Chapter Eight: CDC Atlanta
AN: Hi all, just a note to take notice of: I had one reader PM me with a flame about Amy and Dudley being in a relationship when she's a full 12 years younger than Andrea. I felt like a schlep when I told him I was going with the comic's age difference of just 2 years...
'Nuff said, Martin70
Dr. Edwin Jenner screamed in frustration as the samples of his wife's brain were destroyed. "FUCK!" He tore his containment suit off and went looking for a bottle of scotch to drown his sorrows in.
The next day, Jenner sat in the 'Big Room', as he liked to call it and recorded another report. "The TS-19 samples are gone, I screwed up, they were the best samples we had on hand, all the others were to far gone, necrotic." He looked at his watch and continued, "It's been sixty-five days since the event went global. I estimate one to five years before the event runs its course and all human life on earth is wiped out. Even if the rumors are true about these so called magicals, that they're immune, they'll be overrun by the dead to the point that it won't matter if they do survive. Their population won't be large enough to sustain itself and they'll die out on their own...
"I got drunk last night. I think I'll do it again tonight..." He killed the feed, then went looking for more booze...
Harry and crew pulled up to the outer markers of the CDC cordon area and shut off their engines. Harry stepped out of his car and looked at all the bodies scattered all over creation and back. He'd seen this many bodies before, sure, but not all dead and headshot like this. Someone had been busy after all hell broke loose here.
He turned back to the group and noticed that everyone was holding a cloth to their faces except his friends who'd cast bubble-head charms on themselves. Harry made a point to cast one on Rick, which Rick was happy to get. Soon, everyone was approaching the main doors with the charm protecting them from the overwhelming stench of so many rotting corpses.
Harry walked up to door that was blocked with a thick steel shutter like all the rest and tapped at a spot on the wall that looked no different than any other bit of wall. A panel slid aside and revealed a keypad. Harry tapped in a code, but it was rejected, so he tapped in another. This too failed to make anything happen. Harry stopped and tapped his forefinger against his chin for a moment. He glanced at the camera that had panned down to watch his every move and gave it a jaunty wave, then tapped in a final code.
The shutter shot up, as did another on the interior side of the door. Harry started to lead the group through the door and found himself staring down the barrel of an assault rifle...
"Don't move... How did you know the last three codes used to override the shutters?" Jenner asked as he nervously pointed his weapon at the man with an odd bubble of some kind surrounding his lower face.
Harry made a gesture with his left hand, stopping his companions from doing anything rash. "I was given the codes in DC by the minister of magic for America. Most, if not all of the regular government has fallen and we were sent here to help you."
Jenner scowled, "What's your area of expertise doctor...?"
"I'm not a doctor, but-" Harry started.
Jenner bristled, "Then what kind of help are you?" He almost pulled the trigger, but stopped himself. He deflated and then said. "It doesn't matter anymore anyway... We're all going to die, even you magicals..."
Harry grew worried for a moment, "We are, all of us?"
Jenner nodded as he dropped his weapon down to an at ready position, "I reported that in my last feed to DC. Didn't your people get it?"
Harry shook his head, "We're locked out of those files. The CDC there is gone, went up just before we came over from the UK. What was in the report?"
Jenner repeated his report almost verbatim and waited to see the reactions of his audience.
Rick and Glenn looked like they were going to be sick. Daryl and Merle were just plain stunned, while T-Dog and Morales exchanged looks of despair.
Ron, Nev and Mione were a bit dismayed by Jenner's fatalistic analysis, especially with what he said about the magicals chances if all the muggles died out.
Mione spoke up as she moved forward, "What so you mean exactly about our chances?"
