Jess kept to the shadows when she heard breathing. Not quite the sounds of a ‘Walker’ (as ManHunter had nicknamed them), but maybe something worse.
The man who had kept her tied up for endless days must have brought all his scouting parties to find her. And the fact that those people might dominate the population in this particular area wasn’t much of a stretch. Sure, it was possible that this was nothing more than one of Alex’ people. But then why were they sneaking?
A careful Jess reached up and freed herself from the strap attached to the sheath. In the leather cover was her sword. Carrying the weapon by hand, she had one grip on the sheath and the other on the Nodachi's handle.
Distant whispers were heard and then the breathing lowered.
She rounded a few shelves, that had been cleaned out, and placed herself on the opposite side of the breathing. Only a low cover separated her and whoever was on the other side. She sneaked closer and got ready.
Chris’s eye’s darted unceremoniously in every direction as he secured, at least in his mind, the portions of store they had traversed so far. They were moving into the interior now, leaving the safety of the more open area behind, so he was paying very close attention. It wasn’t really a stretch at this moment that Chris had not been in this situation before. Enemy territory, dark, not much knowledge of the area or the obstacles it possessed. On top of that, protection detail, thoughts flooded his mind as to the tactics one might use in this situation. The most obvious one to rule out was a frontal assault, he did not consider himself a badass or the scariest of people, but given his size and disposition.. A head on attack is not usually the first route for most. Given what he knew of their supposed adversary, which wasn’t much, they did not look all the big from the glimpse he caught when they entered the store.
Then again who was to say that was the only one in here? Surprise attack, those words kept going through his mind. Anyone with half a brain would go for Norman first, he was big but he was also overweight, Chris would go after him too to get an upper hand. As the brothers both came beside one of the many empty shelves, Chris would stop as he looked around silently, listening. It was low, very low, but he could hear it. There was breathing, beyond Norman’s, most people probably wouldn’t notice if you were not paying close attention. Chris grunted lowly as he would continue to move forward, he was almost certain they were close by, waiting in the shadows, looking for opportunity. He took his finger from the side of the gun and placed it over the trigger of his beretta and prepared to fire. Guessing would get him nowhere, the enemy was going to reveal themselves eventually and when they did he would be more than ready. If they thought they could sneak up like a thief in the night he would show them otherwise.
Still in a crouched position, Jess peeked out from around the corner and saw the cold darkness of the barrel of a gun.
She blinked, looked up and was met with a professional calmness.
This guy was the exact breed that ManHunter preferred. A warrior. He gestured for her to step forward and she complied and stood up. The pistol persistently followed her forehead all the way. Whoever this man was, he did not shake, not even slightly, while he none-verbally communicated that she should drop her sword.
Again, she did as she was told and proceeded by raising her arms up in the air. “I’m not armed,” she mimed. Only now did she notice the other man. Big, was the nicest word for a guy like him.
Why would the giant cannibal welcome a man like that into his fold? Never mind.
Jess’ confusion was hid behind a mask of fake recognition. “It’s you…” she whispered and did her best to act, as if she knew the plus sized guy.
Confusion seemed to overwhelm both men and just as the front guy turned his head, Jess made her move: In one fluid movement she jumped into the armed man’s face. One hand directing his gun, one slamming the side of his head. The firearm dropped, and she delivered a right and left cross that unfortunately did not do the damage she had imagined. Instantly she jumped back from his seemingly unshakable iron jaw.
The belief in fate was a big cornerstone in Jess’ meditation. Maybe a fight like this had been what she really had been training for. Not MMA. Not UFC. Not any of that other pretend. Maybe some kind of force had prepared a fairly peaceful woman for the apocalypse. Prepared her to survive a real fight. How to move, dodge, punch and keep her energy up.
While the opponent’s defense got up (and reflected more experience than she would have hoped for), she slipped into her stance. Then she fired up some of that coordinated footwork, she had spent months perfecting. Determined to not let the heavy opponent control the fight, she danced around, as much as the rows allowed her, and started to rain down series of jabs.
