Sep 12, 2011


“I am sorry we had to wait until the last day for this,” LeFleur said as he picked at the spaghetti noodles on his plate. Sitting before him was Emma Mitchell. This was their first date. “Your father is meticulous in making us work for-”

“You don't gotta make excuses, Chris,” Emma said after swallowing a bite. They sat in one of six remaining Italian restaurants in the world and the only one in Lisbon. Emma was told that post-apocalyptic Italian food was not as good as it was before the outbreak, but she would never know the difference. Besides, ruining spaghetti is a difficult achievement. “Just glad we managed to find time.”

“Me too,” LeFleur smiled politely. He did his very best not to lose himself in her. He had been dreaming about this date for a long time and it was difficult not to get caught up in the moment; in her. Her gray-green eyes captivated him. There was no escape. “So, tell me, have you thought of ever leaving the Holdsworth?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know,” LeFleur twirled his fork. “Finding something a bit more stable, a bit more-”

“Chris,” Emma sighed. “I'm happy where I am. I wouldn't dream of anything but doin' what I'm doin'. I like the action, I like the movement. I like that there is no routine. It's a fast life. And we're doin' stuff that makes a difference.”

“I see,” LeFleur took a bite, an obvious stalling measure.

“What? You're thinkin' about retiring your post?”

He nodded.

“How come?”

“I have given four years to the Holdsworth, doing what I can to do good, but... I don't know.”

“Talk about it.”

He dropped his fork, “I am tired of life being so close to death. I see people hurt all the time, I see friends die. We see those- those monsters all the time. I want to see the other side, I want to find peace. In my- my naivete, I was, well, nevermind.”



“Come on, Chris, you can't let leave me hangin' like that!”

He took a sip of the wine sitting before him, “I was hoping that you would join me, but I can see-”

“Chris, that's a lot to ask.”

“I- I know.”

“I like you, Chris.”

He smiled, “I know.”

“But I just don't know if I'm ready for-” Distant gunfire erupted. Emma instinctively reached for her pistol, but stopped herself before drawing it. She instead pushed herself out of her seat, “That sounded like it came from the docks.”

“Oui,” LeFleur nodded as he stood.

“Come on, we're gonna go check it out,” Emma said as she started her way out of the restaurant.

Before LeFleur could protest, she was already out the door. He looked around at the other, confused patrons and then realized they expected him to pay. Lefleur sighed and then left some money on the table before following Emma out. He found her walking at a steady pace, but as soon as caught up, she changed up to a jog. The dock was only a few miles away, but the prospect of a run did not tickle LeFleur's fancy. Of course, Emma could handle it, but the Frenchman did not train as hard as she did.

As they ran, the people of Lisbon seemed reasonably frightened by the ordeal, but gunfire was not an unusual ordeal. Every once in a while, a few zombies would show up at the town fence lines and the guards would have to put them down. And sadly, looting never ceased in its existence as a while of life after the apocalypse. The Lisbon military did their best preserve order, but sadly not every crime could be stopped. LeFleur hoped this was just another one of those crimes, but the proximity to the Holdsworth warranted more than a little suspicion. Everyone in Lisbon should have known that some of the best fighting men and women were aboard and that they were relentless. Just being at port usually meant a drastic dip in the crime rate. The more LeFleur thought about it, the more Emma's concern made sense.

That was when LeFleur remembered that he had left his pistol back on the ship. If they were to get in a firefight, then he would be useless. But somehow, he felt reasonably safe. It didn't take him long to realize why: Emma Mitchell was there jogging in front of him. He had seen her perform miracles with firearms. But if the metaphor of miracles was stretched, Emma is just a prophet and not a goddess. To LeFleur she might as well have been.

About three-quarters of the way there, the shooting came to a lull. Emma slowed down and put her hand on her pistol.

“What is it?” asked LeFleur.

“We're being watched,” she came to a full stop, drew her G2, and flipped the safety off.

“How do you know?”

“Instinct,” Emma surveyed the area, looking for wherever someone might be hiding. It was a simple cobblestone street with houses and cars on either side. She and LeFleur stood in the middle, with the Frenchman standing slightly behind her. “Come out!”

LeFleur shook.

“Maybe it's nothing,” Emma kept her pistol raised. She checked behind them.

Merde!” LeFleur exclaimed as a dark figure emerged from behind a car. “Behind you!”

Emma swiveled on her right foot to face their attacker. She made eye contact just in time to see the bullet jump through the rifle's flame. Her right arm, her shooting arm, tore right down the side, stopping at the elbow. Emma forced herself not to scream as she realized her pistol slipped from her fingers. Suddenly, her thigh burst open. She felt the warmth of her own blood as she lost balance and fell to the ground, this time hollering in pain. On instinct, Emma pulled herself to cover behind a nearby car.

LeFleur crawled his way to Emma, “Oh! Are you alright?”

“The hell does it look like!” Emma snarled. She groaned in pain, tried to push it aside, make it stop. As soon as clarity returned, she grunted to LeFleur, “You need to get my gun.”

“What?” Lefleur panicked. “I've never-”

“Chris, you need to get my gun and take this guy out or we're both dead!”

He hesitated.

“Chris! Now!”

He looked her back in the eye and nodded. Pushing aside all fear, LeFleur darted over to the pistol, picked it up, and brought it to bear. Just as Emma was sure he would shoot, just as she was sure it was all about to end- it did. LeFleur's face burst in rhythm with the rifle's report. His lifeless body went limp. First has arms dropped to his side, the Taurus making its journey to the street, then his knees gave out, and finally he hit the ground face first.

Emma shook. She put her left hand over mouth to keep quiet as she fought the need to cry. In her mind, she knew was next. Whoever had attacked them was coming. She could hear the boot steps as he came ever closer. Emma remembered the combat knife in her scabbard, but decided against even trying. There was no point. Bringing a knife to a gunfight is stupid. She realized that she was out of options. There was no way to win, no way out of it.

Kobayashi Maru.

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