Zombie Apocalypse Season 1 - Jodi
#31
I'm really digging this, and I thought I'd burned out on zombies a long time ago. There's a somber tone to it that maybe I'm injecting into my reading, and it lacks the melodrama of The Walking Dead, which can't be anything but good.

I also like how you're using the Mythic oracle to handle even things like combat, which is something I never would have considered. Using numeric modifiers to determine the appropriate button when using firearms is a real stroke of genius. I wish I'd thought of it.

As for the font thing, I actually had to scroll back and review just to figure out where it switched out, the change is so subtle. The story part is engaging enough that formatting almost doesn't matter, so long as it's readable.

Looking forward to more!
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#32
Thanks Sam. Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Here's the next one.

Also, here's the link to my Notes Sheet if interested in the main characters etc.

Episode 23: Migration

Jodi eased up on the throttle of the ATV. She studied the road to the military base, Camp Jefferson, from a distance. It had taken them two hours to leave the Jefferson campsite, dropping down in elevation as they took the winding road that moved them out of the foothills. They went slowly so Patch, the horse, could keep up. Then they had turned eastward back to the dirt road intersection. Once there, one left hand turn took them north towards the military base.


Do they meet or see anyone on the way there?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes, but...

Arrive

Disruption

Has their arrival disrupted the plans of another group seeking to raid the military base?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But what? Is the other group violent?

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

Jodi pulls out her binoculars and watches them. 

Are they in or on vehicles?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

...And there's no vehicle in sight behind them. Did their vehicle break down?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Hmmm so they didn't have any vehicles in the first place. They must've been approaching foot when one of the Mom squad spotted them.

Is it overcast?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

On the dirt road, Jodi adjusts the focus, and catches a glimpse of motion in the hills up ahead. She calls a halt, and they all raise weapons and focus in on that area.

Who or what comprises this other group?

Persecute / Enemies

Are they persecuting Jodi's enemies?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Jodi sees they have a man dressed in a military uniform who is tied up. They forced him to kneel and put a barrel to his head.

"What the---?" 

The man in the uniform spits at another man. Jodi searches the uniform and sees it's a make similar to the militia members they had run in before. There's a distinctive arm patch that is the same. Reddish rays spitting upward as if a sun were rising from the horizon. The arm patch was the same as the militia they had overcome at Tanner's Lodge. Above it an eagle it's wings spread wide. They tied up the man. He had a bearded face and a scare across one ear. Jodi frowned. The militia group was larger than just the few men they had encountered at Tanner's Lodge. 

She saw the muzzle flash and the man pitched forward dead. A second later, they heard the tap of the shot echo in the distance. 

How many are in this group 2-6?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Sounds like it's a pretty big group then. But odd that they're all on foot.

Are there more that aren't on foot that just come into view that are part of the same group?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

No, but there are others that are of the same group but are on foot and just come into view. A lot of people then. 

It's a migration! There's much more than 6. Are there more than 100?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

More than 50?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Jodi's binocs swept over the group. It appeared to be a major survivor group, of about 75 people, comprised of men, women, and children.

On a scale of 1-100 how well armed are the people (90+ some of the children are armed with rifles).

49 = 49[d100]

Jodi saw that about half the adults had some sort of weapon, a few had rifles, others had pistols stuck in belts, most had bats, cudgels, spears, or pikes.

The two groups see each other at a distance and both groups stop. 

Jodi sees that the men with rifles jog whatever cover is out here, boulders, scrub trees, and raise their weapons. But they don't appear violent towards Jodi and her people, at least not yet. Jodi knows that they're at the extreme edge of rifle range anyway. For now they're just watching Jodi watch them.

"What do you think," Jodi passes the binoculars to Kristie. 

"They have women and children and they're not shooting at us, that's a good sign."

"They appear to be heading towards the base as well. Of all the bad luck," Catina muttered.

"You think they're looking for shelter?" Lilly asked. She like the others had been watching them through rifle scopes. "The poor children, look at their feet."

"Some don't have shoes," Kristie said. 

Jodi raised her own scope and looked. Sure enough, she saw it now. Patches of snow behind them left bloody prints. The clothes were threadbare and worn.

"What are they hoping to find at the base?" Catina asked.

"They probably think it's full of military supplies. Maybe that man they shot led them to believe that. Maybe they're chasing phantom knowledge. There might be some supplies indoors, but I didn't see anything outside that indicated a supply windfall," Jodi said. "There weren't any pallets or crates or any of that. There were just a few walkers. Military style."

"Where are they coming from?" Ayanna asked.

"I don't know," Jodi said. She studied the route from the north. The bloody trail behind them in the snow stretched to the horizon where a mountain range jutted out of the landscape. It was littered with corpses and baggage of the fallen. "They've been traveling for a long ways. Look at that trail. They're not in good shape and are likely desperate."

"I think we should help them," Lilly said. "The children... you know."

"Maybe," Jodi said. She did want to help. The maternal instinct inside of her longed to help the children, but that was tempered by the knowledge that their own supplies at Tanner's lodge would only feed this group of people for a few days before it completely ran out. Then everyone would be starving. 

She hated this.

"I don't think we should," Catina said with a tight frown. "We have our own problems. We don't have enough supplies to share with such a large group. We'd be doing the same thing they're doing now if we gave away what we have."

"I agree. But I would like to know their story," Jodi said. It was one of the things she hated most, besides the hard decisions that would leave someone to starve. She hated not knowing what was going on.

"That's Risky," Catina said. "They have us outnumbered, you know. You see all those people and weapons. Let's just move on and ignore them."

"I don't think they're looking for a fight," Jodi said. "You can see it on they're faces. They're tired, cold, and hungry."

"Tired or not, they might be desperate enough to do something crazy," Kristie added. "Desperate people do illogical desperate things. I've seen it," her face turned down and anger smoldered behind her black eyes. "Or maybe in their minds, it seems logical. Whatever the case, I'm with Catina. Let's let them be and go get what we were looking for."

"And if they see us moving to the base and they think it has all the supplies in the world?" Jodi asked. "That might trigger the desperate act we're hoping to avoid."

"Then let them go in first," Ayanna said. "They kill the walkers in the base and when they find out there's nothing there they'll leave and we can move in later."

That made some logical sense.

How many children are in the group?

12 = 12[d20]

Jen, who had been silent, spoke up, her eyes were pleading and her hands twisted at one finger of her thin leather gloves. "Can't we help the children? There are only ten."

"I saw twelve," Jodi said with a sigh.

"Honey, I want to help the kids too," Catina said. "But if their parents know we have supplies, who knows what they'll do."

Jodi did a quick calculation and looked at Catina. Twelve more mouths to feed? Could they do it? Some teenagers ate more than some adults though. In the younger ones her mind played tricks on her and she imagined her own daughter's face. Tired. Despondent."

Catina shook her head and Jodi reluctantly nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry, Jen, but we can't take the risk. Your mom is right. There just isn't enough." 

Lilly huffed and turned around. She folded her arms and looking away from the starving group, staring blankly back up in the southern hills where Camp Jefferson was.

Jodi hated to admit it, but this wasn't a world where the compassionate could survive. And yet ... yet Barabara had taken her in. Had shared with her. And what had been Barabara's fate? 

She had died. 

Was that because she had shared her medicine and her food with Jodi? Had Jodi been the parasite that had sucked too much medicine and calories from Barabara's store that when Barbara had fallen ill, she hadn't been able to recover? When Jodi had asked Barabara why she had taken her in, Barbara had just smiled and said with a simple shrug. "You know, 'Inasumuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these...'"

Jodi didn't know. Well, she knew it was a Bible reference. She'd even heard it once when her parents had dragged her to church for a Christmas program. And the preacher had droned on about sharing with the poor and the needy.

But in this dog-eat-dog world, there were only the needy and the more needy. It didn't make sense to deplete yourself. It was the same reasoning her father had taught her when she'd seen news stories about the poor in India, after she had seen children eating with dogs from a dump.

"Why are they so poor daddy?" She had asked him as she played with her Barbie dolls. Ken was making Barbie dinner.

"It's... complicated." Father rustled his newspaper and leaned forward in his easy chair. It creaked when it moved and he raised the remote and turned down the television volume. 

"We aren't poor are we."

"Well... no we're not. Not like that. But we're not rich either."

"But we have food. And I have toys and a stuffed bear and..."

"Yes," we've been blessed with enough food. Her father frowned.

"So can we help them?"

"No."

"But I want to. They can have my candy from my Christmas stocking."

"Honey Bunchers" --that had been his pet name for her-- "there are tens of millions of those poor kids. We could sell our house and everything we owned and we could give one penny to each child and it wouldn't make a difference. Then we'd be poor too."

"But we could help some of them. Five of them."

"Maybe some," her father had said. Then he rose and shut off the TV, giving a mutter about the power on the remote not working. "But we have bills to pay too. We don't have a lot of extra. Plus, we have college to consider and..."

