The New Haven Incident - Part Seven

Published on 28 June 2024 at 08:00

New to the tale? Start here.

Locating Dr. Lundt and her small group of ten survivors had been relatively easy. Harding had spotted the curtain during a sweep of the area from the opposite building and correctly guessed that’s where the group was. Nothing stirred as the company made their way back down the building, across the street and up into the next building. The silence was stark and unsettling.

They had taken refuge in an office building, on the twelfth floor, which turned out to be a two-storey personal office for some big wig construction company owner. The group had taken over the upstairs loft area, where the windows had blinds that could be drawn. A makeshift curtain kept the group hidden from view through the windows on the opposite side, which stretched all the way from the ceiling to the first floor of the suite.

The arrival of the Cedarwood-employed militia sent palpable waves of relief through the group, and they quickly eased into the unit’s care, with few exceptions, letting Captain Harding and his men do whatever they deemed necessary. Harding had turned the downstairs part of the office into his staging area, and his team now settled into their watch patterns as Harding attempted to contact the other teams and confirm the acquisition of their first objective. Communication remained non-existent. It was disquieting. There should be no interference. Not even from the city’s radio stations, which were now all offline.

“This is bullshit,” Richards grumbled to himself as Harding attempted, for the fourth time, to reach Team Three. Mendez said nothing, responding instead with an audible breath and exhalation through his nose.

“Yo, Richards,” Grindel said, grinning over at the man. “You ever hear the story of the Nun of Moona?”

“Stop it with your ghost story bullshit,” Richards replied. “I’m not in the mood tonight.”

“You sure? She haunts places like this, you know. It could save your life.”

“Fuck off, Grin.”

Grindel laughed, accompanied by Joseph and Riley. Mendez smiled without comment. His abuela had no end of ghost stories, which she believed wholly, and much of it rubbed off on Mendez. She had raised him, after all. He was also not in the mood for Grindel’s ghost story bullshit.

There was a strange sound, not unlike the zip of an insect’s wings, followed by a large shadow that flitted across the darkened floor. Everyone immediately snapped into action, guns raised. Mendez shouldered his rifle, pointing it in the direction the shadow had moved. Breaths caught as a figure appeared on the balcony, reached out and pulled across the sliding door at the far end of the room. It stepped in and froze as six guns pointed at it.

Menedez could not believe his eyes. A woman stood before him, but she was not human. Large dark eyes dominated what was otherwise a pretty, heart-shaped face. She wore barely any clothes; a racer-back sports bra around her chest and a short skirt-short thing. A large knife was strapped to her right thigh, and she wore some kind of chest holster that supported what looked to be two short swords strapped to her back. But strangest of all were the two pairs of gossamer wings that protruded from her back.

For what felt like forever, the woman and the militia stared at each other before a single shot went off. Richards had pulled his trigger, the bullet piercing the left shoulder of the creature, snapping a strap that held on a satchel. The creature staggered back, turned and disappeared as the others opened fire. Mendez had not pulled his trigger, despite the order to shoot on sight. Something was off.

Dr. Lundt appeared through the curtain. “What is going on?” she demanded.

“Hold fire,” Mendez said. He stepped forward.

“Mendez!” Richards hissed.

Mendez ignored him, and Captain Harding gave no counter command, so Mendez continued until he reached the satchel. He kelt down and opened it with the muzzle of his rifle. A pill bottle rolled out. Mendez snatched it up.

“Antibiotics,” he said. He opened up the satchel properly to find gauzes, bandages, medicated wipes, and even two tins of stew. “These look l—”

Mendez didn’t get to finish. Another zip of insect wings, a fast shadow, and Richards was set upon. His rifle clattered to the floor and then he was gone, lifted into the air and taken outside by, Mendez guessed, the creature Richards had shot. It had all been too fast to see.

Mendez ran out onto the balcony, throwing open the closest sliding door. He looked up, pointing his rifle, and froze. He felt the others move behind him. They, too, froze.

The creature clung to a gargoyle on the edge of the building, Richards in one hand, dangling precariously. The man grunted in panic, but wisely did not struggle, just as Mendez wisely did not shoot. If the creature lost her grip, Richards would plunge twelve stories to his death.

A gasp drew Mendez’ attention.

