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Chapter 29

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Chapter XXIX

The Attack Begins

 

As Alan walked back to the battle lines, after his little chat with Eugene. A year ago, he would have been kicking himself for not realising that The Mayor’s closest advisor was the man who had been pulling the strings on all their lives. But now was different, he knew that his sudden return was off putting for people, as was his calmness. He didn’t really understand it himself, if he was being honest, all he knew was that he was being guided by a much higher power.

As he returned to the manor, having completed his part of the mission in antagonising their enemy, he saw the looks of shock about the reveal of the chess master.

“I never like him.” Blane said, and Charlie turned to look at the former businessman with a look of disgust. “It’s true.” Blane continued seeing the look that Charlie was giving him. “I never liked the way he talked, to comforting.” Blane finished, clutching at the gun he held. He had never held a weapon before, he had been an ardent pacifist for as long as he could remember. Making his views about weapons manufacturing at Wolfrick Co well known. Even though it gained him little love.

“Eugene.” Vernon said, more to himself than anyone else. The Mayor’s advisor had seemed different to the others, but Vernon had thought it was because he was good, not so diabolically evil that he would make the rest of Osmund’s advisors look saint like in comparison.

“Yes.” Alan said with the same air of calm that had surrounded him since leaving the sanctum. Dmitri however, seemed to be more concerned about what was coming.

“When. Will it begin?” Dmitri said, scanning the darkness, although it was useless, he may as well be looking out at their surroundings with a blindfold on, with this level of darkness surrounding them

“Soon.” Alan said also looking around. They had prepared as best they could, in the little time they had had. The small trenches that were manned by both the imperials and the remains of The Iron Company, lay about fifty meters from the open gates, they had decided not to close them as, ultimately what was the point, the cold steel was of little concern to their adversaries. Behind the trenches they had laid other obstacles, ranging from broken logs that jutted out from the ground, to the vast collection of cars that two hours earlier had been hauled out of the garage and made into a rudimentary, but bullet proof wall. The fuel had been drained out and put into barrels that were dotted around the lawn, ready to be set ablaze at quick notice. Lastly, and much to the horror of the butler, mines had been laid on the wings in order to stop their enemy outflanking them. It wasn’t much, but it should be enough to hold off until dawn.

Alan checked his watch, they still had a few more minutes before they could put his mad plan into action. However, faint movement could be seen from the distance.

“So, it begins.” Codsworth murmurs to himself and walked a few paces forward, raising his gun and takes aim at the boundary. A few moments of quiet, before screams, begin to sound from the trenches. There was no gunfire, only the sounds of biting and ripping came across the silent grounds.

“What the?” Dmitri said, as he too heard the sounds of battle in front of them.

“Jack, Dave. Head inside now.” Alan said, sounding serious for the first time since leaving the manor all those months ago.

“No, we’re…” Dave started but Alan would have none of it.

“Now!” Alan shouted. Both boys looked at each other and agreed not to press the subject, and both hurried back inside. If either of them were being truthful, they would have run. As both were scared out of their wits. With the sounds coming from the defences horrifying them both.

 

Inside the trench’s things were as bad as the people in the rear feared, Barca was in the fight for his life, as he turned, he saw two of his own men fall to the ground.

Not all The Iron Company had joined them, the lieutenant had realised, only those that were living. It had begun when some of the mercenaries had shouted out names of fallen comrades that were somehow still mobile and formed the first wave of the enemy’s attack. He was distracted when one of the zombie’s leaped onto him and began to rip at his armour, tearing at the metal trying to reach the flesh underneath. Quickly despatching his assailant by a gunshot to the head, he got and saw that the noise was driving more of the dead to his position.

He quickly turned back to where the manor sat, faint light was coming from around the mountains, but not enough. He turned and took further aim. He had been trained to aim for centre mass, the torso, the largest part of the body. But firing at this proved useless, the dead continued to approach, not feeling the bullets hit their decaying bodies. Taking stock quickly he aimed his gun and shot at the head, the tried and tested method. This at least seemed to work. The dead began to fall, as he fought his way through the destruction.

He worked through the narrow battlefield, taking shots conservatively, he had already wasted valuable ammo with the body shots, and he didn’t want to waste any more. Arriving at The Iron Company’s second he found it in an even worse state than their own. Only Alden stood, shooting away at anything that moved ahead of him, although, it was the first time that Barca could genuinely say he saw fear in the man’s eye. Although he supposed having to fight against your own fallen comrades would do that to a man. Running up he narrowly avoided getting hit by the IronEye as he slashed his empty gun like a club.

“You’re still alive then?” Alden said looking at the lieutenant.

“I fucking hope so.” Barca responded, he felt alive, and he felt no injuries on his body, but he would wait until he could properly examine himself before jumping to conclusions. As the two spoke, more of the dead fell into the trench and began to advance. Barca took aim and fired, aiming for the heads, one by one they dropped until only one remained, the lieutenant took aim and fired.

The gun clicked and the zombie continued to advance. He was out of ammo. And caught in the worst possible scenario. Alden had already used up his part of the ammo fruitlessly aiming at his dead comrades’ chests, to no avail as Barca had discovered when he had tried that. As the dead man advanced towards them a large four-legged creature bounded from behind him, he tripped up and looked to see the Wolfrick’s large husky attacking the dead man with vigour.

