Finally, with Misty guiding the other contractors on how to plug in a refueling hose into the CH-47 and start up the pumps, the thirsty bird was finally receiving the Jet A fuel it needed to get it airborne again.

Talia was not interested in wrestling hoses or being near anything flammable. She had no idea how to refuel an American CH-47 anyways. Instead, she relegated herself to walking the permitter about 30 meters away from the helicopter. Who knew if more of those damn zombies would come, and even with her teammates in the control tower on overwatch, she would be needed to blunt any attack.

However, getting away from the rest of the team was a big mistake. It gave Talia time to think. Not about combat, survival, or rescuing people, but about things better left buried. Talia had not been back home in over a year since starting to work for HMC, and since the zombie epidemic barely had time to think about it. Tashkent, Baku, Tabriz, Tehran, Shiraz, Abadan, Basra and now, here.

Talia was mentally exhausted from near-constant combat across Central Asia, Iran, and Iraq. She had long ago given up on returning to Russia or seeing her family and friends again. Her parents had lived near Moscow and had probably died when the city was overrun about six months ago. They were the last of her family she thought had been still alive. Her aunt and uncle had likely died when St. Petersburg was overrun, and her brother had died in a plane crash just after she left Russia to join HMC. She doubted most, if not all, of her friends back in Russia were alive either. They were all VDV or Army and had probably fought and lost to the zeds.

Talia was in Iran when Moscow finally fell to the zombies but had little time to morn the passing of her friends and parents. Now Moscow was only a memory. And memories were dangerous. Talia knew she could use a bottle of vodka, perhaps to forget things for a while. But this was the Middle East and alcohol was hard to come by, especially now.

Talia shook her head. “Tupitsa obrashchat' vnimaniye,” (dumb ass, pay attention), she muttered to herself. She slammed the lid back on her memories, refocusing herself on guarding the others. She had a mission to accomplish.

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