Posts Tagged ‘Alcatraz’

A pair of light blue eyes peered from a corner of the window on the apartment of a brick building overlooking an alley. In the past this would have been considered a crappy apartment. Who wants to overlook an alley and the brickwork of the opposite window, a cramped apartment with stained carpet and water damaged ceiling. When the plumbing had run Steven2 was certain that it used to leak, but months of neglect have led the plumbing to seize up and he gathered fresh water from other sources, including the water catcher system he had rigged on the roof. In general the room had a musty smell to it though he had carefully cleaned out anything that could rot or spoil and make him sick. The area had been relatively zee free for over a month and Steven2 had settled into the apartment without too much trouble. All the easy pickings had been combed over so raiders had moved on from the area. What were left were scraps and parts and this Steve2 had reveled in. What others saw as junk or scrap he had seen as possibilities. As the last man standing in the area, Steven had been living as a relative king in comfort, well fed, warm and dry. The only off setting environmental factor in the area had been the absolute silence. Other than the sound of birds there were relatively few animals left in the area, though the last few weeks had seen some start to creep in, from deer to domesticated pets gone feral. The car crash had startled him as it had been more noise than he had heard in weeks.

“Weeks, make that months?” Jonathan’s voice echoed in the room. He had grown accustom to the voice of his friend, a disembodied reminder of past regret. Steven2 ignored Jonathan for the moment and pushed upwards against the wall to peer down again at the alley. The terrified looking woman was hiding behind a dumpster at the dead end. His hand reached up to push the black baseball cap on his head to swivel it around backwards. He only recently found a store that had been pilfered but still contained a few articles of clothing that hadn’t been rain damaged. Forget diamonds, a baseball cap that protects your eyes from the sun when you are lining up a shot is worth far more. Steven2 scowled as masked figures poured into the alleyway. That was unusual. From all the strange things he had witnessed over the last year, rejects from a bad fantasy movie was not among them. Who could these freaks possibly be and what was their connection to the woman? He stayed silent watching as the one approached the dumpster and discovered the woman. A brief exchange followed with the slamming of the butt of his weapon into her face. She sprawled backwards, hit the wall behind her and crumpled to the pavement.

“You just going to sit here watching?” Jonathan’s tone was more urgent this time. Again Steven2 made no response. He had finally set up a shelter that was secure and if he was alone it was by personal choice. The silence had not been all that disquieting. There was something pleasant about waking up to bird song and not traffic every morning. If he really wanted to talk to someone there was Jonathan. There were plenty of gatherings he could have joined but this was safer, for him and for others. “Bullshit! You’re just enjoying the self pity.” Jonathan’s tone was full of accusation tinged with anger.

“Look Steve? What happened with me sucked right? If we could change the past we would, but right now there’s someone out there who needs your help. Stop using me as an excuse to do nothing. There’s no way a dude in black robes means rainbows, puppies and shit. If not for you, do this one for me.”

Steven2 scowled slightly and finally responded in a gravely tone. “Fuck you Jon.” His eyes flickered to the travel pack that was always kept placed by the door. Weapons, ammo, several says supplies and basic tools. His bike is safely stored not far from here. An inner panic had always kept plans for being immediately mobile. Again in the past survival training would have kept him in a relatively small location so that he could be easily located by rescue parties. All training he endured had been modified to deal with a change in goals. Quick, quiet and mobile were the keys to surviving both zees, and raiders. Now he got to add robed freaks to the list. Eyes returned to the alleyway where the biggest figure was picking up the girl to carry her off. She must be still alive? Distracted Steven2 reflected on how the outburst to Jonathan was the first time he had spoken aloud in weeks. His own voice was becoming unfamiliar to him.

“Yeah you’re sort of losing it out here Steve. Too little human contact and all, you know better.” The ghost of Jonathan was being a real know it all prick lately. Steven2 grimaced and rolled away from the window heading for the door. There was too many of them to rescue the civilian in a sudden surprise attack. He was going to have to follow them and hope they stop some place tonight where he could plan a rescue. Perhaps sniper action from the dark will help clear them out. If he didn’t take care though they could kill their hostage and move on. Steven2 scowled and shrugged on his jacket before shouldering his pack and picking up his rifle. He hoped he won’t regret this, his eyes scanning the shelter he had created.

“You’ll regret it more if you stay.” Steven2 fingered the room and his companion ghost, the voice in his head that won’t quite go away. Jonathan tended to be quieter when other people were around. Maybe that was why he had isolated himself. Alone he allowed Jonathan to punish him over and over. “Yeah, self pity later – be the hero now. Move it dumb ass!” Steven2’s lips curled up slightly in a grin. His hand rose as he flipped off the room in general and slipped into the hallway to make for the stairs. It was time once more to hunt.

 

EmBot’s head tilted to the side. Nose flared a bit her hands reached out to play with the dials and switches in front of her. “Repeat, repeat the last message.” Static returned to her ears. EmBot frowned darker and hit the auto record play back, listening to the distress call. Her hands dance on the keyboard in front of her with a soft clatter of keys as she entered voice comparison information. It’d been weeks since she heard this voice on the CVC, could this be a false message meant to draw out Chyram or Malkoris from hiding? The readouts came back confirming the voice as Chyram. Shaking her head she punched the dials to put out a call to Terry Fox Elementary only to find static on the line.

