Disclaimer: This is a work of original fiction. Any resemblance to actual locations, characters, events and incidents are purely coincidental.
Chapter 2 - Peace before the attack
Mess Hall (Outside), Military District, Grand Isle Safe Zone, Grand Isle, Vermont, USA, 7 November 2020, 1400 hrs
Both Kodey and Erika were arguing outside the mess hall before heading back to their posts.
"I said no, Erika. You cannot come with me to the outside world." Kodey berates his sister. "But why? I want to join you and fight these zombies together with you, brother!" Erika protests. Though Kodey understands why his sister wants to join him, he knows she is still young and not ready to explore the outside world beyond the safe zone.
"Erika, I'm being deployed with Sergeant Seth Connor's team for the upcoming Operation Urban Dawn and I will not be around in the safe zone for two weeks. Also, we may encounter some Young Templars as well." Kodey pauses for a second before finishing his explanation. "You are too young to fight zombies in the outside world, sister." .
However, Erika does not buy a single word from his brother and her eyes widened with a pitiful look to persuade Kodey to let her join as well. "I know I'm still young, but please let me come with you, brother!" Erika pleads. Still, Kodey shakes his head in disapproval and pats her head gently. "Sister, what if you encounter Young Templars on the way and they capture you? You know they will take you away with them if they find out you are still 12." Kodey warns his sister of the dangers of being captured by Young Templars. "I won't forgive myself if they take you away and not to be seen again." .
"But..." Before Erika can say further, a nearby 1st-Lieutenant Freida sees them arguing before approaching them to find out what's going on. "Kodey, Erika! Why are both of you arguing? What's going on?" Eleanora questions in a firm tone as she breaks the argument between them. Surprised to see their adopted mother standing beside them, both Kodey and Erika immediately stop arguing and they tell her that there is no argument between them. However, the first lieutenant suspects they are hiding the argument from her. "I've just seen the both of you argue over something. No point lying to me, you two." Eleanora calls them out for lying. "What did both of you argue about?" Caught red-handed for lying by their adopted mother, both Kodey and Erika avoid Eleanora's stern gaze in embarrassment.
Not wanting to receive a scolding from 1st-Lieutenant Freida, Erika speaks up to tell her the truth. "Mom, I was trying to persuade Kodey to let me join him for the upcoming Operation Urban Dawn." Alarmed that Erika wants to venture into the outside world with Kodey, Eleanora immediately forbids her from joining her brother. "Why can't I go, mom? I'm skillful enough to destroy zombies' brains with an M9 Pistol!" Erika dissents.
"Listen here Erika, I know you wanted to protect your brother from both the zombies and Young Templars but you cannot leave the safe zone yet. First, you are still twelve years old. Second, you did not receive any combat or survival training yet. Hence, you may not survive long enough in infected zones and become an easy target for Young Templars to capture you. Once they capture you, you will disappear with them and we have no other means to rescue you." Eleanora tries to reason with Erika not to join the upcoming military operation with his brother.
Eleanora's reasoning finally convinces Erika not to join his brother in the upcoming military operation, and she agrees to stop pestering Kodey again. Relieved that Erika fully understood the risks of going outside the safe zone, Eleanora pats Erika's head lovingly. "Good girl," Eleanora says in a doting voice. "You will get your chance to fight the zombies and Young Templars one day. Once you reach 13, you can enlist yourself in the young cadet program conducted by the New York National Guard. They will train you with both proper soldering and surviving skills before becoming a full-time US soldier." .
"Will I get the chance to learn how to fight Young Templars?" Erika asks. "Yes Erika, they will train you how to combat Young Templars," Eleanora reassures. "Don't worry. Your birthday is on December 28, so you will hit 13 soon enough." With her birthday arriving soon, Erika's eyes gleam with excitement. "I can't wait to have a Chocolate Fudge Cake for my birthday! Don't forget to buy one for me, mom." Erika reminds Eleanora. "I will honor my word, so don't worry," Eleanora replies in a soothing voice. "Alright, I need to go now. I have an upcoming officers' meeting at 1430 hours, and I will only see you later at home, around 2100 hours tonight. Please be nice to one another until then." Both Kodey and Erika nod in acknowledgment, which gives a sense of relief to Eleanora. Then she pats both of her adopted children before bidding them goodbye.
