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You Can't Keep A Good Man Down...

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OOC: Sorry if I waffle for the first bit, it?s the best I could do for a reason why there are Tagmatine soldiers in Vocenae. And it?ll be a bit clich? to begin with.

Now who?d have thought that, after the AdSoc War ? or whatever the current naming trend for the recent war in Adaptus was ? Tagmatine troops would be deployed into Vocenae? Wondered Captain Gnaeus Kontopaganus. Admittedly, it was just peace-time training. The Tagmatine troops concerned were undertaking an exercise in former Accran (now absorbed into Vocenae) territory as part of a joint training exercise with Imperial Republic forces, as part of a wider cooperation after the Adapton War. The area they were operating in had the benefit of being strewn with abandoned pill-boxes, left over relics of Accran paranoia, and one of these was to be the centre of today?s exercise, which was going to be a live-round training procedure. In essence, or so the captain thought, they would be wasting good ammunition at plywood targets. After all, his unit all knew how to fire a rifle. What the hell had they been doing in Adaptus earlier this year, if nothing bloody else?


?Sir, we?re not getting anything from Gottlieb?s squad.?


The captain shook his head. Damn that incompetent Sergeant Gottlieb. Why had he been made sergeant? Everything the man did was a comedy of errors. God only knew why his predecessor as captain had promoted him. Kontopaganus took the radio handset of the corporal. He listened to it for a few seconds before sighing. ?That?s because the idiot has turned it off. Probably pissed off to the nearest pub.?


The corporal looked around. The company was in the middle of rolling hillside, with no houses in site, let alone anywhere selling alcohol. He declined to comment to his superior.


?I?m going to have that bastard?s head when we get down there, mark my words. Make that sorry arsehole rue the day he joined up. Come on, the place is just over the brow of this hill?? He stormed off ahead of the company, towards the direction of the bunker. The corporal turned to the man nearest him and shrugged before they followed their officer.


The next fact that angered Kontopaganus as he reached the bunker was the fact that there were no sentries posted. He was sure he told that damned sergeant of his to post some, even though there were no enemies about. At least the targets were up, he noted. The captain opened the door to the bunker, throwing it open with a clang.


?Sergeant Gottlieb? I?ve arrived with the rest of the men. I need to report to battalion and say that we?ve all here.? The captain paused for a while. There were no sounds from further in the bunker. Damn that man! He turned on his heel to his radio man.


?Anders, radio into ? put that out! This is supposed to be a firing range, not a Goddamned staff room! Radio into battalion and tell them we?ve arrived.? Corporal Anders, looking slightly hassled, dropped and ground his cigarette into the floor. The captain turned to a young officer beside him. ?Ensign, take A Squad and find the sergeant and his bunch of clowns.? The junior officer turned to go, but the captain halted him. ?Actually, ensign, I?ll take A Squad. I want to hear Gottleib?s excuses first hand.? Kontopaganus set off deeper into the bunker, trailing A Squad, who followed behind in the wake of their captain?s wrath.


The bunker itself was in a fairly good state of repair, primarily because of repair by Vocian military engineers soon after the annexation of the Accran Imperium, although they had not been used since. Heavy blast doors were still in position and the place hummed to the tune of fluorescent lighting. Admittedly, they flickered constantly and even switched off for minutes at a time, but they still gave good light. Kontopaganus was oblivious to this as he stormed down the identical corridors, letting nothing stand in the path of his ire. The light flickered and dimmed as the captain?s booted foot clipped something and sent it ringing off into the darkness.


?What the bloody hell was that?? he demanded, looking at the floor. A guardsman behind him reached down and picked something off the floor.


?Shell casing, sir. 7mm, sir. Our?s.? The man?s voice was uncertain.


?God have mercy on that idiot sergeant if he?s been firing off rounds down here, because I won?t.?


The lighting suddenly brightened again, showing the floor ahead to be covered in spent cases and ejected magazines. Bullet holes pitted the walls and dark, worrying stains showed in several places.


?What the f*ck?? asked Kontopaganus under his breath. His face, originally coloured with fury, now drained white. Behind him, the guardsmen edged closer together. A scream suddenly cut through the air. The captain drew his pistol, cocking it as he did so. The other soldiers followed suit. ?Come on, men. I?m damned if someone can go psycho and shoot up my company.?


?Sir, maybe we should go back and warn the others,? said a guardsman. ?And get someone who?s trained in this sort of thing. You know, in case it?s not, like, human??


?You?ve been watching too many damned horror films for your own good, Jones. What do you think it?s going to be, a f*cking werewolf?? Nervous laughter told the captain that more than one of them wouldn?t be surprised if it was.


The squad crept around the next corner, the floor still littered with casings. A black glove, the kind issued to all Tagmatine soldiers, lay on the floor and caught Kontopaganus? eye. He bent to pick it up before he realised it still contained a hand. Someone behind him threw up. Another scream echoed through the corridor. This time, instead of going cautiously, Captain Kontopaganus ran towards it, as did the rest of the squad. They found the source of the screams. A People?s Guardsman was in a corner, feebly struggling with a creature that had its jaws clamped on the Tagmatine?s neck. Both the squad and the captain opened fire at the same time, not stopping until they had literally blown the creature apart. Two soldiers then ran to their wounded comrade, attempting to stem the flow of blood from the ragged hole in his neck.


Kontopaganus fumbled with his communication gear, unable to tear his eyes away from the shattered corpse of the soldier?s assailant. He took a few deep breaths to stop himself shaking and spoke into the mike. ?Ensign, get a skribones (OOC: Tagmatine word for Medic) down here now and get onto battalion. No! Don?t question me, do it! And send a HMG team down here, too.? A hand tapped him on the shoulder and the captain span round and looked into the face of the squad?s corporal.


?Sir, you know how you said you wanted Sergeant Gottlieb?s head?? Kontopaganus followed the man?s pointing arm and saw, on the floor, the severed head of the sergeant.

Edited by Tagmatium Rules (see edit history)
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?So, Captain, what happened next??


Captain Kontopaganus stood in front of Domestic Mesardonites, the commander of the Tagmatine forces in Adaptus. The captain had never been before such a high-ranking officer, and the Domestic was obviously rather critical of his story. His own commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Crispinian, sat to the left of Mesardonites, along with what the captain had taken to be some sort of medical officer. After the incident at the bunker, the company had returned to battalion with its casualties. Once the story of the attack had got out, the company had been taken back to Tagmatine HQ in Blaise, Adaptus in order to undergo questioning on the incident, in order to work out how a training exercise could end up with ten men dead and three more injured. Kontopaganus fidgeted under the gaze of the three senior officers.


?Well, sir, the skribones came and had a look over at Guardsman Portens and tried to stabilise him, sir, but he?d been bitten deeply on the neck by that? creature. Portens lost consciousness and we got him back outside the bunker. We?d called in a helicopter to get him back to battalion as soon as possible. Suddenly, sir, the skribones, Melegrus was the name, tapped me on the shoulder. He said to me ?Well, captain, it looks like it?s his lucky day. They can?t keep a good man down, eh?? I asked him what he meant, and he gestured over at Portens, and he was getting up.?


Mesardonites shared a glance with the medical officer. ?Getting up, captain? I thought you said the Guardsman had been bitten deeply on the neck? One does not 'get up' straight away after such a wound."


?Yes, sir. He had. I looked over at Portens and he was indeed struggling to his feet. Before we could do anything, he lunged at the skribones and bit him on the shoulder. Two of my men dragged him off Melegrus and?? Kontopaganus stopped. He was obviously shaking, and the medical officer scribbled a note down.


?Yes, captain? What? Please continue.?


