Lucas had been shocked to hear from John. The Australian media had been consistently reporting that other than Russia, Hawaii, Australia and a few isolated islands scattered across the south Pacific the world had been reduced to a wasteland, inhabited only by the infected.
He knew that wasn’t entirely accurate from speaking with mates who were still on active duty with the Regiment. A lot of the US Navy was still able to fight, as were small pockets of the military still within the continental United States. He just had no idea that John Chase was one of those still alive and fighting, but when he thought about it he wasn’t terribly surprised. The man he’d known was war incarnate when he wanted to be.
There had been mass panic and rioting in Australia as people had learned of what was happening in the world. Unfortunately there had been many reported cases of people shooting and killing friends, neighbors and even family members over something as simple as a sneeze. Everyone was terrified the infection would reach their geographically protected home.
The Americans still alive in Hawaii had delivered a vaccine and the government had pulled out all the stops to immediately start mass production. The PM went on television and announced that there would be mandatory vaccinations of the entire population.
People began lining up at hospitals, medical offices and health centers before the vaccine was even available. But there were some that refused, either on religious grounds or mistrust of the government and fear over what was actually in the inoculation. Anyone who refused was rounded up and quarantined in several hastily erected camps around the continent. All they had to do to leave was accept the vaccination.
Australia was surviving. Rationing was the word of the day, and while the citizens were grumbling they well understood the necessity. Fuel had become precious as pre-attack the country had imported almost ninety percent of the oil it consumed.
Living far from civilization, Lucas felt fortunate he had installed large underground fuel tanks several years ago so he would always have a good supply on hand for his vehicles and small plane. He had received a delivery of fuel that had topped them off a week before the attacks on America.
He had immediately placed a call as soon as he finished speaking with his old friend. Dialing the number from memory he hadn’t been surprised when the duty officer at the SAS barracks in Swanbourne picked up on the first ring. The man didn’t know Lucas personally but he knew of him and quickly transferred the call to Lucas’ former commanding officer. The call woke Captain Reginald White, and he came instantly alert as Lucas filled him in.
“I know of it,” he said, referring to the CIA listening post that had been established with the cooperation of the Australian government. “It’s in Moonyoonka.”
“Where the bloody hell is that, sir?”
“A few kilometers east of Geraldton. North of here, up the coast.”
“I know Geraldton, sir. I’m on my way there, then. I wanted you to know.” Lucas said.
“If you don’t mind, Staff Sergeant, the lads and I could use a little trip to the country. Perhaps we shall meet you at the Geraldton airport. When do you think you might be arriving?” White had spent a lot of time with the British and had picked up on their manner of speaking.
“Six to seven hours, sir. Depending on the winds.”
“Very good. Until then,” he said and disconnected the call.
Lucas closed his phone and trotted into the large house, heading for the basement.
“What are you on about?” His wife, Ziggi, asked, following him down the stairs. “And who’s calling you in the middle of the bloody night?”
As he changed clothes and packed a duffel with weapons and ammunition, Lucas explained to her what was going on. She knew who John Chase was, resisting the name for her new son until Lucas had explained why he wanted it.
“He’s still alive? That’s bloody amazing!” She said, shaking her head.
She cocked an ear when Little John began wailing again. Stepping forward she grabbed her husband in a tight embrace and kissed him before turning and heading for the stairs.
“Just be sure you get your arse home in one piece,” she said then was gone in a swirl of satin nightclothes.
Lucas smiled briefly then got his war face on and made a quick check of the gear he had packed. Satisfied he was ready, he tromped up the stairs with the heavy duffel and stopped in the kitchen. He brewed a strong cup of coffee in a few minutes, wolfing down a peanut butter sandwich while the machine hissed and burbled.
Coffee in an insulated travel mug, he stepped out the back door, made sure it was locked and dumped his bag on the luggage rack of a battered ATV. It started easily enough and he bounced across a couple of acres of his land to a large barn where he stored a twin-engine plane. A dirt runway was carved out of the red Aussie dirt, a white windsock on a tall pole a few yards from the barn. He didn’t need to check to know there was no wind to worry about for takeoff.
Wheeling the barn doors open he tossed the bag in a small luggage compartment and reached into the cockpit to put his mug into a cup holder. A quick walk around of the aircraft and he was ready to go.
Starting the engines he let them idle for a minute, keeping a sharp eye on the instruments that monitored their health. It was a warm night and they quickly came up to operating temperature. Advancing the throttles he rolled the plane out of the barn, flipping on the brilliant landing lights mounted in the leading edges of the wings.
Lining up on the runway he stepped on the brakes and concentrated on the raw dirt ahead of him. He loved to fly and had no fear of planes, but a mate of his had been landing at night a few months ago in the bush of Northern Australia. A large Kangaroo had hopped onto the dirt runway just as the plane’s tires touched the ground. Neither the Roo nor his mate had survived.
Satisfied there was no wildlife in the way he shoved the throttles to the firewall and bounced down the rough track. The plane was powerful and soon he was pulling back on the stick, quickly gaining altitude. Australia is way too large and empty for bush pilots to need to worry about filing a flight plan. He wouldn’t bother contacting an air controller until he was within an hour of Geraldton.