As an adult she knew he father did the best he could but his answer hadn't satisfied her. They had had a large Turkey dinner and she had eaten so much food she could barely move. Yet on the TV children were on the streets begging for food.

Her heart had warred with her mind then. And it did so again now. 

"Jodi?" Catina finally asked her and the voice jolted her back to the present. "You okay?"

Jodi nodded, "I'm going to talk to them. Maybe there's something we can do."

Lilly turned around and smiled, and she and Jen both nodded. Ayanna and Kristie frowned as did Catina.

"Jodi..." Catina warned. "This is not a good idea."

"I just want to talk with them. We need information about what's out there. We don't know what drove them away. What if it wasn't lack of food. What if it was something else?"

"They had better not find out Tanner's place," Catina said. "Or about the treasure."

"We're just going to talk. Catina, you stay back and cover us with Lilly, Jen, and Ayanna. Kristie and I will talk to us. If things do go crazy...well, you have my permission to do what you can to get us out."

"Fat lot of good that will do us if you're already dead," Catina muttered as she unslung her sling. "But fine, I know what you're like when you get stubborn like this."

"I'm not the only stubborn one around," Jodi said. "Remember, it's the stubborn that survive."

"And the sensible," Catina rejoined. "And this not a sensible thing you're doing."

"Maybe not, but if I'm dead, you have my permission to run off. Then there'll be one less mouth to feed. Wouldn't that be nice?"

Catina just frowned at her and shook her head. "Go on. We'll watch you."

"Thanks for volunteering me," Kristie grumbled, checking to make sure the slide had a bullet in the chamber. 

"Come on," Jodi said. She attached a white scrap of fabric to the barrel of her weapon, then raised the rifle in her right hand. Her left hand fallowed suit, palm to the front as she walked towards the other group. Kristie followed suit, keeping her rifle on her back but both hands raised. Jodi could feel the other group watching her. Could feel the rifle barrels, potent with contained death, swinging across her.

She hated feeling so exposed.

The ground was stiff with frozen grass under foot. As she approached, she saw more details from the other group. Younger children hid behind adults. Their feet were wrapped in bloody rags, crusted with ice . How many would lose limbs or perish from frost bite?

"That's far enough," a voice called.

Who is this person?

Kill / Jealously

Jodi recognized him as the man who had put the bullet into the militia member's head. 

"We just want to talk," Jodi said.

"You can talk from there," the man said. 

Jodi was perhaps fifty feet away and she nodded. He was only being protective... jealously guarding his perishing flock. The man's brooding eyes were red from lack of sleep. Crows feet smudged the edges of his eyes from too much squinting into sun bleached snow. His lips were chapped and bleeding. A bandage was about one leg another with blood around one hand. He was Caucasian about average height and thin, his white skin bore splotches of peeling red where the sun had baked the white away. His face was writ with lines of weariness, concern, and iron determination, and they darted about as if expecting a hidden enemy to erupt from the snow. He was clearly on edge, yet he held that fear well.

"I can see your group has been traveling far," Jodi said. "What news do you have?"

I'll use the mag...

Rocket or missle, shredded flag, bleeding hand, document, a flower or an egg with a fire, a hat, feather, music, and snow.

"You can see for yourself," the man said. "We live or die in this hell and don't have time for front-porch pleasantries. I have young ones to care for and shelter to find before nightfall."

Does Jodi make the man feel at ease enough to talk? (+1 she's not being threatening, + 1 she's outnumbered)

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

"I'm sorry for what you have gone through. I can see you've lost a lot of people. I can't imagine what that must've been like."

"You could say that. We were pushed out. From St. Victoria's. Heard of that?"

Has she?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Jodi nodded her mouth dropped open. "But that's... hundreds of miles to the north."

"More than 200 miles as the crow flies. Unfortunately, when all this came down, so did the crows." He gave a bleak smile.

Jodi remembered the outbreak and gave as sad nod at the reference. Planes had literally fallen from the sky when infected passengers began to turn. Her own mother and father had been on a plane, heading to California to celebrate their 30th anniversary. She remembered the hurried cell, frantic voices, screams, shouts. Gunshots even. There must've been a sky Marshall on board. Then nothing. Scattered news reports had reported falling planes across the entire nation.

"So we walked," the man continued. "For more than 300 miles."

"But why did you come here?"

"Rebirth. New life. The hope of spring." He stared and blinked against a sudden gust of cold wind that had scraped small ice crystals off the top layer of snow and had sent it into his face.

Jodi tilted her head in confusion. "Spring is a ways off still. In truth we haven't hit winter. Not yet."

"I know. I meant a new start. A new place. Besides, like I said we were pushed out. By some military types."

"U.S. Military pushed you out? We saw the man in the uniform, the one you--"

"The one I shot?" he gripped his rifle tighter and shook his head with a grimace. "Nah, he wasn't U.S. mil. I have too much respect for them. He was part of a private security force that had turned rogue. They had the guns and the ammo. They hadn't been sent into the hot zones like the normal mil. That's how they survived. Once civilization went to hell, they gained a following. Started calling themselves the saviors of humanity. 'Crimson Dawn'," He grunted curse word into the wind and spat at his feet. 

"Crimson Dawn sent patrols everywhere for 'information gathering'... but really it was 'resource gathering'. We thought at first that they were U.S. Army. We even came up with a formal deal where we would give a part of our goods for their 'protection'. It was all a ruse. before it was too late, they had wormed out our secrets and found out where our food supply was. They--" he swallowed and gave a gruff shake of his head and his eyes took on a faraway lookt. "They attacked in secret and at night. By the time we had gathered our defenses... it was too late. They had captured our supplies." He shifted his rifle and kicked at a stubby tree covered in white clumps of snow.

"This Crimson Dawn..." Jodi said. "I think we ran into a squad of theirs."

He squinted, "Like I said, lady, they sent out patrols..."

Jodi nodded. "Did they follow you?"

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

He shook his head. "They were content to take our supplies and dig in their defenses around them. We didn't have enough people or arms to take them on. We had a better start than some groups though."

"Your group, it seemed pretty large. You were always together?"

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

He shook his head. "No. Before all this, I was a..."

Arrogant possessed being

"...was a workaholic, a self-obsessed business executive. Never saw my family. Never saw my kids. A real S-O-B before all this. This ... changed me."

How did he get his larger following? Is he super persuasive?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

He seemed to relax as they talked. He held his rifle in the crook of his arm and rubbed the head of one of the children who was standing behind him, and he smiled. The child stood there not smiling at all, just staring blankly at the scrub oak and rocks about them. 

"When news reports started coming in of an outbreak, of the military getting overwhelmed in the hot zones," he grunted. "When the planes fell from the sky, and looting began in my own city, I knew we were done for. I held a meeting, invited members of our company and their families to band together. The security team at our office headquarter formed the bulk of our armed force. My family and my employees and their families all left our homes and headed for the hills. It was less populated there. More controllable. We gathered together. Turns out there is strength in numbers."

"How many did you start out with?"

372 = 90[d100]+62[d100]+38[d100]+72[d100]+60[d100]+50 

"About 375 until supplies ran low. Some left, about... 

31 = 6[d100]+25

... 30 of them if I remember right. It would've been higher. Mr. Malone didn't agree with the way I was doing things. I can be... persuasive I guess. One of my few talents. I've always been a good leader. Ran a successful business. Didn't do so hot as a husband or father, of course. But like I said, this thing changed me. Slowly and over time. It ground that selfish part out of me. You can only see so many people eaten torn apart by those things without it changing you. At first, I was much the arrogant S-O-B I had always. I made mistakes. Hunting grew scarce. We needed a new place. We found St. Victorias." His eyes looked at her and then at the others in the distance then back to Kristie and her.

"We found a defensible place...

Airport

... at a small air port. I know, you wouldn't think it was defensible...."

Why was it defensible?

Inquire / Wounds

'Cause he made it that way.

"And you're right, at first it wasn't. It was a small airport near the outskirts of St. Victorias. You know, for small commuter planes and the like. We were desperate. Our food supplies were out. We--" he swallowed. "We lost a lot of good people taking the airport from the walkers. We were tired, hungry, over-eager for food. We lost...

43 = 12[d20]+11[d20]+20[d20]

...about another 45 people. Some were eaten, some were bitten and turned. Others... didn't survive mentally and had to be put down. 

Jodi and Kristie looked at each other.

"So then we were 300 strong. But then came our windfall. The airport turned out to be an extremely good location. Nice long lines of sight with lots of open space. We could see whenever any walkers drew too close and we made it defensible. It was close enough to town that we could make looting runs. The planes weren't flyable, but they had fuel that we siphoned and cushions we turned into beds. And most importantly, there were crates and crates of food that were being ready for transportation. Wheat. Beans. Rice. Dry goods. And enough of it that we lived there quite well for about a month. Until Crimson Dawn showed up and took it all away." He frowned.

"But now you know about them and what happened until we met them. We tried a counter attack. They were better trained. Better equipped. A lot of us were killed or wounded...

