AATAFOVS / The Homeland
Season 3, Episode 10. Preceded by Revelations
, followed by Noisy Valley
Tired after their recent adventures, the Benders are resting in the base when a message from E.R. Udite arrives (a chalkboard appears on one wall, with a message scribbled on it).
The Benders' instructions: "Survive the Valley. Secure what you can. The Virus
is coming. Avoid bites, protect your skin. Guns are less effective than you thought. Watch your back. Weather the storm, and it will blow over. You barely have an hour."
The group is puzzled by the message, but it seems fairly literal. Strangely, there are no coordinates for a Story Gate. Experimentally, Avatar tries to open one at random, but strangely, he can't. Fluffy creates a pattern of bright lights, and comes to a worrying conclusion:
Fluffy: There are nearby areas of "mental static" which are distorting the psychic field to which all Story Gates are bound.
Solo: What does that actually mean?
Fluffy: Nearby "thinking", human brains are still alive while no longer functioning.
Nerdly: A sufficient concentration of these within a certain distance must interfere with both the function of the Story Gate and Fluffy's psychic powers. I'd say what Fluffy described is generally known as "undead".
Avatar: So you're saying that there are undead people, zombies, nearby? How many? And how far away?
Fluffy: Several dozen so far, and increasing rapidly as they mob victims in groups. They're about 4 miles away.
Avatar: Why didn't you give us some sort of warning?
Fluffy: I can only sense a certain amount at a limited distance, and this group was small at first. Every Zombie Apocalypse
starts small, but grows fast. My range couldn't pick them up when they were farther away.
The reality sinks in, as the Benders realize how bad the situation has become. A quick executive decision by Avatar has the group grabbing weapons and throwing on black, full-body combat gear. Within minutes, they are rushing out of the house, which is for the first time shown to be a gray, medium-sized, two-story bunker construction. Half of the lower floor appears to be taken up by a large garage whose only entrance is the automatically-closing car door. The upper floor has reflective windows, and not much else on the outside.
Avatar (as the group mounts motorcycles similar to those seen in previous episodes): It was hard finding that old fire station, different world and all that. But after all the remodeling, the defensive advantage is great.
As the Benders zoom off towards the area of town where Fluffy the claims the zombies are located, Avatar discusses the plan. The city isn't very large, so without fast action, the entire human population could be lost. Since the undead numbers are still limited, they plan to eliminate the whole batch before it can reach dangerous mass. After two minutes zooming among traffic heading in the opposite direction, Fluffy (in kitten form) tells Avatar to stop.
Avatar: But we've only gone 3 miles!
Fluffy: And the Undead are just around the corner. They've got decent speed.
The Benders jump off the motorcycles. Avatar has brought a few handguns, but only he and Nerdly end up using them. Sue has somehow brought a huge battle ax with her, while Krystal draws an elegant katana. Fluffy adopts the mini-dragon form ("There's nothing psychic involved in shape-shifting," she explains, "I'll just be limited to physical combat."). Lastly, Solo has an impressive array of knives strapped to him.
The team charges around the corner, expecting a few dozen zombies. Instead, they are confronted by a horde. The zombies come towards them at a staggering lope
. They look human, except for a large number of visible wounds, torn clothes, and the absolute lack of emotion on their faces. The Benders realize that the swarm must have infected everyone in its path. It has to be stopped here.
Avatar and Nerdly find that their laser guns have little effect. Only perfect shots through the brain (which cause brain parts and blood to explode outwards) stop the zombies. Avatar switches to bullets, and somehow they start getting more hits.
Solo is throwing knives to great effect, while Sue has crushed many of the zombies. Fluffy is swiping with her paws, and breathing fire, in all directions. Krystal, however, is doing best of all, decapitating ranks of Undead with her sword.
Eventually, after several minutes full of zombie gore, they find that the entire street is full of (motionless) corpses. None of them has survived any direct damage except for ruined clothing
Avatar: So that's all, then?
Fluffy (concentrates): Hurry , we've got to build a wall.
Fluffy: The Undead must have spread from other areas. We took out all of the batch I first sensed, but a much larger group of hundreds is already only thirty miles away. We have to set up continuous defenses around as much of the city as possible.
Realizing that they lack basic materials and labor, Avatar creates a huge loudspeaker, through which he somehow informs all the nearby (surviving) inhabitants of the threat. In minutes, a massive construction effort is underway. Concrete mixers pour their loads into the spaces between the buildings. The buildings outside the wall are abandoned. Somehow, everyone, including people who have no real experience with building, obeys the Benders' directions without question. Fluffy periodically informs Avatar of the zombies' progress. By the time the Undead arrive, the wall stretches several miles in either direction (and about 12 feet up). Unfortunately, there is somehow still a large gap in the middle. Without a thought, the Benders rush through it, hoping to keep the horde away long enough for the assembled townspeople to close it.
The sky has been gradually growing darker over the past few minutes, clouds filling the sky. As the Benders begin to battle the zombies, thunder rolls in the distance. Behind them, the wall section is completed, and the townspeople are shown moving off to the two distant ends, desperately hoping to extend it around the whole town.
Quickly, the Benders are surrounded by the mindless bodies, which still seem fairly human, although their clothing is even more damaged. The Benders slash, shoot, and crush the bones of the oncoming living dead, but these seem to be stronger. Gradually, their faces only slightly resemble human ones, as skin is torn off and muscle and bone is exposed. It isn't pretty.
Gradually, the fight carries the Benders away from the city, and all the zombies follow them. The combat gear is in rags, and while no bites have occurred, scratches are accumulating, and Nerdly is bleeding from a gash on his arm. The fight goes on.
After some time, the Benders find themselves fleeing over a huge suspension bridge, chased by the mob of damaged corpses. The bridge spans a giant chasm. Unfortunately, coming from the other side is an even larger swarm of Undead.
Krystal: What's it cross?
Nerdly: The Valley of Dark Endlessness, at least ten miles deep and running for hundreds of miles in either direction.
Krystal: So we're trapped? (Sees Avatar hurriedly working with a flashlight and a can opener) What are you doing?
Avatar: The Undead must be crossing this bridge to reach our city. No matter what, we have to save those people. We're taking the bridge down with us!
Solo: For the homeland! Yaaaaah!
Avatar has the Benders climb up the suspension cables, and all the hundreds of zombies now filling the bridge start to make an (undead) human ladder which is bound to reach the precariously balanced team. Then, Avatar tosses his explosives down onto the center of the bridge while Sue rips apart the suspensions. As huge blasts rock the bridge, the ends are shown splintering and cracking. In moments, the whole structure breaks into several sections, all of which tumble into the Valley.
Avatar is shown desperately fiddling with some fabric, while the others scream in mortal terror. The zombies do nothing, having been thrown off their feet by the sudden events. After about 25 seconds or so, Avatar finishes and hands parachutes out to all the Benders. In moments, an above view shows six white circles popping up in the air above the falling bridge. Then, a sudden gust of wind blows them in all directions.
TO BE CONTINUED