Chapter 62: Departure (Part 2)
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There were muted protests at Gary’s plan to leave. Chantelle and Peter, in particular, weren’t keen on the idea.

“You’re abandoning us?” Chantelle asked.

“No. I’ll be back at some point. But you’re going to be safe here and I’ve got things I need to do.”

James and Gemma made vague noises about it being better if Gary stayed. For once, Fran had little to say other than agreeing it was ‘probably for the best, all things considered’.

Milligan, the only remaining soldier, spoke up.

“If you’re going out there, then I should come with you.”

“Bad idea,” Gary said. “You’ll just attract the undead to me. I’ll be better off by myself. You need to stay here with the others, work with them. Rain, you’re going to stay as well.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Rain said, gesturing to her hobbled left leg. “Not like this. Even with Peter’s healing, it’s going to take time for me to get back to my usual speed and strength. If that’s even possible.”

“Okay. So you stay here as well. You can teach them what you know.”

“Teach?” Rain repeated, her voice incredulous. “What do I know about teaching?”

Chantelle raised a hand. “I’ll take first class with Rain. Coolest teacher ever. No offence Mr Mitchell.”

“Some taken,” Jonathan said, “But yes, that makes sense. According to the rules, it’s possible to gain experience and level up through practise and repetition. Slower than killing things, but it’s something we can all work on.”

Rain continued to look disconcerted, “I’m not sure I…”

“That’s that decided,” Jonathan said.

Rain scowled at him, then shrugged.

“We’ll need to scout for food supplies, medical stuff, equipment,” James said. “Plus, we’re going to have to work out how to run the farm. I’ve no idea where to begin, so I guess we need to raid some libraries or something?”

“Not like we can learn anything from the internet anymore,” Gemma agreed.

“We can organise all of that in the morning,” Jonathan said. “Right now, we need to get some rest and sort out a watch and patrol system. I want three people on watch at all times, checking the map and the area. We cannot afford to get sloppy on this, especially without Gary to help us defeat any undead that come our way.”

“We could put some kind of alert system around the perimeter,” Peter mused, “Something with tripwires and pots and pans that would make a noise if broken. And I keep thinking we should do something with firetraps.”

“Good,” Jonathan nodded, “Another thing to add onto the to-do list. The major advantage we have over the undead is they’re dumb and predictable, mostly. At lower levels, they’re slow, apart from the skeletons. We need to work out how to use all of their weaknesses to our advantage.”

“When are you leaving, Gary?” Peter asked.

“Now, and I’m taking the Land Rover. You can keep my van, and you’ve got another car here and Peter’s car. I might need the extra space if I run across any other survivors. Plus, I figure there’s less chance of anyone trying to take pot-shots at me if I’m driving a British military vehicle.”

“I wouldn’t count on that,” Milligan said, but he handed Gary the keys, anyway.

*

Before Gary climbed into the Land Rover, Rain took him to one side.

“What about the prophecy?”

Gary shrugged, “I already told you I think it’s bullshit,” Gary said. “Even if there is some kind of chosen prince of darkness or whatever, it won’t be me. The prophecy is all broken, anyway. I mean, what was that line about resisting the call to slaughter three times? I’ve killed a bunch of people already, so I can’t see how any of it applies.”

Rain pursed her lips.

“Technically it does,” she said, “According to the most common interpretation, it means that the messiah will resist the urge to slaughter the helpless and innocent en masse before giving in to the impulse to kill a large number of people. And you resisted twice, at the church and then just a few hours ago when you didn’t kill Jonathan and the others at the farmhouse. The prophecy still applies, in theory.”

Gary shook his head, “Rain, I know it’s important to you and I know it’s a struggle for you to hear this, but I just don’t believe any of it, okay? It’s just your typical cult-like nonsense. Even if there is a single bit of truth in it, it’s just not who I am or who I’m ever going to be. I think I’ve proved that by now.”

Rain considered, then nodded.

“That... makes things simpler, then. I will stay here.”

“As long as that’s what you want,” Gary said, “I didn’t mean to ambush you back there, but I think you could do a lot of good here.”

Rain frowned.

“I agree. When we met I was running. I just wanted to get as far away from everything as possible. But now... perhaps it’s better to use the skills I have to fight for the living. I mean, if you can do it with just a shovel and a stubborn attitude, how hard can it be?”

“Are you saying I’ve changed you?”

“Maybe. So, you know, thanks. Unless I end up dead because of it, in which case I’ll come back to haunt you.”

Gary grinned. “That seems fair. Here, your knives. I guess you’ll be needing them.”

He held the two Nightblades in his hand.

Rain looked at them, then shook her head.

“No.”

“No?”

“They’re the last connection to my past and my people. I should have thrown them away months ago. You take them. I don’t want them anymore.”

Rain breathed out as Gary placed the Nightblades in his belt.

“This is... good,” she nodded, “I need to let some things go.”

Gary smiled, turned the key in the Land Rover’s ignition, and drove away.

“You ready to take first watch, Miss Rain?” Jonathan asked.

Rain nodded as Gary drove away from the McPearson’s farm.

“Yes. I just can’t help feeling I forgot to warn Gary about something…”

*

It was a two minute drive down the side of the hill to the road. A mist was blowing through the valley and Gary paused at the junction. He had a moment’s hesitation.

“What do you think, buddy?” he muttered to Simon in the passenger seat. “We can still just find somewhere safe and hole up until all this is over. We don’t need to go out there.”

He twiddled with the radio, and was rewarded by a sudden burst of speech.

“If anyone is out there...we’re at Oxford Castle, we’re surrounded and there’s no way out...we need help...our ammunition is almost spent and the dead just won’t stop coming...is there anyone out there…?”

The transmission cut out.

“Oxford it is,” Gary said. “Sounds like as good a place to start as any.”

He hit the indicator to turn left, then realised there was no point. There wasn’t any traffic, of course, and Gary doubted there would be any much for the foreseeable future. Some habits were going to take a while to die out, whilst other ones formed in this strange new reality that he was now a part of.

He turned onto the main road towards Oxford.

Through the mist, a figure appeared.

Gary squinted as the figure’s familiar black robes became clearer.

Behind the first figure, three more appeared, one carrying a giant axe, another dressed in bloodstained white and gold robes and the fourth in a robin-hood style outfit.

“You have got to be joking,” Gary said.

Four notifications popped.

Your Revenant has arrived (Zafier level 6 Revenant, Necromancer)!

Kill your Revenant before it kills you!

Your Revenant has arrived (Forge level 8 Revenant, Warrior)!

Kill your Revenant before it kills you!

Your Revenant has arrived (Morgan level 6 Revenant, Rogue)!

Kill your Revenant before it kills you!

Your Revenant has arrived (Annabel level 4 Revenant, Cleric)!

Kill your Revenant before it kills you!

Following the four were half a dozen zombies, all heading towards Gary.

Gary gawped at the sight of his former foes as they trudged along the road in the mist towards him.

Unlike Zafier, Forge, Morgan and Annabel had all taken a steep level loss since coming back as undead. Of them all, Zafier was the most powerful. Gary presumed that this was something to do with Zafier having been the initial revenant, with the others taking the damage that Rain had described to him when killed, coming back weaker than before.

It didn’t matter, either way. He was still a Level 3 zombie and each of the revenants was more powerful than Gary was.

Gary narrowed his eyes.

“Okay, okay,” he muttered, “Let’s do this...”

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