42 = 22[d100]+20

Our numbers were close to 260 then. We headed south. We took what supplies we could into houses and looting runs. We lost some more along the way."

Did zombies follow them?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

He peeled some skin off his sun burnt nose, examined it on a fingernail and then flicked it into the snow. "But the details of all that would bore you. Suffice it to say that we crossed 300 miles south past towns and wilderness. We lost some more to starvation. Others to disciplinary action, and then last week... to walkers. So many walkers. A huge band of them were meandering west, we were heading south. They somehow caught our trail and hit us in the night, overwhelming our defenses. We were going to tackle Culvert's pass later," he nodded at the mountain range behind him, "But we didn't have a choice. There was nowhere else to run. Last night we huddled together as icy wind cut to the bone. Some died due to exposure. Those reanimated and by the time we were able to put them down, we'd lost all except what you see here. Well, here we are. That's our story."

"The Crimson Dawn soldier you killed? What of him?"

"Human trash. We took him prisoner after taking out his patrol mates. He was our point man after that. We forced him to go into building first armed with a cudgel. We'd follow with guns. Seemed to work out, till last night he killed three during an escape attempt. Disciplinary action..." he let that trail off into the cold air.

"And that large group of walkers that chased you? Do you know if they followed you?" Kristie asked.

(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

He grimaced. "They did. We have women and children and can't outrun them for long. I hoped they wouldn't follow us up in the hills... but they did. The snow and ice made them a lot slower and we were able to stay ahead of them, but..." he shook his head. "But they did follow. Maybe they stayed in the pass. But maybe they'll down and head this way."

Jodi's heart started thudding. She had to know. She picked up her binocs and scoured Culvert's pass.

Does she see any?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

She couldn't be sure. Maybe she was too far away to detect motion. Maybe it was too overcast and everything seemed to be swallowed up in the gray bleakness. Were those small snow-covered light-gray trees in the distance, or were they a horde of walkers? She didn't have an answer.

"They just keep moving. Tireless monsters. Nothing sates their hunger." he whispered behind her.

She slowly turned back to face him.

"And now... what about you?"

"You seem well provided for," he said, waving a hand at her equipment and the horse and vehicles in the distance. 

Jodi gave a cut down version of what she'd been through. She mentioned the militia and mentioned vaguely the lodge but didn't give enough detail to mention where it was. "... we were going to check out the military base for supplies, when we saw you. Figured we could get some news."

Is the man concerned about her checking out the supplies?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

"That's fine... " he shrugged. "In fact, why don't you come along? You're well armed, and you have that sharp-eyed look about you that I've come to respect in survivors who know how to take care of themselves."

I don't know. Something about this guy doesn't feel right. He's a little too sane for all he's been through. Or maybe he is just myopically optimistic? If he were a military leader suffering so high losses. I dunno... Smile  Maybe he's not telling the truth though.

"We don't want to intrude. You have mouths to feed..."

Did they resort to cannibalism?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Does he insist /force them to come along?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Is he sane?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

... He doesn't insist that she come, but he's clearly upset that she has declined. I wonder why.
Perhaps he's genuinely interested in adding her to his group.
Two skilled fighters who were well armed as they appear to be would be a good asset.
Perhaps he's upset his persuasive skills didn't work on her 

Does Kristie think it's a good idea to go along?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Does Jodi want to go along?

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

Okay...

"You sure I can't persuade you?" he gave an easy concerned smile stitched with regret.

"Thanks, but... we had best move on," Jodi said.

"Well then," he slapped at his leg with a bandaged hand and waved his arm overhead, and huddle clumps of people started moving toward the military base. Jodi could see blood seeping through his bandaged hand. "We also had best be moving. My name's Mr. Lowe. You can call me Hunter. That's my name. Hunter Lowe." he gave a warm smile. Perhaps too warm? 

He held out his uninjured hand in friendship.

Jodi nodded and shook his hand. "You had best be careful Mr. Hunter Lowe. There are some walkers in there. Only a few though, at least those we could see in the base's streets. But you never know."

"Doesn't sound like much of a problem. Thanks for the tip."

Jodi reflected that he was one of the friendliest survivors she had ever encountered and that put her ill at ease for some reason. Something felt off about him. She couldn't place it. Or maybe she just didn't want to be sticking around with him as a possible zombie horde drifted down from Culver's pass to the north.

Jodi and Kristie headed back to the others and related what they'd discussed.

"Crimson Dawn," Catina spat gripping Patch's reins. The mare nosed about for something to eat and Catina absently patted her neck. "So that's who the militia were. How many more of those snakes are out there?"

Jodie shrugged. "From what I can tell, they're well organized. But Mr. Lowe said they didn't follow his group. What did you think about them?" she turned to Kristie.

"It's weird," Kristie said. "The group. He was the only one who talked. The whole time. The children, even those with bleeding feet didn't say anything. That's what creeped me out the most. They seemed shell shocked."

"What now? Ayanna asked.

"We head back to Jefferson campground and watch them."

Are Lillie and Jen still upset about them not helping the children?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Lillie and Jen were upset about not helping the children. "What about he kids?" Jen asked.

"We can't help them, not until we know more." Jodi said.

"But you said maybe we could." Lillie added.

"Look. That's what maybe means," Jodi said. "Maybe doesn't mean yes. And I said maybe. Besides, remember there's a walker horde coming this way." She frowned and hopped onto the ATV. "Something just feels off about that guy."

Kristie nodded and she followed suit. They drove and rode south into the dull cold grayness.
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#33
Episode 24 - An Approaching Storm
Here are the Notes to characters/setting if anyone is interested.

Jodi, Kristie, Catina, Jen, Ayanna, and Lilly returned somberly to Jefferson Campground without incident. Later afternoon turned into early dusk. 

Kristie set about to start a fire. Jodi went to the outcrop to study the military base below.

Is she successful?
(+1 sheltered place, +2 wilderness survival, -1 wet from the snow). 

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

Swearing, Kristie tossed her hatchet into the snow and stomped around for a few moments. Everywhere the wood was damp the tinder and grasses sodden. In addition the cutting wind blew out each wet and attempt in dismal failings of smoking and blackened wood. The cutting wind bit into the group as the temperature dropped with the sun. 

She stared at the bodies of the walkers they had burned earlier in the day. The pile of bodies were nothing now but husks of blackened brittle bone and charred flesh. Leering skeletal faces watched her coldly with dead eyes, as the last glimmers of the sun sought the penetrate into the caverns of their eye sockets.

She would not die here freezing in the snow. With determination she scooped the hatchet out of the snow and set about crafting a shelter.

Does she manage to come up with a make-shift shelter?
(+1 sheltered place, +2 wilderness survival, -1 wet from the snow). 

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Kristie, hatchet in hand, crafted a makeshift shelter from pine boughs, some old large plastic garbage bags, and the tattered remains of a somewhat dry quilt she had found half buried under the forest detritus. The shelter was hardly big enough for them all, but it did block out the wind and kept them relatively dry.

As Kristie worked on the shelter, Jodi settled onto the cold hard rock outcropping. She studied the military base and the migratory group. She also kept an eye on Culvert's pass and the possible horde.

Does she see anything out of the ordinary in the military base in the waning light?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

She studied the refugees down below. They had apparently dispatched the walkers threat, judging from the pile of bodies in military uniform in a small pile that they had dragged outside of the base.

Then something caught her attention outside the military base.

Does it involve Mr. Hunter Lowe, leader of the refugee group now holed up in the base?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

What is he doing outside the base that is out of the ordinary?

Hastily / Less

Violate / Dispute

He's with another person. A woman?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Is it a man then? 

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Jodi focused the binoculars on a pair of men who were outside the base. They were arguing, that much was clear. One was Mr. Hunter Lowe. He stood there with his hands on his hips. He rested a hand easily on a pistol at his waist. The other man was older, perhaps in his mid sixties. His white hair blew in the gusting wind and as he paced, he did so with a somewhat stooped and twisted gait. He certainly wasn't a physical match for the relatively strapping Mr. Lowe. 

Did she see the older man in the group earlier in the day?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

She thought back to earlier in the day. She didn't remember seeing this man in the group, but there had been a lot of people in the group that followed behind Mr. Lowe. They had been despondent, seemingly lifeless. But that wasn't unusual in this post-civilized world. The older man gesticulated wildly and he shoved a finger in Mr. Lowe's face. The man's behavior was such a stark contrast from the earlier despondency she'd seen as a whole with the group. It was hard to tell in the waning light and at this distance, but she thought she saw Mr. Lowe's face darken a tinge. 

What would have made this man act out against his leader? Maybe it was because the military base really didn't have much in ways of supplies and the group realized they would soon persih. Jodi could only guess. She watched the scene glumly. What could she do to help? There was wasn't much in the way of--

Mr. Lowe casually backhanded the older man, sending him sprawling to the ground on his back. The old man lay there obviously stunned, white hair still stirred by the wind. 

Mr. Lowe pulled out a pistol and aimed it at the man's head.

