User:K6ka/Salvaged stuff/k6ka-test/DZMSGWALL 4

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This was for a fun "fanon" message wall we were running over at The Last Stand Wiki. The old wall was closed after the author moved it, breaking all of the comments that were attached to it (oops). An attempt at cleaning the mess up failed, and Wikia Staff wouldn't do anything about it even though I sent in a support ticket to them (They said they were going to clean it, but they didn't). A new one was opened up, and I was working on this for that in response to a comment I made on the new wall.

This was never posted on the wall. I may finish it someday. Source: http://k6ka-test.wikia.com/wiki/User:K6ka/drafts/tlaststand/DZMSGWALL_4


Dead Zone Gazette
Your apocalyptic newspaper

INSERT DATE HERE

Dead Zone Gazette special edition

Brotherly Love
By Jessica Donlands

"I felt like giving up a lot of the time. I often felt like just stopping and lying down and dying. But I looked at my brother, and I told myself that I couldn't die. Not yet."

On February 7, 2017, a nine year old boy was spotted walking into Pinedale with ragged clothes, frostbitten toes, and a half-starved body. But what was most notable was his cargo, piggybacked on his slim frame, arms hugged tightly around its ride.

"My brother never knew a time when zombies didn't rule the world. But that's okay. He knows me, at least."

Young Jaden Berber was the fifth recipient of the Dead Zone Cox's Cross for Extreme Acts of Bravery for his courageous and selfless act of carrying his six year old brother Joey all the way from Patternsville to Union City — a distance of one thousand kilometres, or 621 miles. Both of them were malnourished, dehydrated, and exhausted. Both of their feet had blisters on them, and Jaden had some frostbite on both of his toes from the cold weather. But, much to the amazement of everyone, both brothers still had the strength to smile when survivors came to their aid.

I'm Jessica Donlands. In this Dead Zone Gazette special edition, we explore the life and journey of brothers Jaden and Joey Berber, their lives in Patternsville before and during the outbreak, what caused them to embark on their gruelling journey, their thousand-kilometre walk to Union City, and the love that fuelled their spirits.

Patternsville: An Early Childhood[edit]

Jaden Berber was born on August 22, 2007, to parents Avery and Jessica (née Hartland) Berber. His father worked as a paramedic while his mother was a social worker. Both of his parents were very involved in the community of Patternsville, and they volunteered at a soup kitchen every week.

Jaden was described by his parents as being a "quiet but bright" child. He developed an appreciation for the arts and started piano lessons at the age of three; although he was not exactly prolific in this endeavour, he "liked the piano very much, and would play on it until dinnertime." Although he was not terribly into sports, he enjoyed playing basketball in his spare time. Both of his parents taught him how to read and write before he began school, although they did not plan to homeschool him.

Jaden's younger brother, Joey, was born on May 7, 2010. He was one week premature, but was otherwise in stable and relatively good condition, and was soon allowed to go home. His mother later wrote, "Jaden was a bit shy to open up to his little brother, but after a few days I spotted the two playing with each other. I guess he no longer has to go to daycare to find a playmate his age." That summer, the Berbers went on a one week trip to Disneyland. "It was pretty much the last awesome event that happened in my life," Jaden said to the Dead Zone Gazette. "I remember my parents taking lots of pictures and putting them all into an album. I remember being able to hold my little brother for the camera. I wish I could go back and get those pictures."

Few records exist of the Berbers before the apocalypse. The Dead Zone Gazette made a special trip to Patternsville and sought out a few local survivors who knew the Berbers. They were described as "especially friendly people who wouldn't stop and hesitate if someone was in a log-jam." One elderly survivor recalled seeing "a big Jaden playing peek-a-boo with his little Joey in his baby carriage while Avery and Jessica were chatting with a bunch of perfect strangers in the park."

