Written by TheSopwithCamel, Revised by GoSinister
Somewhere over Altoona, Pennsylvania
Jack “Roy” Brown looked down at the ground below him. He could see thousands of trees and scattered houses whizzing by underneath him. The winding roads were littered with abandoned vehicles and makeshift tents. It looked like a market more than it did a highway. Every house that stood out to him, he wondered who used to live there and where they are now. Every now and then among the litter of cars he’d make out the small outline of a human. He stopped and corrected himself; that outline used to be a human. Now it was a monster, one that hungered for flesh.
He couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. They were flying too fast and too high to make anything out. He could fly lower and go for a pass, but that’d be a waste of fuel and ammunition. Jack made it a point to save his .303 ammo only for the relevant targets. Brutes, Skull Champions and the occasional ground target who thinks they can headshot a pilot mid-air with an M93R.
He stopped admiring the ground to look behind him. Evyn Dream, a co-worker of his from the Sinister Arms Team, was in the rear seat of his Sopwith Camel. Jack normally flies solo, but was persuaded (against his will) by the CEO to take Evyn since there were spotty reports of dangerous gangs in the area Jack was to recon. Evyn was looking down at the ground before him, likely eying the same outline he just saw.
“How's the weather back there? Blazing hot I take it?”
Evyn did not verbally reply, instead looking up to meet Jack with a very cold expression. The shivers and self-hugging also spoke for itself. They were a couple hundred feet up in the air on a chilly November afternoon in Pennsylvania country.
“Hey, don’t look at me that way. You’re the dummkopf for not taking my advice on bringing a jacket.”
Evyn did not change his expression. Jack took that as a sign that he needed to stop talking and continue his reconnaissance. Evyn continued to look at the ground before him, his mask covering the bottom half of his face. The other half was still exposed to the cold air and making him go numb.
Jack looked down at the ground below him, now spotting the familiar outline and shape of railroad tracks. The tracks would hopefully lead him to Altoona, Pennsylvania, the last place he was to visit on a recon trip before heading back to Sinister Arms headquarters. They were headed Northeast, although it was hard to get an accurate reading of where they currently were. Jack decided to just follow the tracks and see where it went.
Their mission was to head to varying locations across the Northeastern Region of the United States, hoping to recover anything viable for the Sinister Arms team. The primary goal were new weapons, something that could be mass produced without having to make something from scratch. Jack and Evyn had been to Harrisburg, Reading, Baltimore, Philadelphia and many small-town cities only to come up empty handed. Every weapon they somehow managed to come across was something already in production by the Brainwork Brothers or their own company. On many occasions, the pair had to leave with their tails between their legs. The zombie hordes are always unpredictable, and always seem to show up at the worst times. Just when they think they find something viable, a Brute shows up around the corner and smashes the door to the gun nut’s basement, forever sealing whatever was inside.
Jack pushed the thought aside when he spotted the looming city in the distance. He could immediately tell that it was Altoona. The tracks started branching to more lines, and trains were now occupying the tracks. Many were derailed, some were positioned near rotting tent cities. He could make out the familiar black shapes of the Norfolk Southern diesels. The proud engines now lay dormant awaiting orders that will never come and will probably rust away to oblivion. The forest soon gave way to the residential area, the main city and then the sprawling Juniata Shops.
Jack and Evyn were both looking around for a place to land. There were far too many power lines across the roads to make a safe landing. The railroad lines were out of the question either, the tracks were too bumpy and trains were everywhere. As they passed over the complex, Jack and Evyn couldn’t help but be amazed at the massive site below them. Everything was impressive, even though it looked like a model city at several hundred feet in the air. Evyn had no idea what he was looking at, but Jack knew by heart what it was. Down below him was the heart of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. Engines and railroad cars were built, repaired and customized here at the Juniata Shops. Steam gave way to diesel, railroads fell and grew anew, and now the entire complex lay dormant. Thousands of black diesels and colorful rolling stock occupied the entire lines below them. Jack could only imagine the site if it was in operation. He imagined what it would be like back when the Pennsylvania Railroad still owned it.
“I'm gonna fly over the neighborhood, keep an eye out for a place we can land safely or if you see anything interesting.”
Evyn nodded. He quietly understood despite freezing at this altitude. The pair started searching as Jack dropped their altitude to a few hundred feet off the ground. It was a boring sight however. Everything looked the same as before. Cars littered across the roads, the occasional tent city and discarded junk all over the place.
