I wrote this for a table top game called "Rotted Capes", it is about a world where people had super powers and a Zombie apocalypse accursed.
Rotted Capes was the 1st kickstarter I backed, and I kept the name Shank from there because I would not have found the Star Citizen one if I had not pledged there 1st. I was allowed input on making one of the background NPC's in the book, "Shank".
If you have any constructive criticism, I have np with you leaving it.
A tear dropped, splashing off her reflection as Watcher caressed the metal pod Volt was in. “I wish you had been able to escape...sniff...you showed me a better life even after the world was over run by zombies. My abilities made me one of the best hackers since I can just touch a computer and have it do whatever I wanted, no programs needed just me. I thought that was all I needed, but I was just a junkie and it was my high.”
Watcher slid down the side of the pod, her head dropping to her knees, “I was just stealing money and seeing how far I could push the high security servers, wasn't really far, since I could redirect their detection programs to send them on wild goose chases.” The left side of her mouth quirked up slightly.
“The first time we met, you had used your power suit to trace me and shut down its information intake to stop me toying with it. Gave you a surprise when you grabbed me, that I could interface on touch too.” She laughed softly, “Took you a few minutes to think to just stop powering it with your abilities so it became dead weight. Then you popped out all sexy, I didn't think that till later, and took me in under your own power..heehee...bad pun intended. I guess I should not have messed with the Strike Forces computers...I was bored, and it got me you.”
Watcher took a deep haltered breath, “Mr. Sloan got me furloughed to work with the Strike Team, as long as I only broke the law for them and the US of A. It took us about 6 months to warm up to each other, but when we did I was able to charge your batteries.” A mischievous grin was on her face when the computer started sounding it had found their targets. She scrubbed away the tears with the back of her hand and got up.
She was checking the static laced data when The Captain came in, “What do we have Watcher?”
“It looks like the craptastic satellites that are left have found them.” She tried to keep her head turned so The Captain could not see she had been crying.
The Captain sighed, “You've been talking to Volt again, haven't you?”
“SO!” She glared at him.
“He's a Z now, he can't be who he was before, even though he still has his mind. You know it strips their conscience to where they do things they fought others to stop them from doing, things they would have died to stop.”
Fresh tears started falling down her face, “He did all that, but we can't let him die, because we need him to keep powering this base.”
The Captain had a grief stricken look, “It was his plan, if he got Z'ed to remove his limbs and be sealed in the pod to power the base and his suit if you ever needed it. He even helped me design the pod. If I could I would end him, but he is still helping keep the people here safe. He wanted to help even if it meant this.”
Through gritted teeth she said, “I know, but talking to him gives me hope...crappy hope...but hope, and I need that to keep going. I'm the only one up sometimes since I never tire, nor need to sleep and it helps to remember something good.”
Drumming his fingers on the counter once and looking at the floor, he said, “Can you please have Pain Dog, Shank, and Caduceus meet me at the Humvee, so we can head out to deal with the new situation?”
She listened to the sound of his boots, the noise grew fainter as he walked down the hallway.
The armored Humvee slid to a stop, grinding pebbles and bones under the tires, echoing off the buildings, as the mist rolled out, the heat of the late morning dissipating it.
“Well that should get us some extra attention...thanks Shank,” Caduceus groaned, as he swung the turret around watching for more Z's than what they already had.
“Always willing to make your day Cad,” Shank smiled to himself under his gas mask.
“Both of you on your toes, and Caduceus is right Shank; less noise next time. We can always hunt down more after we take down our targets.” The Captain eyed Shank.
Pain Dog raised an eye brow, “I thought we were taking out all the Z's Captain. So give the kid a break he's just trying to get it done faster.”
“Alright, enough talk. There are our targets: what's left of the Strike Team with a few extras.” The Captain ordered crisply. “Caduceus, take out the extras. Get them out of the way so we can deal with the powered ones without distractions. I'll take Ice Maiden.”
The loud snapping of the Ma Deuce's fire began as the team moved from the Humvee. Pieces of Z went flying everywhere. Caduceus was able to nick Ice Maiden, ripping off her right arm with a hot tracer round, before she put up an ice barrier to block his fire. The Captain moved in on her trying to keep himself on her right side since she emitted her frost power through her hands.
Pain Dog and Shank moved in on Armageddon with their coordinated attack that they had perfected after years of fighting alongside of each other. Pain Dog howled, releasing his sonic attack and sending a wave of destruction out in front of him. It knocked Armageddon back crushing 2 Z's under him and leaving a smear that followed him through the wall that crumbled under his enormous 8' mass.
Shank flipped from the mail box to the top of the car just outside of the newly formed breach, cramming one of his trench knives through a Z's eye socket and dropped it mid flip, then followed Armageddon through the hole.
The Captain, with a powerful strike of his one-handed sledge hammer, smashed Ice Maiden's barrier. As she tried to bring her power to bear on him, he was able to catch her wrist in the jaws of his pipe wrench, pushing wide so the black slime frost stream hit the ground and spread across the street.
