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Shinji Yamada

The Reluctant Linguist

0 · 235 views · located in The Haven Universe

a character in “Live Together or Die Alone”, as played by Bosch

Groups

The Citizens of Haven

Description

Name- Shinji Yamada

Age- 24

Gender- Male

Physical description- A slight man with black hair and dark eyes.

Biography- Shinji is Japanese and worked as a Salary man for Okamoto Communications in a Data entry role. His job didn’t suit his easy going and fun loving personality however it did catch the eye of the Boss’ daughter Kaiko.

The Pair got married and were touring the world when the outbreak happened as chance would have it they were ship wrecked near Haven and Shinji was rescued by the Scavs. Kaiko couldn’t be saved.

Shinji tries to help out where he can but he faces a significant language barrier. He is trying to learn English as quickly as possible but it’s a lot to take on especially considering the various accents and slang around camp.

So begins...

Shinji Yamada's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Benjamin Kinney Character Portrait: Tilo King Character Portrait: Erin Hooper Character Portrait: Alison Carter Character Portrait: Mark Lawson Character Portrait: Shinji Yamada

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#, as written by Bosch
6th November

0430


Ronnie and Benson were hiking their way home in silence when Benson finally spoke. “So what the fuck was that all about?”

“I know.”

“We risk our necks to save their guy and they freak out?”

“I know.”

“What was with that guy, he looked like he weighed about as much as a friggin spaniel dripping wet and he’s going all Billy Badass.”

“I know.”

“And the girl... actually I don’t know about her. Was she all there?”

“All there?”

“You know all that Eye-ah, Yew stuff. Was she like, retarded?”

“She’s Welsh. My Mother was Welsh so watch your mouth.”

“That’s unlucky.” Benson said with a frown. “Doesn’t excuse them pulling a fucking blade on me. Haven is fucked up.”

“I know.”

#

6th November

0520


Jane listened as Ronnie and Benson gave their report and felt hopelessness wash over her. She had worked so hard with Callie to improve relations between the Caravaners and Haven and this latest escapade would just fan the flames.

She had no doubt Ronnie and Benson would waste no time telling all the Runners how terrible Haven was and that all the Scavs were psychotic. She decided to wait until later though to speak to Callie. She was tired and annoyed. There was no sense in speaking now.

#

6th November

0940


Callie was still in bed when Gary rapped on her door.

“Callie, it’s Gary. Someone called Jane is on the radio she wants to talk to you or Monroe.”

Callie rolled over and sighed. She’d been crying but now she just felt empty. Monroe for all his faults had been her closest friend and now he was dead. Now Haven needed her but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to help.

She thought about the old adage “If you save a life you then become responsible for it.” She and Monroe had saved everyone in Haven that made her responsible for them.

It was that thought that made her get out of bed.

#


6th November

0950


Jane Meadows was extremely pissed off and it took everything Callie had to calm her down, eventually she did.

“Look Callie I like you, but your people are not doing you any favours at the moment. My Runners are annoyed and sceptical, the last thing they need is your people running around pulling blades on them when they are trying to help.”

“Jane I know they were under a lot of stress. Our guy was missing.”

“And my guys helped find him.”

“I know, I’ll deal with it.”

“Ok I think it would be best if you keep you keep your people out of our area for the time being.”

“Agreed. Cuts both ways though.”

“Yeah I have them briefed, they can follow direction.”

With that the call ended and Callie felt the implication of her last comment.

#

6th November

1100


"Where's Monroe?"

Callie looked up from the spot on the table she had been staring at and looked up to see Tilo standing in the doorway.

“Dead.” Callie said quietly. “How was your sleepover?” She remembered Tilo’s radio call from the previous night with a chuckle. Tilo relayed the efforts of the mission and gave Callie the contact information he had received from the Rands. She was intrigued by the mention of Richard Brand. She had never heard of the man but Tilo’s description gave her the Heebie- Jeebies as one of her old students might have said.

“Good work I’ll get in touch with them and see if we can’t work something out.”

Tilo got up from the kitchen table and said his goodbyes. Before he could leave though Callie stopped him.

“Oh and Tilo.”

He turned with a questioning look in his eyes.

“There’s no need to call me Ma’am on the radio. I’m not the Queen.”

Tilo gave his agreement with a smile and left. Callie sighed and felt a little better, at least something had gone right. Her next meeting was going to be more difficult.

#

6th November

1230


Ben looked like shit but Callie found it hard to find sympathy for him. He’d been though a terribly traumatic experience but at this point it was harder to find someone who hadn’t. Jesus was shuffling uncomfortably at the back of the group and Hoppy looked a little nervous.

“Good to have you back Ben and well done taking out those freaks. Hoppy and Jesus good job getting him home safe.”

She then sighed.

“Bad job pissing off the Caravaners though. Do you have any idea how hard it was to get on good terms with them? Then you three muck it up because you can’t keep your emotions under control.”

The dam had broken and she was shaking with anger now but doing her best to keep her voice measured. “What do you think, this a game? They were there to save your life Ben. Your life that needed saving because you messed up, a screw up that cost people their lives. You got off light losing a finger. Hell you should have been happy to see them, but you got prissy because someone made a joke? Your actions may have lost us an ally and put even more Scavs at risk. Then Hoppy you pulled a fucking blade on our allies. Jesus Christ, what were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

She shook her head and tried to let the anger fade. “It’s not a fucking action movie and none of you are Bruce Willis. We have to work as a team the actions you took will have an impact on somebody down the line. Just, just... grow up.”

Callie sighed and pointed to the door. “Get out of my sight.”

They shuffled out and Callie dropped her head into her hands. She had hated being so brutal but it was true their actions had knocked Haven back.

Then Mark cleared his throat and walked in.

“Would you like a cup of tea. Kettle’s on.” Callie said trying to appear perky.

“I heard about Monroe. What happened?” Mark said unable to keep the concern from his face.

“He led a horde Zombies away from Haven and rescued the helicopter pilot. Got bit in the process.” She was speaking matter-of-factly as if Monroe was someone she had never met.

“So what, did he turn?”

“I told you he led the zombies way. Blew up the Jones Farm and drew them in for miles. Cleared the way for you guys.”

“Woah...” Mark said as he sat down at the table opposite Callie. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah fine... it’s just...”

“What?”

“It just doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t?”

“Who lives and who dies. I mean Monroe was worth something, he could have helped. Yet he dies and we get Ben back. Monroe dies and we get Hoppy back who can’t tell friend from foe. What do we get for his sacrifice? We get a fucking cripple pilot who crashed the first helicopter I’ve seen in months. How is that a fair trade? A useless boy, a stupid girl and a cripple in exchange for the only actual person around here worth something?”

Mark sat in stunned silence. “Callie you don’t mean that... Ben was tortured.”

“Was he? That sounds terrible.” She deadpanned. “He was the idiot who got caught. He felt his life was more important than the people who would have to go save him. That’s the reason the Scav’s have Harry’s. Nobody says it but that’s why. So the Scav won’t put anyone else at risk saving you.”

“Callie, he was drugged, he lost a finger.”

“Monroe lost his life because Ben fucked up. We lost the only person worth a damn around here because a pilot couldn’t keep her Helicopter in the air. We might have lost an Ally because Hoppy couldn’t keep her emotions under control. You think anyone here is able to do half the things Monroe could? So what you want me to feel bad because he’s got to hear high four jokes for the rest of his life? You want me to feel bad because the pilot is going to have a limp? Please.”

“That’s life Callie. We don’t get to choose who lives and who dies.”

Callie wiped a tear from her eye and shook her head gently.

“Besides Monroe was crap at carpentry.” Mark said with a hopeful smile.

Callie took a deep but didn’t smile. Instead she stood and pushed her chair in.

“It’s time to go see our guest.”

#

6th November

1300


Carter woke slowly and shook the grogginess from her head. She felt like tenderised steak but at least she was alive. She was wearing an oversized tee-shirt that said “Med in Cumbria” that had a small cartoon of a mountain above it and a pair of lose shorts. In addition she had a few blankets thrown over her but her feet were cold and she when she took a look she saw a large cast on her left leg.

“Great.” She muttered. At least she had been taken care of which was a good sign. The downside was that her right wrist was tied to the metal headboard of the bed. Carter groaned again.

The room appeared to be some kind of medical centre, in the corner of the room she could see her flight suit in a waste paper bin. It looked like it had been cut to ribbons.

She then heard approaching footsteps and quickly feigned sleep.

“She’s still asleep?” A man’s voice asked

“She should be awake by now...” responded a woman.

“That’s fine it’ll mean less screams when we cut her up...”

Carter was filled with panic but remained still.

“We saw you flinch, you’re fooling nobody.”

Carter cursed inwardly and opened her eyes. She saw two women and a man standing in front of her. She recognised one of the women vaguely but the other two were a mystery.

“Captain Carter, My name is Callie Winters, this is Doctor Short and this Mark. Welcome to Haven, we have a few questions.”

Carter remained silent and just stared at Callie.

“Captain, We fixed your leg, the ropes were necessary because we didn’t know if you’d turn violent, still don’t. One of our people died saving you and you have taken up our time and supplies. I’d start talking if I were you because I’m at about the limit of my generosity.”

Carter thought quickly back to her escape and evasion training but found it lacking. It had been based on the idea that if caught a pilot would only have to hold out for a day so operational security wouldn’t be impacted. There was no operation to secure though.

“I’m not a Captain, I’m a Flight lieutenant. No such thing as a Captain in the RAF.”

“Riveting. Where were you going?”

“North.”

“I don’t have time for this Lieutenant, can you be more expansive?”

“Scotland, BUTEC.”

Callie raised an eyebrow.

“BUTEC. The British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre. It’s where the sailors test out their new toys. Submarines and that kind of thing.”

“Why there?”

“It’s the last location we received a transmission from. Sounded like they were holding out better than we were.”

“Where was that?”

“RAF Valley in Wales. We were being overrun so we pulled the plug.”

“Are there other helicopters in the area?”

“They’ll be long gone by now. There wasn’t a lot of fuel so it was rationed. Nobody had full tanks and everybody knew it was a one way trip. BUTEC or bust.”

“So do you still believe BUTEC is the best place to be?”

