Homeward Bound, Chapter 15 by patricia51
Morganna spun around in her chair, turning her back to the bank of monitors that covered the desk top and several tables. She smiled as she took in the foursome in front of her.
Claire, who had just asked her the question, was holding the hand of the older of the two orphaned drifter children, eight year old Marian. Sam was holding Sally the approximately six year old younger girl. Her head was pillowed on his shoulder and she was sound asleep.
Sam realized what a picture they made and smiled back. The smile broadened. Every few moments the former Umbrella spy glanced over at the teenaged boy sitting next to her as though to confirm Don was still thee and still safe. It looked all around as though the future of the three children had been decided. None of the trio was going to be alone any longer.
"In fact, yes," Morganna returned her attention to Claire's question. She turned back around and pointed at the monitors, several of which were displaying real-time views downloaded from one of the satellites to which she was confident Umbrella had no access. She pointed at the one in the middle with one hand while the other used the mouse.
"Here," and the view on the scene zoomed in, "is Robert's boat. The resolution isn't enough to absolutely distinguish individual features but the count is right, as is the size. Three adults and two teens." She pulled back. "Here's their location. They've just left the third and last of the floating communities that are in the path of the Arcadia. And that community is evacuating as we speak."
She manipulated the controls and drew their attention to another screen. "Here's Sue's boat, headed back this way. The drifters have scattered to the West and I don't find any at all in Umbrella's greedy sticky-fingered way."
Claire nodded, hiding a grin at the way Morganna was referring to her former corporate employer in the third person. Obviously her loyalties had firmed and those weren't on Umbrella's side. She shared a quick look with Sam, who of course was also ex-Umbrella as were Alice and Carlos.
"Perhaps this is the most important piece of information." Morganna directed everyone's attention to the far left monitor. "I've been keeping track of the Arcadia. She hasn't changed course but she has slowed down. Slowed down a lot. I'm reluctant to try too obvious eaves-dropping on their communications but Mikey can in safety and he's been updating me."
"Apparently there have been some confused reports from the ship. One scouting boat simply disappeared after circling the first atoll, which incidentally the Arcadia had orders to stop at, board, loot and carry off anyone the security teams didn't kill to provide the Umbrella main labs with experimental subjects. The boat reported no trouble. It simply stopped communicating and I've had no luck finding it."
Morganna smiled grimly. "As for the fate of another scouting mission it seems one of the VTOL craft the Arcadia carries spotted a catamaran under sail and dropped two rubber boats with its full reinforced squad of troopers to take it. The sailboat not only managed to get ashore but somehow the occupants, who were heavily armed, wiped out the troopers. When the VTOL buzzed the fight, which took place on the beach, accurate small arms fire severely damaged it. The final message from the aircraft was that it was losing power as it attempted to return to the Arcadia. I tracked the probable course that Mikey furnished and found bits and pieces of the aircraft floating in the ocean."
"These events, along with the silence from Major Halstead has led the Arcadia to request instructions from Chairman Wesker and to slow down while waiting for them. I don't know if this means the threat is over for now or not but it's definitely promising."
"Good, I'm ready to get out and get started towards home again," Claire pretended to grumble. "If someone hadn't lost our helicopter than we'd already be there," she added with a sideways glance at Sam, a smile tugging at her lips.
In answer Sam stroked Sally's hair. "Can you say the trip hasn't been worth it?"
Claire shook her head and squeezed Marian's hand. "I'm mighty glad we've taken it."
Two days latter Sue's boat reached the hidden caves. The highpoint of the occasion was the reunion of Morganna and Dwayne. Explanations were made, all of which had to be repeated two days after that when Robert's boat docked. It was the very next day that Morganna called the group, seafarers and land dwellers alike, together.
"More interesting news," she said when they had all assembled at the room which K-mart and Angie had taken to calling "The Studio" because of all the monitors. "It seems that dear Chairman Wesker was not very happy with the Captain and crew of the Arcadia." She sighed. "In true Umbrella fashion, which half of us have experienced, the blame for the failure of the operation to capture you Alice and Angie too and carry you off to Japan is being laid squarely on the Arcadia."
"Well what happened after that shouldn't surprise anyone except for the likes of the Umbrella board members. Part of the crew abandoned ship in the lifeboats. The pilot of the second VTOL took off. More about that later. And the ship passed out of range of the satellite Mikey and I have been using a few hours ago, heading south and West, probably towards Australia."
She shuffled through some papers on the computer desk. "Mikey has been sending me copies of Umbrella communications that he has been picking up. I've matched them with others that we have intercepted here. Put together it shows that Umbrella is really losing control. And at the head of that loss is Chairman Wesker. He's practically foaming at the mouth."
Morganna looked at Alice and the others. "Your status has been upgraded. He's gone from considering you 'an inconvenience' to 'Umbrella's most wanted fugitives'. There's quite a reward for you all."
Alice looked at her friends and family. "The day is coming when we are going to have to settle accounts once and for all with Umbrella and Chairman Wesker. But for right now I think the best thing is for us to lay low, keep out of sight and plan how we are going to do just that."
"So we head home to Alaska," her husband stated rather than asked.
