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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Home again


Mr Fox

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Fox carefully placed his weapons back in their racks in his underground home in the missile launch facility. It was good to be home. Everything had worked out at the cultist's enclave, all mission objectives had been achieved. Still, it just hadn't felt good. It wasn't a clean victory like the first days of Afghanistan, it was more like Iraq. They went and did what they'd set out to do, but it just felt dirty.

He had just come out of the shower when Jules walked in. He suspected he'd be hearing from her soon. The compound was not in the pristine condition he'd left it in. Not that it had been all that pristine then, but still. She came bursting into the bedroom just as he was buttoning his pants. He still hadn't put a clean tshirt on yet and while it wasn't anything to be embarrassed about, it did feel a little awkward. She blushed and turned around and he blushed as well. "Sorry, I should have locked the door."

At the exact same instant she said, "I'm sorry, I should have knocked."

He chuckled, "It's ok. So what happened while I was gone? Looks like things got interesting."

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She tilted her head, her back still to him. "Well, the quarantine worked... to isolate people so someone could attack them." She sighed and added, "Ger's still working out exactly what happened there. One of the new people was shot; I'm not sure if she'll make it. It's still muddled."

"I'm dressed," he said as the shirt settled around him. "Now, what's all this?"

Jules turned around and laid out the details she'd gotten from Ger. "Our guards were disabled, and someone set fire to the quarantine building and blocked the door. Then they had a sniper - someone was determined to kill someone in there. And they opened the outer gate and let zombies into the quarantine area, but they were stopped before anyone got bit. As I said, Ger's getting the final details, but I think it could be worse than it is."

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"Well, that's not good. We'll have to look into better quarantine facilities so that we can keep group separate." He sighed, Well, at least the inner compound wasn't breeched and none of their people were hurt. He frowned as he asked it aloud, "The refuge itself wasn't breached right? None of our people were hurt?"

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"No," Jules said. "I had to scale the fence to get into quarantine myself. And some of our guards were knocked unconscious. I think it was with tranqs, but I haven't confirmed with Ger yet. One of our... guests, one I didn't get to met yet, was able to keep the zombs away from the guards and saved their asses." She shrugged. "We'll have the details soon."

She bit her lip, paused and said softly, "I don't think this second-in-command thing is going to work. I didn't do so hot today. Not only was your quarantine breached, but I made a really bad showing as your rep when I cut loose verbally on some people." She sighed. "You might... want to reconsider that thought."

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Morgan listened but didn't give any indication of what he thought, "You cut loose on some poeple? Tell me about that." He smiled then, "but tell me about it over dinner. I'm completely starved. Technically, I don't need to eat any more but after all the exercised of flying several hundred miles today I could use the fuel."

He led the way into the other room and started going through the cabinets and fridge looking for something decent to eat. It wasn't hard, everything sounded good and he pulled a steak our of the fridge and a can of beans. "What I wouldn't give for a good old baked potato right now." He sighed.

She stepped up to help out and searched through the drawers for a can opener. Morgan reached over and opened one of the drawers for her to reveal the can opener. Meanwhile he turned on the stove and got out a cast iron skillet. Felt good to have someone around to share the little moments with. He hoped she didn't decide to leave because she was feeling like she hadn't done a good job today. Leaders were made in a day after all.

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Jules focused on the meal, putting aside her discomfort. She wanted to have this over with, so Morgan could make her move out or just demote her. He probably wouldn't kick her out; she was family. But he could turn her into his house frau, and she'd probably take it.

She paused in stirring the beans. When she'd been on the run with Ben, she'd never for a second lost her focus like this. She felt like she could drift through the rest of her life without doing anything of note ever again. And she'd like it, or rather, she'd not not like it enough to change it.

When the food was made, she sat down with Morgan. She let him bring up the subject again. "One of the guys, Ira, made a crack about this being Beverly Hills and how not everyone got to live in the lap of luxury, but I just took that in stride," she said softly. "Then the old guy started to talk about how he wanted to be able to give me whatever I wanted..." She stopped, trying to collect herself. It wasn't just embarrassing, but it made her think of Ben.