"No..." Jodi breathed.

Does Mr. Lowe shoot him in the head?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Was he really going to--

The flash from the pistol's muzzle flashed bright against the dimness of dusk. The sound came a moment later, a dull tap far in the distance, barely noticeable. It was followed by several more percussive taps, each in turn preceded with yet more fiery muzzle flashes. Mr. Lowe emptied an entire pistol magazine into the man, shooting his torso, his arms, his legs, his stomach and again in his head, until the dead man lay twitching, a mass of red splotches. 

Mr. Lowe stood there, his chest heaving up and down for a long minute. Then he casually pulled out a knife, put the blade to the dead man's neck. 

Jodi blinked and looked away, a dull sickness thudding within her. When she turned back to look again, the corpse had been decapitated. Mr. Lowe left the body where it was and dropped, the red tinging the white snow. He thrust the head into a sack. Then he shoved a fresh clip of bullets into his weapon, holstered it and turned to go back inside.

What had just happened here? Jodi wondered. Is this how Mr. Hunter had dealt with discipline problems all along, through raw brute force and fear? That would explain his despondent followers and the dull lifeless eyes of the children. 

Did anyone else from Mr. Lowe's group see what he'd just done?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

His hand on on a fence gate he turned around and looked around him. Jodi fancied his glance paused as it crossed across her position and her heart thudded a little faster. A moment later, she was certain there was no way he could have seen her. Not at that distance, being outside of rifle range and the dying light.

Then she looked towards the trail of baggage and the dead that stretched to the north as darkened clumps against the white snow to Culvert's pass.

Does she see the horde?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes

Was that...? She swore and gripped her binoculars tightly. There in the far northern distance a gray wave slowly seemed to be growing larger.

There it was. Mr. Lowe had been right. There must be hundreds of them!

The foremost walkers stopped and began feasting on the fallen corpses, stuffing their maws with frozen flesh from the fallen of the migration. 

Beyond them, coming out of the pass, was a trickle that became a steady stream of gray lifeless bodies. It was like the grains of an hour glass slowly building up a mountain of bodies. As one, the horde moved towards the military base. It was clear they had been attracted by the shooting. But what to do, if anything? 
She watched their pace and yes, the walkers were moving slowly through the snow. It was like watching a gray mudslide slowly approach a house on a cliff. 

She swung the binoculars back to the base.

Had anyone noticed? Had Mr. Lowe posted sentries to watch the base?

(Likely | 3[d10]) No

Jodi swore again when she realized the man had neglected to even post sentries for his people. 

"Son of a..." the wind carried the final whispered expletive, and she shook her head in disgust. 

What is he thinking? Or perhaps he wasn't thinking clearly. Or maybe Mr. Lowe was just as self-absorbed as he had always been, and the end of the world had become for him, yet another greedy opportunist, a vast inheritance of power to squander away unfettered from the constraints of society. Maybe he was simply unconcerned about what happened to his people. Maybe he was a sick murderer who delighted in killing. Maybe...

She shook her head again. There was no end to that rabbit hole. She watched the wave and tried to estimate the distance and ETA until the approaching horde hit the base.

(we'll say a base of 8 hours + 2d6)

3 = 1[d6]+2[d6]

She estimates the wave will break upon the walls of the base 12 hours from now. No, they wouldn't break upon the walls. The "walls" were really just chain-link fences, and the weight of the bodies would shove into the fence and collapse it. What then would would happen to the twelve children?

A dark cloud was coming out of the north. A storm?

Does it start to snow?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yesand...

A flurry of snow flakes whirled around her light and cold, kissing her nose and face with stinging lips of ice. She hardly noticed. She thought of her daughter until darkness took away her sight. Then she stood and slowly made her way back to camp. 

---

Does it Heavily snow

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Jodi and the others sat huddled together in a lean to shelter butted up against an overturned picnic table. She watched the snow flakes blow fitfully outside their shelter through a crack in the quilt they were using as a doorway. Pine boughs made up the roof with plastic bags under neath that. 

Kristie rose and tied the doorway shut, but Jodi could still see the snow-fall grew heavier the longer they sat. 

Soon a steady stream of pit pat pat pat pit pat tickled the roof of pine boughs and plastic. Later the pitter patter stopped as the flakes grew larger and became heavier with moisture, sticking together. The shelter wasn't ideal. A tent would've cut out the wind a little better, but Kristie had done a good job and had managed to position it so that it blocked out most of the wind, and it kept them dry. But still, a fire would have been nice. Jodi shivered as she sucked on some more of her MRE. The blocky black lettering on the package read "MINISTRONE SOUP" The others were eating similar cold meals with similar expressions of bleakness at the taste.

"I don't know how soldiers eat this crap," Ayanna muttered. 

"You get used to it, my dad said," Lillie said. "I'm afraid to get used to it."

Jodi swallowed another bite and grimaced. This particular flavor of MRE hadn't been very good even when it was piping hot. Sucking down half-frozen congealed grease made her want to hurl. But she knew she needed the calories, so she squished more of the package in her mouth and forced herself to swallow the cold, mushy contents. Food was food. 2000 calories a day. She probably didn't require that much, being on the slighter side of body builds, but still, survival took a lot out of you, and she couldn't afford to be picky. 

Jodi had told the others what she'd seen. Hunter Lowe. His execution/murder of the old man. The approaching corpse horde. 

They had been largely silent ever since, staring into the night, cautiously eating every piece of food from the brown packages they'd brought. The five days of food they'd brought wouldn't last forever. This was their second night. Three more days of food. She hoped they'd brought enough.

"What about the kids?" Jen finally asked. She looked at Catina. Catina didn't meet her eyes and then she looked at Jodi. 

Lilly nodded as well. "We should help them."

"We've been over that," Jodi said. "I don't know if there's anything we can do. We simply don't have room to take twelve kids with us. Our transportation options are very limited."

"But what if--" Lilly said.

Jodi held up a hand. "And even if we did come up with some way of helping them, we don't even know if they'd want to come. Besides, we wouldn't want to take them away from their parents or siblings. So, what then?"

"So... we bring them all with us," Jen said. "All the kids parents. We can figure something out."

"And the others in their group?" Kristie said shaking her head.

Catina muttered something under her breath and massaged her leg.

"We've been over this already," Jodi said. "We don't have the supplies as Tanner's Lodge for such a large group, let alone the living quarters."

"We have to do something," Jen muttered. "What if it were your girl?"

That hit Jodi in her chest and her heart felt cold and empty. She sighed tied her boots. "I think, about the only thing we can do is go and warn them and maybe help them on their way. Maybe distract the horde."

Kristie shook her head and frowned. "Distract the horde? Are you nuts?"

Jodi stared her down.

"You are nuts," Kristie said quietly.

"And what about Mr. Lowe?" Lilly asked, she huddled against Jen as she sharpened her knives on a whet stone. Her face was narrow and pinched.

Jodi frowned and sighed. "He needs to be dealt with. I don't think he takes people disputing his authority very well."

"That's gonna be dangerous," Ayanna said. "The guy sounds like a total nut job."

Lilly added a couple of nods.

"Catina?" Jodi asked. "What do you think?"

The other woman massaged her leg she winced some, but she continued to massage. "We should go now," Catina muttered darkly. "To the base."

"What?" Jodi said. "I thought you were against helping them."

"I am," she said. "But we need the map."

"The map? I have a map, assuming it's even in this area. But you mean the reference origins," Jodi corrected.

"Whatever," Catina said. "It amounts to the same thing. If this horde is as big as you say, they'll overrun the military base, kill the people there and probably just hang around the base forever. I don't want to risk the information getting damaged or destroyed in any kind of conflict. We need to get there before the walkers show up."

"How many did you say there were again?" Kristie asked. "Over two hundred."

"Easily more than that," Jodi said. She cut open the MRE package, splitting the green heavy foil-like material down the seams first. Then she licked the inside of the package. That done, she crumpled up the MRE package and tossed it into the corner of the shelter. She stared at the crumpled MRE package and shook her head. A part of her felt guilty about littering, but trash services had stopped a long time ago. 

Her mouth remembered the half frozen half mushy taste of over cooked peas and carrots in the soup and she quickly drank from her water bottle. She tasted ice crystals forming in the liquid. But it tasted good. But it was too cold. What she would give for a good cup of hot coffee or cocoa right now! Extra cream and sugar and just slightly under scalding. Just how she liked it. 

"It was hard to estimate their numbers. It was growing dark."

"So... maybe two hundred?"

Jodi took another sip and slowly shook her head and frowned as she slowly screwed the cap back on the plastic bottle. It had been dark and she'd watched for a while and they just kept coming.

"We did pretty good this morning against the biters," Lilly said. "We could help the group at the base fight them off."

Jodi shook her head. "We don't have that ammo for an extended fight."

"Even if they helped?"

"They weren't carrying a lot of ammo," Jodi said. "There wasn't a wagon filled with ammo boxes."

"It is a military base," Lilly said in an offhand way. "My dad showed me the armory once. All the weapons. What if--?"

