By Caleb Fast
The Bulwark, Allegra
“Watch your right!” Louis calls out her warning as she points at a small group of soldiers that are dug into the nearby mountainside. The soldiers appear to be preoccupied as they fight amongst themselves, which Matthew finds oddly reassuring.
“They look like they’re busy,” Matthew reports as he turns away from the small squad Louis had pointed out and looks back to Alois.
Matthew and the twins had stopped at the southmost door and remained completely silent for several moments now. Louis explained that she and Alois wanted to listen for any signs of hostiles inside. After hearing quite a bit of activity, Louis reasoned that they should continue waiting until things cleared up slightly.
“Incoming,” Alois reports as he motions with his weapon behind Matthew.
Matthew spins around and sees that there are a handful of soldiers shambling toward him and the twins. The soldiers’ skin is discolored, and their eyes are very much blank. Frowning, Matthew thinks, I guess James was telling the truth about what gassed soldiers look like.
“They’ve been gassed!” Matthew declares as he raises his weapon and prepares to fire.
“That one’s already been shot…” Alois breathes as he cocks his head slightly.
“I don’t like the sounds of that—” Matthew mention but he is cut off when one of the gassed Mudders lunge forward. Instinctively, he pulls the trigger on his rifle and releases a stream of bullets that rip into the nearest soldier.
Matthew calms down slightly when the soldier he shot doubles over and stops moving. To his concern, however, the remaining gassed soldiers continue approaching them.
“Should we shoot?” Alois asks as he glances over to Matthew.
Louis spins around and points out a group of gassed Mudders that are approaching from their rear. She fires a few rounds before shouting, “That’s a yes!”
Matthew glances over his shoulder to the hostiles Louis had pointed out. He looks just in time to see Louis unload the rest of her magazine on them. Seeing that the job is done on that end, Matthew turns back to the afflicted soldiers in front of Alois.
“That’s all I needed to hear,” Alois declares happily before unloading on the hostiles before him.
Matthew quickly sees that Alois’s firepower isn’t enough to take care of the growing group of gassed Mudders and he tenses up once more.
Gritting his teeth, Matthew tightens the grip on his rifle, and he decides to join in. Opening fire, Matthew helps Alois mow down the remaining gassed soldiers.
“That wasn’t so bad…” Matthew muses with a nod. He smiles, realizing how he and the twins made such quick work of the hostiles.
“So, what should we call those guys?” Alois asks after a few moments.
“What do you mean by that?” Matthew inquires.
“The crazy guys?” Louis asks, surprised.
Nodding, Alois affirms, “Yeah, I was thinking something along the lines of “gassers” since they were gassed.”
“Sounds good to me,” Louis responds as she nods approvingly at Alois’s name proposal. She glances up from the sights of her rifle that she still has trained on their surroundings.
“What is it with you two and naming things?” Matthew asks incredulously.
Chuckling, Alois confidently replies, “If I can put a name on it, I can shoot it.”
“Wait, you gave me a name—” Matthew starts but is cut short when he is hit by a large drop of something. At first, he thinks that it may be raining, but then he remembers that it hadn’t rained on Allegra yet.
Looking up, Matthew is greeted with a sight that makes his heart stop momentarily. His voice is caught in his throat, which causes him an odd pain that makes him wince slightly.
His eyes still wide open, Matthew eventually coughs and lets out a concerned shout. Above him are a large group of gassers that are reaching down toward him and the twins from the second story of the building.
“What is—” Louis starts before she sees what Matthew had taken issue with. Raising her weapon, she calls, “Alois, up top!”
Before either of the twins have a chance to fire, the gassers start pouring over the ledge, falling toward them.
Instinctively, Matthew opens fire once more. He tenses up again and prays that he can kill all the gassers before they can kill either him or the twins.
Several gassers land dead on the ground, remaining where they land. By now, the twins have their weapons free and they are letting loose on the gassers that are still coming over the top.
Matthew flinches as a gasser gets shot far too close for comfort. To his horror, the gasser’s blood splatters all over his mask. In his brief lapse of attention, three gassers hit the ground, untouched by the twins’ gunfire.
The trio of gassers quickly work their way to their feet. Matthew watches with a mix of disgust and intrigue as the gassers work their ridged bodies and begin approaching him.
Realizing that the twins hadn’t noticed the gassers, Matthew trains his weapon on them. He pulls his trigger a few times to no avail. Turning his weapon onto its side, Matthew checks his mag and sees that he is out of ammo.
Before he has a chance to grab a new magazine one of the gassers takes a hold of his shoulders. Matthew looks up in time to see another gasser reaching for Louis and he acts.
Releasing his rifle, Matthew takes a hold of the nearest gasser’s face and he drills his fingers into its eyes. Simultaneously, he grabs his sidearm and opens fire wildly at the gasser that has yet to reach Louis.
Thanks to the suddenness of Matthew’s attack, Louis looks over to him and sees his dire straits. She spins around and shoots the gasser nearest her that Matthew had unsuccessfully shot at before turning her weapon on the remaining two.
“Thanks,” Matthew breathes as the gasser in front of him crumbles to the ground. He holds his hand up in the air where he had been holding the gasser and he gawks at the blood that it is running from his fingers all the way down to his elbow.
“And thank you,” Louis nods before looking back up to the ledge the gassers had come over.
“Looks like that was all of them,” Alois reports after a few moments.
Sickened, Matthew decides to offer an idea, “You know, maybe we could just hold off on this attack—”
“Fall back!” someone cries out from the other side of the door, interrupting Matthew.
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