"I lost it," she said softly. "I started ranting about how all I wanted was Ben... my family. He wasn't that bad, it was just... it felt like he was talking down to me, going on about the small things mattering. Fuck the small things. My-" Jules stopped suddenly, pushing her plate away. "Anyway, I messed up. Sorry."

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Morgan knew what mattered to this woman. Everything that mattered was gone. She had lost everyone she had ever cared about and some pissant had been bitching about little stuff. He could almost picture the scene even though he didn't know her all that well. He stopped in mid chew as he thought about it, but quickly swallowed and took a drink.

"First of all, I don't think it's that big of a deal, secondly I think it's pretty understandable given what you've just been through. If it had been me, I would have shown him the gate and told him he could march his bitching ass right through it if he didn't like being here. No one is forcing anyone to stay here and if someone from outside envy's what we have then too bad for them. They are welcome to settle here as long as they don't make trouble and follow my rules."

He reached across the table and put his hand over her's where it gripped her fork in white knuckles. "About firing you... I think I'm going to wait till tomorrow and see how that goes if it's all the same to you. I need someone doing the job I gave you, and I need that someone to be one of the special people. So I think I'll just wait and see how tomorrow goes." He smiled to let Jules know he didn't really mean to fire her the next day. "And tomorrow night, I think I'm going to need another day to decide. Come to think of it the rest of my week is pretty busy. Maybe I'll get around to firing you next week. Or the week after."

He squeezed her hand then almost reluctantly let it go it was nice to know there was someone else here.

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She wasn't sure if that was a good thing, but she didn't have the heart to argue it right now. His ploy was clear and it made her feel like he meant to shoehorn her into this job. What if she really couldn't do it? Surely he'd realize that if she continued to mess it up.

She returned the squeeze of his hand, managing to give him a smile. At least he seemed to enjoy having her around. If he felt obligated to care about her, it'd be awkward if he didn't like her.

"Please tell me your mission went better?" she asked, still ignoring the rest of her food. She wasn't hungry. Morgan ate it when she didn't, so it wasn't like it got wasted.

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Morgan sighed. "I wish I could. We accomplished all of our objectives including killing only the demented cult leader and none of his flock of crazy sheep, but it didn't feel like a clean victory. We ran into a pair of traders that had just been traded some plague infected medical supplies and they decided to join the party and that just shot our battle plan all to hell. Bond, James Bond, if you can believe the name, is a pretty decent guy and will be coming here to trade tomorrow or the next day. But he and his partner went rushing in the front door and preventing us from just stealthily grabbing Elijah. James nearly died when he tried to disarm a bomb they had rigged the building with. And that Gabrielle girl that looked like the poster child for orphan Angels decided to stay behind to help rehabilitate the crazed sheep. I hope she manages it, but I'm afraid a few of them will try and follow Elijah's example. I hope that girl has the stones to do what's necessary."

He stopped the rant and took a drink of coke. "So yeah, it was successful but not much fun. I think folks are going to need a few days to recover before we make the Dallas run."

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Her fingers traced a scratch in the table absently as he talked, her dark eyes distant. "Rest can't be bad... James is going to be ok?" Jules didn't look terribly concerned; more like she knew that she was supposed to ask after his well-being. But then, Morgan hadn't seen much emotion from her other than sorrow. It was natural, a part of the grieving cycle, but still sometimes hard to see.

"Are you going to want me to stay here on the Dallas run, too?" she asked softly. She guessed that was the case, since he still wanted to her to be assistant. And she was willing to stay behind for now. He'd just better not try that when they went to New Mexico.