On May 18, 2011, HERC forces appeared in Patternsville for the first time. HERC attempted to impose a quarantine on the town, but the assigned battalion lacked sufficient manpower and equipment for such an undertaking, which granted several hundred survivors the ability to flee the town. Avery and Jessica were among the thousand or so civilians to stay behind, with most of them refusing to leave the town they grew up in. Avery and Jessica stayed behind, however, to care for an elderly couple and their two cats. "We stayed behind to keep an eye out for George and Wilma Wilson, and their furry friends Hecate and Menelaus," Jessica wrote. "George has cancer and Wilma refuses to leave his side, and they're not going to abandon their cats either. They're going to stay together till the very end... and so will we."

On May 20, 2011, the zombie apocalypse arrived in Patternsville. The two-day HERC presence, however, ensured that the town was able to survive the first few onslaughts with relatively minor damage. By May 30, the infection rate was only 1%. HERC, however, frequently got into disputes with the local civilian population, and was even called by the mayor of the town an "extremist organization looking for an excuse to impose quarantines and curfews 'in the name of security'." HERC initially enforced a strict curfew that lasted from 7PM until 6AM the next morning; this curfew came under fire when infected broke into a young man's house; the man fled his home and was gunned down by HERC troopers without question for violating the curfew. The next day, a band of three-hundred survivors marched towards the nearby HERC outpost, throwing stones and setting HERC equipment ablaze. HERC shot and killed about three survivors and wounded sixteen more before temporarily retreating, only to return the next day. Their presence would not last, however; by June 18, HERC officially withdrew from the town, taking all equipment with them. Survivors were thus left to their own means, and although the curfew and quarantine was now gone, it also meant that there were no more trained troopers or soldiers to defend against zombies, thus allowing zombies to infiltrate and attack the town. By July 4, the infection rate for the town had jumped to 63%.

Survivors in the town began to build compounds consisting of entire city blocks of houses, all of which had fenced-in backyards. Unlike most compounds in Union City, the ones in Patternsville had more space, giving uninfected children and pets to roam around freely. While all the nearby schools had been converted to post-apocalyptic shelters, Jaden and Joey, along with a few other children living on the same block, were taught their lessons by a retired teacher. While classes were frequently interrupted by zombie attacks, "it was still nice to go to school." Due to the fact that children needed to work in order to sustain the compound, classes were relatively short, usually about two hours per day. "We still found time to play even after 'school' and work," Jaden said. "I remember we played on the grass so much that parts of the backyard died."

HERC: Operation Seahorse[edit]

In September 2016, HERC began to move troopers back into Bath county, the same county where Patternsville was located. Leaked HERC documents revealed that HERC troopers were instructed to erect outposts in several of the nearby towns, but we told specifically to "avoid Patternsville [...] previous operations [there] have ended with violence." HERC initially had no intentions on controlling the survivor population, instead wanting to operate new research facilities in order to provide another location to serve as a testing ground for HERC's Advanced Robotics Program (ARP).

The operation, titled "Operation Seahorse", was divided into three parts:

  1. Build several outposts in the towns of Goulcrest, Shepshed, Dry Pool, Fanford, and Marty; these towns form a perimeter around a large area consisting primarily of now-abandoned farmland, totalling an area of about 1000 acres.
  2. With the 1000 acres secured by the surrounding outposts, build a research facility on the land, consisting of a main building on the east side of the area, and large, empty fields to the north, west, and south sides that can be changed to build testing environments for the robots to operate in.
  3. Build a network of tunnels to connect all of the outposts together in order to strengthen the security of the complex.

Survivors in Dry Pool, Fanford, and Marty objected to HERC presence in the region, and immediately began to resist. HERC initially attempted to settle the protests with water cannons and tear gas, but on October 10, they began to fire upon the survivor population. Nearby towns began to join forces with the oppressed survivor population and set fire to two of the five outposts erected.