As she heads for the meeting place, she sees several young children playing on the nearby playground, having fun among themselves. The sight of young children playing happily with one another makes 1st-Lieutenant Freida feel happy for them, but she has a worrying thought — What if Young Templars capture them? The thought of Young Templars worries Eleanora further as she knows that an attack on the safe zone would jeopardize the safety of these children. She knows that the Young Templars can destroy the entire Grand Isle Safe Zone using zombies and modern military weaponry. Also, she fears they will kill all the adults and capture all the young children instead. Hence, she hopes that the zombie apocalypse can end soon so that the young children would no longer face the terror of Young Templars and live a better life.
Planning Room, New York National Guard Headquarters, Military District, Grand Isle Safe Zone, Grand Isle, Vermont, USA, 7 November 2020, 1430 hrs
Upon entering the room, 1st-Lieutenant Freida joins several officers standing beside an operation planning table before the meeting starts.
"Attention!" One of the National Guard officers yells out when he observes multiple high-ranking officers coming into the room. Immediately, all the low-ranking officers stop discussing and turn their attention toward the high-ranking officers with a salute. "At ease, everyone." Brigadier General William Biggs orders all the officers to stand down with their hands behind their backs. All the officers hear the brigadier general's order and stand at ease before William turns his face to Major Steve Diaz for answers. "Major Diaz, how's the situation recently? Is the Safe Zone under threat?"
"Sir, the situation near our safe zone is not good." Steve begins his briefing. "Two weeks ago, the 3rd Squadron of the 95th Cavalry Regiment from the 85th Operational Surveillance Brigade had conducted several reconnaissance and surveillance missions on the nearby cities of Plattsburgh and Burlington. This is what they found based on their surveillance report." Steve opens up the report file on the operation planning table for the brigadier general to see. A shocked face appears on William as he flips through the report. "What is the meaning of this, Major Diaz?" William stares at Steve with both his eyes and mouth wide open.
"Based on the details of the report, we sighted Young Templars in these two nearby cities. Also, our reconnaissance units even spotted armored cars and tanks with Young Templars' markings on them. In addition, they also found several squadrons of AC-130s and A-10s parked at the Plattsburgh International Airport. With these pieces of information, we suspect they are planning to attack our safe zone in the coming weeks." Steve informs William about the deteriorating situation based on the report. Out of nowhere, Brigadier General Biggs slams the table with his fist in frustration. He was furious that Young Templars had set up bases near the safe zone and may launch an attack.
"Sir! Is everything alright?" Steve asks the brigadier general with concern. "It's alright Major, everything's fine," William assures the worrying Major. "I can't believe these fake medieval cosplaying teenagers would dare to attack us. Ever since they appeared last month, they attacked multiple fortified safe zones in the entire country. First, they destroy both the Lyme and Grindstone Island Safe Zone. Now they are planning to attack our safe zone! Fuck them!" William curses before facing Steve. "Major Diaz, is the Grand Isle Safe Zone the only one left standing in New York State?"
"I'm afraid so, sir." Steve's voice edged with fear as he informed William. "We are the only safe zone in New York State, while there are no safe zones in the neighboring states of Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania." Steve pauses before adding on. "I think we are the only surviving US military troops in the North-Eastern region of the USA. So here are the options we can do right now: First, we can fight the Young Templars head-on, but we will incur heavy losses on our personnel and civilians. Second, we can surrender to the Young Templars. Third, we leave the safe zone and head to the Western side of the USA where we head to potential safe zones that are still functioning." .
"Wait, are you saying there are other safe zones in other parts of the country, Major?" An astounding William asks Steve. "That's correct, sir. On the Western side of the continental US, we conducted some searches, and we found several human movements in cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Denver based on our military satellites." Steve says that surprised William. "That's impossible," William says in disbelief. "I remembered these cities had fallen to the zombies, based on the last message issued by the North Command at the start of July this year." .
