Author's Notes –
Just an idea I've been kicking around. Let me know what you think.
# # # # #
Golden rays of light shown into the sparse apartment, promising false warmth outside as the bitter winter continued. The bright sun shone in the sky on the rare cloudless day, inviting all out into the cold.
But cold was a relative term. The deserts in Afghanistan were far colder than the temperate winters in Japan, and the cold in Siberian Russia harsher by far. Still, the scarred youth knew that he had to try and dress appropriately for the weather.
Donning his specially tailored school uniform, Sousuke Sagara checked the various hidden firearms to ensure that their safeties were still on and that they hadn't been dislodged. Even after nearly a whole year at Jindai the teachers and staff had yet to accept that he carried guns and other arms to school. Though the other students and the faculty might feel the weapons were impractical, the scarred youth knew better.
The last time he'd been lulled into compliance with the low security standards that Jindai (and Japan as a whole) had Kaname had been kidnapped. He would never let that happen again.
Taking one final glance at the picture of his fallen comrades he offered them a salute, "Ready to go!"
X X X X X
Idle chatter filled the halls of Jindai High School as the myriad of students returned from their mid-term break.
"How was your break?"
"I can't believe you had to spend the entire break here!"
"If you slack off you're going to be held back."
Try as she might, the teal haired girl couldn't help but catch bits and pieces of various conversations as her peers and classmates walked past her. As the Vice President of the Student Council it was her job to ensure that there were no problems, and what better way to do that than to greet her peers with her lovely smile?
"Morning Kaname, you're looking very happy today," a familiar voice called out.
"Morning Kyoko," the taller girl replied.
"Did something happen with Sousuke?" the other girl asked.
"No, no," Kaname replied as she averted her eyes. "Nothing like that; it's our first day back"
"'Our' first day back?" Kyoko teased. "So he's coming back then?"
It was so hard to believe that only a few days had passed since she'd found and dropkicked Sousuke Sagara in the middle of a battlefield. Still, it was all worth it. The usually bright eyed and cheerful girl couldn't help but glow as she smiled, "Yeah."
X X X X X
Twirling red lights illuminated the corridor as sirens blared. Chaos filled the underground base as men and women, some in uniform others half-dressed, ran to and fro, each trying to discover the reason for the alarms and what they were to do in response.
Golden orange bursts filled the corridors as gunfire erupted, casting shadows and dark red blood about the corridor. Soon the sound of screams outnumbered the gunshots, though both decreased until finally only the sirens remained.
X X X X X
After nearly an entire year in Japan, Sousuke Sagara was slowly getting used to living a civilian life. Having spent so much of his life on the battlefield and as a soldier, it had initially been hard for him to adapt and conform to the supposedly easy going and carefree lifestyle that his peers and classmates lived. What came so easily for the others was very hard for him. As a soldier he'd learned to anticipate danger around every corner or with every minor discrepancy in his "normal" activities and routines. His keen senses and reflexes were all that kept him alive despite all the dangerous situations he'd been faced with.
All to bring him back here.
"You're back? I'd have thought there would have been someone complaining that you pulled a gun on them!"
"It's his first day back, give him a break!"
"Hey, remember when we unleashed that bacteria?"
"Don't remind me."
"Don't look at me like that!"
Yes, it was good to be back.
"Welcome back Sousuke, it wasn't the same without you."
Stern but warm eyes greeted the slight teen as the mercenary greeted his most loyal of companions. "It's good to be back Shinji," he returned in his usual monotone.
"Hey, did you see the pictures of Russia's new AS?" the military otaku exclaimed. "It looked so cool – I can't wait to see it in action. They say that some of the new 'Shadow' Zy-98's were used in the DCA incident as were the American's XM9."
"Where did you hear that?"
"It's on the web," the beaming boy replied. "There are some pictures up but you know how the internet is; there are those who think the pictures are doctored and some who think it's a big cover up by the DCA or PLC."
"Right," the scarred teen nodded. "I'd love to see them if you could."
"You haven't seen them?"