?It was like it wasn?t him, sir! Portens had never been a particularly violent man! He?d joined up because his friends from back home did! But he attacked both of the guardsmen with his f*cking teeth and nails! Like an f*cking animal! I drew my pistol and threatened to shoot him if he didn?t pull himself together, but he just kept on clawing and biting at them! I shot him strait between the eyes??


The Domestic looked over at the medical officer again and then back to the shaken captain. ?Please take a moment and compose yourself, captain. What of Sergeant Gottlieb?s squad? Did you find anymore survivors? Surely this? creature of yours could have killed nine guardsmen??


The captain took a drink of water. ?We found most of them, sir.?


?Most of them, captain? Surely you didn?t leave any of your men behind when you? withdrew??


The captain closed his eyes and shuddered ?No, sir. You misunderstand me when I say ?most of them?. We found most of each of them, sir. There was another passage, sir, which wasn?t on our map of the bunker. God only knows were it led. It... it had spatters of blood going down it. We heard more noises, like animals, sir. I got the men to throw as many grenades down it as we could, sir, and then we legged it, sir.?


?Thank you, captain. That will be all.?


Once the captain got up and left the office, Mesardonites turned to medical officer.


?Well, major? What do you think??


The man looked over his notes. They had interviewed the rest of Captain Kontopaganus? company, including the three who had been bitten by Guardsman Portens. ?To be honest, Domestic, I think it is combat stress. They?ve seen a lot of action in the past few months, and I don?t think sending them to Vocenae to undergo more training was the best of ideas. I suspect the captain, and the whole of the squad who found Sergeant Gottlieb?s men, are covering up for the fact that someone under the sergeant just, well, snapped. If they?re not consciously covering it up, they might be doing it subconsciously. I?ve got people checking over the medical records of that squad iand the rest of the company in case something like a history of mental illness shows up, but it?ll take time, I?m afraid. The records are a bit of a mess, really. There?s nothing I can do until they?re shipped back to the Greater Holy Empire, to a proper psychiatric hospital. We don?t have the facilities here in Adaptus.?


?With all due respect, sir, but I don?t think we can lay this all down to combat stress,? said Crispinian. ?I?ve known the captain for years now, and he isn?t the sort of man to make up such wild stories as this. It just seems too bizarre and all of them are so consistent and certain about it. And there were rumours about the Accrans having biological weapons of some sort...?


?Are you trying to say that these incredulous claims made by your obviously disturbed men ought to be accredited with the truth, lieutenant colonel?? asked Mesardonites icily. ?Stories that men with half their throat torn out suddenly getting back up and mauling their comrades like savage wolves? It?s preposterous and I won?t have any more of that sort of talk. Good day, sir.? The domestic stood up to leave, the medical officer turning to follow him.


?Sir, we could at least send in some men to investigate my lot?s claims! What if they are true? What then??


Mesardonites rounded on him, his face colouring with rage. ?Such fanciful twaddle has a home in books and on the cinema screen, lieutenant colonel, not in the oldest professional army in the world! I did not get to become the commander of the Eastern Army by listening to such balderdash and I expect you didn?t become the commander of a battalion by doing the same! I insist you either rein in your imagination or you seriously reconsider your future career in the People?s Guard.?


?But the bunker, sir??


?Blast it, man! Damn that bunker! It is entirely populated by demons and hobgoblins conjured up by your men?s over-worked minds, and nothing more!? roared the Domestic. He then remembered himself and continued in a much calmer tone, although he was still visibly angry. ?Anyway, lieutenant colonel, the bunker in question is inside Vocian territory and is no longer the Greater Holy Empire?s problem. When word of this gets out, and I?m damned sure it will, it will have those flip-flopping northerners all over it. It is now officially their problem and nothing more. Good day, sir.?


The door slammed to and Crispinian was left sitting on his own, staring at the chair opposite the desk he was sat at.

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The news of the Tagmatine incident was already making the rounds through the Vocian forces stationed a few miles down the road, but with no straight answers from command or the Tagmatines themselves, it didn't take long for the rumors to spread.


"I heard the whole thing was faked, and that the Tags are trying to squirm their way back home for some R&R"


"Why would it be faked? We're not all that far from the rebel line, maybe they found a insurgent cell and wiped 'em out before they could sneak past us!"


"No, you're both wrong. I overhead the Lt. talking to the clerk while I was on duty at the base, it was definitely fratricide."


And while the rumors spread and propagated amongst the troops, the truth was being sought for in a rather heated telephone conversation between Sub-General Herodi, and the Tagmatine Domestic, Mesardonites, in Adaptus.


"What do you mean it's my problem?! If you've lost men in what's supposed to be a secure bunker, I need to know about it! I need to know every damned step those soldiers took so I can keep my boys safe and not be suprised in the middle of the night by a sneak attack. I demand to speak to the captain of the unit involved."

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The Domestic narrowed his eyes at ?demand?. He didn?t like people taking such a disrespectful tone, especially damned barbarians and especially when he had absolutely no idea how to respond. Any way he answered was potentially damaging, as the evidence in the Tagmatine?s eyes pointed to a collapse of moral amongst the troops stationed in Adaptus. Allowing the obviously disturbed Captain Kontopaganus to undergo an interview by the Vocians would be cruel, as it would subject the man to more stress. Mesardonites took a deep breath and continued with the phone call.


?Sub-General Herodi, I?m afraid that I cannot allow my captain to be interviewed at this point. He was somewhat? unhinged by the events and has been taken back to Tagmatium, along with the rest of his unit, to convalesce.


?As for the occurrence in the bunker itself, I can assure that no enemy action was involved whatsoever. It appears that a squad of the company involved had some sort of fracas which led to several injuries, some of which were serious. More disturbingly, however, is the fact that some of the men in that unit, the captain included, are now convinced that what caused those injuries was some sort of... monster. In turn, I, and my medical staff, am convinced that there was no such thing.


?You can, if you wish, send a detachment to investigate the bunker and find the evidence for yourself. There was no enemy action undertaken against my men. Nor were there any monsters or claptrap of that sort. All you will find there, I expect, is a sad testimony to over-stretching the armed forces of a nation and its consequences.


?Good day, Sub-General.?


As soon as he put the telephone down, Mesardonites felt he had been unnecessarily curt to the Sub-General, but the Domestic was worried. He had more or less stated that the Tagmatine Army was suffering due to its wide deployment by the Greater Holy Empire, which was never the brightest things to do, even if the person you said it to was an ally. The Domestic sat at his desk, staring thoughtfully at a painting of the retreat from Drakkensburg. Slowly, he reached out and once again lifted the telephone to his ear whilst dialling the number for the Ministry of War?

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OOC: I'll be retconning the Sub-General title when I come up with a better name. I mean, it's a sorta stupid.



The conversation ended with a loud click on the other end of the line, and silence filled the office.


Monsters? The soldiers saw monsters? The Tagmatine army must have laxer mental screenings than we thought... Herodi thought as he paced the width of of his desk.


But still... It was the way the Domestic had hesitated that gave him doubt. He was just a Sub-General, almost nothing more than a glorified desk clerk with combat training, he was expendable...And if that bunker did contain something threatening it was his responsibility to take care of it.


He walked over to the large window and looked out over Sydvani as the sun settled below the mountain peaks. But if there was nothing there, and this whole incident was just a case of mental duress...He could tie a ribbon on it and shove it up the line to Korrino to sort out the diplomatic kinks.


He reached for the phone again, trying to remember the brigade commander's name.