A woman, a younger woman at that, Chris was a little taken aback when he located the one who had been stalking them. It had not been exactly what he was expecting, hell it was the farthest from. He had expected someone bigger, perhaps more intimidating, but a skinny blonde wasn’t exactly on the list. Still, that sword she was cradling told him that she was definitely not as defenseless as he would have wanted to believe. Chris would motion for her to drop it, she would comply willingly as she would raise her hands and claim she was not armed. What happened next was a fury of fast movement mixed with three strong blows most of which had stricken his jaw. Chris would spit a little blood out to the floor as he glared clearly agitated now, not from the blows as much as the fact that he fell for that bullshit feint she used to get him to take his eyes off of her so she could disarm him.
She was fast, very fast and her blows were remarkably sharp, although she definitely did not have much stopping power. This was no normal woman, she had experience with fighting, something of which was supported when she took a fighting stance and began to hop around like a boxer in a ring. It did not take her long before she would move around him, she would start to throw jabs in quick succession. Chris would attempt to block the jabs, but the woman was much faster than he was and a good majority made it through. Again though she did not possess enough strength to seriously harm him, but nonetheless when you get hit three times in the same place it hurts.
Chris agitated quickly grabbed at a nearby shelf and ripped it bodily from the stand and swung it hard for the woman's head. She dodged it quickly, changing the directory of the shelf he slammed it down in front of him and drove off the quick footed woman, she quickly regrouped at a distance regaining her stance. ”Norman, get back now. Move.” Chris was very direct, Norman compiled immediately as he quickly fled away from the scene, Chris would ensure that the woman did not try to pursue him as he blocked the path. Once Norman was at a safe distance Chris finally had his full attention on the woman.
Now that Norman was safely away he could concentrate on her, he would admit she took him by surprise with her ability to fight but no more. She wanted a fight than he would give her one. This time he was prepared for her and the outcome would be a bit different. Her footwork was the real issue, if he could take her off balance than she would fall. Chris would put his hands back up setting aside the now dented metal shelf. ”Round 2” Chris went for her this time, he moved forward down the isle quickly, he rounded on her with a solid jab, she dodged it easy enough and gave him a quick shot to his stomach, with his opposite hand he tried to punch her again, she dodged and got two quick jabs in.
He needed one good hit on her, she could punch him all she wanted, but he was positive if he could get one solid blow she would be done. In his third shot he tried a hook shot which she would duck however the angle would drive her towards the shelving, the aisle had become smaller now and with his size she had no way around him. Bringing his leg up in an arc he brought it down for her head, she quickly pushed away from the shelving seconds before the heel of his boot crashed into the shelving. The shelving would buckle from the blow as he brought his foot back to the ground and continued his assault. He started his own set of combination attacks, he wouldn’t give her a chance to breath.
The movement of the larger opponent felt stiff, yet efficiently allowed him to dominate the fight by forcing Jess from side to side. Again and again, she slammed her shoulder into something, just to escape something worse.
Jess was losing the rhythm in her knees when she wasn’t allowed to commit to just one tactic. Her elbows stayed tight and her hands were up, when a hook brought a thunderstorm to her inner ear. Even through her defense it rocked her like that one Queen song. She felt the airstream from a second attack pass right by her nose.
Shit, shit, shit! she thought and threw herself backwards. That little bit of distance was all she needed, and in the final second she rearranged her posture. Her weight was centered in the balls of her feet and she threw a low kick at his shin.
That’s right, Mr. wifebeater, I’m dangerous from a distance too.
Submissions would not work on a guy this size. Not when Jess had spent this long without training. There was only one chance: slow him down and bring him down the old fashion way. Capitalize on his attacks and let him move into position where he was exposed.
Jess was able to connect again yet missed with the third cut kick. Another punch hit her defense and sent her arm slamming into her own face. The larger opponent brushed against her cheek with a left cross which pushed her further back.
Only now did she realize how long and narrow the passage had become. Aisles trapped her and decreased her possibilities at landing that one perfect strike against his kneecap that would hand her the victory.
Hell, maybe one won’t be enough.
She slipped her head, and through a sequence of quick evades, she got a few jabs in. Then mixed it up with a knee to his quadricep. Maybe the man got a little slower, but so did Jess. Without a proper meal her reserves were emptying fast.
That’s when she felt it. A wall at her back. No bell would sound to save her when she was against the ropes. The air was inadequate and tasted like death. The surrounding caved in.