"Affirmative, I've been too busy moving and making up for the lessons I missed."
"I've got some pictures on my phone, but"
The sound of a distant explosion silenced the entire class before all eyes turned to the scarred teen.
"Sousuke!" Chidori shouted automatically.
"It wasn't me!" he cried out in his defense.
Suddenly everyone ran towards the windows, each trying to get a better view of what was going on outside.
"Look, it's over there!"
"There's smoke over there too!"
"Should we call the police?"
A chill ran down Sagara's spine as he gazed out the window. Though most of the buildings around the high school were two or three stories tall, Jindai stood well over them, providing the students with a good view of the multitude of smoky pillars that rose up over the neighboring buildings.
His muscles tensed, Sousuke rushed toward Kaname.
Before he could reach her through the throngs of the other students he watched as she picked up her phone. "Hello? You want to speak with Sagara?"
Perplexed, the young soldier took the phone from her. "This is Sagara."
"This is Wraith," the cold, emotionless voice stated. "Something's happened. I've lost contact with command. You need to get Chidori out of there now!"
A loud click told him that conversation was over. Holding onto the phone his dark grey eyes locked with Kaname's blue ones. "We have to get out of here!"
"What's going on?"
"I don't know," he replied. "I've been ordered to take you somewhere safe and secure."
"What's going on?" Shinji asked, the smaller boy appearing out of nowhere.
"What's happening?" Kyoko asked.
"Attention!" a voice called out over the PA system. "There has been an accident close to school grounds. For your safety all students should remain in their homerooms. Class Representatives are to supervise in the absence of homeroom teachers as the staff is securing the grounds. I repeat – All students are to remain in their classrooms."
"I have to stay," said a defiant Kaname. "I have responsibilities here."
The very traits that he'd come to love about her made her hard to deal with at times. Her stubbornness, loyalty, and strong sense of responsibility, while wonderful to follow, made her all the harder to work with at times. This was definitely one of those times.
"Everyone!" Kaname called out with her booming, confident voice. "Please, return to your seats and stay away from the windows."
Most in their class knew better than to cross the headstrong class rep; most being everyone but the scarred mercenary.
"What are you doing Sagara?" the teal haired girl demanded as the boy in question handed her back her phone.
"I'm booby trapping the door," he replied. "It's non-lethal. The weighted net should keep anyone from forcing their way into the room."
"Where the hell does he pull something like that out of?" someone asked idly.
Knowing her as well as he did, Sagara expected her to hit him, but something she'd seen in him had kept her from lashing out. "Just make sure that it won't hurt anyone."
"I think she's finally giving in to him," someone snickered.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder," someone else whispered just a bit too loud. "Guess his absence made her realize how much she cares about him."
"Do you really think this is the time for this?"
"Of course; it's not like anything worse than our trip last year is going to happen, right?"
"Yeah, we've already lived through two hijackings – what could be worse?"
The subtle hum of Kaname's cell phone vibrating told him that things were far worse than the others could imagine. Though phones were supposed to be banned, few teachers actually followed through with that rule, allowing their students to carry them into class and even keep them on them so long as they didn't use them during class.
Reaching for the device as it rattled on the desk the scarred youth flipped it open. The unlisted number didn't surprise him, in the least as any of the other Mithril operatives would have been told to use a prepaid phone that they could easily dispose of without fear of being traced, and considering how closely Wraith watched over Kaname it was no surprise that the agent had her number.
"This is Sagara," he said, drawing curious looks from those around him as he ignored the typical Japanese greeting when answering a phone call.
"Get everyone out of there," a husky, unrecognizable voice ordered.
"What's the situation?"
"Biological contagion unleashed," the hidden agent stated. A burst of gunfire interrupted Wraith. "The initial infection occurred less than twelve hours ago. The infected seem to spread the contagion through bodily fluids and attack their victims by biting them.
"Hospitals and military bases were the first to be hit, though how it was delivered is still unknown. It's not limited to just Japan either, several major cities in Asia, Europe and the Americas were hit."
Another burst of gunfire rang out over the phone.