“What the hell?” Em’s voice whispered in a scowl before glancing towards her sisters also struggling to reach the signal. “What’s going on?”

“We’re being jammed?” The response was in a tone of disbelief from BethyBot. Alcatraz was being attacked as the nerve center of CVC free communications.

“Someone doesn’t want that message delivered.”

“If they think that’s enough to stop us, then they don’t know Alcatraz very well. Send out the chopper; get the signal beyond the jammer’s reach. Send out soldiers, find the source and shut it down.” Like a hive struck by a stone, Alcatraz erupted in movement as the call left the voice to the brains of the operation. When found, the encampment on the shoreline lit up with fire and bullets until nothing remained and Alcatraz’s signal rang true again.

Three hours had passed by the time EmBot’s voice spoke to Malkoris. The distress call was played for him without missing a single digital note. Seated on the lounge chair he stared sightless at the wall in front of him so that at first he missed EmBot’s encouragement. It was only the repeating of her message that he found direction, “Malkoris we have the exact location of her broadcast. We know where she was taken. There are rumors of trackers, rangers who can follow any track. It’s just rumors passing on the CVC, a long shot, but I can send you information on their location.”

“Do it.” His expression was stone like, frightening the girls in front of him. Of late Terry Fox had grown and there was a grounds keeper of sorts. A quiet man named Tough Hands who kept the grounds zee free. Beebles and Searlait would be safe while he left to find their missing leader, that damned, stupid, stubborn woman.

I felt the sigh leave me more than I heard it. That sensation as a deep breath fills your chest tightening beneath your ribs before releasing with a rush out from your lips. Such sighs take with them not just air but emotions and thoughts. I spent most of the morning fighting with the sharks and even with FEMA agents about my next move. We had the SUV and it had limited protection. This was the closest I had come to being on Charles tracks, the attack to Bluetone having only been a week before our arrival. I wanted to scream in frustration that we were leaving the area without trying to pick up the tracks. This was my crusade not theirs and yet somehow I had been out voted.

Night Angel had pointed out that the three of us, the sharks and I, were not going to have the fire power or the equipment to take on any encampment of cultists. It didn’t matter to me that he was both logical and correct, or even that he was looking out for my benefit, I was angry. Once again there was going to be a delay and Charles was going to slip out of my grasp. I turned my head to scowl seeing my own reflection in the glass in front of passing buildings half ruined from this plague of death. The helpful suggestions of returning home and appealing to the Raiders or ATCO for support just further numbed me. As much as it pained me to admit it, this had become a matter of pride for me. My thirst for vengeance had turned this fight personal between me and Charles with the irony being he likely didn’t even remember me.

My chest ached, a dull pain from the shout trapped in my lungs. It hadn’t mattered how much I argued, or even when I shouted. In fact when I turned around and punched one of the sharks in the nose they just lost patience with me. The two brutes were taking their obligation to protect me very serious. The one cradled his nose between his hands while the other picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. I was unceremoniously carried to the SUV and dumped into the back seat. And now we drove in silence, me sulking like a child in the back.

Why was I responding this way? Sure I had known a few who died because of Charles but likely he killed many others I didn’t know. It just bothered me to think that madness was running rampant out there threatening the fragile existence of who was left. On top of that I had spent months just fighting with other survivors to convince them that there even was a threat. Nobody wanted to hear the truth anymore. Life had been so hard of late and there had been so many tears shed for the dead both when they passed and when they were put down, to hear there was another horror was something many could not process. Yet I had known. From the first time that ATCO brought me proof I had believed without question.

So why was I so eager to believe in this threat from the start? Perhaps it was the dead that drove me into this cause. Surrounded by the zees on all sides and protecting such a small group I had felt helpless. Fighting as we did Malkoris, Beebles and I could only make a small dent in the dead and it was a drop in a bucket that never stopped filling. They say every little bit helps but in this case our help in clearing the world of zeedom didn’t seem to make a difference. It was a repeating process each day, worrying about infection, killing what was dead and hoping to have enough to fill our bellies. I needed Charles to be real. I needed a cause I could fight against, and for the first time I realized I had been a fraud all this time.

I lied to people when I told them that there was something more frightening than the zees out there. I lied when I told them how scary the Cult truly was, because somehow I was not afraid of Charles or his minions. I felt very comfortable fighting him because no matter how bat shit insane he was, Charles was a man. And in the end he would have the motives, reactions and needs of a man. That was why I had picked up this mantle and been eager to fight him. On some level I was running away from the zees to fight something familiar, a person. I was tired of being afraid of death and wanted to kill the living because somehow that felt cleaner.

I felt my stomach twist a bit at the sickness there in that thought. How I hated the dead, the zees that had invaded my world. Oh I could mimic the arguments of so many others and tell you how they were not really dead, but just meat puppets for another living organism. I could mouth the sympathy and sounds of pain about the suffering of victims in this plague but it was all faked. I hated them. I hated the clouded eyes, and their gargled sounds. I hated their stiff movements and the gapping motions of their mouths as they reached with twisted limbs for my flesh. My skin crawled to think about them and more than once I woke up screaming into my pillow because even in my sleep I was too afraid to make sounds that might attract them. Each time I killed one I didn’t take satisfaction but just additional horror that they dared to mimic humanity in their gory forms.

