs closing in around them. They needed a rooftop location that was defensible.
There was a good-sized building nearby with what looked like a large enough clearing on the roof for an emergency chopper landing. Phil called over the radio to their evac unit, giving a general description of the location to SRT Bravo Actual, or Lt. Chain, over the radio. Phil also instructed Chain to look for green smoke; that would give the helicopter their location once it was close enough.
“Affirmative Alpha Actual, Heli evac en route to the central business district, looking for green smoke. ETA fifteen minutes. Over,” Chain’s voice came over the radio, confirming the instructions Phil gave. From behind the transmission he could hear Chain and his lads powering up the Blackhawk, the rotors already spinning before Chain had released the PTT button.
“Alpha Actual confirms, fifteen minutes. Over and out,” Phil said, ending the radio call.
Tim and Dakota both had radios on the same channel, so they could hear the whole conversation take place. But Dakota’s focus was on a point in the front. Tim’s focus was on their six, taking out any draugr that managed to get too close to them.
“Oh good, just avoid getting eaten. Fan-fucking-tastic!” Tim grumbled as they closed in on the building.
“Dakota get one side, I’ll get the other. Tim cover our six,” Phil shouted as they closed in on the double door entrance to the building.
They stopped in sequence with each other, everyone on the same page and mindset. Tim stopped, turned heel and went down to a knee and provided covering fire while Phil and Dakota carried their momentum in smashing their boots at the doors.
The hinges to the entrance were so rusted that when Phil and Dakota kicked them in, both doors fell flat on the ground, the metal falling on old tile floor creating more noise. Tim had moved to Dakota’s side, still firing controlled bursts of fire at their pursuing horde. Once he heard the doors fall flat, he knew what to expect, and continued to fire to hold back the horde for as long as was needed.
Once Tim was to her side, Dakota pulled out a flash grenade, and called out “Flash bang!” before tossing the grenade inside.
A quick and near deafening boom followed a bright flash, giving the trio a moment of relief from the sirens with an ear-piercing explosion.
Dakota went in first, and immediately swept to the nearest corner through the doors while Phil followed in, aggressively moving to the opposite direction of Dakota. Both shouted “Clear!” after scanning the room for threats, and that was Tim’s cue to cease firing as he did a quick one-eighty degree turn and moved inside the building last. None of them worrying about the entryway as the horde was too close to do anything about it that would make a difference.
Of course there was a good chance any nearby hostiles on the inside heard the falling doors and flash grenade. This proved true as they passed through another set of double doors that took them to a long hallway. Four draugrs charged at Dakota savagely, but from a combined mixed fire from all three of them, they were dead just as soon as they charged.
As soon as the last draugr fell dead, Phil slammed the doors shut while Tim shoved a cabinet in front of the doors while Dakota continued forward looking for the stairs. She stopped at the first door she came to.
Once Phil and Tim caught up, Phil patted Dakota’s shoulder and she immediately swept forward facing the room while Phil and Tim continued onward. All was clear, and then she followed up the rear, with Phil now on point.
The walls of the building were a red-brown rust color. Even the floor and wood were the same color. Everything was rotten and decayed, a mix of brown, red and a putrid looking orange, making them feel like they were in the bowels of hell. It smelled of urban decay and holes could’ve been easily punched in through the walls riddled with moisture and mold everywhere. The only solace of this building was the minimal safety it offered and the muffling of the trauma-inducing sirens.
As they continued their quick leapfrog game of sweep and clear they realized that the building was due for collapse on its own any day now. With the horde of draugrs and wraiths now surrounding the building, today just might be that day, as the building moaned and creaked with all the sudden activity.
It took a few minutes to locate a stairwell. Along the way they closed every door behind them knowing it wouldn’t buy much time; but even a single second was better than none. Dakota was back on point and led the way up the stairs while Phil and Tim followed. Once they ascended to the highest level of the stairs, they grabbed and tossed any furniture they could find down the stairs to clog up that bottle neck. On several occasions the floor around them crumbled and every once in a while one of their legs would go through the floor, as the age-old rot had ruined the building’s structural integrity.
