Title: Survival of the Fittest (1/3)
Characters and Pairings: Nine/Rose/Jack, Nine/Rose
Warnings: Violence, threesomes, explicit sexual activity
Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world where the undead have taken over, what will it take for Rose, Jack, and John Smith to survive? AU, with an appearance of characters from Torchwood as well.
Author’s Notes: Inspired by Max Brooks fantastic “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”. I’ve tried to be true to the genre and hopefully this fits shengirl’s request for the pairings and the alternate universe, and I’ve tried to keep the angst to a minimum. Many thanks and a lovely bottle of wine to develish1 for the Brit-picking, editing, and assuring me that the story works. :) Thanks, dear. I couldn’t have done this without you.
Word Count: 11,431 in total
The street, bordered on both sides by two- and three-storey residential flats, was quiet. The trees lining the pavements stood like weary sentinels, branches withered and bare, stark against the scuttling clouds. Cars were parked intermittently on the curb, abandoned, rust creeping slowly over the metal surfaces. Windows were boarded, shaded. None of the doors were locked, not anymore, not since they took over.
A gust of wind tore through the neighborhood, malevolent and furious, bringing with it the scent of carrion. Scraps of paper and dry leaves whirled in the wake of the wind. A dog barked somewhere in the distance, which was was suddenly cut off, mid-howl. Up on a third-floor window, blackout curtain twitched, belying movement behind the wall.
They came down the street: first one, then three, then twenty, a hundred, five hundred. Torn and tattered, bare feet worn down to the bone, knees barely supporting their bloated flesh. The lead zombie, with its lips rotting away from its teeth, shoulders bent at an unnatural angle, let out a low moan. The others replied, lending their vocal chords to the call -- food, there is food here. Bone scraped asphalt as they shuffled forward, eyes unblinking, staring blindly from rotting sockets. Above the horde, the blackout curtain twitched again as a window slid open soundlessly, and the slim black nose of an AK-47 came into view. Strong fingers curved on the trigger as a bright blue eye peered through the viewfinder. The lead zombie paused, its skull tilted upwards as if to catch the scent of fresh meat.
“Fuckers,” the man with the gun muttered under his breath as he squeezed the trigger.
The bullet rammed straight through the skull, crushing bone and brain matter as it coursed through the zombie’s head. It crumpled to the ground as necrotic fluid gushed from its putrid form. The other zombies paused, as if waiting for the next shot, and then continued shuffling forward.
He started picking out his shots, bullets ringing as they sliced through each zombie’s head, clattering against the ground. Each shot found its mark, shattering bone and rotting flesh and destroying the feeding ground of the virus that inhabited the dead. Three, then six, ten, seventeen... they crumpled to the ground, deflated, the very air sucked out of them. The rest just took over the space their counterparts previously occupied as they moved forward, as though following an unheard call.
One more shot, the man thought, and that would make it twenty.
Suddenly, as though someone had pressed a pause button, the zombies stopped moving. The wind died. En masse, they s shifted as their dead eyes turned to face the third-storey building with the blackout curtain. Then, as one, they started shuffling forward, towards the entrance of the building.
The man withdrew his rifle and grabbed his semi-automatic and pistol, making sure that he had enough ammunition in his pockets and around his body. He was old and he was tired and he was the last one but goddammit, he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He checked the small room for other weapons -- there was the sword Evelyn had used, still crusted with black blood but sharp and ready for use. He slung the scabbard across his shoulder, gritting his teeth as he viewed the stack of supplies he had. Molotov cocktails? Sure, but he’d run out of matches the night before and had no time to make another supply run. Still, he had tinder and flint -- a dying man’s last resort. It was a gift from Ace before she died and he cut off her head -- and perhaps he could still start a fire.
He could hear them shuffling through the door, three storeys down. He wondered if zombies could climb ladders.
He rushed out into the hallways, hoping the shadows were enough to hide him from the initial assault. It would be easier to draw the zombies to higher ground, and to the narrowest hallway on the third floor, and just pick them off one by one. He withdrew his rifle, holding it in front of him, hoping that his trembling hands wouldn’t make the shots go off the mark. He couldn’t afford to waste any ammo -- he was down to his last box.
The first zombie stumbled down the dimly lit hallway -- that answered the question about ladders, at least -- and let out a reverberating moan as the first bullet went between its eyes and exited the back of its head. One. Two. Three. He kept up the count, numbers thumping into his head like the beating of drums, and when he’d run out of bullets, he switched to his semi-automatic, feeling his elbows and shoulders shudder at the impact of the machine. Zombies dropped like mayflies around him and the stench of death and disease filled the air, but he just kept on going steadily. He’d lost count of the zombies, but he knew they were still coming, an unstoppable tide, reanimated by something invisible and parasitic and devastating to the entire human race.
Slowly but surely, they were advancing on him, using the immobile bodies of the zombies he’d killed as ramps. He retreated down the hallway, down to the room he’d been using as a base. He fired one last round from the semi-automatic then dropped it on the hardwood floor. Knees braced, he lifted his arm and drew the katana. They’d practised, of course, and he’d learned how to decapitate using straw dolls and targets, but this was the first time he’d drawn the blade in a real fight.
In the distance, perhaps another world away, perhaps in a dream, he heard the scrape of rubber against asphalt, and an engine being gunned. Footsteps, strong and precise, clattering up the steps to the door, which had been torn from its hinges by the surge of the undead.