On October 27, HERC attempted to appease the survivors and stop the protests by proposing the "Bath Compromise", which consisted of the following:

  1. HERC would only build outposts in Goulcrest, Shepshed, and Stanley; outposts in the other towns in the county would be decommissioned.
  2. HERC would reduce the size of the research facility from 1000 acres to 800 acres.
  3. HERC agreed to refrain from meddling with survivor activities, and would only build outposts on the outskirts of the towns in order to reduce interference.

Survivors deliberated among themselves for two days. On October 30, survivors near-unanimously rejected the compromise, demanding that HERC leave the region entirely. When HERC refused, survivors in the region grew violent and began to attack HERC outposts.

On November 1, the HERC outposts in Goulcrest, Dry Pool, and Marty were burned to the ground, with survivors attacking unarmed HERC scientists attempting to flee. The research facility, which was under construction, was also destroyed when the troopers and construction workers stationed there were evacuated. At least 300 survivor casualties were reported compared to 70 HERC casualties. HERC General Lux Mortfang, however, became visibly angry at the outcome and ordered a "kill and plunder" operation on the entire county as revenge for the trouble.

On November 4, 2016, HERC forces reentered the town of Patternsville, consisting of about 400 troopers, 100 trucks, 6 tanks, and 5 helicopters. Troopers banged angrily on doors, knocking them down with rams if no one answered, and ordered inhabitants to leave. Those who did not comply were shot immediately. Survivors were lined up on the street, where troopers stripped them naked and removed any jewellery, weapons, ammunition, and other valuables from them. One survivor even had the gold fillings in his teeth pulled out. Survivors were then executed by means of firing squad. One trooper reported seeing "so much blood, the street was filled with them [...] rivers of red flowed into the storm drains." The "kill and plunder" order extended to survivors of all ages, and babies, toddlers, young children, and the elderly also received the same or similar treatment.

Once all of the survivors in a block were killed, troopers would enter the buildings and remove anything that could be picked up and carried. The loot was carried onto trucks and driven to a nearby outpost, although what HERC intended to use the items for is unknown. One a general had inspected the building and was satisfied with its condition, the building was demolished, and any salvageable scraps of wood or metal were removed.

Jaden and Joey were helping their parents do the laundry when nearby survivor blocks radioed the presence of HERC troopers in the area. While most of the other survivors in their block attempted to flee, the Berbers and a few other families tried to evacuate the Wilsons. All of the survivors that had initially attempted to flee were shot when HERC troopers arrived.

"The door was kicked down as two angry-looking soldiers entered the house," Jaden said. "I was in the kitchen that overlooked the backyard when they came in. I picked up my little brother and scrambled out of the window as the troopers told everyone else in the house to step outside."

Jaden and Joey scaled the backyard fence and ran as fast as they could. "Every step of the way, I was afraid that someone would see me and shoot me. I heard gunshots everywhere... people were dying left and right." At one point, Jaden had to cross a puddle of blood that had pooled up around a clogged storm drain. "I was leaving bloody footprints behind me as I ran [...] I wasn't too concerned about the blood itself and more about the fact that HERC troopers now had footprints to follow." When Jaden and Joey left the town, they cleaned off their shoes in the grass before continuing their run.

"We kept running until the sun set and we were too tired to even stand up. We stopped in a cornfield that had gone wild, and we lay down on the cold, hard ground. I remember waking up a hundred times during the night because it was so cold, even though we had our arms wrapped around each other for warmth. The next morning it began to snow, and my brother started to cry because he was hungry, tired, shaken up, and now covered in snow. 'I lost everything!' he wailed. I said, 'No, you haven't lost me!'"

The two brothers scavenged for breakfast at a nearby gas station but could only find a bag of chips and two bottles of water. "Normally my brother loves chips, but he was crying too much to even care." The two hid behind the store shelves when HERC vehicles drove past the gas station. "My brother was hugging me very tightly. He was afraid that the troopers would find us and kill us. I was scared myself, but I tried hard not to show it." The troopers did not stop and moved on.