The loud sputter of the Sopwith Camel’s rotary engine awoke a few zombies. As the pair flew above, the outlines of zombies started showing up. There were only a few, but both Jack and Evyn knew that this was only the tip of the iceberg. There wasn’t a single place in the world that had only a few zombies as occupants. A Brute can always hide in a garage door, a Leaper in the bushes, or a Digger waiting in the ground like a landmine.
The zombies they flew over were startled by the sound of the airplane roaming overhead, and started to “chase” the duo as they continued on their recon mission. House after house, more zombies started up. The extent of what they would be facing started to show. It looked like normal zombies at best.
“What do you think? Land somewhere or head back home?”
Evyn was too busy staring at what lies below them.. His expression was focusing towards a particular group of zombies centered around a few houses. Jack looked forward to seeing the same sight. It wasn’t odd to see zombies all bunched up in one place, especially in cramped locations like the sewers or the remnants of New Bloxcoast. Jack knew something was wrong, they were too close together, and looked as though they were holding something.
Jack realized it before Evyn did, and pulled the stick hard. The Camel lurched hard towards the left, startling Evyn.
“Jack! What the hell are-”
Evyn didn’t finish his sentence as the pair were suddenly being fired upon by the figures below. The all-too-familiar sound of gunfire barely audible over the Camel’s rotary engine and the wind blasting their ears. The bullets weren’t accurate but some found their target on the rear fuselage, mere feet from Evyn’s back.
“Keep your cabeza down!” Jack shouted over the deafening wind. Evyn didn't even react, still focusing on spotting the attackers. One hand was holding onto the outer rim of the cockpit and the other gripped on his Winchester. They might be several hundred feet in the air but Evyn felt that he could pick them off. He’d never fired from in a plane before, and Jack’s constant evasive flying to dodge bullets wasn’t going to help his aim.
“Can you hold it steady for just a ------- moment Jack?!”
“Not unless you want bullets in your legs! Let me handle this!”
Jack managed to fly out of range but memorized their location.
“No offense to you but your single Winchester isn’t gonna do SCHEIßE against modern automatic rifles at this altitude!”
Evyn couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Jack normally never doubted Evyn’s aim, and now he was denying him several targets from several hundred feet in the air. He felt like dead weight, but he couldn’t do much as Jack had the final say in where they went and if they should escape or attack.
“And if you get killed, Cornelius is gonna give me flak for not keeping you alive!”
Jack had a fair point there. Evyn originally did not want to go on this mission, only being persuaded by Cornelius at the last second. Jack too normally flew solo. He had no choice but to trust Jack. He had good reason too though, Jack was a skilled pilot. The pair continued flying over the neighborhood as Jack searched for a reasonable area to perform a pass.
He fired a few test shots from the two Vickers Machine guns before making a turn back to the area they were being fired at.
“No pendejo takes potshots at me and lives to tell the tale. No one!”
Jack prepped the guns as he closed in on the shooters. They all walked out into the street, and faintly appeared to be lining into a firing row. Jack smirked, them lining up would make it easier for him to gun them down. Jack knew already that the mysterious shooters didn’t know that his plane was armed, because if they did they’d be running for cover.
Jack kept the plane in the air, flying roughly back to the area where they were attacked. He got in close, hoping to take the shooters by surprise. He turned around to see Evyn taking aim. He outstretched his arm and lowered the gun.
Jack shouted, “Surprise is on our side, save your ammo for the ground!”
Jack turned sharply now flying into the direction of their attackers. One of the shooters on the ground took that as a sign that Jack meant business, and started slowly backing away before anyone noticed him. The attackers started firing at the plane, but Jack wasn’t worried. Bullets whizzed by, spraying all over the place with some shots landing on the fabric of the wings. He flew in closer, appearing as though he was going to run them over. The fleeing target then blasted into a full on sprint. Jack pushed the trigger and the two Vickers started firing. The tracers lined up with the shooters immediately. They all shook as the .303 caliber bullets ripped away at their interiors before smashing into the road. He could barely make out blood stains as he continued onwards to chase the fleeing shooter. Jack continued his bombardment, effectively lining up the shots. The bullets neatly found their target, starting from the feet up into the head. Down the fleeing target fell, sliding into the pavement leaving a bloody trail behind him.
Jack pulled up quickly as a power line suddenly came into view. Evyn looked behind at the carnage Jack had left in his waste. He couldn’t wonder why the guy was smart enough to flee into another direction. Jack brought the plane back to a cruising altitude, looking back at his work.
“I'm gonna find a landing spot. Maybe they were carrying something we can use.”
Evyn nodded in agreement. It never hurt to get down and stretch their legs, and seeing as the people had guns it seemed fair to see what they were if they were recoverable.