But now, there was no time to think or even analyze the sounds as the next zombie lunged forward. He brought his blade down in a controlled arc, sweeping its head clean off its shoulders with a single stroke. Step, turn, thrust, parry, slice. Step, turn, thrust, parry, slice. He backed up to the window as more and more zombies stumbled through the door. He kicked one off with a booted foot and followed through with another thrust to the forehead. He could smell the stench of rotting meat and, beneath it, the gunmetal tang of viral infection. His skin crawled, even beneath the sweltering protection of his leather armor. He really wanted an antibac bath right about now.
He could feel his mind starting to fog, and he blinked violently just as the maw of another undead opened in front of him, all rotting teeth and tongue and throat. Swallowing down his gag reflex, he stabbed it in the chest and as it staggered back from the blow, brought his blade down on its the skull, slicing it cleanly in half. In the distance, he could hear the sound of gunfire -- gunfire? -- and a small flicker of hope ignited in his chest.
“Here!” he yelled, as loud as he could, over the sound of the zombies moaning as they shuffled, more and more of them filling the room, arms outstretched, reaching for any part of him they could reach. “I’m here!”
He heard, rather than saw, them burst into the room -- a man and a woman in Kevlar vests and black military uniforms, armed with enough ammo to wipe out a small city. She gave him a jaunty grin as she hoisted her weapons and started slaughtering the zombies surrounding them, both hands wielding automatic assault rifles aimed at the zombies’ heads. Brain matter exploded around them like liquid fireworks.
His energy renewed, he began fighting like a dervish, the steps of the deadly dance coming to him as though in a dream, the katana becoming an extension of his arm. He pulled his pistol from the holster at his hip and started shooting the zombies that his blade didn’t reach, clearing a ring of the undead around him.
The man reached his side, all movie-star good looks and military training. “Can you jump?” he asked, his accent sounding American.
The man quickly peered through the now-broken window, one arm carelessly extended behind him, his weapon raised. A zombie tried to take advantage of his and was shot in the head for its troubles, without the man even looking at his kill. “Okay, our vehicle’s down there. Aim for the roof. Keep your knees to your chest and try to drop with -- “
“I know how to fall.”
“Fine.” The man gave him a tight grin. “See you in hell.”
With a quick flick of the wrist, the man had him by the window, fist wrapped around the collar of his jumper. One strong push and he was falling down, down, past the building. He just had enough presence of mind to tuck and roll, bouncing once off the side of the vehicle before dropping to his feet in the middle of the street.
He heard another body drop on top of the vehicle -- and Christ, this wasn’t a vehicle, this was an armoured van designed to ram through armies, painted a bright blue and topped with an incongruous police light on top of the roof -- and saw the small blonde girl roll off the top and drop to her feet. She wasn’t more than five feet tall, and judging by her face and the sparkle in her mahogany eyes, she couldn’t have been more than twenty. She turned around, observing the unmoving bodies of the undead on the street. “Nice work,” she said with a grin, her tongue peeking between her teeth.
He felt his heart skip a beat. “Thanks.”
“‘M name’s Rose,” she said, her words carrying a London accent.
“John Smith,” he said.
“Nice t’ meet ya.”
“Who’s the Yank?” If they weren’t in the middle of a deserted street surrounded by zombies, he could almost pretend that they were simply standing at the side of the road, meeting each other for the first time. He would’ve gotten her name, maybe her number, maybe invited her to the pizzeria at the corner of the street where Marcel had a standing table under his name, and the best homemade quattro formaggio he’d ever had this side of Manchester.
“Oh him.” She looked up, shielding her eyes. “Jack Harkness. Technically, he’s my boss.”
That raised an eyebrow. “Technically?”
“Eh. Well.” She shrugged. Despite the bulk of her uniform and armor, she was small and lithe, with a dancer’s grace. “Sometimes I give the orders too.”
“I see.” Inexplicably, John felt his heart sink. Not a chance, then.
“Incoming!” they heard Jack bellow from above as he took a flying leap from the window -- followed by a boom! as a fireball erupted from the third floor. The large orange-and-red sphere of flames covered the sky for an instance, as ashes accompanied Jack’s descent to the ground. He tucked his feet in at the last second and aimed for the roof of the vehicle, finally dropping to the ground, coughing, as his lungs attempted to replace smoke with oxygen. Rose dropped her weapons and rushed over.
“I’m fine,” said Jack, waving her away, his hands on his knees as he coughed and inhaled at the same time. Rose leaned over and whispered something in his ear, and he seemed to nod, unable to speak for awhile as his body recovered from the smoke inhalation. Finally, he straightened up and walked over to John. “Good work.”
Jack extended a hand; beside him, Rose peered curiously at John, watching his reaction. Shrugging, John took the other man’s hand and shook it. “Say, do you need a lift anywhere?”
John shrugged. “Nowhere else to go.” He hitched a thumb towards the smouldering building. “Been stayin’ here for ‘bout a year now. Zombies took the others in my group. I was the last one left.”
John whistled, impressed. “You held out for a year?”
Rose nodded, her eyes betraying the fact that she had probably also lost everything -- well, almost everything -- she held dear. Coming forward, she placed a hand on his arm. “Why don’t you come with us?”
Jack nodded. “We could use a good fighter like you, John. And Rose here’s a good judge of people, so if she says you’re cool, then you’re cool.”
John’s eyes flickered down the street. He’d lived here all his life -- his family owned the building, he went to school in the city, and he felt a deep, abiding sense of loyalty and love for the neighborhood that was as much a part of him as his own hand. But it was gone now -- the virus, the undead had seen to that. There was nothing here but ghosts now. Ghosts and memories.
“All right,” he said. “I’ll come with you.”
Continue to Part 2