"Uh-huh. We still have a drive to go but the sooner we get started the sooner we'll get there."
Morganna cleared her throat. "I mentioned earlier that I would get back to the subject of the second Umbrella VTOL. The pilot flew it off the ship and landed about a hundred miles from here down the coast. Since then the aircraft hasn't moved. I don't know why but it's almost straight down the coastal highway, a couple of hours from here. You might want to investigate. Assuming of course," a twinkle entered her eyes, "that someone among you might know how to fly that aircraft it might get you home sooner than driving."
"I don't know," Claire pretended to ponder the idea. "There IS a broken down chopper jock here but maybe Alice could fly it."
Within a couple of hours the still hidden vehicles had been retrieved from the hiding spot near the mansion where they had remained since the first time the convoy members had entered the place. Quick but thorough maintenance had been performed and the group had roared away. That evening there was a thunderous roar that could be heard all the way in the caverns as the Umbrella VTOL landed, followed shortly by the return of the vehicles.
"That," Sam proclaimed as the group met again in the computer room, "was as strange as anything I've seen since the collapse. The aircraft was sitting where it had landed. The pilot's helmet was neatly place right on the seat. All the controls were centered and the master switch was turned off. The exterior door was latched in place. And there was no sign at all of the pilot. It was as if he had simply walked away."
"Maybe zombies got him?" asked Dwayne in curiosity.
"No sign of them. In fact we only saw a handful of them the entire trip there and back," answered Claire.
"And we looked," added Chris. "We circled the area where we found the aircraft and then the territory around this house as well for good measure. Not more than ten undead found the entire time. After all, we want you to be able to go all the way upstairs when you want to do that."
Sue and Robert and their family had been joined by several other boats, including ones from both the floating communities and the drifters. A plan had been hammered out. Hannah, accompanied by Dwayne and Don, who had speedily formed another of the ad-hoc families that seemed to be springing up wherever the survivors went anymore, would stay on in the mansion. They would be joined by several of the families from the aqua groups who had expressed a desire to return to the dry land. The mansion would serve as a port of refuge as well as a source of news from the world beyond the seacoast and the residents there would keep in contact with Alaska.
"Speaking of Alaska," remarked Sam, "before we take off we need to make sure we don't get shot down when we get near home."
Heads nodded in agreement. The surviving Alaskan National Guard units that defended the state included some US Air Force survivors, including those who still manned a couple of the massive radar stations that had once watched for an attack coming over the Arctic from the then Soviet Union. Those stations now watched all around the Last Frontier State now and Guard Command would not hesitate to send a couple of the surviving F-16's to blow an Umbrella intruder out of the sky.
Permission was finally arranged, although the aircraft would be escorted and required to land at an Air National Guard base. Hugs were exchanged with their new friends and the survivors climbed on board the aircraft and strapped in.
K-Mart smiled; a smile she exchanged with Angie. Normally when Sam flew Claire would ride in the co-pilot's seat. Today however K-Mart's mom was riding in the other seat. Claire was back in the passenger compartment where she could keep an arm around Sally and Marian.
For once a trip was uneventful and after briefing the Governor and his staff as well as the senior Guard commanders on what was taking place to the South the last lap home was accomplished in no time.
Angie admitted it. She had a fear of dogs. She had acquired that during the original Raccoon City outbreak when the Police Department's K-9's had become infected. They had nearly got her and Jill. But when K-Mart's furry dog Sparkles bolted out of the house to leap joyfully into her best friend's waiting arms she knew she would have to have one herself.
The knowledge that the showdown with Wesker and umbrella was merely postponed did nothing to cast a pall over the festivities. Jill married Chris with Angie as the Maid of Honor, a position K-Mart occupied shortly after when her dear friend and former convoy leader Claire married Sam. Angie was now Angela Redfield and Sally and Marian were formally adopted to become the Treadwell children.
Angie and K-Mart came home from school a few months later, along with their "cousins". Of course as Angie pointed out Claire really was her Aunt now since Chris was her dad so Sally and Marian were her official cousins. K-Mart agreed but still claimed Claire, Sam, Chris and Jill as aunts and uncles anyway.
There was a note on K-Mart's door telling her that her parents were at the doctor's and for her to stay with Claire and Sam until they got home.
"I wonder what that's all about. Mom is never sick," K-Mart wondered aloud. Angie shrugged.
When K-Mart's parents arrived they were accompanied by Sam, Claire and their girls. The whole group sat expectantly on Jill and Chris' front porch for the news.
"Mom, is something wrong?" asked K-Mart a little fearfully.
"Quite the opposite sweetie. You know you ve mentioned how great it would be to have a little brother or sister?"
The blonde teen's heart beat faster and she nodded to the accompaniment of applause and words of congratulations from the others.
"Well, it looks like you're going to have both. I'm pregnant and tests show it's fraternal twins."
(This looks like a good place to stop. I have to confess it, I'm pooped. A chapter every week for 15 weeks has worn me out. Time to take a break. I may go on to other couples and stories and I may take a little hiatus from writing period. But Alice, Carlos, K-mart and the others will be back some day. Promise.)