“Mike? Hey Mike, where’d ya go?!” An anxious goat-girl had opened the guest-room door, only to find that there was nobody inside. The wind was blowing violently in through the window, but when she walked over to close it, she couldn’t see Michael anywhere outside. However, the dark and ominous storm-clouds in the distance were clearly visible, in the bright-red sky.
She was wearing a bulletproof vest, with tan army fatigues covering everything but her head. There were even gloves on her hands and she had hooves so it wasn’t possible to wear military boots. Her fluffy brown tail was totally exposed through a hole that was cut right below her belt.
A combat helmet was obscuring her floppy ears and short hair, there was also a pair of thick goggles for her eyes and a face-mask. Aside from the heavy-duty backpack, containing various supplies, she had a machete sheathed on her left hip, a large forty-four caliber revolver on her right, and an AK-47 with a drum magazine hanging by her waist. Grenade and gun belts were around her chest and waist; essentially, she was carrying as much as she possibly could.
Beatrix gave permission for Linda to go with Michael, but she made sure that her sister had plenty of ammo, weaponry and tools at her disposal. As for her worried parents, they didn’t have the ‘authority’ to order their children around and considering how dangerous the world was, there was no guarantee that it would be safer staying in the heavily fortified cul-de-sac.
Exiting the room, the goat-girl frantically searched around the house and eventually went out the front door. The giant tortoise ‘Goliath’ was sleeping in its huge forearms and his long neck was drooping down, it even seemed like there was a ‘smile’ on his beak; of course, that was across the street, in the ruined mansion’s yard.
Aside from the M1A1, there were actually a few older tanks that were ‘rescued’ from museums when the country was falling into chaos. The M103 was a heavy main-tank, with a one-hundred and twenty millimeter, long-ranged cannon. It was originally green, but it had been repainted tan, to blend in with the cornfields from the sky.
The M50 Ontos was a light anti-tank, self-propelled artillery vehicle that was created in the nineteen-fifties. It had six barrels in total, which were split into three on each side of the mechanism that allowed it to turn and aim. Although it wasn’t particularly impressive, it could still dish out a decent amount of carnage given that the target was far away and not shooting back.
There were also a few heavily ‘modified’ buses, trucks, cars, jeeps, motorcycles and vans in the cul-de-sac. They had no ‘air-force’, but they had more vehicles than they did people to use them. That was also one of the reasons why they were such a huge target for ‘Humanity’; if Beatrix was ever able to gather a few dozen more ‘soldiers’, she would finally be able to go on the offensive.
Everything was ‘stored’ in the driveways, front yards and some were even in the backyards, reinforcing the fences or replacing them. However, in front of Linda’s house was the M1A1 and a Humvee with a mini-gun mounted on the top.
When the goat-girl came outside, she immediately saw a group of children in black, army gear and an eight-foot tall gorilla-man in a tuxedo, arguing with each other. Iris was holding a small gold-plated SMG and complaining “When I said I was going alone, I wasn’t serious you bastards! I don’t even know how to drive a normal car, so how the fuck am I supposed to operate this giant piece of shit?!”
Gabriel shouted “No way you’re taking the tank! Look, there’s a motor-scooter over there, go use that!”
Beatrix whispered “Why don’t you just ride with the Diamond Trio?” Most of the tiny ginger’s orange hair was covered by a combat helmet, but it was still possible to see the ends of it coming out below the crimson scarf that was wrapped around her neck.
Kelsey yelled “Fuck no! The moment we find some kind of treasure, this bitch will definitely stab us in the back and leave us for dead!”
Lee said “That is a good point… We’ve only really known her for a few days at most. Her forte is mind-control, so there’s a ninety-percent chance that she’ll betray us eventually.”
Luke sighed, turning to Linda and asking “Where’s Mike? Didn’t he want to go with us?”
