Zombie Killers: AMBUSH: Irregular Scout Team One Book Six (Zombie Killer Blues 6)

BOOK: Zombie Killers: AMBUSH: Irregular Scout Team One Book Six (Zombie Killer Blues 6)
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Irregular Scout Team One Book Six
ZOMBIE KILLERS: AMBUSH!

 

First came the plague. A genetically engineered virus that brought civilization crashing down, while turning its victims into mindless carnivores. We fought. Retreated. Died. Lived. Advanced. Started rebuilding the United States.
The scout teams went out, seeing what was left of the world, moving far ahead of the Army, seeking survivors, checking infrastructure, salvaging precious relics of our history.

Then the second plague, loosed by a dictator in a desperate bid for power and control, and the cycle repeated itself, this time with even smaller numbers. Still, we held on, and rebuilt again, the United States reduced to a few million people living in Upstate New York and Lower New England. 

I had thought we were done, hung up the weapons and settle down to farming and trading, but for a soldier, that itch never goes away. The adventure just around the next corner, the thrill of combat and defeating your enemies, the call of the unknown. So I went out, one more time.
~ Command Sergeant Major (R) Nicholas Agostine, US Army Reserves
   Brevet Colonel, US Army
   Stillwater Island, Stillwater, NY
   Year 36 

 

 

For events prior to this book, please see
Irregular Scout Team One
, available on Amazon.

Chapter 209

 

I looked down the length of the valley, stretching southward in the summer haze of a muggy Upstate New York day. Nothing moved there that I could see through the binoculars, except some turkey vultures riding high overhead in the thermals. Likely, there was anything TOO move. Six years after the zombie apocalypse, and the societal breakdown directly afterwards, most parts of the country were empty of human life.

 

The building that I was perched on had once been a church, the tallest structure in the deserted town. Interstate 90 lay two days’ march behind us, and another four or five days of slow patrolling lay in front. Our mission, the one I had grabbed onto like a man caught in a flooding stream, was to explore the Harlem Valley, down NY State Route 22, where it paralleled the Massachusetts border. It was a rough, hilly area, and the going was made slow by our precaution of not taking the main road.

 

Six years after the Apocalypse, and two years after the second plague, the United States struggled to survive. Five million people, many of them living in refugee camps, eked out a bare existence on starvation levels of food rationing, squatting in tent cities and in towns up and down the Hudson Valley and west towards Buffalo. We needed to settle them in productive land, get people working again. This valley had once been known as the “bread basket of New York City” and it had remained farm country, tucked into the Taconic Mountain Range.

“I don’t see anything, Red” I said, handing the binos to the small, bronze skinned man beside me.

He grunted as he stuck them away in a pouch on his plate carrier. “Doesn’t mean shit, you know that. They’re out there.”

“Yeah, but who? Bad guys or good guys?” We had come across only two farms on the way down from the check point where Rt. 22 crossed I-90. An army LMTV had dropped us of there, the six of us of Irregular Scout Team One. Five soldiers and one civilian; a short team, but we didn’t expect much trouble on this one.

“Can’t be any worse than what you’re running away from. Angry red hair Negloshi !” he snickered, referring to my wife.

I shrugged. “Brit will get over it. Besides, isn’t a Nagloshi the baddest of your Navajo demons?”

“Yep, and I’ve never met a woman who I was more afraid to piss off. When we get back, you’re on your own on this one, pale face.”

“Screw you too, Injun Joe. I ain’t scared of her,” I muttered and made my way down the ladder from the church steeple to join the other guys who were pulling security. Truthfully, I
was
scared of facing my wife when we got back from this mission. Honestly, I was bored with working the farm and the trading post. Things were going well there, traffic was increasing on the river, and we ate better than most. Our son Nate was now three years old, and he had been joined by a little sister, Jean. I just wanted to take a few weeks to get away while the corn grew, before the harvest time came.

