They Are Billions ~ When Doom Calls
Caelyra studied the map and rubbed at her chin.
"I think we'll go South, to that area you've marked as The Crossroads. That Village of Doom by the train-tracks seems to be breeding more and more of the creatures. What we learn there could help us tackle the horde that's restricting our access to the Mines."
"So be it."
The holographic map vanished. The Supreme Commander nodded, then he vanished too.
It was time to prepare for the next mission.
As usual, Calliope called over four of her best rangers and together with Caelyra they journeyed across the countryside on the speed-train. They passed through lush meadows that crawled with moaning zombies, dense forests silent and devoid of all life, and at last approached their new base of operations.
Autumnal forests surrounded them. There didn't appear to be any natural formations with which they could use to choke off enemies. The Village of Doom sat closer than desired and periodically released more and more of the infected creatures out into the surrounds.
This quest to discover more about how these evil villages worked might be more difficult than first thought.
Calliope led her trusty rangers around the immediate area to scout for nearby resources. They found stone close by, surrounded by the drooling creatures that tormented their lives.
Arrows flew through the air and removed them from existence. These ones, anyway.
"Help! They're approaching the command centre!"
A peasant raced towards them, breathing heavily.
Calliope grabbed her forces and ran back across the tracks near to where new tents were being constructed. A small group of zombies teetered and tottered towards them. Thankfully these particular zombies weren't the running type. A cloud of arrows rained down upon the enemy and removed their threat.
This was no time to be complacent. Calliope positioned her rangers around the cleared area and motioned for Caelyra to get to work.
This area was dangerous. They needed walls up as soon as possible. As the rangers guarded in all directions, Caelyra supervised the construction of their safety.
Not willing to leave anything to chance, not with such a formidable zombie-breeding facility nearby, Caelyra made sure the walls were doubly reinforced and instructed Calliope to train more rangers.
"I want four rangers in every tower. And if we're ever going to take down this doom-village, we're going to need a large force. A very large force."
Not usually in agreeance with the annoying City Lady, Calliope nodded.
"I agree. We will need every bow, and triple our usual arrows."
And so, while Caelyra focussed on building up the settlement and luring colonists from the city to come and visit, Calliope focussed on training all of the new arrivals into formidable rangers.
A lot of the city-dwellers Caelyra convinced to live out in the wilderness were pathetic and would certainly not be rangers that Calliope would've chosen, but many were good aims and would do well in battle.
Perhaps they would actually succeed. Perhaps.
Soon thirty rangers had been trained.
Calliope inspected each and every one of them. They might be trained, but they were not yet experienced in battle. That would have to be rectified.
Not willing to entrust the destruction of the doom-village on this inexperienced bunch, Calliope took the group out to where previous scouts noted some food supplies had been found. Where there were supplies, there were zombies, and where there were zombies, there was an opportunity to gain experience.
Calliope positioned several rangers in key guard locations then took the bulk into the wilderness. A plume of smoke designated the supplies position... and a couple of outlying houses from the Village of Doom... that was unexpected.
The houses shattered as their arrows flew, and as they fell to rubble a good three hundred zombies raced towards them.
"Retreat!" shouted Calliope.
A newly trained ranger screamed as five zombies leapt at her and took her down.
"Keep running!" Calliope screeched.
They raced a hundred metres then Calliope bade them stop and turn around.
"We have room between us. Now, fire!"
Soon all of the zombies lay dead amidst the long golden grasses. The rangers panted and heaved as they caught their breaths, but Calliope simply stared into the distance, her blood simmering beneath the surface. One of her rangers had fallen.
That was unacceptable.
Calliope gathered her forces and split them into two teams. That Village of Doom was going to be destroyed. She would make certain of it.
"Make sure you don't destroy any useful information." Caelyra's voice entered her mind.
"Yes, yes. Whatever."
Calliope waved the voice away and prepared her women to attack.
As soon as their flaming arrows hit the walls of the buildings, the zombies were alerted and raced out to greet them.
With determined pulls upon the bow-strings and not a single flinch from any of the women, the infected creatures fell by the dozens and so did their houses. So did a couple of Calliope's rangers but that only strengthened her resolve.
"You will pay!" she shrieked, letting loose arrow after arrow.
Finally, all the zombies had been killed and all of the houses had been destroyed, leaving only bloodied bodies and rubble across the clearing.
Calliope counted heads. Of her thirty trained rangers, only twenty-one remained. She clenched her fists. She needed to do better. Be better. In these times, with the billions of zombies outnumbering the thousands of humans, every loss was a disaster.
Shrugging off her self-contempt, she motioned for her women to rummage through the rubble and retrieve whatever items of interest that may be useful. There wasn't much, but there might be something here that could be researched, something that could help prevent future devastation.
Once they had cleared all the debris, they returned to the settlement and Calliope headed back to the command centre to relay the information to both Caelyra and the Supreme Commander.
The holographic image of the Supreme Commander soon appeared, and Calliope sullenly reported her mission and shoved a pile of ratted papers upon the desk.
"We lost nine rangers, but the Doom-Village has been destroyed and we found this small amount of information."
The Supreme Commander stared at Calliope in silence for what felt an eternity, then said, "No more deaths, Calliope."
She lowered her eyes.
The Supreme Commander turned to Caelyra and snapped, "The destruction of the village is commendable. I'll have my scientists sift through this new information, but something of great importance has been discovered."
His Greatness' huge map replaced his image.
"Yet another horde has appeared that must be dealt with, but more on that later. Do you see the communications centre?"
"I believe that there is swathes of information locked in that facility. I need it brought back to us before you make any more moves."
The holographic image vanished without further word or even a goodbye or good luck.
Caelyra glanced over at Calliope, her eyes still lowered.
"Ready to go?"
Calliope tossed her hair over her shoulder and stalked out of the office.
Until next time! 😊