Charles was the cleaner kill, insanity on a human level. I wanted to kill him just to feel somehow normal again even though before this plague I had never harmed another living soul. I brought my elbow up to rest on the door and put my hand over my eyes to hide my face from the sharks. I didn’t want them to see tears as I mourned that another piece of me had been truly broken. I’ll never get back the person I was but if I was going to bury who I was I’d be reborn into something stronger. Like tempered steel, I was ready to move from the flames and my tears were like that water cooling my form.

I didn’t register the crack of the shot until after the SUV veered off the road and into the front of a store. A second shot rang out even as the shark on the front passenger side moved to scramble out. I saw his brain matter hit the glass of the window behind him on the door before his form crumpled. Sucking in breath I reached forward for the driver to shake his shoulder. My hand felt the warmth and wetness of his blood and saw then that he had taken the first hit. Confusion froze me for a moment; the SUV was supposed to be bullet proof? This couldn’t be happening!

I twisted in my seat looking out the back window. From across the street I could see figures, two, no three; each dressed in a long draped robe. One of them carried what appeared to be a rifle of some sort with a scope. My hand dropped down to the bag beside me to pull out the gun on hand. Aiming for the bullet hole that had weaken the glass I fired a few quick rounds and then scrambled to the front seats. My foot came up to kick at the glass pushing it out before I crawled out over the hood. My hands and knees were cut up by the broken glass as I rushed off the SUV and into the store, gun in hand, running.

The sound of my gun had bought me a bit of time as the Cultists took cover before rushing into the building. I had made it to the back of the store and out into the alley before they had regrouped. Looking to the left I ran, moving until I ducked behind some dumpsters. I could see I had boxed myself in and there was no where I could run. Why wasn’t I dead? I should be dead! They took out both sharks without being seen but somehow fate or luck still favored me and I was relatively untouched. Only this time perhaps much darker forces were keeping me alive.

Shaking my hand moved to the back pocket of my jeans to bring out the ear piece I had there. It had been a long time since I broadcast on the CVC. Knowing the Cult had been monitoring the CVC I had largely abandon those channels the last few weeks. Pushing the piece into my ear and turning it on and I broke into a speech, “Chyram calling out there. Calling to anyone listening! The fish are down. Repeat the fish are down and I’m trapped. The robes are here and they are coming. Repeat they are coming and I will hold out as long as I can. This is Chyram calling, if anyone is local, contact Alcatraz, pass the word. Make sure that Alcatraz hears, this is Chyram and I’m being taken by the robes. Make sure that Malkoris,” I looked up into the hooded face of a man with a white painted skull across his expression. He grinned at me and briefly my thoughts focused on the fact that he needed to brush his teeth. The rotten appearance of his mouth suited the sour smells from the dumpster I had taken refuge behind. Frozen in place I could only stare as he brought up the rifle butt and smashed it into my face. Everything went black.

I drove the SUV down the block to where the streets were barricaded. My trip home was looking near impossible to me at this point. I had no further clues on the central location of the cultists, nor what they truly wanted other than to kill people and turn them into zees. All information I had led to a dead end which at that moment struck me as rather morbid humor causing me to laugh. I turned off the SUV to preserve the gas and tilted my chair back to stare up at the ceiling of the vehicle. Home was the only place I could go and that was a full country and a bit from here, near the Canada USA border on the Canadian side. Between me stood around two thousand miles of infested territory and hostiles, some human and some government.  At this point I was no longer counting the Green Zone as a part of humanity but rather something else entirely. Reports from my ear piece were chiming in about attacks from some military group called Paladin but I had yet to get a firm fix on that story.

As I lay there a fist in a thick glove tapped against the glass startling me and from the other side a familiar face grinned down at me. Tenda Foot, a wandering do-gooder who had a habit of showing up where I least expected him, seemed to have crossed my trail once again. I used the clicker to unlock the SUV and he walked around to the other side to climb into the passenger side. “Think you’ll find any universal answers on the ceiling?” His humor was not something I was in the mood to share.

“Maybe if I saw the stars I could. All I see right now is that blood spatter stain which gives me a pretty good idea of what happened to the previous owner.” I made a face after my own statement.

“Well aren’t we all sunshine and puppy dog tails today? What’s the matter, you didn’t get enough angst out shooting an Algiers Point member?”

My eyes widen in shock and I gasped out in response, “what no? I didn’t shoot one of them. It was a damn cultist, right there. You think I’m totally crazy?”

“I kind of figured the radio hype couldn’t be correct, not with you a few blocks from their safe house still in one piece. I mean don’t get me wrong, you’re a decent shot, but there’s more of them and I’m betting some of them are better. And no not totally, just crazy enough to be on the other side of a country from where you should be. How is Terry Fox making out at this point?” His eyes regarded me in seriousness and I was reminded that in Alcatraz he did speak up to help them create their defenses.

“They’re doing alright. Keeping their heads down at the moment though after what I did we might get hit pretty hard.” I felt a pang of worry in my chest, a dull ache that was constantly there flared up some. That pain had been constant since the outbreak and most of the time I did not even notice it anymore.