Pain Dog kicked off a Z as he felt pressure on his leg from its fetid teeth. He stomped it's head in. “Good think we found this shark chain mail. Comes in handy don't it Rotter?” He smiled, then fell flat as he heard a load smack and Shank came flying out of the hole in the wall.
The Captain was not so lucky. One of Shank's boots clipped his shoulder knocking him to the ground face down. Ice Maiden smiled letting loose a frigid steam of ice crystals and covered him with a block of polluted ice, that could chill a normal man to the bone. As Shank hit the ground, he rolled to his feet and started heading back toward the hole and Armageddon.
The Ma Deuce started reporting fire again but not toward the fight, up a side alley. “I got a large horde of Z's moving up the alley here, and we may have another powered one. I saw a shadowy figure dart just ahead of the horde.” Caduceus screamed.
Pain Dog turned howling and shattered the Ice Maiden's upper body. As a shadow fell across him from behind, he winced and muttered “This is going to hurt.” Pain Dog was ripped off his feet, into the air, and let out an agonizing scream as Armageddon bit him on his left hip, and tossed him down behind the wreckage.
“You fucking rotted piece of shit!” Shank raged as he did a side flip on to Armageddon's back and started stabbing as fast as he could with no effect. Armageddon dropped his shoulder and swung across his body, punched Shank off his back with so much force he was sent flying about 20' above the 3 story apartment building and landed with a crash and a groan on the roof.
50 cal rounds started bouncing off of Armageddon, but only seem to be like mosquito stings to him. The ice block that The Captain was in started making a crackling noise, and then a groaning similar to a tree as it is felled, and burst open. The Captain regained his feet and yelled, “Hey ya great moving mountain, over here!”
As Armageddon moved toward The Captain he said in a raspy voice, “I always admired your patriotic streak while I was alive, even though I wanted to smash you...just to see if your small frame and large strength could handle it. Now I just get to smash you.”
Armageddon felt The Captain's wrench as it spun into his legs. Thrown him off balance, he realized he had no traction because he was standing on an ice slick. When he hit the ground, his head exploded as a sledge hammer smashed through the back of his skull, propelled by The Captain's strength.
“Head, injury, and ammo count!” The Captain ordered.
“Good thing for shark chain...but hurting,” wheezed Pain Dog.
“I'm good, but the Ma is running dry.” Caduceus replied.
The Captain paused and looked around. “Shank! Shank!” No response. “We'll have to find him after we deal with these.”
“Here's your wrench, Captain.” The Captain felt a blow bounce off his roughneck's hard hat and the wrench clattered to the ground, then he heard Pain Dog's howl and braced as he expected death, but heard the crunching of metal and the absence of gun fire.
Caduceus dropped out of the turret, into the Humvee when it began to lift and his ear drums burst, he could not even hear his own screams of pain, as everything in the vehicle came crashing down on him in the flip over.
There was a high pitched scream of loss from the roof top, “NOOOOoooooooo!!!”, The cry began to get closer.
Shank landed on the car hood next to Pain Dog, crushing it and punched him with the brass knuckles of a trench knife, crushing his right dead eye. He used the rebound energy to flip over him, bringing both trench knife blades up under his chin and through his brain. Tears filled the inside of his mask; as he let Pain Dog's limp form fall to the ground, his arms hanging at his sides.
There was a squeaking creak as the door to the Humvee was pushed open and Caduceus crawled out, the cut on his cheek healing itself. “I could use a hand here.” He swung his staff as he got to his feet, decapitating a Z coming at him with the bladed wing. Again, he swung it using the ball between the wings to release its electrical stunning effect on another, slicing half of it's head off with the back swing.
There were about a dozen Z's coming up the alley that Caduceus had not been able to drop with the 50. The Captain was still trying to regain his balance, and Shank was just staring at his adopted father's corpse.
“I really could use a hand here!” Caduceus screamed as he backed toward The Captain. When he reached him he placed a hand on him, a light blue glow coming off his hand. The Captain became more steady.
The Captain let out a sigh of relief. “I'm good now, how are you?”
“Slightly winded, thanks for rigging that stun baton up in my staff.” Caduceus said with a tired huff. “Shank, seems lost to us, so I guess it's just the two of us.”
A shadowy figure stepped out from one of the doorways, and they heard a ripping noise as the figure's cloak and the rest of it's clothes fell to the ground in front of the group of Z's.
Caduceus squinted, “Is he just wearing a jock strap?”; he asked, a look of confusion on his face.
One of the Z's cracked a baseball bat across the figures knee saying, “Kinky, no running away.”
The man let out a,“Uggh!” as he dropped to the ground. Grabbing the ankle of the bat wielding Z as it passed and the horde descended on him. As his flesh came into contact with theirs a cloud of ash gusted with the wind where the Z's were. Their clothing and items dropped to the ground, and the man groaned in pain.