“I heard it was, good luck getting there though. Last we heard the place was pretty much under siege. We were only going there because we had choppers.”

“Callie I need to check her for infection.” The mousy doctor said.

“What she hasn’t been checked!” Callie said in shock as the man aimed his sawn off shotgun at Carter.

“Oh no I meant her wound.” The doctor said.

Callie and calmed down and the Doctor set about her work.

“We’ll be back later... Thank you for cooperating.”

Carter shrugged and lifted her tied hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Callie smiled faintly and walked toward Carter. She cut the ropes with what appeared to be kitchen knife.

Carter nodded and let the doctor go about her work.

#


November 8th 2013

2130


They had been afloat for months and Shinji Yamada was starting go out of his mind with boredom. There was nobody to speak to on board and his smattering of English wasn’t enough to have a conversation with anyone. So far he had please, thank you, yes and no. It made conversation difficult to say the least, this was compounded by the fact his bride spoke excellent English.

His Honeymoon trip had been the doing of his new father in law Okamoto-san whose hatred for his new son in law was only out weighted by his love of his daughter. Shinji had to admit it was something of a Cinderella story. He had been working as an intern at Okamoto communications alongside Kaiko Okamoto, at first he didn’t make the connection between the pretty girl and corporation she was interning with. Apparently Okamoto-san believed his daughter should learn the company from the bottom up even though she was the heir apparent.

Shinji’s easy going personality and fondness for practical jokes at the expense of their stuffy manager piqued Kaiko’s interest. Shinji’s friend Jou convinced him to ask the girl out knowing full well who the beautiful girl was in the hope that he could prank the pranker. To Jou’s surprise Kaiko agreed. It wasn’t exactly a world wind romance and Shinji nearly passed out when he learned he was dating the bosses daughter. The first meeting didn’t go well due to a combination of Shinji’s fear and Okamoto-san’s intense dislike. Nevertheless the older man could see Shinji made his girl happy and he accepted him only for this fact.

It was a long relationship but the engagement was short and the wedding lavish perfectly befitting a daughter of a powerful businessman, Jou of course drew attention to how much of a fish out of water Shinji was in such decadence.

With that the pair where packed off of their travels. They had visited New York, Las Vegas, Paris, Berlin, Lake Como, London and Edinburgh on a detour. Shinji had become slightly obsessed with finding the perfect bottle of Whiskey to present to his father in law on his return knowing the man was something of a connoisseur he hoped this would make him happy.

Thus far his efforts had been in vain. It was then that he had the idea to visit Ireland in the hopes that he could find an Irish Whiskey to present the old man with. Scotch whisky was so cliché these days and a good Irish whiskey would be an interesting talking point for his father in law. Kaiko was happy to go but only if they travelled by Ferry as she was sick of flying. Shinji was happy to accept and they set sail on P & O European Highlander Ferry for what they were assured was the shortest fastest crossing from Cairnryan to Larne.

That had been four months ago when the outbreak was in its infancy. They had been refused entry at Larne due to the quarantine and when they tried to return to Cairnryan the same thing had happened leaving them adrift in the middle of the Irish Sea. In the early days some of the passengers had stolen life boats in an attempt to get to land but that happened less often now. They had heard stories of how bad things were on land and most people knew they were safer on board the Ferry.

Shinji passed the time reading books on his Nexus Seven Tablet. He’d been smart and stocked up on as many books as he could before he left, he also spent some time trying to pick up English so he would know what was going on around him. His English was still remedial though and he knew that Kaiko got frustrated trying to teach him all the time. For the time being she had to act as their voice onboard the Highlander.

Also on board and having difficulties was Alice Oakes. Alice had been travelling on the Highlander with her two young children Ben and Katie. She had booked a cabin on board was only seen on the decks to get food and never with the children. While some may have thought this strange most put it down to Alice’s fear of the other passengers. They’d seen the Walking Dead and everyone knew things could get a little strange in close quarters under such strange circumstances.

Alice however was hiding a much darker secret.

Ben and Katie were infected.

Katie had been running a fever when they boarded but back then nobody was checking for signs of illness. She’d died on the first night and attacked her brother. Alice was able to restrain the child using belts but she knew her son was infected as well. She had considered getting help but she knew what would happen to her children and she couldn’t bring her self to do it. Instead she simply tried to nurse them back to health even as they snapped at her.

In the cabin mounds of uneaten food lay in piles beside the tied children, they were hungry but not for what she offering. She had to gag the children to prevent the moaning but there was little she could do for the thrashing.

It had been four months and questions were starting to circulate that eventually came to the attention of Stephen McFadden. McFadden was a deckhand at least that’s what it said of his pay check in actuality he was a waiter. It wasn’t a bad job though kind of like being an air steward except on a boat, going to less glamorous locales, for less pay. He had wanted to be an air steward but got Airsick, for some reason though his sea legs were strong though.

McFadden had heard the rumours of the strange woman who nobody saw very much and decided it was time to do a courtesy call. Stephen knew what it was like to be different but he’d learned it was better to be honest with people as with a lack of information people often came up with their own erroneous ideas.

He informed the Captain who agreed that Stephen should check it out. He told Emma Riley, another water waiter, to help him. Stephen was pleased as he’d been trying to ensure everyone on board was kept entertained and calm. His mother had always said the devil made work for idle hands. It was about the only piece of his mother’s ideology he could agree with, the rest had driven a wedge between them the size of the Irish sea.

Emma and Stephen approached the door and gave it a quick rap. The response was a knock on the door and a muffled voice.

“That sounded like come in right?” Stephen asked.

“I think so.” Emma replied. She was only seventeen but that was same age Stephen had been when he’d started four years ago. Emma was still saying all the things he’d said back then.

“I’ll only be here of a year or two then I’m travelling...” Was a popular one.

Stephen saw a lot of himself in the young girl but the truth was they were stuck on the boat, not because of zombies. If the outbreak had never happened both of them would still be on the boat. They were victims of circumstance and apathy. The Highlander was their home.

Stephen produced a key card and slid it into the lock. “House keeping! We’re just here to make sure everything is...”

He stopped as he took in the nightmarish scene in front of him.

A woman was lying in the middle of the room with her entrails strewn liberally around the floor of the cabin. Hunched over her was a small blonde girl and boy. The girl was wearing a set of Beauty and the Beast pyjamas which were covered in blood and gore while the boy was wearing an oversized Manchester United jersey with Herrera on the back.

The little girl lifted her head and with a burst of speed neither was expecting sprinted towards Stephen and sunk her teeth into his thigh. Stephen screamed and kicked the girl away before following Emma who was screaming down the corridor. This of course led to more confusion as people exited their own cabins to see what the problem was. The children raced around the corridor causing chaos wherever they went.

Shinji was in his Cabin with Kaiko when they heard the screams.


“何?” Kaiko asked as she went to the door but Shinji stopped her.

“それは危険に聞こえる. 外出しない”

“なぜ?”

“悲鳴は通常悪いです ”

Kaiko nodded and sat beside him on the bed. They listened to the screams and held hands while Kaiko sobbed quietly.

#

0045

It had been almost four hours since the outbreak and the Highlander was now firmly in control of the undead. While the crew and passengers had tried their best to contain the outbreak they had failed and now the undead were in every part of the ship.

Including the bridge.

Of course there was simply no way for Kaiko and Shinji to know this which why it came as such a surprise when the ship finally ran aground. It sounded like an explosion had gone off below them and the impact threw Kaiko clear across the room. She smacked her head with a sickening thud on the dresser and Shinji screamed as he raced to help her. She was breathing but out cold.

Shinji lifted her and placed her in the bed before spending a few moments considering what to do. Finally he decided he would need help.

He lifted a pen and some P&O trademarked stationary and scribbled a hurried note. That explained he was going for help and that she should remain in the cabin. The words were in Japanese which he hoped would prove to her he was the one who had left the note.

He was about to leave when he got an idea. He pulled on a thick Barbour coat he bought for travelling through the rainy UK. Now he wore it in the hopes the tough material might prevent anything from sinking it’s teeth into him.

He then slowly approached the door and placed his ear to it. He could hear nothing so he slowly unlocked and opened it.

The hall way was clear but he could hear faint moaning coming from every nook and cranny of the ship. The ferry was beached on its side so the hall way wasn’t exactly level as the Bow was lower than the stern but the angle wasn’t so pronounced that walking was impossible. The boat did shift on the loose sand however as waves crashed against the side.

He locked the door behind himself and pocketed the key before slowly creeping along the halls. Kaiko had her own cabin key he had set on top of the note.

Shinji didn’t like being on the cabin deck. There was nowhere to run except back the way he came and the narrow hallway meant if he did encounter something he’d be unable to get past. He hadn’t seen a real live zombie yet but knew enough from movies and what Kaiko had told him the others were saying.

He made it to the staircase when he heard a roar from behind him. He turned and saw two bloody zombies behind him.

“くそ” He exclaimed before racing up the staircase and slamming the door shut behind himself. He let out a sigh of relief and turned to see he was standing in the middle of the shopping area of the ship. There was a small shop that sold Irish and Scottish themed tat, a coffee shop and about twenty zombies.

Shinji didn’t say anything he just ran for the nearest door which led outside to the deck. There was no time to close the door behind himself and soon he found himself running for his life across the deck that was slick from seawater and heavy rain. He threw himself up a set of stairs but the undead were still on him eventually he came across a ladder that he quickly mounted and rapidly climbed. Below him at least twenty zombies were clawing after him. It appeared they had no idea how to use the ladder.

“少なくとも彼らは愚かであ” He sighed before he kept climbing.

He was about to peak over top of the ladder and take look at the upper deck when a body suddenly flew over the top of him and plummeted below. Shinji nearly let go of the ladder through fright but held firm. The falling zombie was followed by two more that landed with a sickening thud beneath him. Even on the way down Shinji could see them grasping for him.

“本当に愚か”He climbed to the top of the ladder and pulled himself up onto the deck and looked around. The upper deck seemed clearer but it was difficult to tell in the night.