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The doctor drummed the fingers of his right hand on the clipboard held in his left. He didn?t understand it. The other soldiers said the men had been perfectly fine when they got on the aeroplane back to Tagmatium, but by the time they had touched down in the northern Tagmatine city of Resapha, the three bitten by their erstwhile comrade were complaining of tiredness and numbness around their injuries. By the time they?d got Resapha Imperial Infirmary, the city?s largest hospital, the tiredness had been replaced by a fever. The medic, Skribones Melegrus, was showing the worst of the symptoms, presumably, thought the doctor, because of the larger, deeper wound. The soldiers had been quickly taken into isolation, in case the disease was airborne. The doctor had called several experts in exotic diseases in to see if they could help identify the infection. They all conceded that they had no idea what it was. On the way out, one of the experts, an eminent professor at a local university had stopped and turned to him as he left the isolation ward.


?We might not have seen anything like it,? the professor had said, ?but I might know someone who has.? He then pressed a business card into the doctor?s hand and left. The doctor read the words printed on it. It merely said ?Imperial Guard Research Division?, followed by a phone number. He?d then slid the card into his back pocket and tried to turn his attention back onto the problem at hand.


?Well, Doctor Gordian? How are they??


The second, much more minor annoyance was the fact that the captain of the three men had insisted in staying with them. He hovered around outside of the isolation ward, still wearing his officer?s side arm. Doctor Gordian had alerted the man?s commanding officer, who had said that military police were on the way to take the captain away.


?They?re doing ok, captain, considering.?


The man suddenly came close to the doctor. ?You must kill them now, doctor! They must not be allowed to get back up!? Kontopaganus started scrabbling at his holster. Gordian was afraid he was about to open fire. Instead, the infantry officer just offered him the pistol. ?Take this and destroy them, the fate of the entire Greater Holy Empire is at stake, if not the region itself!? The man?s face was deadly serious, but his eyes were wild. The doctor saw movement over the man?s shoulder. The military police were here to take the man away. The first one, a sergeant, placed his hand on the captain?s shoulder.


?Come on, sir. Time to go. Your men will be in the best of hands here.?


Kontopaganus looked beaten and despondent. ?Ok, sergeant. I?ll come. Doctor, don?t say I didn?t warn you. Act now or we?ll all be damned.?


Gordian watched them lead the captain away. Poor man, he thought. Obviously seen too much in Adaptus. An alarm started to go off in the ward, signifying that one of the patients had taken a turn for the worst. Gordian watched as the medical team crowded in and started trying to resuscitate Melegrus, the one who had received the worst would. As they were doing so, they pulled curtains around the other two beds so that the occupants couldn?t see what was happening. They could probably still hear it, though. One of the team trying working on the skribones looked up and caught Doctor Gordian?s eye. He shook his head. The time of death was called. Gordian sighed. It looked like the mysterious disease had claimed its first victim. He went over himself to look at the patient. The wound on the soldier?s neck was a dark crescent, whilst the rest of his skin was pale from the fever. The man?s face was sunken from the effects of the disease and stress. The doctor swore. They still had no idea how the infection was transmitted, but it looked like it was by bite. Gordian turned to go and get the hospital?s chaplain when something caught his attention. He leaned in closer towards the body when the medic?s hand shot out and grabbed him by the neck. The corpse?s eyes snapped open and the mouth gaped as the struggling doctor was dragged down.

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"Oh god, what is that stench?"


The smell was overpowering. It covered every surface of the bunker and hung heavily in the air, stagnant and almost palpable, and that was with fresh air blowing around the bunker's main entrance. The Vocians knew that it would only get worse the further they went...


"Alright ladies, we have to go plug in the night-lite for the foreigners, so let's get to it!" Sgt. Mori Scleir shouted, stirring the rest of the soldiers into action. Still, they moved slowly, and the man didn't blame them, this would be one unpleasant op.


"Alright, before we take a skunk bath, just know that we go in, confirm clear, and get out. Scan and sweep, nice, quick, and easy. But I want to see those tax Enous at work, we're professionals and we're going to do our jobs right! We'll split into twos when we get to the intersectons. Move out! Becliri, you've got point"




"I didn't give you permission to b*tch son, get in there!"


One by one the soldiers moved into the complex, moving down the hallway, M-16s held at the ready. The stench worried the sargeant, if this bunker was supposed to be clear, then why did it smell so bad?


The first intersection came and went, Becliri and his second moved off to the eastern section while Scleir and the rest moved off to the west, and bunker's gun deck.


"Sarge? We found where the Tags ran into trouble. Lotta blood on the walls and a couple of bullet casings, but that's all. We're moving on."


"Negative report on bodies, then?"


"Yes sir. No bodies, just blood and casings. Wait, there's a blood trail moving down to the utilities closet. Radio back in two minutes"


"Copy that. Gun deck and com rooms are clear, Ferec, you and Hercli stay here, I'm moving down to Bircliri's position."


"Yes sir, Sarge"


Finding his way to the eastern section was easy, thanks to the simplicity of utilitarian construction. However, when he reached the blood stained corridor, the two soldiers were no where to be found.


"Bercliri, I'm at your last position. Where are you?"


"I...Uh...Don't really know. I think I'm following Netori, he found a passage in the closet that heads off somewhere, feels like I'm moving down a slight ramp. There's no power here, my head lamp is on but I can't see Netori's. Wait, what was that?"


"Fall back soldier, get back to the closet and wait for me."


"Uh yeah...That's a good idea...I think there's someone in front of...me...Oh god, I feel like I'm gonna...gonna...BLEERGH!"


The private upchucked most of his meager breakfast onto the concrete floor. His insides felt like they churning, his eyes felt like they were bulging out of his skull. He couldn't stop puking, even as the bile burned his throat. The last thing he felt before he passed out of conciousness were hands, many, many hands grasping him and pulling...

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The situation in the Resapha Imperial Infirmary had exploded. Reports of people attacking patients, staff and visitors had reached the ears of the local police force, and a handful of officers had been dispatched to investigate. When they were attacked and driven off, the head of the police had interpreted it as a riot; Lord knew that there was enough ill-feeling towards the current city council to spark one off. Outside of the hospital, the line of plastic shields had gathered and forced a milling crowd off with tear gas, not knowing that the crowd itself was acting as a buffer between them and true cause of the riot.


?Waste of time in my opinion, mate,? growled one of the riot police to his comrade. Both men were stood near one of the armoured land rovers that were being used to take away members of the crowd that had been arrested. ?Just a bunch of whiners, not even as good as the CPT.?


This got an odd look from the other policeman. ?Why, do you want them to put up a fight??


?I don?t mind breaking a few of Bowman?s lot?s skulls, Harry.?


The second man shrugged. He preferred it when it was an easy job. ?Well, look?s like it got the III?s attention,? he said, changing the subject. The grey-armoured members of Tagmatium?s secret police gathered at all riots, taking notes on the participants.


The first copper spat on the floor in the direction of the handful of III Field Inspectors. ?Goddamned III scum. They don?t even bother to take a position in the shield wall, just let us do all their dirty work for them and then take all the blasted credit.? The secret police were universally distrusted by the Tagmatine populace, as well as maintaining a rivalry with the ordinary police, as both organisations viewed the other as infringing on the other?s territory.


More activity in the hospital?s entrance hall caught the attention of the two policemen. A few blood-stained people staggered from the entrance hall and, catching sight of the police, broke into a shambling run towards them. The second copper nodded towards them. ?Looks like there?s more action for you, Mike.?


A mounted officer trotted towards the runners when his horse, suddenly panicked by something, reared and almost cast the rider from the saddle. A small group of the runners made towards the bucking horse and, to the surprise of the watching police, fell upon both the mount and the rider with tooth and nail. The riot police watched, stunned, as both were pulled apart and devoured by the supposed rioters.


