Raven and Ellis had cleared the interior of the base of infected, making it easier for the survivors to venture to around the back of the store. If Ellis' predictions were correct, then they'd have a much easier way of cleaning the gas cans than what Nick had suggested them to do.
And Raven was not about to use the same jacket to wipe off every single can.
The back of the store was just as bleak as the front, littered with dead soldiers and infected, looking to have had an all-out brawl. Ellis leant down and inspected one of the soldier's hands and found that he had resorted to using his fists. Had he ran out of ammo? How could that be when the store sat right there… Ellis was starting to sense there was more to it than what they could see. What had happened at this base?
With a sigh, he stood at full height and began to search along the back wall of the store, hoping to find-
"Ah-hah!" Ellis quickly stepped up to the outdoor faucet with the green hose still attached to the spout. "I told you there'd be one." He grinned back at Raven. The girl only rolled her eyes and kept an eye on their backs. Ellis began to unravel the hose, pulling out and walking back to the side of the store, wanting to get it as close to the front entrance as possible so they wouldn't have to carry the cans as far to clean them.
"I still can't believe this place doesn't have a back door or something." Raven frowned at the doorless back wall, still perturbed. Ellis only shrugged, "Well it is an old building." Though he didn't really know if that had anything to factor into the equation.
Ellis checked behind him and made sure he still had enough length in the hose to keep pulling it along, "Nick better be glad I found this." He mumbled, earning a snort from Raven, "I think you should just be glad. It's not like Nick would've been the one who had to clean them if there wasn't a water hose." Ellis rolled his eyes, realizing the irony.
Just as they made it back to the front, Nick had just gotten done transporting all the tanks outside, leather gloves keeping him from touching the sludge caked onto them, and a newly opened gas mask in place over his face to keep the stench out. Really, Nick looked a little ridiculous, but even if he knew it, he didn't seem to care, setting the last one down with a satisfied sigh, setting his wrists against his hips.
"Oh my God, Nick, that's too much for some damn dirty tanks…" Ellis nearly shouted incredulously, speaking over Raven's amused laughter.
Hazmat Nick yanked off his gloves, dropping them to the ground, deciding they had been one use only, and yanked the mask up off his face, a faint red line outlining where it had set on his skin, "You laugh now, but it would've been highly likely you'd be cleaning my vomit off the cans too without this get-up." He motioned to himself with a hand.
Ellis shook his head, grinning, as he pulled the hose up closer to the tanks. He then adjusted the plastic nozzle filter to spray with a power wash type spray, having aimed it away from the tanks at first, "What ever floats'yer boat, man." He mumbled. Soon he motioned for Nick to step back, "I'm gonna guarantee'ya there's gonna be some spray back from this, so you're gonna wanna move." He advised the both of them.
Raven made quick work of scurrying back for the front entrance, heading to make herself busy by packing more things. No way was she going to stick around for this part.
Ellis watched as Raven went back inside and decidedly waited for the door to close behind her. He wasn't sure why he had to wait before he brought up his next subject of conversation to Nick, but he was for certain it was an issue that had to stay between the two of them. He didn't want a knowing smile creeping along the edges of the girl's lips when he talked.
"So…" Ellis spoke up, holding the hose down as he smirked up at Nick. "About that bet."
And without missing a beat, Nick began guffawing, a hand coming up to palm his face. He hadn't ever been so amused to lose a bet. "Yea, Yea, you won, Sport." He admitted, waving his hand in the air dismissively.
"Good. Cause I've been having some soreness right around in my shoulder." Ellis tried savoring the win, rubbing it Nick's face slightly and rotated his arm in its socket to amplify the effect, grinning like a fool.
Nick rolled his eyes as he chuckled, "Don't worry, I'll make it feel all better." He half mumbled in a sympathetic mother hen impression. But as Ellis got to work, watering off the tanks, he couldn't help the more malicious smirk that spread on his face as he thought about it. Too bad Ellis didn't realize the bet was a win-win situation.
Too bad he was too innocent to realize Nick was secretly celebrating his own victory as well.
As Ellis predicted, the hose was able to cut through most of the sludge, and the gook came off in chunks and rivulets. The one small blessing of the situation was the fact that they had all been stacked together so tightly, so for most of the tanks that meant only the very tops were covered in human refuse. So, the job was done relatively quickly, and Ellis only needed to go over just a few of the tanks to get what the hose couldn't get off with a rag.
