It hadn't been so much a last stand as a panicked gaggle, a bunch of factory employees trying to be the first to get off the damned floor, each and every one trying to be the last one out. Nobody had seen it coming, though there was one man among them that didn't seem the slightest bit surprised that it should happen. After all, Oliver Mercer supposed he had seen worse than rioting civilians. Maybe he hadn't been expecting bloodthirsty monsters wanting to tear him limb-from-limb with their bare hands, but there's life for you. One tries to escape one's past and get on with one's life and possibly one's future, and one's past comes right back to bite one in his bloody rear end. Mercer didn't do much talking--he'd decided to shut up around the idiots he worked with so that they'd stop poking fun (not that he cared, it was just hard to be productive when someone was trying to show you their impression of... well, you). Instead, he calmly picked up the nearest heavy object and proceeded to survive.
All right, perhaps it wasn't as simple as that. Several people had climbed into the steel that dominated one end of the warehouse, some had made a mad dash for the doors leading into the corporate part of the plant. Mercer himself had gone with these fellows, though arbuably without using the same panicked manner. He simply didn't care enough to panic, if something killed him today, he'd be perfectly content to let it--well, the non-soldiering part of him felt that way. The soldier in him, however, was not going to let him go so easily, bloody bastard. He'd grabbed the first thing he thought would let him bash a man's skull in efficiently and proceeded to use it to defend himself. He'd even attempted to rally his fellow workers, but in their panic, they weren't particularly loyal to anyone who wasn't them. Plus, they didn't really respect him anyway, did they? No, it had been up to Mercer to escape on his own.
The following few days had been hellish at best, a complete nightmare at worst. The police and the military had both failed to eradicate the bleeders, and as best he could tell back then, they might have buggered off completely. Of course they were just running off to form a perimeter. Of course they were going to be right back to save the day. Of course they wouldn't bring a bleeding stupid Kraut into the picture to try and scare everyone with his bloody Yank attack dog. Of course they weren't going to gather up anyone with the slightest hint of warmth in their bodies and try to make them fight for humanity, or whatever propoganda they were going to be using for this particular case.
Mercer had roamed the streets for a few days, during which he'd managed to acquire a proper pack, a decent rifle and a decent knife, ammunition and whatever he could raid out of some poor old woman's medicine cabinet. Luckily, she'd had a husband, and while it was unfortunate that both of them should perish, in their dementia, to head wounds that seemed almost as if they were made by the same blunt object, Mercer conisdered it a plus that he wasn't going to have to wear Lady's Speed Stick under his arms for the rest of the goddamn apocalypse. That's what it was, wasn't it? The bloody apocalypse. In his travels, he managed to stumble across the prison complex known as Sing-Sing, where he supposed he was more than willing to be conscripted into somebody's slapdash fighting force in exchange for safety--when he wasn't busy being part of somebody's slapdash fighting force, that is.
To make things worse, he was sure that he'd spotted James Hawthorne himself strutting around the damn complex like a rooster with its head turned upside down. That damned beret of his. Mercer didn't know the Colonel personally, of course, but one didn't make sergeant without learning a few things about one's own military, and there was plenty of talk at the supply yard. Not to mention his name had been circulating around the net. Mercer had been fortunate enough to see what jolly old England had been up to while he'd been gone, and though it should have, it didn't surprise him that they were busy invading Russia like a bunch of fucking nutters. That's what you got when you got involved with Germans, of course, but there's life for you.
He'd done his best to avoid the military personnel during his brief stay, but it seemed that someone thought he'd make a good soldier... so much for leaving the past behind. He hadn't been asked so much as dragged out into the yard to stand with the others. Time for an able-bodied warm body to do what warm bodies do, eh?
And of course, who better to order the warm bodies about than some Kraut officer and his Yank attack dog. The Kraut struck Mercer as more than a bit snotty, the Yank struck him as more than a bit unhinged. He hoped for his own sake that he was misjudging the two of them, but a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach told him that he wasn't. He knew from his short time in here that Jerry was an officer, but he wasn't quite sure about the Yank. Maybe he'd gotten on the Kraut's good side by browning his nose. At any rate, it was the Yank who spoke first.
“Before I begin to enlighten you as to why you've been hailed... If any of you want to know the truth about the virus... Listen carefully. But you should know that the second you are enlightened of the truth, you are not permitted to relinquish the information to anybody. By holding the weight of the information on your shoulders, you are also devoting yourselves to a military operation within the city of New York. If you wish to leave this prison, stay here. If you want to stay here, and never leave again... Leave now. I'm not stopping you."
Mercer took the time during the man's pause to reflect on what that meant. Sure, they weren't going to be stopped going out the door, not with an earful of information about a multinational military operation in New York City. They might be shot in the back as they went, or maybe the bloody bastards would be nice and leave them to the elements. Who were they going to tell, anyway? Everyone in the city had already either seen or become one of the damned things, it's not like there was a bloody secret to keep. After looking around (a bit smugly, Mercer thought), the Yank lifted his brow, as though surprised to see people still standing there.
Of course they were still there, the rest of 'em signed up for it, didn't they? The Yank continued with his little speech.
"Alright, none of you? We'll see what you think in around thirty seconds. All of you, state your names and your former occupation. After you do so, it will be your last chance to leave."
Well, he'd been expecting more than that from it. Names and former occupations, eh? What a bleeding load of it. They could've at least found out that much before asking people whether they wanted to risk their necks for a bunch of bleeding ruperts. Seriously, where was the military at a time like this?
Seeing that the others were looking a bit nervous, and feeling a bit indignant as well, Mercer decided to go ahead and get it over with.
"Mercer," he said, though to some of the others it might've sounded like he'd said Muh-suh. His accent wasn't particularly bad, but it did come with growing up as a middle-class lad in London, "I've got a job in a fact'ry on the other end of town. I suppose that makes me a fact'ry worker, innit? Anything else you'd like t'know? Maybe cut the bloody theatrics and gimme a bayonet so's I can do a cleaner job of charging forth an' all that? If it's all the same to you, gov, I gotta be back in time to catch the soaps, so let's get on with it."