?Jesus Christ, what the f*ck?? exclaimed the first riot copper.


More shambling figures emerged from the hospital and the plastic shield wall was hastily reformed. The first runners slammed into the shield wall and set upon the police. Truncheons beat at them, but the creatures ignored the repeated blows as if they were being hit by rolled-up newspaper. As more and more creatures burst from the hospital, the line of policemen broke. Shields were thrown upon the ground to enable the riot police to run quicker, as the creatures were fast. Those too slow were pulled down and pulled apart by them. The III Field Inspectors, the only Tagmatine law enforcement officers allowed to carry firearms as part of their basic kit, were emptying full magazines into the press of creatures. Even bullets didn?t seem to have an impact, as when the creatures fell, they just pulled themselves to their feet and continued their advance. The remaining police scrambled into their riot vans and slammed the doors shut, with the creatures beating on the ineffectually on the toughened glass.


All the while, TV cameras rolled?

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Scleir wasn't sure what he was seeing in front of him. Becliri was facedown in a large puddle of what looked like vomit, and a man was straddling his fallen figure, gnawing at his neck.


Defying years of training, Scleir jerked the barrel of his M-16 up and squeezed the trigger. The sound of gunfire roared in the small tunnel and the muzzle flashes were as bright as day in the unlit space.


In a spray of blood and a wordless moan, the man slumped over on top of Becliri, and went still, brain matter and gore leaking from the remains of his skull.


"Sarge! Sarge, are you ok?!" A voice yelled over the com channel. Scleir couldn't remember who it belonged to, nor did he have the time to say he was ok. Several more moans echoed from somewhere down the corridor, and the sound of feet hitting heavily against the concrete grew louder.




The gurgle jerked Scleir out of the daze he was in. He looked down at the mess and saw the Private twitching and attempting to move from under the corpse. The man was still alive! With the moaning and footfalls growing closer, the Sergeant pulled the dead man off Becliri and grabbed the soldier's coller and started dragging him.


"Get down here! Ferec get down here now!" Scleir yelled into the helmet's mic. And then he saw them. They shambled into the dim light from the hall behind him, arms outstretched and pale mouths gaping. He dropped Becliri and started firing his weapon.


The bullets tore through bloodied flesh and ragged clothes, but the...things didn't stop their advance. Wait...the head! Scleir fired again, and again, and again, until all of the things fell to the floor, motionless.


It wasn't until after he and the remians of his squad got outside the bunker that he noticed his vision was blurry and his head was throbbing...

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The mayor of Resapha, Pelagius Corona, slumped in his seat as he watched the images on the TV screen.


?Jesus Christ?? he mopped at his sweaty brow with a chubby hand. ?What can we do??


?At the moment, mayor, what ever the hell?s going on is confined to just St Paul?s,? replied the Chief Constable, the head of Resapha Urban Constabulary, poring over a map spread across the table in the meeting room of Resapha Council House, around him dignitaries from the City Council watched over his shoulder. ?I?ve organised several barricades along all the roads out of that district, but that?s leaving the rest of the city severely undermanned.?


?Does the Imperial Government know of what?s going on?? asked the mayor, once again dabbing at his brow with a handkerchief. Silence descended on the room and several councillors exchanged glances.


?We?d kind of assumed you?d done that, your right worship,? said a notary. Silence once again rang in the room. The mayor, realising he was at fault, blustered.


?Of course I?ve already contacted the Imperial Government, I was just checking to see if they?d yet replied to our calls for assistance.? In reality, the mayor had done no such thing. He was widely regarded as corrupt and incompetent, suspect of embezzling large amounts of city funding in order to feather his own nest, and was on the brink of suffering a no-confidence vote by the rest of the council. Indeed, had the TV crews not captured images of the ?rioters? killing and eating policemen, then most would have put down the new riot as a just another outbreak of public outrage against unpopular mayor and his activities.


One of the mayor?s lackeys nodded. ?Of course, your right worship. We can only hope that they aid as soon as possible.?


Corona stood up from his chair and looked out of the window towards the city. Already, plumes of smoke were appearing over the district of St Paul?s, much to the worry of the mayor. He turned back to the Chief Constable. ?Well, Bonosus, have you put armed police on the streets??


?Yes, your right worship. But I have only so many policemen licensed to carry firearms and I fear they just aren?t enough to attempt to stem this problem. We need, I think, to call in reinforcements??


?What, from other cities? Surely you have enough men to deal with the situation??


The Chief Constable frowned. ?I have enough officers on the ground to deal with this situation, had I not just seen some of my Goddamned men just eaten alive, sir. I don?t have enough men capable of handling firearms. I believe we need to call in the military.?


The mayor baulked at that. ?Are you? are you sure? Could we not just get more licensed policemen from other cities??


?No, sir,? Bonosus shook his head. ?At the most, we could get a couple of hundred of officers from Seleucia, Dyrrachium and Gorytos, but they?d take a good few hours to get here. I suspect, and I pray to God I?m wrong, that we can?t afford to wait even a couple of hours for more armed police. We need a large amount of armed men, quickly.?


?Any idea where from?? asked Corona. This time the policeman shook his head.


?Well, your right worship,? piped up another one of the mayor?s cronies, ?at the moment we have the People?s Guard 503rd Armoured Trapezitae Battalion disembarking at our port. They?re fresh back from Adaptus, from General Acilius? Corps, if I remember correctly. Known as the ?Garlic Crushers?, no idea why, though.?


?Sod it, man. Get this lieutenant colonel here, forthwith.? The mayor turned to the policeman again. ?Well, Bonosus, will that do??


?Sir, we need even more, to be honest. I?d recommend mobilising the Territorial Guard units around Resapha.?


Corona sighed. He needed permission from the Imperial Government mobilise any military, even if they already lay within the city?s limits, as they were in direct control of the military. However, it would then definitely turn Tagmatica?s eye towards Resapha, if it wasn?t already. If this failed, Corona would be directly responsible as mayor of Resapha. Although, involving the military more or less automatically meant that power was out of the mayor?s hands, therefore absolving any of his responsibility?


?Ok, bring me a ?phone and I?ll get onto the Imperial Government.?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Territorial Guard Colonel stood before a large map of the city. Next to him, the mayor, Chief Constable and a gaggle of hangers-on looked at the map, including the Head Inspector of the city?s III. Areas of it had been shaded in, representing areas entirely lost to law and order.


?So, gentlemen, what is it we are precisely facing here?? asked the colonel. ?I gather that this isn?t an ordinary riot??


The Chief Constable was the first to speak. ?Apparently not, colonel. The people seem to be, well, insane, to be honest. I don?t know if you?ve seen the video footage???


?I have, Bonosus, and I am most concerned about it. However, I have been given full military command by the Ministry of War for the duration of the crisis, so I intend isolate the affected areas entirely.?


?That would take a lot of men, Mannering,? replied Bonosus, annoyed with the soldier?s disrespectful use of his last name. ?And cause a large amount of panic in the rest of the city. What will you do with rest of the population? Allow them to mill around? I don?t think we can do that, especially with how the riot appears to be spreading, and not in the normal way of disorder. I?ve lost men to those mobs and now they appear to be joining the rioters! I?d suggest we organise the remainder of my force and the III to begin to evacuate the rest of city?s population, out of the affected areas and use your men to cover the retreat, or block off routes through the city.?


The army officer bent his head to the map again whilst the Head Inspector protested against the use of the secret police in this fashion. They had, he was saying, many operations ongoing that were for the good of the Greater Holy Empire, such as the continued observation of Suverinian nationals. Who knew what those dastardly Suverinians were up to?


