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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Die Another Day [Bond's Tale: Part 1] [Complete]


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They listened to the radio wordlessly, huddled together against the horrors they were seeing there. The news was covering the disaster around the clock: 24 hours, 7 days a week. The couple, a man and a woman, were eating beans from the tins as she snuggled back against him, taking scant comfort from each other.

They were listening to the world die.

The plague had hit suddenly without warning almost a week ago. The tv news had covered it at first, right here from the CNN building in New York. But that had gone off the air yesterday as the zombies overran Manhattan. Now only a few distant radio stations continued to broadcast, and they listened to the BBC World Service as it chronicled estimated death tolls and infection rates worldwide and various coordinated attempts to find a cure. But all of this was guesswork, nothing was known about the Z-Virus, as people had started to call it. What was known was that it was virulent, deadly, and led to the infected rising as shambling mockeries of their former selves.

Eventually the man reached out and turned the radio off before wrapping his arms around the woman and squeezing her tightly. She returned the gesture, and he felt her tears on his neck as she silently cried. Stroking her hair, he fought back his own tears, knowing that their families were dead, most of their friends were either dead or in hiding like them. The woman went still in his arms for a moment, breathing steadily as though she were considering something.

"James?" She looked up at him, her eyes shining with tears. She only called him James when they were alone, when she wanted to say something just for his ears, when she wanted him to hear her heart speak. He was usually Jim to everyone.

"Yes?" He asked quietly, not liking the intent look in her tearful eyes.

"If I... If I get sick..." she stopped and screwed up her courage. "Would you promise that you'll kill me? Please?" She added with deadly urgency as he started to shake his head. "There's the gun in the drawer there. They say that those things are tough, but a bullet through the brain will kill someone infected and they won't rise afterwards."

"Cassie, there's no way I'd ever-" he started to argue, but she twisted, grabbing his shirt and gripping it hard, her eyes blazing.

"You listen to me, James Bond!" Cassie near-screamed. "I don't want to die a slow painful death! I don't want to become a cannibalistic fucking zombie! God! What if I...? What if I ate you?"

"Okay!" he shouted back, surrendering to the logic unwillingly. "I get it! You don't want to be a zombie." He calmed down as she relaxed her grip and sank back against him, fresh tears coming. He stroked her red hair, his voice coming in a whisper now. "I won't let that happen. To either of us. We won't get infected, Cass. You'll see. We just need to be clever about it."

"Yeah..." her voice was muffled by his shirt as she buried her face against his chest. "It's just... I'd kill you. If you were going to die slow and painful, I'd do that for you, James." She gazed up at him with a tender look in her eyes. "Because I love you, and I wouldn't want you to suffer like that. But you..." she smiled and shook her head fondly, stroking his cheek, "You're too sweet. Too gentle in the wrong ways. You'd keep clinging to hope when there was none. You're the best man in the world, James Bond, but I need you to be tough if the worst happens, okay?"

"Yeah." Jim smiled at her, tears flowing from his own eyes as he considered the matter, considered... killing her. "I suppose it would be the right thing to do, no matter how hard it would be. But listen! Let's try not to get infected, alright?"

"Deal." She relaxed further against him, her lips brushing his as she murmured. "I love you, Mr Bond." She laid her head on his shoulder and started to doze under his stroking fingers.

"Love you too, Moneypenny." he told her with a faint smile as he dredged up the old joke. His thoughts were not as lighthearted. James Bond and Moneypenny, hiding together in a New York apartment while the rest of the world became zombies. he mused blackly. Well, he'd just have to make sure that they made it. The zombies weren't real walking dead, after all. They were just mutations or something like that. Sooner or later they'd have nothing to eat except each other. All Jim and Cassie needed to do was wait them out and be smart.

Yeah. Keep it clever, keep it together. You are James Bond, after all. he thought wryly as he, too, drifted off to sleep. If anyone besides Chuck Norris would survive the zombie apocalypse, it would have to be James Bond.

The tiny apartment was quiet as they slept together, as outside the world slowly died, life by life extinguished in an cataclysm some called God's judgement.

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Cassiopiea got sick four days later.

