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A note from GuyOnACouch

Just letting y'all know, I might miss a chapter this week (I might not, but I'd rather tell you now instead of later).

I'm doing Fragged as a weekly serial until it's finished (which is actually going really well), but following a series of surprising events I've been having a hard time getting cover art and whatnot ready for the Friday release, and seeing as that's the one that's going to get me paid I figured I'd prioritise it.

Anyway, enjoy the chapter, later dudes.

Typically quarantine would be seen as a good thing, after all it meant that the zombies would be cleared out with the absolute maximum force possible, but what it also meant was that they needed to make sure absolutely no trace of the virus escaped the island, which was code for ‘We’re gonna kill absolutely anything and everything we see.’

I suppose the only good news with the quarantine squads was that they gave us a quick death, and they were only ever around for a short time before either wiping out all the players or being called off for some other event.

Honestly though, I didn’t like our chances of surviving.

We were a mostly fractured group as it was, and they definitely had infrared, and vehicles, and numbers.

“Come on then!” Cara goaded menacingly as the V-22 got within a hundred feet of us, “Show us what you’re made o-”

Cara didn’t get the chance to finish her almost scary challenge, no, instead Stan apparently remembered that he had a gun that could kill a building and started unloading his BMG rounds into the bottom of the V-22’s cockpit.

“What the Hell are you doing!?” Cara roared over the cacophonous gunfire.

It was clear that Stan wasn’t paying attention to her though, and, if I’m being honest, neither was I, my eyes were transfixed on bottom of the V-22 as Stan turned it into Swiss cheese, the fog slowly but surely clearing as he fired.

Stan had fired a total of nine shots into the aircraft before finally hitting whoever or whatever he had to hit in order to make the beastly plane come crashing down, and boy did it come crashing down.

At first I thought it was simply going to nosedive into the street below us, but instead something must have happened in the cockpit, either a random technical glitch or a genuine effort from the mostly dead pilot I didn’t know, and suddenly the aircraft pulled up sharply.

The effort was futile though as the plane was already too close to the ground, its body grazing the road, sending sparks flying and taking out more than a few zombies in its wake as its nose almost went completely vertical, all before finally half-diving once more and crashing directly into the building where the pod had landed.

For a while after that we all sort of just stood there, staring at V-22’s blades continued to spin and break apart as they launched bits of rubble every which way.

“What. The. Hell?” Cara growled.

“You already said that.” Stan said flatly, “C’mon, we better get moving. The fog’s gonna clear up soo-”

Cara, in a fit of rage, punched Stan up the back of his head, interrupting and sending him tumbling forward with the weight of his hefty gun in his arms as she prepared to throw another punch, “You stupid, reckless, piece of shit!”

Stan, not being one to go down without a fight, dropped his rifle, spun around, and grabbed out his handgun all in one swift motion, “You’re gonna want to step off.” he warned coldly, “Now, I’m going to ask this just once, what’s this all about?”

“What?” Cara snapped, still holding her fist up, ready to swing as if Stan’s gun wasn’t even there in her mind.

“This, the punching, the growling.” Stan said, “Sure, I get being a bit pissed what with the fact that I’ve kinda sorta given away our position-”

“And almost crushed us.” I interjected matter-of-factly.

“Yes, and almost crushed us, thank you,” Stan let out with an obvious level of annoyance, “my point is that this seems a bit over the top. So, what is it? Have you just been looking for a reason, Cara? Because I thought we covered the fact that I don’t like being punched pretty early on in our relationship.”

Cara clearly resented the term ‘relationship’, but she did lower her fist in response to Stan’s calm, almost Zen attitude, “I’m concerned that your… reckless, dangerous, and somewhat murderous behavior is going to end up getting us killed.” she said as coolly as she could, “And there’s actually a pretty big part of me that wants to see if I can win this.”

“Don’t you mean ‘we’?” I asked, throwing the conversation off slightly and getting me a confused look from Cara.

“There’s only gonna be the one winner here,” Cara replied after a few seconds of blank staring, “and I’m lookin’ to have that be me.”

And that’s when I started thinking about all our little conversations in a whole new light.