Jenner answered, "Law of averages, even if, by some miracle, you magicals manage to survive, you'll eventually breed yourselves into extinction. Your gene pool will be too shallow to continue the species. If my calculations are correct, you have, had, what, one percent of one percent of the world's population that's magical? So, roughly, seven million of you worldwide. If you're suffering even half the rate of attrition we normal people are, in five years, you'll have around a thousand to five thousand of your people left, and we'll all be dead. That might be fine for a colony somewhere, but even a colony would need new blood every few generations to keep the population diverse enough, genetically speaking. So-"
"So, without new blood, like say from normal people, we'll die out too..." Hermione finished. "Harry, we have to stop this, even sooner than Luna predicted. If we don't, humanity is finished. It won't matter, if we pass the threshold Jenner is talking about... Yes, magicals will live through this, but only for a few generations, maybe five or six, but no more than that... and mundanes will be wiped out altogether..."
Harry nodded. "Dr. Jenner, what do you need from us magicals to develop a cure, or barring that at least a vaccine of sorts, say something that could boost a normal person's immunity to this pandemic? Also, I'd like you to begin research into magical cores in magicals and to see if mundanes have any sort of vestige core themselves. If mundanes do, look for a way to boost that core in some way. There would be your cure right there, if it's possible..."
"They do Harry, everyone and everything has a little magic in them..." Hermione said, "In fact, that might explain why Jim is a seer without being a full on wizard or squib. His core is just enough for him to see what he does... It could also explain why people turn at different rates after they die. The smaller their bit of magic is, the faster they turn..."
Jenner perked up at what he was hearing, but then he slumped, "This is all academic, this facility is going to fail in," he glanced at his watch, "ten hours, fifty-three minutes and nineteen seconds."
"No, it won't. Ron, Nev, follow the good doctor here down to the generators and break out the petrol, er gas, we have enough to last this place several more weeks, and we can have more here soon from DC, along with a staff for you and volunteers for tests. We'll lick this thing yet, at least work on solving the symptoms." Harry ordered and explained.
Everyone present felt a ray of hope swell within them. Jenner had a wistful smile on his face as he led his new friends into the facility, his wife would happy that he had a new chance at life and a new mission to give hope to the masses that were left...
Kyle Moorland stood on the road along with a hundred of his fellow skirmishers. Kyle wasn't much to look at, but his keen mind was what really made him shine. His ideas were now molding and shaping a strategy that, if it worked as he foresaw it, would create a new hope for the people of Hannibal, MO...
"PIKES OUT!" he yelled, and a hundred homemade pikes were lowered to take the brunt of the approaching herd of undead.
Each person under his command was dressed similarly to himself: Black clothes, mostly made from denim that had been dyed to match, followed by a thick leather apron. This was followed by a light jacket with thick leather sown into the back and under arms; weak points in any armor. Arms and legs were then covered in homemade pauldrons and greaves of heavy leather, with lengths of hardened and shaped plastic throughout the whole outfit. Hands were covered with gauntlets made from leather and actual chainmail made by a local smith. Everyone wore steel toed boots or shoes with special ankle guards added. Finally heads and necks were covered by various helmets, from football to baseball, and everyone wore a hockey mask.
All of this was checked, double checked, and triple checked. Duct tape was added to any weak spots, and many added a flair of their own to the gear by adding neck braces, hockey and football pads as well as knee and elbow guards. Some then added paint jobs to their hockey masks, everything from skulls to unicorns for some of the girls in the bunch.
Their weapons varied some, but Kyle had tried to keep it as uniform as he could. Each pike was the same, fourteen feet long with a steel capping point much like a javelin. They were crude in nature, but they were there just to stop the walkers from immediately overwhelming them.
Each of them also had a full body sized shield, some were actual riot shields with a few taller and thicker body shields used to cover more than one person. Kyle had the biggest and strongest using those, while two smaller people watched the bearer's back and sides and did the actual fighting, being far quicker and agile than the beefy guys were. Small openings were made in these shields to allow the next main weapon of Kyle small army to be used, a machete. Then each carried either a long knife with a cross guard on it, or a short pike that was four feet long. Some carried both...