He crept along the deck straining to hear of signs of movement over the lashing rain. He was making his way towards the stern when he noticed the rainwater running along the deck was getting darker. A few seconds later he found two mutilated bodies huddled together on a bench. He avoided looking at them and kept walking but one of the bodies lunged forward in an attempt to grab him. Shinji threw himself against the railing and nearly fell over while the zombie slipped and smashed it’s face off the deck with a sickening crack. Shinji screamed but the zombie was unfazed and struggled to its feet.


Shinji ran as fast as he could toward the stern but quickly ran out of boat. He was overlooking the lower deck which was bathed in darkness apparently electricity wasn’t working on all parts of the boat.

The zombie was advancing on Shinji when its head popped open in a flash of brilliant red light. And it collapsed to the ground. It landed beside the flare round that had killed it.

“Are you normal?” Emma Riley asked over the howling wind while still pointing the empty flare gun at Shinji. Her P&O uniform was soaked through and the Flare gun was shaking in her hands.

“私は英語が話せない”Shinji answered.

“I can’t hear you!” Emma called.

“ありがとう. 私が死んだと思った” Shinji replied.

“You don’t speak English do you?” Emma said as she approached the strange man.

“No English.” Shinji said. “Kaiko. 妻. キャビン内の無意識.” He then mimed hitting himself on the head and falling unconscious.

“Yes you need to hit them in the head to kill them.” Emma nodded.

Shinji, not understanding what she had said, was pleased though as it appeared the young woman was less stressed now and she had lowered the weapon.

“It’s ok. I’m going fire another flare and we’re going to get rescued “Ok?”

Shinji knew Ok but that was about it. “はい!” Then realising he had spoken in Japanese repeated “Yes.” In English.

Emma then reloaded the Flare gun and aimed at the sky. She fired the round and let out a little squeal at the recoil. She watched as the little flare hung in the air for around thirty Seconds before it fell back down to earth and the beach below. Shinji mean while had used the brief flash of light to look at the lower deck. It was swarming with zombies and all of them were straining to reach the upper deck. It was surreal because Shinji couldn’t hear them moan over the wind just see them stretching soundlessly upward in the dim red light. They would be unable to reach him but if he wanted to get off the boat he’d need to find a way down from the upper decks to the lower ones and a way to safely get to Kaiko.

“Come on I know somewhere safe and dry.”Emma said and Shinji turned. He started at her blankly and she gestured for him to follow her.

#

Emma had been able to survive through sheer luck, the zombie children had attacked Stephen first and soon his screams drew more people and targets for the tiny shin chompers giving her time to escape. Well escape was a relative term, she had escaped from the lower decks which were by now swarming with undead. She was still trapped on the upper deck though.

She led Shinji into the Security room where she had been able to hold up. The CCTV gave her a pretty good view of the area. She was soaking wet but the man seemed to be quite dry in his coat. She removed her polyester navy blazer that was a part of her uniform and set it on the back of the chair beside the CCTV terminal.

Shinji immediately felt chivalrous looking at the drenched young woman who had saved his life so he removed his Barbour jacket and gave it to Emma.

“Oh Thank you.” Emma said she wasn’t going to take it but she was freezing.

“Emma? Are you there? Our Scavenger saw the Flare. Help will be there soon.”

Emma ran to the survival radio she had gotten from the small wall mounted pack she got the flare gun.

“Callie, it’s Emma. Good there’s a lot of zombies here I mean a lot.”

“You’re doing great Emma just stay calm have you found the person you saw on the camera?”

“Yes he’s here with me. I don’t think he speaks English. He seems cool though.”

Shinji watched as the girl spoke on the radio but it was all just noise to him. He considered English to be such an ugly language but he would have given his right arm to be able to speak it at that moment.

Suddenly the room was bathed in darkness and the CCTV terminal went dead.

“Callie we just lost power.” Emma said she felt her heart rate start to beat faster.

“That’s fine, the Scavs won’t miss a beached Ferry. Check the emergency pack there might be candles or glow sticks.

Emma found both but only cracked one glow stick. She figured starting a fire was far too likely with the candles.

“Ok, Ok. When will you be here?”

“I’m not coming, its a few friends of mine. When they arrive give them the radio and make them confirm their identities with me ok?”

“Yes sure.”

“They’ll be there in a few hours until then you should conserve the battery. Do you have a watch?”

“Yes.”

“Ok every half hour turn your radio on for five minutes and give me a call.”

“Ok Callie, hurry.”

“They’re on the way. I’ll speak to you in half an hour.”

Emma sighed and flicked the radio off. Immediately Shinji started talking.

“私たちは、私の妻を救うために必要” He cried. But even in the dim green light of the glow stick he could tell the woman had no idea what he was talking about.

He showed her his hand and pointed to the wedding ring.

“I know it’s pretty romantic in here buddy what with the mood lighting and all but I’m not about to come on to you.”

Shinji pointed at the ring. “Kaiko.” He said.

Emma nearly slapped her head over how dense she had been.

“Your wife? Is she alive?”

“Wife!” He nodded vigorously.

“Is she alive?” Emma said while making a happy smiling face “Or Zombie?” and she switched to a stiff armed zombie impression.

Shinji replied with a big smile on his face. “Kaiko.”

Emma then lifted the glowstick and walked across the room to a laminated copy of the ship floor plan.

“Where is Kaiko?”

Shinji didn’t know what the words meant but was able to put enough together from Kaiko’s name and the floor plan. He studied the map for a few minutes. Obviously he was having trouble reading it. Finally he produced his key card and showed it to Emma.

She looked at the card and saw the room Cabin number was 24 #1 or room 24 on first deck below the main deck. Emma sucked her teeth and made a face Shinji knew was bad in any language.

“Ok I’ll let the rescuers know.”

Shinji nodded responding to her tone rather than the actual words.

“Emma.” The girl said while gesturing to herself.

Shinji bowed slightly and then pointed to himself. “Shinji.”

#

Jobs

The Love Boat.


November 9th 2013

0020



Suggested Number of Scavs – 2

Area –Seascale beach

Objective- Investigate ship wrecked P&O ferry.

Information- Sorry to wake you. We just received a distress call from a ferry that has run aground near the Town of Seascale. From the flare they sent up it looks like they are somewhere near the Seascale Golf Links course which overlooks the sea. It’ll take a couple of hours to get their as their flare was pretty far out.

We’re in contact with a survivor of the crash called Emma Riley she’s apparently with another survivor who doesn’t speak any English. The Ship is firmly under the control of the dead but hopefully you’ll be able to get them out.

It’s been lobbing it down all night so you’d do well to wrap up warm at least it seems to be melting the ice but these days the snow is never too far away. I recommend you bring some blankets or something as Emma was complaining of being very cold. We need to look out for hypothermia.

There might also be some cargo worth taking like food or other supplies so keep your eyes open.

Callie

Bonus Missions.

Relight my Fire.

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1

Area – Woods around Haven

Objective- Collect Firewood

Special Equipment- Empty rucksacks.

Information- It’s cold. Real cold.

We need to get some kind of wood collection set up so we don’t end up looking like Arnie in that Batman movie. The mission is simple enough head out and grab some wood. Avoid green leaves as apparently when they burn they make white smoke. If everybody does a little soon we’ll have a stock pile going. Just makes sure you don’t carry so much you can’t run anymore.

Callie


Gone Huntin’

Suggested Number of Scavs – 1

Area –Woods around Haven

Objective- Go Hunting.

Special Equipment- Scoped rifle.

Information- Food is getting pretty scarce lately and with the cold weather it’s vital to keep our strength up. There’s a lot of animals still roaming around the place. Sadly I’m sure you noticed the farming livestock has taken a hit from the cold and the fact there is nobody there to look after them.
Wild Animals and Game are loving the new found freedom though.

I’m sending two of you out to go hunting in the woods around Haven it’s up to you whether you stick together or not. If you choose not to please ensure you wear the high visibility jackets. It’ll make you more noticeable sure but at least you can out run a Zombie, Usain Bolt can’t out run a bullet. God could you imagine what he’d be like as a Zombie?

Scary.

Anyway remember whatever you kill you gotta be able to carry home so don’t shoot deer or something you can’t back.

Actually now that I think about it, there’s a strong possibility one of the local farms is a dairy. If you find a Cow maybe you could bring it back. Alive. It would be nice to have milk in the coffee. Chances are slim though given how long it’s been since the outbreak.

Callie.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Callie Winters Character Portrait: Delaney Byron Character Portrait: Erin Hooper Character Portrait: Shinji Yamada

0.00 INK

#, as written by Rann
The Love Boat.

Collaboration with Faith Fanon

November 9th 2013, 0020

Part 1: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Laney barely heard the knock above the noise of the storm lashing Haven. She crept to the door to find Callie there, looking tired and drawn.

'Callie,' she whispered. 'Everything okay?'

Callie stared vacantly for a moment, as if looking over her shoulder, then returned to the real world. 'A ship has run aground. There are survivors. It can't wait.'

Laney flicked a glance back at Ben's sleeping form. They'd argued over the last few days about the dangers of trusting strangers. 'I'll get Hoppy. She's pretty fly at getting in and out of places.'

Soon the three women were sitting around the table in the Command Centre, the younger pair looking at the map as Callie outlined the mission. The information imparted, Laney and Hoppy spent 10 minutes around Haven gathering equipment they might need; Laney went to Monroe's armory for a scoped rifle - for all the good it would do in this kind of dark - and a flare gun; Hoppy grabbed a couple of blankets and, almost as an afterthought, a large man's full-length raincoat. She would be swamped in it, for sure, but it might do someone some good. Hoppy almost decided on ditching the cleaver - hell, she was attached to it far too much as of late. But in the end she brought it along with her, hugging it to her body as if it were a beloved pet.

Callie stopped them at the door. 'Remember, be careful with your torches.'

'We know. Light discipline,' Laney replied. She reached out and squeezed Callie's arm. 'Get some rest, okay?'

They donned waterproof layers and ducked out into the driving rain. As if by way of greeting, a gust of wind sprayed cold water straight into their faces, taking their breath away.

'Fuck it, Hoppy, we're gonna drown before we even get to the sea,' gasped Laney, turning west at the gate onto the road. 'Hey, where are you going?' Hoppy had turned east.