?Very good, Chief Constable,? Mannering said eventually, ignoring the continued blustering of the secret policeman. ?That is what we do. Send your men out as soon as possible, and I?ll issue orders to the men under my control.?


?Listen, you petty-minded bank manager, my Inspectors ought to be watching dissident elements in the population, not acting as crowd control like a bunch of brainless coppers,? shouted the Head Inspector, successfully making two enemies with one outburst. ?The security of the entirety of Tagmatium is at stake here, rather than just the good of a couple of areas of one city. I refuse to allow my Inspectors to be used in such a manner. The Imperial Government will hear of this and it?ll be your head they?ll have, mark my words, when they realise you?ve been playing at soldiers at the expense of the Internal Intelligence Inspectorate!? The secret policeman turned on his heel and stormed out of the room, several council staff following in the man?s wake.


?sh*t,? muttered the Chief Constable. He?d not been sad to see the Head Inspector go, but it did make a dent in the numbers of police they?d have at their disposal. Not a huge dent, but still too much of one, if the evacuation was to go ahead. ?Colonel, is the rest of the military going to move in and help evacuate the city, to? I doubt my men could do much on their own. After all, I?ve only got 30,000 officers and this city has a population of millions.?


Mannering had been stung by the Head Inspector?s jibes. He had been a bank manager, of a small bank in the heart of the city, but had become full-time commanding officer of the local Territorial Guard. ?The Ministry of War has made it clear that, for the time being, no more forces can be brought to bear on this situation. The Eastern Army?s in the process of either moving from Adaptus or being sent for a short tour of duty, the Northern Army?s in Eastea and the Southern Army?s still waiting for a push towards Tagmatium by the Confederates. If the situation gets any worse, then, I imagine, the Imperial Government will be forced to reconsider that, but, pray God, I hope it doesn?t come to that.?


Everyone else in the room murmured their agreements to that statement. No-one wanted the state of unrest to spread further into the city, let alone beyond its boundaries.

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Many streets had been barricaded by army units, effectively cordoning off the areas affected by the riots. Most barricades were manned by at least one company of seventy soldiers, whilst the larger roads were often had several. A large highway which led out of the city was protected by a full battalion. However, they were thinly stretched. The number mustered by the city council was only two brigades in size, and then one of the ten was a professional army unit. The others were Territorial Guard, the part-timers of the Tagmatine army, the vast majority of which had only ever fired a rifle in training.


The single professional unit, the 503rd People?s Guard Trapezitae Battalion, had been deployed to the weakest points in the blockade, as the Warrior APCs of the unit, as well as their experience, would bolster the attempts to contain the unrest. No one would willingly throw themselves against defenders in APCs, which were armed with 30mm auto cannon and a pair of machine guns.


The command of the brigade was located on a crossroads just south of the barricades. It was a motley collection of tents and command vehicles and would serve as the rallying point of the Tagmatine units if they were overwhelmed by the rioters, although that wouldn?t happen, as most presumed that the rioters would be daunted by the massed weaponry of the Tagmatine Army.


?It never ends well, putting armed soldiers against civilians,? a Territorial Guard major was saying. ?I mean, how many massacres have there been in history when this sort of thing happens? Too bloody many, if you ask me.?


There was a murmur of agreement from the rest of the TG soldiers in the tent. Most weren?t keen on the idea of taking on unarmed rioters, no matter what the rumours were.


There was a sigh from the other side of the room, barely audible over the mutterings of the part-time soldiers. ?What?s your name, major?? asked the lieutenant colonel of the 503rd.


?Andronicus Clackston, sir.?


?Well, Major Clackston, I?d keep that kind of talk to yourself and much less broadcast it in such a manner. By the looks of it, whatever we?re doing is fairly serious, otherwise they wouldn?t have dragged us lot together so quickly, and talking like that could, at the worst, be considered mutiny.?


Clackston nodded, but took the lieutenant colonel?s words with a pinch of salt. If it was that serious, the Imperial Government would have put more soldiers on the streets, rather than the TG.


Suddenly, Colonel Mannering opened the tent-flap. ?Gentlemen, we have contact.?

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PM Kyle Durhanion watched gravely the flickering images on the conference room TV. Brief images of rioting in Resapha had been picked up by the Cabarrian News Service via international wires, though they were being given little emphasis, sandwiched between other stories of the day. Durhanion got on odd feeling in his gut as he watched the cursory ten-second clip. Something just felt off, nothing that he could place, however.


Defense Secretary Garrison Blackwell and Foreign Secretary Valerie Dussan sat alone with him in the vacant windowless meeting room in the Capitol building. Blackwell drummed his fingers impatiently as Dussan reported, "I have reports that Tagmatine military units are being deployed to contain the rioters. Still no official word from the Tagmatine government, however."


"Come on, Kyle," Blackwell said with exasperation. "This doesn't concern Cabarria in the slightest. It seems to me to be a strictly Tagmatine matter. Hardly worth bringing us together like this."


Durhanion narrowed his eyes at the rioters. There was something strange about the way they moved, but was it protocol to base national policy on a hunch? He shook his head. "Listen, at the very least, we have to find out what the hell is going on in Tagmatium. They're one of the oldest and most powerful nations in Europa, and if there's unrest there, we need to be on guard about it. Valerie, I need you to keep working the Tagmatine government. Try to find out what's going on, and reiterate our willingness to assist."


Dussan nodded. "Though I doubt that Tagmatium would want or need our help, I'll let them know it's available."


Durhanion nodded. "Garrison, put our forces on low level alert."


"You've got to be kidding me!" Blackwell exploded. "There's no threat here, Kyle! Might just be a bunch of bored college students for all we know."


"Or," Durhanion replide calmly, "for all we know, it might be terrorist dissidents. This is one reason we need to revamp our intel services. It's only a precaution, but if the unrest for some reason starts to spread, Cabarria needs to be prepared." He rubbed his temples. "I'm going to hold off alarming the King until we know more, but I want to keep a very close eye on this."

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OOC: Bah, crappy post, but it's all I could get out of three days of staring at a screen filled with crap. But at least I'm more underway now. Try to get another in before the day is out.


"Hang on Sarge, almost home!"


The humvee bounced down the broken road at high speed, carrying two privates, their suddenly ill sergeant, and the corpse of private Becliri towards the city of Sydvami. Neither of the two privates knew what was going on, the sarge was delirious with pain and the missing Netori was no where to be found inside the mapped bunker complex, they both assumed him to be dead in the black hallway that wasn't supposed to exist.


MedCent had cleared the way for them as the humvee sped through the security checkpoints across the city towards the regional hospital that was serving as medical field HQ.




"Ferec, tell him to get down! Sarge, you've gotta lay still, we're almost there!"


"I'm trying damnit! He keeps pressing up against me!"


The humvee slammed to a stop underneath the hospitals emergency entrance and was surrounded by army medical personnel.

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?Your majesty, as far as I can ascertain, this isn?t the work of any of the usual anti-Imperial Government groups,? said Andronicus Fry, the Head of the Tagmatine Intelligence Network, a pale man with a raspy voice who habitually kept in the shadows. ?The HSE and the True Church have been quiet, apart from the odd incident. Bowman is still on the run, but this doesn?t have his usual marks, although the actions of the crowd do look like his rabble-rousing.?


The Holy Emperor lent back in his chair, stroking his bread thoughtfully. The attention of the Imperial Government had been drawn towards this incident when the mayor of the city had called for assistance. As Mayor Corona?s corruption was widely known, at first most people thought that a mob had turned out to demand his resignation. A quiet riot-police job, then the mayor himself would be fired from his position by order of the Imperial Government. However, when the rioting spread and a request from the council for military support came in, it was obvious that this wasn?t a protest against a crooked politician and his cronies, but something much more serious.


