At the other end of California, Sacramento stood a mansion of insurmountable size. On its exterior, it appeared to be shrouded with moss and roots, like a giant overgrown tomb. Inside, however, was another story. The opulent red interiors had not lost their sheen over the years it had been abandoned by the previous owner. While most of the furniture had been cast aside or used to board up the doors, some still remained in active use. How else were the residents supposed to remain in comfort even during the troubling times? There may have been less than 30, but that meant little when many of them used to inspire fear in anyone that saw them.
In a room that used to have been used for orgies or something of that sort, a lone figure watched from a long couch, his eyes glued to the window. He would have preferred to use the watch tower that they had made, but it had been destroyed by a monster a week ago. Most would need a telescope, camera, or something that allowed its user to peer into the distance, but not this individual. His eyes were large and slimy, like something you would find stored in a pickle jar. His head was covered by these compound eyes, granting him vision far and wide.
The gaping eyes contrasted with his dark skin, weathered from the sun’s blazes. Frankly, he was out of place in such a grand room. And he would agree. His place was far off the coast, where the vast sea blanketed everything far and wide. But he couldn’t do that anymore. Besides, there were no more poachers or fishermen for him to even kill.
“He close, Lagi? Been a while.”
Lagi Analu faced the man who had asked. “Yes. He is—”
“Bro! I told you not to show those eyes in front of me. They are gross as hell!”
Lagi shrugged but returned his face to normal to appease his comrade. He knew that his ability was rather off-putting and hard to deal with. He was grateful that the mansion had a swimming pool built in, or he would have an even rougher time on land. “Better?”
The other man touched Lagi’s chin and grinned, despite being two feet smaller than the man who was built like a linebacker. Even his tank top was having trouble keeping his large frame within. “I always appreciate how kind you are, even to someone like me.”
Lagi nodded, his ponytail swishing in the stagnant air. “Of course. You all have done enough, even with the accident with monster man.”
The man, sometimes called Dwarf for his short stature, smiled once more. “Let’s make sure Badge doesn’t bring any stragglers in like last time.”
He ruffled through his short black hair and waddled out.
“I will follow, Faf,” Lagi replied as he got up from his chair. The two descended from the third floor, passing others who were eating, fornicating, or brawling as they passed.
The mansion was more of a dorm than a shared place of living. There were just some base requirements for entry. Lagi and Fafnir were some of the most respected due to their track records and bounties in multiple countries. Most of the others were minor crooks that had banded together, but these five elites were the leaders of the 27 who resided with Langdon Manor. Without them, the place would have been overrun some time ago.
An oaf of a man sat aside at the front entrance snoozing. His eye snapped open briefly, before returning to his slumber after he verified who wanted to leave. They couldn’t have just anyone going out, after all. Betrayal was in the nature of their kind. Fafnir slammed open with gusto and sauntered to the ten-foot gate that surrounded the entire 8,000-square feet area of freedom from the walking dead. A horde of Corpses dredged around on the other side, their teeth chattering in a maddening cacophony.
The ones at the front, stared at the pair, their eyes glazed over, but full of idle hunger. The Corpses behind them, however, were preoccupied. Someone was trudging through them.
“Outta my way!” he shouted. Claws impaled a row of Corpses before bisecting them in half. Like a blade, large, hairy claws gouged through the waiting waves. It didn’t take long for more to fill their place, but not before the hairy man crouched down and sprung into the air as if he was on a spring. He landed on the other side, his body a bloody mess of ripped clothing, cuts, and most importantly—bites. A myriad of jaw imprints was imprinted all over his body like crimson tattoos. It would spell certain death in just over three hours.
The hairy man scratched his chest and ran a finger through his ear. “That was a bitch, but I did it.”
“You...did?” Fafnir asked. “Is it...possible?”
“Impressive as always, Badger. I implore you for your bravery.”
“I did get zapped and sliced a few times, but Boss should be able to handle that. They still have that tech chick’s kink, right? Should be a breeze even if you can die.”
“Why don’t you come inside and tell them all about it.”
“They in? Sheesh. And here I was bustin’ my ass and throwing myself through waves of zombies to find the place. If we can get ‘em, we will never need to hunt again.”
The lengthy claws that jutted out from his bear arms receded until only the arms of a hairy man remained. His wounds had also healed as well, revealing a rather in-shape chest that seemed to gleam against the afternoon sun. Of course, his shirt and pants were a whole other situation. There wasn’t much left of either.
Lagi ushered the pair inside.
A lackey came by and tossed Badger a fresh set of clothes. “Boss wants you to shower, first. You reek,” she said.
Badger let out a loud sigh. “Right. ‘Course they do.” He departed for a bathroom as did the Lackey, returning to her station upstairs as a watcher.
Others were standing around, not doing anything in particular. Seeing these great people were the highlights of their days, now that they had to stay cooped up all day and night. With the only transportation being a dragon, it was tough for many to go out and the danger that followed would not be worth it. The area around the mansion was secluded but had an influx of dead after a brawl had destroyed part of the left wing of the mansion. That had made it even harder to leave. Food was getting scarcer as well. They had some last resorts planned, but as of now, a monthly dragon raid was all that was required.
Of course, a dragon would stand little chance against a horde and even more against their next target.
The next siege may as well have been the last of the remaining criminals from northern California. Their scuffle with a true monster had taught them that Corpses were terrifying, but there are much worse. Even Badger doubted he could come back from one of the enemy’s strongest trump cards. One of his pals, Hulkan Man had thought he was invincible and had been obliterated right before Badger’s eyes. This old hero wasn’t afraid to kill, even before the dead started to move.
Four out of the five strongest inhabitants as well as their ruler reconvened in a large study. The Boss’s guard, Umbra, stood to their side, his shadowy tendrils leaking off his dark form like steam while the other three from earlier lounged around on the long couch in front of them. Their leader was just as dark and menacing as their aid, their identity kept secret even from these three.
A black claw raked back and forth across the table. “You think we really have a shot of this?” they asked.
Badger didn’t hesitate to nod. “Yup! He has some heavy turrets and lasers stationed, as well drones and other bullshit gadgets, but that shouldn’t matter, right? You can still hack them, right?”
“...Correct. I kept that one, despite how useless it is in this day and age,” the dark figure replied in a deep and muffled voice. “I am unsure of my controlling capacity, but it is possible.”
“Where there are no lakes around, there is a moat around it full of creatures I have never even heard of. It will be a great benefit if I can see them.” Lagi added. “I shall distract whatever lurks into there.”
“Yeah, I got ripped in half and even swallowed whole when I fell into it. That place is no joke. It’s more guarded than fucking Area 51. How the hell did he get so powerful?”
“My scales could probably tank a few waves of bullets as well, though it’s pretty dicey when it comes to lasers...”
The general consensus was that this siege would take everything they had, even a few sacrifices.
“If we still had the fool or TAP, it might go a little easier... But what’s done is done. Once we have his power, those down south won’t stand a chance.”
They all nodded in agreement. The plan would move forward soon. The plan was to take on one of the highest praise S-rank Hero, G2, the creator of fiction.
“I just hope Jason doesn’t come back with what I saw...” Lagi muttered under his breath.
The others paid his crestfallen face and weakened dark eyes no mind as they decided on the day.
“Two days from now, we will finally be free.”
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