The attack wasn't going well for us. The worst part was having to allow enough zombies onto the mesa that the throwers would have to stop hurling rocks. We huddled and waited, drew back behind the low structures that dot Black Mesa in concentric rings, and whether the storm.
It took about ten minutes, but it was the longest six hundred seconds of my life. The zombies climbing the logs around the edge of the mesa were fast, so ten or twelve would come at us at a time. The kids were fighting alongside the rest of us, as there just weren't enough adults to cover all the holes.
By the time the stones stopped falling, at least twenty people were down. We fought back, as hard as we could. I saw Mason whipping his machete through zombie after zombie, but after a few minutes the blade broke. When I say this new breed is tough, I'm not kidding. Only about half of the ones he attacked were killed. The rest kept on fighting.
I couldn't tell you how many ended up on this rock with us. All I remember is the mindless rise and fall of my weapon, the terror of watching young men and women give their lives to protect others. The confines were too close, the numbers against us too many, and the enemy so much stronger than our expectations.
If it weren't for Becky and Rachel, we would have probably been overwhelmed. I remember with perfect clarity Becky's hand snatching my arm to get my attention. I saw a look of calm determination in her eyes as she spoke to me.
"Hold them for a few minutes," she said. "I've got an idea."
She grabbed Rachel on her way, and I had no idea what was coming. My mind focused on two things: she had a plan. And we had to survive long enough to let her get it done.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw her helping Rachel into a set of the heavier armor we bring with us. It's the stuff we use when we have to wade into a group of zombies. Hard as hell to move in, but virtually invincible to zombie attacks.
It was, of course, untested against the new breed.
A minute or so later, I saw Rachel helping Becky into her armor. At no point did I consider they'd actually head out into the swarm, thinking only that Becky's plan meant she had to get close to the edge and needed the extra protection to ensure she didn't fall before she was finished. I was very wrong.
About two minutes after she and Rachel vanished from my sight, I heard the first explosion. Hell, more than heard it--I felt it. A great wave passed under my feet, the rock beneath us surging with the power of the blast. I saw about a dozen zombies on the edge of the mesa simply drop, and a few seconds later another blast sounded from the opposite side with the same results.
There were five large explosions, ones close enough to the edge of the mesa to cause small collapses. Becky and Rachel hit every one of the logs, blowing them to splinters and killing every zombie within twenty feet of them. They'd run through the front gate, which had been left mostly alone by the zombies at that point, and thrown their dynamite from a distance, as most of the undead were clustered around the logs. Each cratered section of ground helped clear a path close enough to the next log for a hard throw.
The last log fell, but we'd realized what the girls were doing well before that. When the final explosion came, Mason and Will screamed for everyone to lower what shields they had and push. PUSH! With everything we could muster.
We shoved the majority of our attackers over the edge. With improved strength and coordination comes the instinct to dance backwards when shoved. If they'd have been slow, shambling zombies that tactic wouldn't have worked for us. By the time we'd gotten the majority of them shoved over the edge, Becky and Rachel had made their way back through the gate. Mason had ordered a few people to start lobbing dynamite over the edge. By then the stone throwers had joined the rest of the mob, and the explosions falling at random were enough to break whatever willpower the horde had. They ran. We'd become too costly a target.
It was a victory. Survival is always a victory. But it cost us too many irreplaceable lives, their potential contributions to the world eradicated in a fight that took less than half an hour, start to finish.
We're almost done with the evacuation now. We pushed as hard and fast as possible, and everyone is eager to get away from here. The new breed of zombies is spreading, and Black Mesa taught us a lesson about our future none of us are likely to forget. Ever.
Things change, and not always for the better. Threats can and do get worse. We can be brave, and strong, and practiced, and in the end it still might not be enough to save us.