The gunfire began falling off as they closed in on the camp. That only made Candace worry more. Why had both her and Jeff gone to the hilltop? The two best, leaving no good shots in the camp. She slowed and Ronnie matched her pace. Really only a fast walk now, then a slow walk, and then they split up, taking opposite sides of the road, creeping tree to tree.
A shadow popped up directly ahead of Ronnie and fired a burst into the camp. Ronnie fired back at point blank range and the shooter collapsed. They both faded back into the trees.
Candace squatted behind the cover of a large pine and whispered into the VHF. "We're coming up behind you, copy," she asked?
Nothing... Then a quick click of a mic button.
She clicked her own mic button once too, stood up, and began moving tree to tree once more.
Cindy had said there were ten total. That left six or seven depending on what had happened to the one Cindy had called Chloe. They had killed two by the road and one here. She had only seen four come down this way, that left three are four depending on where the girl got too. As she was thinking she nearly walked right into another one of them crouching behind some bushes. She didn't hesitate but walked up and fired a quick burst into their back. Not even realizing it was a young woman her own age, until she fell backwards and Candace caught a quick glimpse of her face as she went down.
A burst of gunfire came from some where up ahead and ripped into the trees next to her. She dove to the ground and rolled several times. She rolled up on to her feet and only realized she'd been either hit by a bullet or something else when she felt blood running from her forehead and into her left eye. She wiped it away and scanned the trees around her carefully. Two or three left, she thought to herself.
She took several deep breaths to calm herself and began moving forward once more, moving tree to tree. Across the way she saw a shadow gliding through the trees matching her pace. She didn't know if it was Ronnie so she didn't dare shoot.
Another shadow stepped partly from the trees just ahead of the shadow she had been tracking and looked her way. Ronnie! She realized as the moonlight painted his face. And even as she had the thought she tracked back with her rifle and sprayed the trees behind him.
When she looked back Ronnie's face wore a shocked look. She pointed behind him where a young man crashed out into the road holding his chest. Ronnie quickly faded back into the trees.
She keyed the mic. "You hit any," she whispered. The speaker clicked once, paused then clicked again.
She keyed the mic once more "If you're sure you got two," she whispered, "then we got..." And that was when the girl stabbed her.
~Through the woods~
The trees grew ever taller, the darkness deeper as the moonlight's path to the ground was blocked by the high canopy of the branches as they closed in.
An hour before dawn they came to a wide and long valley. A small village was nestled in the bottom next to a wide river. The smell of wood fire hung on the cold night air. The glow of fire in the distance.
The boy came slowly up on one side, the twins on the other. Scenting the air with their eyes. Listening to the tale that it told. The horse, somewhere in the darkness behind them all. Silent. It's large eyes wild in the moonlight. She knew that was true even though she could not see it. Coming to her. Finding it's own way. Miles away still.
There where ten breathers there in the small village below. Camped among the ruins. On the road. Just stopped for the night. Out of the ten, five were to be part of them. Walkers. Their souls only waiting to be claimed. The air carried their story to them, and another, more complex story with it. A story of the next ones that were to come. The next additions. The Army that would be assembled, and the place that it would be assembled.
The boy and the twins trembled and whined, rusty nails on chalkboard whines. High pitched, slightly crazy, sounding like bats on the wing in the darkness. She did not correct them, or scold them. Her hands rose and fell upon their thin shoulders as the air told it's tales. A few moments later the spell was broken, and they were on their way down to the village. Winding through the thinning trees. Finding the broken parts of what had been the main road, walking close to the tree line as they made their way closer to the fire.
Fire was their enemy. Smoke the messenger of that enemy. Fire was heat, heat consumed. That is what it had been created for.
That was another change. Not so long ago she could not think around anything. Every thought was a challenge. And she had been born into this like that. Like a blind and dumb baby of sorts. Growing blinder and dumber as the time passed...
And then the change had come. The change bought to her on the air. Delivered to her eyes. And these, the boy and the twins, born into that change on the air. Struggling less and less. Knowing more and more. Bodies changing faster and faster. And the Horse gone to do...
She didn't really know what part the animal played. Some part. Some part that was needed for the larger purpose. Maybe this other life would not be the only other life.
They came to the edge of the darkness. Where the fire light refused to lend it's light, and stood staring at the small group of breathers bedded down around the fire.
The one who was supposed to be on guard had dozed. The fire had burned low. He would probably chastise himself for it, except he would never have the opportunity to do that. He might have a split second in which to ask his God to forgive him, but he would probably waste that split second drowning in his fear. Cursing, fighting, dying before he realized he had wasted his time.
She was by his side a moment later. He slept on as she bent and prepared to take him. The boy and the twins had made their own choices. Her hands pinned his arms and her head darted quickly to his throat. The killing began...
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