“Do you guys want to keep grinding or head down to try our luck at the vending machines?”
Mike was trying to keep the decisions he made for the group as a whole, low. The more he took control the more they would expect from him and the more responsibility he would have. He had no desire to be a petty king of some sort of feudal society.
Hopefully the government had largely survived and was reorganizing to meet the threat. Because if they weren’t then his becoming a king would probably be one of the better outcomes.
“We’re all level three now, you and Jessica probably aren’t too far from level four,” Amy said and Yuki as if they shared the same mind followed up, “yeah and now we all have real weapons from drops and looting apartments.”
Yuki gestured with the short sword she was carrying, a foot long single edged blade that looked like something a samurai might have worn, she’d found it under a zombie on the fourth floor. Its blade was actually a lot thicker than any samurai sword and it could chop through flesh and bone like butter, signifying it had some sort of magic to it.
Next to her Amy cradled a mallet like hammer made entirely from some sort of incredibly light metal, in her hand.
It too was a zombie drop, but from a fifth floor apartment. The zombie she’d taken it from had been the first of the “fast” zombies they’d encountered.
Of course fast was relative, they only moved at a normal walking pace, but their shuffling was less noticeably pronounced, their grip several times stronger, and their grasping hands several times faster than the base level zombies.
Fast zombies all had traces of having fed, blood on their faces and shirts, or bits of meat stuck in their teeth or under their nails. It was reasonable to assume, these faster “bloody zombies,” indicated zombies could level up with kills just like players.
While Amy and Yuki had both gotten good drop weapons, Jessica had built herself a spear. Finding an industrial broom with the metal screw cap, she’d’ wasted no time using a length of nylon cable and a high end kitchen knife to make a makeshift spear. She’d let Mike test her knot work a bit when he’d asked and he’d been forced to admit it was likely to be fine against zombies. Still he’d made sure she kept the roofing hammer slid in her waistband just in case.
Mike hadn’t found a weapon better than his ax. Neither had Troy.
They’d both taken items as compensation. Troy had been just fine with his skull ring, while Mike had taken a liking to the only defensive item to drop, a small wooden buckler type shield.
“What do you think Troy? Jessica?” Mike asked.
Troy looked thoughtful, but as he opened his mouth to say something Jessica suddenly spoke up like she’d just remembered something important.
“The next floor is the third floor.”
To Mike that much was obvious, but he noticed Amy and Yuki trading a look. They seemed quite scared. Their shared fear put Jessica’s comment into context. The third floor was the one they’d lived on, the one where a few of their friends had been killed and Yuki badly injured, by a troll.
“Do you think the troll is still there?” He asked, leaning forward.
Yuki shuddered as Amy said, “It was too big to go through the doors, but if it really wanted out it could have smashed the walls or the floors to make a hole… so I don’t know for sure but probably”
Troy, clearing his throat to show he was annoyed at being ignored, spoke up, “I was going to say we should deal with the troll last. So my vote is straight down to the vending machines in the lobby. Or even the basement, if the ones in the lobby changed I’m sure the ones in the basement did too.”
“We’d have to walk by the ones in the lobby to take the stairs to the basement,” Yuki and Amy shared a laugh as she said it and Jessica joined in.
“Maybe, but my point still stands. If one vending machine turned, its likely they all did.” Troy huffed at their laughter.
Mike smiled as he watched the scene. It was fairly obvious that Troy had know exactly what he was saying. It was a clumsy attempt to lighten the mood, but it had worked. He couldn’t have faulted Troy for having trying even if it had failed. He sure hadn’t know how to take their minds off the troll problem.
“So it’s settled, ground floor, some shopping, another level up, then we worry about what’s next again. Fair enough?”
Everyone agreed, and started packing up their gear.
The amount of gear they had, had grown considerably over their little trip as they grabbed backpacks and loaded them with medical supplies, perishable foodstuffs, and bottled waters scavenged from the apartments they visited.
The stairwell was clear again when they arrived at it and the trip down uneventful, though they did make a point of tiptoeing past the third floor.
Arriving on the ground floor, Mike stopped everyone, “Same plan as always, I hit the door then we take them as they come through. Good?” various mutters of agreement were given as everyone found their positions leaving Mike to get the door.
Opening it he used the metal bowl in the center of his shield to bang against the door, making noise to attract the roaming zombies.
In no time a cluster of them had formed in the doorway. Of the seven or so zombies, surprisingly three of them were of the bloody variety. It didn’t really make a difference as Mike stepped into one of them with a shield bash to its face and a wicked ax chop to its knee sending it crashing to the ground.
Over their fights on the higher floors they’d figured out how to party together and had set the experience share to even distribution. Mike no longer needed to claim a certain amount of killing blows to level up, he only needed to draw focus like a proper tank as the others took care to eliminate them one by one.
By the time Mike had toppled his third zombie the fight was over, Jessica stepping in to skewer the zombie he’d just put down, letting Amy clobber it with her hammer.
Mike felt the distinctive *ding* of a level up in his mind and he opened the status screen to think for a moment.
| Name: Mike Tanner – Race: Half Orc
Occupation: None – Level: 4
Purse: 1570 Credits
STR: 1.7 / QUI: 1.4 / BOD: 1.6 / SPI: 1.1 [AP: 0.2]
Not feeling fatigued, and satisfied with his current strength Mike smirked as he added it into Quickness again. He briefly wondered how much faster he actually was than he had been.
According to the statistics he was officially twice as Quick as compared to before the apocalypse.
He could tell he moved with a smoother gait and his balance was considerably improved, but as to how much faster he could run… would it really only be as simple as twice his old speed or were there other factors.
Mike’s curiosity demanded to know but the vending machines were waiting around the corner and it wasn’t like he had a stopwatch he could hand Troy so he could run a forty yard dash on the quick. Seeing everyone was clearly waiting on him Mike explained a bit awkwardly.
“I leveled up. I’m a level four now…” seeing nobody had started to move, he added, “I’m done though, we can head out.”
Author : The Steve