(I will probably be adding to this and cleaning up the format a bit in the coming days.)
My story started long before the outbreak...
When most people leave the military, they go off to college - some of them enter law enforcement. Not me. I went a different route.
It all started soon after my honorable discharge from the Army. I had served for over a decade in the 10th Mountain Division 1-32 "Chosin" with 4 tours and a few medals and ribbons under my belt. I seen a lot of shit in the Middle East that can never be unseen. I lost a lot of brothers in that conflict. It was a rough time....
Anyway, I bled for this country only to be shit on by my government upon my discharge. Like many veterans coming back from the war, I ended up homeless. The VA couldn't help, but they did put me on a waiting list for help. This list was over a year long. I really didn't want to live in shelters for that long. With the job market the way it was (nonexistent), I was running out of options.
During this time, I had been living in Arizona trying to make ends meet. I had some old military buddies that lived there so I went to be close to them since they were the closest thing I had to a family. There were 5 of us living in a small, cramped apartment. We did what we could to pay rent and still afford food. One of my roommates sold weed on the side to make ends meet. It was about 10 years ago in the middle of a scorching hot summer that this particular roommate approached the rest of us with a job. The guy he got his weed from apparently worked for one of the big cartels in Sinaloa, Mexico. He had heard about our work in the military and offered us a job as security detail for some of his smuggling operations. I was no stranger to crime. I did my fair share of bad shit before I joined the Army. The Army was supposed to straighten me up. Ironically, it gave me the skills to be a better criminal.
So we took the job. Without any marketable job skills, it was really the only thing we could do. And it turned out that we were very good at it. Our boss, who we simply called "El Capitan" was very impressed with our work. So impressed that he had us train his new recruits, too. We did a LOT of runs. We also had some close calls. At first, we were predominately smuggling drugs like cannabis and cocaine. But eventually, we also started running heroin, guns, antiquities, exotic pets, etc. If it was illegal, we smuggled it.
Apparently, many of these exotic items such as the heroin and antiquities were being brought into Mexico from the Middle East. El Capitan had struck a deal with another big drug kingpin out of Afghanistan called "Raees Khodaidad". Raees was equally impressed with our work and struck a deal with EL Capitan to contract us out to him for a big shipment that he needed men for. He wanted to hire us to train his men and accompany them on this run from Afghanistan into Chernarus, across the Black Sea, and into Romania. We were to transfer a huge amount of opium and heroin by land and by sea into Western Europe to be distributed to those countries.
I'm not sure what El Capitan was promised to convince him to let us go, but he did so without hesitation. But what we were promised would put us into retirement. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to Afghanistan after all I experienced there in the war. But this was supposed to be one job. One big job, with a huge payout. Unfortunately, it didn't go as planned.
We had already made our way into Chernarus when shit hit the fan. We were at the Chernogorsk docks getting the boats loaded with the goods when we were raided by an international drug interdiction unit. Apparently, they had been following Raees for a long time just waiting for their chance to get him on something huge. To this day, I'm not sure if we had a mole, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Raees was extradited back to Afghanistan where he stood trial, was convicted, and promptly hung. 2 of my guys were killed in the short shootout that occurred during the raid. Another got away and I haven't seen him since. And 1 was apprehended along with myself. The trial was short. We were both sentenced to life without parole. Our sentence was to be carried out on Chernarus Prison Island. The US wanted Chernarus to extradite us for crimes we were wanted for there, but the 2 countries didn't have any agreements about extradition and Chernarus wanted to use us as an example to other would-be smugglers that it doesn't matter what country you hail from, if you smuggle into Chernarus, you will never leave.
My sentencing was a little over 5 years ago. I've been incarcerated ever since. But not for much longer...
We had first heard about the outbreak from the news reports on TV. Chernarus was in chaos. At first, there was talk of us being moved to another facility in neighboring Georgia. But once the countrywide quarantine started, that plan was scrapped. They told us we would just have to sit tight until it all blew over. It wasn't even a few days later when everything went to shit. There were cases of some prisoners and even a few guards getting sick with this new infection and becoming violent. It was isolated only in the southern wing at first, but it quickly spread. The guards started losing control when the prisoners began to panic. Many of the guards piled into the boats and simply left us. We would have all died if it weren't for one empathetic guard frantically opening our doors so we could at least try to survive. Unfortunately, the guard had already been injured badly and was infected with the disease. He succumbed shortly after only to come back to life again. He was the first "Zombie" I'd ever seen in person. He was also my first zombie kill. It gave me no pleasure to put down the man that saved us. But then again, at that point, he was no longer that man.
Another person to succumb to the sickness was my pal, Kyle. He was the one that was apprehended with me on that fateful day 5 years ago. The riot that followed the release from our cells wasn't pretty. It was every man for himself, and pretty much every man wanted off that island. The guards had taken every available boat so the only way off was the long swim to the southern coast of Chernarus. Needless to say, being in the middle of winter, I don't think anyone survived that swim. Some of us stayed behind with the thought that the island would be safer. At first, it wasn't. There were the zombies to take care of. We ended up luring most of them to the center of the prison yard where we trapped them and burned them. We hunted down the stragglers and offed them. Eventually, we dispatched every zombie on the island and burned their bodies.
Unfortunately, we still weren't safe. Some of the guys were still getting sick and dying. Those that weren't were starting to go a bit crazy from the lack of food and water. I believe that perhaps the ones that didn't get sick, including myself may have been immune, but I still have no evidence of that other than the fact that I'm still not dead even after having been exposed to the sick for so long. A few of the guys ended up building a raft from scraps and got off the island. I ended up being the last person off that rock by swimming. This time it was in the summer and I was able to make it, but just barely. I nearly drowned. thinking back, maybe that wouldn't have been so bad.
I may have been freed from that prison, but now I'm in a new kind of prison. And just like in prison, out here you must do whatever you can to survive. And survive is what I intend to do.