Cayo Elina 47
Despite a last ditch effort the village council could not convince any more of the Ramon faction to leave. The liaison from the Feist even came and spoke with them, telling them that they could not expect another offer to evacuate them and that every fighter would be needed, according to what Perry had relayed to them. None of them budged from their position and as far as Elina could tell they all were staying willingly.
The Germans, for their part, didn’t look like any sailors that Elina or Gus had ever seen before. They were all dressed in pieces and parts of uniforms, even the captain of the ship, Tadday Drescher, although he appeared better dressed than the others. In addition to this almost a third of the crew were women and the islanders even saw a few children lurking about in doorways as well.
Elina and Gus were the last off the island and the liaison, Ambros, made a bit of a ceremony of it, despite being pressed for time.
“Welcome aboard, Elina. We are glad to have you here and thank you.” Captain Drescher said as Elina and Gus climbed on board from the smaller boat the Germans had sent ashore.
“Thank you Captain. But why are you thanking me?” Elina asked.
“Why, you and your friend here found the parts that let us get the Feist back up and running! Without you we wouldn’t be here.”
“We were there, but it was a team effort. I think Alban did the most work.” Elina said, the captain’s command of English was impeccable, much better than that of his liaison Ambros’.
“How is Alban?” Drescher asked.
“He was alive, but he was hurt pretty badly. I know Perry is doing everything he can for him. I’m sorry for the loss of your other technicians.” Elina added.
“They will be missed.” Captain Drescher said shortly, “Now we must be underway. I will leave it to Ambros to get you settled in. We have been spotted by the Cubans already, we sank one of their…their ‘wooden’ ships, but I’m sure it was able to get a wireless message off before it went down. We might have trouble.”
Elina didn’t say anything to this as the captain turned away. Ambros immediately stepped up and said, “This way, please.”
As Ambros led them to a portion of the upper deck he explained that the trip would take them another two hours, “We are proceeding cautiously, there may be mines or other impediments to the sailing. So far the Cubans have not offered much resistance, but we must guess that they have old, communist era weapons that they have been holding back.”
“I suppose it depends on how badly they need to win.” Elina said.
Ambros looked at her and nodded, “They will use whatever they have. Cuban was not self-reliant before the outbreak and they have been...” Ambros paused, before trying out another word, “Starving? Yes? To go without food?” Elina nodded, “They have been starving and they have nothing left, the people are close to revolt, put down only in the most savage means available.”
“How do you know this?”
“Refugees. They arrived at Puerto Rico every day, hungry, dirty people, little better than zombies.” They arrived at their assigned station, a wide open deck with a clear view to the ocean, Ambros shrugged his shoulders, “There is little cover here. If we come under offense, we will put you below with everyone else, but it is very full.”
“Who are all these other people on board? This doesn’t look much like a military ship.” Gus said.
“They are friends, some of the sailors took wives. We’ve been away from port for a long time, sacrifices…er, no, concessions needed to be made to keep the crew happy. Do you need anything else? The captain has had your guns and supplies put there.” Ambros pointed to the crates of bayonets on the deck, “He understands many are hungry and has ordered some rations be distributed before the fighting.”
“Guns?” Elina began, before Gus cut her off.
“No, Ambros we have what we need and we will take this time to eat and prepare before the fight. How will we be going ashore?”
Elina nodded and Ambros answered, “We have one lightly armored landing craft and the longboats we picked you up in. None of us believe that there are short defenses in place, if there are we may have to put you ashore in a new location.”
“That sounds good. Thank you, will you be the one telling us when we need to load up?”
“Load up?” Ambros asked.
“Embark? Get in the boats?” Gus clarified.
“Ah, yes, embark, I am the liaison officer, I will ‘load up’ with you and lead the way.”
“Good, thank you.”
“Just flag down one of the crew men if you need anything, I will be close by.”
Elina and Gus watched the man walk back towards the superstructure of the ship and disappear within it.
“So what are you thinking?” Elina asked.
“He thinks we have guns, I hope we don’t disappoint him.”
“We won’t, didn’t you hear Perry and Ricardo? We’re an ‘asset’ and boo-ku bad zombie killers and murders of men.”
“I won’t deny that, we’ve killed more than our share in the last couple of years, but I wonder how much fighting will actually need to be done? If the Cubans are in such rough shape, maybe they will just buckle.”
“Corned rats don’t buckle, they lash out with everything they’ve got. The people might not want to fight, but the government won’t give up without one.”
Elina nodded, “Yeah, but how much influence can the government be exerting on them in Miami? If we take out the head of the snake the body might die.”
“I think this snake might have more than one head though. What do we do? Kill all the officers?”
“I can’t even read military rank, so I wouldn’t know where to begin.” Elina confessed.
“Me either, I just nod and try not to piss anyone off who had color on their shoulders.”
Elina laughed and gestured towards a table the crew had set up that was laden with food. They moved into line and helped themselves to sandwiches made of crusty bread with chips of coconuts as ‘meat’. “Bread.” Elina mumbled, stuffing one of the sandwiches into her mouth.
“Geez, Elina, at least wait until were out of the line to start eating.” Gus said.
“Can’t.” She mumbled through a mouthful of food.