"It's likely that all the supplies were gutted in the early days of all of this," Jodi said. "We can't plan on stacks of ammo and guns being there. There might be something, but we'd best assume there's nothing. No, I think Catina is right, we have to go there and warn them. Try to get them to leave and go..." she trailed off and looked around helplessly at the falling snow. "...and...go someplace safe. Then we get the coordinate information. Once we do that, we can decide our next course of action."

"I don't care about them," Catina said. "As far as I'm concerned, our group is all there is. We help our people survive, and that's it!"

"Even if we found the map and found a huge supply cache with enough for everyone," Jodi countered with a raised eyebrow.

"Pirate treasure?" Catina rejoined with a grim smile.

Jodi's mouth turned down further. Why was Catina so reluctant to help? Jodi understood of course the logistical reason for now getting behind helping the group. On an analytical level, she knew that if they did share what they did have or what they possibly found, such a large could eat it away in a matter of days and they'd be back to square one. They needed food to get their own group through the winter. But Catina seemed even emotionally dead set against helping anyone.

Their choices were growing limited.

"Let's get some rest," Jodi finally said, "We move at first light."

"Why not go now? Are you sure you're estimate is right?" Jen pestered her. "What if we're too late? I think we should go now just like mom said."

Catina looked at her daughter scowled and then shook her head, but she said nothing. She finished massaging her leg. Then she checked her pistol... again. For the umpteenth time. Jodi turned her attention back to Jen.

"No, Jen, I'm not positive," Jodi said, staring out the crack into the falling snow that blanketed the countryside, covering up a dying earth with yet more death from cold and icy fingers. "But I've done a lot of cross-country running, marathons, you know. I'm a pretty good judge of distances. I could be wrong of course but..." 

Jodi shifted to a more comfortable position, and looked Jen in the eye. "As for why we're not going now, there's your answer," she swept an arm at the quickly gathering snow. "It's coming down heavily. I almost got lost trying to find the road by Tanner's lodge in something like this that night your mom and sister and I fled your farmhouse. I don't want a repeat of that. Secondly, we need our rest."

Jen frowned at the mention of her sister but she finally nodded and grew silent.

"Rest in this?" Lilly muttered as she slid her knives away into various sheathes about her body. "How are we supposed to do that?"

"Get cozy with each other," Jodi suggested. "Use body heat. Kristie did a good job with the shelter. No one is going to freeze."

"As long as it doesn't collapse," Kristie said.

"Right," Jodi smiled. "Try to rest everyone. It won't be easy. But try. We'll leave before dawn. We should be able to arrive before the horde gets there. Set watches, two people person every two hours. Kristie and I will go first. Come on," she said and stood.

Kristie groaned but finally nodded and they untied the blanket.

"Brrr, shut the door... the blanket... whatever!" Lilly said with hurrying motions.


Jodi began to tie it shut. She saw Catina jam her pistol back into her holster, and without a word she leaned back and closed her eyes.

Jodi finished tying the door shut with the leather cord that Kristie had cut up from a frayed belt off one of the dead zombies. Snow was gathering heavily already on the thick pine boughs of the lean-tos roof.

"What do you think our chances are?" Kristie whispered when they were out of earshot of the rest of the camp, settling under some low boughs of a tree that offered some shelter from the weather, yet it provided good views of the main approach paths to the camp, or rather, it would have provided good views had they not been trying to see through blinding snow flurries.

"Just keep your eyes open," Jodi said. "We'll just do what we can and try not to lose anyone tomorrow."

"Great," Kristie said. "There's a confidence booster."

The snow continued to fall. The wind continued to blow. 

It was going to be a long night, Jodi decided as she worried about the approaching storm of conflict tomorrow would bring.
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#34
Episode 25: The Crestfallen

Does it blizzard and dump snow on them the entire night?

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

Halfway through the night the storm had blown over, leaving snowy frosting covering everything.

Do they experience any difficulty starting and navigating the heavy snow-covered roads with the ATVs the next morning? (+2 heavy snow, -2 good treads, +1 unfamiliar terrain)

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

1d100 for percentage of cloud cover (90-100% will be heavy fog)

90 = 90[d100]

Well... a heavy fog should prove... interesting. From where they were, they now can't see the military base nor the location of the corpse-sickles trudging toward the base.

Jodi was glad the vehicles are "all terrain". They seemed to handle the drifts of snow with relative ease. This fog however would be a different matter. It was a heavy obscuring wave of white that oozed off the mountain and filled up the valley below, obscuring everything from sight. By the time they had gathered up their gear and left the camp, the sun was just beginning to peak over the eastern horizon, but she knew as they lowered elevation they would be submerged in the low hanging fog.

Jodi gathered her gear and started up the ATV and frowned at the blanket of white below them. She wondered if the walkers already there. She had no way of knowing. This fog would cause complications, for sure.

Do they get to the base before the horde does? I'll use the Fudge dice to decide on a general negative.


-1 = +0 +0 -1 +0

I'll say the -1 is from random elements including the snow and fog... but will give a +1 because they left early, before dawn.

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

(whew)


Jodi and the others neared the base. The going was slow and she hoped they had given themselves enough lead time. She drummed her hands on the throttle, anxious to move faster, but with the horse, Patch, they could only go so fast, and she wasn't about to leave a portion of their party, and their firepower behind. 

As they drew near the base materialized slowly through the fog. She immediately cut her engine and held up her hand. The others cut their engines as well. Through the binoculars she could see the pre-fab buildings were covered in snow, and it reminded her of a quaint a little snow-globe Jodi had received one Christmas season in grade school. Of course that one hadn't had a pile of dead snow-covered corpses outside the gate.

Are there sentries now?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

"See anything?" Kristie asked sitting behind her.

Jodi kept trying to to focus the binoculars to cut through the fog but that didn't do much good. Jodi frowned and shook her head. 

"No sentries."

"That's good," Kristie said. "Right?"

"Maybe," Jodi said as she dismounted. The others did the same. "We'll approach from here on foot. Something doesn't feel right. Stay on your guard. Anyone in their right mind would have set up sentries."

"Maybe with the fog, they thought they'd not need them," Kristie offered. 

True, even sentries wouldn't have given much warning in this pea-soup thick fog. But Jodi wasn't convinced. Something was happening.

Does she see any from the migration group at all?

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But... what????

Move away from goal

Imitate

Pain

"Hear that?" Alyssa asked.

The fog interfered with the sight, but sound carried easily and eerily through through it. Jodi listened intently, and she thought she could hear the cries of wounded calling for help in the distance. Jodi moved her binoculars in that direction and the fog parted just enough to reveal a form lying on the ground. A man looked like he was twisting on the ground, as if writhing in pain, he held both hands to his leg... was it a bloody stump?
Then the fog swirled and the man was lost to view.

Jodi hissed.

"What is it?" Jen asked. 

Are there zeds inside the compound?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Jodi and the others heard a low moaning sound. The sounds of many moaning voices. Were they too late?

Uh oh...

But the Mom squad got here before the horde did. So that means....
That means some villagers died and turned ,or some other group came upon them.

"Are we too late?" Catina growled. 

"We need to get closer," Jodi whispered. Then she moved off in a low crouch, using the hilly terrain and scrub oak trees and a few pines to mask her approach. Soon she could see better through the front gate.

Jodi studied a walker as it shambled across her field of view away from her through the eye glass. 

From this safe distance can she tell if they are from the migratory group?

(With the fog I'll say SU)

(Somewhat Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes, but...

PC positive

Betray

The intellectual

The details weren't great and she couldn't make out specific people but the blood on the corpse was fresh. This walker had been created recently. It was likely one of the migratory group. 

The walker moved stupidly on (Betray the intellectual) obviously pre-occupied with something else. It moved toward the sounds of screaming. 

Do they hear gun shots from within the base?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Suddenly multiple gun shots could be heard in the base and louder shouts. The shambler seemed to increase in speed. Jodi noticed other walkers now, moving through the fog...

Do the zeds happen to notice any of the mom squad?
(-1 fog, -1 the zeds are distracted and moving towards the sound of gun fire at the moment)

(Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

Jodi felt the familiar weight of the rifle and was suddenly glad she and the others had practiced those boring drills. Who knew what would happen today. They had to find those coordinate origins. Assuming Catina was right, everything might very well depend on it. 

Now they're close enough to make out details. What's going on?

Are the zeds made of the migration group?

(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Jodi could now make out faces that she recognized from the group they'd seen yesterday. There were dozens of them and they kept moving north moving out of sight into the fog. 

Do they outnumber the surviving members?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Woah. That's crazy stuff... More than half of them must've died or gotten turned in the middle of the night. Is Mr. Lowe one of the undead?

(Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Is Mr. Lowe with his people helping defend?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

How many are still alive? (There used to be about 70. Did more than 50 get turned?)

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Okay. So I'll say they barely outnumber the living 40 to 30.

Are the survivors spread out among the buildings?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Yes, but Mr. Lowe is trying to rally them to a central location.