"My brother asked me, 'Where do we go?' At first, I told him that I didn't know, but when our short supply of food and water ran out, I told him that we were going to Union City. I heard that out of all the places on the continent, it had the most people and the most supplies. I thought it was worth the risk and decided that we should go there."

The two brothers began the 1000-kilometre (600 miles) trek to Union City. They feared being recaptured and executed by roving HERC troopers, who were still actively seeking out survivors to rob and kill in the county. The boys, however, did not know that the operation was limited to Bath county, and was not being conducted elsewhere. "We thought that they were looking for us," Jaden said. "We walked through forests and fields and tried to spend as little time as possible on the main roads. It was scary. Even if there weren't any troopers around, on more than one occasion we ran into zombies in the foliage. The only weapons we had were sticks we picked up in the forest."

HERC normally keeps records of all survivors living in an area, as evidenced by their attempts to build a registry during the outbreak. When a survivor is born, killed, or captured, the registry is updated to reflect these changes. The registry also allows for HERC to identify survivors who escape operations. In this case, however, HERC's records for Bath county were incomplete and outdated. No evidence has surfaced yet, but it seems likely that Jaden and Joey were not on the registry, and as such, no troopers were specifically looking for the two.

"Of course, they were still at risk of being caught," Marc Carl, a defected HERC trooper, said to the Dead Zone Gazette. "They could've been stopped by patrolling troopers, and if discovered to be survivors of the 'kill and plunder' operation in Patternsville, they most likely would've been shot and killed, if not tortured mercilessly. HERC has no trouble with doing either."

Though both boys had no supplies with them except the clothes on their backs, they were experienced scavengers and were able to search the houses and stores they passed by for food. "It wasn't that we didn't know how to find things; it's just that there wasn't much left for us to find. Most of the houses and stores we passed by were largely empty. I guess HERC or some other starving family got there first."

On average, the boys only had the equivalent of one meal a day. Water was also of concern, as all of the public water pipes in the region were dry and most of the bottled water supply had already been taken. All of this was further exacerbated by the cold weather; as December fell and it began to snow, both boys were chilled to the bone, having inadequate clothes to wear. "At one point, I took off my sweater and even my shirt and gave it to my brother, cause he was so cold," Jaden said. "At least we found an empty house to sleep in that night."

With no way of counting the days, the boys lost track of time. "One day, where it was snowing heavily and the wind was blowing, we came across this warehouse and decided to seek shelter in it. When we walked in, two angry-looking survivors pointed shotguns at us and ordered us to leave. I begged them to let us stay, that we had been on the road for weeks and we've had barely any food or water, let alone a roof to sleep under. A third survivor jumped out from behind us and whacked us with a cricket bat, and we both fell to the ground. When I saw him headed towards my brother, I got over his body and shielded him from the blows until I was too numb to feel anything. Eventually, they grabbed us by our shirts and threw us out into the cold and snow. We had no shelter; we couldn't stay near the warehouse, and there wasn't a forest in sight for miles. We spent the night in a field, the snow burying us as we tried to keep warm. I was crying the whole night. I thought we were going to die. It had been three days since we ate anything, and although we were able to drink from a river we crossed the water was freezing cold."

Joey remembers the night very clearly. "My older brother was hugging me so tightly I could hear his heart beating. He was saying all sorts of things, like how we were going to die and how our lives had been completely ruined. It scared me."

Amazingly, the brothers were still alive the next morning. Their toes and fingertips suffered only mild, but noticeable, frostbite. "My little brother looked at me in the eye and said, 'Last night, you were saying how we were going to die.' I thought I was in heaven! When I realized that we weren't and that we were still on earth, I hugged him and said, 'I'm sorry Joey... I didn't mean to scare you with that.'"

They managed to walk to the next survivor compound, who offered them some hot food and water. "It was the first decent meal I had in a long time," Jaden said. "Though they didn't have a car to drive us to Union City, they gave us some warm clothes and a bag filled with food and water." The boys continued their trek with renewed spirits, although they still had a long way to go before reaching Union City.