Bill lifted a cigarette to his lips before using his only silver butane lighter to blaze the tip. He took a long, satisfying drag as he placed locked the top of the light and stared at its dull, scarred face. The thing had been with him ever since he became a veteran—it had just as many scratches on its face as he had wrinkles on his.

It had been two weeks since the helicopter had saved them from a place that the veteran didn't even want to think about. It was then that the survivors had begun to assist Camp 17 with their recons, helping other people who might still be out there. However, Bill didn't do it out of compassion for other survivors as much as he did it to take his mind off of the place they had just recently escaped from. They had lost a lot of time… and they had lost a great person.

Bill sighed dismally as he shook his head, leaning forward from his reclined position in his chair. He rubbed his temples and blew out a thick puff of smoke as he tried to massage the horrible day away.

Zoey was the only one who hadn't gotten any better since Hope's death. She was under constant monitoring and had to be force fed just to stay alive. Though Rochelle was severely punished and put on heavy probation by the soldiers in Camp 17, as well as given the cold shoulder from her own teammates as well as everyone else, it didn't seem to bring justice to what she did that day. And no punishment other than a death as horrible as Bill knew Hope's was would even come close to even in anyone's mind.

Bill groaned as he took another deep drag of the cigarette in his shaking hand, leaning back in the chair as he tried to blow the thought out of his mind like the smoke in his lungs. Little disappointment came when it failed… miserably.

However, there he was nonetheless, in the same control room that EZ LZ had used to contact his own group of survivors when they were stranded on the rooftop. It was his shift to run the radio, though as he learned later on was kind of a joke. No one really ever expected a call… survivors were hard to come by as he later learned. The last people who had called in was his group… not a single other person since-

-the crack of static caused bill to nearly choke on his own cigarette. He immediately bolted forward in his chair as he grabbed the microphone and held down the receiver. "Hello? Hello?" he repeated. "This is The Vet from Camp 17, do you read? Is anyone there?"

Bill let go of the receiver, and only a second later was answered by a loud tap… and that was it. A single, loud tap. The vet grimaced at the possibility of a radio malfunction, but pursued the tap nonetheless. "Hello, this is The Vet. Does anyone read?"

Another tap came back as a reply, but this time it was followed by two more in quick succession. Bill narrowed his eyes—there was something going on. He raked his brain for any possibility before coming to the final conclusion: he was thinking too hard. Slowly, he held down the receiver and said, "Vet to Taptap," he bluntly dubbed the name, "Tap if you read."

A single tap came back on the radio before the static died back into silence. A sense of achievement swept over the older man's body before he continued, "Vet to Taptap, tap once if you are in a position where you cannot talk, twice if you can't talk at all."

Two taps returned.

It was only then that Bill remembered—the radio receiver frequency hadn't moved since Nick called from the rooftop that one day. The transmission… it was coming from the very place they were.

The veteran felt his body spike with adrenalin. He looked cautiously around the room, making sure that no one was within earshot as he leaned in closer to the microphone and whispered with a voice rigged with desperation:

"Hope?"

Thank you guys! What happens from here is yours to interpret... until I post the sequel! If you want to keep your eyes out for it, it should be up relatively soon! Thank you guys so much for all your support through this long process ^^ It made it all worth it!

~Hearts!

Frostie