"My position is compromised," Wraith stated. "I've lost contact with everyone else. Keep her phone on you, I can find you and Kaname through the GPS on her phone."
"Affirmative," the young veteran replied just as he heard the signal being terminated.
"What is it?" the teal haired beauty asked as he stuffed her phone into his pocket.
"A biological agent has been unleashed on Tokyo," Sagara replied. Gasps of surprise filled the room as the other students eyed him. "It's not like the last time."
His classmates eyed him skeptically as they recalled the previous incident when the bacteria they'd unleashed consumed any and all synthetic fibers, leaving virtually all of the student body completely naked.
"We're not leaving," Kaname stated resolutely. "Who knows how bad things are out there?"
Several students nodded in agreement.
"We don't even know what we're dealing with. I think it's best if we secure the room, and find out what's going on before we decide what we're going to do."
More students nodded.
"First we'll need to fortify the doors and windows. We'll need someone to check the halls and the street to see if there's any trouble as well," Kaname stated.
"We'll need spotters on the windows," Sagara insisted. "At least six - two for each end of the street and two to focus on the school's entrance."
"Fine," the class representative relented. "Aoi, Soatome, take the east end of the street. Toshi, Yamanaka, the west; and Wantanabe, Hibiki, you two keep an eye on the school gate. Takada, find out who's got internet on their phones and find out what's happening or at least what's being reported. Everyone else help Sagara secure the room."
Students rushed into their positions, each doing what was called of them. Their efficiency was almost remarkable – though they lacked the polish and training of professionals the teens worked well together – testament of Kaname Chidori's leadership skills and the sheer number of times that they had banded together to deal with the many situations that Sagara had put them in.
The sound of the neighboring classes breaking down into chaos reached his keen ears. Rapid footsteps raced down the hallway chasing after hushed voices and heavy breathing, urging the diligent soldier to work all the harder on securing the room.
In a matter of moments the door was barricaded, the windows to the hallway were closed and a wall of desks bound together with cellophane tape stood reinforced them.
"There are riots all over Tokyo," Takada offered as he eyed his phone. "JSDF has been deployed to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Okinawa – it doesn't look good."
"What's happening out there?" someone asked.
"It's happening all over the world," Takada added. "Rome, London, Moscow, Paris, New York, Chicago, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore – it's everywhere. The Americans are mobilizing their troops to deal with it, as are the English, French, Soviets… everyone."
"A coordinated biological strike…" Chidori gasped. "But how?"
"Biological?" someone muttered. "We need hazmat suits!"
Sagara shook his head. "My informant tells me that it's spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, so we don't need hazmat suit."
Kaname nodded as she recovered from her momentarily lapse. As the new President of the Student Council she was the one that the others looked to for guidance and support. Now was not the time for her to crack under the pressure.
"This is a recording" an electronic voice announced as all eyes turned to Kyoko as she held up her cell phone. "We at the 110 emergency line are held up at the moment. If after calling again, we still can't receive your call, please wait and call later."
"We can't let things rattle us," Kaname proclaimed as she shut off her friend's phone. "We've endured so much already, right? We just have to stay focused and not panic and we'll be alright."
The atmosphere in the room became much more sullen and tense as the students waited in silence. There was little else to be done and with their desks and chairs barricading the windows they were forced to sit on the floor or lean against the wall.
"It's not good," Hibiki stated as he stood against the window. Suddenly everyone rushed towards the window as they sought to confirm what the lookout had said. "It looks like there are fires all around the city."
"Yeah," Saotome seconded from the eastern end of the window. "It looks like things are really getting out of control over there."
"It's everywhere," Toshi seconded, drawing several students towards his end of the window.
Only Sagara remained in the center of the room, casting an appraising look at the room. 'Not good,' he assessed. 'There's no way out for us if they get through the barricade.'
"Something's happening at the gate!" proclaimed Hibiki. "Hey! Don't push – I'm trying to see what's happening!"
"Everyone not assigned to lookout duty back away from the windows!" Chidori ordered. "Let the lookouts have room to do their job."