Jack found a bridge and slowly brought the plane to the ground. He taxi’d into a loading dock hidden behind the Juniata Complex. Should things go awry, they had the cover of rusting trains and packing crates.
Jack got out of the plane, giving Evyn a hand. Evyn was pleased to finally be out of the freezing air, but was still shivering from the trip. The two then grabbed their firearms from the plane and readied for the small recovery expedition.
“Keep your eyes and ears peeled. There could be more… as well as prowling zombies.”
“With our history on this blasted mission, no need to tell me twice.”
The pair then walked over to the site of their attackers. A small swarm of flies already started feasting on one of the freshly fallen bodies. Another zombie stumbled slowly towards the new meal, only to be met with an immediate blow to the head by Evyn’s Winchester. Down the zombie fell, its gaze slowly turning to meet Evyn’s eyes. With one eye closed and the other trained on the Winchester’s sights, he fired. The bullet cleanly placed between the zombies eyes and flew right through the brain and exited behind the zombies rotted black hair. Blood started seeping through the wound onto the pavement, leaving a dark stain that would never be cleaned.
Once the zombie was dealt with, Evyn and Jack did a quick recon of the perimeter to make sure they wouldn’t get ambushed by more zombies or lunatics like they had on previous recovery runs.
“Anything worth getting?” Jack asked, still surveying the neighborhood. One hand was trained on his Luger, ready to pull out and fire at a moment's notice.
“Nope, they’re all just old world AK-47’s and M16’s.”
Jack sighed heavily and turned to meet Evyn. They took a moment to gaze upon the carnage before them. Jack had gunned down 9 random survivors, including the one that fled. They all had matching black jackets and red bandanas. One of the gangs in the area, now riddled with .303 sized holes.
Jack walked over to the corpse of the gang member that fled. He nearly slipped on the blood trail the member left. He lay down face first, and his body was riddled with bleeding holes. The jackets, although black, now painted with a deep red color. Jack then noticed the gun he was holding in his now-still hand. It looked like a Mini Uzi at first glance. Closer inspection revealed it to not be an Uzi. Uzi’s usually came in pairs and were silver. This gun that he was holding was a singular example as the member's other hand was empty. It was lighter in weight compared to an Uzi and the metal color was far darker than a standard production Uzi.
“Hey… Hey Evyn! I think we got something!”
Evyn wasted no time in moving to Jack, dropping the AK-47 he was still wrangling from the dead gang member’s hand. He was awe-struck, at a loss for words, which was a good sign to Jack.
“Jack, this is a MAC-10. This is… I-It’s something we can take home!”
“Bueno. No idea what a MAC-10 is but… Bueno.”
“Come on man, haven’t you ever seen a gang film before? Or a cop film?”
Jack sighed. He started to see flashbacks of some films. The good old days when he was still just an aspiring child hoping to make it in life, and now here he was standing over a gang member he just killed with an aircraft he looted from an airplane museum.
“Can’t say I have hombre… they all look the same.”
Evyn winced at the comment. He hated hearing those words considering that manufacturing guns like the MAC-10 was now his job. But, Jack was right. He was a history buff, and he could name every unique item in the textbook. But, with a few exceptions, modern firearms were all Greek to him.
Evyn started fiddling with the gun after seeing the still-full mag. The bolt was stuck, evident of a jam.
“Ah, so thats why he started running.”
“Smart move on his part, but he was still an idiot for not running in a different direction.”
“Yeah...the dummkopf went to the, what was the line? The Prometheus School of Running Away from Things?”
Evyn just looked up at him with a stern expression. Jack was terrible with jokes. That's when Evyn noticed something in one of the trees in the houses behind Jack. He couldn’t tell what it was until it flashed again.
The glint from a sniper rifle.
He froze dead in his tracks like time had stopped.
“Jack… listen to me very carefully.”
“Come on it wasn’t THAT bad now was it?” Jack stated, oblivious to the danger posed behind him.
“Sniper, roughly 400 yards behind you. Hidden in a tree.”
Jack didn’t react. He brought his arms and cracked his knuckles. He took a deep breath, thankful for the comment.
“My bad. And sorry about the joke.”
Without a moment’s notice Jack turned around, his hand already on his Luger. He took aim and fired a few shots into a tree that appeared to be 400 yards behind him. Evyn turned as well, taking his Winchester and slinging it into action onto the same tree.
The deafening sound of the gunshots echoed through the city. Then the silence returned as Jack and Evyn halted fire. The glint was gone, and nothing came tumbling out of the tree.
“We need to leave now. I don’t want my head blown off today.” Evyn sputtered while itching to make a run for it. Jack could tell he was nervous, as was he. Snipers were a nuisance to deal with, and this one was most definitely still alive.