"Well, that's done." Ellis commented, standing back up from washing the last tank. Nick had gone back inside and opened a bag of candy meant to attract the children at eye level at check out, feeling like indulging himself a little. It's not like he was going to lose his figure over a small bag of gummy bears anyway.
"Good job, now we just need to find a working cruiser around here." Nick stated, his eyes blank as he stared down at the tanks, shoving another three bears into his mouth. "In fact, I'm sure we passed one down at the loading dock. Only problem is getting it up here…" Since they had to scale a ladder to get to the level they were at now, Nick wasn't sure how they'd be getting it up to the shop.
"Well, that road actually makes a turn further down and comes up this way on an incline, so we just have to clear the path." Ellis explained, having observed it as they traveled through the cars. The very bus he told his compatriots about was the one blocking the exit and entrance to the loading dock. "The fun part is gonna be makin that path." Ellis offered. The task wasn't impossible, but they definitely would have to think creatively.
"And what's blocking that path?" Nick asked, rolling up the rest of the gummy worms and putting them away in his pocket.
"It's that charter bus, the one I pointed out." He explained, setting his hands to his hips as he leaned to one side.
Nick nodded, his brows knitting thoughtfully. "How about we back that sucker up and off the dock entirely? Sink that Titanic in the Gulf." He offered.
Ellis chuckled, "Well damn, that could work. You feel up to doin' that today?" Nick looked up from his staring, "Why not? You have any other plans for today?" he joked. Ellis merely shook his head. "Nah."
"Good." Nick replied, and then sent his tongue to lick away the sugary residue left all along the lining of his mouth, "Soon enough, we can pack up things at the house and make our last trip over the water and head West off this road." Nick deduced. And it was then that Nick realized they had a plan. A good plan, one that was reasonable and would hopefully work if everything fell into place right. He realized he'd proved Coach wrong in a matter of days, taking the reins and stirring his small brood to safety.
He was so damn proud of himself it almost made him smile. The closest thing he got was a halfhearted quirk of his lip.
Then it was back to business.
"Alright. Let's get the other brat, and get to it."
"Yea, Yea, just a little more." Ellis shouted to Nick who sat in the Bus's driver seat. He made a motion with his hand in the air, encouraging him to back it up some more. The plan was to get it right on the very edge of the concrete, far back enough that they could hopefully throw a piece of heavy rubble onto the gas and it'd send the bus backward to its doom.
Nick then decided now was his time to hop out, becoming too paranoid to sit any longer in the bus, "That ought to do it, right?" he asked, quickly turning around to get a look at its position.
Ellis gave a nod, "Yea. Should be fine." He declared, then picked up his already predetermined heavy enough piece of concrete and came up to the bus doors. He then took a few steps inside the still running bus, wanting to make sure his concrete would land correctly.
"HEY! Get your ass outta there!" Nick yelled, already quickly walking up to yank Ellis back out of it, not wanting him to pull some useless stunt and wind up getting hurt, or taken down with the bus if at all possible. But before he could get hands close enough to Ellis inside the bus, Ellis already threw the rock and it was all Nick could do to jump out of the way as Ellis swiftly leapt out of the doors, cutting it close as he almost got himself hit by the self-propelling bus as it was sent in reverse.
Thankfully, no one got hurt, but less thankfully, the bus only got as far as getting the back tires falling off the side of the dock, while the remainder stayed teetered on the concrete.
"Well, great…" Nick mumbled over the still working engine, the back tires flying as it had no resistance to push against. It was like something out of a slap-stick comedy. He shouldn't have expected any less from their brains put together.
"I told you to ride it up and then send it in reverse, idiot." Raven scoffed, rolling her eyes at the scene. She'd been standing guard as the men did the 'work'. "That way, it would've sent most the damn thing over, and we wouldn't have this problem."
Nick was hardly listening, and instead went up to the front and took a glance between the front grill of the bus and the brick wall in front of it. "I think it'll fit anyway…" Then glanced back at Ellis for a confirmation. It didn't long for the mechanic to follow up behind him and come up with the same assessment. "Sure, it might be a little cramped, but I bet I can slip that sucker right on out." He replied confidentially.