'Y'don't think I'm walkin' all that way, do ya?' she shot back. 'I'm usin me head, not me legs.' In response to Laney's puzzled grunt, she expanded: 'Still got that truck stashed down Cromwell. pretty sure I remember where it is.'

After a couple of minutes outdoors, their eyes had adjusted to the dark enough that they could see the outline of the road and the verges; they broke into a light jog, silent but for the rasp of their breath, until they reached the outskirts of Cromwell. They slowed to a cautious walk as Hoppy cast her mind back to the events of that traumatic day in Cromwell, and Laney, hatchet in hand, tried to stare through the dark and hear above the howling wind for dangers, dead and alive. 'C'mon, Hoppy, where is it?' she asked nervously.

'It's 'ere, it's 'ere. Stay close. It's just...'

Hoppy's thoughts drifted back to the rescue mission to save Ben. After scaring off the 'vaners, essentially, the four from Haven, after some thought, stowed the truck in a different area - still a ways from Cromwell, in a reddish house that looked oddly barnlike in its design. There was a garage there too, of course. Originally, Hoppy had wanted to just get the hell back to Haven with the truck - but Mark was in charge, and he was set on leaving it a bit away from Haven. In any case, Hoppy returned to the present, and located the quaint red house, thinking that it looked pretty different in the middle of a storm. "That'un," she pointed, anxious to find a roof to block the rain.

Laney was almost as glad to get out of the freezing rain as she was to find the truck. She threw back her hood and dragged off her woolen hat, using it to wipe the rain off her face.

'Yew wanna drive?' offered Hoppy.

'Um...' Laney paused. Oh well, there was no getting around it. 'I don't know how.'

'Heh,' cried Hoppy, secretly amused, secretly glad of this talent her friend didn't have. She shot Laney a little devious smirk; head sideways at her. "Another'un of Laney's little skills, aye?"

'What? I lived in London and I was stupid rich. I got taxis everywhere.' Somehow Laney didn't feel as defensive about this failing in front of Hoppy as she might have in front of Tilo, Callie or any of the others.

'Aye-uh, well get in then. I'll be youer taxi t'Seascale,' Hoppy teased. She started the engine, slipped it into gear, and eased the truck out onto the road. It was nerve-wracking, really, as Hoppy stared at it. Driving it out to the road, sure, why not. But actually driving it... last time she'd done something like that, it resulted in Ben... Hoppy shook her head, not wanting to fall back into the old doldrums of after the rescue mission. She had to focus to prove that she wasn't a waste of space. After a couple of minutes of silence, as Hoppy got used to the mechanics, she asked: 'Sooo... whose bed did Callie drag yew out'a tonight?'

'Hoppy!' Laney screamed in pretend outrage, laughing at the girl's cheek.

Hoppy grinned at the reaction, and that she'd guessed right. 'So it's official then?'

'Official?' Laney smiled to herself, recalling the stolen nights she'd spent with Ben. In an environment like Haven, she hadn't expected it to go unnoticed. 'I'd hardly call it that, it's just a coupla rolls, y'know?'

'Oh.' Hoppy was disappointed Laney had poured cold water on the subject so quickly. 'Was lookin' forward to knockin' 'bouts with baby Bens!'

Laney fell silent for a moment, staring out the window as they passed Haven. Light discipline seemed to be in full effect there.

'I don't know. I should be okay,' she said quietly. Hoppy glanced over. The singer had suddenly gone very serious. 'I mean, I should get my period any day now anyway, so I should be okay, right?'

Hoppy realised the reason for the sudden change in Laney's demeanour. It wasn't advice she felt particularly well-equiped to give - unwanted pregnancy in the zombie apocalypse. With an uneasy frown, and a bit of an unsettling thought - would she ever have children of her own one day?- before turning her attention back to the road, feeling slightly more awkward in the silence. She was racking her brain for something to say when, in the headlights in front of them, a zombie stumbled onto the narrow road. She fought the instinct to floor the accelorator and run it down, instead slamming on the brakes, not wanting to risk damaging the truck. There was a much better, up-close and personal way to deal with the damn thing, after all.

"This'un's mine." Hoppy said with a bit of eagerness. Gripping the black handle of her billhook cleaver, Hoppy made a small jump down onto the road and into the dark, whipping wind and rain. She shivered a bit; goddamn it was cold, wasn't it! But when she heard the characteristic moan under the storm, she knew what she had to do. The zed made an attempt at a lunge - Hoppy stepped to the side, before slamming the side of the cleaver down onto the neck of the undead monster, smashing it to the ground. She made a small celebratory sound, relishing this. She hadn't killed a zed in so long, after all. She made a few quick chops, and the head of the zed fell, severed unceremoniously. Seeing the flesh and sinew, Hoppy felt exhilirated. She'd done it, after all! The girl then pulled the damn thing off the road, with a grunt of effort - damn, was that tedious. Wasn't long, though, until she returned to the vehicle, drenched but with a new light in her eyes.

"Feeling 'bit like the old me ag'in." She said cheerfully to the singer, before revving the engine once again. Laney grinned back, pushing her previous worry to one side.

Part 2: Superzombie, Dah-Dadada-Dah-Dah!

'Gosforth Road and Cross Lanes. Turn left,' Laney confirmed, flicking her torch from the road sign back to her map. 'We can dodge the village and get to the golf club. There's a little pier where we might find a... Hang on... what the...' she trailed off.

Hoppy shot her a concerned glance. 'What is it?'

'Sellafield's just up the road.'

'The nuclear power station? Wow. Is that still... y'know... active?'

'Yeah.' Laney cast her mind back about 10 years, certainly to when she was a clean-cut child star. Her father had been invited to discuss Sellafield on a lot of serious news programmes, due to the charity single opposing nuclear power he'd written and performed in the 80s, alongside a bunch of other stars of the time. She seemed to recall the serious news programmes were discussing Sellafield's decomissioning. 'I don't know. Better ask Tilo. Or Rishi.'

'Radioactive zombies.' Hoppy chuckled. "Nuclear zombies. Superpowered zombies!"

'Like we don't have enough to worry about.' Laney sighed and folded her map. Hoppy eased the truck back into gear, and they drove down the little lane, rolling to a stop in front of the clubhouse. Laney was about to jump out when Hoppy jerked the gears again and performed a neat three-point turn, almost surprised at the fact that she'd pulled it off with aplomb. 'Easier t'get out,' she explained, using the mask to look as if she knew she could do it. 'Always plan youer way out, learned that in Cromwell with Ben.'

From the safety of the truck, Laney flashed her torch across the front of the clubhouse, picking out the smashed remains of floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows that must have afforded little protection from the undead horde. There was no reaction to the little lightshow, and the Scavs jumped down from the truck. Laney paused in thought for a moment, then slid the rifle back onto the passenger seat. The rain hammered down as they dashed to the corner, and Hoppy was just about to dart round to the back, where the pier was located when Laney grabbed her arm.

'Hold on,' she hissed. 'There's a bar in there.'

'Laney, no detours!' Hoppy shot back. 'I tol you what 'appened in Cromwell.'

'Come on, girl, when's the last time you had a drink? Come on, one bottle.' And with that, Laney stepped over a remaining shard of window and into the bar. She could feel the shattered glass grinding and crunching under the soles of her boots, but no sound could reach above the driving rain and howling wind. She flicked on her torch, and immediately wished she hadn't. The walls and the bar were all splattered with high splashes of brown - dried blood - and wide pools of the same dead fluid marred the once-plush carpet. Avoiding these, she sidled over to the bar and flashed on her torch once more, and bit down on her lip to stop crying out. Under the cash register, lying on its side, was a head - just a head - and when the light landed on it, its eyes flew open and it began to mash its jaw up and down. Not having any lungs any more, it couldn't produce the charactaristic moan, but even in this extreme condition, its monsterous instincts remained. Laney lifted her hatchet - she barely thought of it as Toby's any longer - to finally put an end to the creature, when her eyes fell on a metal icebucket.

'Look what I got,' she cheered when she returned to Hoppy at the corner. 'Vodka!' She held up a cardboard box holding three bottles and a bucket.

'What's under the towel?' Hoppy sounded cross at Laney's reckless detour. Moreover, it was for liquor. Not only did she dislike the bitter and strong taste, but Hoppy was bitterly reminded of the two brothers, and how they used beer to... get their victims, essentially.

'It's a surprise,' Laney shot back, hurrying to dump the box on the flatbed of the truck. 'Come on.'

After a few minutes pacing the shoreline behind the clubhouse, they found the pier. Several small boats moored there were half-submerged or more, but at the end, riding high on white-capped waves that flashed in the torchlight, was a sleek-looking motorboat. They stood at the end of the pier, watching the craft rock up and down. Beyond it, they could see huge bulk of the ferry ship a little way, listing slightly to the left. To port, Laney corrected herself, recalling a luxury cruise with her father. They called left port when at sea.

'Y'know anythin 'bout speedboats?' Hoppy queried nervously, clutching the giant raincoat closer to her, further dwarfing herself in its bulk.

Laney tried to make herself sound braver than she felt. 'I steered my dad's a couple of times. It was... uhhh... nicer weather.' She sat on the pier and lowered herself gingerly down, then reached up to help Hoppy in. She pulled uselessly on the starter cord of the motor with her left hand. Hoppy had a couple of turns, to no avail. Finally, taking a joint grip on the handle, they threw themselves backwards and the motor sputtered into life. Laney laughed as she picked herself up, took the handle and gunned the engine.

Her laugh was cut short as the engine screamed and the boat lurched high into the air.

'Laney, yew twyp!' Hoppy yelled from where she lay in a puddle in the bottom of the boat. 'Yew din't undo the rope tyin' us to land!'

A deft blow of her hatchet set them on their way, and Laney guided the boat out to sea towards the stern of the ship. 'I don't want to be too near land,' she yelled over the whipping wind and the roaring engine. 'Zeds probably fell off the ship, and if we're in the shallow, they can reach up and grab us.'