Settled life had always been hard for me, after my tours in Afghanistan. I had barely begun to live a civilian life after leaving the Regular Army and joining the National Guard, when the Zombie Plague had broken out, wrecking America. I had lost my wife and child, spent months living on my own, then been dragged back into the Army, running a mixed team of military and civilian scouts.*

Now, well, now I need a vacation from the quiet life. My current wife, Brittany O’Neil, had flipped her shit when I had brought it up, and to be honest, I ran. I made up some excuse about Jimmy Bognaski being in town, and Angelo Redshirt, my former teammate and current neighbor, had jumped at the chance for a little adventure himself. We had hitched a ride on a canal boat, but I felt like shit inside at the way Brit had told me to “get it the fuck out of my system”. Yeah, she was mad, but it felt great to be walking a patrol again. Deep down inside I think she wanted to go with me, but she would never leave the kids alone again if it could be helped.

“Are we ready?” I asked Lisa, the sole female on our team, and sort of a civilian, though she was ex military. She had gone back to the Reserves last year, and this trip was her putting in her two weeks. Lisa Cappocchi had been a cop and a reserve drill sergeant, and had escaped from the hell of California by the skin of her teeth, coming back home to New York after the Pacific Northwest fell. Her daughter was now a Staff Sergeant on Scout Team Three, and they were both strong ass women. Hell, she could probably bench press me with or without my artificial leg, and she was tough as nails.

“Good to go, Sergeant Major.” We moved out in single file, Lisa on point with her shotgun, Brandon Jackson cradling his sniper rifle, then me, followed by 2nd LT Buck Simmons, then Jimmy Bognaski, then Red, watching our back. Simons was fresh from the Scout Team Q course, and this trip was hopefully a good way to break him in before he got sent to a team. So far, he had listened and asked questions, a good sign. Jackson was a salvager who sometimes ran with the teams when he needed extra cash. We had worked together before, good man in a tight spot.

Since we had started at sunset, the sky faded as we walked, till full dark set in and we turned on our night vision devices. The valley turned spooky green, and our pace slowed even further. We walked through back yards and farm fields, avoiding the road, climbing over fences, going slowly so we didn’t trip over something hidden in six years worth of overgrown lawn. Far from medical care, a sprained ankle or a cut that turned infectious could be death in few days.

We had just climbed over a rock wall dividing two fields when, ahead in the darkness, Caps’ hand came up, then she dropped out of site. The rest of us feel flat, and the guys in the read crawled up to me and set up watch on all sides. I moved up past Jackson, low crawling through the weeds, till I came up to Lisa and tapped her boot. She scooted back and whispered “Heard a noise, smelled something. Probably a wandering Z.”

Shit, not good. Where there was one, there was the possibility of a horde, and they could smell far better than they could see. If we smelled it, it probably smelled us. I rose up to take a peek across the open, and something landed on me in a tackle, howling like a banshee.
*See the events in Irregular Scout Team One.

Chapter 210

 

I did what instinct and training told me do, tucked my neck into my collar to avoid getting bit, and rolled with the tackle, coming up on top of the undead thing that had attacked me. I managed to get my Teflon reinforced sleeve jammed into the things’ jaws, and I could feel the incredible pressure of its bite trying to work its way through my uniform. Rotten, broken teeth tore at the cloth, but the new uniforms had be designed for exactly this kind of thing. I leaned hard, putting all my weight onto my left arm, while I fumbled around for my knife with my right. I hadn’t found it before a metal bar went TWACK past my ear and into the zombie’s head, shattering it. I managed to just turn my face away before I was splattered with whatever the hell it was that kept these things alive for six years.

I didn’t say anything to Simmons, who had swung the smashing bar, just rolled back down onto my side and listened, waiting for an answering howl and trying to get my breathing under control. The night had gone dead, the usual bird and bug noises silenced by the howl, which must have been heard up and down the valley. I held up my hands and flashed ten fingers and pointed right, shifting the squad ten meters in a low crawl through the bushes. Only when we had settled down into a new security position did I allow myself to relax a bit.

“I’m getting too old for this shit” I muttered as Jackson, who was acting as our Field Medic, felt me up and down for any other bites or cuts I may have missed. Sometimes, in the heat of things, you can get pretty seriously wounded and not notice till long after the action was over.