“Don’t shoot!” Dr. Lundt said, running to stand in front of the unit. “Please. She’s a friend.”

“Friend?” Captain Harding demanded.

“Lil,” Dr. Lundt said, still facing the armed men. “It’s okay. They’re not here to hurt you. Can you put him down?”

The creature’s wings buzzed twice. Mendez watched it carefully, how those large black eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“Put down your weapons,” Dr. Lundt said. “For god’s sake! She won’t hurt anyone!”

It was Mendez who moved first. He lowered the rifle, removing his finger from the trigger.

“Sir?” Riley said, glancing over at his captain.

Harding stared at the creature for a moment longer before he, too, lowered his rifle. “Weapons down,” he commanded.

Only when all the guns were pointed down at the ground did the creature move. After a slight pause, she swung Richards over, releasing him so that he landed, rather inelegantly, on the balcony. Grindel and Joseph ran forward, grabbed Richards by his vest and hauled him back. The creature detached from the gargoyle and gracefully stepped down onto the balcony.

Dr. Lundt turned and ran to her. “Lil!” she breathed, pulling the creature into a hug. “Are you okay?” She paused, noting the dark red blood on the creature’s left shoulder. She spun. “You shot her?” she demanded.

No one answered. They simply stood and stared.

The creature tapped the woman on the shoulder and signed. The supplies…

Mendez frowned. He had a deaf cousin, and knew sign language well. Dr. Lundt turned back to the men. “Was there a bag? It would have had medicines in it. Maybe food.”

“It’s inside,” Mendez said. He let go of his rifle, trusting the strap to keep it on his person and signed to the creature. The creature cocked her head and regarded him. You sign?

Mendez nodded and signed back. I have a deaf cousin.

The creature smiled, and suddenly the inhuman face was strikingly beautiful.

“She’s mute, not deaf,” Dr. Lundt told Mendez. “She can hear just fine.”

“Oh.” Mendez smiled at the creature. “I’m Mendez,” he said. “Uh Oliver. This is my commanding officer,” he tapped the tall blond man on the shoulder with the back of his hand,  “Captain Harding, and my fellows Grindel, Joseph, and Riley. Richards is the guy you were dangling off the gargoyle.”


Mendez nodded and smiled. “Uh… Well, hello Lilith. I’m sorry about the…” he indicated his own left shoulder. “We had orders to shoot on sight.”

It will heal.

“Let’s take this inside, shall we?” Harding said gruffly. Lilith nodded. She permitted Dr. Lundt to take her hand as everyone headed back inside the large suite. Once inside, Harding turned. He did not wait for Riley to slide the door shut again before he made his demands. 

“Somebody tell me what the fuck is going on? And what the fuck is that?” He pointed at Lilith.

Dr. Lundt, inspecting the wound in Lilith’s shoulder, rolled her eyes. Her father was in the military, a bastard, and she had little patience for his type. “What’s going on is that you shot Lilith,” she said, turning to face the captain and folding her arms and matching his tone precisely.

Mendez felt Harding bristle, but kept his mouth shut. Trying to calm his commanding officer would only aggravate the man further. Mendez instead elected to observe the weird woman standing beside the doctor.

“For the crime of bringing us much-needed supplies, it would seem.”

“You’ll have to excuse us,” Harding noted dryly. “We’ve never met a sentient insect before.”

Expecting the woman to be insulted, Mendez was surprised to note that she only smiled and tilted her head at Harding. She signed. Harding turned the Mendez.

“The fuck is it saying?”

Mendez straightened. “Her name is Lilith,” Mendez said in translation. “If you would please use it.”

Harding stared at him a moment before turning to Lilith and staring at her. “Fine,” the captain grated. “What the fuck are you, Lilith?”

Lilith cocked her head again, then turned to Mendez. She signed. Mendez translated.

I’m here to deliver food and medical supplies as promised. 

“Plainly. That didn’t answer my question,” Harding snapped.

No. Your question was rude and beneath reply. Lilith’s expression was infuriatingly mild when she turned to Harding, offering him a small, almost sarcastic smile. All you need know is that my name is Lilith, and I am not your enemy.

Harding stared at her, now at a loss for what to say. He recovered. “Well, I am Captain Harding, and this group is now under my protection. We’ve been sent in to deliver the doctor and her people to safety.” He sighed. “We have another team moving to Dr. Liu’s location. They are also being extracted.”