By the time they reached the stern of the ship they were about 100 metres from land. They were drenched from sea spray and rain, but the breakers had given way to swells of five feet or more. Hollow booms and metallic rattles emanated from the ship as it rocked gently with the power of the sea. Either side of the raised car ramp on the stern was a railed platform, pretty much at sea level. Laney brought the boat as close as she could to the starboard platform and, at the top of a swell, Hoppy reached out and grabbed the rail. The falling swell dropped the boat from under Hoppy's feet, leaving her hanging on for dear life, her feet kicking to find purchase beneath her. The boat clattered violently against the platform and caught underneath it as the swell rose again, pitching the boat sideways and throwing Laney off her feet. She grabbed at the rail as the freezing seawater rushed in around her up to her waist, shocking the breath out of her. Hoppy grabbed her under the shoulder, and together they scrambled over the rail, gasping for air, and watched the motorboat sink below the surface. A stairwell led up to a walkway that wrapped around the body of the ship at lower-deck level and they dragged themselves up it, out of the rain.

'That din't go well,' Hoppy spat out eventually. Laney already had her backpack off.

'Radio's bust. Flares are bust. Food's bust,' she said, throwing each item into the sea as she named it. 'Hey look,' she said, showing Hoppy the bottom of her nearly-empty pack. 'Water bottle's still in one piece!'

Hoppy stared back at Laney dryly, looking almost ridiculously unimpressed. She was wet and annoyed, and there was still a whole damn lightless boat to search, wasn't there? It took her half a mind to keep from freaking out at Laney, only relenting at the last moment, luckily not having grabbed at her favorite blade. Hoppy scowled and murmured something that sounded akin to 'useless twyp', but otherwise didn't respond. So they had no food, in case this damn thing would take days to search. No flares, so they can't call for help. There's rain anyways, so was there really any use in using them? No radio, so they can't report into Haven in case things go wrong. Hell, they didn't even bring any Harrys, did they? But at least they had water, something they oh so desperately needed right now.

Damnit, this was going to be tiresome. And terrifying. It really wasn't one of her favorite prospect things to do; head into an abandoned ship in the dark with enemies that could possibly be surrounding you, with no way of knowing, until it's too late. She whipped out the cleaver; of course she was foolish to even hope for a gleam to shine off of the blade, wasn't she? Everything was going wrong - going to hell, just like all her other missions. Would the same pattern follow? Would it be Laney who got hurt for her sake this time? Hoppy made a defeated shrug, trudging forwards, aimlessly, making sure of her footing - the leaning ship meant all the walkways were at an angle. Least it'd be better if she could be the one to get hurt this time. And on top of all of this was a treacherous climb. And almost as if sensing the sudden foul mood, Laney spoke up.

"Hey, c'mon. Least we're at where we wanted, right? And you still got your pack."

Yeah. There's at least that.

"Sorry." Hoppy said quickly, forcing an easy grin. "Jus' wasn't prepared fer that! Bit on edge, it's nuthin'!"

'Okay. We gotta hurry up though, I'm gonna freeze in these wet jeans.'

Part 3: Boarding Party

The two girls went navigating through the ship, ears peeled for the sound of moaning, too afraid to dare calling out to Emma. You never knew was was lurking in the dark, after all. Still, Laney looked tempted to search the rooms, just in case there was something valuable hidden away - Hoppy almost had to drag her away from looking in one port-hole; too paranoid to want to do anything but finish as soon as possible. She was freaked out and on edge, and the iron smell of the boat now seemed to mix with an iron smell of sanguine. Definitely unpleasant. Her boot kicked against the soft squish of a corpse, and Hoppy screamed immediately, blindly slashing ahead of her with the cleaver, almost knocking Laney's head clean off.

"Hey!" Laney shouted, indignant. "Be careful where you wave that thing!"

The singer felt around where she heard the squish, and sure enough, her hands touched the cold meaty flesh of the corpse. Both girls shuddered deeply as they realised what had happened.

"M-me bad." Hoppy uttered bashfully. "Dunnae what came over me righ' t'ere."

The now brown-haired girl wiped the sole of her foot on the wall, wincing at the squeak that resounded against the cold steel. And it was right at that moment that they heard that same nightmarish moan - they couldn't tell from where. Hoppy shot Laney a fearful glance. What the hell, man, how do you fight when it's so dark? She swung the cleaver blindly, not hitting anything but empty air. Sudenly remembering Laney, Hoppy sheepishly stopped swinging it, and instead held it in a defensive position, ready to lash out in case anything came out of the darkness.

'Okay, we got to stick right together, I mean right together,' Laney demanded. 'Give me your hand, I don't want my head chopped off.'

The moaning continued, but it didn't get any louder; maybe the zed just wasn't approaching them. Hoppy wanted to leave this part at least; the corpse lying there was disgusting her more and more.

"Le's get on wit'it." Hoppy murmured, pulling on Laney's finger and continuing down the walkway. "Shudn't waste time 'ere."

The growls increased as the two girls walked - just how any of them were around, anyways? Must've been a hell of a lot, just barely out of sight. Where the hell are they? Hoppy was on edge, jittery and nervous, and she had a feeling that Laney wasn't really taking this so well, either, if the tight grip on her hand was anything to go by. If they were suddenly swarmed, both of them were fucked. Utterly fucked. Nothing they can do about that either; helpless to luck right now. She had to think of a way to alleviate this tension - she couldn't damn take it at all. Talk more about Ben? Or maybe thank her for the mooncup? It had come in handy, after all. Then she thought- dude, there were so many zed on-board. If they managed to get on land... that would make everything harder for Haven in the long run. What's the best way to get rid of them, when they're all here, in one spot?

"Explosion." Hoppy muttered. She paused, to listen for any growls that might've been getting closer - none that she could tell - and extrapolated. "Dun' wanna risk more'o these gettin' on land, y'know? P'raps we culd, I dunnae, blow up the ship?" She shrugged, unsure how to even go about blowing it up, but damn wasn't it a tempting idea?

'I like your style, you fucking psycho,' Laney whispered back. 'Let's get to the survivors first. Callie said one was crew, maybe they'll know how.'

Laney tried to recall all she could about the luxury cruise liner. It had been a lot bigger than this, but surely the principles would be the same.

'The survivors radioed Callie, so the best bet is they're on the bridge or nearby,' she whispered in Hoppy's ear. 'That's gonna be up on the top deck. So all that moaning and groaning must be coming from the cabins on the other side of this wall. Or on the main deck.'

Hoppy was about to respond, when her foot slipped - for no apparent damn reason. Walking at an angle like this was exhausting, especially in the dark, with all the zeds all over the place. She grabbed onto a door handle at the last second, stopping her from completely falling and possibly slipping down to where they'd started. She cursed in annoyance, but steadied herself before catching up with Laney - accidentally pulling down on the handle by accident. Of course, as you'd expect, the door swung just a tad. And all of a sudden it seemed as if some of the groaning, at least, had lost a muffler.

"Well, shit." Hoppy sighed. "Dunnae ev'n where we are, do we? Or 'ow t'get to the bridge? Outrunnin' this many of'em in an upright ship's not my style."

'We've got to find a stairs. That'll take us onto the main deck, right where that moaning's coming from.'

'Oh great.'

'Yes, but listen,' Laney went on. 'The angle means most of them will have just naturally ended up on the lower side of the slope, so if we find a stairs on this side, we should be able to sneak right past them.'

"Unless I trip ag'in." Hoppy said dubiously, deadpanning.

'You trip again, I'll chuck you over the side. Come on, there's a stairs up ahead.'

Laney put a foot on the first step, and tried to push out of her mind what lay above them. There could be any number of Zeds immediately above them, and she could be poking her head out into the midst of them. Still, that was the risk they all took now. Stepping outside of Haven, climbing a stair, death could come at any minute. But staying put - holed up in Haven, at the foot of a stairwell - meant death too, just a slower form. She swallowed, trying to bury her fears, and climbed the rest of the stairs, hoping the dark and the howling wind would mask her whereabouts from the zombies' senses.

There was slightly better light on the deck than there had been on the ramp-level walkways, but a fresh assault from the wind and rain at the greater elevation. Laney shook her arms and legs, trying to get the blood flowing in her numb limbs again. The moaning was louder but it seemed to be coming from the port side of the deck: as Laney had predicted, gravity had naturally brought the zombies to that side. She gestured to Hoppy to follow, realized the Welsh girl might not be able to see her, and hissed back: 'All clear'

Hoppy was grateful that Laney had whispered - she was just sort of standing there, staring at nothing in the blackness. She nodded - before foolishly realizing that Laney couldn't see it, and then whispered her thanks with a hushed, 'Ta'. Carefully managing her footsteps, the younger girl took an experimental step - she was more unsteady than she thought - but she managed to follow Laney without much incidence. She took a sad look at her cleaver as she heard the moaning increase - no way the little guy could take them all on for her.

Laney took her friend's hand again and led them forward until they spied the next stairs. When they emerged again from the shelter of the stairwell, they were both nearly driven to their knees by a blast of wind; there was no more cover now they were on the top deck, and the wind was even more ferocious at this height. A metallic banging sounded ahead. Laney tried to curse, but the gusts ripped the air straight from her mouth. Instead she pointed with her hatchet at the silhouette of the bridgehouse ahead of them, a slightly darker outline against the heavy black rain clouds. Leaning into the wind, they struggled to keep their footing as they crossed the wet top deck. As they reached the bridgehouse, the wind died suddenly and, no longer pinned shut, the wheelroom door slowly creaked open. Hoppy's grip on Laney's hand grew that much tighter. The wind picked up again and slammed the door shut with an almighty clang, and both girls yelped.

'If they're anywhere, they're in here,' Laney yelled over the wind. 'Got your torch?' As Hoppy reached into her backpack, Laney yanked the door open, bracing it against the buffeting wind.. Hoppy played her torch across the interior as Laney called out: 'Hello?'

The torchlight lit up the inside of the wheelroom, and the girls just had time to see the nautical instruments drenched in blood and gore, before three zombies jerked into life and dashed towards them. Laney let go of the door and the wind slammed it shut, crunching on a dark-uniformed sleeve from which protruded a grey-skinned hand curled into a claw. Hoppy lost no time in hacking the hand off with an almost eager grin, heavy thumps came from inside as the zombies thrashed against the door. It flew open again, spilling the undead creatures, clumsy as they were, onto the deck in front of them. In a flurry of falling blades, they were dispatched.

'Now what?' asked Hoppy, almost shouting.