“Alright, maybe I’ll speak to some people and see that your borders are watched. I think Algiers will play pretty close to the vest on what happened. Maybe even try to pass it off as an accident.” Tenda Foot’s words were reassuring. Perhaps I had not burned all my bridges back at the Algiers Point safe house.

“How did you even know I was here?”

“You mean besides for the CVC News erupting over you shooting one of the peacekeepers? Lady named puggamoo got in touch with me. She’s one of them you know, an Algiers Point member. Originally she was looking for someone to come in and help with a problem she’s facing at the safe house she was sent to. When she found out that I knew you, well she told me what really happened. And then she sent me off to find you. Look, pug’s facing an issue at The Colony but she can’t act. She has to stay neutral in the affair and she needs an outsider to come in and give her a hand only without any official connections. I can’t do it for her because nobody will believe I wasn’t sanctioned to act. But everyone’s hearing rumors about you now. You go in there and help her out; nobody will believe that you were acting on an Algiers Point member’s behalf.” Tenda Foot might have a point but that didn’t necessarily mean I was eager to go fight other people’s battles. Didn’t they realize I had just started one of my own? One that was already so big I was at a loss as to where to start.

“Tenda I’ve never turned down helping someone before, but I still have to figure out how to get home. And besides, I have no idea what that problem is about. I thought that Algiers Point handle things without violence?”

“Normally so, but this is a problem she figured you’d have a real interest in. puggamoo thinks it’s a cult sighting, only she can’t prove it. And let’s face it Chy, you’re getting to be as close to an expert as we have on this matter.”

He had me at the word cult. As much as I ached to be home, and I missed Malkoris, Beebles and Searlait someone was pointing out to me a trail to follow. On the slimmest of chances that puggamoo was correct I had to go to The Colony. “Alright,” I said as I grabbed my map out of the glove box, reaching across Tenda Foot, “show me where I’m heading.”

It was not easy to reach Algiers Point from Alcatraz. Not only was I facing distance, a lack of transportation but miles unprotected from the undead. Alcatraz was willing to help to a point. They had already lost a helicopter in a tragic accident that resulted in loss of life, equipment and an unleashing of some Monty Python like version of hell on earth: killer bunnies. It took some convincing before they were willing to take me part way in a helicopter so that I got a good distance from where I started. Thankful to not be travelling by boat, as I had previously demonstrated that I was not as skilled at doing so as I had hoped, I found myself on foot left in a clearing with still days of walking to do. Some searching led to finding an SUV with gas still in it and I made good time avoiding the major cities and their infestations. It bothered me to think of how many safe houses I was missing along the way and the people who might have helped me or whom I might have helped. People needed to be warned about this cult and yet I had no time if I wanted to get ahead of them and find the source. My only saving grace was that Searlait was certain the cult did not directly know of Terry Fox yet and that it had been more by accident that she and the cultist zealot had stumbled into us earlier. Malkoris was leading the others to keep quiet and hidden for now, working on our defenses so that we could withstand any direct attacks or at least have a fighting chance.

When I arrived at Algiers Point I could already see that the New Orleans safe house was used to surviving, overcoming and rebuilding from disasters. The zee outbreak did not affect the weather and I questioned living in such a volatile area that would give additional grief to deal with. However, I was not here to criticize but to seek information and possible guidance. Algier’s Point was an old neighborhood before the zee outbreak, and the old houses were mostly intact which was uncommon for many of the areas that had been ravaged by the disease. The safe house was located in a single block centered on Elmira. Several multi-family homes had been enclosed in fencing and connected through walkways above ground using second story windows. The inhabitants had taken great pains to keep the functional structure of the walkways while incorporating the elegance of the housing.  In essence despite knowing better it appeared to me as if those walkways belonged there originally. The front gate was guarded at all times and it was a young man named Shado Rei who met me. Shado Rei was dressed curious for those I had become accustom to. Rather than fatigues or surplus army gear he wore a simple white shirt and white slacks. His feet had sandals, and though he had an impressive gun at his side Shado Rei gave off an impression almost spiritual or worldly in nature.

I greeted him, and gave my name to which he responded, “We were contacted to expect you though I had my doubts that you would be able to manage the trip given the distance. Please come in so I can seal the gate behind you.”

I followed the young man in and observed that another took his place at the gate while dressed in a similar fashion. “I can’t help but notice that you’re all dressed pretty formal, or maybe casual given the circumstances.” Inwardly I was fighting off scoffing what appeared to be inappropriate attire.

Shado Rei gave me a smile that was both patient and amused, “I would have to guess that you have never gone through the heat of a New Orleans summer. This uniform if I can call it that is not only practical with the heat but quickly shows if any of us are bitten or hit with any blood splatter. It also keeps us standing out among the other safe houses so that everyone is clear as to who we are given our current role in society.” We entered the front doors and I was struck by the vision of art that lined the walls. It was if I had walked into a rich man’s house that was overly eager to impress me with the vast wealth he had collected. Shado Rei noticed I had stopped following him and turned to see where my attention had gone, “yes the art. We’re in the process of trying to collect and preserve what we can from national archives that are exposed right now from the outbreak. It’s been a slow process but our archivists are confident we will make solid strides in protecting our national heritage.”