Was she just looking for me to take out Stan so that she’d have an easier time putting me down towards the end?

Or was she just making sure that Stan knew that there was no chance that she’d let him beat her when it came down to it?

I genuinely had no idea, and what made it worse was the fact that all that thinking and rethinking made me miss out on the rest of what I was sure was a very important conversation between Cara and Stan, which ended with Stan holstering his pistol and picking up his rifle while Cara nodded calmly and forced a smile.

“So, we’re all good?” Stan asked, jarring me slightly as I tried to go back through my memories to see if I could recall what had gotten them to the point of peace.

“We’re good.” Cara replied.

“Finn?” Stan called as I looked over at the wreckage confusedly, “Finn? Are we good?”

I didn’t have an answer for him, not an honest one anyway, but I managed to pull a mostly confident “Yeah, yeah we’re good.” before returning to my gazing and thinking.

Without being able to talk to Cara privately, I was stuck wondering if I was still supposed to be looking for any opportunity to take Stan out or if I was simply supposed to chill out and let things lie.

“What’re you doing?” Cara chuckled, snapping me back to reality and spurring me to look over at her and Stan as they stood at the blocked door, “You comin’ or what?”

“Hmm? Oh, oh yeah, sorry. Where’re we going?”

“The farmhouse?” Stan replied with a worried sort of expression on his face, “Man, did you pay any attention to what we were talking about?”

I went to respond with a somewhat offended ‘Of course!’ but was interrupted by the sound of gunfire from the street below.

“Ah, crap…” Cara muttered as she came over to join me in looking back over at the V-22, “Looks like your shootin’ wasn’t as effective as you thought.”

“My shootin’ was just fine,” Stan said defensively, “the problem is that those quarantine pricks are stacked to the nines with armor and crap specifically to make them hard to kill.”

“What’re we gonna do?” Cara asked, “Your ‘let’s just plow through the zombies’ idea doesn’t seem all that viable now.”

“Yeah… You got any ideas, Fin-”

“Jesus!” I practically yelped as a section of the building across the street collapsed and the player that’d been hiding on the roof promptly fell and got himself skewered on the V-22’s propeller.

TheLessAttractiveAffleck fell to his death

-1 Player (122 Players Remaining)

“Well…” Stan murmured as a cloud of smoke and dust was kicked up by the collapse, “I think now would be a good time to run.”

“And how do you figure that?” I asked without taking my eyes off the quarantine squad on the ground.

Stan responded by lifting up three fingers, then counting down to one with them before pointing at the V-22 which, as if through some kind of magic spell, erupted into a ball of flames, sending chunks of metal and debris into the squad that had been inside it.

“S’pose that’d be why…” Cara muttered.

I didn’t want to agree for the simple reason that I wasn’t altogether excited about following any plan that Stan had come up with, especially following his little act of aggression.

There wasn’t much of a choice for me though, and there definitely wasn’t any sense in sticking around Voltown for a second longer than we had to, what with the fog clearing and returning visibility for everyone who might’ve decided to take cover in the town.

“Alright, let’s roll.” I said somewhat dejectedly before going over to the refrigerator and deciding that’d be for the best if I forced some levity, “But if this goes sideways, I want y’all to promise that you won’t end up shootin’ at each other.”

“We promise.” Cara and Stan replied in unison, sending a small chill up my spine as I started to panic that maybe part of the conversation I’d missed included a part about turning on me.

Even then I think I knew that I was just being paranoid, but I’d rather be paranoid than dead.

Besides, I could usually trust my gut, and though I didn’t think Cara would turn on me, I still wasn’t sure about Stan, and I knew that I’d still be looking for an opportunity to get rid of him, even if Cara didn’t condone, authorize, or otherwise support it.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’d started to think that Mister Purple had a point. Stan was somewhat erratic, and I’d played enough games with him to know that he was sneaky and charming enough to trick just about any person into letting their guard down.

I wasn’t going to become one of those people.

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About the author

GuyOnACouch

  • ALiteralDragon

Bio: I'm a handsome devil. My mum and wife said so.

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