Regenerator was at the last of the surviving clinics. All of the others had been overrun, sometimes from without, other times from within. He only needed the one anymore--it wasn't like they were seeing a whole lot of bitten people coming in these days. The days when someone could get bit but get away were pretty much over. When someone got caught by zombies now, there was usually too many to make a break for it. It was a blessing in disguise, though. Nobody got back up after being devoured.
"Status report," he asked one of the National Guardsmen, a kid who looked so young they probably could have ended the drought with what he had behind his ears. "Any heroes come in?" Since losing Banzai, he'd made it his priority to heal any hero as soon as they made it to him, just in case a weird quirk of their powers gave them less time than he'd anticipated. The virus seemed like it was getting faster every day; people were dying in about seven hours now and reanimation took place at about an hour and a half. Regenerator wondered if he'd see it drop to where both death and reanimation were almost instantaneous. He wondered if anyone else would be alive to see it, too.
"None, sir," the kid squeaked, throwing a sloppy salute. "Though there's radio chatter than Blockbuster might have been bit. Unconfirmed as of right now though." The lights above them flickered and went out for a moment before returning to full brightness. Neither looked up; flickering lights and rolling blackouts were part and parcel of life now. The only reason LA still had power was because Zzzap had been spending several hours a day generating raw electricity. And he'd warning them that even that wouldn't last forever; the lines and capacitors around the city were degrading fast.
"And the safety zones?" Like Regenerator's clinics, most of the safety zones set up for civilians had been overrun by exes. There were maybe five remaining throughout the entire city, each taking up a span of several blocks, and they were hemmed in at all times by the hungry dead.
"Still holding. The electrified fences are doing a better of keeping the peace than the guards. There was some trouble by some gangbangers yesterday, but I think it's resolved." Because, even after the world ended, the Seventeens still had to make trouble for everybody.
"That's good," Regenerator said absently, his attention caught by a patient tossing and turning under a blanket. There was nothing he could do for bad dreams, but if the patient was in pain, he might be able to authorize the release of more pain meds before he got around to healing the man. Like everything else, their supplies of drugs was pathetically low, but Regenerator hated seeing anyone in pain. He hurried over to check on the man, the guard scurrying after. "Tell your fellows to tell Dragon that--" Once again, the lights flickered, died--and did not come back on. A moment later, the clinics generators hummed and dim emergency lights came on, bathing everyone in an eerie blue glow. "Is everyone all right?" Regenerator barked. A chorus os shaky yeses followed. Outside the clinic, however, screams erupted in the distance.
"The fences!" the guardsman shrilled, voice high and cracking. "If the electricity died, then the fences are out!" And without the steady glow of the streetlights, the guards at the safety zones wouldn't know who and where to shoot. "I've got to--!"
"You've got to keep to your post, soldier!" Regenerator snapped. "Whatever happens in the safety zones isn't going to change with one kid throwing himself into the line of fire. You'll stay and help me--" He stopped and looked at his arm in confusion, then at the man in the bed he'd been trying to help. A huge chunk of flesh was missing from his forearm right below his elbow and the man's mouth was stained with blood. What he'd mistaken for fitful sleep had actually been reanimation. There was an ex in the clinic. An unrestrained ex. "Oh fuck," he whispered.
"Regenerator!" The ex lunged forward and so did the young soldier, shoving the hero back the few necessary steps to avoid being bitten again. The ex didn't care that his original target had been replaced by another and the boy's screams joined the rest of LA's as blunt teeth ripped through his cheek. The kid managed to pull out his sidearm and squeezed off a shot, but pain and panic made it go wild. More people began screaming, the mobile starting to run to the door, and one person moaned in pain. The ex bit again, this time catching the soldier's throat; the gout of blood looked almost purple in the emergency lighting. His hand convulsed on the gun and it fell to the ground. The boy and the ex followed, the boy still screaming, the ex still biting. "Please!" he shrieked. "Help me!"
Regenerator looked away from the hole in his arm, feeling his healing powers race to the site of the wound and spreading infection to try to stop it. It was going to be an ugly battle, he knew; the virus fought him for every inch when he was healing other people, he didn't expect any less of a fight just because it was inside him for now. "I'm coming, soldier," he said, his voice sounding odd, even to his own ears. He felt woozy and a little light-headed. Could he not remember the boy's name because the infection was already affecting him, or had he just never bothered to learn it in the first place? He reached down and plucked the gun off the floor. "I'm coming." One bullet tore through the ex's head, reducing it to shattered bone and blood spray. The soldier looked at him with naked gratitude. Gratitude that swiftly changed to confusion when he saw the gun being leveled at him next. "I'm sorry," Regenerator said. "I can't help anyone now."
He managed to pull the trigger one more time before he fell to the ground, unconscious.
For a month, the ex that had once been Katherine Hana Li had sat in the planetarium at Griffith Observatory, watching an endless loop of movement and color that her living mind could have identified as Centered in the Universe. She might have sat there contentedly forever, safe from the chaos that raged outside the way her friends had hoped. But the power outage that hit Los Angeles did not spare the planetarium out of concern for the one zombie ensconced inside. There, too, the screen went dark.
Freed from the spell of moving lights, the ex stirred. Stood. Started to walk. There was nothing for her--for it--here and the rising screams carried on the night wind drew her attention. She made her way slowly through the observatory, eventually finding the broken doors and pushing her way through to the park outside. There, she oriented herself towards the screams, making her way towards the heart of Los Angeles with unerring precision. The park was miles away from civilization, but it didn't matter. As an ex, she had no concept of time or distance. She was driven by only one thing.
She was very, very hungry.
[Yeah, I'm still doing this. Anyway, NFB for distance, NFI for obvious, warning for typical zombie-levels of violence under the cut.]