Apocalypse origins, p.15
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       Apocalypse Origins, p.15

           R.A. Neely
 

  ***

  Morning came and found Russell, Greg, and James stealthily moving through the forest. "We're nearly there," Russell said quietly.

  The sound of heavy metal music reached their ears and Russell went prone. The others followed suit and they belly crawled until they reached the edge of a clearing. Inside they saw a number of men moving about. They were all dressed in leather attire and Greg assumed that they were bikers of some sort. This was confirmed a moment later when he saw bikes neatly arranged on one side of the clearing.

  Greg continued looking around and suddenly went still. On the other side of the clearing there were a number of women in various states of undress. On their legs he noticed that a chain had been attached to a bracelet around their ankle. The chain was then staked to the ground with a peg of some sort. Greg frowned angrily. There was no doubt in Greg's mind about what they had been forced to do.  To make matters worse, Greg saw several women dressed like the men moving around. He saw several of them go out of their way to walk past the captives. There were pinches and slaps as the women walked by and Greg heard raucous laughter in response. 

  Anger filled Greg's heart. These things, he wouldn't dignify them with anything more, were worse than Dawn. She at least had reason for her madness. These animals were being purposely cruel for no reason. Who would have thought he'd find something worse than the infected? Greg had seen enough. He'd gather the men and they'd strike this place in force. He'd save the women too if he could. Hopefully they'd be able to recover from what they'd been through. He reached out to tap Russell on the shoulder and indicated that he wanted to leave.

  They stopped once they were a safe distance away. Greg looked at each of them and saw the same fire in their eyes that was no doubt in his own. "We're coming back," he said.

  Russell and James nodded in unison. "I'm glad you're on board," Russell said.

  "No way we couldn't be after seeing that," James said.

  "I'd like a plan so we can try and save the women but I'm putting those bandits down. They're worse than infected."

  Russell nodded his agreement. "I'm glad you feel that way. There's no way we could do anything about them without your help."

  Back at the inn Greg gathered his inner circle and met with the rangers and the Oates. They tried to come up with a plan that would give the captives the best chance of surviving.

  "How do we know they won't just hurt the captives as soon as they see us?" Jackson asked.

  "Let's not give them the chance," Russell said.

  "Yeah," Melissa chimed in, "let's hit them so hard that they'll be too busy trying to save their own skin."

  "That seems a good way to get those women hurt," Laura said.

  The group went back and forth for a while, each of them pushing a plan that they thought would guarantee the captives' safety. Greg waited for a lull in the conversation before speaking.

  "There are things worse than death," Greg said. Everyone looked at him and he smiled sadly. "Getting bit by the infected and then turning on your loved one," he said as he looked towards James who nodded in response. He was no doubt thinking of the ordeal he had faced in the hospital. "Getting captured by animals and being forced to endure God knows what. There are things worse than death."

  They all sat quietly as they thought about what Greg had said. "We'll go with this," he said. "I'd like to save all the captives but I'm not going to let these animals get away. They're not gonna hurt anyone else. We'll task a few men to go for the captives once the fighting starts. If we get lucky they'll be able to get everyone. If not, we'll still have saved some."

  Greg looked around the table and he could tell from their facial expressions that they weren't happy with his proposal. He didn't see any other options though. There was no way to guarantee the captives safety. They couldn't call a hostage negotiator and bargain for their release. Greg was sure these animals wouldn't be satisfied unless they got all of their food and maybe not even then. He was surprised that they hadn't already attacked the inn. Bargaining with your survival was a dead end. If Byron gave up all his food, how we these people here going to survive?

  "Let's move," Greg said putting an end to the discussion. Everyone quickly filed out of the room and he quickly found himself alone with Byron.

  "Thanks for that," Byron said. "We'd still be arguing if you hadn't taken charge."

  Greg shrugged, "Just doing what needs to be done."

  "I mean it," Byron said, "I don't know what we would've done if you hadn't shown up."

  "Good thing we showed up then," Greg said as he stood. "You coming?"

  "Wouldn't miss it," Byron replied with a deadly smile.
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