"You're just going to abandon them?" Danny was outraged, "The last message we received was that they were cut off but they had found secure shelter."
"And since then we've heard nothing," Denning replied, "It's been almost 6 hours since we lost contact with Kelly. This assignment was dangerous. Everyone knew that going in. We can't keep throwing away resources and manpower."
Danny's hands were waving frantically, a sure sign of his extreme agitation, "What about the military? We know where our people are. Why can't they send a team to rescue them?"
"We know where our people were when they sent their last transmission," Denning corrected him, "And it wasn't in the lab they had been sent to search. For whatever reason, Kelly deviated from the plan."
Steve stood unobserved in the doorway, studying the group of angry people facing off against each other. Most agreed with the Governor, but a few were siding with Danny, although more because they still wanted the Fentanyl than because they wanted to mount a rescue mission.
Danny finally noticed his presence, "Where the hell have you been? You were supposed to stay with that poor boy until his succumbed, not dig him a grave afterwards. You've been gone for hours! Did you know that Chin and Kono are missing?"
Steve forced the image of the boy's ruined face, destroyed by his gunshot, out of his mind, "Yes, one of the guards filled me on what's happening. I've been on the satellite hook-up coordinating transportation with Admiral Hanson. After studying the aerial images, the Admiral and I agree that by air is the best way to approach Queen's. The Navy is letting me use a helicopter."
Danny stared suspiciously at Steve, trying to see the reason behind this sudden change of heart. Steve was aware of the scrutiny but chose to ignore it for now, squaring off instead with Denning.
"You cannot go over my head," Denning was furious, "I am still in charge here."
Steve replied coolly, "Actually, as a member of the US Navy, I report just as much to the Admiral as I do to you."
"Don't think that you're taking any people or supplies from this bunker," Denning smirked triumphantly, "I doubt that your friend the Admiral will give you anything beyond a ride."
"Catherine brought our personal arms and ammunition with her. Are you going to try and stop me from using my own equipment?" Steve's voice had a deadly edge.
Denning held his ground for a full minute before crumbling under Steve's glare, "Obviously, you can do whatever you want with your own possessions, but you're on your own."
"That's how I want it," Steve growled back.
"Wait a minute!" Danny demanded, "You're not leaving me here. I'm coming with you."
"We'll talk about that later," Steve told him, not bothering to glance in Danny's direction.
"No, Steven, there is nothing to talk about. I'm your back-up. I'm going with you," Danny stepped forward so that he was directly in front of Steve.
Steve was forced to let Denning off the hook and turn his attention to his partner. Danny silently met him glare for glare. Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen next.
It was Steve who broke first, "You're sure about this, Danny? What about Grace and Gabby? They need you."
"Are you sure?" Danny countered, "What about Jack and Catherine? Are you saying that they don't need you?"
"Cat and talked about it. She understands what I have to do," Steve failed to add that she wasn't happy about it.
Danny nodded, "Well I'm sure that I'm going with you. Chin and Kono are out there. Besides, you're a big picture kind of guy and you need me to take care of the details."
The faintest ghost of a smile tugged at Steve's mouth, "Then let's go gather our equipment and come up with a game plan."
H50****H50****H50**** H50****H50****H50**** H50****H50****H50****
An hour before dawn, Steve and Danny slipped silently through the trees. They stopped at the edge of a clearing, still sheltered by the jungle, both men hyper alert for any sounds or movements that would mean the undead were in the area.
They waited only a few minutes before the noise of an approaching helicopter filled the pre-dawn darkness. The chopper didn't land in the clearing, instead hovering about 3 feet above the ground while Steve and Danny climbed aboard. They immediately rose high into the sky.
Steve thought he saw several figures dragging themselves with unnatural motions into the clearing, but everything dissolved into a blur a second later. He forced himself to put it out of mind. The whole point of meeting the chopper in the jungle was so that the zombies attracted to the roar of the motor wouldn't be drawn to the bunker. Everyone he had left behind was safe. It was time to focus on completing the mission.
There were several well armed men in the helicopter. Steve immediately recognized Ryan Evans, the only member of his SEAL team who had chosen to accompany the commander to Hawaii. Evans handed Steve and Danny both headsets.
"Any changes in the satellite pictures?" Steve asked once he had settled the earpieces on his head.
Ryan shook his head, "The roof still looks clear. There are a large number of zombies in the streets around the building, but the concentration that formed yesterday morning when your boys went has mostly broken up."
