Game of Life all month! Enjoy.
Part 14 — Promises
The guards hadn’t lied. The Humvee was in tip-top condition. After a quick inspection, they found it even had a fresh coat of urban camo.
Jeff sidled up to one of the soldiers. The military these days wore riot gear, as preventing bites was the top priority. His black body armor had the name ‘jagger’ printed on his ID tag. “So anything we should know about the adjustments?”
Jagger grinned, causing a grease to form in his face mask. “You started with military surplus, now you got top of the line. The spec book is in the passenger stow, assuming you can make any sense of it.”
“Worth a shot I guess. I watched a couple episodes of Airwolf.”
Jagger chuckled. “The most important part? We removed that hood mounted gun.”
“Hey,” Harriet said. “I LIKED that gun.”
“You’ll like what we replaced it with better, ma’am. I guarantee it.”
“Not likely. It’s the first run armored HMMEV. Taking that one-oh-five millimeter monster off it is like chopping an arm off.”
Jagger didn’t answer. Instead, he pointed at the gun mounted on top. Jeff didn’t recognize it at all. It was slim and boxy didn’t look impressive at all.
Harriet’s eyes grew wide and a tendril of drool hung from the corner of her mouth. “You’re shittin’ me. Is that what I think it is?”
The soldier nodded. “Top of the line. Railgun. It looks small sure, but most of it is the fusion generator to produce the juice you’ll need to fire it. We figured you’re already sitting on a fusion bomb for the samples.”
“So you know about that, huh?” Jeff said.
Jagger nodded. “It’s the reason we aren’t killing you. We got orders from pretty high up to see to it you can survive as long as possible.”
“As long as possible? How encouraging.”
Harriet shook away her daze and grabbed Jeff by the upper arm, dragging him awat. “Jeff. We have a fucking railgun. Not only do we have enough ammo for weeks, they even hooked us up with a 3D printer capable of making more.”
“Railguns suck,” Jeff said. “They hit hard sure but–”
Harriet slapped him upside the head. “Stop thinking about video games, idiot. The electrical current a railgun uses to fire is enough ensure a biter ain’t getting up. Couple this with a miniature fusion engine? That’s an infinite ammo cheat code, man.”
“Now who’s thinking about games.”
“Sorry to interrupt your lover’s spat, but you should get going,” Jagger called over. “We’re expecting a herd of biters soon.”
Right, and you plan to nuke them alongside any of the people that stay behind.
“We’ll do just that,” Harriet said. “Thanks for the upgrades.”
Jagger saluted them, but his smile left Jeff with a bad feeling. The soldiers congregated and left to rejoin their unit in the main part of the city.
“Just you and me again,” Jeff said. “I don’t know to be happy or pissed. Revenge really didn’t help much in terms of Chae.”
Harriet nudged him. “I’ll take a little of both. All things considered.”
Jeff had no argument. He slipped “So how’s California this time of year?”
“Warm, full of zombies.”
“Sounds like a great place for a Honeymoon as any.”
“And we can hit Vegas on the way.”
“A Vegas Wedding? Really?”
“Why not. It’d be like Dead Rising Two– minus the creepy S and M guy.”
“And minus a sexy biker guy.”
Harriet laughed, pinching his cheek. “I’m kidding. I’d love to see you in a racing suit.”
They settled into the Humvee, prodding around at the other improvements. The two most notable changes were a functioning radio with a list of communication codes and the spec guide in the glove box. Most of the guide was engineer gibberish to Jeff, and there were amendments to the blueprints. He could only guess the adjustments brought the older vehicle up to standard.
Jeff recognized the base for the design, the sleeker ‘Bumblebee’ made a few years before the world came to an end. He’d take the boxier humvee over their clown cars any day.
“Hey Jeff,” Harriet said, breaking his train of thought. “There’s no fuel gauge.”
“What? There has to be one. I’ll just look it up.” Thank god the table of contents is in plain English. He flipped back and spotted the engine details. He flipped to the corresponding page and found a single word. Classified.
Jeff and Harriet traded concerned looks and hopped out of the car, moving to the front hood. Harriet tugged at the latch, lifted and exposed a large black box where the main engine should have been. The corner of the box had a simple LED read out that read “Stable.”
“No fucking way,” Harriet said. “This thing doesn’t use gas?”
They both sprinted back to their seats and settled in, grinning like children in a candy factory. Harriet turned the key in the ignition. A low pitched whine warmed up before them and a thrum of power pulsed through the air.
Harriet grinned. “Now were playing with power. You wanna drive?”
Jeff shook his head. “Ladies first.”
The engine normalized, and the power of the fusion manifested in a gentle pulse, like a slow heartbeat.
Harriet moved the shift arm into gear, a mere formality as far as this thing was concerned. Everything about the engine was digital, emulating the power of a space shuttle into a land vehicle– what could go wrong?
She licked her lips and tapped the accelerator. The vehicle reeled and lurched forward. The wheels spun and they were off.
In the blink of an eye they screamed to sixty miles per hour. Jeff looked for the flame trails behind him, only to see streaks of rubber instead. Harriet locked her eyes on the road, adusting, shaping herself to the feel. She was in heaven. Jeff could tell.
The interior hissed around them, the air conditioning doubled as a repressurization system, they cruised at ninety miles per hour, but it felt like ten.
Things were finally looking up, with the mystery data in hand, they were not only heroes, but heroes with style.