“Must...tell...” The last Z standing out of reach of the figure on the ground; rasped, and it turned going back up the alley.
The man screamed, not in pain but anguish. “NO!”
There was a muffled hand clap sound as the Z's head exploded out the front. “Silencer; is a misnomer, but still quieter is better.” Caduceus smiled as he holstered his pistol. He began walking toward the injured man who helped them, The Captain looked around for more signs of Z's as he followed.
Caduceus leaned over, the light blue glow of his power healing the stranger's knee as he touched him. When he stood up straight he swayed and stumbled sideways, The Captain grabbed him and held him up, until he could get his staff to bear his weight. “That took a lot of what I had left Captain, I'm exhausted. Thanks stranger, what can we call you?”
“Morgue,” he said as he started putting his clothes back on. As they watch he strapped on some football shoulder pads attached to the inside of some black coveralls, with Velcro along the seams of the limbs and center so they can be ripped off fast. The cloak was also attached to the coveralls, and there was a rotted sweet stink coming from it. When he pulled the hood over his head, it had a zombie Halloween mask attached.
“What is that God awful smell?” Caduceus asked, holding his nose.
Morgue looked at him. “I have Z flesh sewn into the outer lining of the cloak, or had it done by someone else anyway. Any dead flesh I touch would ash, automatic vegetarian when I got my powers. I miss bacon. It helps camouflage me while hunting supplies.”
“I have to be going, I only stopped to help since that horde was following me and I did not want to shake them by peeling them off on you.” Morgue started to walk away, but found his path blocked by Shank.
“You should join us. We are The Guard,” Shank said in a dead pan way.
“No...the Guard, as in the National Guard?” Morgue asked, eying them warily.
“The Captain was with them, when they were a force, and he was not off roughnecking on oil rigs. Now we just use their equipment.” Caduceus spoke in a friendly manner hoping to gain Morgue's trust, as he looked at the wrecked Hummer.
The Captain heaved the side of the hummer until he got the leverage he needed and flipped it back on to it's wheels, with a look of discussed on his face, he shook his head, “The hummer is a total lose, the frame and the 50 are both bent to hell.”
“Can you ash Pain Dog's corpse so we don't have to leave his burnt skeleton here?” Shank asked tensing like he was going to pounce.
“Um...sure,” Morgue said taking a step back.
“Can you also do Armageddon and Ice Maiden?” The Captain asked while surveying the area.
“I'm assuming the shattered ice statue is her, and no. I can take care of the behemoth, but not her since she is ice and not flesh.” Morgue started to walk toward the bodies.
“Hold on a second, we need to say something for their funeral first.” Caduceus leaned on his staff turning to face them. “May God bless, keep and protect your souls in whatever afterlife you find yourselves. May you find peace, harmony, tranquility, serenity, and love there. May you find no hatred, anger, malice, nor loneliness there. May God bless, keep and protect your souls.”
Shank dropped his head shaking it. “I don't think God is watching...not for a long time.”
“He does not give us move then we can handle.” Caduceus said in a manner, denoting this as a reoccurring subject.
Morgue removed the index finger from one of his gloves and touched Pain Dog and Armageddon, their ashes swirling as a small dust devil formed in the area and then moved on.
“I believe we would all benefit if you joined us Morgue.” The Captain said in an authoritative way.
“Fuck you'll! I'm not joining any group that fights Z's.” Morgue yelled, the whole time looking all around, eyes wide trying to find an escape.
“Some people went out thinking it was hunting season, but oh no man...the deers got guns man...oh ya that's happening. These are not like the classic zombie movies, these ones are still smart, they'll use a gun to bring down their prey and anything that threatens em. If they find out about me and what I can do....BAM!! Bolder on ya. ZAP!! Eye beams fry ya. Fuck that I'm staying alive.”
Morgue bolted for an alley, Shanks started after him. “Stop!! Let him go,” The Captain ordered. “We can't press people into service. They will run at the first opportunity, leaving our back exposed.”
“But Captain, he could be our most powerful weapon!” Shank said heatedly.
“Not if he's not willing. We all have to choose our moment to fight ...broken heroes...for a broken world, that's all we have left.” The Captain turned and started heading for the base on foot.
Later that night in his dark room, sitting in a corner on the cold floor; with just a small candle burning, Shank watched the shadows play across the walls.
“So many of our friends rotting...” He took a swig from the flask, eyed the bunk that was Pain Dog's, took a deep breath and let out a shuddering sigh. “And the last one for you.” He halfheartedly threw the flask at the wall behind the bunk, splashing it with what's left of the whiskey.
It came spinning slowly from under the bunk, the bulldog emblem gleaming in the candle light as it spun. “At least you won't have to rot my friend.”
“From a child molestation ring to the only man I knew as a father, a psychopath with a good heart...your too right Captain....broken heroes for a broken world.” He whispered.....
Written by Jonathan Brannan
Creative Input (Created The Captain) James Hall
Creative Input and Editorial Help Mike Norris
There once was a ship from Nantucket...
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