The herd came up the hill from the Mississippi River, following the I-72/US Route 36 highway. They had come down from other towns in the Tri-state area on the Illinois side of the river and gathered into a herd some five thousand strong. Kyle had scouts across the river for weeks keeping a careful eye on it, while he had his people moving wrecks around to make a funnel for the undead to follow. Everything from steel posts to picket fencing was lining the path to whittle the walkers down for easier disposal later... if there was a later... Now, his efforts would have a final test...
The herd hit the funnel as expected and began to close on the pikes. The hundred were stacked up three deep, a thin line to be sure. Behind their line, two buses were fueled up and ready to close off the funnel completely if the plan failed. Ammunition was at a premium now since the clearing of the small hilly town, so this plan had better work...
"HOLD! HOLD! READY SHIELDS! READY SHORT PIKES AND KNIVES!" Kyle bellowed, his voice carrying easily across the area. "FIRST LINE! FROM POSITIONS, ATTACK!" The first wave of walkers slammed into his forward line and was met with the pikes of all, then the first liners stepped up a single step and began stabbing heads and pushing the undead back with their pikes. Things went well for several minutes, then Kyle called out, "SECOND LINE, ADVANCE!"
The second liners moved up and in a well practiced maneuver, took the places of the first line, stabbing and hacking on occasion, as the need arose, thus relieving the first line and giving them a chance to retreat to look at any damage to their gear and to rest. If anything was too damaged, a replacement was grabbed up from a pile behind the buses.
Things continued like this until dark, then Kyle fired a flare gun and watched as buses on the far side of the river closed off the bridge, trapping the walkers from that end. A new set of pikes was deployed, so thick that no walker could pass without being impaled, then the remaining fighters withdrew and the buses blocked off the funnel.
Of the initial one hundred men and women, only three were lost in the slaughter. Of those, two had gone berserker, rushing past the lines of moderate safety to kill walkers and they were torn apart in short order and fed upon. The last had moved too far forward at the wrong time and been grabbed up by three walkers and torn to pieces as well.
Kyle was disappointed in his losses, because he was sure, if they had just stuck to his plan, they would still be alive.
He pulled out a remote detonator from a pocket in his outfit and flipped the guard up on the switch, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" he yelled, then flipped the switch. On the bridge, ten fifty-five gallon drums, half filled with fuel, blew, igniting the fuel soaked bridge and most of the remaining walkers. Those that hadn't been ignited in the blast, turned and walked into the flames. By morning, only those trapped on posts and pikes were left to kill, after that, there was also the clean up to do.
The defenders of Hannibal went back to work...
Across the river in Illinois, and a good fifteen miles away, a thirty-three year-old man and sixty-seven year-old woman stood and watched the smoke coming from Hannibal with some alarm. Matthew Grayson and Mary Potter exchanged looks, then Matt grabbed her .30/.30 and headed for his truck.
An older looking man named Jeb jumped in as he was about to leave carrying an old M16 that he'd modified with a high powered scope and a silencer. "Here son." he said as he gave Matt his nine mil. back. It now sported a silencer as well as a mini-scope and a laser for pin point shots.
Matt nodded his thanks as they waited for some of the other men to open the gate to their new mini-fortress by starting up the bus and then the combine that were blocking the only access large enough to drive a truck through. The bus was parked behind the combine to prevent someone from simply forcing the large farming equipment back and out of the way. A large moat surrounded a large portion of the property as a way and means to defend the place from walkers and human trash alike... An M1A1 main battle tank sat, still smoldering from a failed attack just a few days prior, on the far side of the road as Matt's truck turned toward Mark Twain's home town to investigate the smoke they'd all seen as the sun rose...
Megan pointed to the smoke in the distance to the south-west, "Look John, someone started a big fire over there. Do you think we should check it out?"
John looked up from his map and sighed at the sight, "I don't know Hon, that fire might draw a lot of unwanted attention from miles around. We could drive right into an ambush if we did check it out. Come on, I've mapped out our route a bit more, we'll head on east from here to a crossroads, then south to the interstate. From there it's east again till Indiana and then south to I-70 and then on towards the coast and Georgia. That sound good to you?"