Jim knew it was serious from the first onset of symptoms. Her temperature rose, her skin became papery and hot to the touch. She couldn't eat or sleep right, and when she vomited, there was blood mixed with the mess. He tried everything from the medical supplies he had looted. Nothing worked. By the second day even morphine only dulled the pain slightly, it didn't kill it altogether. And somehow her body was metabolising the stuff faster and faster. Soon no drugs would work. Cass tossed and turned in a fevered delirium, murmuring weird disjointed words and occasionally snarling when he came near.

On the night of the second day, she quieted. Jim was immediately by her side, testing her breathing, desperately willing for her not to be dead. His heart leapt as he realised she was still alive, and the fever had broken. Suddenly she spoke, the words a shard of ice driven into his heart.

"Kill me..."

"Cass. No. You're getting over it. See? You're going to live!" Jim smiled at her, tears of happy denial near blinding him. The woman he loved shook her skull-like head.

"Nooo..." her voice was hoarse, the lining of her throat damaged by the disease. "I... I'm dying, James."

"No. No you're not. You can't be." Jim shook his head over and over again, sobbing quietly. Cass reached up and touched his face gently with a skeletal hand, her gentle smile looking ghoulish in the lamplight.

"I have two more days... of this. You... promised... Mr Bond." And he had. And for all his sins, for all that before they met he was a wastrel and a rake, he had never broken faith with her.

"Cass..." he moaned, stroking her hair as he leaned over her prone form. The pistol was in the drawer next to the bed. He could feel her breath rattling though tattered lungs. He fumbled the gun out and took the safety off, chambering a round.

"James..." she rasped up at him. "Thank... you..."

His breath came now in gasping, whooping sobs as he tried to steady his hand. I can't! It's Cass! IT'S CASS! the pistol's muzzle touched the sallow skin of her temple and he saw her disease-thinned lips part in a dreadfully peaceful smile.

"I... love you. Mr... Bond." she told him for the last time. Jim leaned down over her and kissed her brow, his tears falling into her eyes, not caring about the plague, not caring about how she looked now. He remembered a day in Central Park in autumn, the leaves on the ground and the smile on her face as she danced with him through the piles of red and gold-

"Love you, Moneypenny."

There was the muffled *crack* of a gunshot.

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The next day, it was his turn. His urine was tinged with blood when he woke up after a nightmare-filled sleep in which a zombie Cass was eating his face whilst gargling "Kill me, Mr Bond. Kill me!"

So now he had the plague. Jim didn't care a monkey's fart. He would suffer two days as Cass had as a punishment for himself, then he would blow his own damn brains out. If there was an afterlife, at least he wouldn't be arriving shambling.

His mood was darkly humorous as the plague started to ravage his body and mind. What a fucking mess the world was. A man had to blow out his own fiancee's brains, then his own or risk brains replacing wedding cake at the nuptial dinner. He laughed until he puked at that thought, then lay back again. There was nothing but static on the radio or television so he put on a movie, Casino Royale, watching it with a half-interested air as his namesake, the real James Bond went through his own story of tragedy and loss.

"Handled it about as well as I would've..." he murmured to himself, somewhat delirious now. "Heh... hehe... Nah, a real James Bond would've saved the world from the Z-Virus. Well, too BAD, world!" he yelled hoarsely in bitter fury. "You got stuck with the cheap Taiwanese imitation!" The shouting drained him and he sat back again, grumbling to himself, and sank into a fitful sleep.

He spun through a kaleidoscope of images, real life and Bond movies blurring together in his minds-eye. If he had been faster, if he had been smarter, if he hadn't hesitated then Cass wouldn't have suffered. Bond was an ice man. Bond never missed, never got caught short, never cried. Bond... Bond... Bond...James Bond...

He kept rising out of slumber, his mouth parched, his head throbbing. He was dying, he knew it, but he couldn't see or feel accurately enough to even grab the gun. Too late he realised he'd left it in the bedroom, with Cass. He tried to rise and swooned again, spiralling back down into dreams and thoughts that were his yet not his, a pair of cold blue eyes smiling at him as he sank lower and lower...

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Six Weeks Later

"...And then when I woke up I was different." he explained, a faint smile on his handsome lips as he looked down at the girl who was currently toying with his broad chest. A lovely young woman of Asian descent, she had been spared the usual ravages of post-apocalyptic life by using her looks to snare the attention of men who could take care of her. Lien, for that was her name, was beautiful and good at feigning passion and interest in those men she fixed her sights on. Which is why Jim was opening up to her, having just taken her to his bed and having spent the last four hours in a state best described as in flagrante. "I was stronger, smarter. My eyes even changed colour. Very strange indeed." Lien looked up at him with her dark mysterious gaze, a smile curling her kiss-reddened lips.