Slowly, hesitantly the students did as told.
"Some of the teachers are rushing back to the grounds," Hibiki stated. With the rest of the class now hanging on his every word the tall lookout purposefully picked his words. "Everyone's fine, though it looks like they've gotten their hands and clothes dirty."
A sigh of relief escaped several students' lips.
"They're trying to close the gates!" the tall lookout announced.
"Something's happening on the east end of the street!" Saotome interrupted.
The sound of a car hitting the wall around the school jarred the students, prompting them to storm the windows once again. The blaring of a car's horn reached the class, sending the students into a frenzy.
"Everybody back!" Chidori cried out as she tried to maintain control of her classmates.
"What's going on?"
"I think a truck hit the wall!"
"Is anyone hurt?"
"What are the teachers doing?"
"You've lost them," Sagara stated as he put a firm hand on Chidori's shoulder.
"We have to get out of here," he urged her.
"Attention all students and teachers!" the principle's voice called out over the PA system. "Attention all students and teachers! At the present time there was a multi-car accident just off of school grounds. The drivers and their passengers appear to have minor injuries and have begun fighting amongst themselves. All teachers please proceed to secure the school gates! All students stay in your classrooms and follow your teachers' instructions!"
"If we leave what do you think is going to happen?" hissed Kaname as she looked at her peers. "They're going to panic, and then people are going to get hurt!"
"People are going to get hurt regardless," he replied.
"I know you're not concerned about any of them, but I am," she countered. "My duty is to them, and if you're going to help me then you're going to have to help them!"
Despite the hysteria and panic around her Kaname Chidori refused to break. Like a force of nature she changed the atmosphere of the room through her sheer determination alone. "Everybody listen up!" she screamed, silencing her classmates even as she drew their attention and became the focus of their attention. "Stay away from the windows and keep calm! We've been through a lot already and we've pulled through in the end. Just stay calm and everything is going to be alright!"
"Duck!" Saotome shouted.
Her tentative hold over her classmates quickly broke as the two dozen students turned to face the window instead of heading their classmate's advice.
The loud, bright explosion filled the wide window, casting the entire room in an orange glow before shattering the window. Cries of surprise were quickly drowned out by cries of pain as shards of broken glass hit those closest to the window. The force of the blast rocking the entire building and in particular the rooms facing the explosion. Chaos reigned as most of the students fell to the ground clutching at their various wounds and cuts or knocked to the ground by their peers.
Experienced in dealing with explosions, Sagara quickly recovered. A sweeping glance was all he needed to assess the situation before hastily acting. "I'm sorry Kaname."
X X X X X
Klaxons sounded over the sporadic gunfire as the pale lights were drowned out by the circling red of the alarms.
"We need to evacuate," the grey haired veteran stated.
The silver haired girl looked at the displays before her. Reports were coming in from around the world of terrorist attacks and military deployments to quell the outbreaks of some zombie virus, even here on the Tuatha de Danaan there'd been an outbreak.
"Captain!" the gruff commander cried out, startling the young captain.
"Yes, you're right," she hastily agreed. "But"
"If we seal off the aft of the ship we should be able to keep most of the infected contained," the man known as Andrei Sergeivich Kalinin explained. "If we give the order to evacuate we could give the remaining crew a chance."
He was right. It was the only way, but…
"We'll leave a skeleton crew in the bridge," he added.
"I'll stay behind," Mardukas volunteered. "We'll tow the boats as close to land as we can get. I'm sure that the Japanese and Americans are going to be too busy to care about the Toy Box."
"It's been an honor to serve with you," Mardukas added as he offered her a salute.
All around her the bridge crew stood at attention, each offering her a salute.
Gulping, she nodded. "Give the order to evacuate."
X X X X X
"Run!" Sagara's gruff voice rang in her ears.
Dazed and confused, Kaname Chidori tried to shake the cobwebs out of her head.
The sound of gunfire startled her, though considering that she was with Sagara she really shouldn't have been surprised.