A huffing and puffing Jess felt time slow down. She saw the guy close in, taking that final step towards her. She moved forward and did a surgical strike against the leg he rested on.
The strikes were mutual in their own respects, Jess had managed to connect with her last ditch attack to Chris’s leg but it wasn’t enough to stop the punch. It had however done enough, the hit was enough to force Chris to lose some of the power in his punch. It would connect to Jess’s jaw, even weakened though, the strength in it was enough to knock her back and into the wall. Chris’s breath was a bit uneven now, his own hunger was taking its affects now, but he shook it off the best he could as he approached Jess whom was still reeling from the punch. Chris reached forward and grabbed her by the collar of her coat and pulled her up almost effortlessly. The woman would try to kick out at him but it was fruitless, the shot to the jaw had knocked the fight out of her.
”I have never meant a woman who could fight like you, I consider myself pretty good but you, your on another level, but it's over now. I should kill you, it's probably no less than what you were going to do to me and my brother with the sword of yours. But it's your lucky day, I am not a monster, not yet anyways. I can’t have you try and follow us so this is good night for now. For what it's worth, you fight better than most men could dream to.” Chris raised his fist to knock Jess out completely. He drove his fist forward but everything would just freeze and stop for him when he heard the scream come from the distance within the store, his fist an inch from her face.
Chris!!! HELP ME!!” Chris’s whole demeanor would change, the solid unphased man from before would suddenly be filled with obvious panic as he dropped Jess to the ground and quickly ran in the opposite direction. He had forgotten about Norman, how could he be that damn stupid?!? He got carried away with that fight, Chris exploded out of the aisle and back into the open area of the store. It didn’t take him long to find Norman, his brother was a short distance away behind one of the counters with a walker making its way towards him. Chris swore furiously too himself as he quickly spotted his gun and ran towards it, it was sudden, like a lightning strike. Chris’s leg suddenly locked up as his muscles all contracted at the same time driving electrical like impulses all the way through his leg and up his side.
”No! Not now! Not now! Chris was furiously slamming his fist into his leg on the ground as the walker kept advancing on Norman. ”The bat Norman, use the bat, hit in the head, kill it!!!!” Chris yelled at Norman to take down the walker knowing full well his brother wouldn’t and couldn’t do it. ”I can’t!” Norman yelled it back as he was weeping in the corner the bat in his hands shaking. Chris gritted his teeth as he nearly yelled in pain as he pulled himself up from the floor, he had to get his damn gun. Damn it all, that woman's kick must have set off his old war injury, it was bad this time. ”I am coming Norman! Hold on!” Chris was becoming desperate as he tried to reach his gun, he wasn’t gonna make it!
Jess ran past Chris (apparently that was his name) and their eyes connected for a second. Whoever he was, he had not come to hurt her. Under different circumstances his smoldering looks might even register as attractive, at least to her.
Truth be told, her first instinct had been to get Kiley and get the hell out of there. Norman’s scream only registered the moment after, and the pieces had started to come together.
She remembered where she had disarmed Chris and grabbed the gun without slowing down. Then she aimed it back up to the blurry mess, she had to assume was a Walker, and pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened. Jess cursed her poor eyesight.
The walking, indistinct figure drew closer to the sobbing one.
Squeezed the trigger, don’t pull, had someone said in a crime drama on Tv.
She tried to focus on the not-even-that-distant target and squeezed.
Something certainly happened, and it changed direction. From its mouth came a sound like someone had ripped the throat from a woman and somehow, she was still capable of snoring.
A shaking came over Jess which compromised her aim. She wanted to move backwards, but her legs didn’t listen. All the efforts and punishment she had endured hit her. And all she could do was stand there and watch the rotten corpse step forward.
Calm down, let it… dammit, let it get closer. Th-Then... she mumbled and saw its lines sharpen. Its rotten features get into focus. The stench of decay arrived before it did. A nauseating odor. Then it became quite clear.
Jess fired 3 shots and ripped through better parts of its head.
The thing went down and suddenly her legs listened to her, and she went over and emptied the final bullets into its twisted expression.
The sound of a few additional clicks followed before Jess stopped. Her heart was pounding, her skin glimmered and she sought some support from a shelf with pink, plastic dolls. There she stayed, hardly even registered Norman glaring at her. She just tried to get her breathing under control.