Nick chuckled, "Let's hope so, and it'll make up for your mistake." He commented as he made his way to the cruiser they already filled up, ready to be driven up the ramp. Ellis' mouth gaped, "My mistake? Who's the one who said it would work better to get it right on the fuckin edge like that?" Ellis argued, quickly running up to the passenger side of the tan Humvee. Nick didn't rise to the retort but simply started up the vehicle, then poked his head out the open window, "Give me the clearance, Raven." He called out to the girl.
With a nod of acknowledgement, Raven came up beside the front of the bus, waiting for Nick to drive up closer. Just as Ellis got the door closed and was seated, Nick began to creep forward, then started checking his sides and was relieved to see it was going to be doable. All he had to worry about was scrapping the mirrors. "I think you got it all the way, Nick." Raven confirmed his thoughts, watching as the vehicle was fitting right between the two obstacles.
"Alright, hop in the back." He ordered Raven, stopping to allow her to do so. He was glad the plan wasn't a complete fluke. But he couldn't help but to imagine the comments he might have gotten from the MIA team members.
Rochelle would of course laugh her ass off along with Coach, who would probably say something along the lines of "Son, you done messed up." But it wouldn't be the condescending, or snide kind of comments, but a more playful, affectionate even, kind of comments and laughter. Laughing with one another instead at each other. It would be one of those moments that they would've needed after a hard day of fighting, something to defuse some tension. A good laugh that would get someone off someone else's bad side, wiping the slate clean for another day.
Nick didn't know why he was suddenly thinking about the others all of a sudden, but it wasn't necessarily unwanted. For some reason it rested something in his mind, while simultaneously stirring something that left him a bit unsettled.
He forced it out of his mind as he got the Humvee through the small gap and got them up the ramp. He then got the Humvee turned around so he could back straight up to the front of the shop. There was plenty of room in the back to stack all their goods in there, and held four seats, though they were a bit uncomfortable because of all the metal, they had already thought up of a way of making the seats more comfortable.
It was Ellis who suggested to use the soft ARMY sweat shirts to sit on like cushions, but it was Raven who added to the idea and suggested putting another sweatshirt over the backs of the seats as well. It was the first task they performed during the Humvee's refurbishing. The next step was loading their necessities. Nick laid out a system, making sure to stack the more frequently used items on one side and stacking all the others to the opposite side. He made sure the medical bag was accessible at a moment's notice and he stacked the gas tanks in rows that were meant to conserve space but also easy to access as well.
And it was by complete chance, as Ellis was gathering up anything else that looked useful, his eyes stopped on what looked to be some riot gear. And the full body suit of armor. He reached out and felt at the material, judging his size mentally then looking for one that he assumed would fit him. Once he got to a suit marked medium, he pulled it off the tall standing rack and pried the hanger off it and tore off all the tags and began unzipping and unbuckling, determined to try it on. It was a wordless process, just him working off articles of clothes to fit inside the suit and once he'd gotten it on, he began buckling himself into it, adjusting straps and looking through all the pockets on his legs and chest area.
He realized he might've just found something cooler than Nick's new holster.
Ellis then came back around to the front, "Hey…" he called their attention, stopping Nick and Raven as they packed away the MRE tubs. It was easy to see the initial shock in their widening eyes, and then came the amusement.
"You joining SWAT, there buddy?" Nick cackled a bit, putting his hands to his hips. It got Ellis to chuckle a bit, turning just a tint of red.
Raven grinned, "That actually looks pretty good on you." She complemented, enjoying the way Ellis looked so empowered in it. Raven was too busy looking at Ellis' new outfit to feel the slight stare Nick gave to the back of her head.
"Listen, wouldn't be a good idea if we all wore these though?" He reasoned with the others. "It's not like its gonna hurt. Not to mentioned we'll look badass in'em." He tacked on the last part with a lop sided grin.
Silently, the descion was unanimous as Raven spoke up, "Was there a green one?" she asked, looking hopefully.
Ellis chuckled, "I don't think it was a riot outfit, but I saw something green over there." He encouraged her. She gave a nod and headed off to the isle Ellis had come from, eager for some new badass threads.
And it was only Ellis who heard Nick's low chuckling, a hand covering his mouth as he tried to stifle it. "What's still funny, mister?" Ellis taunted, expecting to get another jab of some sort.
But instead got, "Just imagine Coach's fat ass stuffed into one of those."