?If Bowman and his Communists were going to start something, your majesty, I?d expect more uprisings in other cities, especially Petrium,? the Minister of Internal Affairs put forward. ?After all, that?s been the base of the CPT since the end of the Old Republic.?


?Minister Tonaras, saying what it isn?t does not help the situation,? replied the Holy Emperor. ?The fact that the head of the city police is attempting to evacuate the city?s population points towards it being something more than another one of Bowman?s rallies or attempts by those heretics to convert the rest of Tagmatium to their right-wing ways. This is much more serious than that.?


The door to the meeting room opened by an Imperial Household Guardsman and a member of the Foreign Ministry came in and put a sheaf of papers in front of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who thumbed through them and then grunted in irritation. ?Damned Cabarrians want to know what?s going on. Looks like this wretched riot is attracting more attention than we thought.?


?I?m going to leave that up to you, Minister Wilson,? said Commodus James. ?I am sure you know what to put.? The Foreign Minister nodded. ?Other than that, until we have got to the bottom of what is going on in Resapha, I?m calling this meeting over. Good day, gentlemen.?


As the various ministers of the Imperial Government got up to leave, the Holy Emperor gestured to the Interior Minister to sit back down. ?Minister Tonaras, I?ve heard that one of your Head Inspectors, specifically the one of Resapha, decided not to help with the evacuation of citizens from danger.?


Tonaras shot a glance at Mr. Fry, the spy master. The Minister of Interior Affairs had only got the message from the Head Inspector twenty minutes before the Holy Emperor had called the meeting. Damned shifty spy.


The Holy Emperor ignored the look the Minister gave the spy. ?Tell him that he now has a meeting with me tomorrow morning.?

The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall from the meeting room, as the Minister of War and the Minister of Overseas Geological Oddities walked back to the small collection of offices their ministries possessed within the vast Imperial Palace Complex. Every so often, a red-clothed, black-armoured Imperial Household Guardsman slammed to attention as the two high-ranking ministers passed by them.


?Damned strange business, eh, Honorius?? said Narses, the Minister for Overseas Geological Oddities, stopping to light his pipe, ignoring the smoking ban that had been in place since the previous year. ?If it isn?t any of the usual suspects kicking up this fuss up north, who is it??


Honorius Kontarian, the Minister for War, shrugged. ?Could be another bunch of nutters. I don?t suppose you remember the Fatherists we had a couple of years ago? They planned to take over Europa and mould it into some sort of totalitarian state. They never really kicked off, and I heard that the Tagmatine representative had an accident, courtesy of the III.?


Both men lapsed into silence. The Imperial Government didn?t regularly do things like that, as there were bad memories left over from the Old Republic, although many ex-Republic officials had met an early grave after the Civil War of 2005.


A thought occurred to Kontarian. ?You remember I mentioned a strange business in Vocenae, which happened last month? Something to do with a People?s Guard squad going missing on a training exercise in an old bunker. Domestic Mesardonites put it down to combat stress or something, especially as that squad?s captain was raving about his soldiers turning into monsters and biting each other.?


Narses blew out a stream of blue tobacco smoke before answering. ?Oh yes? You said that captain was on a court martial for shooting one of his soldiers.?


The War Minister nodded. ?That?s the one. He?ll probably get off on psychological grounds, though. Absolutely nuts, apparently.? Kontarian realised he was going off on a tangent. ?I was just wondering if whether that incident and what?s going in Resapha were connected. After all, the soldiers injured over at that bunker were sent over to a hospital in Resapha, and apparently that?s where the riot originated from. Might be worth checking out.?


?Maybe. You could just be wasting your time, though, Honorius. Chasing the delusions of some poor sod who has seen too much.?


?I?ll see what that captain?s lieutenant colonel says. Mesardonites said he was adamant that the claims about the bunker were true, or at least warranted further investigation. Asking the man certainly can?t hurt.?

To: the Royal Commonwealth of Cabarria

From: the Greater Holy Empire of Tagmatium


Secretary Dussan,


I thank you for your concern over the current events in the northern Tagmatine city of Resapha. However, the situation is entirely under the control of the Imperial Government. The events in question are merely a spot of civil disorder against a markedly unpopular mayor of the city of Resapha, and these are being countered with minor police action and a small deployment of part-time soldiers in order to restore order to the streets, as well as the Imperial Government reviewing the mayor?s future career.


If, however, the situation does persist, the Cabarrian government may wish to advise its citizens in the area around Resapha to limit their activities, in case they are caught up in any violence.


Once again, I thank you for your offer of help, but the situation is entirely under the control of the Imperial Government of the Greater Holy Empire of Tagmatium.


Eugenius Wilson,


Minister of Foreign Affairs




The Greater Holy Empire of Tagmatium.

Edited by Tagmatium Rules (see edit history)
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Valerie Dussan shook her head as she read the statement from the Tagmatine government. Her aide, Jeffrey Galloway, looked on anxiously as she clucked her tongue and said, "An unpopular mayor? They must think us extremely dense. There's been no mayor so unpopular that he needed the army to protect him. They're trying to downplay this more than what would be expected, and it's too obvious. If anything, this just piques my interest even more."


Galloway shrugged. "It does seem odd, but there's still no evidence of anything other than what they suggest. And we have no Foreign Ministry agents in Tagmatium."


Dussan was silent for a moment. "No official agents, anyway."


Galloway's eyes widened. "Ma'am, surely you can't be talking about contacting ... him..."


"I am," she replied evenly. "Contact John Pettigrew. He's the closest thing we have to a man on the ground, and now, he's going to find out what's going on in Tagmatium for us. Meanwhile, we'll let the Tagmatines know how much we value their concern."


To: The Greater Holy Empire of Tagmatium

From: Royal Commonwealth of Cabarria


We certainly appreciate your concern for our citizens. We certainly hope that such an unpopular mayor, one that would necessitate such a strong and unusual use of force to restore order, would be dealt with accordingly. Of course, as you state, this is obviously an internal Tagmatine matter, but if any developments arise that might further jeopardize our citizens, we would hope you would keep us informed.

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A group of rioters were approaching one of the many Territorial Guard road blocks set up to prevent them from marching further into the city, this one sitting at the end of the High Street, one of the main shopping streets in the city. The crowd was acting as if it hadn?t seen the couple of hundred soldiers yet, or at least were ignoring them. Some Guardsmen were becoming increasingly worried about the lack of riot gear issued to them, especially as most were awaiting the imminent barrage of stones, bottles, glasses and maybe even a few Molotov cocktails.


?Can you see any banners? What are they marching about??


The chances were that, if the rioters were marching about something legitimate, that the soldiers would desert and join them. After all, they all had jobs in the Resapha area and had suffered under the mayor and his shifty dealings.


?Hear that? What are they chanting??


?Seriously, you lot, shut up,? said the captain in charge of the pair of companies that were to hold the road block. He possessed seniority by a couple of months but was more used to working in an office as a paper merchant than commanding infantry. Truthfully, he preferred his soldiers bickering than the incessant murmuring coming from the advancing mob. It was starting to get on his nerves.


?Sir, can you see any banners or anything?? asked a Guardsman.


The captain growled to himself and pulled his binoculars out of their pouch. He focuses in on the crowd and nearly dropped the field glasses in surprise when they were brought into view.


?f*cking hell??


He?d seen enough horror films to recognise what he was looking at, yet didn?t believe it all the same. He handed the binoculars to the man next to him and told him to look at the approaching civilians. The Guardsman gave the same reaction.