"I'm running out of ammo!"
Something about that statement didn't sound right. It wasn't the statement really, but the voice attached to it. "Why's Shinji got a gun?"
"Chidori," gasped Sagara amidst the sporadic gunfire.
She was suddenly aware of how close he was to her as well as that he was lowering her to the ground, causing her to blush uncontrollably. "What's going on here?"
"We're trying to leave the school," the scarred boy stated once she was on the ground.
She watched as he freed the shotgun from his shoulder, something he couldn't do while holding onto her, before turning and shooting. "I'll give you some cover fire," he stated boldly. "I've got another clip for your gun in my back pocket."
"What's going on here?" she repeated. Looking around she noticed several of her classmates and the bloody bandages that they sported.
"I'm not sure," Shinji replied as he reloaded his rifle. "It's like that game – Biohazard or House of the Dead."
"I'm out!" Ono D proclaimed as he pulled out the spent clip of his rifle.
"Here," Shinji cried as he tossed a full clip at the taller boy.
"House of the Dead?" Kaname muttered.
"They're infected," Kyoko added.
"Kyoko?" the taller girl muttered.
"You're alright?" Kyoko asked.
"We need to move," Sagara proclaimed as he pulled out a grenade. "Fire in the hole!"
Everyone quickly covered their heads and ears just as the grenade detonated.
Her ears ringing, she barely registered the gunfire that cleared the hallway of any further threats.
"What the hell are you doing?" she screamed as she jumped to her feet and swatted at Sagara. Years of military training didn't prevent him from avoiding her harsh slap.
"She's alright," Kyoko grinned.
"Now is not the time for this," Sagara stated as he looked at her with his deep brown eyes. "We're still in danger."
A glance at the shirtless boy as well as at her bloody classmates seemed to confirm what he said, but he always seemed to blow things out of proportion, right?
"He's right," Kyoko said as she grabbed her friend's hand. "If it weren't for him we wouldn't have made it this far."
Again Kaname looked around at the others. "Wait, where are the others?"
"We lost most of them when the first wave of zo-… of them attacked the classroom." Try as he might even the usually unflappable Ono couldn't call their attackers zombies. "Half of the class was hurt by the explosion, and the barricade we put up barely bought us time to get even half of us out of the classroom."
"How did we get out?" Kaname asked.
"Sagara had a rope and some guns," Kyoko explained. "At first we heard the screams, then more and more zombies came to the school. We heard other classes getting attacked, then they attacked our class. Most of us were able to climb down to the awning, but it could only support the weight of two or three people at a time. Once the zombies got to our room those still in the room panicked. The awning collapsed, taking most of the class."
"I managed to swing the rope over to what was left of the awning," Ono stated.
"We made it to the administrative building, but since then we've been running into more and more of them," the petite girl explained. "We've lost a few here and there…"
"And picked up a few survivors," added Issei as he tried to lighten the mood.
Kaname could only nod as she looked at the handful of survivors. Of her class of 31 students only ten remained, another seven students filled out their ranks. "What's the plan?"
"We're going to try to make it to the teacher parking lot," Sagara explained. "We stopped in the teacher's lounge and offices to get their keys. Hopefully the street behind the school is clear."
Overwhelmed by everything that had happened, Kaname simply nodded.
"At least you won't go down in history as the worst Student Body President ever," Kyoko suggested.
"Yeah," Kaname muttered. "I'll just be the last President our school is going to have. This just had to go down on my watch."
Moving with years of training backing him, Sagara advanced around the corner while Shinji kept watch and Ono covered their flank. Reaching the next corner, Sagara scanned for threats. Seeing none he pressed himself against the wall and signaled to Shinji.
"They look like they've been doing this a while," the usually near-sighted Issei remarked. Normally he wouldn't have noticed, but today the karateka actually had his glasses on.
"They're both military otaku," Kaname joked. Though Shinji didn't look the type, he was a military brat. More than likely he'd been drilled by his father or at least managed to pick up something from his father's military background. Sagara though was another thing altogether.