Are they heeding his command?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

And they do so with alacrity and fear.

Do all of them make it to the central location?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

The settlers outdistance the zeds in the base and set up a good perimeter.

Any children in the zed group?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Oooo. There were 12 children. I'll roll a die 12 to see how many are now zeds.

1 = 1[d12]

As Jodi and the others closer into the compound, buildings emerged left and right on either side out of the mist rising up without warning as they drew near. The sounds of fighting was coming from the north and the sounds were getting louder. She knew the base was fairly large, it would be the equivalent of neighborhood blocks in a typical suburbs. It was like a town in the middle of no-where. A town build for training US troops. They passed several homes as well as in-camp stores, a school for on-base kids, even a church, its steeple swallowed by the low cloud.

Jodi wondered. How many of those who had lived on base had survived the initial attacks? 
How many of them had been called into hot zones. 
How many of them were torn apart by these things. 
How many of their loved ones were still looking for them? 
How many of their loved ones had become those things? 

She sighed, and led the way to the side of a building. The others stacked up behind her. Jodi peered around the corner north down the street. 

Jodi scanned down the street through her scope. And there he was. Mr. Hunter Lowe. His face was half covered in splattered blood and several dead corpses lay nearby him and perhaps thirty other survivors. There they had formed a ragged half-circle perimeter and battled against what looked like roughly the same number of walkers. Gun shots and shouts and cries of the wounded rang out in the early morning hours.

Are the survivors doing well against the zeds when the zeds rush them?
(+1 gained distance, +1 good perimeter)

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Jodi wondered how it had happened. She imagined they must've been surprised and shocked. What a horror it must've been to see trusted loved ones and friends coming out of the fog in the early morning hours where perhaps just the night before they had gone to bed with nary a scratch. How had it began? Was it someone Mr. Lowe had show down, but didn't blow out his or her brains? Or maybe someone just died in their sleep from exposure or starvation.

Jodi motioned the others to move across the street and to take up positions behind a building similar to hers. Catina and Jen did so and once were in position, they were followed by Alyssa and Lillie. Jodi knelt in the snow and felt Kristie bring her rifle above over her head. Just like they had practiced back at the ranch. The shorter woman had a grim-faced look when their eyes met.

The settlers where holding the line. Any walker that drew the line of settlers shot out its brains or clubbed its head. They knew how to fight. Given the attrition they had suffered since the onset, that was a given.

She centered her crosshairs on Mr. Lowe's chest and her finger caressed the trigger.

Only 1 child was bit and turned. Is the boy from the previous day that was by Mr. Lowe?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) Noand...

No, in fact, Mr. Lowe is overly protective of that boy. Okay...

Mr. Lowe was a whirling dervish. It was clear that he cared deeply for one particular boy, whom he kept thrusting behind when the fighting drew near. And any corpse that gets that close, Mr. Lowe attacked it with animal rage, clubbing them over and over with a large tire iron.

Jodi saw that they were holding off the walkers at the moment.

She's wanted to pull the trigger. She imagined the bullet taking this man. Who knows what he had done. But eventually, slowly, she mentally shook her head. No, she couldn't do that she---

Does one of the other women take a shot at him?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

-- she moved her finger off the trigger and placed it outside the trigger guard. No, she couldn't just shoot a man down unarmed like that. What now? They had a choice. They could either help the settlers out, or use the fighting as a distraction to get to the military classrooms and find the info they needed and bug out before anyone was the wiser, assuming they could find the building in the fog without getting caught up in the fighting.

And where was the horde? Jodi wished she knew.

Do any of the women start shooting at the zeds?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

The others apparently were awaiting her orders. 
Catina looked across the narrow street as if to ask, "What now?" 

What does Jodi do?

Release / Power

Jodi took stock. 
The walkers were between them and the settlers. 

She made up her mind. She waved a hand in a tight half circle cutting gesture and then pointed at a group of zeds that were moving across the street toward the line of defenders. 

Catina nodded and took off in a low trot, Jen, Ayssa, and Lillie following after. Kristie and Jodi also followed. The group swung farther east around an abandoned vehicle bay, and found a low stone wall, perhaps thigh high with a good field of fire to the north west. They all crouched behind that and braced their weapons against it. 

It was hard to be certain, because the fog made the line of defenders, and the walkers drift in and out of view, but Catina hoped the settlers would be out of the line of fire.

Through a break in the fog, Jodi centered her cross hair on the head of a large walker with shaggy red hair. His hands were bloody and dripped into the snow. 

She exhaled slowly and pulled the trigger. That was all the invitation they needed and soon sprays of bullets were careening north ward to the group of zeds moving north by north east.

Do they take down their targets without complications? (+2 zeds aren't aware, +2 braced and scoped, -1 some close-up fighting between zeds and villages, -1 fog)
Jodi?

+1 firearm skill

(Very Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Very Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Catina?
+1 firearm skill

(Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

(Very Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Jen?
She didn't have a scope before at Costwell... did she find and attach one?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

+1 firearm skill -1 scope = SL

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

(Somewhat Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...

Ayanna?

Shooting skill +0
Does her rifle have a scope?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No


+0 firearm, -1 no scope

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Lilly?

Scope?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Liilly has a scope but the lens cover was off and moisture got on it. It'll be -1 for longer shots until she takes the time to clean and dry it out. For this distance it'll be fine though.

+0 shooting, +1 scope

(Somewhat Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

Kristi?

Firearms +0. Scope yes +1 from prev episode.

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

For any "No, and..." results I'll ask if a settler got hit. Jodi did try to get them into a firing line with a decent angle of engagement, but it's hard when some of the zeds get too close to the settlers.

Jen was the only one. Did she hit a settler? (SL)

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

No, but one came really close. Is it near Hunter? (given what happened to Lisa, Jen's sister, it woulnd't surprise me if she's not terribly concerned about hitting the man... I'll say likely).

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But what?

Move towards goal

Desert

Lies

Who's lies? Hunters's?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Hmmm. What lies of his are being deserted? 
Ah... I see... How devious... *grin* Will reveal later...

The smell of gunpowder made her think of hot fourth of July and the cool fog made an odd juxtaposition as she thought of walking to the grade school on foggy mornings in the early spring, a backpack on her back as she splashed in puddles, a yellow slicker and yellow rubber boots offering protection from the rain. Bloated worms tried to escape yellowed lawns and some even ended up on the asphalt, a momentous journey for the simple creatures.

Another zombie rocked forward and then another. They were dropping left and right from the combined fire from two sides. Some tired to turn around to face the new threat, but were shot or brained in turn by the line of defenders.

Some of the group had noticed that there was someone else shooting in their direction and some of those shots were hitting very close. Out of the corner of Jodi's eye she noticed Jen was firing again and again at walkrs who were near Mr. Lowe. One shot smacked a wall just above his face tossing out a puff of prefab wall sending plaster and wood chips into Mr. Lowe's face. He cried and out dropped to his knees.

Then as if in slow motion, an older girl, perhaps age ten or eleven, picked up a pistol from one of the fallen and pointed it at the back of Mr. Lowe's head from only five feet away. She held the gun in both hands, a look of dead loathing on her face and pulled the trigger three times.

The reveal...
So... it looks like members of his own group finally desert him, seeing his lies of a perfect leader for what they are. I'll say someone close to the old man that was gunned down last night decides to take action against Hunter.

Is it a child?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Dispute

Care

Is Hunter aware of the threat? (-1 under attack by zeds, -1 distracted by gun shots hitting near him)

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Boy?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

A girl then, age 11, pulls a pistol from one of the fallen, points it at Hunter and shoots three times. (+1 to hit range)

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

I'll roll on the damage chart since Hunter's kind of an interesting NPC, not just a faceless grunt.

All Yes shots will give +1 damage from close and personal. That first shot gives an additional +2 damage.

(5 = 2[d20]+3) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Bruise.

Ooo. He's lucky and with a total of +3 damage!

Second shot misses. 

Third shot dmg:

(21 = 20[d20]+1) Killed.

Whhaaat? Bam! His luck was short lived I guess.

Jodi sees a spray of red mist. And Mr. Hunter Lowe pitched forward still. 

Was it a head shot?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

It was an execution shot. 

What happens to the Settlers? Are the walkers they were fighting pretty much wiped out now?

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Just as the last zeds fell, Mt. Lowe expired, pitching forward into the garbage strewn street. 

A murmur flitted through the surviving settlers when they see there are no more walkers to shoot, and that murmur turned to confusion with their their leader dead. Some of them recognized that someone was shooting in their general direction and a few of them took pot shots into the mist.

A few shots come close...do any hit any members of the mom squad?

(-1 mists, -2 hip shooting into the mist)

(Very Unlikely | 1[d10]) Noand...

Is there a second in command who starts issuing orders?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

The girl was thrust behind some adults. An argument broke out, accusations were thrown and the ill-fated group of settlers drew guns on each other. Then shots were fired, three people died, and the group scattered, half running one way, half another. 