Lilith observed the captain for a moment, before turning to Mendez. She spent a moment observing him. Of the six members of the mercenary team, he was the only match for the captain in height and breadth. Unlike the captain, however, his hair was dark and wavy, sitting atop his head in an artful mess. Also unlike his captain, who was clean-shaven, he sported scruffy stubble that was several days old at least. There was warmth in his deep voice that matched his dark, kind eyes, and a cadence that would not have been out of place on a beach. He looked and sounded as if he should be holding a surfboard, not a rifle.

Is this true?

“Those were our orders.”

Lilith frowned.

“Something the matter?”

“What’s she saying, Mendez?” Harding demanded.

“Just looking for confirmation, sir.” Mendez waited patiently, then Lilith nodded to herself, as if deciding something.

How much do you know of what’s happened here?

Mendez translated.

“Enough,” Harding replied.

Lilith scoffed. She shook her head. Alright, then. What’s your plan?

“That’s really not your concern.”

The dark eyes narrowed. If you are planning on helping my friends make it out alive, it is very much my concern.

Harding looked to argue, but Mendez spoke first. “We don’t have radio contact with the other teams yet, sir,” he noted. “And if she knows about the situation on the ground, it’d be a good idea to listen to her.”

Harding turned to Mendez, considering. He turned back to Lilith. “Alright, fine. Tell us what you know.”

The entire city is infected, Lilith signed. But there are a few pockets of survivors. I have located several but can’t get close because, well… she shrugged, indicating herself. Mendez smiled slightly. It is not a good idea to stay in one place for long. The infected patrol, a predictable moving grid, and the easiest way to avoid detection is to stay on the move. Dr. Lundt has stayed too long already, but they’ve been unable to move because of Sarah.

Sarah. Mendez knew. With his knowledge of field medicine, he was the one who had checked on the survivors when Team Two had first arrived. There were a few scrapes, one broken finger, but nothing too extreme… except Sarah. She was not well at all, suffering from a severe lung infection.

I brought antibiotics, hoping it will help, but they have to move. Tomorrow at the latest.

“We are planning to rendezvous with Team Three, who will take the survivors to the extraction point.”

Extraction point?

“Yes. The stadium.” Harding folded his arms in front of her.

Lilith’s mind worked. She nodded. That will be a fight.


There is a high concentration of infected there.

“Satellite imagery had it empty.”

Lilith shook her head. That is not right. There are many there. It is the best place for helicopters to land in the city, however. If it can be secured. But it will be a fight to get through to the field.

Harding rubbed the side of his jaw. “We have two teams securing the location right now.”

Lilith nodded. She cocked her head. You will be escorting them there?

“Team Three will be. We have other business to attend to before we leave the city.”

What business?

“That’s need to know.”

Lilith did not respond for a long time. Her unnerving, slightly too large dark eyes observed Harding. Whatever answer she sought in his stony expression, she appeared to have acquired it. She turned her attention to Mendez.

Where are you planning to rendezvous with Team Three?

“The Valley Vista. It’s a hotel just off the edge of the downtown core,” Mendez answered when Harding did not.

I know it. It’s a bad idea.

“Why is it a bad idea?” Harding demanded, sounding exasperated. This insect was throwing wrenches into all of his plans.

“Infected,” Mendez answered before Lilith had a chance to sign. She nodded at him, ignoring Harding completely now.

“You said you were moving the survivors,” Mendez said. He beckoned Lilith over to the table where the mission maps were laid out and pulled over a map of the city. “Where?”

Lilith pointed at the location. It’s safer there. Nothing but Kobolds.

Mendez’ mouth twitched in amusement. “Kobolds?” 

Infected rats.

“I see.” Mendez turned to his captain. “Sir?”


“Perhaps we should change the rendezvous.”

“We stick to the plan,” Harding answered.

“Sir, if this location is safer —”

“And if it’s not? We’re just supposed to take the word of this… homicidal Tinkerbell?”

“That does it,” Dr. Lundt, who had stood quietly by as Lilith spoke with the mercenaries, snapped. “If Lil says that’s the safest place to be, then that’s where we’re going.”

“With all due respect, Doctor —” Harding began.

