It had been a busy last 24 hours, preparing for the mission, gathering the supplies and getting in contact with Tina, or Titania as I knew her now. I had asked Janice to help me get in touch with their daughter to make sure we could let them know we were coming and to start planning. I didn’t want to get their hopes up but it was equally important to let them know that we were on our way and not to do anything stupid in the meantime.
The ‘not getting their hopes up’ proved to be a lost cause. I don’t know what Janice had told her but I got the feeling they already considered this a done deal and just wanted to know when we were coming to ‘pick them up’. I knew it was not going to be anyway near that simple, but I also didn’t see any reason to push the issue. Titania informed me that they were all still alive, but that they didn’t have much in the way of supplies left and were, understandably, a bit on the edge. They could maybe stretch the supplies for a week if they rationed what remained. I was really hoping it wasn't going to take that long.
The vehicles were fully fueled and loaded with our supplies. Izzy, me and Nebu were in our minivan while Blade and Wiley were set to drive the other two vehicles; two large SUVs courtesy of Janice and Paul. They had certainly come through on their promise of supplies, we had enough guns and ammo to blast us in (our out) anywhere. We had also received food rations to get us to New York and back, including in the calculation our extra passengers on the return journey.
Janice and Paul had left the planning to us and had made sure to have the bounty contracts drawn up. Satisfied they were according to the agreement we all signed and handed the contract over to the Bounty offices. I guess this could be seen as a public transaction on the Blockchain (not that anyone would every do that again, not with ‘The Phage’ still out there).
The planning had consisted of sitting down with the team, going over the information I had managed to gather the day before. There was a lot to consider; blocked roads, raiders, zombie-nests and a number of untold dangers that could be found everywhere. We managed to map out, what we considered to be, the safest routes to take getting to New York. With ‘safe’ being a relative term in this context. Truth be told, any time you step outside the Sanctuary you took a risk.
At least the Walkers normally avoided attacking moving vehicles since they are smart enough to know they normally can’t catch up to or stop them. But if there were enough of them around that wouldn’t matter, can’t exactly plough through a massive zombie-horde in a minivan or an SUV. And since the zombies are almost pack-like in some aspects they gain confidence with numbers. If we ended up in the middle of a horde we were going to be in trouble.
Road raiders could also become a problem, but that was something we considered to be a danger only when passing through geographical bottlenecks; small villages, bridges or similar, where shelter could be found nearby. No one really wanders around in the countryside any more, to high risk of becoming the meal of the day. So if we took care and kept a watchful eye out, in these areas, we should be able to avoid most raiders.
Our decided route looked like a worm slithering back and forth, the tail end starting in the Michigan wilderness, going into Canada and finally wriggling its way down towards New York. For New York and the surrounding areas the information was scarce to none. From satellite imagery (that cost me a pretty penny) the only open way into New York was to drive into and through Staten Island finally crossing into Brooklyn. A small comfort was that the underground shelter was located close to Prospect Park and that meant we didn’t need to drive all the way into Manhattan. It was still going to be hell getting there but that at least brought our odds up from Mission Impossible to a Las Vegas Jackpot (who says I can only do crypto analogies). No point in planning for anything within a 20 km radius of New York. When we are in there we would have to adapt to the situations that occur. We knew where the shelter was and at least we had a way in.
Izzy revved the engine signalling that she was ready to go. That received similar engine burst from Wiley and Blade indicating the same. It was time to set sail and hope for calm waters. Izzy took off followed close behind by the two SUVs. We passed through the gate and the comforting walls of the Sanctuary out on the road heading for New York. As soon as we have passed through the gate Izzy hit play on her pre-selected playlist. One benefit of being the driver was that you got to choose the music. The DeepOnion rap song ‘Anonymous’ started booming from the speakers and I could see Izzy nodding her head to the beat. I might not be much of a rap fan but I was around when this first came out, and in the way that you kind of know the lyrics to most of the big hits from your youth, I couldn’t help but start to silently sing along ‘We’re going to the top, straight to the action…’.
That part was certainly true for us as well, there was going to be plenty of action where we were headed. Murphys Law pretty much ensured that there was no way this was going to be a smooth ride all the way to New York but I leaned back in my seat and tried to set my worries aside. If or when something came up we'd deal with it as always, we weren't exactly rookies in this game. I felt Izzy take the first turn off and while I was looking back the safety of the Sanctuary walls disappeared from view.