Megan nodded, "Yeah, I can't wait to see my mom, and I still can't believe I have a sister out there!"
John grinned at the pre-teen's enthusiasm. They'd been forced to travel south-west since leaving Chicago due to bad roads, bad people and large herds of undead blocking their route to the south-east, where they'd wanted to go... No, as long as their luck held, John was hopeful to reach Atlanta in a few days. Days might turn into weeks or even months though if their luck continued to run foully like it had so far.
There luck would push them towards the west again though as they reached I-72 and found a herd blocking their path once more...
Harry, Hermione, and Neville gathered around their friend Ron as he sat mourning the loss of his parents and sister. Harry sighed and said, "We're here for you Ron, always and always..."
'Always and always' was how Ginny would respond to her family and friends when they expressed their love for her. She'd read the phrase in some romance story when she was fourteen and starting to date boys for the first time and now it tied all of her friends that were present together with her brother Ron in a special and personal way.
Ron gave his friends a weak smile and returned, "Always and always..."
Hermione gave Ron one of her patented Hermie Hugs and then just held him in her arms as he broke down and cried into her hair and onto her shoulder.
Harry and Neville each held onto one of Ron's shoulders as the man cried, lending him their support. As night fell, the magicals and their friends gathered outside. Each person either carried a candle or a wand in their hand.
Harry stepped away from the others and spoke, "We've all gathered here tonight to take a moment to show our grief and share in our loss of those that have past on in the last weeks since this catastrophe began. It is traditional among us magicals to hold up our wands and light them with our magic as a symbol of remembrance of those who have moved on the the next great adventure...
"I know there are some among you," he turned to face Jenner and a couple of other people that had come along, but held no candles, "who don't believe in an afterlife. You think we have just the one shot here on this green earth and then we're done, but I'm here to tell you, all of you, that there is an existence after death." He saw Jenner scoff, and decided he would use the stone with the man later.
Harry continued, "I'm sorry if you don't believe me, and I'm not going to force that belief on you if you don't. I would ask that everyone here would now please raise your candle above your head as we magicals raise our wands, and think of those you have lost, and of those you hope to find alive and well in the near future."
Everyone raised their candle as the magicals raised their wands, and, as the wands lit up, each candle lit as well with a flame that wasn't touched by the wind.
Each man, woman, and child present thought of friends and family that they had either lost for sure or were uncertain of and mourned the dead and prayed for the living to keep living for as long as they could.
Rick and Lori also prayed for those around them as they stood their vigil. They prayed that Harry and his friends would find a cure or a way to stop all the chaos that surrounded them all.
That evening, Jenner sat in his room and cried as mourned the loss of his wife, and woman who had berated him only a few moments ago for thinking about killing himself. Harry had used his magic to let him hear and see through Harry's eyes as the wizard had produced a black stone and summoned her soul from the beyond. He was now a true believer in an afterlife and he was ashamed that he had scoffed at Harry's comments earlier that evening.
Harry had left the man to his thoughts after he released her spirit, not wanting to get drawn into a long exchange about the afterlife or the stone he'd used to show him that it was a real place. Harry did say one thing before he departed, "A wise person once said, 'you aren't a body that has a soul, you're a soul that has a body.'"
AN: And that's another chapter done for now. I used this chapter to introduce a few of the people and groups that are out there in Walking Dead Land and there are a few more to come. Yes, that's Sophia's sister Megan, and yes she knows her mom and sister are out there somewhere in the region of Atlanta. She's been told about her birth family and now wants to meet up and live with them. Next chapter will have a couple more introductions of OC's and their groups and may have a drop in on characters from another show we fans have all come to either love or hate. All of it depends on how my muse wants to put it together. Until next time campers, Martin70.
AN2: The quote in the last line of the chapter was from one of the many stories I've read on this site. I forget which one it is, so if anyone knows, please send me a PM or tell me in a review. I want to give the one who wrote it the first time some credit. Thanks. =D