“So that’s the goal of your house then? You see your role as protectors of what used to be?” What use was this; I could not help myself from wondering. It was a noble gesture sure, but right now we had to fight just to survive until tomorrow.

“Our goals are more long term than most,” Shado Rei explained. “We’re attempting to form a true neutral house. In affect we are a house that can mediate between the disputes of other houses and find peaceful resolutions to prevent our fellow survivors from resorting to violence. Many of the pieces you see here have come from other safe houses delivering to us for safe keeping. It is a good way to unite those who don’t share other common interests.”

I tried to refrain from feeling offended at the suggestion that they alone were achieving this affect. Was not my work in seeking to spread information and find the source of the new threat much the same? I had to fight down the sensation that the house had an air of superiority to my eyes. Perhaps it was not really the work that the house was doing but that their actions mirrored mine while their numbers were much greater. I did not begrudge them this fact even if part of me felt a grumble inside. It was a lot of noise, but I still was not aware of what real actions they were taking beyond the art.

We passed a room where I could see several people dressed in white seated around chairs. They were having an intense argument of some sort with a very civilized appearance. As we walked on I bumped into a man who was approaching that room. chas928, a man in a striking military cut version of the white garment had been looking over notes and neither of us had seen each other when we bumped. His notes scattered on the ground and I apologized as I helped to gather them up. His eyes sharply looked me over before rubbing at his chin, the man responded, “Yes Chyram. I’ve heard of you. Even looked over some of what you had to offer. It’s all quite rubbish and a waste of time and pursuit. You’ve brought nothing new to the table yet, but perhaps you will show promise in the future. I hope you are not considering providing an application quite yet?”

Startled my gaze flickered from chas to Shado Rei before I answered, “no actually I came here to request assistance.”

“Rightly so, I would think you need it. However I do not have time for you. I’m certain that Shado Rei will see to it that you’re in contact with the appropriate parties.” He entered the room dismissing me and I turned, jaw dropping a bit to look at Shado Rei.

I saw a hint of flickering humor in Shado Rei’s face as he responded, “that is chas. He is a master at debating. In fact some of our scholars are ranked by number.”

Struggling to come to grips I muttered out, “928 debates won? He certainly is a master at debating. I don’t think I have his patience or that I’m nearly in his league for such circles of logic.” Shaking my head in wonderment at the fact that humanity still had people able to devote themselves to such pursuits in the wake of the zees I continued to follow Shado Rei before being taken to a room where another small group gathered.

I sat down in the back with Shado Rei and whispered, “So you’re a group of intellectuals really. Scholars, like an ancient version of a university recreated.”

Shado Rei hesitated before nodding his head and murmuring back, “I suppose that could be one interpretation, but our main focus is in our peace keeping work among the safe houses. We are often called in to settle disputes among the minor houses and even some of the major houses are starting to request our input and negotiations.”

My eyes turned to the far side of the room where the curtain pulled back and an Algiers Point woman appeared on stage. She opened her mouth and started to sing and I felt tears in my eyes. We had made such efforts to be quiet and not attract attention that I often had to forsake song and music to keep safe. I had never been a fan of opera before the outbreak, but to hear the pure joy leave this woman’s lips stirred my soul. For a moment I understood everything and knew that I knew nothing. Her song ended and there was polite clapping within the room. My own was less restrained and received a few amused glances from those in white.

Next to appear was a man who stepped out onto the stage. Immediately my skin crawled, though I was unable to pinpoint why. He had no appearance of sickness or plague, though his skin was unnaturally white to my eyes. He was dressed in darker clothes unlike the others in the room marking him as much an outsider as me. Opening his mouth brought forth another song, but this one sang with corruption. It was not the voice nor the tune but the words. I felt my stomach twist in discomfort as I took in what was being said. I was seeing a corrupter, here in the middle of Algiers Point. A dark stain among the white cloth and yet none about me showed discomfort or displeasure. Instead there was a polite interest with guarded expressions. I knew then that I was looking at a cultist. And what was more alarming was that Algiers Point members likely knew it as well.

The phrase caught my attention, “I can go out with a bang!” and I leaped to my feet. My gun was in my hand before I fully was aware of my intentions pointing at the singer. In response to my actions, the man’s face twisted into a gruesome grimace of a smirk and he bared his teeth at me in a biting like motion. The action triggered my already tense nerves and I fired in cold blood upon the unarmed man hitting him square in the center of his chest. The room erupted in screams and movement as some members fled the room while others drew their weapons on me. Shaken I stood there, my gun still in hand pointing at the stage.

Shado Rei gently reached out and took the gun from my hand. I started to babble, “You don’t understand. That man was here to kill you, to kill you all. You don’t know who he is or what he’s here for.”

My voice was cut short by a firm tone whose youth was in the voice though the maturity shine in his eyes, “Ms. Chyram we are fully aware that he is, or rather was a member of the same cult you are seeking out. We pride ourselves on being neutral on all houses, even those who are unorthodox in their approach to save humanity.”