?They look like zombies, sir. They can?t really be zombies, can they??


?I?ve no idea, Hendricks,? the captain said. He turned around and grabbed a sniper?s rifle off one of the company?s snipers. ?Keep your eye on the one in the green t-shirt, to the far right. I?m going to do a little experiment.? God, I hope I?m right. Otherwise I?ll be a murderer, the captain thought to himself. He had a nasty feeling that he was going to be right, and could only guess at the consequences if he was. He squeezed the trigger and sent a round slamming into the dead-centre of the green-t-shirted rioter, who just twitched. The captain fired off several more shots, each making no difference to the rioter. Finally, he shot the creature in the head, which sent it slumping to the ground.


The rioters, or whatever they were, had finally taken notice of the soldiers at the end of the road. Slowly, they began to break into a run, shambling rapidly towards the Territorial Guards manning the barricade.


The captain licked his dry lips. ?Company! I mean, companies! Fix bayonets! Now, open fire!?

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Sydvami, Accran Vocenae


28 Days Later...


"God, they're everywhere down there..."


The Apache and it's pilot hovered over downtown Sydvami, and over thousands of people that used to be alive.


It had all started almost a month ago, after two Privates had shown up up the local hospital with their sick Sergeant and the corpse of one of their squadmates. The moment the hospital staff opened the humvee's doors everything had gone to hell. It wasn't long after that the civilian population of Sydvami had been affected by whatever was happening, and the number of 'irrationals' had swelled incredibly. But with the bulk of Vocenae's military, one of the best armed forces in the world, stationed near the city, panic was averted.


If only for a moment.


It truly broke out when City Hall was swarmed by the 'irrationals', and all contact with the mayor, the city council, and the Sub'General and his staff was lost. Military command for the surrounding area fragmented and succumbed as the surviving commanders squabbled with each other. And all the while the mob kept growing, and pressing down on the pockets of soldiers that still remained inside the city.


But there was still a glimmer of hope.


Lt. Danis Cressen, a hero of the AdSoc War, rallied the forces outside the city, and constructed a crude but effective barricade around Sydvami. For now, at least, the incident was contained...

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The staff of the brigade headquarters stood listening to the radio, aghast. The messages coming in were from all of the main barricades preventing the rioters from pushing further out of the centre of the city and attacking the fleeing civilians. None of the messages were good, most told the final moments of hundreds of soldiers.


?Jesus Christ! Why won?t they die!??


?Retreat! God damn it, run for your lives!?


?Fire at will! Aim for their heads!?


?Get the hell out of here! There?s hundreds of the bastards!?


?Make for brigade! They?ve got APCs there!?


Lt. Col. Haste, the commander of the 503rd walked over and switched the radio off. He?d listened to enough of it. In the distance, rifle fire could be heard. It wasn?t the disciplined volleys of fire of an hour ago, but long bursts of panicking men. He turned towards the Territorial Guard Colonel.


?Well, Mannering, it looks like everything?s gone to pot. What the hell do we do now??


?We withdraw all surviving units to this position and hold out as long as we can, of course,? replied the colonel.


?And what the hell?s the point in that?? said Haste, slamming his hand onto a table where the map of the soldiers? positions were. ?Half the damned brigade is retreating or overrun,? indicating the areas with stabs of his finger. ?Why sacrifice everything else here? We need to get the hell out of this city.?


?Haste, may I remind you of your previous statements? You insisted that one of my officers wasn?t to talk like that as it would spread panic amongst the men.?


?God damn it, Mannering, the men are doing a good enough job of spreading panic without me.?


It was the brigade commander?s turn to thump the table. ?That?s colonel to you, Haste. I am, after all, the commanding officer here. If I say we are to hold this position here, then we will do. Consider that an order.?


?Open your eyes, man! I couldn?t give a sh*t whether you?re the commander here, I am the only man in this tent with combat experience,? he said, gesturing with an arm around the tent, taking in the two dozen or so other men and officers gathered around radios or watching the two arguing officers. ?I?ll be damned if I sacrifice men I?ve fought with for years so that you can get your moment of glory which you?ve undoubtedly been dreaming of all these years you?ve been playing at soldiers. We have only one choice, and that?s to retreat.?


The colonel narrowed his eyes, obviously fuming. ?Do you even know why we?re here? It?s to stop these? monsters from overrunning the police who are evacuating the civilians. We withdraw now, and we essentially write their death sentence.?


?That?s bollocks, colonel, and you know it. It will take these creatures the same amount of time to reach the civilians now that the barricades are gone whether or not we make a stand here. Listen, Mannering,? Haste was now talking louder for the benefit of the others in the tent, as well as the colonel. ?If we use my Warriors to act as a rear guard, we can easily retreat out of here without losing any more men. With men on the tops of the APCs with machine guns, we can blow apart any of these creatures way before they get to us. We?ll be able to withdraw at a quicker speed than those things can move. Once we?re out of the city, we can stage a proper defence of the civilians and the Imperial Government will be sending reinforcements by then. If we stay here, we allow ourselves to die for little gain, and we?re not protecting the civilians by allowing ourselves to be cooped up in a single park. For all we know, they could just outflank us and make their way to the civilians without us even firing a shot.?


Haste?s speech set everyone in the tent muttering. It was true, looking at the map. The creatures could easily go around the park, without going anywhere near the soldiers there. Outside of the city, a natural ridge would provide a brilliant defensive position against the creatures and allow safe withdrawing of the civilians.


?Lieutenant Colonel, we are staying here,? said Mannering, now speaking much more quietly. ?These rioters, or whatever they are, will make their way towards this position. They?re chasing the survivors from the barricades, so they will undoubtedly come here. They haven?t shown any intelligence so far, so why attribute any to them now? Here we shall stand.?


?Damn you, Mannering, you incompetent, deskbound twat,? Haste?s face was suddenly mere inches away from the colonel?s, making the smaller man recoil backwards. ?I?m going to take my men out of here, and anyone else who wishes to live can come with me. If anyone wishes to stay here and bask in the reflected glory of your last stand, then good luck to them, you lot are going to bloody well need it.?


The lieutenant colonel took off his peaked cap and pulled on a helmet. As he was about to turn on his personal radio and issue his order to retreat to the remainder of his battalion, he stopped in his tracks, as the Colonel Mannering was struggling with his officer?s sidearm, trying to pull it out of its holster. Haste turned around, a scornful, contemptuous look on his face.


?Put that down, man. You?ll only hurt yourself.?


In reply, Mannering levelled the pistol and shot Haste down. The tent, which to that moment had been full of other soldiers surreptitiously gathering up equipment and making to follow the lieutenant colonel, was now absolutely silent. Once again, the moaning and gunshots could be heard.


Major Clackston was the first to speak. ?Jesus Christ, sir, you shot him!?


?Anyone else, major, will go the same way if they decide to desert,? said the colonel, still holding the smoking pistol. ?Here we will stand. The fate of the population of a city is in our hands. We will hold fast and die like Tagmatines.?

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  • 2 weeks later...

"What!? Are you insane!?"


"I understand your concern, Leiutenant, but it's for the good of Vocenae, and yourself, that you follow these orders."


Korrino drummed his fingers on the surface of the steel table, fighting back the urge to slug the uncooperative officer in front of him for refusing to obey orders. HIS orders. It was not everyday that the General actually met with anyone outside of his own staff and yet the fool was treating the whole affair as a normal mission briefing.


"Lieutenant" He began slowly, "If you do not locate, subdue and extract the exact number of specimens we need, I will have you arrested and tossed over the barrier and into that mob the moment you leave this room. Is that clear? You either accept and live, or refuse and die. Make your choice now."




