ZOANTHROPY – (n) delusion of a person who believes himself changed into an animal
"Dragon 33, do you have visual?"
"Visual confirmed, Vice Grip. Will be over target in 15 miles."
"Copy that. Dragon 40, come in."
"Dragon 40. Sidewinder is cocked and ready to fire. No sign of survivors. Wait…"
"Report, Dragon 40."
Silence. "Something's tits up at 4 o'clock."
"Where?" Dragon 33 inquired, craning his neck to get a view.
"In that lake. See all the Z-1s and Z-2s around it?"
"Dude, I don't see shit. Where the he—I got it. Is that target?"
"Not quite. Is that the missing jet?" Vice Grip demanded to know.
"Looks like one of our birds," Dragon 33 confirmed. "Lemme go in closer."
The pair turned in the direction of the wreckage, determined to do a preliminary sweep of the area before the main squadron came through to reclaim the area. They swooped low, effectively blowing some of the Commons from the edge of the lake as they dove and rose back into the sky.
"You catch anything, Eagle Eye?" Dragon 33 asked his flight companion.
"Not sure, but too late now. We have to drop our load and get the hell out."
"Report, Dragon 33, Dragon 40," interjected Vice Grip.
"Situation Normal," replied Dragon 33. "Heading to marker to drop. What's our time?"
"T-minus 28. You boys are pushing it."
"We have time. I'm gonna circle around, check for survivors really quick, and then drop," Dragon 40 stated, and quickly turned his com off before taking off in a wide circle. He dropped down a few meters above the building tops and scanned for normal life. Z-1s and Z-2s screamed at his afterburners, but he couldn't see any Z-3s or CBs at all."
"Damn Z-3s all missing…"
He turned around after another few minutes and went for his target: a park with a large number of Z-1s and Z-2s were spotted about a week ago. He swooped over, circled once he was sure it was still populated (which made him wonder why they all were there of all places) and opened his bay doors. He watched the bomb drop at his six and saw it blow into a gas cloud of red. He watched the crazed creatures come at the gas bomb, clawing and screaming loud enough for him to hear over the roar of the jet engine.
He switched back on his com.
"Dammit, Randy, what the hell is wrong with you?!" blasted in his ears.
"Jesus Christ, Frank. I'm alive. No need to get your tits all twisted."
"If you ever decided to play rebel again, I will have your rank faster than a Z-3 can kill you. We are not here to have fun. We are here to do a job and kill those crazy mother fuckers. We are here to take back our fucking country! Do you understand me?!"
"So all that bullshit back at base about gathering them and turning them back, it's a lie? All that fucking work, all our friends and comrades?" Dragon 40 replied grimly.
"That is classified information. You know better than to disobey orders. We are being paid to do one thing: drop those bombs. Now, you can either waste the rest of your fuel tank hovering over those god-forsaken monsters, or you can get your happy ass back to base and live to see another fucking day."
Vice sat in silence for a long fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen seconds, letting them vent before interjecting.
"Squadron is T-minus 6 minutes away. If you're both done—"
"I'm not done!" Randy snapped. "Taylor, you jackass. Your sister could be out here. Your wife could still be alive. And you're just gonna sit back and watch as they blow the brain of everyone one of them? Our old family and friends?"
"I-I can't do anything to stop them."
"Tell them to turn around. Say the Chief called an emergency meeting regarding the gas. I don't give a fuck what you say, but say something!"
Seconds of tension dwelled into minutes of inner turmoil. Randy was ready to speak again when his plane began to shut off, one light at a time. He tried to flip switches, to eject, but everything was locked. He screamed and cursed into his headset.
"Sorry, Randy. We can't have you mentioning this to anyone else back at base. We can't afford a revolt," Taylor whispered as the plane swirled towards to ground and land crooked on the ground, surprisingly spared of an explosion.
"BASTARDS!" Randy shouted, the Z-1s and Z-2s swarming his vessel with such anger and power that it didn't seem possible. He stared at the faces of these once-humane people who starved for his skin, begged and pleaded for him to take their pain away. The glass above him was beginning to crack as they climbed atop each other to try and reach him. He looked into their eyes and could see the torture that he had brought upon them.
God, why? He thought to himself. Why did I do this? These are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, siblings, lovers, friends. I just gave the Air Force a pass to commit genocide. Do…do I even know the names of these creatures? What the civilians call them?
Randy racked his brain amidst the screams and slowly failing glass barrier. Z-1s and Z-2s…something simple. Simples, maybe? Normals? No. That was stupid. Who would call something as common as these ty-
"Commons!" he cried aloud, the first amount of pride he's felt in a long time swimming through his veins. A fleeting moment of silence, almost indiscernible, passed as the crashing of fists and screams paused before continuing on with more venom than before. He went about. CBs were Clean-Bloods. Z-3s were the Altered Ones. The corps frowned against naming them, although someone had made a joke about the skinny crying one being the Chief's ex-wife.
He wasn't sure what broke first, the glass or his soul. His body didn't feel the nails or the teeth, and a sudden explosion from the town center did nothing to awaken him from this comatose state. Bullets barraged the Commons that were swarming him, a few piercing his flesh with their warm, metallic teeth. If this was death, he wasn't sure it was as painful as everyone had claimed it would be. It was more like a separation, like flying…
Photographs clicked across the dining hall wall, hoots and hollars and cheers filling the room with each passing photo.
"Hey hey hey!" someone called through the noise! "This was the beast Davis and Davis took down. Wonder Twins, Go!"
The photo of the shoddy apartment containing a large, inhuman carcass and the remains of a bloated body was allowed to sit on the wall for a good few minutes as the story was told.
"And in the back, this fat bile bitch was watching, she looked like she was gonna piss herself. She even came and attacked me," the older twin went on. "I put a bullet right between her eyes, like she was a pig due for slaughter."
"You would've thought the monster and her were in love or some shit, the way he threw his fist at us. Broke three of my ribs. Nearly killed me. My brother was the lucky one, he was on the other side of the room. Put a clip in the back of the thing and finally dropped it. If we could've snuck the head back, it'd be over our bunk."
A roar of laughter tore across the room as another photo came up.
"Oh! Oh! Damn, this was a funny one! It should be a damn achievement or some shit. These two were fucking, hard too. I mean, ho-lee-shit! Garfeild flash-bombed em. It was classic, the look of utter shock on their faces. Would've been in the pic, if he hadn't popped a few in their faces."
"You mean they were gay?! Hey, Jones, think I found what you'll be doing if you get turned."
"Hey hey. Don't be a dick, Flores. Just skip to the next one."
"That's it. Kithridge and her team never came back."
Curious whispers overtook the crowd.
"What do you mean, they never came back?"
"I think something killed em. Something big."
The Davis twins protested. "We took out the mother fucking monster of this apocalypse. Are you telling me that they couldn't handle what we did?"
"I don't think it was one of them, man…I think it was something different."
"Maybe a CB?"
An awkward silence fell. Killed by one they were meant to save. It was possible…The tape died down and the crowd slowly shed in different directions. It was a depressing thought. It made this job even harder. So, who were the monsters? The Infected…
…or the Immune?