I stared at the speaker, “he had no interest in saving you or anyone else. They want us all to be dead. Who knows how many safe houses they have already wiped out and if they get a foot in here, a safe house that others are leaning on for support do you have any idea of the damage that will cause?”

The young man shook his head at me and responded, “I am fully aware of both their designs and have no intention of allowing that to happen. We had hoped to learn more about the group, and perhaps even get an idea as to where they are located, but that’s not likely going to happen from his corpse is it? Even should he rise back up.” The reproach in the tone cut me to the bone and my face flushed in shame. His eyes turned to Shado Rei, “you were responsible for this guest. I am also aware of her goals, and while they are similar to our own, she is clearly over eager, and overly hasty in her responses. Get her out of my house, now.” Shado Rei’s hand came down upon my shouldered to guide me out of the room.

I was still shaking by the time I was led to the front door where Shado Rei handed me back my own gun. In a quiet voice he spoke to me, “our leader needs to make our policies clear. We are strictly neutral with all safe houses, though occasionally members struggle with that neutrality. When you need help, or when we learn information it will be sent to you. However due to your actions it will likely be some time before we can learn more to assist with fighting this threat.”

I felt my eyes fill with tears as I stumbled out the front door and headed for the SUV. Had I come all this way for nothing? Had I made allies or enemies with Algiers Point? Worse, had I somehow put them in danger by my actions? Was my actions even justified? For the first time I had killed a man who did not directly threaten me with a weapon. At that moment, as I started up the SUV it occurred to me. Terry Fox has gone to war and picked a side. It was time to gather strong allies who were committed to fight against this threat and not stand on the side lines. Of course all that assumed I could get back home in one piece uninfected.

Cult Member’s Song:

  • Safe House: Algiers Point
  • CVC Level: 7
  • Current Recorded Members: 111
  • Overall Opinion: My opinion on Algiers Point is complicated. Personally I would not join them, as I would question if I was welcome by all the members and I have no need or wish to cause waves. That being said I would recommend them to others without hesitation. They have an extremely active blog site with information. If you are a member and signed up to get email updates you will be notified swiftly of any hordes that appear. Often their website gives me information or points of view I hadn’t considered. I would recommend browsing their site for game tips and hints. Of all the safe houses they are the only ones I’ve seen attempt with as I understand it some success to have an actual book club where the members gather together to chat in a chat room and discuss what they read. However successful it is, the fact that they are going to that effort speaks well of the members. I’ve made more than a few friends in Algiers Point and I’m fond of a great number of their membership. They have a written policy to not cause drama and urge their members to keep from doing so in Global Chat. I’ve seen a few members who have not respected that policy, but the majority do, and more than a few go out of their way to help new people to the game so this safe house has a great deal of respect from me.
  • Communication: Palringo Room (Contact within CVC or Forums for exact locations), Safe House Chat, CVC Global Chat for Safe House invites (1/2 fees when invited), Please Stay Calm Forums, Algiers Point Blog

“I’m so fucked,” I groaned beneath my breath, looking at my location. Of all the stupid things I have done and all the incredible risks, this is hands down the worst one. And I saw no way out of it. I stood in a boat, not much more than a metal rowboat with an engine, holding my baseball bat. In the water, all around me zees broke the surface and submerged. Those not yet completely rotten were seeking to climb into the boat, to get their teeth and bony finger claws into my flesh. I swung my bat out, cracking into another soggy head of a zee that clung to the boat’s side. If they capsized me and took me into the water, I was not going to surface again. About me, I could see sharks feasting on the dead and the dead attacking the sharks. The water was cold, making certain that if the zees did not kill me, the environment would. Around me, a thick fog confused my location and there was a sharp cold wind off the water. I was half drowned in my appearance, shivering and numb. I was going to die out here in the water and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Days ago, Searlait, a young woman, came to Terry Fox with another. The goal of the two women was to infect the male inhabitants of Terry Fox and likely myself as a leader. Beebles would have been safe to drag back to the cult and used for future recruiting. It seemed that young women were thought of as easy subjects to get into unsuspecting safe houses for the cult to spread their influence. Searlait had only been a prisoner of the cult for a few weeks. Her own family had been taken when their former safe house was purged. The males were taken into several large vans, infected, and left to turn into zees. Cult leaders dressed in black robes with their faces covered directed the proceedings. She had seen the leader, but because of the robes, Searlait was not sure if it was a man or a woman, only she was sure that the newly collected zees were being kept in mobile vehicles for transportation. Shock troops when needed. Her father’s last words to her had been, “Survive. Do what you have to do. Play their game, pretend to be one of them and the first chance you get, you run. You run so far that you leave this entirely behind. Stay safe and stay alive.” And that is what she had done until coming in a recruitment phase to Terry Fox. When that needle came out and she realized that it would be her turn to demonstrate how “safe” the “cure” was, she ran, straight into our arms and our protection. From the conflict I had a vial mostly depleted of the poison that was being used.