Seeing everything dissolve into chaos Jodi shouted for Lilly to lead the way to a class room. As much as she wanted to help the settlers, and especially the children, with people shooting and everything that moved, that just wasn't going to happen. Lilly gave a tight nod, her face pale and wet from either mist or perspiration. She led group at a trot through the now abandoned street.

The zombie horde all this time has been drawing nearer. But I don't know how far away they are. 
I'll check that now. Does Jodi see any of the horde through the north side of the complex and chainlink fence?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Remote event

Overindulge

Status quo

Through her scope, and a shift in the thick haze of fog, Jodi made out walkers. Hundreds of them. Maybe more. Their dark shapes churned like a mass of ants, bodies had walked into rolls of razor sharp barbed wire and had become stuck. Others had pressed down and crushed them from behind, using them a type of bridge over the rolls of wire. Past the rolls of wire was an open expanse and then nothing but a chain-link fence between the horde of walkers and the military base. Blood and flesh and clothing clung on the barbed wire, testament do their passage. More pressed against the chainlink fence. It rocked from the weight of their hunger. With outstretched hands and mouths open, eyes opened in rictuses of possible satiation, they came onward, more and more bodies, ever onward, stacking up against the fence.

The other women and girls had stopped behind Jodi.

"Son of a..." A screeching sound carried Alyssa's words away. And they watched in horrified fascination as the sheer weight of numbers toppled a section of the fence in a crashing sound. Screams and shouts and shots added to the cacophony of moans groans and creaking metal as the crest of the wave broke and fell and swept inland. 

Then the floodgates where opened! 

It was still a few hundred meters off in the distance, but the shambled through the broken section, nearing the base. Soon they would be among the outer buildings. In just a matter of moments. Some who had broken through managed to grab some settlers who had ran north and must've been unaware of the mass of walkers who had approached in the fog. They were now prey for the mindless, flesh-eating plague. Several walkers knelt down and shoveled piles of steaming fresh flesh into their mouths (overindulge), splatters of crimson sprayed across the pristine snow.

"Run!" Jodi shouted.
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#35
Epsidode 26: Screams of the Dying

Through the fog, Jodi watched the oncoming walkers, a wave of death spreading out towards them, each lurching step moving through the snow brought the tide ever closer.

"We have to get out of here!" Jodi growled. "Now!"

"What about the coordinate book?" Catina asked jogging up beside her.

The walkers were only moments away. "There's no time!"

Catina shakes her head. "We have to try! There has to be something here. If we don't find it, we don't find that cache. Without the supplies in the cache, we're talking starvation."

Jodi nodded and gave a grimace. The spectre of starvation was a real thing now, Jodi knew. It was no longer a remote event from some war-torn, third-world country carried into your living room by falsely sympathetic reporters on large screen televisions. Starvation was real, and it would be savage. Wars had been fought for less. And it'd be fought again over dwindling resources, and food and water were the most basic of those resources. 

But Jodi wondered if this supply cache might just be a giant pipe dream. Jodi didn't want to risk the lives of everyone on some possible buried treasure.

"Look, we probably have about a minute before they move further inward. So, make it count."

Catina nodded then called out, "Everyone, look for a library or communications center!" 

The other women looked on in horror as several walkers grabbed an unsuspecting settler and pulled him to the ground, feeding in a frenzy of red. Another group tackled a burly man with a shock of red hair. He pushed them off and then turned to run, but tripped and was grabbed from behind.

"Stay two by two with your riding buddies. Don't get separated! Stay ahead of them." Jodi called after her departing comrades. "We'll meet back at the ATVs." Kristi was by her side and the screaming brought the matter of hand back to attention.

The man began to scream. He was being eaten alive. He was screaming for help. The screams from the dying man scraped at her soul. Jodi raised her rifle and put her finger on the trigger. She could end his suffering. It was the merciful thing to do. She sighted in on his head which was still free as he tried to crawl or scrabble away from group of six or so walkers around him, pulling at him. It wasn't with his legs being eaten. Then felt a weight on the barrel of her gun and saw Kristi pushing it down, shaking her head.

"Don't do it," Kristi said hoarsely and her face looked as green as Jodi's stomach felt. "Once we start shooting, they'll hear us. See us. Right now the settlers are...keeping them busy." Her voice was a dead weight of grayness and despair.

"But, he's--"

"I know."

And Jodi knew it too. It was logical. She didn't want logic. She wanted to end this pain and destruction. But it would never end until civilization somehow came back from this and found a way to live with it or to overcome it.

Jodi and Kristi look about for the library. Do they find it? (+1 two sets of eyes, -1 horde distraction, -1 fog)

(Somewhat Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Postpone

Disruption

(They're postponing the disruption of their group?)


(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(So the disruption of their group got postponed. Why?)

Do Catina and Jen find the library (+1 driven, +1 two sets of eyes, -1 horde distraction, -1 fog)

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Jodi had turned and she and Kristi had started moving down the street to the east, the others had moved to the west when Catina suddenly called out.
"Found it! It's here!" 

What did she find? An on-base library 1-2, the comms center at the base 2-3, or a training classroom 4-6.

5 = 5[d6]

And there through the fog was a sign with white lettering on the front of a building "Jefferson Instruction Hall". It was worth a shot. The problem was that the walkers were already drawing near the building. They wouldn't be able to enter it and search it without maintaining a perimeter.

Did Lilly and Ayanna get separated from them?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Jodi and Kristi jogged back toward Catina and Jen. The training hall was a large rectangular structure. 

Is it made of prefab?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Catina tried the door.

Is it locked?

(It's not locked but perhaps moisture got into the thin wood over the months swelling it a little and jamming the frames)

Catina shoulder checked the door. 

Does it open?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Catina bounced off the now-solid door bruising her shoulder (-1 shooting until she rests)

"Try a window!" Jodi suggests. Then the group of walkers that approached arrested her attention. "Maintain the perimeter!" Jodi shouted. "Wait until they get close. Aim for their heads. Make every shot count! Catina, get in there fast!"

She heard a window shatter and then was caught up in the approaching hordes.

wave 1 (1d10 zeds)

7 = 7[d10]

Seven walkers came at them.

Four within Jodi and Kristi's arc, 3 within Lillie and Ayanna's

Jodi takes a knee, braces, sites in and fires.

Three shots each:
(+1 close, +1 braces, -2 head, +1 shooting)

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

It doesn't hit the head, but it knocks it down.

She shifts targets: 3 more shots

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

She shoots the second one and one of Kristi's

Kristi shoots at hers, she's also doing 3 shots each:

(+1 close, +1 braced, -2 head, +0 shooting)

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Seeing her other one is down, she fires three more at her first one.

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Shots rang in Jodi's ears as the zeds dropped. One of them stood back up, it's rotted teeth clicking as it's mouth opened and closed, robotic-like. Jodi had time to aim. She sighted in on its head and fired two shots:

(+1 close, +1 braces, -2 head, +1 shooting, +1 aim)

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

And it dropped in a spray of red.

Jodi and Kristi are on the perimeter facing north and north east. Lilli and Ayanna are on the perimeter facing north and north west...

Three towards Ayanna and Lillie. They have the same skill:
+1 close, +1 braces, -2 head, +0 shooting)

They'll do six shots each:

Ayanna:

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Ayanna drops tw of them and wounds the other, knocking it back, giving Lillie and aimed shot:

Lillie:

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Jodi smelled gun powder and felt the cold on her fingers. She warmed them on the barrel. How long...?

-- To Catina and Jen --

The moment they broke the window, the shooting started. Catina and Jen broke away the glass from the window, and Jen leaned in to peer inside the darkened interior.

Is there anything unusual inside?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes

We'll use the MAG!

(symbols trophie cup, flower, twisted kind of cross symbol, test tube, bull head with horns, bodies, eyes in a hood, alien eyes, and a witch)

The bodies and eyes are catching my attention. Sounds like someone is inside. Might be the living or might be the undead. Living?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Ah, I see. They're the living sort, but probably not all of them for long because among the scared settlers in here there are some wounded.

Are they armed?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

And they're too scared to talk and attack. Fair enough. What weaponry do they have?

Any firearms?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Jen, stuck her heard through the window, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness inside from the white snow outside. She heard a whooshing sound and a bludgeon of some sort swung down at her head.

Is she hit?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Knocked out?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Jen felt the wind of motion and realized too late what was happening. The a stick slammed down on her head. She had twisted when she felt the danger, and it had glanced off her skull. She fell backwards onto her rump, and dropped her gun. Her hand came away with a little blood and she blinked several times to clear the stars. She was unhurt but images were still a little blurry. 

Catina saw her daughter fall back, saw her grab her head, saw the blood. With a shout, she sprayed a burst through the the thin wall at her daughter's assailant.

Catina shoots ten shots in a spraying burst. Every few bullets will give a +1 to hit.
(shooting skill +1, shooting a burst +3, close +1, can't see target's exact position -1) 
Hit?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

How many out of ten hit?

8 = 8[d10]

Torso.

