When the lightning stopped, I could see smoking zombie bodies all the way down the road. Many of them were charred to the point that they were unrecognizable or at least they would have been if they were human.
Had they been human, I’d have been horrified at the devastation. Given that they weren’t human, I could only feel disappointment that it wasn’t worse.
It was good that Vaughn had stopped the first wave, but that wasn’t all of the zombies. There were more crossing over the downed section of fence and more zombies pushing down the sections on either side. More zombies than that massed in the forest behind them.
The good things I could say for sure was that Vaughn had taken out a lot of them and lightning continued to kill the spores, at least that much of it did.
The bad thing? Vaughn’s mouth hung open, he appeared to be breathing heavily, and had dropped a few feet in the air—not enough to put him in reach of zombies, but still worrying.
Even though setting up a storm might save him some power, putting that much into his first attack must have taken something out of him because he was too busy breathing to take another shot.
We were lucky that Cassie and Amy did not stop.
Cassie’s gun burned anything nearby that made it to the road. She could have fired into the trees, but I was glad she didn’t. We didn’t need a forest fire on top of everything else.
In a worst case scenario, though, it might be a good tactical choice.
Amy’s spear sucked the life out of every zombie it touched, turning them into shriveled piles of floppy, lifeless mushroom leather. It would have been a super weapon against them except that it took a moment to drain them of life—not long, but long enough that other zombies could move past while it was happening.
As for myself, I helped. I couldn’t punch them because I didn’t want to spread spores. Ditto using the sonics because blasting them with sound was essentially bludgeoning. I had to be careful with using boombots because once I was out, I could only hope my flying resupply pods would make it through.
The same was true with using my laser, but I had a lot more energy than I did boombots.
Unlike Cassie’s gun, my laser couldn’t shoot an effective wide beam and burn multiple zombie completely to ashes all at once. It shot a beam that could either be continuous or pulse—my choice.
When another section of fence fell over, I shot forward with the rockets, landing next to a section that hadn’t gone down, and aiming at their legs, separating them from their torsos and leaving the bodies in a pile of limbs.
A few of the torsos still pulled themselves forward, but the loose legs only flopped around.
The beam could cut through a battleship given time. Zombies weren’t much of a hindrance. They could have been. If they’d had more brains, they’d have tried to go around me or straight at me. While I could still aim at them from the air, I needed to be on the ground shooting in a straight line to get the area effect that I was trying for.
Even then it only worked because I wasn’t alone. Izzy and Jaclyn ran up, pushed the poles holding the section of fence back up. Then Izzy pounded the poles back into the ground. The fence wasn’t as high as it had been, but it was there and still holding zombies back.
It would be nice to imagine in that moment that we’d solved the problem.
It was better and it gave me time to burn the zombies left on the road to ash, but it was so far from over that if I’d thought it was, I might have cried in either anger or despair within seconds.
Jaclyn and Izzy took advantage of Cassie, Vaughn, and Amy’s work to push up the section of fence nearest to them as well.
Anyone who looked at the fence had no illusions that it would hold forever—not against the horde gathering behind it. I couldn’t imagine what Hunter had been thinking to seed the place with enough of whatever stuff he generated to get this many creatures.
Of course, this could be a mutation. If so, I could only hope it didn’t evolve into something even worse.
I flew over the fence and aimed down the block. It wasn’t as good as being on the ground, but with the right angle and distance, I could still hit a lot of them at a time. Cutting off their heads didn’t have much of an effect, but cutting their arms off and torsos in half made it harder to scale or tear down a fence.
Plus, I got lucky… By then Vaughn had recovered enough to start throwing down lightning from the clouds he’d gathered. I felt hope surge inside me even though I knew the fences were coming down. It was only a question of how long we (and by extension, all of the people left in the houses on the other side of the street) had.
It was in the middle of that that Major Justice called back, “I can see that this is a problem. I’ll send people in.”
“Great,” I said, “thanks. Please, though, if you’re thinking you’re going to keep a bunch of people in reserve for later, please don’t. If you do, there won’t be a later.”