“Just a typical day at the office,” Tim cursed, and continually cursed every time his foot went through the floor. Phil’s and Dakota’s feet would cave in a hole in the floor too, but for Tim it was the most frequent to occur. Having the extra weight of the machine gun along with all that ammo made the difference in situations like this; and now he wished that he had selected an M4 Carbine instead of his M240. His migraine had not subsided and he found himself increasingly irritated.
Whoever it was whose foot went through the floor, the other two were quick to stop and help pull the person’s foot back up, only to continue on up the building while its lower levels were being flooded by hostiles. The building was constantly moaning and creaking from the influx of occupants.
The screams and ruckus made by their pursuers echoed from below filled the halls and stairwells with a very hostile and aggressive ambience, as if the building itself was trying to consume the trio and the muffled sound of the sirens.
Along the way Dakota appeared faint, like she was about to pass out, and her pace slowed as she held her rifle with one hand and her other hand was over her chest, going to a slow jog.
“You good?” Tim asked, giving her shoulder a quick pat, receiving a quick nod in return.
“Short breathing again,” she mumbled as Tim nodded.
It was something they all were aware of, but couldn’t exactly predict its occurrences with any accuracy. Occasionally Dakota would get faint from a shortness of breathing, especially if exerting herself for an extended period of time – a farewell gift from Inimicus after crushing her sternum in over two years ago.
Doctor Ellis said there was nothing clinically wrong with her that could be treated, it was just something that would come and go. But she had proven through rehabilitation that this handicap would not hinder her operational capacity. Most missions were stealth ops through and through, and hardly had anything like today occur.
As they neared the roof, the muffling of the sirens outside intensified once more. The stairs made an abrupt stop and turned over to an old rusted catwalk that led to a fork in the path. It was too dark inside the building to see what the catwalk was built over, but it was large enough to produce multiple echoes from each of their movements.
The path that forked left went somewhere else in the upper floors, but to the right was the obvious exit to the roof top. After they had crossed the catwalk, Tim dropped a frag grenade and all three of them took cover outside on the roof before the grenade exploded and destroyed the decayed catwalk. Though they had the wailing bellows of the sirens instilling that trauma once again, they were back outside in the overcast sunny day and not in the bowels of hell that was the inside of the building.
“That’ll buy us some time,” Phil said, patting Tim’s back. “Nice.”
Once they reached their objective Tim held security at the stairs they just came from while Dakota started to scan the rest of the rooftop, making sure it was clear of threats. She was heaving now for breath, but still efficient none-the less. Phil dropped a smoke grenade, sending green smoke up with the wind.
Like clockwork, Chain’s voice came over the radio. “Bravo Actual to Alpha, we have visual on green smoke. ETA ten minutes. Over.”
“Alpha Actual copies,” Phil replied, not caring for radio formalities at this point.
Satisfied with the roof’s current security, she walked over to the ledge and looked back north at downtown Bellingham, and what she saw made her freeze. She didn’t know how to interpret what she was seeing, only that it completely took her by surprise.
“Um…” Dakota mumbled. “Phil, I got something weird here,” she said, watching through her scope.
“Is she shitting me?” Tim yelled out like she just called him a bitch, as he kept his point of view back down the stairs.
“I dunno… I’ve, we’ve, never seen dis,” she said.
Phil removed his binoculars from his bag and stood abreast to Dakota, to see what had his sister on edge. After she gave him the direction to look at, he lifted his binoculars and too felt the same shock and confusions as she.
“Ce pusca mea?” he mumbled.
Dakota looked at him with a raised eyebrow, but understood what he meant. Her breathing had settled now, though she was still taking in deep breathes.
Up north, in the downtown district, he had just witnessed the sight of the brigade of young draugrs attacking the older hordes of wraiths and draugrs back inside the downtown area of the city. Even more shocking was that the older draugrs were not fighting back, as their numbers were quickly being destroyed and consumed by the younger ones. Zombies eating zombies.