"Clear," Shinji announced as he waved for several girls to move up to where Sagara was positioned.
Kaname watched as half of their remaining number advanced, following the Mithril operative as he took point. Once the first group reached the scarred boy Shinji ushered the rest forward.
"The assistant principals' offices," she muttered as she realized just where they were.
The once bright hallway was full of bloody smears, the grisly reminders of what had transpired.
Around her the other students rushed towards the end of the hall and the exit of the building. The glass doors had been shattered, bloody handprints marred the polished metal finish of the doorways.
Suddenly a door opened, catching the three gunmen off guard as Sagara eyed the exposed entrance, Ono watched their flanks, and Shinji was on the other side of the hallway with several girls between him and the bloody figure.
"No!" Akira, the budding basketball star of the class cried out as the figure tackled her to the ground. "Get off me!"
Before anyone could respond her attacker struck, biting down on her neck and cutting off her screams.
A firm hand kept Kaname from jumping to her classmate's rescue, prompting her to turn around. She was surprised to see that it was Kyoko clinging to her even as Shinji calmly walked over to the grisly scene. Extracting a large knife he carefully jammed it into Assistant Principal Fuji's head.
"P-please," Akira gasped even as her attacker twitched.
"Go," Ono ordered. "We're already spread thin."
Powerless, Kaname allowed herself to be dragged off as Ono assumed Shinji's post, allowing the Arm Slave otaku to quickly put Akira out of her misery.
The group reached the parking lot with no further fanfare, though grim reminders dotted the way. The brief respite allowed Shinji to relieve himself of his breakfast, though Kaname couldn't help but feel a slight bit of satisfaction at watching him in pain.
Standing on top of a small mini-van Sagara kept watch. With the most combat experience of them all it didn't surprise her that he was unfazed by the graphic violence around them. Though she'd seen her share of battlefields, things had been different for her. The soldiers that fought had always been nameless faces in the crowd, the dead here were people she'd seen on a daily basis. While she didn't always enjoy interacting with them, they were a regular part of her life. Knowing that they weren't going to be there tomorrow though… well, that information seemed to turn her stomach.
"Got it," Mizuki cried out triumphantly as she opened the driver's side door of the mini-van. "This should fit all of us!"
"Hurry," Sagara urged them as he kept his eyes fixed on the school.
Mizuki was right, it would fit all of them, though they were extremely cramped. It didn't help that Sagara, Ono, and Shinji needed spaces by the windows and for their guns.
The sound of the motor revving seemed to catch the attention of the handful of zombies that shambled out of the school. Rather than wasting bullets Sagara ordered the gunmen to focus only on the ones that were in their path or that were an immediate threat.
"Where to?" Mizuki asked as she exited the parking lot and pulled onto the nearly vacant street.
"To my apartment," Sagara answered. "I've got enough weapons and rations to last us a few days and the building is very secure."
X X X X X
If you've read HSotD you'll notice that the zombies here are very different. These zombies are capable of seeing, smelling, and hearing rather than just hearing. That's a distinction that is going to be important. 'Them' are more akin to 'Walkers' in that they have rudimentary skills and can use weapons/tools, i.e. using a rock to help break a window, opening doors, etc., and will feed on anything not just humans.
After much debate, I've opted not to include the HSotD crew. With these zombies they wouldn't have made it out of the high school unscathed. I'm tempted, sorely tempted, but if I do cross over anything it'll be a cast like Ai Yori Aoshi or some ordinary kids.
Been rereading HSotD and noticing some inconsistencies. When Takashi gets Rei, both Kotha and Saya are in the same homeroom as Rei and Hisashi, and he doesn't say anything to them. Sure, Kotha is acceptable as he barely knows him, but Saya, a childhood friend?
How did "Them" get upstairs so quickly? The announcement goes over the PA and then the students make a run for it, but when Takashi, Rei, and Hisashi head to the administrative building they encounter an infected teacher. Plus, when they head to the roof they encounter more of "Them". Yet when they come back down there aren't as many of "Them" in the hallways until they get to the nurse's office.