Laney pointed to another door on the bridgehouse. Hoppy pointed her torch at it, picking out the word 'Security' stamped on it. Laney tugged her towards it, but Hoppy pulled Laney back and gestured over the bow of the ship towards the village. 'I thought I saw a light.' The two girls scanned the village, and so were caught unawares when the door behind them opened. 'Hello, are you the people from Haven?' came an Irish accent. 'I'm Emma.'

Part 4: Shot In The Dark

Finally out of the howling wind, and with a locked metal door between them and the zombies, Laney realized how cold she was. The Asian man Emma had indicated was called Shinji went wide-eyed and turned away as Laney kicked off her boots and peeled the soaked, freezing denim from her legs. As Hoppy got on the radio to Haven, Laney dragged a blanket from her backpack and wrapped it around her waist.

'Sorry bout that,' she grinned. 'Our leader warned us about hypothermia. Didn't realize she coulda been talking about us.' She handed a blanket to Emma, taking a close look. The Irish girl was younger than her and Hoppy, although not by much, and looked tired but resolute. As she slipped the blanket around her shoulders, her mask of determination slipped, and an expression of pure exhaustion crossed her face, but the Asian man put a comforting hand on her shoulder, and she rallied.

'Callie? Callie? Haven, aye-uh, are yew gettin' t'is? Hoppy 'ere.' The radio crackled and buzzed. Clearly the storm was interfering with reception. '... ferry... Emma... back...' was all they could make out.

'Callie, if yew c'n 'ear me, We've found the survivors. We'a gun bring'em back t'Haven now."'

'... Hoppy... careful... Haven...' Then the radio cut out entirely. Hoppy shot Emma an annoyed glare, before desperately pressing the power button again.

'There's no power,' Emma said apologetically.

'We know. We just climbed it,' Laney smiled ruefully. She flashed Hoppy's torch around the security room. 'Nice place you got here. Got any trousers?'

The windowless security room was a tight fit for four people, about 10 foot square. Opposite the only door was the radio set. To its left, there was a tiny table and two chairs, and to its right were two lockers. Laney flung them open. The first contained two bottles of water, six chocolate bars, and four tins of tuna. Obviously supplies were running low, though a bottle of vodka seemed almost untouched. The second locker contained a handful of flares - Emma had the flare gun tucked into her waistband - and two boilersuits. The Asian man turned away again as Laney threw off her blanket and stepped into the boilersuit. It was much too big for her, so she improvised by tying the arms around her waist.

'Okay, let's get out of here,' she stated, dragging her boots back on. 'Know how to lower the lifeboats?'

'Yes, but...' replied Emma. The Asian man grabbed her arm and pointed to his ring finger which, Laney noticed, bore a silver wedding ring. 'Shinji's wife is stuck in a cabin. Kaiko. We can't leave without her.'

'Well, that's a 'ell of a rut.,' Hoppy grimaced at Laney. 'Fancy I shud'nt run off like last time, aye?.'

Emma pointed out the location of the cabin on the lower deck. Laney figured it was near the door on the lower deck Hoppy had opened when she slipped.

'And how many Zacks?' she asked.

Emma's face fell as she considered the question. 'It was summer when we set out, so we were nearly full. Probably seven hundred.'

'Fuck...' was all Laney could muster. She heard Hoppy's deep intake of breath beside her, who muttered 'explosion' again, almost dreamily.

'But a lot of them were in their cabins when they... when they turned,' Emma said quickly. 'And they can't open doors.'

'This ship doesn't have cabins for seven hundred,' Laney queried. Shinji's eyes darted from one to the other as he tried to grasp the tone of the conversation

'Okay, okay,' replied the Irish girl. 'But on minus one, most people were in their cabins. The biggest group of them is on the outer main deck or in the bar and food court on the inner main deck. If you avoid them...'

'Laney, we can't leave 'er there,' Hoppy said matter-of-factly. 'C'mon.'

The Scavs made for the door. Shinji followed, but Laney put her hand on his chest. 'Sorry, man, we're used to this. You're not.' He said something she didn't understand, and Laney turned to Emma. 'Look, tell him to stay here. Hoppy and I got our backs, he'll only be in the way.' He stepped forward again, and Laney raised her voice. 'No,' she shouted, pushing him in the chest.

Stepping back out into the cold and the wet and the dark, the temptation for the Scavs was to rush to the lower-deck door. But over the sounds of the ship and the howl of the wind, they could hear the moans of the zombies on the main deck, and proceeded with caution, again holding hands. At the door, Hoppy held up the torch: 'We goin' in?'

'I'm not going in there in the dark, Hops,' Laney shot back. Her teeth were chattering, half from the cold, half from fear. She pried open the door and Hoppy flicked the beam inside. The corridor was narrow and, most importantly, empty. They crept inside, glad to shelter from the elements, but hearts beating hard at the thought of exploring this zombie-filled dungeon. Hoppy shone the torch on the nearest doors.

'Room 40, 41,' she muttered. 'All the forties are on this corridor, Emma said, so all the thirties are the next corridor, and the twenties the next, and Kaiko's in number 24.'

They were passing Room 44, on their left, on the way to the main connecting corridor, which ran perpendicular to the forties corridor, when a thump came from the other side of the door, and a low moan started up. The girls froze in terror. There was another thump from 44, and the moan rose in volume, and was answered by a similar sound from Room 45, on their right. The eerie chorus was soon echoing from every room on the corridor. Hoppy flashed her torch down the connecting corridor, found it clear, and the girls scampered to the intersection with the thirties cabins corridor

Hearing a sudden voice and catching sight of beams of torchlight, Hoppy pulled her cleaver out, holding it out nervously and shushing Laney. She could almost make it out; it was somewhat of an argument, in the direction of the twenties corridor, mixing in with the steady groan of the zeds that littered the ship. As if acting as a scout, the almost-brunette went ahead, her footsteps pattering across the floor in time to catch a brief snippet of conversation.

"Dude, her accent." A gruff, loud, and self-important voice shot out. "I don't even know what the hell she's saying."

"Might be others." Another one, slightly nasally. "If we kill her off -"

A third, distinctly female voice broke out, panicked and slightly accented weirdly - was she over-stressing certain consonants? Hoppy wasn't really sure, but it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that it's Kaiko, right? The wife of that Shinji, that they left back there. "Don't kill me!" Kaiko cried. "We have food, supplies, anything but please, I -"

The sound of flesh hitting flesh, and a 'shut up, bitch". It was certain, though, that there were others here. Hoppy scowled, figuring about four or five in the other group, if you didn't count the woman... presumably Kaiko, and pattered her way back to Laney, biting at her lip, apologizing at leaving her without a torch. In a strained tone, she described what she'd just seen and heard, and then turned to Laney for a judgment. She really wanted to just lunge in and kill them - didn't Laney even have a gun? But, well, she'd learned at least a little from Callie's angry lecture - it'd be better to not act on her stupid impulses right now. "Ta," she hissed."Fer not bringin' Shinji in 'ere with us. 'E'd prob'ly rush in."

'Where the hell did these guys come from?' Laney whispered back.

'Remember tha light I saw in the village?'

'We're not the only ones who saw the flare then. They must have found the door open.'

'Can't let 'em catch us, if'n that's the way they gun' treat a woman,' Hoppy snarled. Her mind flew back to the ordeal Ben had suffered. Unconsciously or not, Hoppy's fist clenched harder on her blade.

The moaning from the corridor behind them was dying down. Maybe even zombies had an attention span problem.

"So." Hoppy took a worried glance back in the direction the voices were coming from. "What d'we do? Save 'er? Go back?" She was at least relieved that the zeds had apparently quieted down. The incessant moans were screwing with her head.

Laney hesitated. She'd come on this mission intent on saving two people. On finding there was a third, she'd resolved to rescue that third. She couldn't turn back just because an additional difficulty had presented itself. 'We gotta save her,' she replied. She knew it was what Hoppy would have done regardless, and her friend's instinctive bravery lent her courage. 'Just gotta be smart.' There was another smack of fist on flesh from up ahead, and another scream. Fuck smart, Laney reasoned. Gotta be quick. She grabbed Hoppy's hand and pulled her back to the forties corridor. Outside Room 44, she stopped and gripped the handle. She mimed counting one-two-three and swinging her weapon. Hoppy nodded and readied herself, cleaver up. Laney yanked the door open, the zombie lurched out, and Hoppy stabbed it straight through the eye, stepping nimbly aside as it fell.

'Open all the doors, then book it in here,' Laney whispered. In no time, the doors to 40, 41, 42 and 43 were open, and seven zombies were stumbling into the corridor. Laney and Hoppy had already slipped into 44, and listened as the undead passed their cabin, honing in on the sounds of Kaiko's tormentors. Once the zeds were at a safe distance, the two girls gently opened the door to Room 44. They shared a silent nod as they stalked their way down. This was going to be tough, of course; timing had to be impeccable. If they were too slow, the zeds would either be all dead, or they'd have already killed all of the new arrivals. If they were too fast, well, the Scavs themselves would be targeted, wouldn't they? It was a tense few moments; especially when the guns started firing - two shots echoed, so... two guns? Immediately upon hearing the chorus of gunfire, Hoppy let out a whimper and knelt down instinctively to block her ears; memories of Chip flashing through her mind. His suicide. The damned roar of the Harrys.

Laney noticed the shorter girl stop and turned back to help pull her up. "It'll be okay," she said encouragingly. "C'mon, Hops, get it together."

Hoppy nodded weakly, and gulped hard.

"Ta." She murmured, forcing herself to ignore the loud sounds of gunfire. She shot Laney a grateful little grin, before the two girls heard one man cry out: "Give 'em the girl! Let's just run for it!" Hoppy clicked her tongue angrily and charged forward with a sudden burst of speed - Laney not far behind, muttering 'shitshit' as she followed.

The first thing Hoppy did, with no hesitation whatsoever, was swing her cleaver into the back of the knee of one of the men holding some sort of pistol, making him cry out and buckle down onto the ground. He fired a reflex shot - and the bullet embedded itself into Hoppy's chest. She fell, back hitting a wall, and then sliding downwards, before hopping back up, silently thanking her adrenaline for blanking out the pain. She was obviously slower now, though, and heard the sounds of more struggle, and one of the zed was already chowing down one one of the men; unearthly screams shaking the slanted corridor. Did Laney even notice that she got shot? Once she found an opportunity, she swiftly eliminated the zed, as well as the man, before he could turn. Better than he deserved, Hoppy thought. It'd have been better for him to suffer as an undead.