I took it straight to Rite Aid to start. While I did not expect the near dead to have the resources to research the concoction, I wanted protection to get to ATCO where there would be such aid. A new member of Rite Aid advised me on a different path. HBells, a woman who once was beautiful before the process of near death had turned her features into a ghoulish form, suggested I head instead to Alcatraz. Her claims were that I would find an island full of military and civilian scientists capable of researching the blackish green goo. ATCO and especially Drachen were not going to be pleased with me. I knew that K1 had been slated to do a lot of this research if it crossed his plate, but I took the advice and headed south instead. CIHUILO of the Sharks gave me a boat, a fitting token from them and I avoided the coast line as much as possible. The major cities were still hubs of undead and too dangerous to have crossed on foot.

So it was tragic that I was so close to Alcatraz and had run out of gas for the motor. It was there somewhere in the fog, but I was surrounded by death and growing weaker. The wind picked up and I felt myself sway with the gust. The fog stirred and then cleared and I could see her, dark and low on the water, the backdrop of the city behind the island. Alcatraz was within reach and I could not touch her. My hands, numbed, dropped my bat into the bottom of the boat and I dove into the locker at the front for the flare gun. It was a one in a million chance that would draw the attention of all undead eyes in the water towards me. It did not matter: Both ways I was likely dead, and a slim chance was better than no chance. My arm rose up and I fired the flare, watching anxiously for signs of life from the island. I thought I saw something and then the fog rolled back in. Lowering my arm, I looked to see that a rotting woman with a crab clinging to her face had half crawled into the boat. I threw the flare gun at her head and sent her tumbling back into the brink. Grabbing the bat again I stood there waiting. “There’s no going off gently into that good night fuckers,” I muttered under my breath more to cheer myself up than anything else.

Time passed slowly in the fog, but I thought I heard sounds. From the darkness came a light, and voices until I was half blinded. Gun shots rang out hitting the water around me and parts of my own boat. I screamed and then was hit by something, knocking me down. A ladder, rope, had struck me. Looking up, I could see a grinning face of a young man. His eyes gleamed with light that wasn’t human and his hands looked metallic. The other portion of the ladder was being secured by him on the boat that had come for me. “Come on already, you’re going to sink. Get your ass up that ladder, ladeeeeee.” The last word, presumably “lady”, was drawn out as his tongue seemed to lose control of itself and fall forward past his lips. Looking at the young man who now appeared to be sticking his tongue out at me shocked me for a moment, but then my feet started to get wet from the water filling the boat. I snapped out of my stupor, grabbed my bag, and stiffly climbed up the ladder. Repeatedly, I banged against the side of the boat until reaching the edge where two sets of strong arms pulled me onboard.

“Madam, if you will come with me, there is a standard procedure we need to follow in case of infection.” The gentleman addressing me was polite but firm, a no nonsense stiffness that suggested military.

“Who are you people?” I stammered out between shivers. The young man with his tongue still out wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and looked reproachfully at the other gentleman.

“We are the current force holding and maintaining Alcatraz, madam. I am currently in charge of this operation; you may refer to me as Officer Curtis81.”

“Officer; is that a military ranking?” I asked, my eyes flickering back to the young man with the tongue and then Curtis.

“I’m sorry madam but that’s classified. If you will just wait one moment, madam. Weasel! Weasel, get out here.” Another smartly dressed young man appeared in military fatigues. “Weasel, escort our guest to her quarters for the trip back and have the doctor confirm that she is cleared to land on the island. David, get yourself to engineering and get your tongue fixed again. I swear those gear heads cannot keep your cybertronics straight.”

David winked one of his glowing eyes at me and turned to leave. I could hear a slight whirl and grind as he moved machine parts. Weasel started to lead me towards the hatch that would take me to a room. He spoke in a softer tone, “Madam, I’m Gordy. Everyone here calls me Weasel. That was David213, his serial number, 213.”

“He has a serial number?” I asked confused.

“Yes, madam. Before the outbreak, Alcatraz was a center of robotics and cyber-engineering. We assumed you must have known that. Why else are you here?” Gordy’s eyes turned very serious and he was nervously keeping his hand near his gun.

“HBells sent me. She thought you would be able to help.” The name seemed to both relax his shoulders but cause some tension in his expression. An understandable reaction from having a member move from one safe house to another, and I needed to remind myself to be delicate about speaking on it.

I soon found myself in a room waiting for attention. What followed was the standard examination to look for any signs of infection or bites. If anything, the doctor’s hands seemed warm with how chilled my skin had gotten in the boat. By the time the vessel I had been brought onto reached the docks, I had been cleared to land.

There was a gathering of three to meet me, but the woman who spoke was Raikua. “Greetings, I understand you are Chyram from Terry Fox? We have been expecting you.” It was not unbelievable that a message had reached Alcatraz through the CVC of my travels, though we had tried to keep it quiet. We had no way of knowing if the cult were listening into the newsfeed, but rather expected they would be doing so. My confused look however as cleared up when from behind Raikua stepped a face I knew, Tenda Foot.

Raikua brought up a hand smiling to interrupt Tenda Foot from speaking, “Yes, I know you know each other from his ATCO days. But as I understand it, you are carrying a rather dangerous package. If we can handle that matter first, I will see to your other needs.” Gingerly, I held out the bag which had the box the needle had been placed into. Two men rushed off with the bag as Raikua spoke further, “I am Raikua, civil liaison between the military and civilian branch on Alcatraz. You already know Tenda Foot, currently working with our officers in a training program, and this is placekicker82, our chief communication tech. She works with our Bots to keep the backbone of the pirate signal running.”