Korrino watched as the man went pale, a look of shock passing over his face as he realized that the General was not joking.


"And the one weakness in every man comes through once again", he thought, "The need to survive outweighs all other priorities. Been that way since the dawn of time, and it'll stay like that until time stops".


"You're a bastard, do you know that?"


"My dear Lieutenant, how else do you think I became one of the most powerful men in Europa?" Korrino pointed to the door, "Now, get your squad ready and get out there."

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The single word, quietly spoken by the Holy Emperor, cut through the argument and confusion in the meeting room. The fall of Resapha, as it was now being called, had caused panic within the Imperial Government. The massed lines of refugees, with their tales of crazed cannibals, were spreading disorder and alarm through the north of the Greater Holy Empire. The Imperial Government had been called to an emergency meeting in the Imperial Palace Complex, in order to work on a plan on halting the advance of both the terror and this apparent contagion which had started in the northern city. The Minister for Trade was the first person to speak again.


?But, your Imperial majesty, this can hardly be true! I mean, this idea of people turning into cannibals because of some resident evil within them, it seems like some hideous joke!?


?Minister Smith, I can assure you I would not joke about such matters, especially as they directly concern the safety of the Greater Holy Empire,? calmly replied Commodus James. ?We have all seen the video footage of these riots, we have all heard the refugees? stories on the television and the radio and we all know of the fate of that Territorial Guard brigade in Resapha. This is no joke. It is very real.?


Once again, the room burst into rapid conversation. How could it be real? It was the stuff of horror films and computer games! The Holy Emperor waited until the babbling had abated before continuing.


?Minister Kontarian has been conducting an investigation of his own, interviewing men and officers from a unit that was at the centre of an incident in Vocenae. Minister Kontarian, if you will enlighten us to your findings on that matter, and explain how you suspect it relates to Resapha.?


The Minister of War stood up and walked over to a plasma screen which was mounted on a wall and slid a CD into a slot.


?Essentially, your majesty and esteemed Ministers, I suspect what happened to a company of People?s Guard in Vocenae, in the former Accran territories, is somehow linked to the recent events in Resapha. What I?m about to show you are some images collected from the few soldiers in the company who were issued with helmet cameras. They aren?t very clear, but they are markedly similar to the recent video footage of Resapha??


The screen flickered into life. The pictures weren?t very clear, mainly obscured by the poor lighting. It was mainly of targets being manhandled into position or soldiers poking around in corners of the bunker. Suddenly, the screen was lit by gunfire. The strobe effect illuminated a hideous figure, which lunged towards wearer of the camera and obviously brought him down.


?I?m going to stop it there; it gets a bit? graphic after that.?


The room was, for once, deathly silent. Most of the occupants of the room were born bureaucrats and had never even seen a gun being fired in real life, let alone the death of someone on camera.


?I?ve also spoken to the captain and other ranks of that company, as well as their commanding officer. It?s all in a report.? Kontarian nodded towards an aide, who then handed files out to the Imperial Cabinet. ?The captain is rather incoherent, but the lieutenant colonel is adamant that the captain is right, if not quite in the details. Other testimonies, from several of the other soldiers make it highly unlikely that it is a fabrication, especially in light of Resapha.?


The meeting room was quiet for about ten minutes, as the various ministers, officials and the odd military officer read quickly through the interviews in the file.


?Forgive me, Honorius,? said the Minister for Internal Affairs with a slightly scornful cast to his voice, ?but this doesn?t really help us. You?ve been able to draw a line between the two events, but we?re no closer to containing the riot or solving the problem.?


?I know that, Gebeon,? replied Kontarian. ?The High Command is working on a plan to combat the rioters outside of Resapha. The Territorial Guard?s stand in Resapha has allowed us some time to gather forces just south of the city, and from there they hope to contain the advancing hordes.?

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John Pettigrew took a long drag off a cigarette and looked coolly at the burning city of Resapha. "I don't know how they expected to keep this quiet."


A week ago, the office of Cabarrian Foreign Minister Valerie Dussan had sent him a discreet message that he should "observe" the rioting in Resapha and apprise them of any details. A former Knight of the Orchid, he had found himself in an Akiiryu jail several years back, and after Dussan had engineered his release, he owed her one. He had made his way across country away from major roads to this city to find it in the chaotic horror that lay before him.


Civilians were streaming out of the city, running in random patterns and staring vacantly ahead. Whatever this was, it was no political protest against an unpopular mayor. The Tagmatine troops were in near rout, and the murderous hordes kept pouring out of the stricken city center. He drew a pistol in one hand as he dialed the Cabarrian embassy with the other.


"Resapha is lost," he spoke to the embassy voicemail that served as a clearinghouse for intelligence information. "These rioters, they seem to be not in the right state of mind, almost like they're ..."


He stopped himself and laughed loudly, without any humor. "Almost like they're zombies! It's unbelievable, but that's the situation. They're behaving like animals, and they're murderous little -"


Suddenly he heard a growl, and he whipped around to see a tall brown-haired man and two teenage girls leering at him with the same vacant stare he had seen in other Resaphans. Their clothes were tattered, and their skin was pale and blood-spattered as they emerged from the underbrush several yards away. As soon as they caught sight of him, they broke towards him in a dead sprint.


"They're after me," Pettigrew spoke into the cell phone, and levelled his pistol at them. He felled the teenagers with successive shots to the head, but the man was closing fast. Pettigrew narrowed his eyes as he neared. "Today's not my day to die, bucko," he said as the slobbering fiend rocketed towards him. "But let's have a go at it anyway."




King Brandheld IV sat in disbelief as he listened to the message of John Pettigrew. PM Kyle Durhanion sat solemnly next to him, as Foreign Minister Valerie Dussan played him the tape and Defense Minister Garrison Blackwell covered his eyes. Several top generals and aides listened as well; it was a meeting convened for only the highest in Cabarrian government."


"Our asset in Tagmatium," the king spoke with effort, "is reliable?"


"Coupled with reports from Tagmatine refugees," Dussan replied, "I think we can believe his story."


"What do we do?" Blackwell wondered aloud. "Tagmatium is a long ways off, and this situation seems not to affect us at the moment."


King Brandheld wiped his eyes tiredly. "At the moment. This concerns me greatly, however. Never, never, have I or any of those that have sat in the Emerald Throne encountered anything like this. What are we dealing with here? It seems to be something that cannot be controlled. Even the Tagmatines are running from it. I fear it may spread from beyond Tagmatium into other countries, and from there, who knows?"


"There's still no official word from Tagmatium," Durhanion noted. "Might we still consider this an isolated Tagmatine matter?"


There was a long pause. "No," the king said. "I'm sending the fleet towards Tagmatium. We'll tell them everything we know, and that we consider this a threat to Europa that could potentially threaten every nation in the region. They control the canal into the Kosscow, but if they won't let us in, we'll set up shop outside and try to contain traffic coming south." He furrowed his brow. "Tell the Tagmatines we're with them on this."


"They are a proud people," Durhanion said softly. "I don't know if they'll care."




TO: Tagmatium

From: Cabarria


Our assets on the ground as well as Resapha refugee reports inform us that the situation in your city is grave, and is not due to rioters, but to some odd form of behavior that seems chaotic and without reason. The King fears that this poses a risk to Europa and to Cabarria as it appears that you have been unable to contain or address this threat. To this end, we are sending our 2nd and 3rd fleets, spearheaded by the carriers CSS Armarion and CSS Taramar northward in hopes of using your canal into the Kosscow and assisting you in containing this threat. We hope you will take this opportunity to recognize the hand of friendship and tell us what we may do to resolve this situation.

Edited by Wellsy (see edit history)
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