“Good dog.” Barca could hear Alden yell, but it was not to be so easy. As more and more of the dead began to lumber into the trench work. Barca felt for sure that they were going to die, until he heard gunfire above him, he turned to see Codsworth, Dmitri, Charlie and a couple of his own men who had broken out firing down into the trench, with looks of horror on their faces.

“Get movin!” Codsworth shouted. Barca didn’t need to be told twice and clambered up the trench, followed by Echo, who made it look easy. In comparison Barca struggled up the steep slope, until eventually he made it up. Alden was not so lucky.

Barca turned to see the IronEye, start to clamber up the slope, until he fell down again. Turning and nodding to the commander, he took out his gun, and once again started hammering his long dead comrades until his screams ripped through the night as he was torn apart. The lieutenant closed his eyes at the sound. The man who had once been his sworn enemy, had died in order to buy them at least a little more time.

“So passes the IronEye.” Barca said to himself, he felt a little bit of pity for the one-eyed captain of The Iron Company. Until he refocussed. Pity could wait.

 

Back inside the manor, the four Wolfrick brothers, along with Deryn, who had proclaimed that he would be about as useful on the battlefield as a mouse. Waited by one of the windows. Echo had bounded out the door’s moments before, much to the distress of Martin, who peaked over the window ledge, trying to find the husky. Whilst the ground floor windows had been boarded up, the others had not. Which gave both Jack and Dave the ability to see exactly what was going on down below.

“What’s happening?” Nick asked, he had been by the windows as well, but at the sound of the screams, he had pulled back and contented himself to listen. A good plan, until everything went silent.

“Nothing.” Jack said, despite their father’s orders to remain inside, both he and Dave weren’t just going to sit here. They were taking turns aiming outside the window and scanning for any easy pickings.

“Where’s Echo?” Martin said, he was now huddled against the wall, his arms wrapped around his knees trying to keep his voice under control.

“I don’t know.” Dave responded; he had seen the dog run towards the front lines, but he hadn’t seen the husky come back. In truth, he doubted that their dog was still alive, but he knew better than to mention his doubts.

“Erm. Is it me, or is the sky on fire?” Jack said turning away from the battlefield temporarily and focusing on the heavens. The sky that had been black was now flashing red. As if lighting was catching the dawn light. Deryn got up from where he had been sitting and looked out of the window.

“He is here.” Deryn proclaimed hauntingly, for a moment Jack didn’t understand, before dawning comprehension came over his face.

“Him?” Jack mumbled, and returning to the window, gazing out trying to locate the survivors hoping that none were still out there in the trenches, and was relieved, but also saddened when a few figures came out from beyond the darkness. ‘So few have come back.’ he thought to himself as he saw Echo running alongside the survivors.

 

As the survivors returned to the final lines behind the cars. Barca turned to Alan. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the window and almost collapsed. His face was covered in dirt and blood, this wouldn’t have been a problem, until he remembered that a lot of that blood had come from literal corpses.

“Whatever you’re going to do, you better do it fast.” Barca said, as he heard the sound of the dead approach the manor.

Alan nodded; this was it. The time had come to push both the little green gemstone and himself to the limit. He drew the staff above his head and, thinking that he was possibly going to be committing suicide he plunged the weapon into the ground. There was a pause that seemed to stretch for hours. But then a huge crack ripped the air, as the mountain that stood behind the manor, cracked open like an eggshell.

Alan could feel his body begin to heat up, his bones beginning to shake, but nothing kept him from keeping the staff wedged into the ground whilst the mountain continued to split apart. He heard the sound of the dead charging and the answering gunfire, both from next to him and from above, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was keeping his focus on the task at hand.

Sunlight broke through the now vacant hole in the landscape, and Alan could hear the dead begin to move back into darkness. Whilst he knew that the light would not kill them, it still made them weaker. He heard the gunfire begin to subside a few minutes later once the dead were out of range.

“Dmitri now!” Alan shouted. And Dmitri, remembering how he had pushed the tank into the ravine months ago, used his own staff once more to send a gust of wind, that pushed the chunks of broken rock from the now ruined mountain backwards into the east and away from the manor. Fortunately, there was no water in that section of the mountain, so Charlie’s gem hadn’t been needed. But as Alan looked at the young scientist, he saw that she had been ready, the sapphire gemstone clutched in her hands.

A sense of unease crept over Alan, as a few cheers ripped the air from Barca and his men, he felt his body, checking to make sure that he was alive. He found that he was. Which concerned him, he wasn’t supposed to have survived. That task was supposed to have killed him. Or so Xyla had told him so.

“Master Wolfrick?” Vernon said walking up to him. Alan looked up to tell the old butler this fact, when a loud shriek could be heard from beyond the manor walls. A sound so piercing that it stopped Barca’s celebrations in its tracks. For a few moments there was silence.

“Vernon I…” Alan started, but before he could continue a shout came from the manor.

“INCOMING!!!!” Codsworth’s voiced echoed through the hills and Alan turned to see what Codsworth was shouting about, and Echo ran for the hills.

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