The goat-girl frowned, complaining “I’ve got no clue! I couldn’t find em anywhere in the house… Do ya think he went ahead uh us?” Suddenly, she felt a strong vibration in her belt, accompanied by a low buzzing noise. It didn’t take long for her to pull the cellphone out of its protective cover and mutter “Fatass?”
Linda didn’t know who it was, but she pressed ‘answer’ anyway. It was on speaker, so she didn’t even need to put it close to her ear; however, she didn’t expect to hear a horrible ‘screeching’. There were also some booms, roars and other loud, unintelligible sounds.
Iris screamed “Ah~! What the fucking fuck is that, ugh~?! Grah~?!” She was the most sensitive among the group, but even Gabriel was able to ‘feel’ that chaotic and oppressive aura billowing out of the phone.
“Linday~! Can you hear me?! Sorry, there’s like a tornado… lightning… and I’m riding a motorcycle! It’s pretty intense~!” Michael’s voice was surprisingly clear and easily cut through the background noise.
The startled goat-girl yelled “Mike?! Where ya goin?! I dun see no tornadas from here!”
He shouted “Agh, goddamn~, I really wish I’d packed something to drink! This mask is making me so fucking thirsty for some reason!”
Luke walked over to the phone and asked “Hey, Mike, where are you right now? Are you in Topeka already?”
“What?! Oh, nah~! I kinda-sorta blew a sword out the window and it flew away… The moral of the story, is that I’m currently chasing a tornado and trying to figure out a way to, oh shit! Ah~?! That was close, I almost crashed into a cow! It’s fine though, it moved out of the way pretty quickly! So yeah, I’m going north on whatever this road is called… I probably won’t be back to base in a while! Go to Topeka without me! Hmmm~, I feel like I’m forgetting something super-important that might affect whether you’ll live or die! Well, whatever, it’s probably not that big of a deal! Have fun!” After that, Michael hung up the phone and the group of seven were left in an awkward silence.
Finally, Iris suggested “Umm, Linda, we don’t really know each other that well, or at all… but why don’t you join my team? I’m the Queen of Hearts, so you could be the King, Jack, Ace or one of the number cards… It doesn’t actually matter though, cause there’s only two of us so far.”
However, Beatrix interjected “No, my sister is the Queen of Spades; she’s on my team.”
Linda stared at her sibling and mumbled “Didn’t ya say ya weren’t gonna leave home earlier?”
The tiny brown-skinned girl pouted, muttering “I change my mind; it would be irresponsible of me to allow you to enter such a dangerous place alone. King of Clovers, you should stay and protect the base.” Then she placed a gas-mask on her face; it had a filter-fan on each side of her cheek and the goggles that protected her eyes were almost completely transparent. She was holding a black sniper-rifle in her hands, which had an infra-red scope and a silencer.
Gabriel smiled wryly, nodding his head and casually saying “Yeah, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, hehe~. My team’s responsible for logistics and defenses, so obviously I can’t leave… since it’s basically just me. Make sure to keep in contact though; I’ve got a bad feeling about this ‘trip’ you guys are going on… Just, stay safe, okay?”
Beatrix was silent for a few moments, before whispering “Why are you still just standing there? Go inside and bring out my M98, M24, SR-25, L42A1 and M21; I need at least two-hundred fifty-cal and one-thousand 7.62×51 millimeter rounds.” She spouted off a list of sniper-rifles and ordered the giant ape to put everything into the M1A1 tank.
Then she glanced at the other little elves and explained “It’s impossible to make it into town with the Humvee; there are far too many road-blocks and vehicles in the way. Linda will drive, Kelsey will operate the cannon, Luke will man the fifty-caliber machine-gun, Lee will use the grenade launcher and I’ll snipe.” There were two mounted weapons on the top, but there was still plenty of space for a small child to lay prone.
In the end, Iris was left with nothing to do but wait in the back of the tank; however, since she had never even fired a gun before in her entire life, it would have been irresponsible to make her a ‘gunner’. Thus, she wasn’t too upset about being a passenger for the trip.