“You mean the fact that we all can communicate through the CVC is your doing?” My eyes widen in amazement.

“Most assured, we are not the only ones involved, but most of the hardware and the signal jamming come from this facility. It would not be possible for humans to keep up with the changes in the network, so we are using three of our top cyber communication bots to do so. If you will follow me please,” Raikua turned to walk as the other two flanked me.

Tenda Foot muttered beneath his breath to me, “It’s good to see you made it here in one piece. We had been expecting you two days ago. People were starting to take bets on your arrival.”

placekicker82 added a touch smugly, “reminds me Tenda, you owe me 20 credits.” My former ATCO friend made a face but didn’t respond. “The girls and I are fans of your communications, Chyram. We’ve been monitoring your calls, and let me tell you those ones you exchange with Malkoris are…” the look I gave her shut down her comments. I resolved to remember that all communication could be monitored.

Seeing her crushed expression, I responded, “hey placekicker, right? It’s fine. It’s just, you startled me. This wasn’t what I was expecting.” In truth I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. Areas had been cleared for a helicopter landing site. There were three boats that I saw, two on patrol and one at the dock. The buildings had full electric lighting and there were armed guards patrolling the shores. Alcatraz was in lockdown.

We approached the main gate to find a very harassed looking woman waiting. Raikua’s expression turned a bit irritated before responding, “I need to take care of this. Tenda Foot I’ll need you to come with me. placekicker why don’t you show her around in the meantime.”

And that afternoon I was shown many things. The old prisons had been torn apart on the inside and turned into apartments. Shops were converted to mechanic workshops, and the clinic into a full hospital. There were stores which sold items for credits run by civilians and supported and protected by all branches of the military. All military were run under the watch of Curtis with Tenda Foot’s advisement. The civilians were directed by an elected member, currently Raikua who, despite her tone, appeared to have the ear of the people who came to her for advice and mediation on civilian matters. While only one member of a small civilian council, she seemed to have the gift to smooth over difficulties and disagreements between the two halves of the island: The military and the civilians.

Yet it was the technology that interested me. While ATCO might have Alcatraz beat in its military numbers, the military technology clearly belonged to Alcatraz. Advancements in robotics had been able to turn three young women into hubs of information. Their bodies connected with wiring into the mainframe, these three Bots as they were referred to, SuzberryBot, BethyBot and EmBot were always online. How would one describe the constant chaos of sound and voice in their room? Imagine three very excited young women on their first day of college all sharing the same room. Three nonstop talkers exchanging ideas and communications, gossiping about the latest news to pass the lines complete with laughter and giggles in-between. It was infectious to be in that atmosphere and I found myself unable to stop smiling.

I took my dinner in the room with the girls, laughing and talking to them about the things I had seen. Things they would never see as the wiring chained them to a room with no windows. None of them seemed upset by the ordeal. They had a constant cyber connection to the outside and argued they could in an hour see far more than I ever could in a lifetime.  The girls fitted me with an ear bud so that I could always be in contact with the CVC newsfeed and, if I choose, to them. My last frivolous thoughts then were how nice it would be to be able to chat with them on nights when I was out camping alone while patrolling.

When the man in the lab coat cleared his throat at the doorway to draw my attention that eve I knew that reality was settling back in, as was my duty. “Ms. Chyram. I am Moonlite, the chief researcher here at Alcatraz. We need to talk about what you have brought us today.” I heard a thumping sound like drum beats calling to war only to realize that it was the rush and pulse of my own heart beat. One step closer, I followed Moonlite into the hallway. More puzzle pieces to gather together what knowledge I could about this death cult we needed to unite against.

  • Safe House: Alcatraz
  • CVC Level: 7
  • Current Recorded Members: 83
  • Overall Opinion:Where to even start? I started with watching them in the Global Chat. It didn’t take long for me to end up joking with some and sending private messages to others. Many added me to their list of friends for healing and others encouraged and answered game questions I’ve had. The more I got to know them through the Global Chat the more I wanted to write a feature for Alcatraz but I still did not have a full sense of who they are. A few class clowns in Global were all I knew. It was Alcatraz that pushed me into downloading Palringo and brought me into their channel to get to know them. Since that night if I’m on the program I find myself hanging out in their room. The day time crew is friendly and the night time crew (the group I end  up visiting most) is fun to talk to. I’ve been over all impressed with the maturity and fun loving nature of this crowd. They remind me of the big group I used to hang out with in my college days drinking coffee and talking over all manner of things. I’ve even shared with them some of the work I’m doing for future posts which only RA has seen besides and their response, much like RA has been to encourage and to contribute to the task. While they are not yet as organized as some of the other safe houses and their off game communication seem to be limited to their PAL room it is an active room with friendly members. I have yet to appear at any time of day and not find people there who want to chat. They have welcome me and encouraged me to spread out to find more, even suggesting a few safe houses I should look into for future writing. This group has my affection and support as a good gathering of people for those looking for fun and for assistance.
  • Communication: Palringo Room (Contact within CVC or Forums for exact locations), Safe House Chat, CVC Global Chat for Safe House invites (1/2 fees when invited), Please Stay Calm Forums