Gus picked up a rather large sandwich and exclaimed, “Oh my God, it’s still warm!”
One of the crewman nodded, energetically, and said in broken English, “Eat! Good food! Fresh! Eat!”
A sandwich in each hand the two made their way to the railing and watched as the coast slowly slid by. They finished their meal and were still admiring the coast when the captain stormed up to them.
“You have no guns!” he said in a loud voice.
“Nope.” Elina said.
“Uh-oh, somebody clued him in.” Gus mumbled.
“We were told you would be able to fight and you do not have any weapons!” Drescher yelled.
Elina waved her hands in a gesture indicating the captain should calm down, “We have weapons. Perry sent weapons to us.”
“They are knives, long knives a hundred years old! I will not send men and women, some of you just children, to fight men with guns! You would be slaughtered!”
“Calm down, Captain.”
“I was told you and your group would be waiting to come on board and would be armed, I got to the island and there are barely six hundred of you capable of fighting when I was expecting twice that number and perhaps one in six of you has any sort of firearm.”
“Closer to one in twenty, or one in fifty if you want someone with a loaded weapon.” Gus muttered.
The captain’s face turned livid, “I was lied to!”
“Welcome to the Liar’s Club. We’re all members here.” Gus said.
“Gus! Stop it, that’s not helping.” Elina said sharply.
“Isn’t it? He wanted fighters, he has them and he can’t see us for what we are.” Gus turned on the captain, he was shorter than Dresher and stepped up to put his face next to the other man’s, “We are fighters, we could own this boat if we wanted to. We fought to get to the island, we fought to keep it. At first we fought with guns, then with knives, then with clubs and finally with our bare hands. Our enemies are bettered armed, more numerous and have advanced equipment we only dream of possessing, but they are still outmatched. We don’t need guns, we don’t need more people, all we need is a ride to where our enemies are. Drop us off and we will do the rest.”
“How? How can you doom your people like this?”
“We are veterans of the zombie wars.” Elina chimed in, “We’ve fought them so long that their charms have worn off on most of us, we can do things other soldiers have only dreamed of.”
“Big talk. I will not be a party to your insanity and death. For the love of God you have children with you. Are you so heartless as to doom your young to be orphans?”
“Each child will have either a mother or a father held back, we’ve already decided this.” Elina said.
‘That’s news to me.’Gus thought, but he said out loud, “I think a demonstration is in order. Do you want to do it, Elina or shall I?”
Without replying Elina moved. Gus had to slip into the future to see where she would end up. ‘Mother of God, she has gotten fast.’ Gus followed her progression, her movements played out to the end before he had even finished that thought. She had moved to behind the Captain and had relieve him of his sidearm, which she moved to her off hand, holding it by the barrel she offered it to him over one shoulder.
“You seem to have dropped your pistol, Captain. Please take it.” Elina offered.
Captain Drescher’s face went from anger to stunned in the blink of an eye, his crew were just as shocked by this display of speed, but they did not tense up or escalate the situation, though a couple of them did put their hands to their firearms. The captain turned to face Elina once again.
“I…I did not know. We’ve seen men, fast men, strong men, a few who could heal quickly, but nothing like that. Are you…are you zombie?” He asked, sliding his pistol back into its holster.
“No, I am not a zombie. I have been fighting to live for so long I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t fighting. Some of it has rubbed off on me. Some of it has rubbed off on all of us. We do not need guns, Captain. We just need someone to kill.”
“You are all like this?”
“Even…even the children?”
“The ones that lived, yes.” Elina confirmed, “Life has not been easy for us. We have done the best we can, but we are tired of fighting. Perry has promised us a place in Miami, if we can help him keep the city. That is why we are going.”
“And we are going to repay the debt for the parts to fix our ship. All we want is to get home as well.” Drescher said.
“You are an honorable man, you have what you need and could have just sailed home.” Elina said.
The captain shook his head. “No. Our ship is working, but need to refuel. Perry has promised us that as the second portion of payment for our help.”
Elina smiled, “You would have helped anyway.”
With a curt nod Drescher agreed, “He helped us, we would sail by anyway, it is good to repay favors and not allow them to collect interest over the years.”
“So, we are good here? You will drop us on the shore so we can rest after one final battle?”
“I pity the Cubans.” The captain said before turning and leaving.
“I’m hungry again.” Elina complained.
“I think they are brining more sandwiches out.” This time as Elina went through the line the servers looked at her with awe, tinged with an edge of fear and said nothing to her at all.
After getting a drink of deliciously clear and cold water Elina again stood by Gus looking out at the shoreline. “What are you thinking now, Moley?”
“I hope things work out how we want them to.”
“I pity the Cubans.” Elina said confidently.
“There are an awful lot of them. Enough of them to have Perry concerned and courting the zombie faction. I think he knows more than he let on.”
Elina snorted, “Ya think? Don’t worry Ricardo will handle Phil.”
Gus stared at her with concern, “He couldn’t or he would have the first time.”
“Things have changed, everything will come together, Ricardo will come through, Hector will organize the gangs, we’ll kill a bunch of Cubans and end up having a beach party to celebrate.”
“And what happens after that?” Gus asked.