They came into Hartford from the North, the only way into the city that was not overrun. The stadium was filled with wounded and infected civilians. Not only was it reinforced with iron barricades along the walls, doors, and windows, but mounted hollow-point machine guns and mortar turrets stationed both inside and outside of the stadium.
The military was massing at the stadium for a retake of the city. The tactical maneuver was a sweep across the coast of the Long Island Sound until the liberation of New York was possible. If that could be attained other major cities riding down the eastern seaboard might be saved. If the front could not be held now, the infection would spread to every corner of the Earth. The end of the world was rapidly approaching and the United States Armed Forces were doing everything in their power to prevent it.
They no longer fought terrorists; they burned the dead and put a bullet in the head of the undead. A soldier, by definition, had a completely different role in society now. An enemy that shot back was virtually unheard of except for the rioters. Samuel had this ideal image of all the nations of humanity coming together to fight and endure the zombie revolution. That was in no way close to their current reality. A truth Atticus would have to brace Dr. Samuel Chase slowly for. Although Atticus was younger than Samuel, he had lost his youthful hopefulness and optimism, and inherited a soldier’s apathy and cynicism while in the military, making him much older than his years. He knew what this world was coming to, and what it called for now.
Atticus started the landing process. Every soldier around the War Bird looked amazed, like it was an alien space ship. The outside of the War Bird was smooth and the engines and boosters were prepped for deep space travel. It’s no wonder why they thought that. Upon landing Atticus adjusted the auxiliary engines on the wings into hover mode and the entire ship shifted. The wings flattened and the bow and the stern contracted, as the booster engines slid under the bird, switched off, and were replaced by sonic pulse emitters pointed at the floor.
Atticus attached the pulse emitter’s coordinates onto the landing pad and brought them in flawlessly. They landed and Atticus shut down all the fancy equipment. Dr. Chase exited the ship with Rebecca and they have a look around. There was no man standing around. The ones that were not on guard or out in the fight were building and reinforcing barriers all around, using such materials from sandbags to extra benches and tables. This was nothing they had seen before. Amongst the troops were civilian wearing armor and carrying automatic weapons, they must be taking volunteers now. This was all out war. Atticus joined them and they stepped down the walkway.
“General Saarsgard is waiting for you, Captain. Right this way.”
They were brought through the base in the middle of the stadium’s center, an impromptu fortress, made up of mostly tents; they had a better look hovering up above. It seems that the skies felt the safest in this terrible world now. Atticus led them into the room and saluted the general, Samuel and Rebecca followed suit. The General sat them down at the conference table and began.
“Rebecca, I’m glad that you are safe, but in a couple of minutes the CIA and FBI are going to come through those doors and arrest you, followed by interrogation, and then most likely they will take you away to a laboratory and conduct experiments on you all in search for a cure.”
“Is this a scare tactic, Saarsgard?” Samuel demanded to know.
“I’m afraid not, Doctor.”
“I never took the pills. If it’s a test subject you need, I kept my husband alive and trapped inside my house.”
The General, Dr. Chase, and Atticus all looked shocked to hear it.
“You mean to tell me that patient zero is still attainable?”
“It seems as though Ansem’s death might be the cause and cure of all this,” Samuel pointed out.
General Saarsgard walked out of the command center.
“What was that about?” Rebecca asked Atticus.
“Well, Doctor Pratt, the military has a niche for codenames, and I think our General just found the perfect one for this epidemic thanks to Samuel.”
Outside, General Saarsgard addressed the FBI and CIA agents and all forces not busy at the front were immediately assigned to the task of retrieving Ansem Weathers. The General walked back in.
“Do we need to get her out of here, General?” Atticus asked.
“For the time being, no… They are distracted…you’ll be safe.”
“If there’s nothing else you need from us then, General. I would like to request Captain Atticus take me to my family.”
“I’m sorry Doctor but there are no personal escorts. NORAD won't admit it, but that vessel is one of our strongest weapons, so…essential to this operation that I have been awaiting its arrival to commence. Now that it is here, you are asking me if you can take it away again? I am sorry, Doctor Chase. Not while we still have it in one piece…Not while there is still a front to fight.”
Samuel slammed the table and walked out of the room. He was outraged, and there was nothing he could do about it. He was in Hartford, Connecticut…What was that…four…five hours away from the city? He had to find a car. Samuel began putting a plan together in his head as he wandered down the hallway, unaware of where he was going.
Back in the command center, Saarsgard began to give the strike codes to his lieutenants. He issued Captain Atticus Ross his orders in the Rising Front Op. He was to blaze a path down Interstate 95 and firebomb every major city along the way…
“…along the way……to….”
And that’s when he saw the orders, written on a government piece of paper, that which Saarsgard just withheld from Samuel. Atticus looked back up and pulled the general aside.
“Sir…you told him…”
“I told him what he needed to here to stay alive. New York is lost…His family is dead…It’s a suicide mission…”
“Is that you’re call, sir?”
“Yes it is.”
“On whose authority?”
“Are you questioning my authority, Captain?”
“No sir, just pointing out that Doctor Chase is a civilian…sir…”
“…A civilian employed by the United States government and asking for military resources.”
“As you were, Captain.”
Atticus left the command center to try and catch up with Samuel. Rebecca watched Atticus stand up for Samuel and all her suspicions and bad feelings about him disappeared. Beneath his rough exterior he was a good man, and she knew what good men do. Rebecca followed Atticus out of the room, "This is bullshit," Atticus vented, knowing Rebecca was behind him. His soldier's reserve beginning to erode away. "That asshole is going to get us all killed."
"What are going to do?" Rebecca got next to him.
"Find Doctor Chase."
“Atticus,” Samuel dropped his bag, “What are you doing here?”
“He wants to help you,” Rebecca answered for him.
“Wait a second,” Atticus’ wheels’ turned, “Were you gonna steal the War Bird, Doc?”
“I was looking for the best ride to New York,” Samuel tried his charm.
“Well I can’t blame you for coming to the right place…” Atticus smiled.
"What about the op? What about the fight?"
"I got news for you, doc..." Atticus told his story walking into the War Bird, "I've been trained to look at every scenario from a bird's-eye perspective and this whole clusterfuck reeks, I'm talkin' a success rate of zero."
"Clusterfuck?" Samuel laughed, "Is that a military term, like...FUBAR?"
"Might as well be...It's time we start looking out for our own asses, starting with your family, doc."
Samuel didn't argue, but Rebecca felt the voice of reason, "You're going AWOL, and we're betraying our country."
"It's not about that anymore. Times are changing, sweetheart. America is dead and gone. And this might be the only chance we get to save ourselves. I mean they've got infected people inside the base for Christ's sake! It's just a matter of time before-"
Suddenly a shake within the foundation of the stadium erupted and an alarm sounded off. Screams down the hall and gunfire scared Samuel and Rebecca into the ship after Atticus, who was already starting the take off procedures when the General radioed in, “…Captain, come in Captain, Operation Rising Front has been compromised, they have infiltrated the sanctuary, prepare for extraction…”