"Not true, sir. We have double-checked on these cities by observing them for a few days, and here are the images we captured so far." Steve takes out several pictures from a report file and lays them on the table. "Based on the pictures, we spotted several vehicle movements on the roads. Some of these vehicles resemble US military tanks and armored vehicles. In addition, we spotted several military tents in the stadiums as well." These revelations surprised William as he wondered how these cities were still functioning despite being declared overrun by zombies. 'If these cities were still safe from zombies and the Young Templars, why didn't they send a single message to any of us?' William thought as he felt something fishy going on.
"Colonel Ruiz, is there any order coming from the North Command or Strategic Command Authority (SCA) so far?" William queries. "No sir. Neither did we receive any new order from them, nor was there any communication coming from official military broadcasting channels." A Colonel named Ryan Ruiz answers. Upon hearing Colonel Ruiz's reply, William grumbles in discontent as he knows there are no nearby US military units to assist them if they attack Young Templars' military bases. Worst, the entire population of the safe zone would be at risk since they lack the personnel for defense should they attack the Young Templars. Not wanting to risk civilians getting killed by either zombies or the Young Templars, Brigadier General Biggs thinks it's better to move to one of the Western US states for refuge. "Alright. After considering long enough, we will evacuate everyone from here in two weeks and move towards the West Side of the US." William announces his decision, which surprises everyone.
"I can understand all of you are wondering why we had to leave this place," Williams says as he looks at his officers. "Since we lack the personnel and no friendly units stationed nearby to defend us during military operations, we will look for a new safe zone to settle down before sending a team to investigate the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Denver." Then Brigadier General Biggs looks at Ryan and instructs him, "Colonel Ruiz, I want you to be in charge of the preparations for our departure in two weeks and inform everyone in the safe zone about our upcoming departure." .
"Yes, sir." Ryan acknowledges and salutes back at William. "Major Diaz, I want you to find me some potential safe zones in the Western side of the US within 48 hrs. Me and Colonel Ruiz will head down to your office, and you will brief us on where we should move to our new safe zone." William instructs Steve before the Major salutes back in acknowledgment. With the instructions passed down to his subordinate officers, William issues one last order before ending the meeting — "So everything's settled then. From now on, please refer to Colonel Ruiz for further instructions on what to do for the upcoming departure from the safe zone. Other than that, the meeting is over, and all of you are free to go." .
As the officers leave the planning room, 1st-Lieutenant Freida hopes that whatever she hears during the meeting is true and there is a future for her adopted children.
Alpha Checkpoint, US Route 2, North Hero, Vermont, USA, 8 November 2020, 0000 hrs
Several hours later...
It is midnight, and the dense white fog covers the Alburg Passage. The thick fog covered the bridge of US Route 2 entirely so that even nearby US soldiers couldn't see anything through. "Damn! The fog tonight is so dense that we can't see the bridge well. Usually, we can see the bridge through the fog." A US soldier tells his watch buddy while looking from the watchtower. "Yeah. We can't see through the fog with our equipment. Hence, we can only raise the alarm if we spot something suspicious." The US soldier's watch buddy remarks back.
Unknown to US soldiers guarding the Alpha checkpoint, the thick fog covering the bridge is actually a cover for Young Templars to deploy one of the most feared Bio-weapon, Grudgies. To deploy these bio-weapons, the Young Templars's Bio-handlers of the 26th Bio-Warfare Company will deploy them from the large military crates. As the bio-handlers carefully placed them on the bridge undetected, they were careful not to disturb the Grudgies stored inside. A single mistake could awaken these horrifying creatures and slaughter every bio-handlers on the bridge.
"Time's up, pathetic humans. You will suffer the consequences of associating with NewLife Pharmaceuticals." Sally mutters in excitement, as she taps her Young Templars' Ballistic Facemask to activate the thermal imaging mode, "This is Sharp Hawk, going focus." .
To be continued...
End of Chapter 2
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