“You and me both, Nick” he said, then slapped my leg, indicating that I was good to go. I crawled over to Red and conferred with him for a bit.

“Well” he said, in between sucking water from a camelback “You had your excitement, can we go home now?”

I thought about it. I seriously did. The army could have sent a regular infantry company to march through here in the day time, kicking the shit out of anything that stuck its head up. The guys who remained in what was left of the US Army after the second plague didn’t fuck around, and were as a hardass bunch of bastards (and bitches) who ever walked the face of the earth. I was pushing forty, had only one leg, owned a farm, had a beautiful wife and two good kids. What the hell was I doing out here?

On the other hand, I felt so pumped up from that brief encounter that I knew I had to get the adrenalin junkie craving out of my system, and it wasn’t enough yet. As tired as I had been two years ago when we made it back home, I missed combat. Call it crazy, but I was going out of my skull trying to keep from being bored.

“No, we signed on for this, we gotta get to the end of the valley and linkup on Interstate 84. THEN we go home.”

Red, who was much younger than me, groaned at the thought of another sixty miles or so of walking. His foot had been smashed by grenade fragments a while back, and he still walked with a bit of a limp. Still, his house had been pretty empty, even with his son Nick there, growing into a giant at four years old, taking after his dead mother. I knew he wanted to get away for a bit too.

“OK, paleface, you lead, injun follow.”

I laughed quietly and signaled the team to move out.

 

 

Chapter 211

 

The next day was quiet, and we spent it holed up in an old farmhouse deep in the woods. After clearing it, we sat down to watch and rest. Weapons cleaning, some hot MREs, and some much needed sleep. From sunrise to around three, each of us got at least four hours of unbroken sleep, rotating through the watch. We would have stayed longer, but the next small town was three miles ahead, and I wanted to check it out in daylight. In the old days, when the biggest threat had been from the undead, we walked down roads in broad daylight, with the best cleared fields of fire we could get. Now, with most of them rotting away or cleared out by periodic Air Force “dragging” missions, our biggest threat was a looter or scavengers, or a group of raiders. That’s why we moved at night, because the world had become a dark place, and our NOD’s gave us a world of advantage.

The town was like so many thousands of others across America. Dead. Empty. Deserted. We slipped through it as quietly as we could, keeping to alleyways and moving from doorway to doorway, always covering, moving slow, checking each building. It was a tiring, grinding process. Broken glass was everywhere from shattered windows, and six years of bitter cold winters and blazing summers had ripped off roofing tiles and shattered brick, so every step had to be planned so you didn’t turn an ankle.

It took us more than two hours to move around through, less than half a mile, and at the south end of town, we found what I expected. The townspeople had erected barricades against the hordes of refugees coming up from the suburbs of New York City. The weakest city dwellers had died out before they got here, seventy miles north. That left the hard ones, the armed gangs and the determined survivors, and there had been a grim, brutal battle here. Burned cars and skeletons by the hundreds, on both sides of the barriers. Bullet holes, smashed arms legs and skulls. The townspeople hadn’t had a chance, and it turned out that the refugees hadn’t either. The apocalypse had happened in the late summer, but the horde had eaten its way through whatever food was still in the fields, and dissipated to die in the mountains when an early winter set in.
              It was true, the undead had been a threat, but what had really destroyed the country was panic. People tried to run from the population centers, but gas had run out when the massive traffic jams started and then civilians who had never walked ten miles in their lives killed themselves trying to march dozens, running from fear.

My National Guard unit had tried to hold the Watervliet – Cohoes Bridge. We held, for two hours, first with bayonets to keep the fleeing civilians in order as they retreated north, then when the panic started, and the first real or imagined undead were seen, we held with live ammo. I remembered Captain Lynch giving the order to fire; he had been a hard bastard, but I agreed with him. Even if it didn’t work. As we fought, another unit on the Route 9 bridge over the Mohawk collapsed and gave way, under a real attack by a group of undead.

BOOK: Zombie Killers: AMBUSH: Irregular Scout Team One Book Six (Zombie Killer Blues 6)
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