Laney, meanwhile, after kicking a zed away from the terrified Kaiko, was met with a sudden "You look familiar." The singer glanced back and, in the intermittant light from swinging torches, saw one of the men, tall and shaven-headed looking at her in recognition. "Like a celebrity that I don't quite... Byron." He nodded. "Delaney Byron. Yeah, I remember your sex tape." Swinging a bat at a zed, the man crushed it's skull with ease, before roving up and down Laney's body with lewd eyes. "Looks like we got lucky." He said with a sick smirk. "Your friend -" gesturing at Hoppy, who gingerly slashed her way through another undead, "- isn't so bad, either. Didn't expect to see a celeb, though. Thought there was a whole high-class shelter for people like you, the 'rich' people."

"That doesn't matter now, prick" Laney spat, rushing at the man with her hatchet, only to have her swing blocked by the bat, and the man's greater strength let him muscle the hatchet back and deliver a swing to Laney's body - only just dodged with a step back, before grunting and doing an overhead swing. The man smiled cockily as he blocked that hit too, and aimed a kick at Laney's stomach, who didn't have enough time to react. She crumpled, and the man chuckled lasciviously as he leaned down to lift Laney - Kaiko, frozen in horror, could only stare at the scene - before the blunt end of a cleaver slammed into the man's arm, knocking him off balance. Hoppy grimaced as she grabbed Laney's hand.

"T'ey got all the zed already." She scowled with urgency, oblivious to the blood leaking through her shirt. "Only one'a 'em dead. I en't lettin' 'em get us, Laney!"

'Hoppy, you're...' Laney couldn't bring herself to say it. Depending on the nature of the wound, her friend could already be dead.

Hoppy seemingly ignored her and, with Kaiko between them, the three girls rushed through the corridor, going as fast as they could to return to Shinji and Emma back at the bridge, ignoring the indignant yell of the man, trying to make them come back. "We're not leaving yet!" He shouted. "We'll get you, you sluts!"

While Laney focused on her injured friend, and the careful way she ran, rather than the typical reckless sprint of hers, no one noticed that Kaiko was nervously hiding her hand under her sleeve, not letting anyone else see.

"You okay, Hops?"

"Just tidy."

Part 5: The Breakfast Queue

Hoppy looked pale, not tidy at all. It was already pretty hard to move very much; she wondered just how much blood she'd lost. Back at the bridge, the rain still slicking down, Kaiko and Shinji embraced each other in desperate relief, whispering in rapid Japanese. Although the Scavs couldn't really understand it, the most common word or phrase used was 'yokatta' or 'shinpai' or 'sukidaiyo', not that anyone really could understand it. Hoppy recognized 'arigatou', though.

'What are you doing out here?' Laney demanded, cradling Hoppy's head on her lap. 'You should have stayed put.'

Emma walked up with a worried glance and tore up some strip of plastic. In her other hand was a bottle of vodka. Hoppy recoiled a bit in Laney's arms - wasn't that going to sting like fuck?

"I only know a bit of first aid. You'll need a doctor to take the bullet out..." Emma muttered, looking at the wound after she'd pulled the shirt off. It looked pretty deep - and, well, the pain was slowly ebbing in now. Hoppy's face contorted in pain as Emma's hands prodded it. "Okay, you ready?"

"Do I really gotta?" Hoppy whined, glancing at Laney, who nodded. The cleaver girl acquiesced and stayed still, hissing in pain as the alcohol seeped into her irritated wound, mixing with the blood. It hurt. It hurt like fuck, and Hoppy flinched backwards when she felt it. She felt Laney's fingers dig into her shoulders as her friend held her down. Sure, it was necessary, but it still hurt real bad. At least she wasn't bleeding out or anything. Damn bullet's good for something, at least. Just in case, though, Emma carefully tied the strip around her waist, over her shirt.

"Why's it plastic?"

"Since it's a chest wound." Emma paused a little. "Some air might travel in and out as you breathe. It's called a sucking chest wound. I did what I could; plastic to stop air from exiting, but we should get to Haven quickly. Else your lung's going to collapse."

"Ta." Hoppy grumbled grudgingly, still smarting over the first aid. She knew she should have felt gratitude for the help, but she just glared bitterly at Emma. Goddamn did her chest hurt, and she figured it wouldn't be long until she was too weak to move and help out. A few hours at least? Calm though, despite possibly dying. Maybe she got used to it all already.

"We can't stay here." Laney said, after looking Hoppy over. "They'll know we're here; we have to move."

Emma looked up, chewing her lip. "How long until we can get off the boat?"

"Not until it's safe. Hoppy's injured, and I don't know if any of you three' - gesturing at Shinji, Kaiko, and Emma - "can keep up if things get bad."

Kaiko turned to her husband and muttered things rapidly back and forth to make sure he understood. Hoppy looked a little irritated, but, well, it was necesary, unless they were just going to keep the Japanese man in the dark. It sickened Hoppy more and more, seeing how people can get once the world more or less ends and civilized society bails out. The people get ridiculous. Disgusting. Hoppy briefly wondered if she was getting just as bad as they were too. Months ago, killing people was the farthest thing from her mind. Months ago, she was a happy, carefree university student, with tender feelings for an old friend. An old friend who could very well be dead by now. Damn if that wasn't a depressing thought.

Kaiko and Shinji turned to the group with thankful smiles.

"My husband and I would like to thank you all for saving me." Kaiko said cordially. "We're sorry for the trouble, and for you getting hurt!"

Time to use the mask. If she didn't stay energetic, everyone'd start worrying, wouldn't they? "I'm doin' fine." Hoppy shrugged, gritting her teeth. "Aye, Emma?"

"Yeah?"

"Anywhere we c'n 'ole up?"

"Just the security room." Emma said after some thought. "Yeah. We can lock the door, there, and if we're careful with food,.. yeah. Just have to wait the pirates out, right?"

'Alright, it'll do for now,' said Laney. It was time to take charge. 'But we're not holing up long. I don't know how long Hoppy's got, and I'm not risking her life for yours.'

Shock at Laney's bluntness crossed Emma and Kaiko's faces and, after the translation, Shinji's. Regardless, Laney hurried everyone into the security room, locking the door behind her.

'Emma, you know how to lower the lifeboats? Can you do it while you're in it?' The Irish teenager nodded. 'Good,' Laney continued. 'Now, are there any left?'

'There's one, maybe two on the portside main deck,' she replied. Laney rubbed a hand across her face in frustration. The same side as the mass of zombies. She looked down at Hoppy, lying under a blanket, pale and shivering. The Japanese couple were huddled in a corner, holding hands and conversing quietly but urgently.

"G'damnit, Laney," the injured girl muttered. "I'm tired."

'I know, hun. Don't worry, I'm gonna get you back home, don't worry.' Hoppy squeezed Laney's hand gratefully, and lay back down.

With that, Laney grabbed her hatchet, Hoppy's torch and Emma's flare gun and stepped back out into the driving rain. She wished she felt as confident as she'd sounded. But trapped on this giant, foreign hulk of machinery, with hundreds of zombies and an unknown number of raiders standing between her and rescue, with her friend's life depending on her, Laney felt utterly overwhelmed. As a lump formed in her throat and, as she began to panic at her indecision, Laney wondered whether this was what Monroe had felt every day. Was this the pressure Callie seemed to be cracking under?

And that thought got her moving. First she crept behind the bridgehouse to the port side of the top deck. It was still hard to see anything, but Laney fancied it was getting lighter. Certainly she could make out a packed wedge of bodies standing against the rail on the port side. In fact, they filled half the whole deck, from bow to stern. There were hundreds, as Emma had suggested, but she could only make out one lifeboat. Laney calculated she had perhaps an hour of darkness before dawn. After that, no diversion, no matter how big, would keep Hoppy and the others from being seen as they made for the lifeboat. That would mean staying in the security room for an entire day. Hoppy wouldn't last that long, even if the raiders didn't find them.

Almost as if on cue, gunfire echoed from the lower deck. The shaven-headed raider who'd taunted her as they fought had hinted that there were more of them on board, but there was no way of guessing how many. Since they hadn't appeared yet on the main deck, Laney guessed they must be looting cars on the vehicle deck or cabins on the lower deck where she and Hoppy had rescued Kaiko.

Taking a deep breath, Laney scampered down the starboard stairwell to the main deck. The moaning of so many zombies mixed with the howling wind to create a bone-chilling sound. On and on and on it droned, almost hypnotic. Laney felt like she would be hearing that sound in her sleep forever. Luckily, more gunfire from below snapped her out of her reverie, and she snuck down to the lower deck walkway and prised open the outer door to the cabins Hoppy had opened hours ago. Holding her breath, she dragged the corpse from Room 44 and wedged the outer door open. Then she dropped a flare in the doorway, fired a flare into the corridor and, ignoring the yells from within, retraced her steps to the main deck. She dropped another flare halfway up the stairs to the lower deck walkway, then, heart in her mouth, cracked as third flare and stood out in full view of the horde on the main deck.

'Breakfast's ready, bitches!' she screamed. She had only to wait a split second before the horde began to move towards her like a damburst. She dropped the flare at the top of the stairs and followed the path of flares she'd laid.

The headstart she'd given herself was only just enough. She dashed past the doorway to the cabins, remembered at the last second to vault the corpse Hoppy had freaked out at when they first boarded, and slipped more than stepped down the stairs to the ramp-level platform she and Hoppy had climbed onto from the speedboat. She held onto the rail, again lashed by sea spray, ready to jump in and take her chances in the waves if some of the horde followed her.

But a minute's wait told her nothing was coming. The shuffling and groaning from the walkway above told her a seemingly endless procession of zombies were now trudging into the lower level, following the trail of flares. If the raiders survived that, well, she'd ask to join them, no matter how sleazy they were. Laney tightened her makeshift belt, thrust her hatchet into the folds of her clothes, and then threw herself into the sea.