The glint reappeared for a split second in a new tree.
Jack and Evyn made a mad dash back to the plane, hoping to evade the sniper shooting back at them in an irregular pattern. A loud gunshot pierced their ears, a chunk of pavement broke as the bullet struck the road nearby. The sniper barely missed Jack’s head. Evyn could tell by the sound that it was a Remington 700.
As the pair ran they spotted a small horde of zombies approach the rotting corpses of the gang members. Some were looking at Jack and Evyn, startled by the loud noises. They turned to give chase, now hungry for the pair.
“Ay dios mio we got more trouble!” Jack shouted. He reloaded his Luger and started taking pot shots at the zombies with Evyn still running behind him. He managed to take a few down, and then heard another blast of the sniper. He turned back to see Evyn fall to the ground, clenching his shoulder and screaming in pain.
“Scheiße, Scheiße, SCHEIßE!”
Jack couldn’t leave Evyn to die, he was a vital member to Sinister Arms and half of what they got would be forever lost. Before he could process anything, his legs started running towards Evyn. He slid onto the pavement, burning his legs in the process.
Another blast rang through the air, barely missing Jack’s head. He could feel the bullet whiz by him, sending more fear through his body. With a big tug, he lifted Evyn onto his shoulders. Evyn had his Winchester barely in one hand and the MAC-10 on the other in his pants. Jack had to use both arms to keep Evyn stable, and could not fire back at the zombies or the sniper.
“I'm not gonna leave you to die here hombre.”
Evyn kept screaming, still clouded by the immense pain in his shoulder and the sudden movement of being picked up only worsened the pain. Jack started running, in the process nearly evading another bullet from the sniper. He didn’t dare turn around, his main focus was getting Evyn back into the plane and in the air.
As Jack started running, he heard more screaming behind him. A group of survivors, this time wearing black shirts with skulls on then, started chasing him. Jack kept running, zig-zagging through the zombies in front of him and the bullets being shot behind him. He evaded the zombies feasting on the first gang behind him before a bullet pierced the lower part of his left leg. Jack stumbled, tossing Evyn onto the ground. As Jack recovered, he grabbed his Luger and started firing behind him.
Two gang members fell with clean headshots, but the rest kept advancing. Evyn was wincing at the pain but saw the sight before him. With his good arm, he slinged his Winchester and took aim. Another gang member fell as the bullet went through the chest.
Jack slowly got up, limping on his right leg. With a firm grip he pulled Evyn up and they started to limp back to the plane. Evyn fired at zombies approaching him, Jack firing back at the gang. Eventually the zombies overwhelmed the survivors, and the gang started to fall back. Evyn and Jack made it to the loading dock, far away from the gang. The all-too-familiar roar of a charged brute echoed in the distance, followed by rapid gunfire.
Jack and Evyn wasted no time getting into the plane. Jack ignited the Camel and taxi’d to the bridge for take-off, his leg throbbing in pain every time he turned the rudder. Evyn started treating himself with a medkit in the rear-seat, attempting to not spill anything. Jack flew back over the city, watching the carnage unfold beneath them.
The gang that chased them was now surrounded by a massive horde. There was a now charged brute and three normal brutes, a couple of tickers and countless zombies. Some of them looked up at Jack’s plane, though there was nothing the zombies could do to harm them. If there was an Edgar in the horde, Jack was at a safe distance to not get caught by the elongated tongue.
He could barely make out the gang members, too focused on the horde enclosing them. They were blasting away at the zombies, but their efforts would prove worthless.
It was here that Jack started to worry. He turned around to see Evyn, patching up the hole in his shoulder.
“Do you still have the gun?”
Evyn looked up and hastily nodded yes. He stopped his patchwork and pulled the MAC-10 from under his seat. Jack sighed a breath of relief. He turned the plane around to the direction of Sinister Arms HQ. The plane flew over Altoona and the massive complex. Jack took in the sight beneath him. The massive railyard, even from several hundred feet in the air, was still an awe-inspiring site. Soon the complex was behind him, the city now underneath him.
Jack and Evyn had accomplished their mission. They were now on the trek home with a new weapon for the team to manufacture, the MAC-10 Machine Pistol. They were injured, but they were alive. They could only imagine how the team would react when their adventure is told. For now, their main concern was getting home. They made a brief pit-stop on an open road outside Altoona to inspect their wounds more carefully. The patches were temporary though, but once applied they took to the air once more, settling in for the long hours of flight ahead of them.
Both only hoped their efforts would be worth it in the end.