Steve knew that was meant to be good news but he couldn't help but think that if there were still living people trapped inside then the zombies wouldn't be leaving. Zombies never gave up on a living meal. Did that mean they were too late? Steve refused to consider that possibility.
Below them, the jungle had given way to the outskirts of Honolulu. They'd be at the hospital soon.
Ryan gestured towards a pack sitting on the floor, "Admiral Hanson sent along a few presents."
Steve and Danny looked at the bag and then at each other before Danny replied, "Um . . . that's really nice of the Admiral but we don't exactly have room for another bag." Danny made a gesture that encompassed the many pouches and bags he and his partner were already draped with.
Evans grinned, "No problem. I can shoulder it."
"No, you're not coming with us," Steve's response was immediate and unyielding.
"We don't have time for this argument, Commander," Evans gestured over Steve's shoulder where the hospital rooftop was quickly approaching.
The plan was for them to exit the chopper quickly before the noise could attract too many of the undead. The pilot would then fly a very large circle, hopefully drawing some f the zombies away from the building. Steve and Danny would locate the roof entrance to the stairwell and make a quick inspection of the interior. If it didn't seem possible to reach the basement, they return to the roof and be picked up when the pilot finished his circle, aborting the mission. If they weren't on the roof, the helicopter would return to base, refuel, and wait on stand-by for Steve to call for pick-up.
Evans was right – an argument would force the chopper to stay over the hospital, attracting an unmanageable crowd of zombies. Steve gave the younger man a glare that communicated how unhappy he was with the situation but he didn't say anything else.
Danny turned away to hide a grin. He appreciated how well Evans had played Steve. He also figured that it couldn't hurt to have another SEAL along with them.
A few minutes later the three men were jumping the short distance to the roof with quick, efficient movements. They formed a triangle, each man with gun drawn, searching for any hint of movement, ready to be overrun by a swarm of monsters. It was almost anticlimactic when Steve finally signaled for them to stand down. They were truly alone on the roof.
"Stairwell entrance is this way," Steve led them towards a closed metal door.
Danny and Ryan moved into position behind the door, ready to help slam it shut if need be. Danny couldn't resist trying to see the streets around the building. He was too far from the edge to see the streets nearby but he could see plenty of movement. Even from that distance, there was no mistaking the lurching, discolored figures for healthy human beings. Fortunately, most of them seemed to be wandering vaguely in the direction the helicopter had taken, not converging on the hospital.
Steve tried the handle, frowning when it refused to yield. He glanced at the gun in his other hand but regretfully dismissed that option. The sound would echo all the way down the stairwell to the basement. With a sigh, Steve pulled a set of lock picks out of a pocket in his pants, kneeling down to get to work.
Danny stared at him, completely stunned, "I've been lecturing you for kicking in doors for years and the whole time you've known how to pick locks!"
"I can't kick it. It opens out, Danny," Steve didn't bother to look up as he replied.
With a quiet click, the door popped open. Steve dropped the lock picks and sprang to his feet, gun pointed into the darkness. Nothing moved in the shadows. Steve used the barrel of his gun to rap gently on the wall. To the three men listening, it sounded as loud as an actual gunshot. They all strained their hearing, listening for the tell-tale moans of the undead.
When nothing happened, Steve retrieved his lock picks and pulled a flashlight out of his backpack. The unforgiving white beam revealed dark streaks dried on the walls, occasionally punctuated by something thicker than liquid. Steve recognized it for what it was: blood, a lot of blood.
"Well? Do you see something?" Danny demanded, trying to peer around the taller man.
"Not anymore," Steve stepped aside so that his companions could see the horrific modern art.
There was a moment of silence as all three men imagined a group of terrified people, cut off from the ground floor, fleeing for their lives, trying to reach the roof in the desperate hope of rescue by air, only to find the door locked.
"So where did they go after . . ." Ryan gestured vaguely towards the bloody streaks.
"The stairwell doors open out. The zombies probably unintentionally pressed against the release bars, opened the doors, and wandered out," Steve reasoned, "They aren't coordinated enough to pull the doors open from the outside so they can't get back into the stairs."
"Lucky for us since we're going to the basement," Danny observed, "Of course it also means that the floors are probably full of zombies that can't get out of the building."
Steve looked at the horizon, where a tiny speck was quickly growing into the returning helicopter, "That's your ride, if either of you is smart enough to go back now's your chance."
Neither man wasted breathe replying. Ryan acted as if Steve hadn't spoken, while Danny glared at him. Steve turned away so that they wouldn't him smile as he led the way down into the darkness.