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Morgan thought for a bit then nodded, "Yeah, I would like you to stick around since you'll be going on the New Mexico run. Best not to be gone too much. Hell, I shouldn't really be going on the New Mexico run either, but I just can't bring myself to stay behind on a mission like that. I figure it will be a much bloodier than the trip today." He ignored the question about James however, the less he had to think about that man and his situation the better. Eventually he was going to have to have that talk with his little harem or more accurately Violet's.

He tried to look away from the grief in her eyes and the conflicting emotions. He wanted to hug her or something but he wasn't very comfortable with that sort of thing and he felt doubly awkward because it was his brothers wife, even if he was dead. A little touch of the grief Jules was feeling touched Morgan as he thought about his brother being dead. It's not like they'd been close for years but he knew he'd have to make time to sort out his feelings eventually. For known he had other things to do. He needed to meet these new arrivals and assess the situation, so he pushed his feelings to the back.

He cleared his throat, "So what can you tell me about these new people?"

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"One is a young man traveling with a young woman who won't speak to anyone but him. That's Ira and Cassie. The other is an older man named Wesson, traveling with his granddaughter, Min. I haven't met Walker, but he's from somewhere called Roff that was overrun. He has a prisoner with him who is responsible for it, somehow. She's the one who was shot." Jules paused and shook her head. "I don't know why.

"Anyway, it looks like three guys working together; two set fire to the quarantine building while another snipered."

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"Ugh. So were any of the three captured?" He cut straight to the most important matter as his military training taught him. Of the things Jules had mentioned the highest priority was potential saboteurs on the loose. At some other point he would deal with the other things she said like the niceties of asking after young people visiting the compound. He was however, a seasoned soldier so he didn't just leap up from his meal, no point till he had more information. Might as well enjoy the steak as much as possible.

He could see that Jules was really concerned that things had gone wrong on her watch. There wasn't much he could do about that unfortunately, confidence came with time, and it was built from weathering the storms like this one. Next time around she would either be more confident and act with more decisiveness or she would be weaker and break easier. He didn't figure her for the weak kind. She had made it this far through the crucible of pain and anguish without completely breaking, she would make it through something as small and inconsequential as this.

Still, there was no sense in letting her stand alone when he could stand with her. Good CO's always backed their people and she was more than a soldier, she was family as odd as that was. "Jules, sounds like you had a very challenging first day on the job. You made it through without significant losses and from what you say things could have gone considerably worse. Don't sweat the little stuff ok? Just focus on the big things and take them one at a time." He squeezed her hand again.

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"Two were captured," Jules said, "one killed. His body is outside the gate still."

Morgan took her hand again, and she blinked at him. He hadn't been this expressive before, had he? She tried to remember, but she couldn't. The only thing she really remembered was a bonfire, flames eating away a small corpse. It was all washing together, a sludge of pain and dull agony.

But she nodded. It was what he wanted her to do, and she had to do what he wanted until after New Mexico, at the least. Then, she could relax, and he would, by then, see what a wreck she was. "Focus on the big," she repeated, smiling at him. "Gotcha."

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He wolfed down his last bite. "We should call a quick meeting and sort this out. I don't want to go to bed with this needing to be dealt with. Shall we?" He stood and clicked on his radio and switched it to the security channel, "Ger, I want to meet with the new folk and sort out the situation that you guys just had. Have everyone meet at the HQ and call the rest of the specials as well. Thanks."

Through the earpiece he heard Ger's reply, "Sure thing boss." He grinned and looked at Jules, "Don't sweat it really, we'll get it sorted out. You haven't been through OCS so I don't expect you to be General Patton's long lost daughter over night or anything." He smiled a warm and friendly smile at her. He hoped she would get over the things that had happened to her over the last few months, he'd known good soldiers who couldn't handle war, and what she'd been through and lost was worse than any war.

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Jules nodded and stood, gathering the plates. She cleaned them off quickly and then turned. "I'll come with, if you don't mind. I'm curious about what actually happened."

Morgan nodded. "Of course, I meant for you to come anyway." He gave her another warm smile, which she returned before they left.

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