Even though she'd steeled herself, the shock of the water took Laney's breath away. She surfaced momentarily, gasping and spluttering, and then sunk beneath the foaming surface again. The cold seemed to have sapped the strength from her muscles, the very lifeblood from her arms. Then she thought of Hoppy in the security room, shivering and pale as shock set in, and she flailed her arms, reaching air again. She thought of Ben, sleeping with the kind of peace he thought he'd left in the brothers' barn, and she kicked her legs. Inch by inch, stroke by stroke, Laney struggled from the starboard platform to the portside platform, and hauled herself up over the railing. Safe again, she lay gasping like a fish out of water, then struggled to her knees, and finally her feet. She dragged herself up the stairs to the lower deck walkway, and stood listening at the foot of the stairwell up to the main deck. The night sky was a little lighter, she noticed, but the hypnotic stereo moaning of hundreds of zombies appeared to be gone.

As lightly as she could on legs that appeared to be turning to jelly with the cold and tiredness, she sprang up the stairs, and the next flight, and banged on the security room door.

'C'mon, c'mon, c'mon,' she urged. Slower than she would have liked, the door swung open.

Part 6: Dawn

There was blood pretty much everywhere. On the walls, stained over the security systems, the radio, pools of it covering the floor. The stink of the iron-like odor seeped through the entire room. Two bodies lay on the floor, seemingly locked in an embrace, drenched in bright red gore. The Japanese man stood over them, still as a statue, Hoppy's cleaver hanging loose in his hand. Eyes wide in horror, Laney took it in. It was, really, a scene for even the strongest stomach to churn over. Her gaze scanned quickly over the huge, blood gouge hacked into the dark hair of Kaiko, then the bloody, chewed, pulpy mess of Emma's throat. The only other girl still alive glanced over with a labored breath - her world was spinning, the edges of her vision were greyed out and fuzzy, she wanted to throw up the little food she had in her, and she didn't know how long until she fainted - but someone had to explain it to Laney, what the hell just happened.

"Fuck." Hoppy wheezed. "Kaiko... she turn'd." She gestured at the now visible bite mark on the japanese woman's hand. "Bit Emma. 'ad to kill 'er. Got... tired an' then this'n - " pointing tiredly at Shinji. "kill't her 'imself. Let it 'app'n, too, 'e let 'er turn."

Laney was speechless as her horrified gaze flitted form Hoppy, to the grieving Shinji, to the mangled bodies on the floor.

"I'd 'ave kill'd 'im, if'n I could." Hoppy sat down; legs no longer really supporting her. "'Bout to faint 'ere, Laney."

'We'll deal with him later, Hoppy. Now, we gotta move,' Laney urged. 'We don't have much time.' She tried to lift Hoppy's dead weight, but her own tiredness foiled her. 'Come on, help,' she growled at Shinji. The bewildered tourist was still kneeling by the body of his dead wife, seemingly immoveable. 'Come the fuck on,' Laney snapped again, and grabbed him by the arm. He looked over woefully, uncomprehending. Laney swore again, then began rattling off words. 'Go. Safe. Leave. Home. Haven. Fuck. Please.' At 'please', a light of recognition entered Shinji's eyes. Laney repeated herself, gesturing at Hoppy's prone form, then the door. Finally, he helped lift Hoppy, and the threesome staggered out the door.

'Gonna be alright, Hoppy, gonna be alright,' Laney found herself muttering. They reached the stairwell, and to her relief, the main deck seemed empty of movement in the pre-dawn grey light. They manouvered Hoppy down the stairs and halfway down the length of the main deck to where the final lifeboat hung. Laney was just pondering that only Emma had known how to release the lifeboats when the sound of crashing glass rang out behind them. Hoppy slumped to the ground as Laney and Shinji spun around to see zombies tumbling awkwardly out of the window of the food court situated at the back of the main deck.

'Aw fuck,' groaned Laney, drawing her hatchet. 'Get her in the boat.' Shinji's lack of movement told her he hadn't understood. 'Hoppy! Boat!' Laney screamed at him, pointing at one and then the other, and turning to face the first zombie to approach. An overhead chop split its skull, and a glance behind her revealed Shinji struggling with Hoppy.

"Yew c'n ju's- ... ju's leave me." Hoppy protested, even as the Japanese man more or less hustled her over the high edge of the lifeboat. She was trying as best as she could to not just get in; wasn't she slowing them down, anyways? And to follow with the traditions of her past missions, well, someone was going to die, or at least get left behind or something. Might as well let it be the one with a bullet in her chest.

'Stupid talk, Hoppy,' Laney growled. 'Get in the fucking boat.' The zombies were obstructing each other climbing through the broken window. The long shards of glass were tearing terrible holes in their limbs and torsos, but still they pressed on. Another flopped out, and as it righted itself, Laney darted forward and hacked at the back of its head. She danced back from the grasping hands protruding from the window.

With a frustrated sigh, the cleaver girl gave the aforementioned weapon to Shinji, and pointed him at the zombies after she acquiecsed to Laney. It wasn't really worth distracting her right now, anyways. The Japanese man took it and, looking hesitant, afraid; but also determined to avenge his wife, joined the fray, hacking off at an undead hand.

'Laney,' came a weak cry from the lifeboat. 'Look 'oo's here.'

Laney dragged herself up the side of the lifeboat. In one end lay Hoppy, looking like a rag doll. In the other, bleeding and battered, but still able to aim a gun, was the Delaney Byron fan they'd tangled with outside Kaiko's cabin. Blood was crusting up on a snarled, ragged wound on the back of his shaved head.

'Take me with you,' he panted, pointing the gun at Hoppy, who just sort of stared at the feared weapon. The barrel was long and thin. Rimfire, Laney realised. That's how Hoppy was still alive. That didn't mean the threat could be ignored, though. A headshot or a hit to a major artery would prove as fatal as the biggest caliber ammo.

'Fuck off,' Laney snapped.

'Take me with you or your girlfriend gets it.'

Laney threw herself over the side of the lifeboat, weighing her hatchet.

'Put the axe away, bitch,' the man screamed, the pistol waving from Laney to Hoppy and back. .

'Gotta get the boat loose, don't I?'

"'E's bit, Laney." Hoppy murmured, tense. "I see the teeth marks."

'Take it easy, Hoppy,' Laney soothed. 'I'll take care of both of you.' Just then Shinji launched himself into the lifeboat. His jaw was clenched, and Hoppy's cleaver held aloft. His right arm was smeared with thick gore, but there was no sign of fresh blood. He screamed something at the sky. Laney thought she made out the word 'Kaiko'. Suddenly zombies thudded against the high side of the lifeboat, arms reaching for the living inside. Shinji turned the cleaver on the arms; soon the bottom of the boat was littered with limbs. Laney looked wildly around for the release mechanism. The moaning grew louder, and as a grey dawn broke, hundreds of zombies were now visible on the main deck. They began to climb up on the backs of the armless zombies at the lifeboat; soon they would fall right in.

'Aw fuck,' Laney groaned again, and swung her hatchet at the four ropes holding the lifeboat in its cradle. The boat lurched as the first rope gave way, and everyone fell to one side. Holding on to the side, Laney severed the second rope with a single blow. Laney grabbed Shinji, pointed to the cleaver, then to one remaining rope, then to her hatchet and the other remaining rope, and held up three fingers in front of his face. He nodded, they braced themselves for the fall, and, as Laney screamed 'Three!' swung at the ropes.

Everyone screamed as the lifeboat plunged, and the screams stopped abruptly as the boat splashed down, jarring everyone to the bone.

Laney dragged herself from the bottom of the boat, scrambling for her hatchet. She spun around to face the raider with the gun. He was still pointing it, but the sneer on his face was gone. Instead, his throat appeared to be sneering; Shinji had sliced him from one corner of his jaw to the other, and blood and his last breaths made a collar of red foam around his neck. Shinji held out the cleaver, handle first, to Hoppy, and bowed his head.

'Sorry,' he stammered.

Hoppy weakly lifted her head over the lifeboat as the raider died, and let out a feeble spewing of guts; panting hard after the fact, moaning at her dizziness and her exhaustion. "Fuck," she said again, settling down, almost starting to cry. At least the gun wasn't aimed at her anymore. She gratefully nodded at Shinji, taking the cleaver and letting it rest on her lap, shivering. "I was s- scared." She admitted. With a great effort, she managed to speak again. "A-arigatou? Is that it?"

'Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu,' he replied. 'Arigatou, arigatou,' and burst into tears.

The brief respite was interrupted by a splash next to the lifeboat. They looked up and saw zombies plunging over the railing towards them. One particularly big creature fell close enough to smash its head against the side of the boat; brains, bone and ichor splashed the three of them. Laney looked wildly around for a motor, then grabbed at the oars stowed in the sides.

'Aw, fuck,' she repeated, locking her oar into place, and gesturing that Shinji do the same. 'Where's my fucking motorboat?'

Epilogue
November 9th 2013, 0805

By the time, they neared the shore, Laney's shoulders ached. The rest of her was numb from the cold. Though Shinji battled manfully with his oar, he was obviously tiring. Hoppy had turned pale blue and fallen silent again. Though it meant an extra 10 minutes rowing, Laney directed the lifeboat back to the golf club pier; at least she knew there were no zombies there. They bundled Hoppy out of the boat, then, gripping her under an arm each, the dragged her back to the truck, and bundled her into the cab.

'Do you drive?' Laney asked, then, noting the baffled look on Shinji' face, pointed to him, made a steering wheel gesture, then pointed to the truck. He nodded and jumped into the driver's seat. Laney squeezed in beside Hoppy, putting her arms around her friend in an attempt to keep them both warm.

With a trembling hand, Hoppy did her best to pat Laney on the shoulder for getting them out of this mess, more or less alive. Dazedly looking around at the relative safety of the truck, she let her eyes close and slipped into a fitful rest.

'Told you it'd be alright, Hops,' Laney said, her voice a whisper near exhaustion. 'Okay, Shinji, let's go.'

The Japanese man, leaning heavily on the steering wheel, looked puzzled. Laney gestured forwards with her spare hand. 'Please, arigatou.' He seemed to get the idea, and the truck rattled away from the golf club.