“No,” Dr. Lundt snapped. “With all due respect Captain, Lilith has been keeping us alive for the last three days. She’s proven herself. You have not. We go where she says.”

Harding stared at Dr. Lundt, then turned to Lilith, whose expression remained remarkably neutral, though her eyes were watchful.

“We have no way of getting through to Team Three to inform them of this sudden change,” he noted.

You said they were headed to Dr. Liu’s location, Lilith noted.

“That’s right.”

I will tell them.

“They’re not just going to believe some… What even are you?”

Lilith once again turned to Mendez, ignoring the captain. It is late out now to be travelling through the city. I will stay the night as I planned. In the morning, you and your team should take Dr. Lundt and her people to the new location. I’ll return to Dr. Liu and bring them to you. We should arrive no later than dusk tomorrow evening.

Mendez nodded, then translated for the benefit of his captain.

Harding scowled. “This is my operation,” he said.

Do you want to get out of here alive? Lilith signed, finally showing some frustration.

Harding stared hard at her. “Lady, I don’t know you.”

“Well I do,” Dr. Lundt said, folding her arms.

Harding turned to her. It was clear he liked nothing about this, but there was little he could do about it. It’s not like there were enough of his men to hog-tie these civilians and drag them to the planned rendezvous. He growled.

“Fine. There are twelve in Dr. Liu’s group?”


“Our intelligence said twelve.”

There was another survivor. He joined our group this afternoon.

Harding scowled. “Who?”

Lilith cocked her head. A man. Highly trained. Not military.

Harding shook his head. “Highly trained and not military? How do you figure it out?”

It’s not difficult to tell. Besides, he fought off a hellhound with nothing but a combat knife.


“Let me guess,” Mendez said. “Infected dog?”

Lilith smiled slightly and inclined her head.

“How do you know he’s not military?” Harding demanded.

He doesn’t act like military.

“That means absolutely nothing.”

You are all military, Lilith noted. Or were, considering you’re now all mercenaries. Just as easily as I can tell that you are, I can tell that he is not. Lilith shrugged. I have no doubt you’ll be able to tell, too, when you meet.

Harding shook his head. “Okay. Fine. So, thirteen survivors. What’s their condition?”

Well. As well as can be expected, given… Lilith waved vaguely. One cough, but no major injuries or illnesses.

Harding sighed. “Our communications are down. I’ll try to contact Team Three and inform them. Failing that, you’ll deliver the message, I guess.”

As I said.

Harding held back an eye roll — poorly — and nodded, turning away. “Richards?”


“Get back on that radio and see if we can’t connect.”

“Yes, sir.”

Harding glanced at Lilith and Dr. Lundt. “Dismissed,” he said.

Lilith smirked and raised a brow. She delivered a mocking bow before turning and ascending the stairs to check on the survivors. She squeezed Dr. Lundt’s hand briefly as she passed. Dr. Lundt did not move. She remained in place, staring hard at Harding.

Harding turned to her, raising both his brows.

“That girl has been through enough,” Dr. Lundt said.

Harding scoffed and turned back around. “Girl,” he muttered.

Dr. Lundt shook her head. “I know it’s hard for you military types, but try to refrain from being such an unmitigated asshole. Especially to her. You have no idea what we’re dealing with.”

“Look, lady, this isn’t our first rodeo. We know what we’re about.” There was an edge to Harding’s voice that Mendez immediately recognised. He straightened and walked to Dr. Lundt.

“You’re in good hands,” he assured her, offering his captain a knowing look. “Come on. Let’s check on Sarah.”

Dr Lundt did not protest as Mendez escorted her up the stairs to where the survivors had settled in for the night. He noted that they had cracked open one of the cans of stew Lilith had brought and were eating it cold. The winged woman sat by Sarah’s bed, holding the young woman’s hand. Dr. Lundt went to her immediately, placing a comforting hand on Lilith’s shoulder. Lilith leant back, but did not take her eyes off Sarah’s face. It was as any scene between dear friends that were worried. It just so happened that one was a human-sized faerie-thing. It was all so surreal, Mendez could not help but stare. After a moment, he shook his head and returned to his captain, who hovered at Richard’s right shoulder while the man tried to get the radio communications back up.

It took most of the night. Mendez walked his watch, keeping careful note of his surroundings and any changes that occurred.

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