"What a strange and sad story..." she breathed, leaning up to kiss him. Jim smiled a little in response, his blue eyes still somber and slightly sad. "I could make you happy." she kissed his brow over each eye. "We could look after each other. I'm tired of this place. I could go with you when you leave." she said in a seductive, teasing voice. He smiled at her, the sorrow leaving his eyes as he tilted his head, hearing footsteps coming up the wooden stairs.

"Actually..." And his hand came out from under the pillow he was leaning back against, a sleekly lethal gold-finished pistol held easily in it's grasp as he leveled it at the door. The girl's eyes were wide as her mind caught up with the quicksilver change in her bedmate's demeanour, then realised he was armed. And expecting the company that she knew was coming. Jim's eyes twinkled merrily as he finished "...You've done plenty to make me happy already, Lien."

Too late for her to shout a warning, the door was kicked open and the Desert Eagle spoke, the shot a roar in the confines of the bedchamber. The .50 caliber hollowpoint took the first man in the face right under the Lexan visor of his police issue riot armour, painted a vivid scarlet. The inside of the helmet matched the gaudy armour now as the man stumbled and fell backwards through the doorway. Lien screamed, and the two men outside cursed and flattened against the wall in the corridor as they realised that their prey was in fact the hunter. Jim leveled the gun and fired twice more as he rolled naked from the bed, the first bullet tearing through the dry wall and hitting a second man in the ribcage with enough force to knock him sideways, right into the path of the second bullet, which painted the wall opposite crimson with his blood.

The third man, seeing his compatriots fall, flung down his weapon and ran, heavy boots thumping down the stairs. Jim rolled to his feet and walked casually over to the window overlooking the street below. He opened the shutter just as the door below banged open and the last crimson-daubed assailant rushed out into the enclave's night-time street. Bond whistled sharply at him from the window, and the panicked man actually turned to look back and up...

Straight into a bullet. The few people abroad at this hour looked from the dead man to the naked one overhead and shrugged to themselves. Such was life in the god-fearing enclave of Charity, Connecticut. The Englishman smiled wryly and turned back into the room, only to see Lien pointing his other gun at him, her lovely face angrily composed as she clutched a sheet to her chest.

"I thought you'd have one under each pillow, Jim, if that's really your name." She smirked, keeping the gun on him. "You're pretty good. I wonder if you're interested in job working for me." He cocked his head to one side, his smile widening.

"So you're Scarlet Dragon. A woman. I thought so, but wasn't sure." Lien snorted at what she believed was forced casualness on his part.

"Yeah, I got word that you'd been hired to clean me and my gang out. I've been so damn careful not to call attention to my little racket here, but you had to play your damn games." She raised the gun to point at his face. Jim shrugged, apparently unconcerned.

"At least I get to go out with a bang, even if it was a little damp and disappointing." He smirked at her, his pale eyes dancing. Lien's nostrils flared, and she pulled the trigger spasmodically.

The *clack* of an empty chamber was somehow louder in the cramped room than the thunder of gunfire. Lien racked the slide back in a hurry and pulled the trigger again, eyes widening as a second *clack* sounded.

"Yes, a gun under each pillow." Jim said as he closed the shutter with one hand. "Pity only one was loaded, isn't it? I'm afraid your 'little racket' of murdering strangers and selling their belongings is over, my dear. You killed the wrong man's brother last time."

Lien let the gun fall from her hand with a dull thunk, her face pale now. "Please. Don't kill me." Tears started from eyes that could melt stone. "I'll give you everything I own and leave. No one will know I'm not dead." Bond shook his head, lips pursed.

"Sorry. I entered into a binding contract. But thanks for the offer: I'll take what you have anyway. It's in the safe downstairs, is it not?" Lien blinked at his cheerful cold-bloodedness, unable to believe what she had seen, what she was seeing now.

"Who the hell ARE you?" she shrieked despite herself. Jim raised the gun in his hand and gave her a crooked smile.

"The name's Bond."

The gun spoke.

"James Bond."

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