Gut.

Torso.

Upper arm Shoulder.

Head.

Lower arm.

Torso.

Foot.

(5 = 2[d20]+3) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Bruise.

(11 = 8[d20]+3) Minor Injury: Largely superficial; painful and distracting, but not life threatening.

(22 = 19[d20]+3) Killed.

(16 = 13[d20]+3) Severe Injury: Incapacitating and may become Critical if untreated.

etc... Smile

There was shouting, screams and then the sound of a body heading the ground heavily.

"Don't shoot! Please!"

"Drop your weapons!" Catina growled. She cautiously approached the window and peered through. Faces looked back at her. Scared faces. 

Who had she slain? She looks at the near wall. The body that lay slumped against the wall with the caved in face and was a tall man with features that suggested asian decent somewhere along his lineage.

How many others are in the room?

3 = 3[d6]

Are there any children?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Catina looked at them. A teenager boy darted fearful yet sullen eyes from Catina to the man in the pool of blood on the floor. 

Is the young man emotionally attached to the guy that was shot and killed?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

His faces twisted in repressed fear and fury. There was a woman who could have been the boy's mother. And there was another man who was cradling his arm and moaning.

The boy raised his hands and dropped a large metal pipe. The woman was unarmed and also raised her hands.

"Against the wall!" Catina ordered. They obeyed. Outside there had been shooting, but that also stopped now. Jen finally climbed to her feet. "Mom, we need to hurry. They're coming!"

"I know."

"Take us with you! Please," The woman said. "Don't leave us here."

Has the room been damaged and are classroom materials missing or in dissaray?


(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yesand...

The interior was a class room with rows of desks. Many were overturned. Books lay everywhere in haphazard piles. A desk was tilted crazily on one side the drawers facing up towards the ceiling. There was only this one room and a back door out. It too was barricaded with bookshelves.

"Stay against the wall! We're just looking for something. Then we'll be gone."

... meanwhile outside...

Do more zeds come towards the shooting (+1 already moving in that general direction, +2 lots of shooting)?

(Very Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Jodi watched horrified as they just kept coming. Did they have time to reload?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

She should have put in a fresh mag. No time.

How many this time (we'll go up a dice increment, 1d12)

3 = 3[d12]

(whew)...

I'll roll a 1d180 to simulate what direction they're coming from along an imaginary defensive half circle perimeter facing north. 

43 = 43[d180] degrees

That's Lillie and Ayanna's side... Jodi let them handle it. She ejected her mag, yanked out a new one and slammed it into place. At her nod Kristi did the same.

Lillie and Ayanna vs 3 zeds:

They'll shoot six shots each.
+1 close, +1 braces, -2 head, +0 shooting)
Lillie first:

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Ayanna:

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Three walker heads popped and bodies dropped.

--- back to inside ---

"Cover them while I look for it," Catina said to her daughter after she had climbed through. She began to rifle through the class room, peering in over turned desks, in the piles of rubbish, then in the main desk up front.

Jen moved to support her mother. She stayed outside the building but covered the two occupants with her rifle, ensuring that they stayed against the wall. The other one, the wounded man, groaned and rocked back and forth and then side to side on his back.

"Who are you?" a middle-aged woman asked. Tears streaked her face and one hand clenched at her shirt wringing tighter and tighter, twisting the shirt tail into a stiff twisted mass. She was large boned and could be the teenage boy's mother. Her eyes darted to the fallen man, lying in a pool of blood back to Jen and Catina. "Why are you here?"

"You killed him," the young man who was about Jen's age breathed, his face mottled now and his voice tight with half suppressed emotion.

"It wasn't--It wasn't me..." Jen stammared. "He hit me in the head with--" she shook her head and saw the handle of a broom stick, "Look, it wasn't me. I fell down outside and--"

"You killed him!" he shouted it this time, spittle flying from his mouth. "He was only trying to protect us. Why did you--"

"Yes I did. He threatened my daughter," Catina stated matter-of-factly, as she scanned a wide book case of books leaning haphazardly against the west wall. Much of the room had been looted. The room was a mess with books in mixed heaps on the floor. Some were in wet puddles, others had been torn or ripped. Some had been used for tinder in a fire in a blackened waste basket.

Does Catina get lucky and find the grid reference book right off the bat?

(Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes

Woah... that was handy... And lucky. Might not add to the narrative tension but I'll take it.

Is the book damaged at all?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Catina swore and shoved the bookcase over. It collapsed in a heap. Where was it? 

She could spend an hour in this mess and probably still miss it. But they didn't have an hour! They didn't even have five freaking minutes. They only-- And something caught her eyes, a thick volume, hard-bound "US MRGRS Index - Western States". 

Her heart skipped a beat and she picked it up. Could this be it?

Book damage: 
(3 = 3[d20]) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Dent.

She thumbed through it. It was in remarkably good shape, considering the rest of the room. The shouting in the room continued, but Catina ignored it and quickly thumbed through the volume. Inside were columns of numbers that related to the MGRS and many maps. It was a treasure trove of cartography. All she needed was to find the starting point in the reference book from the MGRS code book back at the base. 

She shoved the heavy volume into a saddle bag over her shoulder, taken from the horse.

"That's what you're here for? A book? You killed my father over a book?"

Catina just stared at him, her eyes hard.

"I hate you!" the boy screamed. 

Then there were more gunshots outside.

--- back outside ---

Okay. We're going to increase the tension a bit. Zeds are probably coming in increasing numbers. We'll roll 1d10 + 1d20.

3 = 3[d10]

7 = 7[d20]

Okay. Could have been a lot worse, like twenty zeds worse. This time, only ten walkers came towards them and Jodi. But she saw more coming around side streets to her left and right, beginning to flow towards them, a slow but inexorable avalanche of teeth, claws, and a nameless hunger.

They'll need to hold these ten off while Catina and Jen get out of the building.

We'll speed it up. Do they defeat the 10 zeds without issue?
(given the number of assault rifles pointed downrange, I'd say likely, but since Ayanna and Lillie have to reload, I'll say SL)

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

There next few moments was a haphazard shooting line and when the smoke clearned, Ayanna and Lillie slapped in new mags...

-- meanwhile back inside --

The shooting starts. Does the boy do something rash to avenge his father
(+1 emotions, +1 catina and Jen are distracted by the shooting, -1 they have guns)

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

The boy began to move off of the wall, reaching for his pipe, but Jen raised her rifle and he backed off, but he continued to shout spittle-filled epithets Jen and Catina.

Jen kept her rifle trained on the two inside and with one hand helped her mother climb out of the building. 

The mother inside pleaded, calling after them, "Please take us with you. You can't leave us here. The monsters. They'll get us! Kill us!"

"Go to hell!" the boy shouted at them at the same time. "They don't care mom. They just kill! They're no better than them!" he pointed to the wounded man on the floor who at this time started to twitch.

"No... not Arthur too. Please no..." the mother moaned.

Jen felt flustered, and held the rifle half-heartedly "I'm sorry about your father... we didn't mean to hurt him--"

"That's a load of BS an you know it!" The boy shouted.

"I meant to hurt him," Catina countered her own daughter's words icily, staring at the boy with equally cold eyes. Her words deathly matter-of-fact. "No one hurts my daughter. Got it?"

"You can't leave us. Take us with you, please!" the mother screamed.

Catina lips pressed together and she shook her head. "Things might have been different if you didn't attack us. Actions have consequences. Bridges get burned." Catina gave a brief smile. "But I tell you what. I'll help you out," she swung the barrel at the boy's chest. He quited recognizing his danger. 

Then Catina swung the barrel passed him onto the man twitching starting to turn. Catina aimed and drove a single bullet into his head. The body went limp. "One less you'll have to deal with," she said and then they were moving away from the building and its occupants. 

More zeds approach at them from around the streets and even some are starting to come in from behind them. They'll need to fight their way out.

"I have it!" Catina shouted as Jodi jogged south away from the building

"You took your sweet time!" Jodi said as she ran.

"Ran into some local troubles," Catina said, her face hard as she looked at class room. Then she looked over at Jen and smiled. Jen looked away.

"Keep moving. Head south to the ATVs!"

"Uh, Jodi, they're coming from that way too," Lillie said.

"I know, but there's less. We'll have to run and shoot. Follow me!" Jodi looked behind them and saw zombies surround the rectangular building. Some started pounding on doors. Others started gathering at windows. Some fell back being hit by something within the window. 

"Please no. Take us with you!" the plea drifted to her across snowy lane.

Jen stopped and turned around. "We have to help them. We can't leave them--"

"Keep moving!" Catina said, grabbing her daughter and pushing her in front of her.

"But, they'll die, we could have helped them. You could have helped them!"

"Save it for later!" Jodi said, raising her rifle and slowing to a fast walk, jamming the rifle into her shoulder, she squeezed off several shots. She led the way, followed by Jen, Catina, Kristine, Ayanna, and Lillie. And all of them were followed by a numberless horde mingled with the screams of the dying.
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